Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Today I will happily be leading a webinar on the topic of blogging. So there may be no better day than this to share news from an event last week. That annual event, coincidentally, was the subject of my first legal blog post more than five years ago. (I know; you’re tearing up along with me.)

The Learned Hand luncheon continues to wow a packed room at the Hyatt Phoenix with its awards to smart legal luminaries. And the magic of the event continues to be the stellar speeches, not only be the worthy recipients, but also by their nominators. These folks bring it.

This year’s event was last Wednesday, March 11, and as always it is sponsored by the American Jewish Committee’s Arizona Chapter.

AJC American Jewish Committee logoThis year’s honorees were Lawrence Robinson, Elliot Glicksman, and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. (I know; what took them so long?!)

I won’t go on about each of the honoree’s accomplishments. All of the folks were well selected, and, as always, the acceptance speeches were matched by the nominators’ speeches for verve and punch.

The luncheon provides attendees a moment to pause and hear from esteemed peers. As those lawyers and judges, we recall the best ideals of our profession. I’m confident that as listeners stream out onto the busy sidewalk, full from a salmon lunch, they are at least briefly refreshed as they head back to work. Ideally, the lessons they heard will take root and bear fruit in their own lives.

And if you have a moment, <strong>here is what I wrote five years ago, on the occasion of the same lunch in 2010 (when the honorees were Keri Lazarus Silvyn, E.G. “Ted” Noyes, Jr., and Debbie Hill).

Charles "Chick" Arnold, 2013 Learned Hand Awards

Charles “Chick” Arnold, 2013 Learned Hand Awards

Huge Arizona news this week, as a 33-year-old case was finally settled. Congratulations to everyone involved, including the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Governor’s Office and a lawyer—Charles Arnold—who started the ball rolling.

How the state addresses the needs of the seriously mentally ill was the subject of Arnold v. Sarn. Here is how the Arizona Republic described the case and settlement:

“The lawsuit, Arnold vs. Sarn, was filed in 1981 when advocates for the seriously mentally ill in Maricopa County turned to the courts for relief in treating patients who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Since then, a succession of Maricopa County Superior Court judges have served as watchdog for people with mental-health issues, monitoring state funding and hearing arguments about the adequacy of care, from housing to employment to skills training.”

“The agreement reached with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which represents the plaintiffs, outlines services that both sides say are key to giving the plaintiffs the best chance at a productive life. It includes provisions for housing, job training, employment and access to around-the-clock treatment that will cover both mental- and physical-health needs.”

“The agreement relies on $37.8million from the state’s general fund, as well as cost savings the state will get when seriously mentally ill patients previously covered by the state are insured by the state’s expanded Medicaid program. State officials estimate a quarter of those on state coverage will shift to Medicaid, for a savings of $9.5million.”

“In addition, by enrolling an estimated 70,000 more Arizonans in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, the state should reap an additional $20million to $30million a year, said Anne Ronan, an attorney for the plaintiffs. That money can be used to pay for the expanded housing, job and treatment services, she said.”

The article notes that “Charles ‘Chick’ Arnold, the ‘Arnold’ in the original 1981 court filing, lauded the agreement.”

Chick Arnold is an attorney, and one whose contribution is huge. Last April, I pointed out that he had been honored with the Learned Hand Award.

To read more about his contribution, read what the Republic’s E.J. Montini says about him.

I urge on you a terrific weekend and leave you with a quote from Chick Arnold:

“We have to knock down the prejudice surrounding people with mental illness. We feel sympathy for people with so many other conditions, but we feel fear when it comes to mental-health issues. And we shouldn’t. It is a disorder like any other disorder, only it happens to affect an organ that affects judgment. If we looked at this simply as a health issue, the stigma would go away and more people would be willing to seek the help they need. The question is: How do we get there? How do we change people’s perceptions?”

This Wednesday, one of the most significant legal events of the year occurs in Phoenix; have you bought your ticket?

The Judge Learned Hand Awards luncheon is an annual event that honors a select few lawyers. And one of the lunch’s most endearing features is the fact that each honoree is introduced by a friend or colleague—each of whom crafts an introductory speech that is amazing in its own right (no pressure!).

For more information or to purchase tickets to this great event, contact Karolyn Kiburz at (480) 990-1887 or karolyn@mcsource.net.

And here is how the sponsor, the Arizona chapter of the American Jewish Committee, describes the honorees and the event:

The Arizona Region of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) will pay tribute to three outstanding legal professionals at its annual Judge Learned Hand Awards luncheon, on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

Howard R. Cabot, a partner with Perkins Coie, Barbara LaWall, the Pima County Attorney, and Lindsay N. Marshall, the Executive Director of the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, will be honored for their exceptional professional achievements and profound dedication to civic and philanthropic causes and organizations.

Commenting on this year’s honorees, Timothy J. Eckstein, chair of AJC’s Judge Learned Hand Awards luncheon, commented: “Howard, Barbara, and Lindsay embody the very best in our legal community. Their professional contributions help advance a more just society and their philanthropic efforts help shape a world in which human rights and human dignity are protected for all peoples.”

Over the course of its 107-year history, AJC has worked to safeguard minorities; fight terrorism, anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry; pursue social justice; advance human dignity; support Israel’s right to exist in peace and security; defend religious freedom; and provide humanitarian relief to those in need. Through innovative programs, education, research, media outreach, and extensive diplomatic advocacy, AJC works to advance freedom, liberty, tolerance and mutual respect.