April 2010

Bemused by PowerPoint: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates

It’s Friday, which mean it’s time for Change of Venue, our weekly left-turn where we examine the non-legal—or at least aspects of life that lawyers may be good at, but did not learn in law school.

This week, we give a standing ovation to most lawyers’ ability to handle complexity and obfuscation. To desimplify and complicate is not the purview of rank amateurs, but should be left to those with the professional training and natural ability for such perplexification.

In that admirable effort, we point to a tool that we love: The overly complex but highly revealing flow chart.

Our Afghan "plan"

Those who would point instead to PowerPoint as the most maddeningly numbing medium, I would have to say, nuh-uh. Yes, PowerPoint may be the enemy of all that is good, but it is a drone, not a drill. It lulls to slumber, not to psychosis.

No, for a rousing, gin-inducing, time-wasting effort, I’ll take the flow chart every time.

Two such charts came to mind this week.

One was in a New York Times story that ostensibly mocks PowerPoint. But when you look at the image, I think you’ll see why their missile is aimed wrong. The piece is titled “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint.” Here’s the lede:

“Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.”

I think we’ll all agree with that assessment. As the article says, the slide is emblematic of a military tool that has spun out of control.

Still, it’s fun—and I’m sure many lawyers will agree, and enjoy tracing the conceptual paths with their fingers. You can read the whole story here.

Typeface Madness

Here at Arizona Attorney Magazine, we’ve also been enjoying a flow chart designed to help you select a font that fits your need and your personality. It’s a hoot, and a worthy Friday time-waster.

To see the entire flow chart in all its psychotic glory, start obsessing here.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi


You may never have heard of Jeff Adachi. After all, how many people can name the Public Defender, whether in a large city or small town? But Adachi has worked hard to rectify that, both in his own San Francisco—where he is the elected P.D., the only one in California—or here in Arizona, where he visited in the past week. 

Adachi was here for an appearance at a screening of a movie, one that he wrote, directed and produced. It’s called You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story. According to the Web site: 

“You Don’t Know Jack tells the fascinating story of a pioneering American entertainer Jack Soo, an Oakland native who became the first Asian American to be cast in the lead role in a regular television series Valentine’s Day (1963), and later starred in the popular comedy show Barney Miller (1975-1978).” 

You can read more about the movie here. 

Actor Jack Soo


But suffice it to say that Adachi has wide-ranging interests. For instance, he carved out time to attend an immigration rally—anti-SB 1070, as you might have guessed. And he’s not the only out-of-stater to arrive. 

Arizona’s newest immigration law is making national headlines, good and bad. That has led immigrants in the state—legal and otherwise—to promise that they will move out of a state that they say is encouraging racial profiling. 

But it also has led to an influx of protestors and other public figures who claim to want to make a difference. Think Linda Ronstadt. Or Shakira. And now Jeff Adachi. 

Governing Magazine recently ran a brief piece about Adachi, whom they name the “populist public defender.” 

And Adachi makes a name for himself and his office by speaking on topics that are traditionally far afield of a typical P.D.’s brief. For example, he recently insisted that ballooning employee pensions in the Bay Area city must be reined in, quickly, or the city will be hobbled even further. That kind of position doesn’t sit well with those whom you’d think a campaigning lawyer is trying to woo. But he continues to speak out. 

And then, this week, he visited Arizona. While here, he spoke with protestors and others and operated as a reporter of sorts. 

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom


Meantime, other elected officials are taking varying approaches to the SB1070 firestorm. 

Speaking of San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday “imposed a moratorium on city employee travel to the state of Arizona for official business and announced the creation of a task force to determine how best to extricate the city from its Arizona-related contracts” (San Jose Mercury News). 

In Phoenix, Democratic Mayor Phil Gordon has suggested that he will order his City Attorney to challenge the new law. He has gotten pushback from Republican members of the City Council, but Gordon says the City Charter permits him to move forward without a council vote. 

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon


Meanwhile, farther north in Flagstaff, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to oppose the new law. It was reported that the council chamber was packed with residents as the council considered their decision. 

All of that leads to many fascinating legal questions. 

  • For instance, the lawmakers who passed the law argue that the law is aligned with—not in opposition to—federal law, so there is no need to raise the specter of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Most scholars are reported to disagree.
  • And how do you square Terry v. Ohio, which allows police officers to proceed on reasonable suspicion that there may be a weapon present, with this new law, which requires officers to act on reasonable suspicion of a person’s status—and to do it without resort to racial profiling? The Arizona Peace Officers Association has been charged by the Governor with coming up with standards—I don’t envy them.
  • And state legislators, who take pride in the state’s independence and refusal to kowtow to a centralized power, also bristle at the notion of sanctuary cities, or cities that think they can carve themselves out of the new regime.

As I write this, the news just broke that the very first two lawsuits against the new law have been filed. These opening salvos came from the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, and a Tucson police officer. The story is here. 

Curiouser and curiouser. But it’s a fight that’s worth watching. 

And click here for more information on the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.

[This story contains corrected copy, identified below.] 

PhoenixLaw Dean Gene Clark

The Phoenix School of Law was the venue for an important event last evening. Amidst a panel of distinguished speakers, the school celebrated the launch of the newest volume of its Law Review.

What? Not enthralled yet? Well, pay attention.

The Phoenix Law Review has reached the grand old age of three—that’s 3! And already, its staff are jumping into issues of significance to the state and its legal community.

The new volume is called the “Arizona Government Issue.” It includes “A History of the Arizona Courts,” written by the Arizona Chief Justice herself, Rebecca White Berch. So right there, it’s worth the price of admission.

Vice Chief Justice Andrew Hurwitz

Her excellent article is surrounded by eight others, only some of which I have begun reading. And that is because I just got a copy last night. In fact, the volume wasn’t even printed until the day before the launch symposium. Now that’s called hitting a deadline!

A law review, as they say, takes a village. But everyone present last night took the time to praise 3L Anthony Tsontakis. It was his idea more than a year ago to publish a volume coincided with the centennial of the Arizona Constitution.

Tsontakis describes himself as “a history kind of guy,” and he says his interest in government and elections grew through clerkships and internships at the Secretary of State’s Office (working with Joe Kanefield (an editorial board member of Arizona Attorney Magazine), at the Arizona Legislature and at the Goldwater Institute. (And another shout out to board member Keith Swisher, an assistant professor at the school and the volume’s faculty advisor.)

Anthony Tsontakis

Anthony Tsontakis says that he contacted 50 to 70 people about possible articles, and then saw them through to publication. Preparations this week required “three consecutive all-nighters” and “53 straight hours” of work (Attention, legal employers! Hard worker on deck).

Tsontakis says that he hopes “the volume will demonstrate that today there are three bona fide law schools in the State of Arizona.”

The work—in the volume and in the launch symposium—paid off. (In fact, when I toiled away on law review as managing editor of the Hastings Comm/Ent, we never had lobster ravioli. All rise for the great catering!)

The evening began with PhxLaw Interim Dean Gene Clark talking about “the magic of the success of this book.” He then introduced Nick Dranias, an attorney with the Goldwater Institute.

[The following three paragraphs contain corrected copy.]

Dranias is one of the volume’s authors. He wrote “The Local Liberty Charter: Restoring Grassroots Liberty to Restrain Cities Gone Wild.” He wins for most evocative title, and for getting things off to a rousing start. In his remarks, he said that the Arizona Legislature “is designed to do one thing well: gridlock and stasis. Well done!”

Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute

Of course, Dranias was being complimentary, for he appreciates a body designed to “throttle back public passions.” Any body that fosters caution—“looking before you leap”—in terms of legislation is close to the heart of the Institute. 

Dranias was humorous and ironic when he clarified, “As much as we would like to put the pedal to the metal and have the legislative process generate a conservative libertarian utopia, it tends to generate gridlock instead, and by design. But we must yield to temporary evils to secure the benefits of a written constitution.” (his corrected eloquent words, not mine).

Vice Chief Justice Andy Hurwitz was up next, and he spoke from his experience in all three branches of government. He admitted that “I learn something new every time I read our Constitution.” And so did we.

In his wide-ranging remarks, he talked about the constitutional provisions that involve judges, and the history of the State Bar sending names to the Governor for final selection.

He recalled that, when he was Chief of Staff to Gov. Bruce Babbitt, the then-conservative State Bar would send one name only for each opening. But Babbitt wasn’t going to be fenced in, and the Bar later would agree to send more.

Justice Hurwitz also remembered a time when electing judges was the norm—and not always such a good one.

As a young lawyer at the firm later named Osborn Maledon, Hurwitz arrived at court one day on a matter—only to find his opposing counsel already engaged in conversation with the judge.

“Drawing myself up to my full height, I said, ‘Your honor, this is highly improper.’”

Christy Smith, Office of the Governor

But, he laughed, the judge simply replied, “Sit down, sonny. We’re not talking about your case. He’s also my campaign manager—we’re talking about my election.”

The Vice Chief Justice declined to say how the matter turned out.

Finally, Christy Smith spoke. She is Deputy General Counsel to Gov. Jan Brewer, and she encouraged law students in attendance to consider a life in public service. In fact, she believes that there should be more lawyers serving in the Legislature (no word on whether the Governor shares that view).

March 2009: The AZ Constitution

All in all, a momentous evening to honor a great accomplishment. Congratulations, and well done.

Read more about the Law Review of the Phoenix School of Law.

And read our own March 2009 story on the history of the Arizona Constitution, written by Hon. George T. Anagnost.

A brief item today, using this coolio Internet blog technology to tout—books.

That’s right, we’re blogging it old school today to be sure you’ve perused the newest site dedicated to those marvelous dead-tree reading tools.

The Brennan Center for Justice launched its Just Books page a few weeks ago, and it’s worth bookmarking. For the lawyer at the keyboard, or anyone concerned about injustice issues in a cruel, cruel world, this is a site to come back to again and again.

So get reading here.

Law Day will be here next week, and it has lessons to impart.

It is an annual event that encourages Americans to think hard about the benefits of living in what we call a nation of laws. It’s a little self-congratulatory, but as an exercise, it’s a useful one.

Each state is encouraged to develop its own curriculum. In Arizona, the focus of the Supreme Court’s Law Day will be an April 30 program titled Law, Justice, and the Holocaust:  What You Do Matters” (more information is here). A program co-sponsor is the State Bar of Arizona.

The program will examine how atrocities like the Holocaust are rarely the simple acts of madmen. Instead, they often are carefully and legally scripted.

For instance, in the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler and his henchmen wanted to be sure laws and legal structures were altered to support their Final Solution. Sadly—but not so surprisingly—lawyers and judges went along with that travesty, either through persuasion, coercion, or with pleasure.

A program I attended yesterday demonstrates that we need not leave our own continent—or our own country—to see examples of civil liberties tossed aside—and all the more immorally because it was done under the auspices of the law.

The 49th annual scholarship awards of the Arizona Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League was held—deliciously—at the Phoenix College Culinary Café on April 25. (Disclosure: My wife is Chapter President.) Along with the scholarship awards, they hosted a terrific keynote speaker who reminded everyone about the obligations we have as free Americans.

Tom Ikeda of Densho

Tom Ikeda is the Executive Director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project. He (and their Web site) explained that:

“Densho’s mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy and promote equal justice.”

Ikeda spoke eloquently of the work and privilege of speaking with aging Japanese Americans whose lives were forever marked by internment in what can only be described as concentration camps. Founded in 1996 in Seattle, Densho wants to memorialize the oral histories before they are lost forever. Currently, the project is up to more than 400 interviews.


Those remarkable interviews are available on the Densho Web site as videos and in transcript form. They also are searchable by topic, making it easy to locate a brief discussion within even hours-long interviews.

Every bit of Tom Ikeda’s presentation was compelling. But of great interest to lawyers and anyone who cares about the law, Ikeda also showed a clip of law professor Peter Irons, as he described a seminal moment in research. He explained how he had sought and sifted through the case files on Korematsu v. United States, the case that had upheld the federal government’s exclusion and internment of United States citizens.

It was in those files that Irons found a “smoking gun.” Justice Department lawyers had written memos explaining that they had good reason to doubt the Army Department statements that the nation was imperiled by Japanese American citizens, should they be permitted to remain free. The lawyers pointed out the ethical obligation not to lie to the Supreme Court, and said that Department lawyers must provide all of the evidence to the Justices.

They did not, however, and the Supreme Court ultimately issued one of its most infamous cases, exemplary of a miscarriage of justice.

(In the 1980s, Korematsu and two other cases were overturned when evidence was presented that the U.S. government had “altered, suppressed and withheld important and relevant information from the Supreme Court.”)

Congratulations to the Arizona Supreme Court for looking hard at the legal profession’s failings in Germany in the 1940s. But let’s not forget our own profession’s failures here at home.

Happy Law Day.

Click here for a 2004 story on Densho.

Click here and here to read some more recent articles by Arizona Attorney Magazine on the anniversary of the Japanese American Redress legislation.

It’s Friday, which mean it’s time for Change of Venue, our weekly left-turn where we examine the non-legal—or at least aspects of life that lawyers may be good at, but did not learn in law school.

A business lunch begins with ...

This week, recognizing how well lawyers eat (to talk business, of course), I point you to a restaurant.

Being a statewide publication, that’s not something I would do lightly. But a recent meal at this establishment told me I should encourage your gorging there.

The place? C-Fu Gourmet in Chandler, Ariz.

I’ve been to this Chinese restaurant many times, but the recent Arizona Asian American Bar Association banquet reminded how good it could be.

To keep this post short on the words but long on the salivation, I’ll list the nine courses from that April 14 feast

  • Spicy Shrimp and Calamari Salad
  • Chicken Asparagus Soup
  • Beef Tenderloin and Gai Lan
  • Princess Chicken
  • Double Mushroom, Tofu and Greens
  • Steamed Fish, Ginger Scallions and Soy
  • BBQ Pork Mai Fun Noodles
  • Salted Fish/Chicken Fried Rice
  • Double Dessert “Sesame Ball and Fruits”

 Yes, Sesame Ball and Fruits. Why do you ask?

The menu includes far more than this suggests. I recommend the three-part strategy: Eat, drink, nap.

Drop into their Web site for more info. Or, even better, just stop by:

3-part test: Eat, drink, nap

2051 W. Warner Rd.
Chandler, Az. 85224
S.W. corner of Warner & Dobson, 1 mile east of the 101

Unhappy with my selection? Want to recommend something else? Post a comment, or send your thoughts to arizona.attorney@azbar.org

Here’s how I began my Earth Day: Wanting to kill a bird.

A woodpecker, more specifically. He has grown very comfortable on our roof, and greets the (near) dawn with his rat-a-tat-tat on the metal vent stack rising from our bathroom.

Not the brightest woodpecker, I’m guessing. But even though “Dick” (so named by me because he’s a real pecker) may not be damaging our wood, he still is sending me around the bend.

No need to worry, though. I understand that no harm can (intentionally) befall Dick. Because he is a migratory bird, he is protected from foul play by the likes of me under the auspices of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Good thing for Dick I’m a law-abiding man.

And that’s just one way that the law interacts with the densest of the Solar System’s terrestrial planets, also known as our blue marble named Earth.

Reading the history of Earth Day, you unearth (get it?) all kinds of tidbits. For instance, according to Wikipedia (the un-Shepardized version of all learning):

  • April 22 is also the birthday of actor Eddie Albert of Green Acres, who was a staunch environmentalist and spokesperson for the National Arbor Day Foundation. Albert spoke at the inaugural Earth Day ceremony in 1970.
  • April 22 is the birthday of Vladimir Lenin.

Smile, Comrade, it's Earth Day

That last may be the funniest factoid of all, due to all the fallout that ensued. By selecting April 22 as Earth Day, the progressives irked a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who  said, “Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.”

So there.

The Wikipedia entry adds that Lenin was never noted as an environmentalist.

"Comrade Lenin Cleanses the Earth"

Really? I guess they’re not counting ethnic and other cleansing, as evidenced in at least one poster from his time.


And while I was meandering on the Earth Day/lawyer nexis, I came across one other person: Kathleen Rogers.

Kathleen, whom you may not know, is the President of Earth Day Network … and a lawyer who went to the law school at the University of California–Davis (Go, UC!).

More to the point, she previously held the position of … wait for it —

Chief Wildlife Counsel for the National Audubon Society

Kathleen Rogers

Holy scat, that’s a great title. I mean, who among us hasn’t had to herd a few cats. But “Wildlife Counsel”? That’s ridiculous. 


And if Earth Day isn’t about aspiring to a job with a cool title, what is it about? To say otherwise is simply pessimistic, political ideology.

So happy birthday, Vlad … I mean, Gaia. You may be a mother, but you’re our mother.


(For more on the environment/socialism/degrading Western values connection, you really should read a 2009 editorial in The Washington Times. The authors compared Arbor Day to Earth Day. Arbor Day, they claimed, is a happy, non-political celebration of trees. Earth Day? That’s a pessimistic, political ideology that portrays humans in a negative light. Hate that.)

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