April 2014


"I'm just a bill" is a pretty humble thing for a powerful opinion-shaper to say. gif

“I’m just a bill” is a pretty humble thing for a powerful opinion-shaper to say.

A few days ago, I mentioned an association leader’s written response to breaking legal events. Today, I share my own takeaways to the same events, as I wrote in my April editor’s column.

Like Whitney Cunningham, I did not directly address the Arizona bill titled SB1062. Instead, I marveled at the community engagement—on both sides of the issue—that the proposed law brought to life.

SB 1062 open for business sign_opt

Always open for dialogue and discussion

I titled my column “The Civics Brain Stirs,” which opened:

“The notion that we are a nation(state) of laws may never have been more apparent than in February, as Arizona was held in the grip of a controversial bill sent from the Legislature to the Governor. As she wrestled with her decision of what to do with SB 1062 (which she ultimately vetoed), we in the state got a front-row seat to civics and remarkable political drama.”

“In an age dominated by sound bites and Xbox, it is amazing how often people will set down the joystick to engage with each other on difficult elements of law and public policy. Here are four things that occurred to me as events unfolded.”

To read those four things—and the entire column—go here.

And for a more pointed commentary on events, read Grant Woods’ column on our back-page “Last Word.”

I'm just a bill veto

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indigent defense need-blind justice by Yarek Waszul

Illustration by Yarek Waszul

AZ Supreme Court logo

This Thursday morning, a thoughtful and experienced panel will discuss how legal services are dispensed in Arizona. Here is part of the Law Day event announcement from the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education:

“At the Forum, Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch will discuss access to justice in Arizona; Karen Lash, Senior Counsel of Access to Justice for the U.S. Department of Justice, will offer a national perspective; Hon. Lawrence Winthrop will recap the results of input from regional forums; a panel of experts will share some best practices from around the state; and Vice-Chief Justice Scott Bales will wrap up with the closing remarks.”

I will attend and report to you what was said. I am curious if any new initiatives are part of the conversation (such as an Indigent Defense Commission, which I discussed previously). And it would be helpful to hear about some successful best practices from elsewhere in the country.

Does you have privacy rights in what's stored in your cellphone? Supreme Court cases raise the issue.

Do you have privacy rights in what’s stored in your cellphone? Supreme Court cases raise the issue.

A quick question for you on Monday morning: How private is your cellphone?

That simple question underlies some cases facing the U.S. Supreme Court this Term. There, the justices must wrestle with issues of search and seizure when it comes to the ubiquitous cellphone.

When you are asked to empty your pockets (following, we suppose, establishment of probable cause or at least a Terry stop), is your phone entitled to no more privacy than, say, the wad of tissues, or the spare change?

Here is how one news story about the cases opens:

“Two Supreme Court cases about police searches of cellphones without warrants present vastly different views of the ubiquitous device.”

“Is it a critical tool for a criminal or is it an American’s virtual home?”

“How the justices answer that question could determine the outcome of the cases being argued Tuesday. A drug dealer and a gang member want the court to rule that the searches of their cellphones after their arrest violated their right to privacy in the digital age.”

“The Obama administration and California, defending the searches, say cellphones are no different from anything else a person may be carrying when arrested. Police may search those items without a warrant under a line of high court cases reaching back 40 years.”

“What’s more, said Donald Verrilli Jr., the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, ‘Cellphones are now critical tools in the commission of crimes.’”

Read the whole story here.

And let me know where you stand on the privacy rights attendant on that phone in your pocket.

Maricopa County Justice Museum and Learning Center Foundation logo

What could be a better match for Change of Venue Friday than the promise of a cellblock tour?

I’ve written about the unique cellblock and its museum here. It is a remarkable reuse of a space that other states and cities might have boarded up and left forever. As the museum’s website describes the former Maricopa County jail:

“This unique museum opened in 2012 and is centered around a restored cellblock on the sixth floor of Maricopa County’s Historic old Courthouse—the Courthouse has been renovated to its 1929 grandeur. While visiting the museum you will get a sense of Maricopa County’s legal history, its court cases and important elements of the Rule of Law, including individual rights and liberties guaranteed in the United States and Arizona constitutions. To our knowledge, it is the only such museum in an active courthouse in the county.”

The museum is located at 125 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, and is open from noon to 1:00 pm Monday through Thursday.

So I promised news about taking a tour. Information about that is here.

And take a few minutes to watch a video about this unique experiment in architecture and legal history.

Have a great—and incarceration-free—weekend.

Lawyer networking? This way, to The Duce in Phoenix.

Lawyer networking? This way, to The Duce in Phoenix.

Did you ever hesitate to attend a networking event, unsure if there will be even one person there you know?

An event tonight was organized in a way that minimizes that possibility. If the number of sponsoring groups is any preview, you’re likely to run into some familiar faces. (I’m sorry to say I’ll be unable to attend myself. If you go, take a few photos and send them my way: arizona.attorney@azbar.org)

Staged by the Arizona Small Business Administration, the event will be at The Duce in south-central Phoenix, from 5:30 until 8. If you’ve never wandered through the cool complex, it’s worth the drive for that alone.

ASBA Collaborative Mixer 04-24-14 flier

And here is the list of sponsoring organizations:

  • Arizona Asian American Bar Association
  • Arizona Jewish Lawyers Association
  • Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Arizona Black Bar
  • Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Arizona
  • Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association
  • Phoenix Black Chamber
  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital Emerging Business Leaders
  • State Bar of Arizona Young Lawyers Division

Organizers say, “Attendees will enjoy complimentary appetizers and quality networking in a fun, fresh environment. A cash bar will be available.”

That phrase “Attendees will” is pretty demanding, but maybe the ASBA is just an optimistic bunch. (And remember: The “quality networking” depends on you!)

And, yes, The Duce has an open-to-all boxing ring, but remember: It’s a collaborative event.

Boxing at The Duce: Two enter, hopefully closer colleagues exit.

Boxing at The Duce: Two enter, hopefully closer colleagues exit.

  • Date: Thursday, April 24
  • Time: 5:30pm – 8:00pm
  • Location: The Duce, 525 S Central Ave, Phoenix

More information, and registration, are here.

Creative ideas and those who protect them are recognized on World Intellectual Property Day. Bring the popcorn. patent illustration

Creative ideas and those who protect them are recognized on World Intellectual Property Day. Bring the popcorn.

Time flies: It’s already World Intellectual Property Day.

I may be the last to know; you’ve probably been preparing for weeks for today’s celebration. But if you’re still unsure what all the hubbub is about, the Library of Congress has you covered. It has announced a program today in honor of all things IP:

“The U.S. Copyright Office will host a Copyright Matters program in connection with World Intellectual Property Day at 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23,in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, SE, Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.”

“The theme of World Intellectual Property Day this year, as announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is ‘Movies: A Global Passion.’ World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated around the globe annually to mark the date the convention establishing WIPO came into force.”

All the day’s details are here.

Movies are a global passion, and so I was pleased to see that, yes, they are planning to screen a film. This year, it will be an award-winning movie called Rhythm Thief, and its director Matthew Harrison will be a speaker.

Here is a trailer for the film.

The trailer is delightfully uninformative (that’s a compliment), which is another way of saying it draws you in without believing we need mundane plot points to be attracted to a visual artwork. (We don’t.) Plus, a critic compared it to the incomparable Breathless, so it must be pretty remarkable.

As I said in a previous year, enjoy your day recognizing IP. If you get a chance, kiss a patent lawyer. After all, any attorneys who use terms like “deceptively misdescriptive” and “Auslegeschrift” deserve one.

Here is a flier describing the event.

World Intellectual Property Day 2014

SB 1062 open for business sign_optIn March, I had the opportunity to present at the American Bar Association on the topic of association presidents’ messages—typically magazine or newsletter columns penned by the attorney who helms the bar association for a year.

Since then, however, I’ve come across a message that I wish I could have shared in Chicago. It was drafted by Whitney Cunningham, the State Bar of Arizona President.

Whitney Cunnigham is an attorney at Aspey, Watkins & Diesel in Flagstaff, and I had the privilege of writing a profile of him last summer.

So here was Whitney’s challenge in the April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine: how to explore a delicate topic made even more controversial by a high-profile and breaking piece of state legislation, without crossing any lines into inappropriate legislative advocacy.

State Bar of Arizona President Whitney Cunningham (photo by John Hall)

State Bar of Arizona President Whitney Cunningham (photo by John Hall)

The topic was a bill called SB1062. I’ll let Wikipedia tell you more about the law here.

Of course, the State Bar of Arizona is a member organization. Among members, there may be many views of this and other laws. And if you cross a line, they let you know.

So how can a Bar President convey the mission and values of the organization, but do so without taking an overt stand on a pending law?

The answer was: Quite well, thank you.

Top to bottom, Whitney never discusses the bill itself, but instead focuses on the value of diversity that runs through the Bar association. He wisely titled his column “Getting Rich,” and then delineates the scores of ways diversity aids the association and the State of Arizona. And then he ends, “As a bar, we are rich and getting richer.”

Read Whitney’s entire column here. And let me know what you think by writing to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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