Judge


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.

A Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race RelationsThe topic of a major annual talk could not have been more opportunely selected to engage audiences and communities. Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses” is part of the issue to be addressed by a UCLA professor when he delivers ASU’s A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

The 20th annual lecture named for Dr. Smith will be delivered by Dr. Walter R. Allen, the Allan Murray Cartter Chair in Higher Education and Distinguished Professor of Education and Sociology at UCLA.

His entire title is worth remembering: “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses.”

The free public presentation will be on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 7:00 pm, at the ASU Memorial Union, Memorial Ballroom.

Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis, and doors will open at 6:30 pm.

Given the university’s own high-profile relationship with the intersection of Black lives and policing (and which has made news nationwide), I’m surprised the school has not touted this speech from the rooftops. There may be no local audience more primed to hear this dialogue than the one in Tempe, Arizona, right now.

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

On the other hand, the school probably wishes the whole topic would just go away. A high-profile talk by an esteemed scholar on this very issue may be a bit of salt in the recent wounds.

In any case, below I have included more background on the event. If you plan to attend and would like to provide some photos and perhaps a guest blog post, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Background:

Dr. Walter R. Allen, distinguished professor of education and sociology at UCLA, will discuss the policing of African-American men on college campuses at the 20th annual A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

Allen’s lecture, “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses,” will touch on the social science of incidents involving police security and black men. Allen said he chose this topic because of national news like Ferguson, Mo., even if it didn’t happen on a college campus.

Allen earned his doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Chicago in sociology and his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Allen has done extensive research on higher education, race and ethnicity, family patterns, social inequality and the African diaspora.

Keep reading here.

Past A. Wade Smith keynotes have included Lani Guinier and Kimberlé Crenshaw, among many others.

LawyersWithoutRights logo cover Holocaust

A few days ago, I wrote about a State Bar program that will be held on Thursday, April 16—National Holocaust Remembrance Day. You can read about it here.

In that post, I also mentioned a related exhibit that is worth your time. Since then, I read even more deeply about it, and saw what’s been installed, and I urge you all over again to stop by the Bar building in Phoenix if you can. It will be displayed until 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 16.

Here is some background from the Bar:

“In addition to offering the ‘Lessons from the Holocaust’ CLE program, the State Bar has partnered with the American Bar Association (ABA) and the German Federal Bar to showcase the highly acclaimed international exhibit ‘Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,’ from April 13 through 16, 2015.”

“According to the ABA and the German Federal Bar, ‘Lawyers Without Rights is an exhibition that speaks for itself. Its message resonates with all persons who understand and appreciate the concepts and ideals of a just role of law. It is a commentary and a lesson for all people everywhere about the dangers when lawyers or minorities are attacked or the law itself is unjustly applied.’ The exhibit showcases a series of stories that illustrate the Nazi mistreatment of German lawyers who happened to be Jewish.”

“The exhibit at the State Bar of Arizona is an exact replica of the full exhibit that has been shown in several cities in Germany and throughout the world. It will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 13-16, 2015.”

“Both the CLE and exhibition will be held at the State Bar of Arizona located at 4201 N. 24th St. in Phoenix. For more information contact Sarah Fluke at 602.340.7317.”

The exhibit wisely and hauntingly tells particular, personal stories of German lawyers who were Jewish and whose lives were irrevocably altered—or ended—by the Holocaust.

Also to be displayed, in the Bar lobby, will be 10 six-foot banners with pictures and text. They will be displayed from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday afternoon. Below is a photo of those posters when they were at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

Lawyers Without Rights display in Los Angeles

Lawyers Without Rights display in Los Angeles.

If you can’t make it, that’s OK. The website dedicated to those stories is terrific and offers a similar yet even deeper experience.

Here is a video about Lawyers Without Rights:

Hardly giving the exhibit justice, here is my Vine scanning the room it’s in.

And in case you were wondering:

“The German Federal Bar, known as the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer, is the national bar of the Republic of Germany and based in Berlin. Membership is approximately 166,000 lawyers and is required of all licensed lawyers in Germany.”

Dr. William Meinecke, Jr., State Bar of Arizona Convention, June 19, 2013.

Dr. William Meinecke, Jr., State Bar of Arizona Convention, June 19, 2013.

We hear too often the true statement that we may be doomed to repeat the unlearned lessons of history. But an upcoming program at the State Bar, on Thursday, April 16, may provide tools and insights to avoid that trap of amnesia.

Titled Lessons From the Holocaust,” its speaker is Dr. William Meinecke, a historian for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s leadership development programs. He also wrote Nazi Ideology and the Holocaust (2007).

I covered Dr. Meinecke’s appearance at a previous State Bar Convention here.

Here is information from the Bar about the April 16 event:

“The Holocaust is much more than an unspeakable horror from WWII or a chapter in a history book. The study of the Holocaust provides important insight into the consequences when the mission of the police, judiciary, and the legal profession is transformed from protecting the rights of individuals to actively abusing basic human civil rights. Using legal decrees, judicial opinions, and case law of the period, participants study the role of these professions in the destruction of democracy and the establishment of the Nazi German state.”

“Participants are challenged to examine their own roles and responsibilities as members of professions that hold the public trust, protect society, and influence the health of our democracy by studying the decision making, the opportunities, and often the failures of their counterparts in Nazi Germany that helped lead to mass murder.”

The event has become popular enough that an overflow room is being filled. More information and registration information are here.

More about the Museum is here.

Paired with the event will be the display of an information-filled poster series, on loan from the American Bar Association and the German Federal Bar. The gripping series is titled “Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich,” and it will be available for viewing in the State Bar member lounge on Monday through Thursday in the week of April 13. (Registration for the Holocaust CLE event is not required to view the posters.) I have just received background material on this amazing project, and I will provide more detail on it as soon as I know more.

The following photo is taken from the project.

Munich lawyer Dr. Michael Siegel marched by the police through the city's streets after complaining about the treatment of a client. (Photo from German Federal Bar and American Bar Association.)

Munich lawyer Dr. Michael Siegel marched by the police through the city’s streets after complaining about the treatment of a client. (Photo from German Federal Bar and American Bar Association.)

judge roxanne song ong headshot

Judge Roxanne Song Ong (ret.)

This Thursday, the annual event called Spring Training for Lawyers will be held. (I mentioned it yesterday, here.)

There is quite a bit of content worth seeing at the event this Thursday and Friday. Topics include (in no particular order) stereotyping, the Hobby Lobby decision, representing clients with disabilities, mindfulness in practice, and immigration law.

Every one of those (plus others) look like great panels helmed by talented lawyers.

But the opening panel on Thursday is the one I really am disappointed to miss. The title is “Perspectives on Diversity in the Legal Profession in Arizona, and it runs from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The speakers have walked the walk:

  • George Chen, partner at Bryan Cave
  • Booker Evans, shareholder at Gallagher & Kennedy
  • Sonia Martinez, solo practitioner and past President of NABA
  • Ed Maldonado, solo practitioner and past President of Los Abogados
  • Hon. Roxanne Song Ong, retired Presiding Judge of the Phoenix Municipal Court

Topics will include:

  • Challenges facing minority attorneys in the workplace
  • Issues of majority attorneys working with minority lawyers
  • Importance of developing business for minority lawyers

As organizers say, “A full hour is also dedicated for the panelists to interact with the audience, who are encouraged to ask the ‘tough questions’ about minority issues. The panelists will do their best to provide their candid answers.”

More information is here, including the full program, fees (regular, late, and student discount), additional registration and CLE information.

Register here.

Spring Training for Lawyers Minority Bar Convention 2015-page0001

Sandra Day O'Connor, before she was a Justice.

Sandra Day O’Connor, before she was a Justice.

This past week, I finally had the chance to see a historic exhibit that has been on display since September (I mentioned it before). I’m glad I caught the show regarding Sandra Day O’Connor before it closes in May.

Whether or not you’re a cowgirl, or Irish, you’ll enjoy the show at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix.

Some photos I took during my visit are here on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

In the next (April) issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, I write about my visit in my editor’s column. Here it is (spoiler alert):

Honoring a cowgirl–justice

Let’s admit at the outset: Sandra Day O’Connor may not be Irish.

That small fact detracts not a whit from an installation at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix that explores one remarkable woman’s path from cowgirl to jurist.

The show—up since September but which I finally saw in February—comes to Phoenix from Texas—Fort Worth, in particular. That’s where (of course) the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is located, and where they conceived the idea of “The Cowgirl Who Became a Justice.”

Sandra Day O'Connor speaks at her Senate confirmation hearings, her image reflected on the case holding her judicial robe.

Sandra Day O’Connor speaks at her Senate confirmation hearings, her image reflected on the case holding her judicial robe. (Click to enlarge.)

The well-chosen exhibition displays offer viewers the opportunity to explore how life on the ranch and in chambers are similar and different. You can’t help but marvel at the distance a young girl traveled, and it’s hard to resist viewing her judicial approach anew, through the lens of the Lazy B Ranch (where, to nobody’s surprise, no one was lazy).

Family photos and a branding iron are concrete and evocative reminders of Justice O’Connor’s heritage. But the portion of the beautiful room given over to her ascension to the Court reminds us of her historic appointment.

As I watched the looping footage of O’Connor’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I was struck by her calm demeanor and kind but firm method of schooling her questioners. Her flickering visage, reflected in the case holding her judicial robe, reminded me how fortunate Arizona is to be home to talented lawyers and jurists like Sandra Day O’Connor.

The show remains open until May 23, 2015. More information is here.

See how the ranch and the bench intersected in Sandra Day O'Connor's life at an event Wednesday, Feb. 25.

See how the ranch and the bench intersected in Sandra Day O’Connor’s life at an event Wednesday, Feb. 25.

This Wednesday, a Phoenix event will include an opportunity to see a display of items related to Sandra Day O’Connor’s cowgirl days.

The mixer of the Phoenix Community Alliance will be held at the Irish Cultural Center in Margaret T. Hance Park on Wednesday, Feb. 25, from 4:30 to 6:30. The address is 1106 N Central Ave., Phoenix 85004.

Register here for the free event (a map and parking information are also available).

As organizers say:

“The Irish Cultural Center is also home to the McClelland Irish Library, which resembles a traditional 12th century Norman castle from the Emerald Isle. The library consists of 8,000 books from Irish authors, poets, and genealogical sources.”

On exhibit in the library is “The Cowgirl Who Became a Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor,” an interactive exhibit that shows how the ranch and the bench intersected. It “demonstrates how a cowgirl from a ranch in Arizona became the first female to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

I wrote before about the connection between the Irish Cultural Center and Justice O’Connor.

For more about what you’ll see at the exhibit, click here.

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

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