ABA logoThis morning, the American Bar Association and the NAACP released a joint statement on “Eliminating Bias in the Criminal Justice System.” It’s likely to get a lot of attention, for a few reasons:

  1. It offers a dozen specific recommendations that have the possibility of engaging the community and law enforcement and criminal justice officials in a deep and change-making way.
  2. It is a joint statement that is a result of collaboration between two persuasive organizations, the ABA and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
  3. It is drafted in straightforward language that faces head-on a crisis in race and policing.
  4. Its signatories include respected legal leaders, including prosecuting attorneys. (And it also includes Arizona’s own Professor Myles Lynk, of the ASU College of Law.)

The complete statement is available here.

NAACP LDF logoAmong the opening paragraphs are sentences like these:

“One would have to have been outside of the United States and cut off from media to be unaware of the recent spate of killings of unarmed African American men and women at the hands of white law enforcement officers. … Given the history of implicit and explicit racial bias and discrimination in this country, there has long been a strained relationship between the African-American and law enforcement. But with video cameras and extensive news coverage bringing images and stories of violent encounters between (mostly white) law enforcement officers and (almost exclusively African-American and Latino) unarmed individuals into American homes, it is not surprising that the absence of criminal charges in many of these cases has caused so many people to doubt the ability of the criminal justice system to treat individuals fairly, impartially and without regard to their race.”

After mentioning statistics on race in the criminal justice system and the recent Justice Department investigation of law enforcement practices in Ferguson, Missouri, the statement continues:

“Given these realities, it is not only time for a careful look at what caused the current crisis, but also time to initiate an affirmative effort to eradicate implied or perceived racial bias—in all of its forms—from the criminal justice system.”

Among its suggestions, the statement calls for:

  • More complete and comprehensive data collection on interactions between law enforcement and citizens, and more transparency from prosecutors’ offices on the use of prosecutorial discretion.
  • More training and assistance for all members of the justice system on the problems that can occur from real or perceived bias.
  • More hiring and retention of lawyers and officers “who live in and reflect the communities they serve” by prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement.
  • Greater use of body and vehicle cameras “to create an actual record of police–citizen encounters.”
  • Promotion of dialogue about the criminal justice process between representatives of the judiciary, law enforcement and prosecutors, defenders and defense counsel, probation and parole officers and community organizations as well the community.
  • More accountability and quicker response to issues that arise.
  • A better understanding of the collateral consequences of convictions and the damage they can inflict on individuals who have paid their debt to society.
William Hubbard, American Bar Association

William Hubbard, American Bar Association

In a press release, leaders of the two organizations offered remarks.

“The American criminal justice system is clearly in need of reform on multiple levels,” said ABA President William C. Hubbard. “As lawyers, we have a duty and responsibility to ensure the fair administration of justice and to promote public trust in the system. The solutions are not quick or easy, but these proposals offer a tangible and potentially significant framework to make sure the system provides justice for all.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, added, “The events of the last year have powerfully demonstrated the need for the members of our profession to confront the issue of racial bias in our justice system. We are very gratified that the ABA joined with us in convening a group of prosecutors to discuss the role they can play in dealing with this important issue.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

“Both the ABA and the LDF share a commitment to building confidence in the rule of law that has been badly shaken over the past year among many Americans. Prosecutors and other members of the criminal justice system must play a role as we move forward in the critical days ahead. The measures identified by the ABA and LDF present a powerful framework for prosecutors who are committed to taking on the issue of racial bias.”

I look forward to more news on this topic. Specifically, which of the 12 recommendations are likely to be adopted first and on a widespread basis? Are any of these suggestions currently being implemented, but on a smaller scale, perhaps in a state or in one jurisdiction?

After reading the statement, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org to offer your thoughts.

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.

A photo of a 1297 version of Magna Carta (Sotheby's, via Associated Press)

A photo of a 1297 version of Magna Carta (Sotheby’s, via Associated Press)

I was going to let the Magna Carta’s 800th birthday go unremarked on this blog. After all, that marvelous document s getting quite a bit of ink.

In fact, we at Arizona Attorney Magazine covered the June 15 event in our June issue, with a terrific book review and with a news story about talented high school filmmakers.

So enough already, right?

That’s how I felt, until I read yesterday’s blog post of the NW Sidebar, the blog of the Washington State Bar Association. It opens:

“June 15, 1215: King John of England sealed–not signed–Magna Carta, placing limits on the powers of the crown for the first time. On the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, it’s widely known that the U.S. constitution and legal system has roots in the historic document. Here are five facts about Magna Carta you might not know …”

Read the whole post here.

But I must—even a day late—add two worthy elements to your knowledge of this historic event. One is local, and one is in regard to a skirmish among legal historians.

  1. The local: The Arizona Bar’s own Trish Refo participated in the festivities in England that spanned this past week. She is the Chair of the ABA House of Delegates, as well as a partner with Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix. As the American Bar Association reported:
Trish Refo, left, chair of the ABA House of Delegates, introduces Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, during the June 11 opening of the ABA London Sessions. In the center is ABA President William C. Hubbard.

Trish Refo, left, chair of the ABA House of Delegates, introduces Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, during the June 11 opening of the ABA London Sessions. In the center is ABA President William C. Hubbard. (Credit: Professional Images)

Refo … introduced Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, during the June 11 opening of the ABA London Sessions at Westminster Central Hall.

“We are honored that President Caplen has joined us to mark this momentous occasion, the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta,” Refo said.

The London Sessions, which ran from June 11-15, were the culmination of a yearlong celebration of the historic charter. The celebration featured preeminent speakers and 16 continuing legal education programs that focused on the Great Charter’s impact and relevance on the rule of law today.

Trish Refo, right, greets Queen Elizabeth II.

Trish Refo, right, greets Queen Elizabeth II. (Credit: Professional Images)

Refo was present at Monday’s morning-long Magna Carta anniversary celebration, where she met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The morning’s events, attended by more than 4,000 guests, were followed by a rededication ceremony of the newly refurbished ABA Memorial, which was erected in 1957 to honor the legacy of Magna Carta and the principles of justice it represents.

ABA President William C. Hubbard led the rededication ceremony, which was attended by dignitaries including Princess Anne, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and Matthew Barzun, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

  1. The legally hisorical: I urge you to read this article in the New York Times that describes an ongoing disagreement among scholars as to how significant—really—the Magna Carta was and how compelling to our imagination it should remain.

As the reporter writes:

“In the United States, Magna Carta—it means Great Charter in Latin—is treated with a reverence bordering on worship by many legislators, scholars and judges. It is considered the basis for many of the principles that form the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

As the story says, a significant number of folks do not agree with that assessment. Here’s the whole story.

Happy birthday anyway, Great Charter!

The Bill of Rights, illustrated and elucidated in a new book by Bob McWhirter and published by the American Bar Association.

The Bill of Rights, illustrated and elucidated in a new book by Bob McWhirter and published by the American Bar Association.

For years now, we at Arizona Attorney Magazine have been big fans of Bob McWhirter’s legal history and scholarship. He has published many of his “illustrated histories” in our pages—and that even led to a book, now published by the American Bar Association. (I wrote about it here.)

Now, we’ve learned that his book—the cover, specifically—has won an esteemed award. It received honors from Graphic Design USA in its American Inhouse Design Awards.

No wonder: The cover is beautifully done, a worthy and accurate preview of the visually complex volume that comes behind it. Congratulations!

(Buy the book? Sure you can! Go here for the paperback version, or here for the hard-cover version.)

In other Bob news, you can watch a video interview with him and the Legal Broadcast Network. As you listen to the dialogue, I think you’ll understand how infectious is his love for legal history.

Bills, Quills and Stills book cover honored with a national design award.

Bills, Quills and Stills book cover honored with a national design award.

And you can also watch a preview of a “CLE Snippet” video I taped with Bob. (The complete video, which costs money but gives you CLE, is here.)

Ties that bind: Bob McWhirter, left, and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo (me!) after taping of a "CLE Snippet" on Bob's Second Amendment article.

Ties that bind: Bob McWhirter, left, and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo (me!) after taping of a “CLE Snippet” on Bob’s Second Amendment article.

Most recently, we ran a two-part article by Bob on the topic of the Second Amendment. That yielded a robust series of letters to the editor in the magazine, as well as this online commentary.

What were your thoughts on Bob’s article, or on his visual approach to history generally? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

LawyersWithoutRights logo cover Holocaust

A few days ago, I wrote about a State Bar program that will be held on Thursday, April 16—National Holocaust Remembrance Day. You can read about it here.

In that post, I also mentioned a related exhibit that is worth your time. Since then, I read even more deeply about it, and saw what’s been installed, and I urge you all over again to stop by the Bar building in Phoenix if you can. It will be displayed until 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 16.

Here is some background from the Bar:

“In addition to offering the ‘Lessons from the Holocaust’ CLE program, the State Bar has partnered with the American Bar Association (ABA) and the German Federal Bar to showcase the highly acclaimed international exhibit ‘Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,’ from April 13 through 16, 2015.”

“According to the ABA and the German Federal Bar, ‘Lawyers Without Rights is an exhibition that speaks for itself. Its message resonates with all persons who understand and appreciate the concepts and ideals of a just role of law. It is a commentary and a lesson for all people everywhere about the dangers when lawyers or minorities are attacked or the law itself is unjustly applied.’ The exhibit showcases a series of stories that illustrate the Nazi mistreatment of German lawyers who happened to be Jewish.”

“The exhibit at the State Bar of Arizona is an exact replica of the full exhibit that has been shown in several cities in Germany and throughout the world. It will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 13-16, 2015.”

“Both the CLE and exhibition will be held at the State Bar of Arizona located at 4201 N. 24th St. in Phoenix. For more information contact Sarah Fluke at 602.340.7317.”

The exhibit wisely and hauntingly tells particular, personal stories of German lawyers who were Jewish and whose lives were irrevocably altered—or ended—by the Holocaust.

Also to be displayed, in the Bar lobby, will be 10 six-foot banners with pictures and text. They will be displayed from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday afternoon. Below is a photo of those posters when they were at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

Lawyers Without Rights display in Los Angeles

Lawyers Without Rights display in Los Angeles.

If you can’t make it, that’s OK. The website dedicated to those stories is terrific and offers a similar yet even deeper experience.

Here is a video about Lawyers Without Rights:

Hardly giving the exhibit justice, here is my Vine scanning the room it’s in.

And in case you were wondering:

“The German Federal Bar, known as the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer, is the national bar of the Republic of Germany and based in Berlin. Membership is approximately 166,000 lawyers and is required of all licensed lawyers in Germany.”

My opening #BLI15 communications slide. #itsnotatypo

My opening #BLI15 communications slide. #itsnotatypo

Yesterday, I promised to share my decision on whose tweets from the ABA Bar Leadership Institute communications session were the most splendiferous. Today, I honor that promise.

Ultimately, I come to praise four folks—and I end this post with our Big Winner. Each of them will receive a special audiocassette (why audiocassesttes? Read here and here.). Of course, to receive their prize, they have to contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org with their snail-mail address!

Here are photos of the audiocassettes; click them to biggify (I’m still not sure who gets which, except for The Big Winner):

And before I forget: If you go to the end of this post, you’ll also see that we had huge Twitter engagement during our session. So I’m pleased to name and thank many of those talented folks. (Want to see nearly everything? Here’s my Storify from the session.)

Every one of the people appearing in today’s post deserve a follow by you on Twitter. Get to it!

Without further ado, here are our four winners:

Whitney von Haam @wvonhaam

Whitney offered engagement, excitement, and even a suggestion that she will change her life’s mission statement—all in response to our presentations! Not to mention her use of the hashtag #notthesameoldkitchencabinet

Here are a few of her tweets:

John Trimble @IndyBarPres

Look at John’s tweets below and note a few things:

  • He’s concise and to the point.
  • He “gets it” on a very deep level.

His classic approach is appreciated by busy tweeters everywhere:

And this, not officially during our session, is still eloquently put:

Yvonne McGhee @Yvonne_McGhee

Yvonne has been a leader’s leader for years, and her tweets show how adept and generous she is as she offers praise and insights.

Plus, she used the hashtag #truth at an evocative moment. I think you’ll agree that Yvonne shares the love in wonderful ways:

… which refers to this slide:

A young Dustin Hoffman learns about mobile.

A young Dustin Hoffman learns about mobile.

Tom Prol @tprol

So if you’re paying attention, you’ll see that Tom Prol is our big Twitter winner (Twinner?). Therefore, he will receive the fantastic tape from the band Spinal Tap.

What did I love about Tom’s tweet-valanche? Only a few things. His:

  • Quick thinking
  • Art direction and composition
  • Overall excellence and willingness to engage
  • Entrepreneurship to immediately take a selfie with a colleague as I took one in the BLI audience

Wowser. Tom puts the “wit” in Twitter, as you’ll see below:

Other Talented People

Here are some other terrific tweeters from the session (but a guy only has so many cassettes):

As I mentioned, if you want to relive that morning (I know you do), traipse over to my Storify here.

Finally, what do I take away from this amazing roster of tweeters?

  1. It’s far larger than I had expected.
  2. Association folks are witty and quick.
  3. I am surrounded by generous and smart communicators.

All in all, a #winning month. Thank you to all my amazing colleagues!

The ABA #BLI15 conference room as I took the stage.

The ABA #BLI15 conference room as I took the stage.

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to present on communications to hundreds of lawyers. Fortunately, prizes were involved. And soon, I’ll announce even more of them.

No, no prizes for me. My prize was the opportunity once again to speak to legal leaders at the American Bar Association Leadership Institute. I had 30 minutes to explore how and why we all communicate well (and sometimes less than well), as individuals and as associations.

I then got to introduce smart people from bar associations around the country, each of whom addressed a core area of communications: in print, in person, and in electronic media. Those folks were Mark Mathewson of the Illinois Bar, Meredith Avakian of the Philadelphia Bar, and Karen Korr of the San Diego County Bar. I think it’s fair to say we all hit it out of the park. (What, you want evidence? Cruise over here to enjoy the Storify I created from our morning’s presentations. We were all pleased at the amount of engagement that surrounded us, and that clearly extended to the web.)

But … I mentioned prizes.

They included the prizes I handed out during my presentation, when folks accurately answered questions.

The audience was terrific and responded immediately when I queried them. And those who answered correctly received … audiocassettes.

That’s right. Old-fashioned music cassettes. I found them at Phoenix vintage stores, and they were quite a hit. But then again, who doesn’t love Leslie Gore singing “It’s My Party,” or Sonny and Cher reminding us that “I got you, babe”?

Here is a tweet from one attendee who won the Sonny & Cher love:

So what were my questions that led to music prizes, you wonder? I asked the audience to complete a quote by George Bernard Shaw

My #BLI15 PowerPoint slide with George Bernard Shaw

My #BLI15 PowerPoint slide with George Bernard Shaw

… and I asked what movie was the source for the following quote regarding “turning the dial to 11”:

turn the dial to 11 This Is Spinal Tap

So, why the cassette mania? Well, it had a communications connection. It emerged from an essay that I was taken with, by Don MacKinnon. It’s titled “Mixtapes: The Future of Creation?” You can read it here.

My other prizes—the ones yet to be announced—are being given to audience members who were the session’s best tweeters. The mind races.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you who those talented social-media folks are—and what they’re getting.

In the meantime, you may enjoy a list of all of my sources, compiled (of course) as mixtape liner notes (click to see the PDF):

ABA BLI 2015 additional reading handout eigo

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