state-bar-of-arizona-dementia-program

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.

That stunning fact—and its impact on our personal and professional lives—drove the creation of a special State Bar of Arizona program on dementia and its impact on lawyers and judges.

The free live webinar will be screened one week from today, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 10 am to 11:15 am.

More information and free registration are here.

The program is being produced by the State Bar and the Arizona Supreme Court, in cooperation with InReach.

As organizers say, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is rapidly growing in part due to the aging baby-boomer population and increased life expectancy. Currently, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease.

The Bar’s hope for the program is to:

  • share information about the signs of dementia
  • provide links to help navigate the available resources
  • highlight the responsibilities and opportunities for lawyers and judges.

The program is not intended to offer CLE credit as it has not been developed with MCLE rules in mind. Instead, it is available as a service for members of the bench and the bar.

(The Bar will offer a follow-up three-hour CLE program in April that addresses Arizona-specific duties and opportunities.)

State Bar of Arizona logo 

asu-law-and-science-mock-trial-competition-header

Today I share an opportunity to participate in moot court—as a judge.

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board seeks volunteer judges for its competition on February 17 and 18. Here is the news from Tyler Carlton, the Chair of the Hosted Competitions Committee:

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board is looking for volunteers to judge the ASU Law and Science Mock Trial Competition on February 17 (Friday) and 18 (Saturday). We are looking for volunteers for all times slots, which are provided below.

Trials will be about three hours longs. We are very excited to host our competition this year in the new downtown Phoenix building with teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, and Texas. Volunteer judges will also be provided both breakfast and lunch. Volunteers can sign up for any times slots that they are available.

First day (2/17):

  • Judge Orientation: 9:00
  • First trial: 10:00-1:00
  • Lunch: 1:00-2:00
  • Judge Orientation: 2:00
  • Second trial: 2:30-5:30

Second day (2/18):

  • Judge Orientation: 8:00
  • First trial: 9:00-12:00
  • Lunch: 12:00-1:00

For more information or to sign up, contact Tyler at tdcarlto@asu.edu.

ASU Law School logo

road sign What can make a judge frown upon receiving a request for attorneys' fees?

What can make a judge frown upon receiving a request for attorneys’ fees?

A fee award, cut in half.

You may have done a spit-take when you read this story, about a judge in Texas who granted an award of attorneys’ fees, but halved the awards in two instances.

As the Texas Monthly reports:

“[David] Harper and his fellow lawyers only got half of what they wanted from [U.S. District Judge Jane] Boyle in fees. She cut their $1.2 million request down $600,000 in a recent order in Spear Marketing Inc. v BancorpSouth Bank.”

Discretion being the better part of valor, the attorney himself complained hardly at all, noting that judges “have broad discretion in making attorney fee determinations.”

Maybe it was the $600 an hour being claimed that set the judge off. Or, who knows, there could be many other things that occurred—or didn’t occur—in the lawsuit that informed her decision.

Time and money, the lawyer's calculus. justice scales clock time money lawyer attorney fees

Time and money, the lawyer’s calculus.

In any case, the judge found that the fees were “unreasonably inflated.” Meaning, I suppose, that the more proper course is to reasonably inflate them.

Whatever led to her decision, it had to be a rude wake-up call to the lawyers, who, for planning purposes, probably had certain million-dollar expectations. Who doesn’t like predictable outcomes, after all?

As you dear readers are pretty discreet yourselves, you likely will not reply to my own query to you: Have you been in a fee-award situation in which the judge made such a drastic *gulp* adjustment? Or, put more charitably, what are your best practices for submitting an attorneys’ fee affidavit that garners the judge’s support?

Come to think of it, that could make a terrific magazine article, one that folks would rip out and save.

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

basketball denied tumblr_mucwilVVxM1rc9kago1_400 Win your case. Check. Persuade judge you deserve a fee award. Check. Take the shot, and ...

Win your case. Check. Persuade judge you deserve a fee award. Check. Take the shot, and …

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.