January 2011

At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we have been known to claim that we represent “Arizona law with a global viewpoint.” Now, we have some evidence for that assertion.

In December, a delegation of judges and lawyers from Turkey visited the United States. And Arizona was honored that we were one of a short list of their must-stop locations.

It wasn’t just our glorious December weather that drew them here. They explained that this state’s high-quality judges (and merit selection), as well as the good reputation of our lawyers, was the attraction.

I wrote about their visit to the State Bar of Arizona here. And then I followed up with a related story in Arizona Attorney Magazine’s February issue (online February 1).

But our online story caused a bit of a ruckus – not a full-blown international incident or anything, but still a minor cause célèbre (as they say across the Pond).

As reported to me, the “fallout in Turkey” included the following.

Apparently, a Turkish newspaper, called Venicag, found our story and photo on this blog site. That led them to publish the photo that I took (credit, please!?) on the front page of their newspaper.

My photo of the visit by judges from Turkey

I’m told that the newspaper is very anti-government, and that their article claims the Turkish government was hiding secret meetings with the United States. Essentially, it asserted that the Turkish Ministry of Justice was in the States to learn how to create a federalist system within Turkey.

So I guess no good deed goes unpunished. So much for covering local dignitaries.

In the meeting I attended at the State Bar, I didn’t spy any scheming. Of course, I didn’t attend the rodeo with them, so who knows what was discussed at the roundup.

We made the Turkish tabloids!

If you are multilingual, you can read the original story online here.

If not, here is a translation of the Venicag story (I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translation).

Here is the Hidden Picture

“We find the system ideal”

Ministry of Justice Undersecretary Ahmet Kahraman and eight head of the department judges have examined state system in Washington, Colorado and Arizona. Head of the Arizona Court of Appeals Daniel Barker said the Delegation has told him “We found Arizona system ideal”. National Security Council says “One nation, one state”; there is a state system research in U.S. This is the picture of 2011 Turkey…

The secret communication between U.S. and Turkish Justice Ministries was taken to Parliament and Minister Ergin had left questions unanswered. The next picture which shows Turkish and American delegations together documented the contacts which Minister of Justice is trying to hide persistently.

Depending on the information Yilmaz Polat provided, we had informed public before that Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin participated in a meeting at Atlantic Council named institution which former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman is a member of board of management. The Istanbul MP of Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Ahmet Tan gave a parliamentary question to Presidency of Turkish Grand National Assembly and asked “ Does your meetings are related to wikileaks documents? Is the aim of this trip is to increase information and experience on site? Upon the order of the Prime Minister, is there any work is being made related to transformation to state system? Will there be any arrangements related to state system among the constitution changes which your government promised to do after the 2011 elections?”

Ergin was not able to answer these questions. Yilmaz Polat popped another news when we were on leave and informed that he has made it confirmed that Ergin has met with Edelman in the mentioned meeting. Ergin again has not made any explanation.

Polat has sent us an information, document and picture of Justice Ministry Ahmet Kahraman and eight judges’ U.S.  visit. The picture is taken from U.S. press. According to the information U.S. officials  gave, With invitation of OPDAT, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training, an institution of U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. covering costs of the trip, Ministry of Justice Undersecretary Ahmet Kahraman and eight Head of the Department judges examined state legal system between the dates 2-11 December in Washington, Colorado (Denver) and Arizona (Phoenix). In order to resolve shortages in the Turkish legal system, the Arizona system was found ideal.

The Delegation went to Arizona after Denver and met with Head of the Court of Appeals Judge Daniel Barker, and was in touch with Supreme Court and Federal Court.

The Judge Daniel Barker said the Delegation told him that “We believe that there are shortages about guaranteeing public’s confidence in Turkish legal system. For this reason, we examine Arizona system which we know that it made a big progress.”

Head of the Arizona Bar John Phelps and Secretary General John Furlog also gave a briefing to Delegation around one hour at the Arizona Bar.

Arizona has a border with Mexico and Mexican origin  population in the State is significant.

The U.S. Justice Ministry has defined the aim of the visit as “being professional”.

The US people who professionalize Turkish Justice Delegation, did not skip saying that they took the Delegation to a lunch at Arizona Chase Field and rodeo as a social activity.

Well then, What is this OPDAT?

In the website of the U.S. Embassy there is an explanation  which says “A legal advisor is placed in U.S. Embassy in Ankara in 2006 affiliated to US. Justice Department Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training”.

In the American Justice Ministry’s internet site it is shortly said that OPDAT works in a close cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs; The U.S. Government supports Turkish Government’s combat against murders committed by PKK and other terrorist organizations; develops legislation of combating terrorism and assists Turkey in criminal cases, financial fraud and public fraud.

Baris Terkoglu from OdaTV had said that OPDAT’s  U.S advisor in Turkey had a meeting on 25-26 January 2007 in Istanbul together with  Deputy Chief Prosecutors from 8 cities’ Courts which deals with terrorist crimes and organized crimes and also four judicial representatives. Mehmet Bozkurt from Aydinlik, had revealed that this U.S. prosecutor was Suzanne Hayden.

National Security Council says “One nation, one state”; there is a state system research in U.S.

This is the picture of 2011 Turkey…

It is a commonplace to deride airplane travel today. It is the rare week that passes in which I am not subjected to some scornful diatribe relating the latest in airline degradations.

“Get over it,” we all want to say. “We know, already. The best days of air travel are behind us. What we have now is bus travel that is airborne.”

And that is why I combat waves of self-loathing as I relate my own airborne story, headed as I am to a criminal-justice conference for Arizona Attorney Magazine.

I write this as I currently wing eastbound across the country at, I’m told by our cockpit-cacooned Ralph Kramden, 31,000 feet.

I climbed aboard a few hours ago, only to find that I was to be housed in an aisle seat in the last row of our Airbus (there’s that bus word again!). Someone else had purchased my tickets, and too late I have learned that I am to be subjected to a non-reclining slab of high-tensile-strength plastic, covered with a cotton ball or two for comfort.

But now I understand that the main problem with this seat — 26C — is not the fact that it is painfully upright for the entire 5-hour trip from Phoenix to New York. No, the real problem is that it is sited in the area I like to call the “toilet waiting area.”

Delightful, I am sure you’ll agree.

But there is no better way to describe the spot where a dozen people have stood in line, like ticketed vagrants, almost from takeoff until landing. The shuffling, stumbling mob changes slightly moment by moment, overly hydrated person by overly hydrated person. But the line never diminishes.

Here is what comes with that pleasure:

People’s midsections: There is no escaping the parade of human body parts that drifts past me at eye level. Wide, narrow and everything in between, passengers display their bits, encumbered most often with poor clothing choices.

Eye contact: Much as most people try to avoid it, eye contact may be inevitable as someone lingers by my seat for minutes at a time. I do not yearn for a connection with any of you people waiting to shit in a closet-sized plastic box. Please, keep your eyes skyward.

Other people’s conversation: If there is one thing mass transit (and I include planes) has going for it, it is relative anonymity. Aside from the occasional cad who ignores your open book or your closed eyes and tries to strike up conversation, most of us understand that silence is best. But that’s not true in the toilet waiting area. There, masses of people who have been stripped of all other forms of self-respect feel a bond with their aisle-mates. That leads them to begin yammering, about where they are coming from (which is the same for everyone on the plane), where they are going to (ditto), and how small airline seats are and how nice it is to stand up (thanks for the original thought).

And they are doing all of that, right now, next to me.

That has led (and may be leading right this moment) to some site-specific invasions of privacy. Here’s what I mean.

People, essentially, were raised in barns. And that is probably why a number of them cannot help trying to read what it is that I am typing AT THIS VERY MOMENT!


Sorry about that. I’m back.

I think what adds to the low quality of travel today is the path that we all must tread to get to our seats, wherever they are. You know what I mean: Every one of us must pass through first-class to struggle back to steerage.

(My apologies if you fly first-class. If your butler is reading this blog post to you, I hope he will omit this section.)

That is a hard path to walk. And I don’t think it occurs in any other realm of life.

For instance, as I drive home from work, and head toward my own humble abode, I can select the most direct route. No law or policy requires me to wend my way through more upscale neighborhoods first. Nothing demands that I observe the upper crust enjoying crustless sandwiches on the front lawns of their palatial estates. They live there, I live here, and we need not intermingle.

Or when I am at work, and the interoffice mail delivers my Friday paycheck, am I first subjected to a viewing of the CEO’s pay stub? Am I forced to absorb the fact that his deductions for, say, life insurance are greater than my entire gross pay for the week? Thankfully for both of us, the answer is No.

Or when I wheel my ancient bicycle up to the take-out window at Church’s fried chicken, I am alone in my grease-addled penury. No one requires me first to pedal past open-air bistros where the elite sip martinis and feed each other coq au vin topped with edible gold bouillion.

And that’s the way it should be.

And yet, on airlines, we make that walk of shame, past first-class, with its hot towels, human-focused seating and other innumerable treats. No matter how happy the occasion that is the focus of your journey, that unfortunate path leads only to sadness — and maybe to a seat near the toilet waiting area.

Making that walk more difficult today was seeing a relative celebrity in first-class. Not typically star-struck, I still was surprised to see a Phoenix Suns former owner ensconced in the comfort of a wide leather seat as I entered with my bags.

The man is a legend and has accomplished much in his life, but he always retains the “common touch,” as they say. He is known to be a friendly and gregarious man, never far from his working-class roots. And in that way, he’s a lot like you and me (butlers, omit that last sentence). But there he was in first-class, and I was headed to the cattle car.

As my slow-moving line inched through the primo section I noted with surprise that the former sports mogul was poking the keys on his own iPad, making productive use of the time before we had to power down electronic devices.

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to see what he was typing.

As I craned my neck and hovered over his screen, he suddenly looked up at me and curled his lip in what I believe was derision.

See how rude plane travel has gotten? It’s a crying shame.

Julie Pace

On this Change of Venue Friday, I share a nice story about a lawyer aiming to do good.

Julie Pace is an accomplished employment, OSHA and litigation lawyer, and she has written for Arizona Attorney Magazine before. But her skills extend far beyond workplace issues.

In yesterday’s Arizona Republic, the lead editorial praised her efforts to create harmony on multiple sides in the immigration debate. An accomplished photographer, Pace created a poster that emphasizes how the best result may come through unity, rather than rancor.

As the editorial opens:

Butterflies do not come to mind when you think of recent debates over immigration. Stinging hornets maybe. Or scorpions.

Not butterflies.

Local attorney Julie A. Pace wants to change that. She created a poster and hand delivered it to members of Congress this week. The artwork carries the words: “Left Wing, Right Wing: Come Together, Solve Immigration.” It shows a butterfly with composite wings. Her message: “Our left and right wings cannot fly on their own, but can achieve a beautiful result when brought together.”

One of Pace's butterfly creations

Her optimistic invitation for left and right to work together is a refreshing demonstration of confidence in the ability of those in Congress to act in the best interests of the entire nation. America needs comprehensive immigration reform to help secure the border, provide future labor needs and create a path to earned legalization for the undocumented.


Julie has established a website for her project. Here is the concept as described there:

“Left Wing, Right Wing, Come Together, Solve Immigration”

Immigration Butterfly Art by Julie A. Pace

“Everyone agrees that our country’s immigration system is broken. Differences of opinion on immigration have been used to divide the country and increase conflict. We need leadership to bring us together and solve immigration. Employment and litigation attorney Julie A. Pace has created an original work of art to unify efforts and to symbolize that bringing the diverse elements of our country together can achieve a beautiful, soaring, sustainable result. The diverse elements cannot live and fly on their own and need to be unified to be successful.”

More information is here.

And congratulations to Julie on her efforts.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted

I have written before about the holy war that flared up last year between Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. (See the stories here and here.)

The trouble brewed over an emergency procedure the hospital staff performed. It terminated a pregnancy, but saved the life of the mother. Instead of the reaction you might expect—sorrow for the loss paired with praise for the medical team—we were witness to the bishop’s recriminations and ultimate statement that a Catholic sister who had participated in the decision to save the mother’s life was essentially excommunicated.

The firestorm that grew up nationwide surprised many. And perhaps most surprising was the support that the hospital received. Now stripped of its “Catholic” status (but keeping its oh-so-Catholic name), the facility continues to serve a community it has served for generations.

Today, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof examines the debate anew. In “Tussling Over Jesus,” he dissects the jarring intersection of world views that played out in Phoenix. Most interesting, he points out that the clash is nationwide, and growing in frequency:

“Make no mistake: This clash of values is a bellwether of a profound disagreement that is playing out at many Catholic hospitals around the country. These hospitals are part of the backbone of American health care, amounting to 15 percent of hospital beds.”

“Already in Bend, Ore., last year, a bishop ended the church’s official relationship with St. Charles Medical Center for making tubal ligation sterilizations available to women who requested them. And two Catholic hospitals in Texas halted tubal ligations at the insistence of the local bishop in Tyler.”

Nicholas D. Kristof

When I wrote about this in December, I pondered on a simple and pragmatic question: What care would I receive if I were admitted to a Catholic hospital? Given that I had always indicated on my insurance data that St. Joe’s was my hospital of choice, should I reassess? Would they give me not the best care possible, but just the best Catholic care possible?

“You see, when it comes to doctoring around with the human body, I may be like a lot of people: I prefer the scientifical over the pontifical. Health care decisions are supposed to be about a lot of things, but they are not supposed to be about who wears the bigger hat.”

Kristof read my mind. His column today includes these startling sentences:

“The National Women’s Law Center has just issued a report quoting doctors at Catholic-affiliated hospitals as saying that sometimes they are forced by church doctrine to provide substandard care to women with miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies in ways that can leave the women infertile or even endanger their lives. More clashes are likely as the church hierarchy grows more conservative, and as hospitals and laity grow more impatient with bishops who seem increasingly out of touch.”

As the “health care debate” rages around the country, it is striking that we have a health care debate of our own right here in town. This debate goes back centuries, but its resolution may say a lot about modern-day America.

Last week, I mentioned in passing that this spring I would be working on a story about criminal sentencing and sentencing reform. I also alluded to what had spurred me to the topic at this time.

Well, that kick in the pants came in the form of an upcoming conference to be held in New York City this coming week. And I am honored to have been invited.

The invite came to me from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (and its Center on Media, Crime and Justice) and the Guggenheim Foundation. They were offering some fellowships (read “all-expenses paid”) to attend the conference. But they asked applicants to write a story pitch that had some connection to the conference topics.

The conference is titled “Law & Disorder: Facing the Legal and Economic Challenges to American Criminal Justice.” The complete program is here.

Given the depth of the conference topic, developing a story idea that complemented it was not the challenge. The hard part was narrowing to a story pitch that would tie to interests of Arizona Attorney Magazine’s readers. The topic had to be timely and relevant.

Thank you to my great Editorial Board, who offered a slew of story ideas, any one of which would be newsworthy. Ultimately, I submitted a pitch on the topic “Courts at the Crossroads of Sentencing Debates.” It relates to the conversation and controversy over “evidence-based sentencing.”

The reviewers must have liked what they read, because I was invited. I now am officially a Guggenheim Fellow – or a “Guggfella,” as a colleague has already dubbed me.

The City University of New York (where the John Jay College is housed) kindly sent out a press release about the event and the fellowships. As it begins:

New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman will lead a prestigious group of speakers, including three senior judges and three district attorneys from around the country,  for discussions on the evolving role of the courts in the U.S. justice system at the Sixth Annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City on Monday, Jan. 31st and Tuesday Feb 1st, 2011.

Judge Lippman will deliver the keynote speech on Jan 31st on the conference theme: “Law & Disorder: Facing the Legal and Economic Challenges to American Criminal Justice”

The Harry F. Guggenheim Symposium is the only national gathering which brings together journalists, legislators, policymakers, scholars and practitioners for candid on-the-record discussions on emerging issues of U.S. criminal justice.  Panel topics this year include: the courts and civil liberties, court overcrowding, gun violence, the impact of the midterm elections on criminal justice, the crisis in family courts, and the use of new technology in crime-fighting and its implication for privacy rights.

Twenty-Six U.S. journalists from print, online and broadcast outlets have been awarded fellowships to attend the conference. The unique fellowships, organized by John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice (CMCJ), are aimed at encouraging and promoting top-quality journalism on criminal justice.

The Fellows were selected from a wide pool of applicants based on editors’ recommendations and on investigative reporting projects currently underway or in the planning stage related to the topics explored at the 2011 conference.

Here is a link to the complete release, including the names of all the 26 new Fellows.

I’ll report back after the conference. And I’ll try to keep warm.

This afternoon, the State Bar of Arizona launched a new tradition: the staff photo.

In what may be an annual effort, all of us gathered in the relative briskness of a January Arizona afternoon (eat your heart out, Northeast) and smiled—at least, some of us did.

After a few standard shots, the Bar’s Chief Communications Officer, Rick DeBruhl, rolled out a cart with a wealth of shticky shtuff—red clown noses, plastic carnival necklaces, and the classic eyeglasses with nose and moustache.

We each selected one piece of attire, and then the photographer snapped the final goofy picture.

Here’s hoping we each get a wallet-sized photo to treasure for our own.

And here are a few shots of the group getting photographed—and what we wore. When we get the final result, I’ll post that, too.

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Dean Shirley Mays, Phoenix School of Law

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be meeting with a law school leader. And I’d like to know what questions you think I should ask for our Q&A, to be published in the April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

My interview is with Dean Shirley Mays, of the Phoenix School of Law. We have written about the school and its evolution more than once (here and here and here, to start). We will discuss her own background and the school’s challenges and successes.

If you have questions or comments to suggest, post them here. Or write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org

And, Dean Mays, if you read this, feel free to post some questions too! I’m looking forward to a great conversation.

Richard Grand

Last Friday, I reported that I would be headed south—to Tucson—to celebrate an important anniversary.

The event was a luncheon celebrating 10 years of the Richard Grand Writing Competition, held at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Besides a terrific lunch, attendees enjoyed remarks by Dean Lawrence Ponoroff—who had them laughing in their soup. And then Richard Grand himself delivered his own thoughts, through the power of video. It is one thing to hear from Richard via telephone or e-mail. But to see and hear Richard as generations of jurors have seen him—and been persuaded by him—was a real treat.

After all that, the five winning law students were announced by Professor Suzanne Rabe. They were: Andrew Floyd (1L), Eric Gans (3L), Benjamin Harville (2L), Megan McLean (1L) and James Mieding (1L).

Among the day’s many highlights was the opportunity to see firsthand some of the school’s Richard-abilia. In the library, there are a variety of glass cases housing items evocative of the school’s history. All the cases are important, but there may be none as vibrant as the one dedicated to Richard and his law practice.

Dean Lawrence Ponoroff

It includes clippings from news stories, photographs, and even replicas of exhibits he used in personal injury cases. And it is anchored by his pinpoint jacket and briefcase, both wielded daily by Richard in trials for his clients.

Below, there are a few photos from the case, and of the luncheon.

Finally, I delivered my keynote address, a great honor. They are extremely polite down in the old Pueblo, so no one snored or threw brickbats as I spoke. So in my world, I take that as great praise!

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Here are my complete remarks:

Remarks at Richard Grand Writing Competition Luncheon, UA Law School, Jan. 21, 2011

On Words and Other Tools

Congratulations again to all of you. I have been a judge in this competition for quite a few years now, and as I have told Suzanne many times, it is one of my favorite events of the year. Thank you for your great writing and great thinking, and thank you to Suzanne for her leadership and willingness to include a crotchety old lawyer-editor on her judging panel. It’s been an honor.

This has been a wonderful event, not least of which being due to Richard’s great video. I now empathize with what a trial lawyer must go through when he stands to give his own meager closing argument after Richard has brilliantly chaperoned a jury down the path of justice in his own closing.

Note to self: Never follow animals, children or Richard Grand.

The title of my remarks today is “On Words and Other Tools.” And in case I needed another example of how faulty communication can be, I was reviewing some handwritten notes I had taken myself as I spoke on the phone last month with the Law School’s Nancy Stanley. And I was surprised—and a little intrigued—that I had penned the words, “Also invited to the luncheon are previous sinners.”

Of course, I meant to write winners, but what happens in Tucson stays in Tucson.

Today I’ll talk a little about words, but a lot more about Richard.

My impressions of Richard are formed almost entirely through words—and I will tell you why in a few moments. But I have to comment first on his video tour de force, which is all Richard, from beginning to end.

First, as it opens, we viewers are baffled and intrigued as he starts speaking. It takes a brave man to begin a peroration with “We must do the bitter bookkeeping of death.”

Our bafflement grows as he speaks to us and a larger audience about important matters. And it is not until he reaches the four-minute mark that Richard, ever the showman, lowers the veil just a bit to address us, as audience. Until that moment, we have been witness to a litany of some of Richard’s most effective sentences uttered over decades of law practice.

So the first gift he has provided us today is the opportunity to see him as juries have seen him for years: very brave, a bit puzzling, mildly exasperating, extremely engaging.

That gift of words sends a signal: “You viewers are intelligent and worthy of my highest attention,” Richard conveys. “You have the smarts to figure this out. But I am not handing it to you on a silver platter.”

Richard is enigmatic, maddening and generous — much like law school itself.

I wish I could have gone to the Richard Grand Law School. Unfortunately, he doesn’t enroll students at his school of experience. But he does tender all of us a legal education.

A number of years ago, I heard someone very smart say that it is a pleasure to see the lights go on in law students’ eyes. Since then, I have used that line myself probably a dozen times over the years, in various contexts. But it’s time to come clean. The original speaker was your own former dean, Toni Massaro. Now that I’m standing in her house, I had better credit her.

That line reminded me that Richard Grand likes to help turn on those lights, too. But his approach to legal education is less Socratic, and more autodidactic. He’s a believer in the notion that the student who stumbles about a bit in his or her own darkness will be more likely to find the light switch. And Richard has no need for the student who demands a Clapper.

Richard calls himself a “merchant of words,” and that is a worthy avocation to which we all should aspire.

In the video, when Richard finally completes his juror conversation and speaks directly to us, what does he open with?

“I have been in love with words during my entire life. And you, if you want to become lawyers, must learn to love words.”

As a lawyer and a writer, I say, Right on, Richard. You are a lawyer and law school all in one.

This past month, I thought a lot about the writing process—which can be both a blessing and a curse.

I recalled teaching writing to college freshmen, many of whom were convinced that such a skill would provide no discernible return on investment. One student, in particular, appeared to take it as a personal challenge to disembowel the English language. I will never forget his thesis statement in an argument paper on a great work by Edgar Allen Poe: “The Fall of the House of Usher is about a big house that falls in a lake.” I think about Andy occasionally, and hope he never became a lawyer. And if you see Aristotle, please apologize to him for my failed efforts.

But simple need not be simplistic. You may recall Ernest Hemingway’s response to a challenge that said he could never write a good story in six words. And yet he wrote: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never Used.” He called it his best work.

Richard Grand, too, is the master of evocative simplicity, as we saw in his video. In every one of our 15-minute conversations he and I have had over the years, he provides me the unique and sometimes startling experience of re-creating three years of law school. In turns, I am stunned, mortified, edified and delighted. At the end, I am always far richer, and not a penny poorer (which is how I know that it’s not really law school).

Now, I am not a speaker who will wax poetic about the glories of law school. I leave the rapture to others. My experience was that it was difficult—probably more difficult than I expected. I found that it could be obtuse and nonsensical, and that its pendulum swung maddeningly between expecting too little of us students, and far too much.

But law school gave me—and I hope you too—something important. It gives us what Chaucer called tyme and space—time and space—both of which are necessary ingredients for us to examine the world anew. In that endeavor, we use foreign tools and weak muscles. Those three years, as frustrating as they can be, are a sheltering sky. At the time, we believe it to be an impending hurricane, but truly, it is a small clearing on a deserted beach, where we carve new tools for ourselves. Sure, it can be a little Survivor and a lot Lord of the Flies, but the tools that we use—including the words we became familiar with—are to stay with us for the rest of what we hope will be fulfilling careers of service.

That may be what Richard offers all of us. He holds his hand out, and it contains no Mai Tais on that beach. His secrets to success will not shield you from the scorching sun of what can be a very difficult profession. But his words, when ruminated on, offer a path to something even better. They may even lead us to that light switch.    

What can I say that I know for sure about Richard Grand? In a way, I know very little. He avoids events like this like the plague, and prefers to remain outside the limelight. Of course, with Richard, he is never entirely beyond that light. We always detect in the shadows his pinpoint suit, his smile, and his strongly felt judgment masquerading as genial opinion.

Elsewhere, he often may be. Absent, he never is. As someone once said to me, Richard hovers among us and among everyone who loves words, ready to offer insight like a deus ex machina. The machina may be writing competitions like this, or it may be YouTube. But he is in service to us all.

Of all the tools Richard offers, we are most of all always and everywhere in the presence of his words. Let me tell you how present.

When Nancy Stanley first contacted me about speaking at today’s special ceremony, I was delighted— you’d have to possess a far smaller ego than mine to be unmoved by such a generous invitation.

But … I paused. I knew that this event could draw in some serious legal firepower as speakers. Not to disappoint you, but you should know the truth: You probably could have gotten to listen to an Arizona Supreme Court justice, or the State Bar President.

I suspected that the firm, guiding hand of Richard had “suggested” my name to the law school. And for that I am extremely grateful—though you may take a different view.

But why should Richard request me? Well, we get along famously, and I even have written about him a few times. We share similar interests, and we may even be friends, of a sort. At least, I am hoping we are.

But it was really all about the words. Here is one of the more interesting parts of our friendship—and why our relationship is formed almost purely through words: Richard Grand and I have never met each other in person through all the years we’ve known each other.

My interactions with him have been flashes via e-mail, the telephone, or his new display case here at the law school. I have conversed with Richard as he and Marcia lived in Tucson, visited their daughter in San Francisco, or strolled between shows in the West End of London.

How very Socratic of us! And how appropriate for Richard, who operates so well in the spoken environment.

I recently read an article about Richard from the Tucson Citizen.

In it, he said, “I don’t want to be recognized. I don’t want to be noticed. I want them to hear me.”

His life and career of being heard came to mind as I thought about recent events, when many of us have begun to wonder what kind of state and nation we live in.

It has become unpopular to say that recent tragic events here in Tucson may be related to politics or slanted popular messages.

But this we know: There has been a coarsening of conversation, a willingness to rely on vitriol rather than reason, and to hijack language in the service of partisanship.

There has been a failure of what many of us hold dear: a failure of words.

Chief Judge John M. Roll

In that regard, it strikes me as one of the more poignant of bittersweet truths that the last word uttered by Chief Judge John Roll may have been his heartfelt greeting “Hello.” Having known Judge Roll, I can say that he was a considerate and dynamic man, whose simple greeting possessed more eloquence than most of us can muster in a day’s worth of blathering. He had that skill that Richard Grand admires perhaps most of all: to craft “crisp sentences that wrap up a bale of thought.”

Through that lens, Richard and all of us who cherish words must illuminate a better way. Macabre yet wise, he reminds us, “We are born astride a grave.”

“Dead yesterday, unborn tomorrow, there’s only today.”

It is time for boldness, of the Richard Grand variety. Boldness in search of truth and of justice. And boldness wedded to quite a bit of wit.

I congratulate all of you here, who know that words have consequences. Let’s take up Richard’s charge: “Be bold.”

Thank you.

First-place winners: Hamilton High School

On January 12, I once again got to sit as one of the lucky judges on the We the People competition (I wrote about it here). That’s an annual event where middle school and high school kids bring their well-developed smarts to a gathering and display their knowledge of the United States Constitution.

The students never fail to impress, and that was the case this year, as well.

We’ve received news of the schools’ rankings that day. They include the top three finishers overall, as well as the top team for the various units that comprise the textbook covering the Constitution:

  • First Place: Hamilton High School, Team 4, Room 131
  • Second Place: Corona del Sol, Team 7, Room 135
  • Third Place: Marcos de Niza, Team 2, Room 103
  • Fourth Place: Lake Havasu High School, Team 10, Room 233
  • Unit 1 Award: Prescott High School, Team 9, Room 232
  • Unit 2 Award: Gilbert Classical Academy, Team 1, Room 101
  • Unit 3 Award: Skyline High School, Team 8, Room 231
  • Unit 4 Award: Maricopa High School, Team 6, Room 105
  • Unit 5 Award: Rio Rico High School, Team 5, Room 133
  • Unit 6 Award: Red Mountain High School, Team 3, Room 230

Desert Sands Middle School students

Hamilton High School

will represent Arizona at the National Competition in Washington, DC, on April 30-May 2, 2011.

Congratulations to all of the students. And thanks to Susan Nusall at the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education. She not only coordinates this massive event, but she puts up with some of us annoying judges and our pestering questions. Well done, Susan.

For more on the We the People program, see the Foundation’s website. Or Like the WTP Alumni Network on Facebook (no, you don’t have to be an alum).

Here are a few more photos (most courtesy of the terrific Foundation staff):

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Richard Grand

Today, I am honored to be delivering the keynote remarks at an event at the University of Arizona Law School.

The event is a luncheon marking 10 years of the Richard Grand Legal Writing Competition. Ten years of that esteemed trial lawyer and his wife Marcia giving of themselves in service to better writing, thinking and lawyering.

The title of my speech is “On Words and Other Tools.” I’ll tell you how it comes off.

I have been one of the competition’s judges for quite a few years now. This year’s other judges were: 

  • Hon. Andrew D. Hurwitz, Vice Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Hon. Sarah Simmons, Pima County Superior Court (Juvenile Division)
  • Sarah A. Bullard, Assistant Pima County Public Defender (Juvenile Division)
  • Bunkye Chi, Deputy Pima County Attorney (Juvenile Section)

You may enjoy reading what I’ve written in the past in Arizona Attorney Magazine about Richard and his unique take on trial practice and legal education. Here is an article from 2008, and one from 2006.

Have a great weekend.

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