Courts


A new report from an Arizona Supreme Court task force explores the costs of pretrial penalties, fees, and cash-bail policies. jail Tent City Maricopa County

A new report from an Arizona Supreme Court task force explores the costs of pretrial penalties, fees, and cash-bail policies.

“Who pays?” could be the underlying theme for a new report out of the Arizona Supreme Court task force Fair Justice for All. One of the vital topics it examines is the inequities that may exist in a system of cash bail for those awaiting trial.

An Arizona Republic story describes the task force report. One of the report’s recommendations would be to move toward a risk-assessment approach in terms of bail. Already in use in some other states, the assessment would determine an individual’s danger to the community and his likelihood to return for hearings and trial. Critics say the current system more accurately assesses the depth of a defendant’s bank account than the more relevant questions.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe task force ultimately made 65 recommendations. The full report is here, and more detail about the report and its process is here. As you’ll see, the report examines the effects of court fines, fees, and penalties, as well as pretrial release policies.

I’m currently in conversation with a potential author who would write an article for Arizona Attorney explaining what this all means. More to come.

Of course, I previously wrote about another groundbreaking report titled “Who Pays?” It was created by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. At that time, I spoke with the Center’s Zach Norris about the “true cost to families of incarceration.”

You should read that report here, as it well examines the additional penalties that follow a previously incarcerated person after release and return to the community. That is the other side of a coin being written by the Arizona Supreme Court, about the cost of pretrial penalties.

A graph offers data on how many unconvicted individuals are held in the Maricopa County jail system awaiting trial.

A graph offers data on how many unconvicted individuals are held in the Maricopa County jail system awaiting trial.

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

What could be better on a Change of Venue Friday than a love story? Plus a little law, of course.

A story in the Washington Post describes the courtship and marriage of Cissy Marshall and her famous husband, Justice Thurgood Marshall. When Cecilia Suyat married Thurgood, she encountered resistance even within her own Filipino family. How ironic and wholly American is their story, therefore—as her husband went on to be the celebrated trial attorney who won the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

And here is a short video of Cissy related to the story of their interracial marriage.

When you’re done reading the Post piece, be sure to read our book review of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, by Wil Haygood. The review is by Judge George Anagnost.

Have a terrific—and love-is-love-filled—weekend.

Showdown Thurgood Marshall book cover by Wil Haygood

 

Yes, a good performance is expected here. But you may be asked to deliver great, persuasive results in venues of every size.

Yes, a good performance is expected here. But you may be asked to deliver great, persuasive results in venues of every size.

How many of us have had the pleasure to stand on stage and perform?

Pretty much all of us, if we understand that to include appearing in court, before a board or commission—or even before a community organization.

“Perform” may not be a word you’re comfortable using in regard to your own presentation. But thinking of it that way may have a freeing influence on the results you get—and it may lead to more satisfaction in you and your listeners. And maybe in your clients.

I was thinking of this because this Friday, a State Bar educational seminar features Marc Bauman as a faculty member. Among other things, he is an instructor and consultant who heads up Bauman Trial Consulting LLC.

His seminar is titled “Persuasion Arts in Action,” and a few things distinguish it from the mass of learning opportunities.

First, it’s being taught workshop-style—so attendees will participate. Second, the attendee numbers are being kept low deliberately, to maximize everyone’s experience.

Instructor and trial consultant Marc Bauman

Instructor and trial consultant Marc Bauman

Here’s the link to the event, where you also can register. There may still be openings.

But third: I’ve had the pleasure to speak at length with Marc a few times (this last time at the grand opening of the ASU Beus Center for Law and Society), and I am confident he can help your presentation mojo. He is a great listener, and he knows how to offer compassionate and constructive feedback. His goal is not to make all speakers the same—or to make them him—but to help you become the best advocate for your client.

As Marc describes Friday’s offering:

“Existing somewhere between science and art, effective courtroom communication is a craft. The best trial attorneys realize this. As an experienced attorney, you may know how to make a perfect record and you may have prepared your case fact pattern. However, making a perfect record and presenting the facts of your case to a jury is not enough. Your client’s story needs to be crafted and presented with precision and investment.”

And here is a description of the seminar’s goals:

  1. Be more comfortable in front of a jury while standing, speaking, moving, gesturing, demonstrating exhibits and presenting graphics.
  2. Clarify your client’s case narrative and key themes.
  3. Strengthen your presentation skills while developing clear, meaningful connections with members of the jury, empowering them to deliberate on behalf of your client.
  4. Gain an important edge in the courtroom increasing your chances of a positive verdict for your client.
  5. Prepare for depositions and jury trials with the confidence you, your witnesses and most importantly, your clients deserve.

As the link indicates, he’d like you to arrive Friday with an opening statement about one minute in length. Easy squeezy, right?

This kind of learning is probably best conveyed as Marc will do it—in person. But I’m still thinking on how a print magazine like Arizona Attorney can transmit this kind of trial practice insight. If you have ideas, or your own experience with how acting and the dramatic arts have helped your own law practice, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Downtown Phoenix neighborhood "The Deuce," around Third St and Jefferson, early 1960s.

Downtown Phoenix neighborhood “The Deuce,” around Third St and Jefferson, early 1960s.

What happened to Miranda?

That intriguing question is how attorney Paul Ulrich opens his article on the landmark case that appears in the June Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Most everyone in the United States has at least a rudimentary knowledge of the Miranda warning, if not of the case itself. But 50 years on, how deep and long-lasting are the rights associated with Miranda v. Arizona? For in those five decades, multiple court rulings have chipped away at the bedrock of the case.

Is Miranda still a powerful case? Or merely an important piece of legal history?

Read Paul’s article, and let me know what you think.

One of the pleasures of covering the landmark case was in sharing some photos of downtown Phoenix, from about the same time period as Miranda’s arrest and trial.

As Paul mentions in his article, the once-shady—and vibrant—neighborhood of downtown was called “The Deuce.” Longtime residents are often pleased to share stories of the activities that marked the streets and alleys.

To learn more about that neighborhood, and more, read Jon Talton’s blog, Rogue Columnist. It is worth bookmarking.

And if you want a more concrete memory of the case, head over to the ABA website, where you buy a T-shirt emblazoned with the Miranda warning. You never know when that may come in handy

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThanks to a change in Arizona law, there are two new openings on the Arizona Supreme Court. Applications are due August 8, so start reviewing your resume and gathering your recommendations. Here is how the Court describes the positions and the process:

Applications are being accepted for two new positions on the Arizona Supreme Court. The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments will review applications, interview selected applicants, and recommend at least three nominees for each position to Governor Doug Ducey.

A copy of the application form can be downloaded at the Judicial Department web site. Applications may be also obtained from the Administrative Office of the Courts, Human Resources Department, 1501 W. Washington, Suite 221, Phoenix, by calling (602) 452-3311, by sending an electronic mail request to jnc@courts.az.gov.

Applicants must be at least 30 years of age, of good moral character, and, for the past 10 years, admitted to the practice of law in and residents of Arizona.

The original completed application, one single-sided copy and 16 double-sided copies must be returned to the Administrative Office of the Courts, Human Resources Department, 1501 W. Washington, Suite 221, Phoenix, AZ, 85007, by 3:00 p.m. on August 8, 2016. The Commission may, at its discretion, use the applications filed for these vacancies to nominate candidates for any additional vaca­ncies known to the Commission before the screening meeting for these vacancies is held.

All meetings of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments are open to the public.

As of January 1, 2017, the new justices will be paid $157,325 annually.

Arizona Supreme Court building

Two new Arizona Justices will be appointed, following a new law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey. Applications are due August 8, 2016.

Gavel Gap report cover-page0001This past month, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy released a report that examines diversity among state court judges. Their analysis from all 50 states and the District of Columbia revealed what the ACS is calling “the gavel gap.”

As described by the ACS:

“For most people, state courts are the ‘law’ for all effective purposes. But we know surprisingly little about state court judges, despite their central and powerful role. Unlike their counterparts on the federal courts, much of the relevant information is non-public, and in many states, not even collected in a systematic way. This lack of information is especially significant because judges’ backgrounds have important implications for the work of courts and the degree to which the public has confidence in their decisions.”

“In order to address this serious shortcoming in our understanding of America’s courts, we have constructed an unprecedented database of state judicial biographies. This dataset—the State Bench Database—includes more than 10,000 current sitting judges on state courts of general jurisdiction in all 50 states. We use it to examine the gender, racial, and ethnic composition of state courts, which we then compare to that of the general population in each state. We find that courts are not representative of the people whom they serve. We call this disparity The Gavel Gap.”

The primary report authors are Tracey E. George, Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University, and Albert H. Yoon, Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Toronto.

As they conclude, “We find that state courts do not look like the communities they serve, which has ramifications for the functioning of our judicial system and the rule of law. Our findings are particularly important given the vital role state courts play in our democracy, in our economy, and in our daily lives.”

The complete report is available here and is only 28 pages. Thankfully, it’s also written clearly and accessibly. If you’d like a deeper dive, the ACS also permits anyone to download the underlying data to examine things for yourself.

Take a look. I’d enjoy hearing what you think of the gap in Arizona, or nationwide. And here are a few of the report’s findings.

Gavel Gap infographic 1-page0001

Gavel Gap report infographic 1

Gavel Gap report infographic 3Gavel Gap infographic 2-page0001

Gavel Gap report infographic 2

Court fees are just part of the downstream penalties assessed on formerly incarcerated people. (Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights)

Court fees are just part of the downstream penalties assessed on formerly incarcerated people. (Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights)

“Families and communities are our nation’s unrecognized re-entry program.”

When it comes to our nation’s prison incarceration numbers, a truer and more startling statement may never have been uttered. And those words highlight one of the stark realities that confront communities who welcome home family and other loved ones who have ended their term of incarceration. For in a nation committed to a criminal justice strategy marked by long terms of imprisonment, “time inside” is only one part of the long-term penalty assessed on inmates and their families.

The quote above was spoken by Zachary Norris, an attorney and Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, based in Oakland, California. I spoke with him in early May, mainly in regard to a report whose creation was led by the Ella Baker Center titled “Who Pays: The True Cost of Incarceration on Families.”

Zachary Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland, Calif.

Zachary Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland, Calif.

My interview with Zach Norris, and with many others, was spurred and supported by a fellowship I received from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. More detail about the Fellowship is here and here. And you should read more about the Quattrone Center here. Material from my research supported by those organizations will appear here and in an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

A few years ago, I was able to cover a related topic thanks to a John Jay/Guggenheim Fellowship: the possibility for sentencing reform in Arizona and nationwide. A previous article that resulted from my coverage is here. This year, I’m following the story from the sentencing and prison setting—where such sentencing changes did not materialize in Arizona—out into the community, which must address the downstream consequences of prison sentences and multiple other penalties assessed on the formerly incarcerated person—and their families.

In the coming days, I’ll report more on what Zach Norris told me, and what some of those punishing realities facing communities and families are.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know has been affected by the returnee challenges, either personally, or in your expert experience as an attorney or otherwise, I’d like to hear from you. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

 

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