November 2010

If there is a code of honor among blawgers (and I’m sure there is, for there is a code involved in all things law), then I am sure it requires this of me: to spread the news that finalists have been named in the ABA’s Blawg 100.

These, as you might have surmised, are the “best” law bloggers, as determined by the ABA Journal’s legion of editors. Now people far and wee (you, me, the finalists’ families and pets) get to winnow the field to the best of the best.

I have to admit that I am as surprised as you are that this very blog — AZ Attorney — was not selected. But gnashing our teeth and crying in our beer will get us nowhere (though the second path sounds appealing). Instead, we’ll forge ahead, read some blogs and cast some votes. And that is what you should do too. Do not dwell on the injustice heaped on our Grand Canyon State, or rend your garments in dismay. We shall be the better advocate for quality blogging by simply carrying on, focused outward, as always.

Oh, yes, the voting. You can go here to register and then cast your ballots.

No write-ins allowed (I already checked).

Happy reading.

"Can You Spot the Future Americans?" - photo essay by Matt Slaby/Luceo

We’ve gotten many views of immigration over the past year, especially here in Arizona. But I was struck this past weekend as I read an essay with insight that we don’t typically receive.

I found it in a Mother Jones article that detailed the immigration situation through the lens of an immigration law judge.

As you might guess, that view is one of a vast bottleneck of cases, with justice—or at least decisions—rendered in a matter of seconds.

What many forget is that immigration judges are employed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Thus, as we look through our mind’s eye at our elementary-school chart of the separation of powers, these judges sit in the same frame as the rest of the executive branch. Checks and balances do not apply.

The story examines the cluttered calendar of an immigration judge, who must weigh the law and facts with remarkable speed. And what is at stake is far more than a property dispute or some lost overtime. As the author Casey Miner writes, “With just minutes to decide whether someone gets deported, overworked immigration judges have reached a breaking point.”

Read the whole story here.

The State Bar of Arizona has just launched a significant portion of its redesigned website—and they want to know what you think.

The portion that is primarily tailored toward the public has seen remarkable changes over the past few months. Still to come are changes to the areas that lawyers use on a daily basis (such as Arizona Attorney Magazine, I like to think). But everyone is welcome to jump in, click, search—and then comment. Here is a page that invites your suggestions.

Praise and critiques can go directly to the State Bar’s Chief Communications Officer, Rick DeBruhl (

He’s also the guy to tell if you think that the staff who put out that remarkable Arizona Attorney deserve huge raises and a reward trip to Waikiki. Just saying.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Kevin Gover

Yesterday we received two news items that were three time zones apart, but each says something important about Indian law issues.

The more specific Indian Law analogue was the announcement of an ABA award to Kevin Gover, who is the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Pertinent for us, he has Arizona ties and is a longtime law professor at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

He will receive the 2011 Spirit of Excellence Award, given by the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.

More information on the award is here. You can read Gover’s profile, via the ASU Law School, here.

As the ABA says:

“Gover has been a tireless champion for the rights of Native American tribes,” said Fred W. Alvarez, commission chair. “He walked his first picket line as a 10-year-old member of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, and marched as an undergraduate at Princeton University to draw attention to the plight of American Indians.  He rose to become Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the United States Department of Interior, responsible for policy and operational oversight of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and overseeing a $2.2 billion budget and supervising 10,000 employees  Since 2007, he has led an institution dedicated to advancing knowledge and understanding of the life, languages, literature, history and arts of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. His career has been truly extraordinary.”

“Gover began his career in Indian affairs more than 30 years ago, with his post on the American Indian Policy Review Commission. Shortly after receiving his law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, he joined the Indian law division of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Kampelman, where he worked exclusively on matters relating to the American Indian community. Gover later formed his own firm, focusing his practice on Indian law, which eventually became one of the largest Indian-owned firms in the country. His work caught the eye of then President Bill Clinton, who appointed Gover to his Department of the Interior post in 1997.”

Charles Calleros

(The Arizona honor continues even further: Also earning the Spirit of Excellence Award is ASU Law Professor Charles Calleros. Congratulations to both.)

The other news item that affects Indian Law issues was the announcement by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that a vacancy on the Supreme Court would be filled by Robert Brutinel, a judge on the Superior Court for Yavapai County. We reported on that yesterday.

It was Faith Klepper, former chair of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board, who pointed out (on Facebook) that Judge Brutinel has some experience in Indian law matters.

According to his application for the position (available here at the Supreme Court website, but who knows for how long, now that he’s been named to the Court), he indicates that when he was in private practice he represented an Indian tribe. He goes on to say:

“As a practitioner, I was involved in the drafting of major revisions to the Yavapai–Prescott Indian Tribal Code. I drafted a number of ordinances in various areas of the law for the Tribe.”

Judge Robert Brutinel

The new Justice is highly accomplished in many areas, and has even been honored this year as the Judge of the Year by CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocates.

But having some Indian Law experience could be extremely helpful in Arizona. And it may even have an impact on how law is taught in this state.

As we’ve noted before, a petition submitted to the Arizona Supreme Court to add Indian Law to the state’s bar exam has been tabled for quite some time now.

If the addition of Indian Law will not happen while the Court considers signing on to a broader uniform bar exam, maybe Justice Brutinel will be influential in another area: getting Indian Law added to the training for lawyers admitted on motion, without taking an Arizona bar exam.

After all, a lawyer who has worked on the drafting of an Indian Law Code may be particularly attuned to its value. That, too, would add to a spirit of excellence.

June 2009: Then-State Bar of Arizona President-elect Ray Hanna and Judge Robert Brutinel, Arizona Superior Court for Yavapai County (today named to the Arizona Supreme Court)

Back in June 2009, as we prepared for an Arizona Attorney Magazine profile of incoming State Bar President Ray Hanna, photographer Christopher Marchetti snapped a shot of Ray with Judge Robert Brutinel–today named to the Arizona Supreme Court. Enjoy the photo.

You can read more about Judge–I mean Justice–Brutinel in the Governor’s press release.

I’ve already told you we’re seeking bloggers (forgotten already? Click here). But what, exactly, does that mean, you ask.

Like Potter Stewart, I’d like to say “I know it when I see it.” But unless you’re a pornographer, you deserve a better answer.

Well, as luck would have it, I just came across a well-written essay on the topic. Click here to start reading.

It was written by Ali Luke, at the Creativity Toolbox. She is a London writer; find her—and follow her—on Twitter at @aliventures. (You might also stop by her website here.)

Ali Luke

Early on in the essay, she points out that “The truth is, if you’re blogging—or even planning a blog—then you’re already much more creative than a lot of folks.”

Well, right on, I say. Whether you are blogging (or planning to), or writing in some other form (or planning to), you’ve got a creative spark that we want you to share.

And as you read the essay on, ignore those blinking ads that say, “Make Ca$h Blogging.” Wouldn’t you rather do that with Arizona Attorney Magazine, where we pay you in positive vibes, great readers, and the occasional coffee and doughnut?

If you said yes to those things, you may be on the path to becoming the kind of blogger we seek.

Don’t just sit there—read what Ali has to say. And give the endeavor some thought.

On this Change of Venue Friday, I am still attending the State Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference (which I wrote about yesterday). So I’ll take the opportunity to tell you about another great event, this one hosted by the Arizona Minority Bar Association.

More than 50 people attended the AMBA’s lawyer–law student mixer held on November 4 at the Hotel Congress in Tucson. It is an annual event, much appreciated by both groups of people.

I was told about the event by Suzanne Diaz, a Fennemore Craig attorney and a graduate of the State Bar’s Bar Leadership Institute. She was kind enough to invite me and, when I was unable to attend, to send me news and photos.

Suzanne says that lawyers and students all enjoyed meeting and talking to each other, and that the students said they received great advice from the lawyers and judges.

Among the judges sharing their Thursday evening were Supreme Court Associate Justice John Pelander and Judge Philip Espinosa of the Court of Appeals’ Division 2. (If we missed any judges, Suzanne and I both apologize.)

Suzanne even passed on a review of the evening by a student attendee:

“I thought it was absolutely fabulous! The students had a great time!” ~Ashley Gomez, JD Candidate, 2012

You’ve heard the great news. Now get ready for the call to action. It’s in two parts.

First, traipse over to the AMBA’s Facebook page and, if you’re so inclined, click “Like.” I did, because it’s great to see a dynamic group of lawyers who enjoy and are energized by their duty to mentor and advance a new generation of lawyers. Bravo.

Second, do you have an event that we should cover? Is it coming up in the future, or has it just happened? In either case, contact me—we want to help spread the word about your news regarding Arizona’s legal community.

Here are a few photos (more are at that Facebook page). Have a great weekend.

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