A voter speaks ... and urges an indiscriminate no vote on all judges.

A voter speaks … and urges an indiscriminate no vote on all judges.

Much effort has been expended by many folks—including the State Bar of Arizona—to get voters in state elections to “finish the ballot.” The notion is that many people care deeply about the “top races,” but fatigue sets in as they move down their ballot and reach the judges.

I wrote about the issue here.

So what an unpleasant surprise this weekend to see a bumper-sticker in Phoenix that urged voters to do the same—but not in an informed way. Instead, the placard (depicted above) recommends that everyone vote no on all the judges all the time.

Always Vote No On Judges: It only gets worse close up.

Always Vote No On Judges: It only gets worse close up.

Somehow, I don’t think the indiscriminate and uneducated wielding of the no vote is what our nation’s founders had in mind. But that’s what we face, more and more.

Have a good week.

A bestriped Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

A bestriped Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Dispensing justice is no easy matter. That is clear when you look at all the elements courts must worry about as they go about their daily duties.

Social media and juror misconduct are two of the more common areas courts must concern themselves with these days. But what about … judicial robes?

Apparently, some colorful judges in Florida have strayed too far into the hues. So much so that the state supreme court has issued an order requiring judges to stick to basic black—no adornments, please.

No surprise that the ABA Journal’s story lede mentions former Chief Justice Rehnquist’s penchant for a little pizzazz, manifested in the stripes (sorry, chevrons) he had added to his Chief’s robes—a la Gilbert and Sullivan.

I was surprised in the story that in the comment period one judge mentioned she would be disappointed in the “adornments” rule, as she likes to add a simple lace collar “to add a touch of femininity to the dignity of the robe. It is equally important for the Florida Supreme Court to acknowledge that we now have a diverse bench.”

Making justice pop: Chief Justice Rehnquist and his preferred chevrons.

Making justice pop: Chief Justice Rehnquist and his preferred chevrons.

I hadn’t thought about the diversity angle, but apparently the supreme court was unswayed by that argument.

Did you think Chief Justice Rehnquist’s taste was a tad florid? Well, don’t tell that to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Here’s a picture of those colorful fellows, and remember—they add wigs to those outfits too.

The Supreme Court of the U.K.: They could stop injustice—and traffic—in those robes.

The Supreme Court of the U.K.: They could stop injustice—and traffic—in those robes.

Meantime, I recalled my one opportunity to be more formal a few years ago, when I moderated a Law Day panel at a downtown Phoenix venue. On that day, the Maricopa County Supervisors chambers were filled with lawyers, judges and members of the public. When better, I thought, to channel my inner Abraham Lincoln.

Evidence that wisdom does not flow from the beard: I moderated a Law Day event while channeling president and lawyer Abe Lincoln.

Evidence that wisdom does not flow from the beard: I moderated a Law Day event while channeling president and lawyer Abe Lincoln.

Our Arizona Supreme Court reserved comment.

Arizona Attorney December 2014 cover

Becoming something new, or at least thinking about it?

As we all rush about for the holiday season, I offer up the word transformation, which occupied the minds of a few author-attorneys in the December issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

The two folks—Judge Randall Howe and law professor Susan Rabe—explained what went into their decision to explore deviations from the law practice norm.

You can read Judge Howe here and read Professor Rabe here.

But their perambulations got me thinking that there are probably many stories of Arizona lawyers who took different paths. I’ve already heard from a few, but please write me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org to tell me your tale. We may find a way to share those stories in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

In the meantime, I reprint below my Editor’s Letter from December. (And yes, despite the queries I received, the image does depict a butterfly, and not a moth!).

After that, I may be blog-quiet for a bit—maybe even for a week! We’ll see. Have a wonderful holiday season.

Spreading your wings

In an issue that’s dedicated to “becoming,” you may wonder how we illustrate such a thing.

When it comes to a legal magazine, “becoming” may seem like a pretty conceptual side trip (emphasis on trip). Lawyers believe they address nuts, bolts, and the deals that keep them together (or sever them, when needed). So lawyerly career transformation would appear to be a tangent.

But high-concept is often what we must address in the magazine. Flip through back issues and you’ll see what I mean: copyright, free speech, civil practice rules, grandparent visitation, trademark, even “thinking like a lawyer.” Not easy stuff to, y’know, picture. (Go on; you try it.)

That’s why I appreciate how rarely our talented Art Director, Karen Holub, must resort to the dreaded gavel or scales of justice. Among our colleagues nationwide who address the law in print, most agree that those are tools to be kept behind glass, broken only in the case of emergency. But where others break the glass monthly, we rarely do.

So when we considered “becoming,” I kept my mouth shut and my mind open. I didn’t offer Karen the one obvious approach—a butterfly emerging from a pupa—not merely because it’s stereotypical and a little mushy, but because creative people like Karen think best with only a modest amount of guidance but a whole lot of freedom. (The obvious butterfly that graces this page is the only one you’ll see in the issue, and was my idea.)

I hope you like our “becoming” art as much as I do. Well done, Karen.

Some attorneys are remaking themselves. And you? (photo by Michael Apel via Wikimedia Commons)

Some attorneys are remaking themselves. And you? (photo by Michael Apel via Wikimedia Commons)

And well done to those lawyers who have sought out new and affirming paths.

In the section’s introduction, we say that the legal profession is “a home for searchers.” Maybe it doesn’t seem like that on a Friday when you’re scrambling to complete your too-long-neglected timesheets. But many lawyers seek fulfillment, within and without the traditional legal field. And from where we sit, that is happening more and more, across multiple generations.

So consider this month’s issue as a call to the searchers. Today, we cover those who have made their way to be a judge and a teacher. But in the coming months … ?

Other lawyers, I’m sure, have made entirely different choices. Entrepreneurs, chefs, vintners, farmers—all that and more likely dots the experience palette of Arizona’s lawyers.

If you’re becoming—or became—write to us at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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.

Ornament on historic Tucson, Ariz., courthouse

Ornament on historic Tucson, Ariz., courthouse

Just a short item today pointing you to a long article—but you didn’t want to work too much today anyway, right?

I recently was sent a story by Tucson Judge José Luis Castillo Jr. He has penned an essay online that tells us much about legal history and what preservation really is (and what it is not).

He writes about the history of Arizona’s oldest working courtroom. Read his article here.

“Working” is an important word, because much of what makes it vital as a teaching tool may be endangered. Jump to the closer paragraphs of his piece, if you must, to read his insightful conclusion.

But give yourself the time to read the whole thing. There, you will see the role a room has played in our history—and even in Hollywood.

Have a great weekend.


ASU hosts American Moot Court Tournament

Are you ready to pick up the gavel and give back to legal education at the same time? Does ASU Law School have a deal for you!

On January 17 and 18, the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law will host the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s national championship tournament. This is quite an impressive honor, and it will see undergraduates from all over the country traveling to Arizona to compete by mooting an issue in our Supreme Court.

That’s where you may come in. The law school is in need of JDs who are willing to volunteer as judges (I’ve been told they need about 250 total).

Hesitant? Well, the school is willing to sweeten the pot for those on the fence: If you sign up with a lawyer–friend, the organizers will aim to pair you together as a judging team.

Whaaat? A judging team? I don’t know about you, but nothing binds a friendship more than judging others. Come on out!

More detail is below. And to volunteer as a judge, sign up here.

ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law logo“The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is proud to host the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s national championship tournament on January 17-18, 2014. 80 undergraduate teams from across the country will come to the law school to compete in this prestigious tournament to determine this year’s national champion.  The College of Law is excited to be this year’s competition host, and we hope that you will join us in making this a memorable experience for competitors.  Volunteer judging is a great way to contribute to the education and training of future legal professionals as well as showcase the strength and involvement of our local bar.”

The College of Law is looking for attorneys to volunteer as judges for the following times:

Friday, January 17:

  • 4:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
  • 5:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 18:

  • 8:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Bring a buddy—sign up to judge with a friend and we will pair you to judge oral arguments together.

If you would like to volunteer but the above scheduled time blocks do not match your availability, please contact Adam Almaraz at aalmaraz@asu.edu.

To volunteer as a judge, click here.

The Creative Arts Competition deadline approaches!In just under a week, all submissions to the annual Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition are due. All of them. So get painting, writing, composing, shooting or whatever else gets your creative juices flowing. Bring it.

Just to be clear: All submissions must be received by us by the end of Tuesday, January 15. I’d love to get them by the end of the business day, but I long ago stopped arguing with lawyers over when the “day” “ends.” But I assure you, a stiff drink and I do check at midnight as the 15th turns to the 16th to see what’s arrived.

As always, winners will be published in our amazing spring issue, which features the work of remarkably talented lawyers.

Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition ad 2013 cropped

Here are the categories: Fiction; Nonfiction; Poetry; Humor; Photography; Painting/Drawing; Sculpture; Music (original compositions and covers)

All submissions must be e-mailed here: ArtsContest@azbar.org

Questions? Click here to read the complete rules, or contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

To see the great work that took the prize(s) last year, go here.

So there is still time. Set aside all of that law work, tell your partners to chill, set your cellphone to vibrate, and get to work. Email us a submission or two. You—and our readers, I’m sure—will be glad you did.

Here’s looking to another great competition.


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