Legal events


One commentator says private employers can take action now to reduce the downstream effects on people who were formerly incarcerated. ban the box

One commentator says private employers can take action now to reduce the downstream effects on people who were formerly incarcerated.

This decade may mark one of the most significant shifts in popular thinking about criminal justice issues. Those shifts implicate every stage of the process, from policing, to charging and sentencing, to release terms, and to those many invisible penalties often visited on formerly incarcerated people.

There is no monolithic view of these topics. But there does appear to be growing consensus that a mass-incarceration and lifetime-penalty approach has not served society well.

Another example of that came in Saturday’s Arizona Republic, where attorney Mark Holden penned an op-ed recommending that private companies voluntarily adopt ban-the-box in their hiring practices.

Don’t know what ban-the-box is? Here’s Mark:

Mark Holden, GC and SVP of Koch Industries

Mark Holden, GC and SVP of Koch Industries

“Right now, most employers require job-seekers to check a box on an application if they have any criminal record. Too often, this can function as an automatic ‘application denied’ for individuals with a blemish in their past.”

“Nationwide, some 650,000 incarcerated individuals rejoin society every year, and they desperately need jobs to help them transition back into society and to provide for themselves and their families. But the criminal record box often shuts them out of the job market before they can get a foot in the door.”

You can read his entire piece here.

(In an awkward headline difference: The print version is titled simply “Ban the Box: Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Crime?” Meantime, the online version has the pretty inflammatory headline “Arizona businesses should hire felons (or at least stop immediately asking them about their records)” Um, not quite, Arizona Republic. But nice try.)

What makes this especially interesting is Mark’s day job—he is the general counsel and senior vice president for Koch Industries. Yes, that Koch Industries, of the famed and very conservative Koch Brothers.

Felony convictions have a significant and long-lasting effect on the economy.

Felony convictions have a significant and long-lasting effect on the economy.

Understand, as Holden makes clear, Ban the Box does not mean employers entirely omit the felony question from the hiring process. But instead of being asked the moment an applicant begins the process, the question is delayed until later in the process—by which time an employer may have found that the person’s skills and personality are a great match for the firm.

This stance is another indicator that the chasm between viewpoints may be shrinking a bit between civil libertarians and those concerned about the massive costs society incurs when incarceration effects continue long after a person is released from prison.

If you have a view into the downstream effects of incarceration, I’d like to talk to you for a possible story. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

A new report from an Arizona Supreme Court task force explores the costs of pretrial penalties, fees, and cash-bail policies. jail Tent City Maricopa County

A new report from an Arizona Supreme Court task force explores the costs of pretrial penalties, fees, and cash-bail policies.

“Who pays?” could be the underlying theme for a new report out of the Arizona Supreme Court task force Fair Justice for All. One of the vital topics it examines is the inequities that may exist in a system of cash bail for those awaiting trial.

An Arizona Republic story describes the task force report. One of the report’s recommendations would be to move toward a risk-assessment approach in terms of bail. Already in use in some other states, the assessment would determine an individual’s danger to the community and his likelihood to return for hearings and trial. Critics say the current system more accurately assesses the depth of a defendant’s bank account than the more relevant questions.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe task force ultimately made 65 recommendations. The full report is here, and more detail about the report and its process is here. As you’ll see, the report examines the effects of court fines, fees, and penalties, as well as pretrial release policies.

I’m currently in conversation with a potential author who would write an article for Arizona Attorney explaining what this all means. More to come.

Of course, I previously wrote about another groundbreaking report titled “Who Pays?” It was created by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. At that time, I spoke with the Center’s Zach Norris about the “true cost to families of incarceration.”

You should read that report here, as it well examines the additional penalties that follow a previously incarcerated person after release and return to the community. That is the other side of a coin being written by the Arizona Supreme Court, about the cost of pretrial penalties.

A graph offers data on how many unconvicted individuals are held in the Maricopa County jail system awaiting trial.

A graph offers data on how many unconvicted individuals are held in the Maricopa County jail system awaiting trial.

Florence Project logo 25 yearsTonight, I’ll be attending a great annual event: the Pro Bono Appreciation and Awards evening hosted by the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project.

It starts at 5:30, at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP in downtown Phoenix. I hope to see you there.

Down below, I list those who will be honored tonight. They truly deserve the thanks of all of us for the work they do.

But before I get to those names: If we needed another example of how important the Project’s work is, a recent story from the New York Times provides it. It’s titled “It’s Children Versus Federal Lawyers in Immigration Court,” and you should read it here.

As the Project’s Executive Director, Lauren Dasse, points out in an email to supporters:

“I’m happy to share that the Florence Project’s work representing children was featured in last Sunday’s New York Times! These days, it seems that the only national news attention to immigration issues revolves around campaign promises. That’s why it was refreshing to hear from a reporter who wanted to write a story about immigrant and refugee children who have no right to government provided legal representation. I gladly shared about the Florence Project’s work, and about how we support efforts to increase representation for all immigrants in detention—men, women, and children.”

Lauren Dasse Executive Director The Florence Project

Lauren Dasse, Executive Director, The Florence Project

“The article focuses on a 15-year-old boy from El Salvador, whose dramatic story of escaping gang violence is one we hear from hundreds of children that we have helped over recent years. The article gives an overview of what children face in immigration court, if they can’t afford a lawyer, and how even children are expected to represent themselves. The boy was afraid to speak for himself in court, but he met a Florence Project attorney who offered assistance. Thankfully, we are able to represent him and he won’t have to go to court alone again.”

“We are closely following the efforts in federal court to obtain the right to government-provided counsel. In the meantime, we will continue our important work providing know your rights presentations, legal intakes, legal representation, and doing all we can to connect children and adults with lawyers.”

The Fire Line by Fernanda Santos Yarnell Hill Fire Granite Mountain Hotshots(It’s worth noting that the reporter on the article is Fernanda Santos, who also serves as the Times’ Arizona bureau chief. If her name sounds familiar for another reason, it may be due to her exemplary coverage of the Yarnell Hill Fire that took the lives of 19 firefighters. She later turned her breaking-news coverage into a moving and informative book about those men and the families they left behind. It’s titled The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting, and I recommend it. You can read more about it and her here.)

Here, finally, are the names of the attorneys and firms to be honored tonight (photos down below):

  • Law Firm Partner of the Year: Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Anthony Pelino, Esq., Law Office of Anthony Pelino
  • Rookie Pro Bono of the Year: Adam Kaplan, Esq., Honeywell International Inc.
  • Adult Program Pro Bono of the Year: Lilia Alvarez, Esq., Alvarez Law PLC
  • Children’s Program Pro Bono of the Year: Brian Kim, Esq., Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP
  • Pro Bono All-Star: Sambo Dul, Esq., Perkins Coie LLP

If you can’t attend this evening but you know these folks, be sure to reach out with congratulations and thanks.

 

blogging-1171731_1920

Benefits to blogging? I’ve seen a few … and so have successful attorneys.

Being a cheerleader for blogging has been an avocation of mine since—well, since I started my own back in 2009. There are multiple reasons to blog, and not everyone has the same goals. For me, blogging lets me develop story ideas and leads, and it allows me to cover news and events in quicker fashion than our hard-copy magazine ever could.

It also has been of incredible assistance in making connections with other people, professionals who want to share news or lawyers who are happy I’m telling their stories.

That’s why I’m happy to share news of a free blogging webinar occurring this Thursday, August 25—register here. Here’s hoping some attorneys take the plunge and discover how differentiation through blogging and other means is one of the best strategic paths to practice success—and satisfaction.

Cordell Parvin blogging webinar

Cordell Parvin

Taught by lawyer and career expert Cordell Parvin (and hosted by practice management software company MyCase), the webinar will be held at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET this Thursday. Here is the description:

Many lawyers who blog become “go-to” authorities in their practice areas. This leads to benefits including; new clients, speaking engagements, and job offers. So, how do you create a blog that you enjoy writing and that others find interesting? Cordell Parvin, attorney and former Practice Group Leader, will show you how to create a legal blog and start building your online audience in this blogging webinar. Here’s some of what will be covered:

  • The benefits of blogging
  • The art of writing a good post
  • Where to find topics
  • Creating a blog strategy
  • Essential ingredients to attract clients
  • Much More!

If you can’t attend the live session, you can receive the webinar recording by registering.

Thank you to the always-on-it folks at Above the Law for sharing the news of this free webinar, and to MyCase for hosting on such an important topic.

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

What could be better on a Change of Venue Friday than a love story? Plus a little law, of course.

A story in the Washington Post describes the courtship and marriage of Cissy Marshall and her famous husband, Justice Thurgood Marshall. When Cecilia Suyat married Thurgood, she encountered resistance even within her own Filipino family. How ironic and wholly American is their story, therefore—as her husband went on to be the celebrated trial attorney who won the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

And here is a short video of Cissy related to the story of their interracial marriage.

When you’re done reading the Post piece, be sure to read our book review of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, by Wil Haygood. The review is by Judge George Anagnost.

Have a terrific—and love-is-love-filled—weekend.

Showdown Thurgood Marshall book cover by Wil Haygood

 

Yes, a good performance is expected here. But you may be asked to deliver great, persuasive results in venues of every size.

Yes, a good performance is expected here. But you may be asked to deliver great, persuasive results in venues of every size.

How many of us have had the pleasure to stand on stage and perform?

Pretty much all of us, if we understand that to include appearing in court, before a board or commission—or even before a community organization.

“Perform” may not be a word you’re comfortable using in regard to your own presentation. But thinking of it that way may have a freeing influence on the results you get—and it may lead to more satisfaction in you and your listeners. And maybe in your clients.

I was thinking of this because this Friday, a State Bar educational seminar features Marc Bauman as a faculty member. Among other things, he is an instructor and consultant who heads up Bauman Trial Consulting LLC.

His seminar is titled “Persuasion Arts in Action,” and a few things distinguish it from the mass of learning opportunities.

First, it’s being taught workshop-style—so attendees will participate. Second, the attendee numbers are being kept low deliberately, to maximize everyone’s experience.

Instructor and trial consultant Marc Bauman

Instructor and trial consultant Marc Bauman

Here’s the link to the event, where you also can register. There may still be openings.

But third: I’ve had the pleasure to speak at length with Marc a few times (this last time at the grand opening of the ASU Beus Center for Law and Society), and I am confident he can help your presentation mojo. He is a great listener, and he knows how to offer compassionate and constructive feedback. His goal is not to make all speakers the same—or to make them him—but to help you become the best advocate for your client.

As Marc describes Friday’s offering:

“Existing somewhere between science and art, effective courtroom communication is a craft. The best trial attorneys realize this. As an experienced attorney, you may know how to make a perfect record and you may have prepared your case fact pattern. However, making a perfect record and presenting the facts of your case to a jury is not enough. Your client’s story needs to be crafted and presented with precision and investment.”

And here is a description of the seminar’s goals:

  1. Be more comfortable in front of a jury while standing, speaking, moving, gesturing, demonstrating exhibits and presenting graphics.
  2. Clarify your client’s case narrative and key themes.
  3. Strengthen your presentation skills while developing clear, meaningful connections with members of the jury, empowering them to deliberate on behalf of your client.
  4. Gain an important edge in the courtroom increasing your chances of a positive verdict for your client.
  5. Prepare for depositions and jury trials with the confidence you, your witnesses and most importantly, your clients deserve.

As the link indicates, he’d like you to arrive Friday with an opening statement about one minute in length. Easy squeezy, right?

This kind of learning is probably best conveyed as Marc will do it—in person. But I’m still thinking on how a print magazine like Arizona Attorney can transmit this kind of trial practice insight. If you have ideas, or your own experience with how acting and the dramatic arts have helped your own law practice, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a "major university" partner.

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a “major university” partner.

Yesterday afternoon, Arizona Summit Law School in downtown Phoenix issued the following press release regarding its goal to affiliate with a university rather than remain a standalone law school. A school spokeswoman said that they expect to complete the affiliation “within the year.” What such an affiliation “with a major university” ultimately means for Summit is unclear; I’ll be reaching out to school officials in coming days to ask about their strategic thinking. At this point, the school has said that the collaboration would “allow lower tuition, improved economies of scale in pursuit of mission to provide legal education to diverse and non-traditional students.”

 I’ll report more when I learn more. And if you are a Summit student or faculty member, feel free to contact me anytime at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

 Here’s the release:

PHOENIX, AZ (August 15, 2016): Arizona Summit Law School (Summit), one of the nation’s few independent law schools, intends to affiliate with a major university within the year.

“The decision to affiliate reflects the strong commitment we have to our students,” said Don Lively, Summit president. “We conducted a survey of our students and learned that 67% of them would prefer attending a law school that is part of a university system. Toward this end, we are in advanced negotiations with a few universities that share our mission and values. The advantages of this transition are multifold. It will strengthen Summit’s reputation, make its program more affordable, reduce tuition dependency, result in stronger academic support systems and improved outcomes, enhance faculty and institutional development opportunities, create interdepartmental synergies, and significantly enhance the ability to achieve our mission of diversifying legal education and the legal profession.”

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoFounded in 2005, Summit was designed and developed by legal educators concerned about the direction of traditional legal education, which has drifted from the realities of the contemporary legal profession. Summit recognizes not only the need for change, but also the opportunity to become a benchmark institution for the 21st Century. Its goals include graduating students who truly are practice-ready and, most importantly, diversifying one of the nation’s least diverse professions.

In its short history, Summit has earned numerous awards for diversity and innovation—including being a two-time winner of the American Bar Association Gambrell Award. Summit students last year logged more than 100,000 public service hours. The school’s career placement rate for JD advantage, bar pass required, and professional positions leads all 50 tier two law schools. It has a student loan default rate of less than 2%, which is one of the best among the nation’s universities and law schools (including many state universities and ivy league schools).

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays notes that, “our mission entails admitting many students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have lower entering credentials but the potential to succeed. Our ability to and record of enabling success is evidenced by an ultimate bar pass rate that complies with ABA standards, our strong career placement rate, and many stories from employers who prefer to hire our graduates because of their preparedness for practice and strong work ethic. Dean Mays added “over the past decade, we have had a profound impact on the legal profession’s diversity in Arizona. In 2004, the state bar’s diversity rate was 8% compared to the overall state population’s diversity rate of ~40%. In 2015, we had a graduate diversity rate of 31% compared with the 15% diversity rate of the state’s other schools.”

Summit’s latest milestone on its mission of diversity is a program offering full scholarships plus $5,000 in living expenses to students with an LSAT score of 150 or above. The program, another market of its innovative mindset, is targeting students who are members of historically or economically disadvantaged groups and is being coordinated in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Legal education traditionally has assumed that schools must choose between high LSAT scores and diversity. The Summit scholarship initiative demonstrates that it can preserve a mission of diversity and, at the same time, increase the entering credentials of its students and ultimately its first-time bar pass rate.

The legal profession has changed dramatically in recent years, but law schools generally have not kept pace. Within this context, new leadership in legal education likely will emerge. Summit is building a school created not only to respond to but lead change and be recognized as an institution of true social utility. For more information, please visit www.azsummitlaw.edu.

Next Page »