Thursday, October 20th, 2011


Finalists and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. L to R: Ryan Nelson, Matt Storrs, Justice O'Connor, Jodi Weisberg (first place), Trevor Cox and Bob Howard

Lawyer jokes rarely sit well with the profession, and for good reason: Those jibes are often mean-spirited and, worse, inaccurate.

But an event last week turned that rubric on its head. The John J. O’Connor Humor Competition offered up some of the funniest people in the profession, all for a good cause.

It was held at the monthly meeting of the Phoenix Rotary 100, generous and gracious hosts. And as you may have guessed by the event title, the effort is founded on a legal legacy.

John O’Connor contributed much to the profession and to the Rotary, as well as to his community and family. He and his wife, Sandra Day O’Connor, made a huge impact on the state.

Jodi Weisberg

Given that impact, it is not surprising that friends of the family asked the O’Connors what they could do to commemorate John’s life—a scholarship, an annual lecture?

What was surprising was the O’Connor family response: Let’s integrate some comedy to recognize John’s love of humor.

And so the competition idea was born. Winners would receive real dough–$3,000 for 1st place down to $500 to 4th place, all of which was to be funneled back to law students or law schools.

Specially selected comedy judges culled the group of applicants to a manageable number. And then on October 14, the final five lawyers and law students strode up to the stage and offered their best three to six minutes of comedy. To add to their pressure of playing in front of a full house, Justice O’Connor herself kindly attended (and she smiled and laughed occasionally, too!).

Lawyer Scott Rose outdid himself as emcee—he should have gotten a little of the winner’s purse himself!

(Thank you to UA Law’s Nancy Stanley, who got me a ticket to the event and who served as a pretty humorous lunch partner herself!)

To capture the day’s spirit, I will share the best joke or two from each finalist. That determination was made by me, based on my own laughable comedy standards—and the room’s response that day. Complaints or disagreements should be sent to the appropriate department.

In reverse order:

Fifth Place: Ryan Nelson, 3L at Phoenix School of Law

  • As the school year goes on, law school gets to be a more and more competitive place. In fact, you’re more likely to find Moammar Quaddafi in the library than a copy of the 2011 Probate Statute Book.

Fourth Place: Trevor Cox, 1L at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

  • I’m a law student, so naturally I’m here because I smelled lunch.
  • Benjamin Franklin said the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance. Clearly he never went to law school.

Third Place: Matt Storrs, 1L at Phoenix School of Law

  • My mom told me that God never gives us anything we can’t handle. He must have a blind spot when it comes to mortgages.

Second Place: Bob Howard, lawyer at Jekel, Howard & Thomas, Scottsdale

  • My practice is in divorce, or, as I call it, anti-family law.
  • There are two marital statuses: single and pre-divorce.

First Place: Jodi Weisberg, Solo practitioner, Phoenix

  • As I get older, I find I care so much less about so much more.
  • When I was growing up, if I had ever told my parents I had googled myself or someone else, I would have been in big trouble.
  • When I was 7, my brother told me I was adopted. I asked my mom, who said, “Yes, dear, it’s true. But they returned you.”
  • Despite what you may have heard, women lawyers don’t now and have never suffered from subpoena envy.

Congratulations to all those who took part in this fantastic event.

More photos from the event are at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

On Thursday morning, the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County made an announcement that many lawyers will be happy to see. It explains that a new, speedier way to enter the courthouse is now available for attorneys.

Here is the complete release:

Judicial Branch of Arizona

Office of Media Relations

Old Courthouse

125 W. Washington

Phoenix, Arizona 85003-2205

602.506.7570

www.twitter.com/courtpio

“Equal Justice Under Law”

Contact:           Karen Arra, Media Relations Director, 602.506.7570

New Express Attorney Entrance

Attorneys will now have shorter lines and wait times to get into Superior Court if they use the new express attorney entrance located in the East Court Building.

Any attorney presenting his/her bar card can use the attorney line located on the east side of 1st Avenue. The other court entrances will still remain open to both attorneys and the public. 

Superior Court Presiding Judge Norman Davis said, “We are continually exploring ways to reduce the time court users are required to wait to clear security screening each day.  Since September 19, 2011 we have experimented with an attorney entrance at the east entrance of theEastCourtBuilding.  The results are favorable enough that we have decided to keep this entrance in place to expedite the attorneys entrance into the court complex at least until the Criminal Tower is opened next February.”

Courthouse security continues to be a growing concern for Superior Court. Last year, the Superior Court screened 3.7 million court visitors and confiscated more than 34,000 weapons and 60,000 prohibited items in 53 court and probation buildings across the county.

Although the number of people screened over the past five years has remained constant, the court has witnessed an increase in weapons, prohibited items and threats against judges and court staff.

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