Yavapai County Courthouse (court website)

Yavapai County Courthouse (court website)

News from the Superior Court in Yavapai County:

Please join the Arizona Superior Court in Yavapai County for an open-house celebration of the 100th anniversary of the laying of the Yavapai County Courthouse cornerstone. This event will take place on Saturday, October 15, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Prescott Courthouse, 120 S. Cortez in Prescott.

Yavapai County Courthouse cornerstone

Yavapai County Courthouse cornerstone

We are extremely excited about the addition of an exhibit area on the first floor near the Law Library that will showcase historical items that were used in the courthouse through the last century. Along with exhibits, we will have historical photos displayed throughout the courthouse (images courtesy of the Sharlot Hall Museum) depicting the jewel of Yavapai County.

sharlot-hall-museum-logo

We will have docents onsite to share their knowledge and help guide you through the courthouse. We also will have folks dressed in period costumes to enhance your experience while celebrating this milestone.

cle snippets teaser logo. This teaser signifies a new and innovative way to combine magazine content with online learning.How enjoyable a snippet can be.

No need to be mysterious. I’m talking about CLE Snippets, those brief-ish video conversations I’ve been having with Arizona Attorney authors. (Read more about them here.)

Last month, I interviewed Ken Motolenich-Salas about his topic: the Washington Redskins trademark cancellations. (You can read his article here.) Fascinating and timely.

Just as fascinating and timely, though, was my dialogue with Anthony Tsontakis yesterday. Fascinating – OK. But timely? That seems surprising, considering Anthony’s topic: a battle over the 1912 judicial nomination of Judge Richard Sloan.

Indeed, our dialogue was timely. Anthony’s article and our conversation focused on how the nomination battle could lead a commentator to say, “No uglier fight was ever made against a man.” Our dialogue reveals just how little we’ve changed in a century. Not a bad lesson to learn in a bruising election season.

I’ll provide links to the videos with Ken and Anthony as soon as I have them.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

CLE By The Sea 2014: The Last Beachhead

CLE By The Sea 2014: The Last Beachhead

Those of you attending CLE By the Sea this week may be unaware that you’re in the midst of an historic event.

In case you haven’t heard, this will be the last year for CBySea. I suppose a number of factors contributed to its being sunsetted. Among those factors are declining attendance and higher costs.

But I have heard from lawyers who have gone year after year, ever singing its praises. Let’s hear their stories.

So I wonder:

  • If any of you there at the Hotel del Coronado would like to share one favorite moment from this week?
  • And if any of you would like to share a great memory or two from any of the many years of the event?

Economics and shifting interests may have led to the elimination of the event. But I’d be happy to send it out in style, atop a sedan chair bedecked with memories and photos.

Contact me with either at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Soon, a plaque may be all that remains of the garage where Watergate secrets were shared.

Soon, a plaque may be all that remains of the garage where Watergate secrets were shared.

We hear pretty often that we Americans don’t know nothin’ ‘bout history. That may sound curmudgeonly, but a news story this week reminded me how true that can be.

Just two years ago, almost to the month, I wrote about a new historic marker erected outside the parking garage where the Watergate leaker passed information on to a Washington Post reporter. (I got kind of lecture-y in that blog post; the anniversary of Ford’s pardon of Nixon can do that to me.)

It may not be the Gettysburg battlefield, but the garage where “Deep Throat” Mark Felt and journo Bob Woodward stood seems pretty evocative to me.

Well, two years later, it seems even Deep Throat’s garage is not safe from the wrecking ball.

You should read here how that “Watergate garage” is to be razed. The developer has said he may find a place for the plaque. Touching.

Well, it’s Change of Venue Friday, so I’d rather not leave you on a historic preservation #fail. Instead, enjoy the great voice of Sam Cooke, singing “Wonderful World” (where he says a little about history).

Supreme Court cases and what they mean will again be the focus at this year’s annual Constitution Day panel at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. It will occur this Friday, September 14, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The 14th annual event is once again hosted by the University’s Rehnquist Center.

Constitution Day

(You can read my coverage from last year’s event here and here.)

Panelists include UA Professor Toni Massaro, the Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick, U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake, and WilmerHale partner Seth Waxman.

Curious what they’ll cover? The advance materials list three cases:

More detail, include links to panelist bios, are here. And you may register for the free event here.

I will attend Friday and try to tweet out some panelist wisdom. But #ConstitutionDay is so darn long. Why don’t I try #UASCOTUS.

Bob McWhirter

And to keep up in the race to create Constitution Day programming, next Monday, Sept. 17, the ASU Law School holds a lunchtime presentation by lawyer Bob McWhirter. Titled “Are You Talking to Me? Who Are Those ‘People’ in the Tenth Amendment?” the talk is bound to illuminate and amuse, like everything else Bob offers.

As Bob marvels, “Did you know that the original Constitution didn’t protect your vote? In fact, the original Constitution didn’t give you many rights at all? So where do we get them? Let’s look at the 10th Amendment!”

He suggests that we should wonder: “Are you one of “the People” or not?”

Could there be a more inviting call? Perhaps I’ll see you there, too, to get an answer.

MyBillofRights.org executive director Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss

I have passed on quite a bit of news regarding the Bill of Rights Monument. When it’s installed in Phoenix, it will be the first capitol-city monument in the nation dedicated to those important documents.

This month, I heard from Chris Bliss, executive director of MyBillofRights.org. He provides an update—and photos:

“Thanks to the success of the Phoenix Comedy Festival and contributions of donors like you, we’ve raised over $120,000 since April. This means that fabrication and sculpting of the 10 Amendment Monoliths is now fully funded—a major milestone in our drive to bring America’s 1st Monument of the Bill of Rights to the Arizona Capitol.

“I’ve attached some images of the work in progress. The photos don’t do it justice, as being up close with the monoliths is an unexpectedly personal experience. You find yourself drawn toward each stone, pulled in by its contoured shaping and textured surfaces. And this is even before the text inscriptions have been added!

“Amendments III, IV, and V should be inscribed by mid-July. Work on the next grouping, the monoliths for Amendments I, II, and X, begins this week. The final four monoliths (Amendments VI, VII, VIII, and IX) will follow by summer’s end, with all 10 expected to be completed by the end of October.

“Now all that remains is for us to fund the installation and the state’s one-time maintenance fee, a total of $150,000 to $175,000 (depending on contingencies). I will keep you informed on our progress toward that goal, as well as some new “crowdsourcing” options on our website for harnessing the power of social media that should be ready soon.

“Thanks again for your generous support for the Bill of Rights Monument at the Arizona Capitol.”

Here are the photos:

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Justice Scott Bales

Gazing at the packed-to-the-gills Grand Ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore, it occurs to a lawyer that there may be no better way to kick off a Bar Convention committed to education for the future than to look back at legal pioneers.

That must have been the thinking of Convention organizers driven by the motto “100 Years of Lawyers Serving Arizona.”

That concept gave us Wednesday’s lunch, which included a witty and insightful panel led by Justice Scott Bales (and introduced by Bar President Joe Kanefield). Accompanying him in a triumvirate of value-laden remarks were Roxie Bacon and Grant Woods. Bravo to all.

The event was comprised of fascinating video clips—eight minutes in all—featuring Justice Bales interviewing retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Her memories were crisp, direct, funny and—given her experience as a woman lawyer pioneer—occasionally startling.

Those clips were pure gold. But they were complemented by being punctuated by the panel’s own remarks.

Roxie Bacon and Grant Woods

In those remarks, Roxie and Grant shared names of others, in addition to Justice O’Connor, whom they count as their own pioneers and mentors.

Grant reminded the audience that Justice O’Connor was the most powerful and influential woman in the country for a long time. But he added his own debt to retired Justice Stanley Feldman, who brought many others to his side “by the force of his argument and the power of his intellect.”

Justice Scott Bales

Roxie spoke warmly about retired Arizona Chief Justice Charles “Bud” Jones. Politically and in other ways, she said, they could not have been more different. “He was the most unlikely mentor you ever could have imagined for me.”

And yet, she said, he was caring and compassionate toward her as a younger lawyer. “With dignity and humor he brought me into the big leagues of employment and labor law.”

The audience clearly enjoyed a lunch committed to Arizona’s legal history. And the biggest laugh of the day may have come on the heels of a story Grant Woods told about a judge who was well known for always following her own tune.

In a high-profile case, an older man—Grant suggested he was 68 years old—was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Clearly upset, the man sputtered to the judge, “Your honor, I’m 68 years old. I don’t think I can do 40 years!”

Ever polite and charming, the judge leaned over her bench and gazed down at the convicted man.

Joe Kanefield

“That’s all right. You just do as many as you can.”

Well done.

Have a great conference.

Former Fifth Circuit Judge John Minor Wisdom

Organizers of the midyear meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives devised a nefarious plan to keep butts in the seats inside a slew of ordinary Marriott conference rooms—not an easy thing to achieve in a distraction-filled city like New Orleans.

What was their devious scheme? Create a broad swath of great sessions that actually gives music and Blues and oysters and Bourbon Street and beignets a run for their money. Oh well, there’s always the evening.

I’ll be following up with some content about what I gleaned from the presenters. (And on Change of Venue Friday, I plan to provide a selection of photos from the trip. Don’t worry— they’re not from the conference rooms!).

Today, though, I point you one more time to the Times-Picayune and its commitment to tell New Orleans stories on the Crescent City’s 175th birthday.

I mentioned some of those stories on Tuesday. Today, though, I point you to some of the more legal-ish of their offerings. But don’t be dissuaded from reading—these are very interesting!

Here, then, is a brief description of some stories I found intriguing, with a link to read the whole story. (This is just a small sample of what the newspaper covered—search around for more!):

Judge John Minor Wisdom was part of a crucial four-vote bloc that handed down a number of landmark civil rights decisions in the 1960s.

Ruby Bridges and three other 6-year-old girls integrated New Orleans public schools in November 1960.

Lee Harvey Oswald was shot dead, right under the nose of the Dallas police, 2 days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Carlos Marcello was the Mafia boss of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Louisiana Purchase: The Americas once were the battleground for three European powers: France, Spain and Great Britain.

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Panelists Dean Toni Massaro, Ted Cruz, Linda Greenhouse and Hon. Neil Wake

I never had the opportunity to sit down with the Founding Fathers at a Constitutional Convention. But last Friday, I—and a roomful of others—got the next-best thing.

That was the day in which the University of Arizona Law School celebrated Constitution Day. And they did it in the manner they do best—through mind-blowing smarts. Bravo.

Their plan, executed flawlessly, was to gather a distinguished panel of experts who could decipher Supreme Court and other cases. These cases, it was believed, could serve as a bellwether for the direction the Court was heading. Or not. Remember, panelists always reserve the right to point out that your mileage may differ from their prognostications.

The moderator did his part to keep the panel and the audience roused to a passionate and insightful pitch. In introducing each case in its turn, Professor David Marcus dispensed with a simplistic issue recitation in favor of crafting mini-vignettes. Each was a whirlwind, more tour de force than simple tour.

The effort and delivery he put into those moments signaled that the panel would be something out of the ordinary. I suspect, for instance, that those gathered in Philadelphia to sign the Constitution on September 17, 1787, would have rollicked quite a bit at Professor Marcus’s musings. Those gathered in a law school classroom certainly did.

Panelists, too, did their part to make the Constitution come alive (not that they all agreed it was “a living document”). The speakers were: former law school Dean Toni Massaro, esteemed Supreme Court advocate R. (Ted) Edward Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer (and now Yale Law Prof) Linda Greenhouse, and federal district court judge Hon. Neil Wake.

During a break, I spoke with an influential Arizona lawyer, and he marveled at the talented panel that the school had gathered. “Just listening to them,” he said, “I feel like I don’t know that much.” My writing hand and I agreed.

You can see some of what I tweeted that day (search for the hashtag #UAConstitution). I think they give you an idea about the wide-ranging conversation. What a tweet may not capture, however, is the breadth and passion of the panelists’ conversation. Those things came to the fore more than once, as the lawyers struggled to dissect the reasoning of a Court thrust into the public more and more often.

One point of the conversation may illustrate that.

Professor David Marcus

Judge Wake noted that Justice Scalia could be pointed in his opinion-writing, and he was disappointed that Justice Kagan had signaled a willingness to engage also in such muscular judging (my term, not Judge Wake’s).

Dean Massaro agreed, adding that the tenor of the Court is worsening, and that the benefit of pausing before engaging appears to be a declining art on the Court.

“The whole Court is becoming snap, snap, snap,” said Massaro. “When the Wall Street Journal says isn’t it great that Scalia is ‘delightfully brutal,’ it is no surprise that Justice Kagan may join in.”

She reiterated that point when she suggested that perhaps the Court would do well to take a pass on the lawsuits regarding the national health insurance reform law that are working their way toward the marble steps. (Judge Wake removed himself from the panel for that portion of the conversation.)

“The Court should restore a sense of the value of passive virtues. Leave the case alone for now.”

Disagreeing was Ted Cruz, who stressed that he hoped the law was found unconstitutional as soon as possible. He, Massaro and Greenhouse differed on whether the Court would—or should—find the law’s individual mandate unlawful.

Cruz said, “To uphold it would be to change us from a government of limited powers to a government of general powers.”

We shall see whose view a Court majority values. In the meantime, congratulations to the Law School for a stellar event.

More photos are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

(I wrote about this panel discussion last week. Read it here.)

Mmm: Cake only a lawyer could like

I wrote recently about the pain that Watergate left on a nation—and on my birthday, forever marked as the anniversary of one President pardoning a former President.

However, this week, some gifts—both thoughtful and odd—went a long way toward erasing 1974’s pain.

So I decided to post on the blog of a Saturday—a rare event when time is at a premium. I guarantee it’ll be pretty light lifting.

First, a reminder of the historic event.

It was September 8, 1974, when President Gerald Ford spared a nation (his words) the pain of a drawn-out impeachment process. On that day, he read his proclamation to the world.

President Gerald Ford, Sept. 8, 1974

The text of the proclamation itself can be read here. The order granted Nixon an unconditional pardon “for all offenses from January 20, 1969, the day he was first inaugurated as president.”

One of the pleasures of history is to come across artifacts that convey something true from the contemporary time. And that’s why I love this image below. It is one of the many letters sent to President Ford after his pardon. It was gathered by the National Archives.

You can see more from the Archives here.

So on my birthday Thursday, as we read the morning Arizona Republic, my wife noted that day’s historic blurb and photo on page A2: Ford pardons Nixon. But it only took until that evening to put the specter aside.

That’s because family and friends shared an odd assortment of gifts and tschotckes. Every one made me smile and chuckle. For a non-law-related blog post on AZ Attorney, this is hard to beat.

Thanks to Kathy, Willa and Thea (my family) and to Randy, Sarah, Olivia, Elena, Jack and Amelia, a whole other family of friends who swooped in with a goofy and heartfelt surprise.

If you’re feeling particularly non-legal today, click here to see the gifts.

See you back here Monday.