Reviewed in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine: Magna Carta by Dan Jones

Reviewed in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine: Magna Carta by Dan Jones

Yesterday, I got to CLE Snippet.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know what I mean. I got to have a taped conversation with the author of an upcoming Arizona Attorney article.

The result is a brief-ish video for sale by the CLE Department. I say brief-ish because, though we’ve been told we may speak for as little as 15 minutes, our past dialogues have rambled two to four times beyond that.

What can I say? Our authors are fascinating people, and I get to select the authors and topics I want to sit down with.

Yesterday’s Snippet was with Judge George Anagnost. He is the Presiding Judge of the Peoria Municipal Court. And at the magazine, he’s one of our resident historians and a book-reviewer par excellence.

I have written about his approach to book reviews here.

Our topic this week was Magna Carta. Our jumping-off point was a book the judge reviewed, by Dan Jones. But the conversation ranged farther than that.

Continuing our sort-of tradition, a selfie with the author was a pleasure, snapped this month by my Bar colleague Jenn Sonier. (Thanks!)

Judge George Anagnost (left) and his shorter interlocutor.

Judge George Anagnost (left) and his shorter interlocutor.

When the video and June article are available, I hope you read and watch in tandem. More information, as always, will be on the Bar’s website.

Judge George Anagnost moderates the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014. He gestures toward panelists Bob McWhirter and Doug Cole.

Judge George Anagnost moderates the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014. He gestures toward panelists Bob McWhirter and Doug Cole.

Last week, I attended the annual “We the People” CLE program, which gathers smart folks and lets them loose on the most recent High Court Term. The follow-up was complete and often enlightening.

Paul Bender, Doug Cole and Bob McWhirter offered insightful and often humorous takes on a wide variety of the cases taken by SCOTUS. Led by moderator Judge George Anagnost, they were a formidable intellectual team.

(I appreciated Professor Bender’s unintended error when he misquoted the opening words for the Court’s day: “God save the United States from this honorable Court.” Who doesn’t agree with that occasionally?)

And yet I continue to wonder about the marrying of content with the panelists who discuss it. I have covered this topic—diversity—before, and so let me mention it again.

As always, the cases explored by the panel touch on nearly all areas of human experience. But, as an example, how would the treatment of even one case—Hobby Lobby—have varied had there been even one woman scholar on the panel? Some closely held businesses apparently are untroubled by any medical product or procedure save one—and that one affects women most of all. Would a woman scholar’s view have offered a different, compelling vision?

Of course, I do not believe that all women—or all of anyone—think the same way about legal topics. But, conservative, liberal or in between, a woman panelist may have taken more than an academic interest in the issue.

Professor Paul Bender, seated, at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

Professor Paul Bender, seated, at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

The same is true of the Shelby case regarding the Voting Rights Act, or the Schuette case regarding affirmative action, or the McCullen case regarding abortion-clinic buffer zones, all ably examined. A mandatory number of African American scholars, or women, per panel is not what I’d expect. But their complete absence is surprising. (Imagine attendees’ surprise if they walked in and saw an all-woman panel, or an all-Black panel. THAT would be news!)

Adding to the oddity of the absence of diversity was the extended discussion on that very topic by the panel. Professor Bender, for example, took pains to note that all of the current Supreme Court Justices have had professional lives as professional judges, rather than some form of law practice (except for Justice Kagan). And he and others noted that the Court may be diverse in some ways, but not in socio-economics, or geography, or even religion (currently, the Court has no Protestants, six Catholics and three Jews).

An attendee could be excused for feeling some disconnect, sympathetic to the desire to see a diverse bench, while at the same time looking around the very room in which we sat …

Bob McWhirter presents at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

Bob McWhirter presents at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

Again, and in advance of the usual commenters who will say this is window-dressing (or worse): This is about excellent legal education, and a topic on which the State Bar of Arizona has pledged its focus. I found the discussion to be first-rate, but how can we know all of the excellent diverse commentary we are missing? A consistent absence of diverse voices on legal topics that disproportionately affect those very voices is odd, at best. And it makes you wonder if you are getting a full and complete examination of the issues underlying a Supreme Court docket.

That, after all, is what is promised.

OK, have at it in the comment box below.

U.S. Supreme_Court

This Wednesday, September 17, we get another in a popular series of analyses from the recent U.S. Supreme Court Term.

Organized by the State Bar CLE folks, it will include the thoughts of Judge George Anagnost as moderator, as well as panelists ASU Law Professor Paul Bender, Arizona Summit Law Professor Dave Cole, and attorney–scholar Bob McWhirter.

As they describe it:

“This symposium will review significant cases for the October 2013 Term including the Hobby Lobby and the Town of Greece case. The program will feature scholars on the Court focusing on cases presenting important questions of law, comments on individual justices’ legal perspectives, and a preview of petitions for certiorari for this coming October Term 2014.”

More information is here. I hope to see you there.

Royal Mail Coach, photo by DanieVDM, via Wikimedia Commons

What does a Royal Mail Coach have to do with the law? Our book reviewer tells all!
(Photo by DanieVDM, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

I was considering what takes a book review to a whole other level recently when an email arrived from Judge George Anagnost. And I was all, “Now I remember.”

Do Great Cases Make Bad Law? book by Leland Bllom Jr. The great book that was our reviewer's launching-pad.

The great book that was our reviewer’s launching-pad.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for book reviews (and of books). But too many reviewers think of their task as the same that confronted them in grade-school book reports: Tell what the book is about, in order, and then say if you’d recommend it (or not).

Drafted that way, the grade-school report is far superior, for at least it came with a hand-drawn cover.

Judge Anagnost’s approach is far more—and less—than that. He explains what the book is about, but not in enervating detail. More important, he sets the book in a context of others, and he sets the book’s subject in the context of its times, whether it is present day or the Revolutionary War.

Add to that his need to think discursively, wonderfully so. It is that narrative arc that yields magazine pages that are not a forced march from A to Z. No, his article is dotted with sidebars that illuminate and entertain (and give our Art Director the fun and sometimes difficult task of locating appropriate images that are high resolution and either in the public domain or reasonably priced!).

I post the pages below simply so you can see how his approach enlivens our magazine issues (though you can click to make them larger). But to read the Judge’s latest great review, go here.

And on Wednesday, September 17, Judge Anagnost again moderates one of his successful updates of the past Supreme Court Term. More detail is here. I plan to be there, and I hope you can make it, too.

 

ASU's Paul Bender as a bobblehead. My memory of law school professors is more head-shaking than nodding, but whatever.

ASU’s Paul Bender as a bobblehead. My memory of law school professors is more head-shaking than nodding, but whatever.

Yesterday, I spent much of the day hearing about last Term’s Supreme Court cases. The panel of lawyers and scholars was a good one, and, when it comes to the Court (and Shakespeare), it’s clear that the past is certainly prologue.

The speakers covered more than a dozen significant cases, and it’s certainly true that many issues will recur in the next or upcoming Terms.

Tomorrow, I may share a few thoughts about what works in this kind of program. For now, here are a few photos from the event. First, though, the event included a few unique elements, rarely if ever spotted at a CLE:

  • There was a magician. Yes, an actual illusionist. His name is Shawn Greer, he is quite good, and you can read more about him here. I haven’t been able to identify whose idea it was to include a magician’s skills during breaks and lunch, but I suspect it had something to do with the imaginative panel chair, Judge George Anagnost. Kudos.
Paul Bender and Hon. George Anagnost, Oct. 23, 2013.
Paul Bender and Hon. George Anagnost, Oct. 23, 2013.
  • There were bobbleheads. I suspect (but haven’t confirmed) that each panelist received a bobblehead in his own likeness. What I do know is that ASU Law Professor Paul Bender got one, and it was charming. Apparently each speaker was asked for a head-shot in advance, but they didn’t know why they were providing one. Now they know. (Professor Bender, nearly always right, so far as I can tell, muttered his cavils: The hairstyle was wrong, he doesn’t typically wear a tie, and the bobblehead was smiling. Very true, Professor. The smile was a deal-killer.)

Here are some photos:

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