Thanksgiving turkeys pardoned

Turkeys, stuffed or pardoned, are an American favorite.

I’ll be the first to admit that I appear to be easily impressed by turkey stories. In past years, I’ve pointed you to turkey pardons, here and here, and even just Turkey generally (see what I did there?)

But though we often are subjected to the annual ritual of public figures “pardoning” a select fortunate turkey (while its cousins end up on America’s dinner tables), we sometimes wonder if that is all for show. Does the gobbling poultry live out a happy life gobbling, or are they dispatched soon after the press conference?

One news story confronted that question head on and discovered that, at least in regard to last year, the turkey was living a life of ease. (And if you ever wondered why the White House always pardons white turkeys, well, there’s a news story that explains that too.)

turkey Thanksgiving I regret nothing gif

The message, I suppose: Enjoy life while you’ve got it.

But today is Thanksgiving Wednesday, which, in the world of my blog, means it must stand in for a lighter Change of Venue Friday. And to get you chuckling (before the gobbling), I take you to Seattle, Wash., where the Mayor has granted a pardon to … a tofurky.

Seattle Mayor grants pardon to Tofurky, to the acclaim of hipsters. (Source: NOT The Onion)

Seattle Mayor grants pardon to Tofurky, to the acclaim of hipsters. (Source: NOT The Onion)

Thank you to journalist and former Phoenician Jon Talton for pointing out this hilarious act of municipal largesse. I suppose if there is anything that will mock turkey pardons into history, it is the pardon of processed tofu in the shape of a turkey.

Whatever you plan to enjoy at your table, I wish you and yours the best.

turkey and girl

A girl and her turkey (meal)

turkey: somebody call my lawyerDoes anyone (anyone?) read a law blog on that shorty-short day that blocks our glide-path to Thanksgiving?

I’m guessing not, so let me simply wish you all well. May your meal be hearty, your family and friends happy, and your Friday as shopping-filled or -free as you’d like it.

Because I will be engaged in festivities, this blog will go dark until next Monday, Nov. 26. But in the meantime, enjoy this essay from a favorite site, Bitter Lawyer. It’s called “5 Downsides to Thanksgiving Break.”

I also share this annual story of ridiculousness about the annual occasion of the U.S. President “pardoning” a turkey (or two) on the day before Thanksgiving. I understand President Obama is in Burma this week, but I’m confident that arrangements will be made to spare some poultry the chopping block.

turkey presidential pardon

As his daughters look on, President Obama spares a turkey’s life in 2011.

And, to demonstrate that I am exercising the legal muscle right up until giblet (or tofurky) day, here is a story that takes that “pardon” angle down a new path. In it, NPR’s Ari Shapiro tells us “Tough turkey: People have a harder time getting pardons under Obama.” (strikingly similar to an NPR story by Frank James from 2010 that covered the same subject; I guess the holidays aren’t the only things that recur).

There you go: Justice, of the courthouse and barnyard variety.

Happy Thanksgiving.

turkey and girl

A girl and her turkey (meal)

As an unending election season fosters a pretty rigid “tough on crime” stance in all candidates, today’s annual ritual—a presidential pardon of a turkey—begins to look odder and odder.

This past hour, President Barack Obama stood before a gathering of reporters and, with his daughters at his side, issued a life-saving pardon for Apple and his “understudy,” Cider.

Here is the complete video:

Off-camera, a representative of the National Turkey Federation (you read that right) gripped the near-meal named Apple, which (who?) appeared blissfully unaware of the fate he had narrowly escaped.

One correspondent, Colby Hall, described the festivities with what I think is the appropriate level of incredulity. As the account opens:

“The official pardoning of a turkey in celebration of Thanksgiving is perhaps the most absurd ritual in a year’s worth of White House events. That’s sort of why it’s so awesome. Earlier today, President Obama pardoned his third turkey (THAT WE KNOW OF) and had some fun with the goofy tradition by gesticulating towards the big bird in a papal fashion — that is certain to anger someone somewhere — before officially declaring ‘you are hereby pardoned.’”

Read the complete account here.

As if there is not enough surrealism surrounding this holiday (I mean, there’s a National Turkey Federation!), take a look at this poll from the Washington Post. They took the time and resources to poll Americans on—their attitude toward Thanksgiving!

Tongue at least slightly in cheek, the reporter described the “findings,” which are broken down by gender and party.

“Consensus at last: almost all Americans—from coast to coast and across stiffening party lines— have favorable views of Thanksgiving dinner, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“Overall, 93 percent say they have positive views of the traditional meal, including 77 percent who say so ‘strongly.’”

“Strongly.” That one made me laugh. For added yuks, here’s their “data” in tabular form.Are we being punked?

Well, in any case, enjoy your Thanksgiving. The blog and I are taking the long weekend off. We will relax, eat too much, and return at least slightly refreshed next week. Here’s hoping Monday’s post won’t be too bloated.

I wish the same to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving.

At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we have been known to claim that we represent “Arizona law with a global viewpoint.” Now, we have some evidence for that assertion.

In December, a delegation of judges and lawyers from Turkey visited the United States. And Arizona was honored that we were one of a short list of their must-stop locations.

It wasn’t just our glorious December weather that drew them here. They explained that this state’s high-quality judges (and merit selection), as well as the good reputation of our lawyers, was the attraction.

I wrote about their visit to the State Bar of Arizona here. And then I followed up with a related story in Arizona Attorney Magazine’s February issue (online February 1).

But our online story caused a bit of a ruckus – not a full-blown international incident or anything, but still a minor cause célèbre (as they say across the Pond).

As reported to me, the “fallout in Turkey” included the following.

Apparently, a Turkish newspaper, called Venicag, found our story and photo on this blog site. That led them to publish the photo that I took (credit, please!?) on the front page of their newspaper.

My photo of the visit by judges from Turkey

I’m told that the newspaper is very anti-government, and that their article claims the Turkish government was hiding secret meetings with the United States. Essentially, it asserted that the Turkish Ministry of Justice was in the States to learn how to create a federalist system within Turkey.

So I guess no good deed goes unpunished. So much for covering local dignitaries.

In the meeting I attended at the State Bar, I didn’t spy any scheming. Of course, I didn’t attend the rodeo with them, so who knows what was discussed at the roundup.

We made the Turkish tabloids!

If you are multilingual, you can read the original story online here.

If not, here is a translation of the Venicag story (I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translation).

Here is the Hidden Picture

“We find the system ideal”

Ministry of Justice Undersecretary Ahmet Kahraman and eight head of the department judges have examined state system in Washington, Colorado and Arizona. Head of the Arizona Court of Appeals Daniel Barker said the Delegation has told him “We found Arizona system ideal”. National Security Council says “One nation, one state”; there is a state system research in U.S. This is the picture of 2011 Turkey…

The secret communication between U.S. and Turkish Justice Ministries was taken to Parliament and Minister Ergin had left questions unanswered. The next picture which shows Turkish and American delegations together documented the contacts which Minister of Justice is trying to hide persistently.

Depending on the information Yilmaz Polat provided, we had informed public before that Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin participated in a meeting at Atlantic Council named institution which former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman is a member of board of management. The Istanbul MP of Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Ahmet Tan gave a parliamentary question to Presidency of Turkish Grand National Assembly and asked “ Does your meetings are related to wikileaks documents? Is the aim of this trip is to increase information and experience on site? Upon the order of the Prime Minister, is there any work is being made related to transformation to state system? Will there be any arrangements related to state system among the constitution changes which your government promised to do after the 2011 elections?”

Ergin was not able to answer these questions. Yilmaz Polat popped another news when we were on leave and informed that he has made it confirmed that Ergin has met with Edelman in the mentioned meeting. Ergin again has not made any explanation.

Polat has sent us an information, document and picture of Justice Ministry Ahmet Kahraman and eight judges’ U.S.  visit. The picture is taken from U.S. press. According to the information U.S. officials  gave, With invitation of OPDAT, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training, an institution of U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. covering costs of the trip, Ministry of Justice Undersecretary Ahmet Kahraman and eight Head of the Department judges examined state legal system between the dates 2-11 December in Washington, Colorado (Denver) and Arizona (Phoenix). In order to resolve shortages in the Turkish legal system, the Arizona system was found ideal.

The Delegation went to Arizona after Denver and met with Head of the Court of Appeals Judge Daniel Barker, and was in touch with Supreme Court and Federal Court.

The Judge Daniel Barker said the Delegation told him that “We believe that there are shortages about guaranteeing public’s confidence in Turkish legal system. For this reason, we examine Arizona system which we know that it made a big progress.”

Head of the Arizona Bar John Phelps and Secretary General John Furlog also gave a briefing to Delegation around one hour at the Arizona Bar.

Arizona has a border with Mexico and Mexican origin  population in the State is significant.

The U.S. Justice Ministry has defined the aim of the visit as “being professional”.

The US people who professionalize Turkish Justice Delegation, did not skip saying that they took the Delegation to a lunch at Arizona Chase Field and rodeo as a social activity.

Well then, What is this OPDAT?

In the website of the U.S. Embassy there is an explanation  which says “A legal advisor is placed in U.S. Embassy in Ankara in 2006 affiliated to US. Justice Department Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training”.

In the American Justice Ministry’s internet site it is shortly said that OPDAT works in a close cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs; The U.S. Government supports Turkish Government’s combat against murders committed by PKK and other terrorist organizations; develops legislation of combating terrorism and assists Turkey in criminal cases, financial fraud and public fraud.

Baris Terkoglu from OdaTV had said that OPDAT’s  U.S advisor in Turkey had a meeting on 25-26 January 2007 in Istanbul together with  Deputy Chief Prosecutors from 8 cities’ Courts which deals with terrorist crimes and organized crimes and also four judicial representatives. Mehmet Bozkurt from Aydinlik, had revealed that this U.S. prosecutor was Suzanne Hayden.

National Security Council says “One nation, one state”; there is a state system research in U.S.

This is the picture of 2011 Turkey…

Yesterday, as I climbed the stairs to the office, my morning daze was interrupted by a colleague’s question.

“So the judges are upstairs in the boardroom. Are you heading up?”


She could see my mental RAM struggling to overcome my disappearing REM.

“The judges? From Turkey? They’re meeting now.”

Office Outlook palpitations began in the back of my neck. A meeting that I had calendared—inexplicably—for Thursday was being held 15 feet skyward at this very minute.

The previous week, when I had heard that a delegation of Turkish judges was going to visit the State Bar of Arizona, I naturally requested that I be present. I mean, an awful lot happens in and around the State Bar, but judges from Turkey stopping in for a chat? Definitely once-in-a-lifetime stuff.

I had gotten the green light, but promptly got the day wrong on my calendar.

Though the meeting had already started, I decided to attend. No time like the present, I thought. But I was (I had thought blissfully) suit-free.

The Turkish delegation was led by Ministry of Justice Undersecretary Ahmet Kahraman, who is a member of the Judges and Prosecutors High Council

Understand, when I worked as a lawyer or clerked for a judge, at law firms or prosecutors’ offices, I was all about the nice suit. But since then, I have suited up only on the days that my calendar tells me it will be necessary. And Tuesday’s Outlook appeared judge-free.

Well, I plunged in anyway, and I was happy I did.

The U.S. Department of Justice was ferrying these eight judges and members of the Turkish Ministry of Justice on a whirlwind legal tour. On their trip, which runs December 2 through 11, they will visit Washington, Phoenix and Denver. Here is how the DOJ described the goal of the trip’s Arizona portion:

“In terms of purpose, if the study visit could be boiled down to one word, it would be ‘professionalism.’

“The delegates would like to understand how each section of the judicial system helps to develop, maintain, and improve the professionalism of judges and prosecutors.”

The delegates were hosted in Phoenix by Judge Daniel Barker of Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals. On their trip, they visited a variety of legal centers, including the federal court and the Arizona Supreme Court. (They also got to attend a rodeo and have lunch at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.)

So on Tuesday for about an hour, the high-level lawyers and judges spoke with the State Bar’s CEO John Phelps and its General Counsel John Furlong. Everything passed back and forth through two translators, and many topics were covered.

(The delegates were extremely friendly, even going so far as to extend me a gift: a flash drive (4GB!) branded with the Turkish Ministry of Justice name and logo. Thank you, Adalet Bakanlığı!)

One of the delegates summed up their visit:

“In Turkey we believe we have some shortcomings to ensure public trust in our legal system. That’s why we are reviewing the Arizona system, which we know has gained significant ground in that process.”

The Turkish Ministry of Justice is online here. And if you really need the English version, go here.

More on the story will appear in the February issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.