Larry Hammond speaks at the State Bar Board of Governors meeting, Oct. 25, 2013

Larry Hammond speaks at the State Bar Board of Governors meeting, Oct. 25, 2013

At the most recent meeting of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona, attorney Larry Hammond rose to shed light on a vital issue: legal representation for those who cannot afford it.

He is the chair of the Indigent Defense Task Force, and on October 25, he asked the board to form a State Indigent Defense Commission. It would be charged with examining that intractable problem and suggesting solutions.

How intractable? Well, as Larry noted, we are in the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright and we’re still wrestling with it.

In fact, I wonder how much has changed since the issuance of noteworthy reports like Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice” (2003) and Gideon Undone: The Crisis in Indigent Defense Funding” (1982)?

(All of that, and more, are available on an ABA page dedicated to studies of the indigent defense system in the United States.)

Here is one of the things Larry said to the Governors in his appeal to create a commission:

“It is not just the duty of defense lawyers and victim advocates. We all must believe that competent, adequately funded representation is a part of all of our jobs.”

Do you agree?

I’ve invited Larry to write something for Arizona Attorney Magazine on the topic, both the crisis and the recommended response. I’ll keep you informed.

Morris Institute for Justice LogoEthics and justice combine in a seminar next Friday, May 31. I heard about it via a great colleague over at the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education. Let me pass on some of the details.

The legal education seminar is being offered by the Morris Institute for Justice, and the presenter will be Geoff Sturr on the topic of ethics and conflicts.

Lawyer Geoff Sturr of Osborn Maledon

Geoff Sturr, Osborn Maledon

Geoff is a partner at Osborn Maledon, and I asked him to provide some more detail on what he’ll cover:

“Thanks for your interest. The seminar will focus on three areas:  conflicts, confidentiality and candor (which will include, among other things, conduct in negotiations). It will provide an update on recent decisions and opinions, and pending or anticipated rule changes. The primary target audience will be civil practitioners, but I hope to cover issues of interest to criminal and government lawyers.”

In case you don’t know them, the Morris Institute describes itself as “a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of low-income Arizonans.” Read more about them and their work here.

As you may surmise, CLE credit will be offered for the event, which will be delivered in person at the Phoenix office of Lewis and Roca, and in a live simulcast at their Tucson office.

RSVP by May 29 to Ellen Katz at eskatz@qwestoffice.net or 602-252-3432 ext. 2.

All the detail is provided below.

Morris Institute CLE flier

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

On July 27, I attended a panel discussion that aimed to give insight into judges’ thinking. And that’s something that most lawyers find of interest.

The event was sponsored by the Directors Roundtable, based out of Los Angeles. The title was “Recognizing America’s Judiciary: A Dialogue with Chief Justices on Key Issues for Leaders of Business & the Community.”

In my editor’s column for the September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine (on press now), I wrote about the event. (A preview of that column is at right and printed below.)

The roundtable was enjoyable, even if some of the topics are pretty well-worn. For even if we have heard quite a bit already about, say, merit selection of judges, it’s still a wake-up call to hear how vehemently the Arizona Chief Justice speaks about it.

I’ve covered merit-selection developments before (as in this March panel discussion). And in the coming year’s run-up to a voter referendum on altering judicial selection, I’ll cover the continuing dialogue and debate—assuming readers find it compelling.

(Before I get to the column, I have to apologize in advance for the abysmal photography. Whenever an event is slated for the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse, I sigh and seethe, knowing that getting a decent camera into the edifice is akin to smuggling a file in a homemade cake—even when you have permission. I secured permission for my camera through the event organizers, who then apparently failed to tell the only people who mattered—the guards at security. So please bear with the cellphone shots below.)

Here’s my column:

Choosing Our Judges

Those of you who just tumbled to Earth—or even to Arizona—from Mars may be forgiven your misunderstanding.

Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, July 27, 2011

You may be laboring under the Mars-y notion that the way we select our judges is likely noncontroversial and straightforward.

Kind of like raising the debt ceiling.

From whatever galaxy they hailed, attendees at a July event had that impulse checked. Sponsored by the California-based Directors Roundtable Institute, the panel of judges and lawyers provided a dialogue on “Key Issues for Leaders of Business & the Community.

Participants were Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, Hon. Roslyn Silver, Chief U.S. District Judge for Arizona, David Rosenbaum of Osborn Maledon, and Shane Swindle of Perkins Coie. Jack Friedman of the Institute moderated.

The dialogue by the panelists ranged far and wide, from commentary on media coverage, to crushing caseloads and security issues, to e-discovery. But the topic of how we select judges came up numerous times.

Perhaps it’s the black robes that give away little, or the judicial silence that typically repays public scorn heaped on that branch. Whatever it is, the courts have been in critics’ crosshairs for quite awhile.

David Rosenbaum, July 27, 2011

“Courts are the only branch not identified with the political process,” said moderator Jack Friedman. “But if you look at the media, we think that judges get up in the morning and say, ‘I can’t wait to get to the office to impose my views on everyone else.’”

Chief Justice Berch may not be “identified” with the political process, but she can see it from her porch. And though she shared news about court advances in technology and education, she also described the political challenges “to give a flavor of what the courts face.”

She recounted nine bills that the Legislature has considered that would alter—for the worse, in her thinking—the operation of the judicial branch. Worst of all, she said, those bills appear to solve problems that don’t exist.

If the Chief’s words treaded carefully on the matter, those of lawyer David Rosenbaum spoke more plainly.

Five years ago, he said, a similar roundtable featured then-Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and Justice Scott Bales, both of whom talked about attacks on the judiciary.

“The winds are blowing as strong now,” said Rosenbaum. “If not stronger.”

He described recent U.S. Supreme Court cases that have affected court operation and judicial selection, including Citizens United and Massey Coal. And statistics show that expenditures in judicial elections have more than doubled from the decade of the 1990s, when it came in at $84 million, to the 2000s, when it hit almost $207 million.

Here in Arizona, he and others said, we have a merit-selection system in at least a few counties. But it’s a system that’s been under fire.

A solution may lie in a ballot referendum that passed out of the Legislature in April. It will be on the general ballot in November 2012 (the State Bar has a good explanation of the legislation here).

This was a compromise among the Bar, the Court, the Arizona Judges Association, as well as the House and Senate.

Rosenbaum raised questions about the referendum: Without it, would far more harm be done to merit selection? Is it an effective compromise?

On page 76, Clint Bolick asserts his agreement with the State Bar that the compromise does its job well.

As we get closer to the 2012 election, we’ll hear from Arizona lawyers on the topic’s pros and cons. Write to me with your thoughts at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,327 other followers