Change of Venue


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:

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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:

The Slants The-Band-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-thumbnail

The Slants are coming to Tucson

Later this week, the University of Arizona College of Law hosts what has to be the best law-related but not so damned lawylerly event of the year when it welcomes The Slants, all-Asian American band—which is all up in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s business.

The event is on Thursday. It begins with a noon talk (room 164) about their current trademark case pending before the Supreme Court. And then, because law school needs a relief valve, they’ll perform a concert at 8 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

OK, so what is all this about?

“The Slants are known as the first all-Asian American dance-rock band in the world. The band is well known in legal circles due to their battle with the United States Trademark Office with In Re Tam, which is now before the Supreme Court of the United States and known as Lee v. Tam.”

All-Asian American band The Slants

All-Asian American band The Slants

“The friction with the USPTO comes from the band’s name—a reference to their ethnicity—which is the subject of a protracted legal debate. After the band’s request to trademark its name was denied, they took the issue to court. In December 2015, a federal appeals court overturned a previous ruling that upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s rejection of the band’s application by striking down part of a law that allowed the government to reject trademarks it deemed offensive or disparaging to others. The majority opinion stated, in part, that ‘[w]hatever our personal feelings about the mark at issue here, or other disparaging marks, the First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find speech likely to offend others.’ The band’s frontman, Simon Tam, explained that while the First Amendment should protect the band’s right to use the name regardless of their reasons, they had chosen the name in order ‘to undercut slurs about Asian-Americans that band members heard in childhood, not to promote them.’”

But the USPTO takes its faux disparagement seriously, so now we await a SCOTUS opinion.

If you enjoy more detail that doesn’t come from a law review, here is a helpful article from Chief Justice John Robert’ favorite publication, Rolling Stone.

Meantime, I know you’re curious about the type of music they write and perform. I’ve listened and enjoyed it, but I leave it to the band and the crowdsourced genius at Wikipedia to describe their thang:

“The Slants describe themselves as ‘Chinatown Dance Rock’ and are often compared to electro rock bands such as The Faint or early 80’s synthpop groups such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran, The Cult, and Joy Division. Critics also compare The Slants with modern artists such as The Killers, VNV Nation, and Mindless Self-Indulgence.”

Gotta love me a little synthpop.

The Slants UA flier University of Arizona Law School

Whether you’re an electro-fan or not, the band is here.

You might enjoy this brief video tracking their trip to Washington DC for Supreme Court oral argument regarding their trademark registration. At 1:36, you’ll see the tiniest of concerts they staged on the SCOTUS steps.

And be sure to watch this trailer for The Band Who Must Not Be Named.

You can see more of their work on their own Youtube page.

If you go to the Tucson concert—(please go!)—would a photo or two kill you? Maybe a brief video? A signed T-shirt? Whatever.

Ides of March Julius Caesar magazine sign

Why, yes, I do change my meeting sign every month. Doesn’t everybody?

Why, yes, today is the Ides of March. And I’m hoping no one is standing behind me.

That was one of my thoughts as I selected an image for the sign indicating our monthly meeting of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board (see above). Many of the members found it funny—others simply raised their eyebrows, as lawyers can do.

But what turned out poorly for Julius Caesar on March 15 ended up yielding one of my briefer—and most favorite—blog posts ever.

godfather
That’s because it combined Caesar, regal intrigue, murder most foul, and the blockbuster movie Godfather, which was released on this day in 1972.

You can read that piece from way back in 2013 here. It still makes me chuckle. But then again, I’m easily amused.

Good luck getting through an unlucky day. Here’s to classical history and great films.

Daily 5 logo.jpg

Since November 1, the Arizona Attorney Magazine staff have been writing a new newsletter for a new generation of newsletter readers. Sent by email every afternoon, the Daily 5 offers 4 news stories + 1 case of the day.

You can get through that content in about 5 minutes–10 if you’re really enjoying yourself.

I wrote about the Daily 5 in my February editor’s column, which I share again today:

You probably think you’re reading a magazine right now. And of course you’re right. But that’s only part of the picture. Because what you’re truly reading is a concept, an idea with personality, that has formed over decades. Arizona Attorney is a magazine, but it’s also a way of thinking and—dare I say it—a brand.

A brand that grew a little bit this fall.

Over the past 18 months, we decided to take that voice—that brand—into another channel. You may already be familiar with what we do in social media (for example, on Twitter @azatty, yo). But we wondered: How could that approach to the legal world play out in a daily newsletter?

So in November, after laying a year’s worth of groundwork, we launched the Arizona Attorney Daily 5.

5 news headlines a day, snappy writing, great design, all emailed once a day to readers. How hard can that be?

Daily 5 praise on FB cropped.jpg

When a Facebook message makes an Editor’s day.

 

Pretty hard, it turns out. But where the Daily 5 has succeeded, it has done so for a few reasons. Let me offer, well, 5 of them.

Voice matters: Arizona Attorney may be a legal publication, but we’re no law journal. We believe that in the life of every practicing attorney there’s room for humor and a lighter outlook. The Daily 5 is your informative colleague at the 5-minute water-cooler break.

Story choice matters: Yes, we offer substantive summaries of court opinions. But we think you enjoy some articles that require lighter lifting, too. Cue the Kardashians’ legal struggles.

Writing matters: Even if our choices are solid, readers will flee if the writing comes from the 19th century. Our tone and approach show we are not your grandfather’s newsletter.

Knowing your audience matters: We’ve spent decades-plus interacting with Arizona lawyers. Since November, we’ve heard from a large number of readers who appreciate our lighter touch and our lively writing. Is everyone a fan? No, but we do what we can to win them over.

Colleagues matter: Each Daily 5 contains about 500 words, 600 max. But that sparseness masks the input of so many people. From having the newsletter’s title contest-crowdsourced among State Bar staff, to an elegant logo designed by our Art Director, to all the writing and curating done in-house, to the ad sales that make the newsletter smart and profitable, this is a capital-T Team effort. Kudos to everyone involved.

We do enjoy hearing your thoughts about our daily work. Send praise, critiques and suggestions to us at Daily5@azbar.org. And yes, we’ll write back.

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