Judge


Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Earlier this month, I mentioned a remarkable story told in the May Arizona Attorney. In it, Judge Randall Howe relates his mother’s advocacy for his quality education—though his school deemed him unfit for such due to a disability.

The 6-year-old Howe had a remarkable champion in his corner in 1969. Since then, he has been a champion for others, which led to his being named the recipient of an esteemed Vision Award from the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

AZ Center for Disability Law logoOn May 15, the Center celebrated its 20th anniversary. In a terrific evening, awards were given, including Judge Howe’s and a Disability Justice Award given to the law firm Perkins Coie.

You can see my aggregated tweets from the evening here. They includes links to the Judge’s story and other helpful information.

Congratulations to Judge Howe. He is a champion and an advocate—as well as a terrific former Chair of the magazine’s Editorial Board!

Have a great weekend.

Reviewed in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine: Magna Carta by Dan Jones

Reviewed in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine: Magna Carta by Dan Jones

Yesterday, I got to CLE Snippet.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know what I mean. I got to have a taped conversation with the author of an upcoming Arizona Attorney article.

The result is a brief-ish video for sale by the CLE Department. I say brief-ish because, though we’ve been told we may speak for as little as 15 minutes, our past dialogues have rambled two to four times beyond that.

What can I say? Our authors are fascinating people, and I get to select the authors and topics I want to sit down with.

Yesterday’s Snippet was with Judge George Anagnost. He is the Presiding Judge of the Peoria Municipal Court. And at the magazine, he’s one of our resident historians and a book-reviewer par excellence.

I have written about his approach to book reviews here.

Our topic this week was Magna Carta. Our jumping-off point was a book the judge reviewed, by Dan Jones. But the conversation ranged farther than that.

Continuing our sort-of tradition, a selfie with the author was a pleasure, snapped this month by my Bar colleague Jenn Sonier. (Thanks!)

Judge George Anagnost (left) and his shorter interlocutor.

Judge George Anagnost (left) and his shorter interlocutor.

When the video and June article are available, I hope you read and watch in tandem. More information, as always, will be on the Bar’s website.

Mother's Day banner

The following information may be bad news to you: Yesterday was Mother’s Day.

If you find yourself in the awkward bind of realizing that fact a day late, here’s what I recommend: Read Randy Howe’s touching article in Arizona Attorney Magazine. Then contact your loved one and apologize—more than once. And make amends by sharing the story’s link with her.

Randy’s story and his mother’s evocative and surprising letter of advocacy for her son may heal all wounds.

The heart of the story of Randall Howe—now an Arizona Court of Appeals judge—revolves around his mother’s position in regard to her son’s education, and a letter she sent to the district on his behalf. As he writes:

“Six years old was when children in Colorado started first grade, and my mother believed that I should begin school. The fact that I had cerebral palsy, walked with walker, and had a speech impediment—all of these things she deemed irrelevant to my need—my right—to go to school. Consequently, she enrolled me in the elementary school down the street from our house. School officials had never encountered children with a severe disability before and put her off, requiring that I be mentally and psychologically tested to determine if I was intellectually capable of attending school.”

“Undaunted, she did just that. And from reading the letter, you can see what happened. I went to first grade for four days, until school officials decided that they were unable to give a child with a disability the physical assistance necessary so that he could attend school. My mother—again undaunted—proceeded to petition, cajole and argue with the school officials, and to threaten legal action against the school board to get me the public education that was provided to every nondisabled child in the State of Colorado.”

Here is Randy’s whole story, which I (seriously) suggest you share with friends and family.

That's the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston) to you and me.

That’s the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston) to you and me.

In late March, I attended a conference at ASU that focused on the value of prison education—a topic easy to overlook, even in a high-incarceration society. (I previewed the event here.)

The conference was terrific, and you may still be able to see tweets by me and others by looking for @PEAC_ASU and the hashtag #PEC15. And as long as you’re online, be sure to follow ASU’s Prison Education Awareness Club.

The topic of education for correctional inmates is pretty specific, one that I would think does not recur in my life too often. But a recent trip to Boston threw the issue in stark relief again.

As I strolled through the Institute of Contemporary Art in that city, I was pleased to see so many compelling and provocative pieces. It is worth a stop—the longer the better—if you get the chance.

This is the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Yes, it’s as cool as it looks. Yes, you want to visit.

This is the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Yes, it’s as cool as it looks. Yes, you want to visit.

One particularly striking exhibition (sorry, it closes May 10) was called “When the Stars Begin to Fall.” The ICA describes it here:

“When the Stars Begin to Fall gathers 35 artists of different generations who share an interest in the American South as both a real and fabled place. Key to the exhibition is the relationship between contemporary art, black life, and ‘outsider’ art, a historically fraught category typically encompassing artists who have not received formal art training and who may have been marginalized in society. When the Stars Begin to Fall includes artworks by self-taught, spiritually inspired, and incarcerated artists alongside projects by prominent contemporary artists such as Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, and Theaster Gates. It presents diverse artworks—from drawing and painting to performance, sculpture, and assemblage—unified by an insistent reference to place.”

Read more about the exhibition here.

The entire show was amazing, but I was especially struck by the work of the incarcerated artists. (That may not be a surprise, given the number of times I’ve covered corrections issues before. For instance, here is my review of the film Herman’s House, about former Louisiana inmate Herman Wallace, whom I’ve written about numerous times.)

It may be more than a coincidence that some of our most evocative art arises from people in adverse conditions. And a few artists represented in Boston cause viewers to stop and consider what we value and how fragile our sense of normalcy is.

Causing me to pause was the work of Frank Albert Jones. As I gleaned from the museum-curated detail: The artist created the drawings with colored pencils he salvaged from the accounting office of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, where Jones was an inmate at the end of his life. The pieces on display were from the late 1960s, soon before Jones’s death.

Here are photos of his pieces on display:

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Also compelling were pieces by Henry Ray Clark, as described by the museum:

“Conjuring alternate realities, Clark creates drawings populated with figures that appear to be from another planet. He builds his compositions by repeating geometric shapes to form patterns and elaborate borders around central subjects. As Clark’s titles imply, his works express feelings of isolation while humorously suggesting possible places where people can exist with their multiple identities.”

Clark also was in the Texas Penitentiary. Upon release, he got involved in Houston’s artist community and participated in community-based organization Project Row Houses. Here is some of Clark’s work:

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The work by Jones and Clark was noteworthy, but I also was struck by the artists who had never been incarcerated but whose work complements and comments on a society heavy on incarceration. Like the dedicated students in the Prison Education Awareness Club, these artists feel that prisons say a lot about us and that they have lessons to tell—about those within the walls and those without.

Among those intriguing people were video artists Kara Walker (and her video titled 8 Possible Beginnings; or the Creation of African-America, A Moving Picture by Kara E. Walker) and Lauren Kelley (and her video titled Unbleached Objects).

Kelley’s work (photo below) communicated consciously with the pieces by Frank Albert Jones on a facing wall. As the museum explained:

“Kelley’s series of videos on view are inspired by the blue and red drawings of Frank albert Jones featured in this gallery. To create these animated drawings, Kelley sourced images of miscellaneous goods on Etsy, an online marketplace for arts, crafts, and vintage items. She envisions these as ‘portraits of the playful spirits captured in the spaces Jones ornately rendered.’ The objects sourced from the free market of the internet contrast sharply with Jones’s reality as a prisoner … but they make reference to the types of mass-produced goods currently made by incarcerated individuals for large corporations.”

Prison arts Boston Unbleached Objects by Lauren Kelley_opt

Unbleached Objects by Lauren Kelley

Here are a few of the inmate-created works displayed at the March ASU conference, as described by Kyes Stevens from the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project (click to enlarge):

And here are photos from the packed-to-the-gills room as PEAC president Jessica Fletcher opened the conference (click the photos to enlarge):

Given the wall-and-wire chasm that lies between millions of inmates and the society that imprisons them, art may be a necessary bridge. Based on the conference message, art can play a powerful role in humanizing a dehumanizing situation. And based on my visit to Boston, it can play a similarly powerful role in reminding us all of the need to remain fully human, even as we dole out justice and retribution.

The number-1 goal of the Arizona courts is access to justice.

The number-1 goal of the Arizona courts is access to justice.

How busy is your average day? How would you assess yourself on the helpfulness scale?

I hope you’re a typically helpful person, but when I saw what Arizona legal aid agencies do in a single day, I realized I’d have to step up to even come close.

The following terrific information came my way from Heather Murphy at the Arizona Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Courts. She passed on an analysis from the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education (or the Bar Foundation, if you prefer) that shows the activities of those agencies on just one day. As they say, what a difference a day makes.

As they indicate below, the agencies tracked the activity related to individuals seeking assistance for crises that only legal expertise can resolve. The help they offer is remarkable. The gap that remains is huge—and growing.

Heather reminds me that access to justice is one of the five priority areas in Advancing Justice Together: Courts & Communities, the five-year strategic agenda for Arizona’s statewide network of courts. You can read the strategic agenda here.

And more about the Arizona Commission on Access to Justice is here.

And here is the Foundation:

The phones started ringing early at legal aid agencies across Arizona, and kept ringing as people also walked in and requested help via an online portal: 597 Arizona families were calling out for legal help on this one day.

In honor of Governor Doug Ducey’s proclamation declaring April “Access to Justice Month,” Arizona’s three legal aid agencies organized a “What a Difference a Day Makes” campaign to bring attention to the importance of and need for access to legal resources and assistance. For 24 hours, Community Legal Services, DNA People’s Legal Services and Southern Arizona Legal Aid tracked the activity related to individuals seeking assistance for crises that only legal expertise can resolve. On Tuesday, April 14, Arizona’s legal aid organizations made an enormous difference:

  • In the lives of 509 individuals who were offered help in their legal crisis
  • With the 69 people given support in self-help legal clinics
  • With the assistance of 25 volunteer attorneys donating their time and expertise free of charge

Each day, the legal aid agencies across Arizona are making a difference in the lives of those they serve and in the communities where they live.  These unsung heroes should be thanked. But you best send a note, because their phone lines will be busy helping the next person in need.

In 2014:

  • The three Arizona legal aid agencies helped 31,605 Arizonans: 17,663 adults and 13,942 children.
  • Legal assistance was provided to Arizonans in each of the state’s 15 counties and Arizona’s 21 Native American tribes.

Community Legal Services, DNA People’s Legal Services and Southern Arizona Legal Aid provide legal assistance on various areas of law, including: family law with an emphasis on eliminating domestic violence; consumer; employment; housing and mortgage foreclosure; individual rights; health/medical related; and public benefits (access to government benefits such as unemployment insurance and social security disability benefits).

More information about all three agencies is below. Contact them to make a difference yourself:

AZTurboCourt e-filing logoLast week, we learned from the Arizona Supreme Court that the first phase of mandatory electronic filing into Pima Superior Court had begun (I previously alerted you about it here.). As the Court said, “As a reminder, law firms and attorneys that have names beginning with A-M are currently mandated to e-file civil submissions into Pima Superior Court. The remaining law firms are affected by the mandate beginning May 26.”

As previously reported, AZTurboCourt became available for general use for Pima filings on February 16 following a pilot period. Chief Justice Bales signed A.O. 2015-32, replacing A.O. 2015-11 and providing clarification regarding e-filing exclusions.

More complete information about AZTurboCourt, including training tutorials and manuals, is here.

Former Judge Mark Painter takes legal writing seriously (and you'd be advised to do the same, Counselor!).

Former Judge Mark Painter takes legal writing seriously (and you’d be advised to do the same, Counselor!).

In honor of Change of Venue Friday, how would you like to be beat about the head for your legal writing failures?

I didn’t think so. Writing is hard, and unnecessarily harsh criticism (and a beating) does not make the task any easier.

But a recent story out of Ohio tells me that our approach to better legal writing—cajoling and education, plus a little humor—may be the best course. To see what I mean, read Susie Salmon’s terrific recent column here.

Meanwhile, a former Ohio judge named Mark Painter penned his own legal-writing column in a bar magazine. (Sound familiar?) But things took a turn for the worse. Let me have a Cincinnati paper describe it:

“Former Judge Mark Painter never has been at a loss for words, especially when it comes to singling out lousy writing by his fellow lawyers.”

“But for the first time in years, his criticism has been silenced. Sort of.”

“The Cincinnati Bar Association recently refused to print Painter’s column on legal writing in its monthly magazine, prompting Painter to quit the association and take out a big ad in The Enquirer on Wednesday complaining about the decision. The problem, the association’s leadership told Painter, was that his critiques of local judges sometimes were not all that collegial.”

“In other words, he’s too mean.”

“Painter, who enjoys a good fight almost as much as good writing, said the real problem is censorship and wasted no time Wednesday making his case. He said his columns in the CBA Report were intended to educate, not embarrass, and the bar association went overboard by censoring him.”

“‘You’ve got a bureaucratic mindset, a don’t-rock-the-boat mindset,’ Painter said of the bar association. ‘It’s ridiculous. Mine is an opinion column. It’s amazing how thin-skinned people are.’”

“Officials at the bar association, the region’s largest organization for lawyers, declined comment on their decision, other than to say they appreciate Painter’s contributions over the years and regret his decision to drop his membership.”

You could—and really should—read the whole story here. And thank you to Brad Carr for alerting me to a story about mean judges and the sentences they loathe!

When does a writing-teacher's stern reproof become mean?

When does a writing-teacher’s stern reproof become mean?

And, so you can get the whole picture, why don’t you read the judge’s column here.

I have to admit I’m conflicted about this. Sure, columnists should have a tone that is unique to them. But is a writing column truly an opinion column? Well, it definitely should be opinionated. But if the opinion of the author is that other people are morons, is that an opinion we’d publish?

But I honestly have a hard time thinking of a column that could grate so badly that I would decline to publish. Compelling (even if stern) analysis might put asses in the seats. And engagement is (ideally) part if every publication’s strategy.

Just seeing a bar association irked that a writer was “too mean” is worth the price of admission, either way!

But maybe saying it was "mean" is malarkey. After all, there's no crying in baseball or legal writing. Time to put on your big-writer pantaloons.

But maybe saying it was “mean” is malarkey. After all, there’s no crying in baseball … or legal writing. Time to put on your big-writer pantaloons.

However you feel, try to have a great—and grammatically correct—weekend. And try not to be overly judgmental of others.

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