Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations PCFR logo sealAn event that takes a global view occurs this Thursday evening, and Arizona lawyers (and others!) are invited.

“Sinking or Swimming Together? United States and Europe in the 21st Century” is the title of the event that includes a distinguished judge from Arizona—and from the Hague.

The host is the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, and they have announced what they call a landmark event: An Evening with International Criminal Court Judge Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor.

Former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor

Former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor

“This special dinner meeting will bring together these two legal powerhouses to discuss U.S., European, and international law issues.”

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 25, 6:00-8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Gainey Ranch Golf Club, 7600 E Gainey Club Drive, Scottsdale, Ariz.

SCHEDULE: Cocktails 6:00 p.m., dinner 6:45 p.m., program 7:30 p.m.

More information about the evening and ticket information are here.

And here are a few of the topics the speakers may address:

  • Cooperation between the U.S. and Europe has achieved outstanding results in the last half century and will continue to be critical in the next 50 years.
  • The rule of law makes globalization work and supports human rights everywhere, and U.S.–European cooperation is essential to its continued progress.
  • The critical role U.S., European, and international law play in supporting or straining the U.S. –European relationship.
International Criminal Court Judge Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut

International Criminal Court Judge Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut

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Ariz. Vice Chief Justice John Pelander

Ariz. Vice Chief Justice John Pelander

An event this Saturday, April 18, brings together legal leaders and others to assess the experiences of the most recent Arizona county to use the judicial merit-selection system.

Pinal County is the place, and the event will be held at the Holiday Inn in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The speakers will include retired Ariz. Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and State Bar President Richard Platt. Lunchtime remarks will be delivered by Vice Chief Justice John Pelander.

The event runs from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, and it’s free. Breakfast and lunch will be served. But registration is required, which you can do here.

That page also includes the complete program and list of speakers.

It is sponsored by numerous groups, including the State Bar of ArizonaArizona Advocacy Network and Justice at Stake. The organizers clearly want the conversation to range beyond the county line; they indicate the day’s dialogue will include “Pinal County’s judicial system, AZ’s Merit Selection System and national cases impacting Fair and Impartial Courts.”

My understanding is that the Court and the State Bar have had a difficult time encouraging attorneys to forward their names to be considered for the judicial nominating commission in Pinal County. The system has been used in other counties for a long time, but it may be getting its sea legs in Pinal. Perhaps forums like this will spread the word about merit selection’s value.

In a video screen-shot, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (center) describes a proposed judicial selection plan.

In a video screen-shot, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (center) describes a proposed judicial selection plan.

The dialogue over how we select judges continues in earnest across the country, and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor continues to be in the thick of it.

As Justice O’Connor recently said, “The courts are the bulwark of our democracy, and we can ill afford to see them undermined.”

Last week, we read an announcement that a new proposed plan had been released, and it is named the O’Connor Judicial Selection Plan. (The complete plan is here.)

The new proposed plan was issued by the Advancement of the American Legal System.

The new proposed plan was issued by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.

The proposal comes out of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). You can read more about the news here.

According to plan advocates, the plan “was the outgrowth of work by Justice O’Connor, IAALS and the Advisory Committee to its Quality Judges Initiative, chaired by former Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, who is a member of the Justice at Stake Board of Directors.”

As described by Justice at Stake, the plan includes:

“a judicial nominating commission to screen judicial applicants and identify the best qualified candidates, appointment by the governor of one of those candidates, broad-based and objective evaluation of judges’ performance on the bench, and periodic retention elections.”

(Yes, that is very much like the Arizona system, at least in three counties.)

Justice at Stake logoWould you like to see where your state stacks up in its judicial-selection method? The IAALS, at the University of Denver, breaks it down here.

In case you’re thinking the conversation is of interest merely to court wonks, read a new study by the Defense Research Institute, which calls itself “the voice of the defense bar.” Its report titled “Economics of Justice” details the facts behind its position that financial blows suffered by the judicial branch are inflicting “widespread economic harm in communities.”

A press release and link to the full report are here.

Finally, for a quick synopsis of the O’Connor Plan, watch this video with the Justice herself, along with retired Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis.