Lawyer kudos


Arizona lawyer—and our arts competition music winner—Stu De Haan made a devilish argument about free speech and freedom of religion.

Arizona lawyer—and our arts competition music winner—Stu De Haan made a devilish argument about free speech and freedom of religion.

If politics and religion are two topics we should never discuss in polite company, the Phoenix City Council seems like the ideal place to address both.

This week has seen a firestorm of hellish indignation over the news that a group of satanists petitioned the Phoenix city clerk’s office to offer the “invocation” at an upcoming City Council meeting. After reviewing the request and the fact that municipalities cannot be in the business of “picking winners and losers” when it comes to deities, it OKed the request.

As Phoenix City Attorney Brad Holm said in a statement, “Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s direction, the city cannot dictate religious viewpoints or the content of a prayer.”

Imagine that—following the law.

Cue the choirs, celestial and otherwise.

Read a news story about the devilish quandary here.

To the surprise of almost no one, there is not unanimous agreement with the decision—though the February 17 meeting will likely be standing-room only due to the controversy.

One Phoenix councilman said it’s “a dumb idea,” and another insisted the Satanists should have been denied and simply let them sue. Knowing there’s often fire where there’s smoke, media are all over this. Here’s a video news story:

I confess I’m surprised by the uproar. I’ve been in that chamber many times, and I’m pretty sure I’ve spotted Lucifer at numerous zoning hearings. And who hasn’t smelled the distinct odor of sulfur as countless variance requests are rubber-stamped? Or maybe I need to get my eyes and nose checked.

Wherever you stand, this is a fantastic lesson in the First Amendment, playing out right in the heart of our state. You’re welcome, America.

Stu De Haan and his instrument in Arizona Attorney Magazine, May 2015.

Stu De Haan and his instrument in Arizona Attorney Magazine, May 2015.

And yes, there is an even more intimate legal angle to this. Spokesman and legal adviser to the Satanic Temple (and a “Satanic Templar”) is Arizona lawyer Stu De Haan. And here at Arizona Attorney Magazine, we are a big fan of him—and his music.

Those with good memories will recall that Stu was the winner in the Music category in our 2015 Creative Arts Competition. He appeared on our cover and inside pages, and we featured “Don’t Get Stuck in a Roadside Ditch” online. That song is by his band Scar Eater, “a five piece post-hardcore band from Tucson.”

As Stu described his song, “This song is about facing fears, shedding one’s negative past, and embracing an aggressive but positive outlook on the inevitable difficulties of life.”

You can read more what I wrote about Stu, and listen to “Roadside Ditch,” here.

Arizona Attorney Magazine May 2015 cover arts competition winnersA final thought: It bears noting that Stu and his fellow Satanic Templar Michelle Shortt are traveling north from Tucson to deliver an invocation—and make a point, I suppose—because the Tucson City Council gets to the work of its meetings without bothering with a prayer of any kind. No muss, no fuss.

Imagine that—focusing on governing.

As we head into our Friday, please enjoy “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. “Pleased to meet you; hope you guess my name.”

Have a terrific—and free-speech-filled—weekend.

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A new Phoenix Compliance Assistance Program aims to assist residents whose civil fines have led to the loss of a driver's license or worse.

A new Phoenix Compliance Assistance Program aims to assist residents whose civil fines have led to the loss of a driver’s license or worse.

This week, the City of Phoenix and its Municipal Court announced a new program that aims to counter situations that have too often have led people into financial straits and even into the justice system.

The new “Compliance Assistance Program” is “designed to give residents with past-due traffic fines a path to repay the debts and work towards restoring driving privileges.”

The past year has provided numerous examples from around the country in which residents faced financial ruin and increased interaction with police because of an accumulation of unpaid tickets, fines, and penalties. But these issues didn’t just face residents of Ferguson, Missouri, or other newsworthy places; they face residents of Arizona cities too. The Phoenix program is a salutary effort to address those problems; you can read more about it here.

As Megan Cassidy reports:

“The Compliance Assistance Program is designed to break what can become a crippling cycle of fines and subsequent driving penalties: Unpaid fines can lead to a suspended license. And driving on a suspended license can lead to criminal charges and jail time for the working poor. As of Dec. 31, Phoenix was owed more than $283 million in overdue municipal fines, fees and restitution dating back decades. As many as 6,000 people currently have their licenses suspended because of delinquent Phoenix fines.”

Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego

Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego

Quoted in the story and a key driver of the change is Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego.

“We want people to be able to pay their fines in a sustainable way,” she said. “If you push people to the brink of their financial ability, the consequences are more negative.”

New Chief Presiding Municipal Judge B. Don Taylor came into the job via a contentious process, but his advocacy for these changes is a welcome sign for a progressive court, one that has substantial daily interactions with residents. Though the program is just a first step, residents should be heartened by the actions of Judge Taylor and Councilwoman Gallego, who “said she made reforming the Municipal Court system a priority in her decision-making when the City Council selected a new presiding municipal judge last year.”

As Judge Taylor says in the Arizona Republic story, “It’s really providing a mechanism that people haven’t really had before. I think creating something that will allow them to be compliant, get the license back, really helps them be in a good place.”

If the name Don Taylor sounds familiar, it may be because he’s a longtime lawyer, former prosecutor, and even a story-subject in Arizona Attorney Magazine. In 2007, we spoke with him as he worked at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague.

Congratulations on the new program.

Attorney B. Don Taylor in the February 2007 Arizona Attorney, describing his work at The Hague.

Attorney B. Don Taylor in the February 2007 Arizona Attorney, describing his work at The Hague.

lawyers on call

Next Tuesday, February 2, the State Bar and 12News are co-sponsoring a lawyer call-in program that may benefit someone you know—or it may even benefit you!

12 News logoThe topic for Lawyers on Call that night will be estate planning, wills and trusts. It runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. that evening, and the call-in number is 602-258-1212. More detail is here.

After the event, I’ll share the names of the lawyers who generously gave of their time at the event.

This month, attorney Clint Bolick was selected as a new Arizona Supreme Court Justice by Gov. Doug Ducey.

This month, attorney Clint Bolick was selected as a new Arizona Supreme Court Justice by Gov. Doug Ducey.

It cannot be easy to select a new state supreme court justice. So much is involved in the job that a panel must weigh a broad array of talents and experiences. And at the end of the day, the old adage applies: You can’t please everybody.

Clint Bolick is a longtime litigator for the Goldwater Institute and an occasional columnist for Arizona Attorney Magazine. (Read a few of his pieces where he discussed courts, judges, and legal services here, here, and here. And he discusses a book on immigration reform he coauthored with Jeb Bush here.) And now he can add Arizona Supreme Court Justice to his roster of accomplishments (though I’m sure columnist will always be his favorite achievement!)

You can read news stories about his appointment by Gov. Doug Ducey here, here, and here.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThose also up for the job had ample experience as appellate judges, which the new Justice lacked. That, plus his previous advocacy litigation, meant that his selection was not met with unanimous positive reviews. (for a negative take, here is E.J. Montini’s column in the Arizona Republic.)

Whatever your view of his appointment, I was pleased to watch Clint Bolick’s interview as he sat before the appointments panel (and I urge you to watch it here). Sitting in the hot seat, Clint did extremely well. He did not appear there as a man who lacks the skill and experience for the job. Nor did he overcompensate by appearing prideful about his litigation record. Instead, he was—and is—soft-spoken and self-effacing. And that has been my experience of him as a colleague and writer.

If there is an entry for “disarming interview” in the dictionary, he would occupy the spot.

Of course, none of that means you will necessarily be pleased (or disappointed) in his subsequent opinions. His judicial record will now roll out over a course of years. Until then, I congratulate Justice Bolick and wish him the best.

Arizona Justice Project logo

Some leadership news from the Arizona Justice Project:

Kathleen Brody is the new Executive Director of the Arizona Justice Project as of Jan. 4, 2016.

Kathleen Brody

The Phoenix law firm Osborn Maledon and the nonprofit Arizona Justice Project announced last week that Kathleen Brody, an Osborn Maledon partner, will serve as the executive director of the Project, effective Jan. 4, 2016. Brody also will continue her practice as part of Osborn Maledon’s Investigations and Criminal Defense group, where she focuses on criminal defense, government and internal investigations, and professional discipline proceedings.

The Arizona Justice Project’s current executive director, Katie Puzauskas, will continue to head the Post-Conviction Clinic at the Arizona State University College of Law. She will focus on some of the most difficult cases in the criminal-justice system.

The Arizona Justice Project, established in 1998, seeks to assure that Arizona’s prisons are not housing innocent individuals or those who have suffered manifest injustice through the criminal-justice system. In recent years, the Project has secured the release of 24 individuals, involving cases of wrongful conviction or manifest injustice. The Project has scores of cases under review or in post-conviction court proceedings.

For the last year, Brody has served as the president of the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice (AACJ), a statewide not-for-profit organization of criminal-defense lawyers, law students and associated professionals dedicated to protecting the rights of the criminally accused and promoting excellence in the practice of criminal law. Brody’s work as president of AACJ has focused on increasing the organization’s visibility among legislators, other policy- and decision-makers, and the broader Arizona community. As executive director of the Arizona Justice Project, she will continue to work on community outreach and policy-reform efforts related to wrongful convictions and fairness in the criminal-justice process, in addition to overseeing all the work of the Project and ensuring its long-term sustainability.

Katie Puzauskas

Katie Puzauskas

“We are excited about the increased focus that having both Kathy and Katie working in these key roles will bring to the Arizona Justice Project,” said Larry Hammond, an Osborn Maledon partner and founder of the Arizona Justice Project. “As the Justice Project works to assure that individuals are treated fairly by the system, we also continue to identify many difficult systemic issues. Among those are increased life sentences for juvenile offenders and the lessening impact of the Arizona Clemency Board’s recommendations with Arizona governors.”

“It’s amazingly great timing that, as Katie wanted to spend more time working with cases, Kathy was eager to take on this new leadership role.”

Before joining Osborn Maledon in 2008, Brody clerked for Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz of the Arizona Supreme Court. She is a member of the Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Arizona and has served as the web editor for the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section, Criminal Litigation Committee. She is also a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Brody also distinguished herself as a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Osborn Maledon P.A. is a 50-attorney leading Arizona law firm that provides litigation, business, and general counsel solutions for its clients.  More information is available here.

http://www.omlaw.com/

Arizona Corporate Counsel Awaards logo

Next Thursday, an annual awards banquet will honor exemplary corporate counsel. In a calendar year filled with awards dinners, this one is always a great ticket.

Former Arizona Attorney General will be the keynote speaker at the Jan. 14, 2016, banquet honoring the winners of the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards.

Former Arizona Attorney General will be the keynote speaker at the Jan. 14, 2016, banquet honoring the winners of the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards.

I’ve written before about the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards, notable for great venues, short speeches, and a keynote by former Attorney General Grant Woods that kicks ass and takes names. Get there if you can, or hear the jokes secondhand the next day by your colleagues who know where to spend their free time.

The event details are posted here, and as of today, it says the event is sold out. But keep checking (or call in a favor if you’ve got one). It’s worth the effort.

Among the event’s aspects that intrigue me is its new location, for it will be held at the Camby Hotel in Phoenix. If you don’t know the Camby, that’s because it’s brand new and a relaunch of the longtime Ritz-Carlton in the Biltmore area. I’m curious to see what kind of modern and urbane touches the “Autograph Collection Hotel” group brings to the property.

My curiosity led me to click on images of the hotel rooms. And there, on a bathroom wall, is an image that may be a subtle ploy to help attorneys feel at home: a toy shark aloft and clipped to a clothesline. Against the gray sky, the shark soars, unrepentant and free.

Fly, corporate counsel. Fly!

Camby_Accomodations_Bathroom shark 2

Shark gracing the walls of a Camby bathroom.

Anyway, I hope to see you there. Have a great—and predator-free—weekend.

Arizona Attorney Magazine, November 2015Bending Toward Justice” was the headline for our November cover story of Arizona Attorney Magazine. We thought it was an ideal combination of lawyers practicing yoga and one of the most evocative quotes of the civil rights era.

The full quote from which we drew the concept is, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Do you recall who said it, and when? (I’ll tell you at the bottom of this post.)

In the meantime, I’ve noted before how yoga has made legal news this fall. So maybe I was just primed for the topic when I opened Google this week to the animated image of a man bending into a yoga pose.

yoga bks-iyengars-97th-birthday-5749978756546560-5758531089203200-ror

Yes, there are more.

yoga Google 2 unnamed

yoga Google 3 unnamedTurns out, those Google staffers were noting what would have been the 97th birthday of B.K.S. Iyengar, “the founder of the style of yoga known as ‘Iyengar Yoga’ and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world.”

Curious, I asked Wikipedia about him:

“He was the author of many books on yoga practice and philosophy including Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Light on Life. Iyengar was one of the earliest students of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is often referred to as ‘the father of modern yoga.’ He has been credited with popularizing yoga, first in India and then around the world.”

More detail on this remarkable man is here.

And our quote about the arc of justice?

If you said it comes from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., you would be correct. He spoke the moving words in August 1967 when he addressed the Southern Christian Fellowship Conference.

But extra points go to you if you recall that Reverend King was paraphrasing American Transcendentalist Theodore Parker, who lived before the Civil War and who “predicted the inevitable success of the abolitionist cause” this way:

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

I hope in this, the stirring month of December, you exercise your power and skill in the effort to bend toward justice.

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