Supreme Court tallI wrote yesterday about a few conferences that crowd this week, all of them worth your time and attention. Today and tomorrow, I’ll share two more.

One week from today, we’ll have the opportunity to hear scholars and lawyers present on the most recent Supreme Court Term. They also plan to offer a preview of the upcoming Term’s cases.

Co-sponsored by the Peoria Municipal Court, this annual event was a great one last year. I’ve been able to attend before, and I’m always struck by the insights provided.

The event will be held on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Rio Vista Recreation Center, 8866 W. Thunderbird, Peoria (1/4 mile West of Loop 101 and Thunderbird Exit).

The luncheon speaker will be Hon. William J. O’Neil, Arizona’s Presiding Disciplinary Judge.

As always, the seminar chair is the scholar–judge Hon. George T. Anagnost, Presiding Judge of the Peoria Municipal Court. Here is the faculty list:

  • Hon. William J. O’Neil, Presiding Disciplinary Judge, Supreme Court of Arizona
  • Prof. Paul Bender, Arizona State University
  • Prof. Dave Cole, Phoenix School of Law
  • Robert J. McWhirter, Esq.

You may register online here.

Rio Vista 1

Rio Vista Recreation Center, Peoria, Ariz.

I just finished reading a book review sent to me by a great Arizona lawyer. And I was pleased to discover that it was a terrific read and on a topic that fits Arizona Attorney Magazine. We’ll run it in an upcoming issue.

And that reminded me about how much I like book reviews—when they are executed well.

Here is another review in the September issue of the magazine. It’s written by Judge George Anagnost, a frequent contributor.

If you read Judge A’s review, you’ll spot some of the elements that make a good review:

  • It tells its own story; it is not a forced march, chapter by chapter, through the volume.
  • It evinces an understanding that a book review is still a magazine article, which needs somewhat of a narrative arc.
  • It contains an author’s voice, rather than relying on the importance or prestige of the subject-book.
  • It ties the book to contemporary issues, recognizing that readers will wonder, “What does this have to do with my life?”
  • It reviews a recent book, rather than waits until the book is old and stale.
  • It is written well and in a tone that matches the volume reviewed, rather than sounding like a high school book report (no offense to my high school readers).
  • It is not a review of a textbook, or of a practice-specific volume, which would better serve a subset of Bar members.
  • It’s brief—or at least brief-ish. The New York Review of Books we ain’t, so a book review for us has to be a delightful break rather than a full-fledged escape. Aim for 700 to 1,200 words. Readers and I will thank you.

Given my own criteria above, you’re likely to see a good number of history books reviewed. I do enjoy history, and I’m hoping readers do too. (Here is one exception, a charming review of Reading the Green: The Real Rules of the Game of Golf by lawyer Faith Klepper. She describes the book—concisely—and leaves no snark unturned. It’s not quite history, and it’s maybe a little specific of a topic, but golf, lawyers and humor seemed a perfect mix.)

But any review, even a treatment of history, that doesn’t touch on the modern day, or that doesn’t “reach” readers in a deeper way, will not make it into print—at least, not at Arizona Attorney. Instead, those authors get a polite “decline to publish” letter.

Do you have your own ideas for books to review? Contact me anytime at

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.

It’s always terrific when a great plan comes together.

That’s the first thing that occurred to me when I saw an upcoming CLE announced. It is on next Thursday, October 13 (from 9 am-4 pm), and it’s co-sponsored by the State Bar of Arizona and the Peoria Municipal Court.

The title of the program is “We the People: A Symposium on the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court.” Read more and register here. I plan to be there most of the day.

Rio Vista Recreation Center, Peoria, Ariz.

What appears most appealing is the opportunity to learn a little about both of those institutions that are central to our nation (and who couldn’t use a little of that). But just as important is the chance to hear from some scholars on modern-day cases and controversies. For example, the day’s roster includes immigration debates as enacted through SB1070, federalism and states’-rights questions, and federal review.

These are issues that are as timely as today’s newspaper.

Here is a description of the seminar and the faculty:

An exploration of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court by legal experts from across the country.

Seminar Chair: Judge G. T. Anagnost, Peoria Municipal Court


Professor Paul Bender, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

Paul Bender

Dean David Meyer, Tulane University Law School

David Meyer

Professor R. Kent Newmyer, University of Connecticut Law School

R. Kent Newmyer

Professor Jennifer Chacón, University of California Irvine School of Law

Jennifer Chacón

Professor Justin Marceau, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Justin Marceau

Again, for more on this seminar, the day’s complete agenda and to register, click here.

To add to the day’s pleasures, you may want to bring your running shoes and workout clothes, because the CLE will occur in the Rio Vista Recreation Center in Peoria. I have heard amazing things about this place, and you can read more about it here. If you happen to be a Peoria resident, working out at the Center is free; if you’re not, there’s a small daily fee.

Rio Vista Recreation Center

Whether or not you exercise more than your brain that day, the Center is worth seeing. Here are some more photos.

Finally, the architect was Architekton of Tempe, Ariz. Click here for more about the building, including photos, drawings and concept.

See you in Peoria.

(Here are directions to the Rio Vista Recreation Center, located at 8866 W. Thunderbird, Peoria, AZ: 1/4 mile west of the 101 freeway off of W. Thunderbird Rd. Turn North on Rio Vista Blvd. and end at the Center.)

Five flavors, one happy office

Here in the office, we are ballooning. Please: Stop sending treats.

Of course, you know I jest, for all of us are conflicted about the holiday largesse that flows in—and in and in. We love it, it loves us, and soon, before we know it, we contain multitudes.

Let me share with you just a few of the tasty treats we have received.

First, we have grown large on two traditional standbys: Cookies from Home and Fairytale Brownies.

These companies broadcast such a swath of delicious lassitude that they must certainly work for the North Korean government or some other that wishes us ill.

The Cookies From Home arrived in, I don’t know, a million varieties. And each called to us like a siren. They were sent our way by Judge George T. Anagnost of the Peoria Municipal Court. What a wonderful guy! He has written for Arizona Attorney Magazine many times (and has another article in our December issue), and he wanted us to know how much he appreciated our help.

Cookies From Home

Note to future authors: Such butter-laden kindnesses are not required of you—though they are never forgotten.

The brownies? They came from our magazine printer, Prisma Graphic. They also arrived in a wide array of flavors. Right now, I am staring sidelong at a brownie labeled “Espresso Nib.” Curious? Yup. Salivating? You bet. Resisting? Sort of, but caving.

(You also have to love that Fairytale Brownies purchased the domain name Evil geniuses? Oh yeah!)

Fairytale Brownies

Another treat was sent our way by State Bar of Arizona Board of Governor member Christopher Jensen. His offering wins an award for constituent support, for he selected something from his district. The assortment from Pralines of Prescott looked great, tasted better, and made me consider getting that second home in Prescott I’ve considered before. Thank you, Chris!

Finally, let me tell you about the cake that our Membership Directory printer sent our way.

O’Neil Data Systems had me going there for a minute. The box arrived with virtually no external markings. I opened it and found the card from O’Neil and beneath that, a white box.

The box was a standard baker’s box, and inside was what appeared to be a Bundt cake of some sort. After struggling to extricate it, I found it to be almost homemade in appearance. It sat on a Reynolds Wrap-covered cardboard disk. Its paper doily was moist with what appeared to be liquid deliciousness. The cake rose to a peak like a volcanic confection. And the entire thing was wrapped in reams of Saran Wrap.

It looked like the kind of thing my family might make to take to a bake sale.

Five-Flavor Pound Cake: Worth every pound

And then we tasted it.

I won’t begin to try to describe it. Let’s just say that the holidays for me have now been captured in flour and sugar, and other wondrous ingredients.

Only after my excursion into sensuous pleasure (can I say that so close to religious holidays?) did I locate a small sticker on the box. The cake came to us from The Bread Basket, of Charlotte, North Carolina. Wondrous folk, them.

As near as I can tell, what we got from those good people at O’Neil was the Five Flavor Pound Cake. Here is the description from the Bread Basket website:

“The Five Flavor Pound Cake has been a customer favorite since its debut over 15 years ago. The flavors, lemon, butter, rum, coconut and vanilla blend together to give it a distinctive flavor. Dusted with powdered sugar, this cake serves 15 to 18 people and gets better the longer it sits on the counter.”

I cannot vouch for that last part, which must have been written by a jokester. Sit on the counter, it did not.

So we head toward 2011, larger in all things. But mainly larger in gratitude for such thoughtful colleagues.

[This story contains corrected copy, identified below.] 

PhoenixLaw Dean Gene Clark

The Phoenix School of Law was the venue for an important event last evening. Amidst a panel of distinguished speakers, the school celebrated the launch of the newest volume of its Law Review.

What? Not enthralled yet? Well, pay attention.

The Phoenix Law Review has reached the grand old age of three—that’s 3! And already, its staff are jumping into issues of significance to the state and its legal community.

The new volume is called the “Arizona Government Issue.” It includes “A History of the Arizona Courts,” written by the Arizona Chief Justice herself, Rebecca White Berch. So right there, it’s worth the price of admission.

Vice Chief Justice Andrew Hurwitz

Her excellent article is surrounded by eight others, only some of which I have begun reading. And that is because I just got a copy last night. In fact, the volume wasn’t even printed until the day before the launch symposium. Now that’s called hitting a deadline!

A law review, as they say, takes a village. But everyone present last night took the time to praise 3L Anthony Tsontakis. It was his idea more than a year ago to publish a volume coincided with the centennial of the Arizona Constitution.

Tsontakis describes himself as “a history kind of guy,” and he says his interest in government and elections grew through clerkships and internships at the Secretary of State’s Office (working with Joe Kanefield (an editorial board member of Arizona Attorney Magazine), at the Arizona Legislature and at the Goldwater Institute. (And another shout out to board member Keith Swisher, an assistant professor at the school and the volume’s faculty advisor.)

Anthony Tsontakis

Anthony Tsontakis says that he contacted 50 to 70 people about possible articles, and then saw them through to publication. Preparations this week required “three consecutive all-nighters” and “53 straight hours” of work (Attention, legal employers! Hard worker on deck).

Tsontakis says that he hopes “the volume will demonstrate that today there are three bona fide law schools in the State of Arizona.”

The work—in the volume and in the launch symposium—paid off. (In fact, when I toiled away on law review as managing editor of the Hastings Comm/Ent, we never had lobster ravioli. All rise for the great catering!)

The evening began with PhxLaw Interim Dean Gene Clark talking about “the magic of the success of this book.” He then introduced Nick Dranias, an attorney with the Goldwater Institute.

[The following three paragraphs contain corrected copy.]

Dranias is one of the volume’s authors. He wrote “The Local Liberty Charter: Restoring Grassroots Liberty to Restrain Cities Gone Wild.” He wins for most evocative title, and for getting things off to a rousing start. In his remarks, he said that the Arizona Legislature “is designed to do one thing well: gridlock and stasis. Well done!”

Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute

Of course, Dranias was being complimentary, for he appreciates a body designed to “throttle back public passions.” Any body that fosters caution—“looking before you leap”—in terms of legislation is close to the heart of the Institute. 

Dranias was humorous and ironic when he clarified, “As much as we would like to put the pedal to the metal and have the legislative process generate a conservative libertarian utopia, it tends to generate gridlock instead, and by design. But we must yield to temporary evils to secure the benefits of a written constitution.” (his corrected eloquent words, not mine).

Vice Chief Justice Andy Hurwitz was up next, and he spoke from his experience in all three branches of government. He admitted that “I learn something new every time I read our Constitution.” And so did we.

In his wide-ranging remarks, he talked about the constitutional provisions that involve judges, and the history of the State Bar sending names to the Governor for final selection.

He recalled that, when he was Chief of Staff to Gov. Bruce Babbitt, the then-conservative State Bar would send one name only for each opening. But Babbitt wasn’t going to be fenced in, and the Bar later would agree to send more.

Justice Hurwitz also remembered a time when electing judges was the norm—and not always such a good one.

As a young lawyer at the firm later named Osborn Maledon, Hurwitz arrived at court one day on a matter—only to find his opposing counsel already engaged in conversation with the judge.

“Drawing myself up to my full height, I said, ‘Your honor, this is highly improper.’”

Christy Smith, Office of the Governor

But, he laughed, the judge simply replied, “Sit down, sonny. We’re not talking about your case. He’s also my campaign manager—we’re talking about my election.”

The Vice Chief Justice declined to say how the matter turned out.

Finally, Christy Smith spoke. She is Deputy General Counsel to Gov. Jan Brewer, and she encouraged law students in attendance to consider a life in public service. In fact, she believes that there should be more lawyers serving in the Legislature (no word on whether the Governor shares that view).

March 2009: The AZ Constitution

All in all, a momentous evening to honor a great accomplishment. Congratulations, and well done.

Read more about the Law Review of the Phoenix School of Law.

And read our own March 2009 story on the history of the Arizona Constitution, written by Hon. George T. Anagnost.