Gov. Jan Brewer as she unveils the Tenth Amendment monolith at the Arizona Bill of Rights dedication ceremony, Dec. 15, 2012 (photo: Arizona Attorney, Tim Eigo)

Gov. Jan Brewer as she unveils the Tenth Amendment monolith at the Arizona Bill of Rights dedication ceremony, Dec. 15, 2012 (photo: Arizona Attorney, Tim Eigo)

 On this Change of Venue Friday, I invite you to look at some photos (below) from last Saturday’s Bill of Rights Monument dedication in Phoenix. (I’ve covered this quite a bit; see here for more background.)

And here is an Arizona Republic story on the dedication day.

Congratulations again to Chris Bliss, who spearheaded this effort on behalf of his organization.

More photos are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

Have a great weekend.

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Hon. Ann Scott Timmer

Hon. Ann Scott Timmer

I was out of town last week, and so I missed sharing the news (old now) that a new Justice was named to the Arizona Supreme Court. As the days passed, I thought I would let the event go unremarked, and simply move on to other topics.

Ultimately, though, it’s difficult to leave aside an ascension to the state’s highest Court. Therefore, I share the opening from Chief Justice Berch’s remarks:

“We are pleased to welcome Ann Scott Timmer as the 43rd Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. She will be only the fourth woman ever to have served in that capacity since statehood. The Governor selected Judge Timmer from among a group of truly outstanding candidates.

“I know Judge Timmer’s background as a court of appeals judge, her excellent writing and analytical skills, and her innate sense of fairness will well serve the justice system of Arizona.”

That and more are on the Court’s own website. And you can read Gov. Jan Brewer’s remarks there too. The Governor’s press release is here.

All of that, of course, is praiseworthy. Closer to law practice, I have to recognize Justice (nee Judge) Timmer for another honor: Her Arizona Attorney article on proper dress and demeanor in the law office garnered some of my nastiest reader remarks ever. Now, that’s praiseworthy!

Arizona Attorney, Feb. 2008

Arizona Attorney, Feb. 2008

Her February 2008 article was our cover story, and it was titled, Working Class: What Seasoned Attorneys Will Never Tell You.”

Her article explored modes and methods that could lead to law office success—or its opposite. But what I had found to be a helpful and candid article was deemed less than that by some of our vocal readers—two of whom sent letters, and another (loud) few who phoned me on the topic.

When I heard last week’s Justice news, I hauled out the 2008 article and re-read it. Ultimately, I was pleased that I still enjoyed it and that it continues to provide valuable guidance. Avoiding boorish behavior and dressing well are both important, and neither necessarily leads to being uptight and stuffy.

But, I must admit, I did find myself cinching up my tie as I turned the pages.

Congratulations, Justice Timmer. Here’s hoping your writing continues to inspire democratic debate.

(For some more insight into the historical significance of selecting Judge Timmer, read this blog post at the Mandel Young Appellate Lawyers website.)

Last week, we got good news from State Bar of Arizona President Joe Kanefield that April has been named Access to Justice Month by Gov. Jan Brewer. Joe, as you probably know, was the governor’s lawyer (before he headed over to his partnership at Ballard Spahr). So we thank the governor, but also recognize the fingerprints of a man whose commitment to access to justice goes back decades.

(Here’s a profile of Joe I wrote last summer.)

And here is the proclamation itself (click to make the pages larger).

State Bar CEO John Phelps made the following announcement to Bar staff:

“As you all know, our mission statement was changed last year to add ‘access to justice.’ And this theme has been the primary focus of our president, Joe Kanefield. We should take pride in the State Bar’s historical commitment and recent re-commitment, under Joe’s leadership, to this important principle—that to make the promise of equal justice under the law a reality, all Arizonans must have access to the system that underwrites that promise.”

In the coming year, we at Arizona Attorney Magazine would like to tell some of the stories of Arizona lawyers who are improving access to justice. Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

1912 Superintendent’s Building at the Arizona State Hospital

No commentary today, but some links and a few questions.

Today’s lead news story was about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and her son Ronald. The Arizona Republic reports that it has been seeking to have Ronald’s criminal court file unsealed. But the question now is why was it sealed in the first place?

The records have to do with a 1989 arrest and conviction for sexual assault and kidnapping. For years, Brewer had been open about her son’s situation. That included his being found not guilty by reason of insanity, and his commitment to the Arizona State Hospital. He has been there, with occasional releases, ever since.

The news story will play out over the coming week, and it may focus on the unique timing of the motion to have the file sealed (it occurred just as Brewer was transitioning from Secretary of State to Governor), as well as how rare or common that result is.

But my question is a media one: When this motion was made in early 2009, did the Republic cover it? I can’t find that story in their archives. And if they didn’t, why not?

Here is today’s Arizona Republic story.

And here is last week’s Phoenix New Times story with more detail from the original police report.

Today is “Change of Venue” day at AZ Attorney. In honor of our casual Friday, consider the media understatement of the month.

This morning’s Washington Post began with a story that opens, “J.D. Hayworth is a voluble man.”

Well, they had me at “J.D.,” but adding that “voluble” hook drew me in immediately. And it only got better from there.

Here is the takeaway from the article by reporter Peter Slevin:

In a closely watched campaign increasingly defined by who can take the hardest line, Hayworth is a border hawk who called his book about immigration policy, “Whatever It Takes.”

That nut graf comes early in the article. The remaining 17 grafs are a close analysis of what’s going on in the Senate race between J.D. Hayworth and incumbent John McCain.

But here in the state, we know that this particular race—and almost all politics at every level in an election year—can be described as “Whatever It Takes.”

J.D. Hayworth

I’m not adding anything earth-shattering when I say that we as a nation appear to get little real information on important issues in an election season (which, let’s face it, extends beyond one year at a stretch). Or if we get it, it’s had to come by.

So here’s the rub: This serious race, in a high-profile state (if we do say so ourselves), is likely going to come down to which candidate “out-toughs” the other.

Now, there were many things to enjoy about junior-high school. Free period. Work days that ended at 3:00. Fart jokes. But governance based on shouting is something most of us have been happy to leave behind.

That said, it ain’t just the politicos who contribute to this. It also, gulp, can be that demon media.

Sen. John McCain

This week, the Arizona Republic indulged in a three-part Immigration series. It sought to examine deeply an issue that has been divisive in the state and the country. It did pretty well.

But Wednesday’s article made me scratch my head. It was titled “Key Critics of Arizona Immigration Law Admit Not Reading It.” It’s written by Dan Nowicki.

“Get OUT!” as my 14-year-old daughter would say. You’re kidding?! You mean every person speaking on laws, pending and passed, has not read every word of the legislative jewels that emerge from the sausage factory?

Well, gosh, I thought we knew that. But in the Arizona Republic, it was front-page, above-the-fold news. How, exactly, is that contributing to a deeper understanding of the law and its effects?

A book and an election-year mantra

But, fair being fair, I have a recommendation. Let’s make that the new test: “Have you read it?”

Of course, that could make many top officials uncomfortable. They are busy with their many obligations. I thought that’s why they employ staff to do things like read and vet legislation, rather than read every word themselves.

But there’s a new standard in town. And that may be bad news for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

Howie Fischer reported this week that Arizona has joined the growing lawsuit against the federal health care insurance reform initiative. That occurred when Governor Brewer obtained the thumbs-up from a compliant Legislature after her Attorney General, Terry Goddard, refused. (We covered the health care lawsuit here. We think we were pretty witty that day.)

The Governor has been pretty vociferous in going after the new federal law. So I’m expecting the Republic to contact the Governor’s Office to ask her: “Have you read it?”

Inquiring minds—shallow, junior-high minds—want to know.

Here is the complete Washington Post story.