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:

Today, we talk about parallel citations and what the Arizona Supreme Court says. railroad tracks

Today, we talk about parallel citations and what the Arizona Supreme Court says.

In what may be the most legal blog post I’ve ever published, I share below news from the Arizona Supreme Court regarding a change in its policy regarding parallel citations. This may be good news to those of you who suspended their use quite a while ago. Here is the Court:

The Arizona Supreme Court has determined that as of now it will no longer require any appellate briefs, petitions, and other pleadings filed in that Court to contain parallel citations for Arizona cases. This means that when citing Arizona cases to the Court, lawyers and self-representing parties need only cite to the Arizona Reports alone, without a parallel citation to the Pacific Reports.

AZ Supreme Court logo
While the Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure has not required any more than citation to the official reports for civil appeals since January 1, 2015, for criminal matters Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 31.13(c)(vi) currently requires citation “also when possible to the unofficial reports.” A petition that proposes to restyle the Criminal Rules, specifically proposed new Rule 31.10(g), is expected to be on the Court’s August Rules Agenda. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will no longer expect parallel citations in criminal case filings.

Citations for specific points of law within a case still must include “the volume, page number and, if applicable, the paragraph number, of the official Arizona reporter.” See Arizona Rule of Civil Appellate Procedure 13(f).

SBA program on dementia in the legal profession 04-07-17

This Friday, a program examines the growing problem of dementia in society—specifically its impact on attorneys and the legal profession.

It follows on the heels of a terrifically successful February program touching on the topic. That CLE reached more than 1,000 registrants nationwide (which I covered here). But this seminar on Friday focuses on the needs of and processes for Arizona practitioners.

Here is information about the program, titled “Spotlight on Dementia: Arizona Lawyers, Judges and the Practice of Law” (May qualify for up to 2 CLE/1 Ethics).

When: April 7, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: McAuliffe CLE Center, 4201 N. 24th Street, Phoenix

To Register:


sba_logo_color State Bar of ArizonaAlzheimer’s and other dementias do not typically announce their arrival in a sudden manner. The gradual onset of the disease means that subtle changes in a person’s behavior or performance may not be initially recognized as dementia. Co-workers and colleagues are frequently one of the first to notice changes. This program addresses dementia issues as they pertain to attorneys and judges.

Program highlights include:

  • Recognizing symptoms of dementia, treatment options and ongoing care
  • Duties and obligations of Arizona lawyers and judges and practical approaches to follow if one suspects a colleague or client has dementia
  • Resources for patients, families and caregivers

Seminar Faculty:

  • Hon. Louraine Arkfeld, Tempe Municipal Court (ret.)
  • Justice Clint Bolick, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Hon. Louis Dominguez, Surprise City Court
  • Jan Dougherty, MS, RN, FAAN, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
  • Hon. Margaret Downie, Arizona Court of Appeals – Division One
  • James Fitzpatrick, Alzheimer’s Association, Desert Southwest Chapter
  • Marsha Goodman, Frazer, Ryan, Goldberg and Arnold, LLP
  • Lisa Panahi, State Bar of Arizona
  • Hon. Roxanne Song Ong, Phoenix Municipal Court (ret.)

Court Personnel: For additional viewing options please contact: Renu Sapra at 602-452-3015 or rsapra@courts.az.gov


Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.

That stunning fact—and its impact on our personal and professional lives—drove the creation of a special State Bar of Arizona program on dementia and its impact on lawyers and judges.

The free live webinar will be screened one week from today, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 10 am to 11:15 am.

More information and free registration are here.

The program is being produced by the State Bar and the Arizona Supreme Court, in cooperation with InReach.

As organizers say, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is rapidly growing in part due to the aging baby-boomer population and increased life expectancy. Currently, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease.

The Bar’s hope for the program is to:

  • share information about the signs of dementia
  • provide links to help navigate the available resources
  • highlight the responsibilities and opportunities for lawyers and judges.

The program is not intended to offer CLE credit as it has not been developed with MCLE rules in mind. Instead, it is available as a service for members of the bench and the bar.

(The Bar will offer a follow-up three-hour CLE program in April that addresses Arizona-specific duties and opportunities.)

State Bar of Arizona logo 


Today I share an opportunity to participate in moot court—as a judge.

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board seeks volunteer judges for its competition on February 17 and 18. Here is the news from Tyler Carlton, the Chair of the Hosted Competitions Committee:

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board is looking for volunteers to judge the ASU Law and Science Mock Trial Competition on February 17 (Friday) and 18 (Saturday). We are looking for volunteers for all times slots, which are provided below.

Trials will be about three hours longs. We are very excited to host our competition this year in the new downtown Phoenix building with teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, and Texas. Volunteer judges will also be provided both breakfast and lunch. Volunteers can sign up for any times slots that they are available.

First day (2/17):

  • Judge Orientation: 9:00
  • First trial: 10:00-1:00
  • Lunch: 1:00-2:00
  • Judge Orientation: 2:00
  • Second trial: 2:30-5:30

Second day (2/18):

  • Judge Orientation: 8:00
  • First trial: 9:00-12:00
  • Lunch: 12:00-1:00

For more information or to sign up, contact Tyler at tdcarlto@asu.edu.

ASU Law School logo

Justice Sonia Sotomayor greets University of Arizona Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Jan. 23, 2017, ASU Gammage Auditorium, at the annual John Frank Lecture.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor greets University of Arizona Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Jan. 23, 2017, ASU Gammage Auditorium, at the annual John Frank Lecture.

This week, I had the privilege to attend the annual John Frank Lecture at ASU. This year’s esteemed speaker was Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who engaged in a dialogue with Hon. Mary Schroeder of the Ninth Circuit (and its former Chief Judge). I’m happy to share excellent reporting of the event (below) by attorney Ashley Kasarjian, of Snell & Wilmer. She’s also a former Chair of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board, so she’s excellent in multiple ways!

If this blog post were a movie, the opening scene would be the end of the evening—roaring applause and a standing ovation with Justice Sotomayor shaking hands, hugging kids at the end of the aisle, and walking through the crowd at Gammage Auditorium. Now, rewind back… Last night, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor […]

via Justice Sotomayor Visits Arizona State University — Employment and the Law: A legal blog from the perspective of an employment attorney

Keep reading here.

Yavapai County Courthouse (court website)

Yavapai County Courthouse (court website)

News from the Superior Court in Yavapai County:

Please join the Arizona Superior Court in Yavapai County for an open-house celebration of the 100th anniversary of the laying of the Yavapai County Courthouse cornerstone. This event will take place on Saturday, October 15, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Prescott Courthouse, 120 S. Cortez in Prescott.

Yavapai County Courthouse cornerstone

Yavapai County Courthouse cornerstone

We are extremely excited about the addition of an exhibit area on the first floor near the Law Library that will showcase historical items that were used in the courthouse through the last century. Along with exhibits, we will have historical photos displayed throughout the courthouse (images courtesy of the Sharlot Hall Museum) depicting the jewel of Yavapai County.


We will have docents onsite to share their knowledge and help guide you through the courthouse. We also will have folks dressed in period costumes to enhance your experience while celebrating this milestone.

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