Change of Venue


On June 5, a panel of four corporate counsel addressed the challenges of diversity and inclusion that are faced by the legal profession.

The event, hosted at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, was sponsored by the Arizona Collaborative Bar, the South Asian Bar Association of Arizona, the Iranian American Bar Association, and the State Bar of Arizona.

The attorney–panelists were:

  • Sharad Desai, Litigation Counsel, Honeywell International Inc.
  • Maacah Scott, Staff Counsel Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Art Lee, Deputy General Counsel, University of Arizona
  • Ashley Kasarjian, Senior Corporate Counsel – Employment, Republic Services

Greg Gautam, a partner in Snell’s Phoenix office, moderated the discussion.

Among the questions posed:

  • How do the employers ensure they are reaching and identifying diverse candidates?
  • Why does your firm value diversity and inclusion? Does it start with your top executive?
  • How do you support lawyers who are parents?
  • How do you address the unconscious biases we all have?
  • What efforts does your firm make to mentor young lawyers?

Surrounded by an audience of more than 50 attorneys who attended this lunch-hour session, panelists warmed to the topics.

Desai described his company’s commitment to providing secondment opportunities – which is how he originally joined Honeywell. And Kasarjian stressed the value of holding multiple panel interviews to ensure that a candidate interacts with a broad swath of current employees.

Scott acknowledged that inclusion is a slow process – which may appear not to be advancing well in the profession. She pointed out that mindfulness about these issues is important. For instance, using non-gender-neutral language, even accidentally, sends a negative signal to listeners and slows progress.

Interactions like that occur far too often, panelists said.

“If you find yourself in a place with a lack of diversity,” Kasarjian said, “it’s not your fault. But it is your problem.”

And unconscious bias puts those on the receiving end at a disadvantage – a “different starting point that you have to explain yourself out of,” said Kasarjian. Desai recommended everyone take one of the many available Implicit Association Tests. “Acceptance [that biases are real] is the critical step. You then can begin to negate them.”

Panelists also spoke about how everyone in an organization can be an ally for diversity.

Art Lee offered advice to diverse lawyers: Reach out widely to a broad group of attorneys for ideas and mentorship. There will be lawyers in that group who may be extremely helpful on your path.

Scott agreed and urged lawyers to “recognize allies who may not be diverse.”

Kasarjian recalled the words of Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she visited Arizona in 2017. It may be difficult to do, the Supreme Court jurist said, but we all must work to advance those people who may be different from us. “People who may not be walking your path” may still bring phenomenal value to the profession and to your workplace. And both the profession and your organization suffer if that talent is not nurtured and included.

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State Bar of Arizona sexual harassment seminar 05-09-18 image 1

Next Wednesday, May 9, a free seminar offered by the State Bar of Arizona examines the timely issue of sexual harassment. Called “Changing the Conversations,” it will include lawyers, judges and other experts discussing workplace environments and culture and the associated behaviors we all have grown too familiar with in media reports.

The Bar adds, “The program is not intended to offer CLE credit as it will address sexual harassment as a workplace culture issue instead of a legal issue, and therefore has not been developed with MCLE rules in mind. It is available as a service to the legal community.”

The event will be offered in person at the Bar’s CLE Center, and as a webcast. It is free but registration is required. Click here for more information and to register.

Here is the seminar faculty:

  • Chief Justice Scott Bales, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Hon. Margaret H. Downie (ret.), AZ Commission on Judicial Conduct
  • Hon. B. Don Taylor III, Chief Presiding Judge, Phoenix Municipal Court
  • Denise M. Blommel, Denise M. Blommel PLLC
  • Samara Cerven, Psy.D.
  • Don Decker, President, InReach
  • Kim Demarchi, Partner, Osborn Maledon PA
  • John F. Phelps, CEO/Executive Director, State Bar of Arizona
  • Barry G. Stratford, Perkins Coie LLP

State Bar of Arizona sexual harassment seminar 05-09-18 image 3

This spring, the Bar also distributed a member survey regarding their experiences with sexual harassment – to which almost 2,000 Bar members responded. Among other findings, 71.4 percent of women respondents indicated they had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Overall, 43 percent of respondents indicated the same.

Arizona Attorney Magazine will cover the survey and its results in the September issue.

Fred Korematsu Google Doodle by artist Sophie Diao

Fred Korematsu Google Doodle by artist Sophie Diao

In honor of a new day of remembrance in Arizona, all are invited to an event in one week celebrating the life and achievements of Fred T. Korematsu.

On Tuesday, January 30, the Arizona Asian American Bar Association hosts a reception honoring the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.” It will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at District American Kitchen in the Sheraton Grand Hotel, 340 N. 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004.

The event is free and open to all, but an RSVP is requested. Write to Thomas Chiang at tchiang8@gmail.com

The honor and event are possible because Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proclaimed Tuesday, January 30, 2018 to be Fred T. Korematsu Day in Arizona. At the reception, the AAABA board will present the proclamation to Fred’s son, Ken – a well-known speaker on the Supreme Court case United States v. Korematsu.

According to the Fred Korematsu Institute, Arizona is the seventh state to declare this day of commemoration by proclamation. Four others – the first being California – established the day in perpetuity via legislation.

In case you know little about the matters that underlie that case, here is information from event organizers and those who advocated for the commemoration:

The following gives a short background on Fred T. Korematsu and the Japanese Internment Camps in Arizona. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. EO 9066 authorized internment camps for people, including American-born citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry. Approximately 3,200 resident aliens of Italian descent were arrested and more than 300 were interned. Approximately 11,000 persons of German descent were arrested and more than 5,000 were interned. Some of the persons of German descent were American citizens.

Japanese Americans in the Western Defense Area were ordered to report in much larger numbers. More than 121,000 people of Japanese descent were interned. Two-thirds were American born citizens. One fourth of those interned – more than 30,000 of the Japanese Americans – were moved from California and interned in Arizona. More than 13,000 were interned near Phoenix on the Gila River Indian Reservation, and more than 17,000 were interned at the Poston Relocation Center on the Colorado River Indian Tribe Reservation. The camps were opened in 1942 and closed in 1946.

Fred T. Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fred T. Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fred T. Korematsu was one of the many American-born citizens ordered to report to internment camps. He refused – and was arrested, prosecuted, and convicted for his refusal. In a landmark decision, six of President Roosevelt’s eight appointees to the United States Supreme Court upheld Mr. Korematsu’s conviction, which stood until 1983. See Korematsu v. U.S., 324 U.S. 885 (1945). Almost 40 years later, a federal judge ruled that in 1945, the government’s lawyers knowingly gave false information to the Supreme Court. Because the false information had a material impact on the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling, Mr. Korematsu’s conviction was vacated by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of U.S. District Court in San Francisco. See Korematsu v. U.S., 584 F. Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984).

Judge Patel’s ruling cleared Korematsu’s name, but was incapable of overturning the Supreme Court’s decision.

Fred Korematsu was able to testify at that hearing:

“I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color. … If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people.”

Peter Irons described Korematsu’s ending statement during the case as the most powerful statement he’d ever heard from anyone. He found the statement as empowering as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to Korematsu in 1998.

You may recall that Google recognized Fred Korematsu Day in 2017 with its “Google Doodle” by artist Sophie Diao. It featured Korematsu wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom, internment camps at his back, while surrounded by cherry blossoms – flowers that have come to be symbols of peace and friendship between the US and Japan.

Trying play at Theatre Artists Studio

Many items may fill an attorney’s bucket list, but having a compelling play written about them and their work? Unlikely. Law practice may be many things, but most of its dramas are small, interior, and unsung.

Exceptions exist, of course, and Theatre Artists Studio of Scottsdale – a member organization of actors, playwrights, directors, producers and designers – seems to have found one in the life of Francis Biddle.

If his name rings no bells – it did not for me – that’s a shame, for his contributions were great. He served as the U.S. Solicitor General in 1940 and soon was appointed the Attorney General in 1941. He served in that role through the tumultuous years of World War II.

Following the war, President Truman appointed Biddle as a judge at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremburg – where former Nazi officers and others were tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.

trying play francis biddle

Francis Biddle

Those posts, alone, make Biddle an important part of U.S. and world history. But they may not necessarily yield great theatre. Fortunately, there’s more to the story.

That story comes to us from playwright Joanna McClelland Glass, who relates her own life’s tale of being the personal secretary to an aging Biddle. “Trying” to write his autobiography, Biddle fears he will be unable to complete the work before his impending death. Along the way, the “brilliant and irascible” man makes life challenging – trying – for his young secretary, only recently arrived from the plains of Saskatchewan. The play promises to let audiences watch the two as they are trying to complete his memoir and to understand each other.

Actors Alan Austin and Vanessa Benjamin in

Actors Alan Austin and Vanessa Benjamin in “Trying,” Theatre Artists Studio

Biddle was accomplished as an attorney, judge and author of numerous books. But his renown comes mainly from his work as the Chief Judge at Nuremberg, and for his prior response to the incarceration of Japanese Americans – many of whom were citizens – during World War II.

Remember, he was America’s top legal officer at the time, so a close examination of his actions are warranted. He is said to have personally opposed the wholesale internment of nearly 120,000 people – especially given the results of FBI investigations that revealed no looming plot that these people were engaged in.

Nonetheless, despite his own misgivings and the protests of others like Assistant to the A.G. James Rowe Jr., Biddle ultimately acquiesced to the mounting pressure. The War Department wanted large areas of the western states turned into zones that permitted suspension of the writ of habeas corpus – and Biddle agreed. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942.

The documentary evidence is fascinating. You can read Biddle’s memo, and others’, here. It may have been small consolation in Biddle’s later years – and absolutely no consolation to incarcerated citizens – that he always regretted his decision.

Which makes the play’s title all the more evocative.

“Trying” opens tonight, Friday, January 12, and runs through February 4. It features Studio Member Alan Austin as Francis Biddle and guest artist Vanessa Benjamin as Sarah. Produced by Walt Pedano with direction by Judy Rollings.

Show times are Friday & Saturday nights at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm for all productions. The theatre is at 4848 E. Cactus Rd, #406, Scottsdale, AZ 85254.

Tickets are available here or at the Box Office: 602-765-0120.

For more information, go here.

You can watch a video about the play below:

The talented and courageous are encouraged to enter the magazine's arts competition.

The talented and courageous are encouraged to enter the magazine’s arts competition.

There is ONE WEEK left for Arizona lawyers to submit to our annual Creative Arts Competition. But because the holidays are so crazy, why not submit now, rather than on the evening of January 15, the deadline?

We welcome entries in the following categories:

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Humor
  • Music
  • Visual Arts: Painting, Photography, Drawing, Sculpture

We will publish the winners in the May 2018 issue.

Send submissions to ArtsContest@azbar.org and queries to the editor at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

And do you like reading rules? We’ve got them.

For inspiration, here is last year’s issue with the 2017 awesome winners.

2018 Creative Arts Competition call for artists

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts doctoral student is trying to force the CIA to open up about how it uses jokes on social media. The CIA has been on Twitter since June 2014 when it tweeted, “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” It was a humorous nod to […]

via MIT student sues CIA for info on Twitter jokes — Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News

An adult Gerald Gault and his attorney Amelia Lewis.

An adult Gerald Gault and his attorney Amelia Lewis.

The 50th anniversary of the landmark decision In Re Gault will be the focus of a May 15 event in Phoenix, sponsored by ALWAYS—Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services. The evening next Monday will include a reception and dramatic performance by Rising Youth Theatre.

Gault is the U.S. Supreme Court decision based on an Arizona case that ensured the right to a lawyer for children accused of crimes in juvenile court. More specifically, it held that “juveniles accused of crimes in a delinquency proceeding must be afforded many of the same due process rights as adults, such as the right to timely notification of the charges, the right to confront witnesses, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to counsel.”

ALWAYS logo Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services

That evening, ALWAYS also will “honor the leadership behind the Youth Collaborative in Maricopa County with the 2017 Youth and Justice Award.”

  • When: Monday, May 15, 2017
  • Time: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix Campus

Rising Youth Theatre logoAddress (see map below):

Virginia Piper Auditorium, 600 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85004

Free tickets are available here.

In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we covered the Gault anniversary in our May issue. Start reading here.

Here is an article by Judge Peter Cahill and Sarah Edwards.

Here is an article by Judge Jay Blitzman.

Gault order by Justice Lorna Lockwood for habeas hearing

Gault order by Justice Lorna Lockwood for habeas hearing (click to enlarge)

And here is more information about ALWAYS:

Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services is a nonprofit law office committed to opening the doors of justice for youth and young adults who have experienced homelessness, human trafficking, abuse, or the foster care system. We are attorneys, advocates, and volunteers working together to eliminate legal barriers to success and stability for vulnerable young people in Arizona. We believe every person deserves full access to the justice system, and we work every day to make this a reality for vulnerable youth in Arizona. We provide no-cost legal services to support the safety, stability, and self-sufficiency of our clients. ALWAYS services include full representation, consultations and brief advice, training, and system reform advocacy.

Map to the event:

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