Hon. George Anagnost

On this Monday morning, I’m pleased to send thanks and congratulations to Peoria Presiding Court Judge George Anagnost. That man knows his way around the Constitution—and a CLE.

Last Thursday’s “We the People” symposium was mentioned here before (here and here), and I emphasized it because it had all the inklings of a great event. It did not disappoint.

The panelists were each terrific, and they kept a packed room engaged on elements of constitutional law, history, policy and politics.

Today, though, I reserve special plaudits for Judge Anagnost. More than a moderator, he shared a voluminous knowledge of the subject before and between the visiting speakers. He is an educator’s educator.

One example was the big Bowl of Knowledge that brought surprise and more than one case of nerves to the audience. The bowl contained the names of audience members, and Judge A. would occasionally draw a name and ask that person to stand. He would then ask them a constitutionally related question:

  • Three Supreme Court Justices joined the Court immediately after serving as a state governor. Who were they?
  • What are the names of the Justices on the Arizona Supreme Court?

And so on. I don’t think I heard one correct response during the day (the queries were pretty obscure at times), but following each wrong answer, the Judge praised the speaker’s tenacity and awarded a Supreme Court tote bag.

Hmmm. Things really are different on the West side.

Now, before you write, I mean that in a good way. Here’s one more example: The Judge wore a boutonnière—and had at the ready a similar corsage for every panelist. Which they wore.

Now, I cannot be sure that every speaker was enchanted with the idea of wearing a corsage. But the Judge’s sense of ceremony and courtesy were infectious, and everyone came out smelling like a rose (or a carnation, as the case may be).

The Judge also compared the Constitution to another love of his: chess. He recounted a famous quotation: “Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe.” The Constitution, too, he pointed out, may provide a placid surface to the world, but excursions into it and its scholarship yield immense and complex riches.

Adding levity, he reminded attendees as they exited for a break—a la jury admonitions—“Do not form an opinion about the quality of this seminar until it has been completed.”

The Big (Blue) Bowl of Knowledge: Partially obscured but forever a beacon

So the next time you sit in a CLE and find your mind wandering, ask yourself this: How much better would it be if corsages and a Big Bowl of Knowledge were shared around? What seminar would not improved by a tote bag, or surprise quizzes offered with a smile?

As the Judge pointed out, symposium comes from the Greek for drinking party. At the Peoria CLE, there was no hootch. But there were high spirits. Well done.

More photos from the event are at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

The September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine includes a short article titled “Civics Lesson.” Written by Supreme Court Justice Scott Bales and Court of Appeals Judge Larry Winthrop, it describes some initiatives that have been launched to honor the state’s centennial, and it urges lawyers to get involved and to donate their experience to the effort.

The article ended with a quiz. Social creatures that we are, I opted to have readers come online to this blog to see the answers.

No cheating—take the quiz before looking at the answers! (The questions and answers are below.) 

Testing Arizona

Think you know your Arizona history? Pretty sure you understand how our state’s legal past stacks up against the national past? Take our 5-minute quiz to discover if you’re a Grand Canyon Guru.

Q1: When was school segregation abolished in Arizona?

A1: In 1953, when the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County ruled that segregation in elementary and high schools was unconstitutional.

Q2: When was school segregation determined nationally to be unconstitutional?

A2: In 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court held in Brown v. Board of Education that school segregation is inherently unequal, and therefore illegal.

Q3: When did women in Arizona win the right to vote?

A3: In 1912, by initiative measure.

Q4: When did women nationally obtain the right to vote?

A4: In 1920, by constitutional amendment.

Q5: When did Native Americans win the right to vote?

A5: In 1948, the Arizona Supreme Court held in Harrison v. Laveen that Native Americans were eligible to vote in Arizona elections.

Q6: Who was the first woman to hold public office in Arizona?

A6: Sharlot Hall, appointed territorial historian in 1909.

Q7: Who was Arizona’s first Congresswoman?

A7: Isabella Greenway, a Representative from 1933-1937.

Q8: Which Arizonan served in the U.S. Congress for 57 years?

A8: Carl Hayden, a Representative from 1912-1927 and a Senator from 1927-1969.

Q9: How many times has the United States Constitution been amended?

A9: 27 times.

Q10: How many times has the Arizona Constitution been amended?

A10: More than 100 times.

Lawyer Melissa Ho, center, following her keynote speech at the Asian LEAD Academy graduation. Also pictured: community supporter Claudia Kaercher (left) and program coordinator Norean Sablan

An educational event in late June exposed a group of young people to a variety of leadership possibilities. And an important part of that gathering was a peek into the world of courts and lawyers.

The Asian LEAD Academy at Arizona State University provides high school kids and incoming college freshmen the chance to learn in a wide range of areas. Much of the focus is instruction in the Asian American experience (though it is open to students of all ethnicities).

You can read more about it here and here.

Held the last two weeks of June, the academy culminated in a mock trial performed by the high school students. They spent days preparing their cases, and the resulting theater, staged at the Phoenix Municipal Court, was a terrific example of civic engagement by future leaders.

Kirstin Story

(I am compelled to confess my family’s involvement in the academy: My wife, an ASU associate professor, taught one of the seminars. And our 15-year-old daughter was a participant; she wrote and delivered the prosecution closing argument, and as long as I’m disclosing fully, she was phenomenal!)

As I see it, a significant benefit of the program is the exposure it affords young people to the legal profession. And in that regard, I have to tender kudos to a few people.

Kirstin Story is a lawyer at Lewis and Roca, and she gave days of her time preparing the students for the trial; it could never have happened without her.

Matthew Meaker

And Matthew Meaker is a Scottsdale lawyer with the Andante Law Group who served extremely well as the guest judge. He guided the youngsters and used many of the trial events, like objections, as teaching moments.

Finally, Melissa Ho delivered a rousing keynote address at the academy’s closing luncheon and graduation. The Polsinelli Shughart lawyer provided a refreshing antidote to the all-too-common perception that lawyers are unhappy with their work. Melissa—who also serves on the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors—explained the value of remaining connected with others who have shared your experience. And she invited any of the graduates to contact her in the future as they find their own path.

Congratulations, and thanks, to all the participants.

Melissa Ho

To see more photos, go to the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

Asian LEAD Mock Trial participants