Mark Hummels with his children at the Grand Canyon

Mark Hummels with his children at the Grand Canyon

I did not intend this week’s posts to focus entirely on violence against lawyers and in the legal profession (and they won’t). But I could not let a heartfelt tribute to lawyer Mark Hummels pass without comment.

A few days after Mark was gunned down along with a client, I wrote about the tragedy. And then, yesterday, I wrote about an Arizona Republic op-ed by John Phelps, State Bar of Arizona CEO.

And even as I write this, we are learning more about a tragic shooting at a courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware. Violence related to the legal profession is an ongoing story.

Today, I urge you to read a moving article by reporter Jenna Greene. As the essay indicates, she attended journalism school with Mark Hummels, and so her insights even precede his work as a lawyer. For the article, Greene interviewed State Bar of Arizona President Amelia Craig Cramer.

State Bar of Arizona President Amelia Craig Cramer

State Bar of Arizona President Amelia Craig Cramer

(I wrote just last Thursday about more coverage by Jenna Greene.)

Here is how she opens her article:

“In my journalism school class at the University of California, Berkeley, there were a few in-your-face, abrasive people, the type who seemed to enjoy confrontation.”

“Mark Hummels was not one of them. I remember him as unflappable, sunny and kind, someone who listened more than he spoke. He rode a unicycle and played the ukulele.”

“He was possibly the last person I would expect to be the victim of a murderous rampage.”

Read her complete tribute here.

Follow all Jenna Greene’s updates here.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorLast Thursday, John Phelps wrote candidly about violence against lawyers in an Arizona Republic op-ed.

John is the CEO/Executive Director of the State Bar of Arizona. Here is how he opened his editorial:

“The murders of Phoenix attorney Mark Hummels and his client Steven D. Singer are part of an unsettling trend in the legal world. Threats and violence are on the rise.”

John Phelps headshot

John Phelps

“In the same week that Hummels was murdered, a prosecutor in Texas, Mark Hasse, was also gunned down. Last year, an attorney in Yuma, Jerrold Shelley, was shot and killed by a man upset over a divorce.”

You can read his complete editorial here.

John goes on to discuss Steve Kelson, a Utah lawyer who has researched instances of violence against lawyers all across the country. (He is in the beginning steps of his process to do the same in Arizona in 2013.) The statistics Keslon reports in John’s op-ed are startling and should give us pause.

In his conclusion, John reminds us of attorneys’ highest duties: “Mark Hummels died after leaving a mediation. His death was the result of trying to find resolution. He died fulfilling Cicero’s belief that ‘we are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.’”

“Our thoughts and prayers go to Mark and Steve Singer’s family, friends and co-workers.”

John Phelps op-ed re Mark Hummels

News screen grab (referring to shooter Arthur Harmon)

UPDATE: This morning, a shooting in Delaware highlighted the flash point that the legal system can be. News reports indicate that multiple people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint in a Wilmington courthouse. Identities of those killed and hurt have not yet been announced. But the final paragraph of the news article is revealing: “Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning, attending a roundtable on gun violence with Vice President Joe Biden and other law enforcement officials in Philadelphia, declined comment on the shooting and deferred to officials on the scene in Wilmington.”

Mark Hummels

Mark Hummels

As I write this, Mark Hummels is dying.

In honor of a man who is an excellent lawyer and a former respected journalist, I should be more precise, so let me try: Experts have announced that Mark Hummels, age 43, will die (if he has not already done so by the time you read this). But the goodness he represented, as manifested in his family, led to their decision to maintain his tie to this world via medical support, pending organ donations. And that is why, as of 9:00 p.m. Thursday night, he is still alive.

That heartbreaking generosity is almost certainly more than this flawed world deserves.

(Update as of 8:25 Friday morning: Mark Hummels has died.)

You have likely read the avalanche of coverage (examples here and here) we’ve already seen regarding yet another instance of an angry and/or deranged individual who used a gun to murder those he viewed as obstacles. Others were hurt in the Phoenix shooting, and a client of Mark’s, a businessman named Steven Singer, was murdered by the same gunman. One news outlet reported that the shooter’s dispute revolved around a $17,000 beef over office cubicles. The mind reels.

You can see the court docket below. It ends with the 9:30 settlement conference that was punctuated by murder.

Arthur Douglas Harmon docket 1

Arthur Douglas Harmon docket 2

I know; we live in a society apparently resigned to such violence. But the deep sadness is only exacerbated by recent national conversations about deaths and weaponry.

Back in 2002, I had the privilege to meet Mark. He was a law student at the time, at the University of Arizona Law School. I spoke with him briefly at a reception honoring five finalists in a law student writing competition.

I was a judge on the competition, and so I drove down to say a few words and to meet the winners.

All of the finalists were impressive, but I specifically recall speaking with Mark. Perhaps it was because he was moving from a life as a journalist to one as an attorney (and I had done the same, but in reverse). Whatever it was, I found him engaging and exactly what the profession needed—so much so that I mentioned him and the other law students in my Arizona Attorney column.

Mark Hummels in Arizona Attorney Magazine, March 2002

Arizona Attorney Magazine, March 2002.

Apparently Osborn Maledon agreed with my assessment, for they hired Mark and made him a colleague. It was while in service to a client that Mark was struck down.

In an evolving news story, you can read the stunned remarks of Ninth Circuit Judge Andy Hurwitz, who once hired Mark as a law clerk. “This is a day of unspeakable sorrow. We all feel so helpless.”

Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz and Bill Maledon speak about Mark Hummels (via Adam Longo, CBS5)

Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz and Bill Maledon speak about Mark Hummels (via Adam Longo, CBS5)

Here is another image posted on Twitter, by CBS5 reporter Adam Longo.

And here is one other tweet, which matches the shock of many posting about Mark:

In a violent society, we still retain the power to be shocked and horrified by violence. That is how I and many others feel on this dark winter week.

Here is a statement from Osborn Maledon. I will post information about Mark’s service when it is available. And I send my deepest condolences to Mark’s wife and their children, aged 9 and 7.

And if any reader wants to share his or her memory of Mark, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Statement from Osborn Maledon

Our friend and partner, Mark Hummels, was severely injured in yesterday’s senseless shooting.

We have been informed that Mark will not survive from the shooting.

We are devastated at this news about our beloved friend. Our deepest sympathy and support pour out to his wife, Dana, and their two children. The trust and affection Mark inspired in every reach of our law firm and with his clients are a lasting testament we will always cherish.

We are sad beyond measure also to have lost our long-time friend and client, Steven D. Singer, the CEO of Fusion Contact Centers, in this tragedy. Steve was a long-time client of the firm and an accomplished entrepreneur. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve’s family as well.

Mark Hummels is the best kind of lawyer – a man who is highly capable in his practice and caring to his core about his community. Still in the early years of his career, Mark has earned many accolades for his skill as an attorney. He is president of the Phoenix Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and highly regarded by the State and Federal bench. He was recognized by “Benchmark Litigation” as a “future star” in litigation. To judges, attorneys and other professionals, he is a trusted counselor in ethics and disciplinary proceedings.

Mark also has given back to the community at large, serving on the training committee for Arizona Town Hall and providing pro bono legal services to those who could not afford counsel. This giving spirit was enhanced during his early years as a reporter for the “Santa Fe New Mexican,” an experience that honed his rare insights into people and our society.

Above all, Mark is the most decent of men. An adoring husband, dedicated father and true friend, Mark is what all of us aspire to be on our best days.

As has been reported, both Mark and Steve were engaged in a settlement conference before they were shot.

The loss of Mark and Steve in any circumstances would be a tragedy. For this to happen to them, while participating in a mediation, is beyond understanding, a terrible loss for us all.

Osborn Maledon shooting statement re Mark Hummels

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