Richard Zorza

Today, I commend to you a great blog and its blogger, who writes on a compelling subject, and who does so eloquently.

The writer is Richard Zorza, and his blog was brought to my attention by a good friend. It is titled “Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog,” and you can read it here.

Hon. Kevin Burke

Any day of the week, he provides valuable content on one of the most pressing issues in our society. But yesterday’s lighter fare was a blog post of another variety.

In it, he reported that the American Judges Association has a new President—as associations are wont to do. This year, the new top jurist is Judge Kevin Burke, a state court judge in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Judge Burke is reason enough for the item to come to my attention. He is a highly accomplished judge, one who is well (and often) published and who has garnered praise and awards both locally and nationally. You may read more about him here.

Here in Arizona, there’s another reason to know Judge Burke—he is brother to Dennis Burke, until this month the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona.

Dennis Burke

In his post, Richard Zorza wisely provides a link to Judge Burke’s Wikipedia entry. But that made me chuckle, because when I interviewed Dennis Burke a few years ago, he praised his brother–judge up and down, and added a smirk when he pointed out that Kevin has his own Wikipedia page. O brother—Some families are accomplished beyond belief!

Zorza’s post also alludes to a connection between chocolate and judges ruling well. In fact, Judge Burke (on his own blog!) provided his own commentary on the sugary subject.

Litigants benefit from a well-fed judge, a recent study reports.

As I read that, I looked past my computer screen to some old print ads I have framed on my wall. Once is a yellowed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ad showing a judge chowing on the stuff in chambers. The subtitle advises, “More judges pass down a friendly verdict on Kellogg’s Corn Flakes than on any other cereal.”

Now that’s an ad.

All around an educational post, for which I thank Richard Zorza. But that makes me wonder: Are any Arizona judges blogging? I’d love to hear from them, or from those who read their pages. Contact me at





In good times and bad—especially in bad—nothing appears to animate elected officials more than stories regarding the sinful pleasures, whether they are drunk, smoked or otherwise ingested.

A glaring example of that is in medical marijuana, which has gripped Arizona headlines for months now. (Contributing to that coverage, Arizona Attorney Magazine’s cover feature for July/August will be the fight over that medicinal weed.)

But at least that fight is over an actual controversy, as leaders try to determine what’s legal and what’s not in a state–federal tussle.

More odd is what’s going on in Minnesota. There, state government has ground to a halt because of lawmakers’ inability to agree on a budget. As a result, many services that state residents count on daily are now unavailable.

Including the renewal of liquor licenses.

As the story says:

“Hundreds of bars, restaurants and stores across Minnesota are running out of beer and alcohol and others may soon run out of cigarettes — a subtle and largely unforeseen consequence of a state government shutdown.

“In the days leading up to the shutdown, thousands of outlets scrambled to renew their state-issued liquor purchasing cards. Many of them did not make it.

“Now, with no end in sight to the shutdown, they face a summer of fast-dwindling alcohol supplies and a bottom line that looks increasingly bleak.”

“The state has stopped issuing the tax stamps that distributors must glue to the bottom of every pack before it’s sold for retail.”

Read the complete story here.

Ari Mlnarik, left, served a beer at the Ugly Mug, a bar in downtown Minneapolis

A tale of unintended consequences, certainly. But what’s surprising is the reaction of lawmakers, whose unwillingness to coalesce is causing problems huge and small for the state.

One legislator even urged the governor—of the other political party—to use his executive powers to allow alcohol sales to continue.

It is the rare occurrence that you will find a politician recommending that his political opponent assert broad powers. Health care? Jobs? Unemployment coverage? No, no, no. But smokes and drinks? That brings the parties together.

Here in Arizona, the Corporation Commission has been plunged into its own form of reefer madness, with the discovery of some pot leaves in a bathroom shared by a group of people. The result is that Commission Chair Gary Pierce has requested that drug-sniffing dogs be brought in to try to locate the source of the illegal substance.

It was reported that the Republican members of the ACC have agreed to have their offices sniffed. The Democratic members have not yet agreed to do that.

We grow used to partisan sniping in many levels of government. But the ACC was always a reliable government powerhouse, wielding enormous power and influence without shouting headlines. Sure, politics do matter where utilities and other resources are concerned. But the ACC has always maintained a rather egg-heady and admirable focus on the details of the matters before them. Politics were whispered rather than hollered.

Here’s looking forward to getting back to some of that. And here’s hoping that public agencies and public officers look to become more like the storied ACC. If the reverse occurs and we are left with an openly partisan ACC that follows the vitriolic route of others, residents will have one more reason to doubt the results that emerge from a government chamber.