Arizona Law logoThey say late notice is better than no notice at all, and so I pass on a legal event occurring at 4:00 today in Tucson.

Here’s the good news: You can attend via the power of live-streaming.

A panel discussion titled “Death of DOMA: Implications for Arizona? will be held at the James E. Rogers College of Law today (Wednesday, August 28) from 4:00 to 5:15 pm. It will occur in the Ares Auditorium (Room 164). Seating is first-come, first-served; there is no registration.

However, this program also will be live-streamed. To watch the program online, visit the home page and click on the DOMA panel link, which will become available shortly before the program starts.

Here is more information from the law school.

Law Professors Toni Massaro and Barbara Atwood will speak on a panel with attorney Steven Phillips about the Supreme Court decisions in Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry and the legal implications for attorneys and same-sex couples in Arizona. The program will be of general interest to lawyers and non-lawyers and conducted in a Q-and-A format.

Professor Emerita Atwood, family law scholar, and Dean Emerita Massaro, a noted constitutional law teacher and scholar, co-authored an opinion piece, “Gay Marriage: Let’s Talk,” published in the Arizona Republic in March, and they have frequently commented on these cases.

Attorney Steven Phillips, an alumnus of Arizona Law, is a Tucson attorney specializing in business and estate planning transactions and estate administration. A longtime Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, he is a frequent contributor and participant in programs of the State Bar of Arizona and the Tucson Tax Study Group, which he co-founded. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America and Southwest Super Lawyers.

The “Death of DOMA” panel is free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served. No registration is required. Up to 1.25 hours of CLE credit are available.

Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time: 4 – 5:15 p.m.

Location: James E. Rogers College of Law, Ares Auditorium (Room 164), 1201 E. Speedway, Tucson

The program is being cosponsored by the University of Arizona Institute for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies.

Today, I point you to a few photos I snapped of a terrific law school event. But after that, I have a question for you.

The event was a panel discussion at the University of Arizona Law School in recognition of Constitution Day. I told you about the Rehnquist Center program here. (Bios of the speakers can be found here.)

L to R: Speaker Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute; Professor Toni Massaro; Hon. Neil Wake, U.S. District Court; Seth Waxman, WilmerHale

As always, the Center brought together a stellar group of people to discuss contemporary cases from the U.S. Supreme Court.

More photos are at the Arizona Attorney Facebook page.

Now, my question.

You’ve likely heard by now that UA Law Dean Larry Ponoroff tendered his resignation last week. (He resigned as dean only; he will remain on the faculty.) I always appreciated Dean Ponoroff’s insights, and I’ll be sorry to see him step down from leadership.

By coincidence, I had calendared with him a late October interview. It was to be a Q&A in the tradition we have of law school dean interviews. I was curious about how things are going at the law school, and what ideas and plans he had.

My first thought upon hearing the news was simply to assume our interview would be canceled, and that I’d simply wait to see who was named the new Dean.

But then I spoke with a lawyer whom I respect very much. He urged me to find out if Dean Ponoroff would still want to chat. The lawyer reminded me that someone on the way out (even if not all the way out) may be candid about the lessons he and his school have learned.

Do you agree? Would you find such insights helpful?

Professor Toni Massaro, Sept. 14, 2012

It’s ironic that I had to be reminded of that lesson, given that a similar Q&A has turned out to be almost my favorite dean interview ever. Back in 2009, I interviewed UA Law Dean Toni Massaro as she was ending her long tenure as Dean. Our conversation was rousing and gave me added hope for legal education.

Perhaps another such interview could offer the same result. Please let me know what you think.

Supreme Court cases and what they mean will again be the focus at this year’s annual Constitution Day panel at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. It will occur this Friday, September 14, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The 14th annual event is once again hosted by the University’s Rehnquist Center.

Constitution Day

(You can read my coverage from last year’s event here and here.)

Panelists include UA Professor Toni Massaro, the Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick, U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake, and WilmerHale partner Seth Waxman.

Curious what they’ll cover? The advance materials list three cases:

More detail, include links to panelist bios, are here. And you may register for the free event here.

I will attend Friday and try to tweet out some panelist wisdom. But #ConstitutionDay is so darn long. Why don’t I try #UASCOTUS.

Bob McWhirter

And to keep up in the race to create Constitution Day programming, next Monday, Sept. 17, the ASU Law School holds a lunchtime presentation by lawyer Bob McWhirter. Titled “Are You Talking to Me? Who Are Those ‘People’ in the Tenth Amendment?” the talk is bound to illuminate and amuse, like everything else Bob offers.

As Bob marvels, “Did you know that the original Constitution didn’t protect your vote? In fact, the original Constitution didn’t give you many rights at all? So where do we get them? Let’s look at the 10th Amendment!”

He suggests that we should wonder: “Are you one of “the People” or not?”

Could there be a more inviting call? Perhaps I’ll see you there, too, to get an answer.

This week, I’ll have some great news about awards to Arizona legal entities, demonstrating once again that our state is filled with people committed to justice and the pursuit of professionalism.

Today’s announcement goes out to the remarkable folks at the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. This week, the American College of Trial Lawyers bestowed on the Florence Project its prestigious Emil Gumpert Award for 2012.

Arizona Attorney Magazine and I are great fans of the Florence Project, which routinely provides legal services under challenging conditions to people who often have no other recourse.

Here is the announcement from the ACTL:

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Dennis J. Maggi, CAE, Executive Director

American College of Trial Lawyers

949.752.1801

dmaggi@actl.com

Pro Se Material Project of the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project Selected as Emil Gumpert Award Recipient

“The American College of Trial Lawyers announces the Pro Se Material Project of The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, of Florence, Arizona, as the winner of the 2012 Emil Gumpert Award. The $50,000 first-place prize is funded by a grant from the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers. The funds will enable The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to inventory, review and redesign current pro se materials to improve and expand access to self-help materials for pro se detainees in Arizona and across the country.

“The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project provides free legal services to men, women and unaccompanied children detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona. Although the federal government assists indigent criminal defendants and civil litigants through public defenders and legal aid attorneys, it does not provide attorneys for people in immigration removal proceedings. As a result, an estimated 86 percent of immigrant detainees go unrepresented due to poverty. The grant from the American College of Trial Lawyers will support the goal of the Pro Se Material Project to ensure unrepresented indigent immigrant detainees pursuing viable claims in immigration court have access to accurate, clear and useful legal information so they may more effectively represent themselves pro se.

“The Emil Gumpert Award recognizes programs, whether public or private, whose principal purpose is to maintain and improve the administration of justice. The award honors the late Honorable Emil Gumpert, Chancellor and Founder of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Through his dedication to the legal profession for more than 50 years, Judge Gumpert’s legal career encompassed that of eminent trial lawyer, California State Bar president and trial judge.

“Previous Emil Gumpert Award winners have included The Southern Public Defender Training Center, Atlanta, Georgia (2011); the Older and Wiser Program of Neighborhood Legal Services, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2010); Pro Bono Law Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario (2009); And Justice For All, Salt Lake City, Utah (2008); The National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children, Washington, D.C. (2007); Legal Aid University, Boston, Massachusetts (2006); and Dakota Plains Legal Services, Mission, South Dakota (2005).

“The Pro Se Material Project of The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project was chosen from a wide field of applicants throughout the United States and Canada who seek grants to promote projects of global application and with potential for replication in other locations. The Pro Se Material Project meets all the College’s criteria through its ability to duplicate, encourage and extend its services beyond the jurisdiction of its existing program in Arizona.

Emil Gumpert

“The American College of Trial Lawyers is composed of the best of the trial bar from Canada and the United States and is widely considered to be the premier professional trial organization in America. Founded in 1950, the College is dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice and the ethics of the profession. Fellowship in the College is extended by invitation only, after careful investigation to those experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality.”

Congratulations to the Florence Project and its staff of talented, dedicated people. More about the award is here.

On that page, you can see the groups that won this award in the past. But the online list only goes back to 2005. Travel back one more year and you’ll see that the 2004 Emil Gumpert Award went to the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. You can read about that honor in the words of then-Dean Toni Massaro.

Arizona, leading again.

Toni Massaro, Ted Cruz and Linda Greenhouse at the University of Arizona Law School, Sept. 16, 2011

Last week, I wrote about a great UA Law School event held on September 16. That was Constitution Day, and the school held a panel discussion on the topic of current legal cases that are significant and worth watching.

I mentioned that I had tweeted a bit during the presentation by moderator Professor David Marcus, former law school Dean Toni Massaro, lawyer Ted Cruz, former New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse, and U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake.

A few readers who struggled with the hashtag asked me what I had said. So, combining old and new school, I have posted just a few of those tweets below.

Before I get to that, though, I wanted to share a few moments that stand out from the day’s events:

    • One humorous moment occurred during that break, when I walked up to speak with Linda Greenhouse, whom I had interviewed about three years ago. As I re-introduced myself, she began speaking to me as if we had met just yesterday, and informed me that I had an error on my blog. I thanked her, walked back to my seat, and confirmed she was right. She has segued into the law professor role well.
    • I took a foot-in-mouth minute to thank Professor Marcus for the masterful job he was doing herding legal cats. But in complimenting his presentation, I added that the event was enjoyable and invigorating, unlike law school. A gentleman, the law professor smiled and said he would take that as a compliment. (I did not attend UA for law school, which undoubtedly is the reason for my misunderstanding

Linda Greenhouse

Panelists Dean Toni Massaro, Ted Cruz, Linda Greenhouse and Hon. Neil Wake

I never had the opportunity to sit down with the Founding Fathers at a Constitutional Convention. But last Friday, I—and a roomful of others—got the next-best thing.

That was the day in which the University of Arizona Law School celebrated Constitution Day. And they did it in the manner they do best—through mind-blowing smarts. Bravo.

Their plan, executed flawlessly, was to gather a distinguished panel of experts who could decipher Supreme Court and other cases. These cases, it was believed, could serve as a bellwether for the direction the Court was heading. Or not. Remember, panelists always reserve the right to point out that your mileage may differ from their prognostications.

The moderator did his part to keep the panel and the audience roused to a passionate and insightful pitch. In introducing each case in its turn, Professor David Marcus dispensed with a simplistic issue recitation in favor of crafting mini-vignettes. Each was a whirlwind, more tour de force than simple tour.

The effort and delivery he put into those moments signaled that the panel would be something out of the ordinary. I suspect, for instance, that those gathered in Philadelphia to sign the Constitution on September 17, 1787, would have rollicked quite a bit at Professor Marcus’s musings. Those gathered in a law school classroom certainly did.

Panelists, too, did their part to make the Constitution come alive (not that they all agreed it was “a living document”). The speakers were: former law school Dean Toni Massaro, esteemed Supreme Court advocate R. (Ted) Edward Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer (and now Yale Law Prof) Linda Greenhouse, and federal district court judge Hon. Neil Wake.

During a break, I spoke with an influential Arizona lawyer, and he marveled at the talented panel that the school had gathered. “Just listening to them,” he said, “I feel like I don’t know that much.” My writing hand and I agreed.

You can see some of what I tweeted that day (search for the hashtag #UAConstitution). I think they give you an idea about the wide-ranging conversation. What a tweet may not capture, however, is the breadth and passion of the panelists’ conversation. Those things came to the fore more than once, as the lawyers struggled to dissect the reasoning of a Court thrust into the public more and more often.

One point of the conversation may illustrate that.

Professor David Marcus

Judge Wake noted that Justice Scalia could be pointed in his opinion-writing, and he was disappointed that Justice Kagan had signaled a willingness to engage also in such muscular judging (my term, not Judge Wake’s).

Dean Massaro agreed, adding that the tenor of the Court is worsening, and that the benefit of pausing before engaging appears to be a declining art on the Court.

“The whole Court is becoming snap, snap, snap,” said Massaro. “When the Wall Street Journal says isn’t it great that Scalia is ‘delightfully brutal,’ it is no surprise that Justice Kagan may join in.”

She reiterated that point when she suggested that perhaps the Court would do well to take a pass on the lawsuits regarding the national health insurance reform law that are working their way toward the marble steps. (Judge Wake removed himself from the panel for that portion of the conversation.)

“The Court should restore a sense of the value of passive virtues. Leave the case alone for now.”

Disagreeing was Ted Cruz, who stressed that he hoped the law was found unconstitutional as soon as possible. He, Massaro and Greenhouse differed on whether the Court would—or should—find the law’s individual mandate unlawful.

Cruz said, “To uphold it would be to change us from a government of limited powers to a government of general powers.”

We shall see whose view a Court majority values. In the meantime, congratulations to the Law School for a stellar event.

More photos are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

(I wrote about this panel discussion last week. Read it here.)

Although it’s typically better to be right up front at noteworthy events, some events are great enough that any seat is a good one. That was my experience at today’s luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, where the Learned Hand Awards were, well, awarded.

Sponsored by the Arizona chapter of the American Jewish Committee, this ceremony has grown to be one of the best-attended legal events of the year. And for good reason.

First, they select great people for the three categories. In public service, community service and emerging leadership, the honorees’ names cause you to slap your head and say, “Of course!” This year’s winners were Keri Lazarus Silvyn, E.G. “Ted” Noyes, Jr., and Debbie Hill.

Second, the selection committee is a who’s who of legal talent. Choosing the honorees must be hard work, but if they could carve out some extra time in their busy schedules, this brain trust should be put to work solving even tougher issues, so the cratering state economy. But I suppose that will be left to the “professionals.”

Finally, the main reason that this affair is a cool gig is the format they select: Each honoree chooses on their own whom to ask to give their introductory speech. Two winning speeches for the price of one! So we first get to hear from a great orator (or at least someone who brought their A game), and then we get to hear from the winner herself.

Understand, each of the speakers is a legal luminary in his or her own right. And speakers really have learned to spend the time to craft a great message.

This year, for instance, we got to hear from Toni Massaro, formerly the dean at the UA Law School. She introduced Keri Silvyn, the “emerging leader.” Massaro spoke eloquently, as always. Today, she talked about the “suffering of our institutions” in the economic downturn, and why leaders are more important than ever. FDR was wrong, she offered: We need not fear only fear itself, but we must fear passivity and jingoism, simplistic reasoning that resists nuance, and an exaggerated sense of our own exceptionalism that forgets the past. Last year, Toni Massaro was an honoree herself, and her speech wowed the room then. This was a worthy encore.

And Keri Silvyn followed, joking about how her “years of bossiness” are “apparently called ‘leadership’ now.” She also chided her father, esteemed zoning lawyer Larry Lazarus, for his less-than-charitable commentary early in her career when she called with legal questions. “You don’t know that yet?” he would ask. Soon, Silvyn laughed, she learned to take her questions to her own law firm colleagues, who suppressed her pater’s urge to tell her it was a stupid question.

Ted Noyes also was a worthy choice. He was introduced by Noel Fidel, and then Noyes spoke. The former appellate judge had retired and gained a position as a prosecutor in the Attorney General’s Office – not a supervisor, just a line prosecutor. He reminded the crowd that, “The government wins whenever justice is done.” He also recalled the “benediction for those in public service” uttered at his own judicial investiture in 1983: “In service to others, correct the wrong and live and inspire the right.”

Finally, Debbie Hill was introduced by Larry Hammond, who spoke movingly of Hill’s work representing prisoners and others in need. When she rose to speak, she opted to say nothing about her current work or about service generally. Instead, she launched a video—“The Girl Effect”—which suggests a powerful way to effect change in the world.

Hill concluded by reminding the listeners of Sandra Day O’Connor’s words: “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone.”

A great event, and quite a few good messages.