Judge


A Supreme Court task force report on the State Bar of Arizona is described by Justice Rebecca Berch, via video available on the Court's website.

A Supreme Court task force report on the State Bar of Arizona is described by Justice Rebecca Berch, via video available on the Court’s website.

In July 2014, Chief Justice Scott Bales signed an administrative order creating a task force to examine “the mission and governance of the State Bar.” The new group was charged with drafting its report by September 1, 2015. That draft report is now available, and the Court is seeking comment.

The task force’s website includes detail about its members, information about its many meetings, and a link to the draft report.

You can link directly to the report here.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealAlso on the website is an introductory video by Justice Rebecca White Berch, who chaired the task force.

Among multiple recommendations, the task force recommends: a reduction in the size of the State Bar Board of Governors (from 30 to between 15 and 18); and clarification of the Bar’s primary mission, which is to serve and protect the public.

One of the elements discussed by the task force was whether the Bar should be maintained as an integrated (mandatory) organization. The task force recommended that it should (though the decision was not unanimous among task force members).

After reading the report, public comment on it can be submitted by email to BarGovernance@courts.az.gov.

You can read Chief Justice Bales’ original Administrative Order here.

More information about the report (and maybe some coverage in Arizona Attorney Magazine) will follow as we head into the fall.

Part of the opening spread in the profile of Bar President Bryan Chambers, Arizona Attorney Magazine, Sept. 2015.

Part of the opening spread in the profile of Bar President Bryan Chambers, Arizona Attorney Magazine, Sept. 2015.

Some organizational moves at the State Bar of Arizona:

As you probably know, the new President of the Bar took his leadership position at the close of the June Convention. At that time, we offered congratulations to Bryan Chambers, from Globe.

While all that was going on, Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill announced his retirement, mid-term, from the Gila County Superior Court. Bryan applied for the judgeship.

Recently, we learned that Bryan had, indeed, been appointed to the bench by Gov. Doug Ducey. You can read about that here.

Of course, that meant Bryan could not serve as a Bar officer, per State Bar bylaws. So at a meeting last week, the Board of Governors elected a new President, Geoff Trachtenberg, of Phoenix. Detail on that is here.

In that press release, we also learn that the board elected: Jeffrey Willis to fill the second vice president post vacated by Trachtenberg; and Steven Hirsch, to fill the secretary/treasurer seat vacated by Willis.

Meantime, I was working on the annual profile of new President Chambers. And he will have served for about 60 days by the time her steps down on August 31, so of course he deserves a profile. That’ll be in the September issue of Arizona Attorney. But now I suppose I’ll gear up to write one on Geoff Trachtenberg too. (That’s OK; it’s one of the perks of the job!)

National Hot Dog Day 2015 v1

Harvey Shinblock can’t be the first lawyer who wanted to open a hot-dog stand.

So today, Thursday, is National Hot Dog Day. Don’t believe me? Well, would the Des Moines Register lie to you?

Not legal enough a topic for your bloggish reading? Stick around. I’ll get to the legal in a moment.

In the meantime, here are a few places in the Phoenix area you might enjoy a hot dog.

Musing on the wonderment of wieners, I was curious about this, so I checked: In the five-plus years I’ve written my daily blog, I’m chagrined to note that the words “hot dog” appear more than a dozen times.

That seems high for a legal blog. Agreed? Well, maybe it’s a cry for help.

In any casing (see what I did there?), I thought I would share my first-ever documented blogular use of the phrase. It occurred in the prologue to a legal novel I wrote (detail about that endeavor is here.)

The book is titled The Supremes, and it involves a new law firm composed of former state supreme court justices. They thought clients would come knocking—which they did—but the law firm partners underestimated how much they disliked each other—and disliked hard work.

The hot dog reference came early, when the new firm’s administrator thinks about Harvey Shinblock, a colorful lawyer who is now disbarred (for numerous offenses, including a Circle K assault with a pocketknife). Harvey owns a hot-dog stand, and he carries quite a grudge against the legal profession. Here’s a portion:

Bernie Galvez liked hot dogs, and Harvey Shinblock sold the best in the city.

Galvez smiled as he recalled how Shinblock had managed to get 30 days in the county lockup for his “misunderstanding” at the convenience store—the best lawyering Shinblock had ever done, representing himself before old Judge Barnes. And after that 30 days, Shinblock woke up driven by a dream of opening his own hot-dog stand.

Human nature being the self-destructive little imp that it is, Shinblock drove his metaphoric stake in the ground on the sidewalk right outside the criminal courts complex. There, he gazed balefully as lawyers and judges streamed by him daily. If looks could kill—or wound with a pocketknife—those members of the bench and bar would have been a bloody mess on the Phoenix streets.

National Hot Dog Day 2015But maybe they got their comeuppance. For in the last three years since Shinblock opened “Court Wieners,” he had received the praise of every publication in town, from the “Best in Phoenix” to the “Best in the Southwest” to the “Best Nooner in a Casing.” Shinblock knew what he was doing as he steamed his hand-crafted dogs.

Nonetheless, no lawyer or judge was ever known to be brave enough to step up and purchase a meal. The history, the bad blood, and the fear of poisoning kept a significant portion of the suited sidewalk denizens from venturing forward and trying Shinblock’s bliss in a bun. They salivated and gnashed their teeth, but the gray and blue army marched past the stainless steel stand, thinking hungrily that they may have been a tad hard on good old Shinblock. Still, march by they did.

The complete prologue is here. Want to keep reading? Here’s Chapter 1.

And … do get out and eat a hot dog.

An April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event at the Arizona Supreme Court gathered advocates and legal experts to addr4ess access to justice issues.

An April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event at the Arizona Supreme Court gathered advocates and legal experts to addr4ess access to justice issues.

Our offices will be closed for the Fourth of July holiday on Friday, July 3. But before I head for the hills, I’ll share one more post for this week, this one written by my prolific colleague Alberto Rodriguez.

His piece is in regard to a noteworthy event held earlier this spring. Arizona Forward was a gathering of people and organizations committed to access to justice. Held at the Arizona Supreme Court on April 3, 2015, speakers included American Bar Association President William C. Hubbard.

Now, the event organizers have released their report, which Alberto summarizes for us here (more event photos are at the end of this post; click to enlarge and to view them in a slideshow):

Speakers at the April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event included (L to R) State Bar CEO John Phelps; ABA President William Hubbard; Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales; State Bar Governor Jeff Willis; and State Bar President Richard Platt.

Speakers at the April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event included (L to R) State Bar CEO John Phelps; ABA President William Hubbard; Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales; State Bar Governor Jeff Willis; and State Bar President Richard Platt.

Legal professionals and community leaders are one step closer to solving the shortage of accessible legal services in Arizona. Arizona Forward, a day-long conference held in April that focused on finding new and better ways to deliver legal services, has released its findings, which included the following.

To move Arizona forward in the future delivery of legal services to its citizens, the significant changes in demographics, economies and technology must be considered by leaders from all sectors of the community-at-large.

  • (We) need to consider further augmentation of the legal services profession, beyond licensed document preparers, to include greater use of non-lawyers and paraprofessionals.
  • (We) need to communicate more effectively to those who need legal services about access to the legal system and recognize when legal advice is needed.
  • (We) must harness technology in every imaginable way to reach and assist those in need of legal services.

The underlying theme in the report was the need for increased communication. Advancements in technology will help to tackle this communication barrier. As technology continues to advance, it will play a key role in ensuring that it provides the gateway in linking those who need legal services to those who can provide it. Mobile and virtual technology are two elements being considered.

As Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales has said, “Having meaningful access to legal services is vital to fulfilling the promise of justice for all. The goal of Arizona Forward is to find new, innovative solutions that advance justice for all Arizonans.” That first step was taken, and the first goal met by the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court, the American Bar Association and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, who co-sponsored the event, along with community leaders from across the state, was to identify the issues and offer attainable solutions.

For more information on Arizona Forward and to read the report, click here or contact Carrie Sherman at 602-340-7201. To learn more about the nationwide initiative led by the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, click here.

Hon. Don Kessler receives the 2015 Sarah Herring Sorin Award from Barbara Burke, center, and 2015 AWLA President Lisa Bossard Funk, June 26, 2015, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix.

Hon. Don Kessler receives the 2015 Sarah Herring Sorin Award from Barbara Burke, center, and 2015 AWLA President Lisa Bossard Funk, June 26, 2015, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix.

An hour after the Supreme Court released its historic opinion legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, the AWLA made historic news of their own, honoring a man for the first time with its Sarah Herring Sorin Award.

On Friday, June 26, the highest award of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association went to Judge Donn Kessler of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

The Biltmore Resort room was packed with a capacity crowd of members and others. Attorney Barbara Burke introduced the honoree, known for his support (and employment) of largely female clerks. He also has chaired or co-chaired the AWLA’s monthly luncheon for years, and has been tireless in mentoring judicial candidates.

Well respected as a mentor, Judge Kessler is “one who lifts up women and men attorneys,” said Burke.

Barbara conveyed kind words about Donn expressed by others: “When Donn is in your life, you are so lucky.” And “He is awesome, a leader and mentor.”

Judge Kessler sounded a theme of mindfulness in his acceptance remarks. A longtime advocate of meditation and balance in life and law practice, he said, “Mindfulness has made me grateful for things.”

For example, to loud applause, he said, “I am grateful for the United States Supreme Court this morning.”

But more needs to be done for marginalized individuals, he urged.

“A half century after 50 percent of law school classes were composed of women, now only 17 percent of law firm equity partners are women.”

Generous to a fault, Judge Kessler praised his many clerks, past and present, who have drafted the first versions of his opinions. While other appellate judges shifted uncomfortably in their seats, Kessler said that many drafts he’s received have been essentially ready for publication the moment they were written by the clerks.

“So I always try to add ‘the Kessler paragraph or sentence,’” he said. That way, when he later engages in dialogue with his fellow panel judges, they can focus on that portion. “‘We can take that out,’ they say,” likely unaware that it’s the judge-drafted portion. The self-effacing Kessler told his story to warm laughs—and some uneasy grimaces.

Judge Kessler said he will probably retire in two years, and hopes young lawyers and clerks always understand that he is a supporter and a sounding board. Urging a successful life and practice, he said, “I want you to run with it.”

Finally, he reminded the audience that appellate judge is the second-best job he’s ever had. For the best position, he recalled his work as a deputy attorney general in Hawaii, where he learned important lessons.

The Hawaiian-shirted Kessler described making his oral argument before a judge. As he went “toe to toe” on an important issue, “the judge was just not buying my argument.” Finally, a colleague tugged on his jacket and muttered, “Move on to your next argument!”

He did, and the judge exclaimed, “You win on that one!”

Your next argument, or your next chapter—and helping others with theirs—may be a recipe for a mindful life, Judge Kessler suggested.

Hon. Patricia Norris and President-Elect Lisa Loo share a decisive moment, June 26, 2015, Phoenix, Ariz.

Hon. Patricia Norris and President-Elect Lisa Loo share a decisive moment, June 26, 2015, Phoenix, Ariz.

More news from the Convention will be in this space Monday. But as #azbarcon 2015 draws toward a close, I share a great photo snapped by the Bar’s Rick DeBruhl. Above you’ll see a historic moment: When Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Norris (L) acquiesced to the urging of President-Elect Lisa Loo to … serve as a Convention Co-Chair for next year’s Convention!

Thank you in advance, Judge Norris, for giving of your time and talents in the coming year!

John Dean was Time Magazine's cover subject more than once. (And the answer: No, Nixon could not survive Dean's testimony.)

John Dean was Time Magazine’s cover subject more than once. (And the answer: No, Nixon could not survive Dean’s testimony.)

Just like politically motivated burglars in 1972, a sad American anniversary furtively passed me by yesterday—for it was on June 17 in that year that “five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex.” (A full timeline of related events and stories, via the Washington Post, is here.)

The break-in at the Watergate and the subsequent executive branch cover-up caused turmoil from coast to coast and eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. (But also a pardon by President Gerald Ford for his secretive predecessor, an event that entirely ruined my 12-year-old birthday on September 8, 1974. I related my own experience of that pardon here.)

If you’d like to hear from someone who was intimately involved with that remarkable moment in American history, head over to San Diego in July, where the State Bar’s CLE By the Sea will feature speaker John Dean, who served as White House Counsel for President Richard Nixon for a thousand days from 1970 until 1973. (He has had other life achievements, but this is the resume line we regularly recall.)

I have never been to CLE By the Sea (I’m as surprised as you are), but this is a speaker who makes me want to break my perfect streak.

You can read more about Dean and his program here.

The pen Gerald Ford used to sign his pardon of Richard Nixon, Sept. 8, 1962. (Wikimedia Commons)

The pen Gerald Ford used to sign his pardon of Richard Nixon, Sept. 8, 1962. (Wikimedia Commons)

When many Americans, including me, think back on the infamy that emerged from the Oval Office, we also recall a few people who stepped up and spoke truth or otherwise acquitted themselves well.

Many people distinguished themselves by doing their jobs well or even going above and beyond the call of duty. Among them were Judge John Sirica, Sen. Sam Ervin, special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus. (And let’s not forget the Washington Post’s own publisher Katharine Graham and reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.)

Political memories linger, and a campaign button in 1976 reminded voters of Ford's first big presidential decision.

Political memories linger, and a campaign button in 1976 reminded voters of Ford’s first big presidential decision.

Other people initially found themselves in a place that appeared ethically challenged or perhaps even illegal. And within that tawdry chapter of U.S. history, a subset of those decided to speak up and try to make things right.

John Dean was one of those people. As I’ve related before, my household and tens of thousands of others were riveted to Senate hearings at which John Dean played a historic role. We gazed in wonder at the laundry list of allegations emanating from the highest reaches of our government. It was hard not to marvel at the resolve Dean exhibited as he offered the Senate an accounting of the administration’s excesses. Others testified, but none riveted the attention as did John Dean.

John Dean when he was a young government lawyer.

John Dean when he was a young government lawyer.

In San Diego in July, Dean and his co-presenter James David Robenalt will offer insights for attorneys who may confront trouble in their own entities. As a description opens:

“As lawyer for the organization, what are the duties and obligations if a report up to the highest authority within an organization has failed and crime or fraud continue? Rule 1.13 of the Code of Professional Conduct (the ‘Model Rules’) provides that the lawyer may ‘report out’ what the lawyer knows, regardless of the duty of confidentiality imposed by Rule 1.6. And the lawyer’s duties become even more complicated if the lawyer has participated, knowingly or not, in the wrongdoing that gives rise to the reporting obligation. How then does the lawyer extricate himself or herself? When is resignation enough? When does a lawyer need to engage in a ‘noisy’ withdrawal?”

Here’s hoping you get the chance to gain some ethics education just steps from the beaches of Coronado. The complete program and a link to register are here.

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