Legal events


How serious do Americans think our incarceration crisis is? Their word choice provides a clue.

How serious do Americans think our incarceration crisis is? Their word choice provides a clue.

It may be wonkish and nerdy to admit, but I enjoy the etymological side of public policy quite a bit.

Wait, that sentence itself is pretty incomprehensible. So let me start again.

We may all know “mass incarceration” when we see it (especially in the United States). But where did the term come from? Who used it first? And is it a neutral phrase, or laden with ideological baggage?

That is the conceptual adventure a reader embarks on when they begin a recent article on the Brennan Center website titled “Just Facts: Quantifying the Incarceration Conversation.

In the article, Oliver Roeder explains the roots of the term mass incarceration. That alone makes the article worth your time.

But of special interest is the kind of research that a digitized knowledge base allows us. The existence of digitized articles and scholarship permits talented people like Roeder to track trends in word use. Because of that, he’s able to explain, among other things, how use of the phrase ramped up, and to compare it to the increasing size of our prison population. Here is an example of one of his tables:

Mass incarceration table Brennan Center

Roeder earned his economics Ph.D. at the University of Texas in Austin. Perhaps not coincidentally, Texas is one of the states trying to make inroads in the mass incarceration challenge.

A few years ago, I wrote a story about the possibility for altered sentencing laws in Arizona. It appeared way back in 2012, when the prospects had brightened and then dimmed.

But if Roeder’s analysis shows anything, it is that the concept of mass incarceration has entered the collective consciousness. Supporters and detractors both understand that they must wrestle with the propriety of a historically large prison population.

So maybe it’s time for an updated look. What do you think?

state bars urge attorneys toward rural law practice

Some of us muse on the pleasures of a rural law practice. And others do something about it.

I have written before (like, here) about efforts to transform underemployed lawyers into busy rural attorneys. Not to romanticize the notion, but there is something fulfilling about a law practice in which you know many residents of your community.

Around the country, many communities suffer the effects of too few attorneys to do the necessary work. And a recent story in Associations Now explored the strategy of two bar associations—in Nebraska and Iowa—that devised strategies to address the challenge.

In Nebraska, the solution is a Rural Practice Initiative. In Iowa, a committee aims to alter the dynamic. And these are just a few of the organized efforts.

Would such efforts bear fruit in Arizona? Evidence suggests our rural areas face similar challenges. Let me know what you think.

In a video screen-shot, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (center) describes a proposed judicial selection plan.

In a video screen-shot, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (center) describes a proposed judicial selection plan.

The dialogue over how we select judges continues in earnest across the country, and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor continues to be in the thick of it.

As Justice O’Connor recently said, “The courts are the bulwark of our democracy, and we can ill afford to see them undermined.”

Last week, we read an announcement that a new proposed plan had been released, and it is named the O’Connor Judicial Selection Plan. (The complete plan is here.)

The new proposed plan was issued by the Advancement of the American Legal System.

The new proposed plan was issued by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.

The proposal comes out of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). You can read more about the news here.

According to plan advocates, the plan “was the outgrowth of work by Justice O’Connor, IAALS and the Advisory Committee to its Quality Judges Initiative, chaired by former Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, who is a member of the Justice at Stake Board of Directors.”

As described by Justice at Stake, the plan includes:

“a judicial nominating commission to screen judicial applicants and identify the best qualified candidates, appointment by the governor of one of those candidates, broad-based and objective evaluation of judges’ performance on the bench, and periodic retention elections.”

(Yes, that is very much like the Arizona system, at least in three counties.)

Justice at Stake logoWould you like to see where your state stacks up in its judicial-selection method? The IAALS, at the University of Denver, breaks it down here.

In case you’re thinking the conversation is of interest merely to court wonks, read a new study by the Defense Research Institute, which calls itself “the voice of the defense bar.” Its report titled “Economics of Justice” details the facts behind its position that financial blows suffered by the judicial branch are inflicting “widespread economic harm in communities.”

A press release and link to the full report are here.

Finally, for a quick synopsis of the O’Connor Plan, watch this video with the Justice herself, along with retired Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis.

 

FIRRP Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project logoWhen the planning for this Friday’s educational seminar on unaccompanied minors in federal custody occurred, would anyone have guessed the topic would grip the nation?

Attorneys have been invited to attend the immigration CLE by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. Space for the Phoenix event is limited to 180 people. As the Florence Project says, “Please share this with your colleagues at your law firms and with other attorneys who may be interested in helping detained immigrant children.”

The cost to attend is $75 until July 22, and all proceeds benefit the Florence Project. You can register and pay online here (be sure to indicate “CLE” on the “purpose” line). Questions? Contact the Project’s most excellent Pro Bono Program Director, Tally Kingsnorth, at tkingsnorth@firrp.org.

Here is more information about the event, to be held at the Fragomen law firm, 3003 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Reception is at Suite 1200, but the seminar will be in the basement auditorium.

Please note that parking for this CLE will NOT be validated and will be at your own expense. Seating is limited to first come, first served.

The training will begin with a discussion of the current UAC situation along the Mexico–U.S. border, ORR custody, and background on children in removal proceedings. Next, the instructors will briefly cover the mechanics of an SIJ case for minors in removal proceedings (Note: the Florence Project presented on SIJS last year and will be scheduling another more intensive CLE on this topic later in the fall). Finally, the presenters will review U visas, T visas, and asylum claims for children.

Instructor Bios: This CLE opportunity will be led by Laura Belous and Golden McCarthy. Before joining the Florence Project’s staff (for a second time), Laura worked as a Staff Attorney with the Pima County Office of Children’s Counsel and represented over 450 children in dependency proceedings. Previously, she was the Mental Health Equal Justice Works Fellow with the Florence Project and represented clients with serious mental illnesses in Eloy, Florence, and Phoenix for two years. Golden spent four years as an ESL teacher and then director of an adult education program in Brooklyn, New York. While in law school, Golden was President of CUNY Law Moot Court and a Fellow for the Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE) under the directive of the Honorable Jenny Rivera. She also participated in the Economic Justice Project and the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Clinic at CUNY Law.

This CLE may qualify for three hours of CLE credit.

Should the owner of this shower pay more for water? An efficient market might say yes.

Should the owner of this shower pay more for water? An efficient market might say yes.

If there is a crisis in water supply in the West, perhaps a solution lies in the market.

Or, as Robert Glennon says, “Quite simply, we need to price water appropriately: people who use more should pay more.”

That is the matter-of-fact position of the University of Arizona Professor. And on its face, the statement could not appear less controversial. After all, that’s how we Americans treat most every other commodity.

UA Law Professor Robert Glennon

UA Professor Robert Glennon

But there is something funny about people’s perceptions of water and water use, Glennon points out. For example, I was surprised to read in his recent New York Times op-ed about the numerous American cities that do not even meter water—the notion being, I guess, that metering is the first step toward taking away people’s water. But when meters are installed, water use and abuse declines.

Read Glennon’s entire piece here. (It is part of a NYT series on “The Water Crisis in the West.”)

CLE By The Sea 2014: The Last Beachhead

CLE By The Sea 2014: The Last Beachhead

Those of you attending CLE By the Sea this week may be unaware that you’re in the midst of an historic event.

In case you haven’t heard, this will be the last year for CBySea. I suppose a number of factors contributed to its being sunsetted. Among those factors are declining attendance and higher costs.

But I have heard from lawyers who have gone year after year, ever singing its praises. Let’s hear their stories.

So I wonder:

  • If any of you there at the Hotel del Coronado would like to share one favorite moment from this week?
  • And if any of you would like to share a great memory or two from any of the many years of the event?

Economics and shifting interests may have led to the elimination of the event. But I’d be happy to send it out in style, atop a sedan chair bedecked with memories and photos.

Contact me with either at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Tucson, Ariz., in 1909 (Wikipedia)

Tucson, Ariz., in 1909 (Wikipedia) (click to enlarge)

Imagine a legal system in which your property rights could not be assured, and where your land holdings could be stripped of you based on your marital status.

That scenario is not beyond imagining. As you might surmise, that situation was faced by approximately half of the U.S. population at one time (and continues for many more globally today).

In the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we were privileged to feature a story that occurred right in Tucson not so very long ago.

It was titled Anna’s Story, and here is how author and attorney Marjorie Cunningham opened the real-life tale:

“Buying, selling and trading land has been a part of Arizona’s booms and busts since colonial times. One shrewd and successful land speculator during the 1800s was a French woman named Anna Charauleau. Ms. Charauleau also exhibited the strong will and relentless nature needed to pursue the protection of her legal rights. Those qualities became important in Arizona legal history, as she was a party to several landmark cases decided by Arizona’s Supreme Court in the 1870s and 1880s in which women’s property rights were at issue.”

Read the whole article here.

And be sure to read carefully the excerpts from the Supreme Court opinion regarding the land matters. Here is how a wise justice analyzed things:

“Before her marriage, the law presumes [a woman] competent to buy and sell and convey property, and supposes she acts in such matters as intelligently as if she were the opposite sex; but during the existence of the marriage relation somehow this condition of ignorance and stupidity is supposed to settle down upon her, to benumb her faculties, to cast a cloud upon her intelligence, to be lifted only by the death of her spouse or other severance of the marriage. … ”

“We are certain that the presumption contended for by the counsel, that a woman of mature years, and an American wife, ceases from the day of her marriage to know what she is doing in the execution of a conveyance until advised … should no longer obtain in a court of justice.”

Thank you to our author for sharing such a compelling piece of Arizona history.

Are there other historic stories that are evocative to you? Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

ethics scales of justice

Today I urge you to consider something that I understand is often on the minds of Arizona lawyers: whether the current ethical rules (among other things) are a help or a hindrance to the practice of law.

For a long time (OK, forever), I have heard some say that the ethics structure fails to keep pace with the realities of law practice. Now, you have an opportunity to offer your views.

Patricia Sallen is the State Bar’s Director of Special Services & Ethics/Deputy General Counsel, but I just call her our ethics guru. And she and others have heard similar statements, and they are examining whether Arizona ethics and the regulatory scheme are meeting all of their multiple challenges. Here is Pat:

“A new Arizona Supreme Court committee will look at whether Arizona ethical and other regulatory rules should be amended because of the changing nature of legal practice in a technologically enabled and connected workplace and the growing trend toward multistate and international law practice.”

“Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer is chairing the new committee. A copy of the administrative order establishing it is here.”

“The committee’s charge specifically includes examining whether the current regulatory model – regulating the practice of law based on a lawyer’s physical location – should be changed and whether conflict-of-interest rules for both private and public lawyers should be clarified.”

“Should the rules be changed? If yes, what would you change? Email your ideas, thoughts and suggestions (as well as any questions!) tochangingpracticeoflaw@azbar.org.”

Time to share your thoughts.

Chief Justice Scott Bales on the Arizona PBS program Horizon, July 9, 2014.

Chief Justice Scott Bales on the Arizona PBS program Horizon, July 9, 2014.

A brief mention on this Change of Venue Friday.Arizona Supreme Court Strategic Plan 2014-19 cover_opt

In case you missed it: On Wednesday, July 9, Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales spoke with PBS Horizon host Ted Simons about the Court’s five goals, as described in the judicial branch’s strategic plan.

In the interview, Justice Bales touched on multiple subjects, including access to justice, specialty courts (such as drug courts and veterans courts), evidence-based practices, and lawyer discipline.

To see the whole video, go here (the interview with Justice Bales begins at about 10:17).

Download your own copy of the report here.

Have a great—and strategic—weekend.

Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales, left, speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, July 9, 2014.

Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales, left, speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, July 9, 2014.

Lodestar Day Resource Center Thirst_Aid_Logo

To the uninformed, the State Bar of Arizona offices may look like we’re getting ready for the next big disaster. But in fact, Bar staff are working hard to address a disaster that strikes unfortunate people every day.

A water drive to assist the Lodestar Day Resource Center and its Thirst Aid initiative has definitely caught the attention of staff. Here’s how Lodestar describes the summer water drive to serve homeless individuals:

“The Human Services Campus is asking the community to participate in the Thirst-Aid campaign by donating bottled water and/or monetary donations to help hydrate those experiencing homelessness. With support from the community, the Human Services Campus hopes to raise 500,000 bottles of water (approximately 20,000 cases) between May 1 to September 30.”

More information about the Center—and what you can do—is here.

Bar staff’s competitive side was roused by the Community Service Committee , which wisely decided a battle between colleagues on the first floor and on the third floor could result in a flood (get it?) of liquid submissions.

That appears to have worked wonders, for staff recently received an email reading, “There have been concerns about the amount of water being stored on the 3rd floor.”

Boom! When staff must be cautioned about a building’s very structural integrity, they have clearly brought it!

In truth, water is everywhere. It’s in the CLE Department’s classroom, multiple people’s offices, hallways, spare cubicles. I get thirsty just seeing it.

Water and tote boards collect on the State Bar's third floor.

Water and tote boards collect on the State Bar’s third floor.

At last count, here’s the tally: 1st floor, 128 cases; 3rd floor, 159 cases.

The drive continues through July 9, so it’s more neck-and-neck than it may appear. (And I have been officed on both floors, so I feel conflicting loyalties. But I guess I’m a 1st-floor person.)

Donated water sits amidst desks in the Bar's CLE Center.

Donated water sits amidst desks in the Bar’s CLE Center.

Besides the water, staff are also donating sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, and lightweight long-sleeved shirts.

In case you wondered, the prize is a pizza party. But honestly, no one I’ve spoken with is primarily driven by the saucy prize; they just want to roll like a river across the finish line.

One of the many State Bar of Arizona offices and cubicles you'll find donated water stored.

One of the many State Bar of Arizona offices and cubicles you’ll find donated water stored.

To help them cross that line, let’s enjoy some river music, as Tina Turner belts out a little Proud Mary. And then, go get more water.

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