Good Things Really Can Come in Small Packages
Sometimes ACTL Foundation grants are considerable in size and significant in scope, both geographically and impact-wise. Such programs are far-reaching, and inherently capable of improving access to justice for a multitude of men, women and children in one fell swoop.
But, sometimes good things truly do come in small packages. The grant dollars sought are small, the programs are local, and the impact is in the first instance – but only in the first instance – felt by a single individual at a time. These are the microcosmic programs that specialize in paying it forward by expanding a handful of dollars into future lawyers whose careers make a difference.
Such is the case with the ACTL’s new public interest fellowship developed in conjunction with the Southern University Law Center. The inaugural ACTL Summer Fellow, Michael Amenyah, is one of the University’s rising third year law students. Michael had the opportunity to intern this summer at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (“SLLS”), where, among other experiences, he observed and spent quality time with Federal Judge Brian Jackson of the Middle District of Louisiana, himself a Southern University Law Center graduate. (Judge Jackson also happens to be a FACTL, and I personally had the privilege of helping induct him as a Fellow back in 2010, one step ahead of his swearing in as a judge.)
Michael gave as much as he received, receiving high marks from his supervisors at SLLS, not simply for his work but for his commitment to helping those who need it most. He will be a better lawyer because of the internship, and his community will be a better place because he is a better lawyer. Each year, for as long as the program exists, an ACTL Summer Fellow will go forward to lift our profession and those we serve. For a $5,500 grant, one would be hard pressed to achieve greater value.
The Trustees express our gratitude to Fellow Mark Surprenant, immediate Past President of SLLS and a member of the ACTL’s Access to Justice and Legal Services Committee, for bringing this grant application to us. When Fellows take the time to become involved in their communities and to bring to the Foundation worthy programs regardless of their size, we all benefit enormously.
We hope that you’ll consider walking in Mark’s footsteps.
Because justice can’t wait . . .
Joan A. Lukey
ACTL Foundation President
The Committee is planning the 2022 Tri-State Meeting, to be held in New Orleans January 20-22, 2022. Fellows in Alabama, Georgia and Florida will be invited to attend.
The Chapter had its first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic with an Alaska Fellows dinner on July 9. Rodney and Judy Acker flew from Texas to join the Fellows for this event.
The Committee has committed to again present a one-day trial practice program in conjunction with CLE Colorado likely to be held in November 2021. Fellows Carolyn Fairless and Eric Olson are leading this effort.
The Committee held its Annual Black Tie Dinner in Atlanta on August 19. More than 80 Fellows and guests attended and attendance was predicated on the attendees representing they were either fully vaccinated against Covid or had a negative test within 48 hours of the event. The Fellows were delighted to be joined by President Acker and his wife. The dinner was a great success.
Fellows Jonathan Freed and Doug Morris assembled a panel of Fellows and judges to lead an ethics seminar, moderated by an ethics professor, at the Kentucky Bar Convention held virtually in June 2021.
The District of Columbia and Maryland chapters are planning to hold their bi-annual dinner at the Supreme Court of the United States in June of 2022. The dinner, which has been held in alternating years for more than a decade, has been postponed for two years because of COVID.
On August 17, thirty-five Fellows gathered at the new home of the Triple A Worcester Red Sox (WooSox) at Polar Park in Worcester, MA, for wonderful evening of friendship and to watch a ballgame. President Rodney Acker and his wife Judy flew up from Dallas to attend. Past President Joan Lukey also attended. Everyone in attendance had a great time and enjoyed getting to see Fellows that they haven’t been able to be with in over a year. The Fellows are hoping to make this an annual event.
Fellows recently enjoyed their first opportunity for an in-person event, at an outdoor location on a beautiful summer evening. Regent Greg Lederer attended and provided kind words and inspiration. The Fellows also remembered Fellow Brian O’Neil, who died during the past year.
Missouri has plans for two public assistance lawyers seminars in October, one in St. Louis and second in Kansas City. There are also plans for additional seminars to be presented by the Missouri female Fellows that will be directed toward female trial lawyers.
Fellow Tammy Peterson has organized a committee to work on a Boot Camp Trial Program with Paul Sandler, who chairs the national Boot Camp committee. Although COVID has presented some obstacles, the committee plans to present this program in 2022.
In January 2021, the Chapter issued a press statement denouncing the January 6 attack on the Capitol and those who sowed distrust in the November election. In February, the New England Regional Trial Competition was held at UNH Law School in Concord, NH. In all, 35 Fellows participated as judges in the three-day competition, eight of whom were from New Hampshire.
On May 13, 2021, the State Committee hosted a virtual event to bestow the annual Frank Dee Award on FACTL Michael Griffinger. His partner, FACTL Lawrence Lustberg, spoke movingly about Mike. President Rodney Acker joined the meeting and updated the attendees on College business.
New York – Downstate
In June 2021, the Committee presented a virtual fireside chat with Past President Bob Fiske. Bob, who has had a fascinating career, was interviewed about his life by Fellow David Paul, who will be one of the hosts of the College’s podcast series in the coming year. Regent Larry Krantz and Downstate NY Chair Rich Strassberg conducted a live Q&A session on Zoom for the Fellows in attendance.
Fellow Brian Beverly, a recent inductee, graciously volunteered to speak on judicial independence with NC Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson as part of the joint initiative between ACTL and the National Association of Women Judges. They spoke to a Rotary chapter in Raleigh with about 80 attendees and many questions. It was a great success.
Fellow David Freedman, another new inductee, will speak at the Spring 2022 meeting of the North Carolina Chapter with Jim Cooney, a longtime Fellow, on an interesting case receiving national publicity that involved a challenge to a North Carolina district attorney. David and Jim represented opposite parties.
The Committee plans to hold its next annual meeting March 17–20, 2022 in Charleston, SC starting with a reception Thursday evening, educational sessions Friday and Saturday mornings with free time in the afternoons, and evening functions Friday and Saturday.
On August 6, Fellows produced the one-day Boot Camp Trial Training Program in Oklahoma City at the Western District of Oklahoma United States Courthouse. Working with Boot Camp Committee Chair Paul Sandler and three federal and state judges, multiple Oklahoma Fellows presented opening statements, direct and cross examination, and closing statements from the Rosenberg Spy Trial. It was an in-person program with 100 in attendance and many more on a wait list. Feedback from young lawyers confirmed this was a rewarding experience and our Fellows had a great time participating. For states that have not yet produced a Boot Camp Trial Training Program, the Fellows highly recommend reaching out to Paul Sandler.
On July 15, 2021, the Fellows held a summer gathering at the Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh which was attended by President Rodney Acker, Regent Katie Recker, State Vice Chair John McShea and four Judicial Fellows, three from the federal bench and one from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Fellow John Gismondi (Pittsburgh) agreed to serve as the mentoring liaison and has already made substantial progress by working with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to consider drafting a policy statement encouraging firms to have more junior lawyers participate in all facets of courtroom proceedings and working with the ACLU and Public Defender groups to present continuing education programs to public defenders and other public sector attorneys throughout the state.
Working with the Administrative Office for Pennsylvania Courts, state Fellows have developed and will present this fall three continuing education programs to judges statewide to assist in fulfilling part of their CLE requirements. Separate programs will be presented on Privileges, in both the civil and criminal context, Eminent Domain and Land Valuation, and Expert Witnesses. Each of the three programs will be four hours in length.
The State Committee, led by the efforts of John McShea, issued a statement criticizing a study that purported to use mathematical models to reveal racially unbalanced sentencing patterns with certain federal judges.
The Fellows just fulfilled a $100,000 pledge to the U.S.C. School of Law in consideration of naming rights for a seminar room at the Law School. Over the course of this year, Fellows will be furnishing the room and decorating it with information and memorabilia concerning the College and its South Carolina Fellows. This classroom with the College’s name on it will provide very positive visibility at the state’s primary law school for many years to come.
Pandemic permitting, the Fellows from Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee are in the planning stages for a joint meeting in Memphis that will include a day long CLE mock trial presentation.
The Fellows hosted their annual Summer Luncheon live at the Dallas Country Club on July 2, 2021. Approximately 45 Fellows from around the state attended (in spite of air travel from Dallas to Houston being cancelled because of airline operational issues). Regent Lyn Pruitt attended, gave remarks, and was presented with a gift of recognition in appreciation for her service. Fellow George Chapman gave an entertaining rendition of Atticus Finch’s closing argument from To Kill a Mockingbird.
The Fellows were heavily involved in defeating proposed legislation which would have reduced the right to a 12-person jury in civil jury trials to a 6-person jury.
Access to Justice and Legal Services
The Committee is actively supporting the work of the Pro Bono Fellows, and looks to encourage all members of the College to provide names of additional Fellows who might qualify for selection. In addition, the Committee is working to promote support among all Fellows for increased and stable LSC funding, the provision of additional resources to the organizations who serve low-income individuals, and to provide information and resources to support organizations such as the Innocence Project, NLADA, and Immigration Crises Solution groups.
Advocacy in the 21st Century
The Committee continues to follow the responses of the justice system to the challenges presented by the pandemic and to determine which of those responses should survive the pandemic. The Committee is preparing a short survey of Fellows to learn their experience with remote video technology and thoughts about the use of remote video technology in the future. The results of that survey will lead to the creation of a position statement on the College’s views of the future of remote technology in our court system.
The Committee has submitted its final draft of a presentation on attorney-client relationships to provide guidance to in-house counsel. Once finalized by the National Office, the presentation will be available for Fellows' use.
Beverley McLachlin Access to Justice Award
After completing its investigation of and deliberation concerning many impressive candidates, the Committee submitted a nominee for consideration.
Boot Camp Trial Training Programs
The Committee is presenting the one-day boot camp trial training program in many cities throughout the United States and Canada; if you are interested in helping to coordinate a program in your jurisdiction, please contact the Committee Chair Paul Sandler at email@example.com
The Committee has been busy working on two major projects; updating the popular Anatomy of a Patent Trial treatise, which has been completed, and completing work on a treatise concerning use of Electronic Evidence. The Electronic Evidence treatise has been accepted for publication by Bloomberg.
Federal Civil Procedure
The Committee plans to review proposed Rule 87 addressing judicial emergencies and consider providing public comment between now and the expiration of the public comment period on February 16, 2022.
The Committee also plans to monitor the Advisory Committee’s consideration of a proposed amendment to Rule 9(b) which would allow conditions of the mind such as malice, intent and knowledge to be averred “without setting forth the facts or circumstances from which the conditions may be inferred.” Depending on the status of discussions at the Advisory Committee meeting on October 5, the Committee plans to determine whether the College should provide input to the Advisory Committee during its consideration of the proposed amendment in advance of publication for public comment.
Federal Criminal Procedure
The Committee is finalizing a guide for state and federal prosecutors to provide best practices to help them comply with their Brady and Giglio obligations, with the goal of a fair trial, and helping prosecutors avoid uncomfortable and unnecessary problems and accusations.
Federal Rules of Evidence
The Chair and other members continue to attend meetings of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence, including the virtual meeting held April 30. The Advisory Committee reviewed potential amendments and revisions to Rules 702 (testimony by expert witnesses), 106 (remainder of or related writings or recorded statements) and 615 (exclusion of witnesses), and discussed other topics for consideration. The Committee has received feedback from the Reporter to the Committee that the College’s participation is valued.
The Committee continues work on its white paper regarding attempts by the courts and parties to streamline trials, focusing on the intended and unintended consequences of those approaches.
At the request of the Chair of the Complex Litigation Committee, the Committee provided comments regarding Complex Litigation’s draft treatise on Digital Evidence.
Canada’s premier bilingual law school mooting competition, the Gale Cup Moot, will return to an in-person format for 2022 and will be held on March 3 and 4. For the first time in its 48-year history, the competition will be held in Ottawa. Chief Justice Wagner has graciously agreed to preside over the competition’s final round, which will take place in the main courtroom of the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Committee is forging ahead with interviewing senior Fellows. The Committee will attempt to provide articles regarding these Fellows for each of the Journals.
After conducting a survey of Fellows regarding its new teaching abroad program, a subcommittee of 15 Fellows has been formed and met September 1. The Committee is also co-sponsoring, along with the Bootcamp Committee, a trial advocacy program in London for young barristers and Fellows who wish to attend.
Working with the Pennsylvania State Committee in an effort led by Fellow John McShea, the Committee assisted with the issuance of a statement by certain Pennsylvania Fellows joining the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Federal Defender and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in repudiating a study that purported to use mathematical models to reveal racially unbalanced sentencing patterns with certain federal judges.
National Moot Court Competition
The Committee seeks to engage committee members to act as judges and recruit judges for the competitions in their regions. The Committee is also working to improve the functioning of the competition and to increase the number of schools that participate.
National Trial Competition
The National Trial Competition was held virtually this year in April 2021 via Zoom for the first time. The winning team was from UCLA. In 2022 the host schools will likely determine whether to conduct the Regional Competitions virtually or in-person. The National Competition, which the Committee is hoping to conduct in-person, is scheduled for March 30–April 3, 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Committee is contributing to efforts to reduce mass incarceration in the US by encouraging the Department of Justice to expand federal pretrial diversion in criminal cases. Fellow Chuck Diamond authored a moving paper encouraging US Attorneys to invest aggressively in diversion as an alternative to criminal conviction. A number of committee members assisted in finalizing the paper, and it was joined in by the Federal Criminal Procedure Committee.
The Sopinka Cup Trial Advocacy Competition, sponsored in part by the ACTL, is tentatively scheduled to proceed in-person in Ottawa on March 18 and 19, 2022. The planning committee is positioned to proceed with the competition virtually if needed.
Teaching of Trial and Appellate Advocacy
A subcommittee is working to promote the use of the College’s many training videos by raising awareness of their existence and how they can be used to mentor young lawyers and teach trial and appellate advocacy. The Committee plans to use the College’s new Learning Management System to organize and disseminate those videos and other digital content.
The outgoing Chair and other Committee members will present a one-hour virtual seminar using Civility videos created by Fellows which focus on the importance of lawyers developing their own personal style, reputation and brand for promoting civility.
The Committee is working on promoting and supporting Fellows to present flexible trial advocacy programs in law schools, ranging from short lectures and demonstrations on trial segments to fuller trial advocacy programs.
The Committee is also working to find audiences on virtual platforms for regular ongoing trial advocacy training programs, ranging from civility to deposition training to lectures, demonstrations and training on direct examination, cross-examination and opening and closing statements.
Thurgood Marshall Equality and Justice Award
The Thurgood Marshall Equality and Justice Award Committee, formed in the Fall of 2020 to honor those who through their courage and fortitude stood steadfast in their passionate pursuit of equal justice, will present its inaugural award during the College’s 2021 Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois posthumously to the late, the Honorable John Lewis. The Award will be accepted in person by John-Miles Lewis, son of the great Honorable John Lewis.