Some timely questions are posed here by a colleague in New York State, Kevin Ryan. What are your thoughts on the recent candid comments by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Appropriate? Something less than that?

Bar View

By Kevin Ryan, Esq.

Three times in the past week Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has offered strong opinions on the presidential race and her views of Donald Trump as a presidential hopeful. “I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president,” she told an interviewer from The New York Times. Previously, in an interview with The Associated Press, she said she didn’t “want to think about the possibility [of a Trump victory],” because then “everything would be up for grabs.” She has labeled Mr. Trump as an inconsistent “faker” who “says whatever comes into his head,” noting “he really has an ego.”

Now, no matter what one thinks about Mr. Trump or his candidacy, such comments from a sitting Supreme Court justice seem to cross the line. Historically, justices on the Court have shied away from making political statements – and they certainly have…

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CLE by the Sea 2016 web banner

First of all, before anyone complains that I’m being braggy about a great trip I’m taking: I have never attended the State Bar’s CLE By the Sea; nor is it in my likely future.

So why am I touting the July 10-13 event today? One reason: boffo marketing

Never having been, I cannot vouch for the event’s content—though the roster of topics and speakers looks great. But what specifically got my attention was a video from the Business Law Track (which I’m told was created by Janet Nearhood of Off Melrose). You can watch it here:

And here is the background on the Business Law Track.

No fear, other presenters! You can see the detail about all the tracks here. And click here to view a printable brochure.

Other videos available cover the Probate Law Track:

… and the Family Law Track:

You’ll spy some different approaches to videos there, but I come not to praise one over another. I merely suggest that most all programs (and content generally) could benefit from a 1-minute video to draw folks in. It gives you a quick insight into what’s on offer and why you should head over to the program.

Do you agree?

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, site of the State Bar of Arizona CLE By the Sea.

Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, site of the State Bar of Arizona CLE By the Sea.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThanks to a change in Arizona law, there are two new openings on the Arizona Supreme Court. Applications are due August 8, so start reviewing your resume and gathering your recommendations. Here is how the Court describes the positions and the process:

Applications are being accepted for two new positions on the Arizona Supreme Court. The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments will review applications, interview selected applicants, and recommend at least three nominees for each position to Governor Doug Ducey.

A copy of the application form can be downloaded at the Judicial Department web site. Applications may be also obtained from the Administrative Office of the Courts, Human Resources Department, 1501 W. Washington, Suite 221, Phoenix, by calling (602) 452-3311, by sending an electronic mail request to jnc@courts.az.gov.

Applicants must be at least 30 years of age, of good moral character, and, for the past 10 years, admitted to the practice of law in and residents of Arizona.

The original completed application, one single-sided copy and 16 double-sided copies must be returned to the Administrative Office of the Courts, Human Resources Department, 1501 W. Washington, Suite 221, Phoenix, AZ, 85007, by 3:00 p.m. on August 8, 2016. The Commission may, at its discretion, use the applications filed for these vacancies to nominate candidates for any additional vaca­ncies known to the Commission before the screening meeting for these vacancies is held.

All meetings of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments are open to the public.

As of January 1, 2017, the new justices will be paid $157,325 annually.

Arizona Supreme Court building

Two new Arizona Justices will be appointed, following a new law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey. Applications are due August 8, 2016.

State Bar of Arizona logoIn case you were not yet recovered from a terrific Independence Day, I share some remarkable news from my State Bar colleague Alberto Rodriguez about an event that aimed to educate and assist the immigrant community. Thank you to all the Arizona attorneys and others who participated:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision Arizona hosted a special edition of Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) public service program on Thursday, June 23, along with a community forum and legal help clinic on Tuesday, June 28. Both access to justice programs were held to help the immigrant community understand the impact of the Supreme Court of the United States’ divided decision regarding President Obama’s immigration executive actions.

State Bar of Arizona Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank and Community Forum, June 2016

State Bar of Arizona Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank and Community Forum, June 2016

The Bar’s primary role as a partner and organizer of the events was to help the immigrant community understand its role as a consumer protection organization, as well as to connect them with licensed attorneys for sound legal advice regarding the SCOTUS decision. The immigrant community is often victimized by notarios and document preparers during high-profile activity associated with immigration law.

The following are recaps of both programs.

Phone Bank Details

What: Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank

Date:  Thursday, June 23, 2016

Time: 5 to 7 p.m.

Topic: Immigration Issues – DAPA/DACA

The volunteers were five attorneys:

  • Marisol Angulo, Hernandez Global
  • Ezequiel Hernandez, Hernandez Global
  • Claudia Lopez, Law Office of Claude P. Lopez
  • Karina Ordoñez, Karina Ordoñez Law Office
  • Jose Peñalosa, Jose Peñalosa Attorney at Law

The volunteer attorneys answered 63 calls regarding the SCOTUS decision and immigration law. This special-edition phone bank was two hours.

Forum and Legal Help Clinic Details

What: Community Forum and Legal Help Clinic

Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Time: 6 to 9 p.m.

Topic: Immigration Issues – DACA/DAPA

The volunteers were 10 attorneys:

  • Marisol Angulo, Hernandez Global
  • Emilia Bañuelos, Bañuelos Law Office
  • Josh De La Ossa, De La Ossa and Ramos Law
  • Seth Draper, Salvatierra Law
  • Ezequiel Hernandez, Hernandez Global
  • Claudia Lopez, Law Office of Claude P. Lopez
  • Jose Peñalosa, Jose Peñalosa Attorney at Law
  • Edwin Ramos, De La Ossa and Ramos Law
  • Fae Sowders, Sowders Law
  • Ray Ybarra Maldonado, Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado

An estimated 350 consumers attended the three-hour access to justice event and 120 families received one-on-one consultations by volunteer attorneys.

The forum included an overview of the State Bar’s consumer protection services by Alberto Rodriguez; endorsements for the Bar by the Consulate General of Mexico in Phoenix, Mi Familia Vota, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; and a presentation covering the SCOTUS decision by attorney Ezequiel Hernandez. The entire access to justice program was offered in Spanish.

All attorney volunteers were extremely satisfied with their participation in these access to justice events. We thank them for committing their time and expertise, which helped the Bar continue connecting consumers with legal professionals.

We thank Univision Arizona for their continued partnership in providing this valuable access to justice program for the Spanish-speaking community, as well as volunteers from Mi Familia Vota who helped with event logistics.

Gavel Gap report cover-page0001This past month, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy released a report that examines diversity among state court judges. Their analysis from all 50 states and the District of Columbia revealed what the ACS is calling “the gavel gap.”

As described by the ACS:

“For most people, state courts are the ‘law’ for all effective purposes. But we know surprisingly little about state court judges, despite their central and powerful role. Unlike their counterparts on the federal courts, much of the relevant information is non-public, and in many states, not even collected in a systematic way. This lack of information is especially significant because judges’ backgrounds have important implications for the work of courts and the degree to which the public has confidence in their decisions.”

“In order to address this serious shortcoming in our understanding of America’s courts, we have constructed an unprecedented database of state judicial biographies. This dataset—the State Bench Database—includes more than 10,000 current sitting judges on state courts of general jurisdiction in all 50 states. We use it to examine the gender, racial, and ethnic composition of state courts, which we then compare to that of the general population in each state. We find that courts are not representative of the people whom they serve. We call this disparity The Gavel Gap.”

The primary report authors are Tracey E. George, Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University, and Albert H. Yoon, Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Toronto.

As they conclude, “We find that state courts do not look like the communities they serve, which has ramifications for the functioning of our judicial system and the rule of law. Our findings are particularly important given the vital role state courts play in our democracy, in our economy, and in our daily lives.”

The complete report is available here and is only 28 pages. Thankfully, it’s also written clearly and accessibly. If you’d like a deeper dive, the ACS also permits anyone to download the underlying data to examine things for yourself.

Take a look. I’d enjoy hearing what you think of the gap in Arizona, or nationwide. And here are a few of the report’s findings.

Gavel Gap infographic 1-page0001

Gavel Gap report infographic 1

Gavel Gap report infographic 3Gavel Gap infographic 2-page0001

Gavel Gap report infographic 2

Court fees are just part of the downstream penalties assessed on formerly incarcerated people. (Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights)

Court fees are just part of the downstream penalties assessed on formerly incarcerated people. (Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights)

“Families and communities are our nation’s unrecognized re-entry program.”

When it comes to our nation’s prison incarceration numbers, a truer and more startling statement may never have been uttered. And those words highlight one of the stark realities that confront communities who welcome home family and other loved ones who have ended their term of incarceration. For in a nation committed to a criminal justice strategy marked by long terms of imprisonment, “time inside” is only one part of the long-term penalty assessed on inmates and their families.

The quote above was spoken by Zachary Norris, an attorney and Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, based in Oakland, California. I spoke with him in early May, mainly in regard to a report whose creation was led by the Ella Baker Center titled “Who Pays: The True Cost of Incarceration on Families.”

Zachary Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland, Calif.

Zachary Norris, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Oakland, Calif.

My interview with Zach Norris, and with many others, was spurred and supported by a fellowship I received from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. More detail about the Fellowship is here and here. And you should read more about the Quattrone Center here. Material from my research supported by those organizations will appear here and in an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

A few years ago, I was able to cover a related topic thanks to a John Jay/Guggenheim Fellowship: the possibility for sentencing reform in Arizona and nationwide. A previous article that resulted from my coverage is here. This year, I’m following the story from the sentencing and prison setting—where such sentencing changes did not materialize in Arizona—out into the community, which must address the downstream consequences of prison sentences and multiple other penalties assessed on the formerly incarcerated person—and their families.

In the coming days, I’ll report more on what Zach Norris told me, and what some of those punishing realities facing communities and families are.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know has been affected by the returnee challenges, either personally, or in your expert experience as an attorney or otherwise, I’d like to hear from you. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Infographic by Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

 

Nepal Justice System Delegation Returns to Arizona Supreme Court 2016_opt

Representatives from Arizona and Nepal meet.

News from the Arizona Supreme Court:

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) recently sponsored a second visit to the Arizona Supreme Court with members of Nepal’s judiciary. After a 2015 visit with the Arizona Supreme Court, the Nepal Supreme Court established an access to justice commission modeled on what they learned in the United States, including the example of the Arizona Supreme Court’s own Access to Justice Commission.

Earlier this year, the Honorable Ms. Sushila Karki became the first female Chief Justice of Nepal’s Supreme Court.

Nepal Chief Justice Sushila Karki

Nepal Chief Justice Sushila Karki

As part of the UNDP project entitled Access to Justice Commission (A2JC) Study Visit in Nepal, the Nepalese judges met with Chief Justice Scott Bales and local subject matter experts to discuss such topics as: strengthening access to justice, addressing domestic violence cases, increasing representation of women in the judiciary, and meeting the justice needs of minority communities. The day-long program included the following speakers:

  • Mr. Dave Byers, Director, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Hon. Scott Bales, Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Hon. Maurice Portley, Judge, Court of Appeals, Chair of Commission on Minorities
  • Professor Paul Bennett, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
  • Mr. Michael Liburdi, Chief Counsel to Gov. Doug Ducey
  • Hon. Larry Winthrop, Judge, Court of Appeals, Chair of Commission on Access to Justice
  • Hon. Wendy Million, Judge, Tucson City Court, Chair, Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Courts
  • Mr. Marcus Reinkensmeyer, Court Services Division Director Case Management

“Nepal’s judicial leaders have embraced the goals of expanding access to justice and better addressing the needs of minorities, women, and victims,” Chief Justice Scott Bales said. “We shared with them how Arizona works to provide equal justice for all through court innovations and the work of our advisory committees, which are comprised of volunteers representing a wide range of perspectives.”

The representatives from Nepal included:

  • Justice Govinda Kumar Upadhya, Nepal Supreme Court
  • Justice Jagadish Sharma Poudel, Nepal Supreme Court
  • Hon. Additional District Judge Surya Prasad Parajuli, Kathmandu District Court
  • Mr. Shree Kanta Paudel, Registrar, Nepal Supreme Court
  • Mr. Kumar Ingnam, Member, Access to Justice Commission
  • Mr. Raju Dhungana, Section Officer, Nepal Supreme Court
  • Ms. Khem Kumari Basnet, Section Officer, Nepal Supreme Court

More about the Arizona Commission on Access to Justice is available here. The next committee meeting is scheduled for August 17, 2016.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_Seal

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