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

Example of on-officer cameras

A few days ago, the Arizona Republic reported on a grant that aims to help policing. Recent news suggests that the steps being taken are good ones.

The $500,000 grant comes from the U.S. Department of Justice, and the money will be used to outfit 50 police officers with on-body video cameras.

For quite some time, we’ve been accustomed to dashboard cameras in police cars. Fixed in place, though, they reveal relatively little of the activities that make up an officer’s daily life.

The on-officer camera would capture far more, integrating a device worn over the ear, similar to a Bluetooth device.

The task force that recommended the use of cameras said they believed it would help ensure that officers, and the public with whom they interact, will behave in the best possible way.

Kelly Thomas, who died after a police encounter

A story out of Fullerton, Calif., this week gives credence to that position.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times (written by Joel Rubin and Richard Winton), two Fullerton officers have been charged, one with murder, in the death of a homeless man. The facts are pretty brutal. But what caught my eye was the fact that audio from an on-officer camera is playing a key role in the prosecution’s case.

Here is the story’s lede:

“Before reaching the decision this week to charge a Fullerton police officer with murder, Orange County prosecutors re-created his fatal encounter with a homeless man from dozens of witness statements, footage from security cameras and cellphone videos.

“The piece of evidence that sealed the decision, however, came from an unexpected source: the officer himself.

“An audio recorder carried by Officer Manuel Ramos captured a chilling exchange between him and Kelly Thomas, in which Ramos told the mentally ill man that he was going to beat him. Those irrefutable words, said Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, proved Ramos was intent on hurting the defenseless Thomas and led Rackauckas to file the second-degree murder charge.”

This is likely one of those technological developments we later will recognize as a normal and vital part of policing. I’ll have more on the story as it unfolds.

William Macumber

John Faherty, in yesterday’s Arizona Republic, did a phenomenal job retelling the tale of one of Arizona’s most notorious murders. It was riveting, exhaustive and incisive. Not only that, it was timely, as we learned at the end of the article—for another step in the case is still being played out decades after the crime.

The murder was actually plural—there were two. Joyce Sterrenberg and Tim McKillop were both 20 years old and dating that May night in 1962 when they decided to pull off the main road and park Joyce’s Chevy Impala on a dirt stretch, close by the intersection of Scottsdale and Bell roads. That turned out to be a tragic decision; they were found near the car the next day, shot dead.

It took police until 1975 to arrest someone for the apparently motiveless crimes, and that man was William Macumber.

Faherty weaves all of that, plus far more, into a coherent and gripping narrative. Along the way, he tells about a young lawyer—later Judge—who represented another man whom the attorney believed committed the crimes that led to a life sentence for Macumber.

That is what takes us to modern-day Arizona. Thomas O’Toole the lawyer had represented a man he believed to be guilty for those crimes. But his client had been convicted for another rape and murder, and attorney–client privilege prevented O’Toole from doing anything with the extra information anyway.

But in 1974, when O’Toole read that Macumber had been arrested for the 1962 murders, the then-Judge was stunned. He contacted lawyer Larry Hammond, who had just established the Arizona Justice Project, “which would work to free the wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.” The Judge said that if Hammond was looking for something to work on, he should examine the Macumber conviction.

Read the entire story here. It’s broken into three parts—kudos to the Republic for hanging tough with this long but important story.

As I read Faherty’s great tale, though, I was struck by a few things.

One is our fascination with murder stories. And it seems that every one ultimately continues to hold mysteries that resist unraveling.

In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we have published our share of bloody Arizona stories.

In 2008, Gary Stuart excerpted a chapter of his book on the 1991 Buddhist Temple Murders.

And also in 2008, Judge Bill Schafer wrote “Murder in the Desert” for us, detailing the 1966 trial of Charles Schmid, who killed a girl “to see if he could get away with it.”

Murder stories may be instructive, but they are also lurid, and they can raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

But I thought last night about another aspect of stories like this. And it made me wonder about Faherty’s story.

How many unsolved murders are there? Quite a few, I’d bet. And how many get coverage reaching back decades? Again, not many. But what would the chances have been if the intersection had not been Scottsdale and Bell roads? How slim would those chances be if the intersection had been much farther south, maybe below Van Buren? Or what if the crime had occurred on the reservation? Experience and a wealth of news stories demonstrate that it is quite likely that crime would never have been solved—or even investigated well. And a dearth of news stories tells us that the crime would probably not have been covered in any major newspaper—in 1962 or today.

Vincent Chin

Yesterday, I reported on the anniversary of the Civil War, 150 years old on April 12. Today, I alert you to a program that signals the long, hard slog this country has trod on its path toward racial justice.

The State Bar of Arizona’s annual Minority Bar Convention will be held this Thursday and Friday. That is when a variety of great programs are featured. Those panels touch on many topics, and members who attend—whatever their ethnicity, age or gender—typically report back that the continuing education on offer was great.

You can see the complete list of topics and speakers here. But today, I point you to a special program that will be featured Thursday afternoon.

I hope that you have not forgotten the Vincent Chin murder case. The crime occurred in Detroit in 1982. The awful act was followed by the failure of the court system to render justice. As the materials describe it:

“Equating the sentiment in Arizona today, where the meaning of the 14th Amendment is yet again being called into question, this re-enactment of the Detroit 1982 Vincent Chin Murder Trial will be an eye opening look at prejudice, political activism and civil rights in the modern age.”

At the convention, lawyers and law students will use the trial transcripts to convey the tenor of the trial and the times, when a young Chinese American man was beaten to death solely due to his race.

More information about the events, and the presentation, are here.

An Arizona story that may only rate B-section coverage today in the newspaper and among readers’ attention is one that tells a variety of tales about the state’s legal community.

The story reports that the State Bar of Arizona has filed a formal complaint against the Apache County Attorney and his former chief deputy attorney. The allegations stem from inappropriate conversations with and pressure on a defendant in custody, out of the presence of his lawyer. According to the Bar’s allegations, the interview was ordered by County Attorney Michael Whiting and his chief deputy Martin Brannan.

So egregious was the conduct, Superior Court Judge Donna Grimsley found, that she dismissed the first-degree murder charges with prejudice.

Here is the story about the Bar complaint.

But there is far more to it than that. And to know that, you need only search the White Mountain Independent—or even the pages of the Arizona Republic.

There, you will find that the prohibited interview was performed by two investigators, including Brian Hounshell.

Apache County Attorney Michael Whiting outside the courthouse in St. Johns, Ariz., June 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

Does his name sound familiar? That may be because he is the former Apache County Sheriff. He eventually lost his job after being indicted in 2005 by the Arizona Attorney General for misuse of public monies, as well as “fraudulent schemes and artifices” and theft. He ultimately pled guilty and was sentenced to three years’ probation and a one-year deferred jail sentence.

Grant Woods had been brought in as a special prosecutor to try the case against the sheriff. He argued, successfully, that, “This sheriff, for all the good he did, ended up being a two-bit thief, day after day, month after month.”

No matter. Hounshell’s eventual conviction did little to reduce him in the eyes of County Attorney Whiting, who hired him as an investigator.

At the time, Attorney General Terry Goddard said he was “concerned” about the ex-felon’s hiring, saying that it may violate portions of Hounshell’s plea agreement.

No matter. Whiting went ahead with the 2009 hiring. And by early 2010, Hounshell and another investigator had visited the defendant in jail “and pressed him to plead guilty or face a possible death penalty.” For good measure, Hounshell also allegedly threatened charges against the defendant’s wife.

Now the Bar is looking into what went on up there in Apache County. But there is one more part of the story that tells us something about Arizona’s changing legal community.

Brian Hounshell

That judge who got the ball rolling? She is Presiding Judge Donna Grimsley. And she is the first woman ever elected to the position of Superior Court Judge for Apache County. And now she has placed herself in the center of a firestorm—which is sometimes what a judge has to do.

I do not know the judge, and it’s always best to avoid simplistic psychoanalysis. But a judge setting aside a murder conviction, with prejudice, for prosecutorial misconduct? That is a thunderclap. If there is a definition for “good-‘ol-boy network,” it probably includes the rehiring of a sheriff with a felony conviction, and a sense of hubris and untouchability that would lead to a jailhouse interview that a second-year law student could spot as a constitutional violation.

And after what may prove to be years of odd goings-on in the White Mountains, the statement that “this will not stand” came from a woman who pioneered her way into a historic position.

Donna Grimsley, Presiding Judge for Apache County

On the White Mountain Independent’s comments section, there are already calls for her recall. That’s a battle for another day. But her ruling has signaled a new way of doing business. We’ll see if it’s a way that is preferred by the people who elect judges.

Suspected shooter Jared Loughner (AP photo)

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona just announced that it has filed a federal complaint against Jared Loughner, the suspect in yesterday’s Tucson shooting. Five counts are alleged. Read the complete release below.

Office of the United States Attorney, Dennis K. Burke

District of Arizona

MEDIA ADVISORY Public Affairs

Sunday, January 09, 2011 MANNY TARANGO

Telephone: (602) 514-7456

Cell: (602) 799-8322

Federal Complaint Filed Against Jared Lee Loughner

PHOENIX – The United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis K. Burke, announced today that his office filed a federal complaint against Jared Lee Loughner. The complaint was signed by Magistrate Judge Michelle Burns in Phoenix.

Loughner is suspected of shooting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Chief Judge John Roll, Giffords’ staff member Gabriel Zimmerman and approximately 16 others Saturday in Tucson.

The federal complaint alleges five counts against Loughner:

COUNT 1

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did attempt to kill Gabrielle Giffords, a Member of Congress; in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 351(c).

COUNT 2

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did unlawfully kill Gabriel Zimmerman, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties and who was assisting Member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords while she was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1111.

COUNT 3

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did unlawfully kill John M. Roll, a United States District Court Judge for the District of Arizona, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1111.

COUNT 4

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did, with intent to kill, attempt to kill Pamela Simon, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties and who was assisting Member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords while she was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1113.

COUNT 5

On or about January 8, 2011, at or near Tucson, in the District of Arizona, the defendant, JARED LEE LOUGHNER, did, with intent to kill, attempt to kill Ron Barber, an employee of the United States who was engaged in performance of official duties and who was assisting Member of Congress Gabrielle Giffords while she was engaged in performance of official duties; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1113.

Defendant Loughner will make an initial appearance on the complaint at 3 p.m. Monday January 10, 2011 in front of Magistrate Judge Lawrence Anderson at the Sandra Day O’Connor Courthouse in Phoenix in courtroom 302. He is entitled to a preliminary hearing and detention hearing. The court will set a date for both hearings. Loughner remains in federal custody.

The Rules of Criminal Procedure require that a grand jury review the evidence and issue an indictment within 30 days of the defendant’s initial appearance.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is in the process of drafting an indictment against Loughner for presentation to the grand jury.

RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-003( Loughner)

# # #

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/az/

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