Why We Should All Be Proud of the Emil Gumpert Award
Some of you have probably heard me say before that the Emil Gumpert Award is the crown jewel of our beloved College. At $100,000, it is, of course, our largest and therefore most impactful award. Beyond that, it is a testament to the extraordinary work year after year of the Emil Gumpert Award Committee. The due diligence undertaken annually by the Committee allows the trustees of your ACTL Foundation Board to feel confident that your contributions are being well spent in funding this Award.
This year’s recipient, the Arizona Justice Project (“AJP”) is a stellar example of a long line of impressive Gumpert Award winners. The AJP was founded about twenty-three ago by the late Larry Hammond, who was himself an ACTL Access to Justice Distinguished Pro Bono Fellow, which speaks volumes about the man Larry was. Throughout the life of the AJP, a number of Fellows, who happen to be devoted to the Colleges missions of “access to justice, and fair and just representation of all parties to legal proceedings,” have enthusiastically embraced the AJP’s work. Here is what the AJP is all about:
In 1993, the Arizona legislature enacted a “Truth in Sentencing” law that abolished parole with regard to the governing actions of the Arizona Department of Corrections (“ADOC”) for any convictions occurring on or after January 1, 1994. But, because the statute did not expressly refer to the state’s Criminal Code and criminal court proceedings, lawyers continued to recommend to their clients, and courts continued to enter sentences of, “life without possibility of parole for 25 years.” In 2017, by which time convicted murderer Abelardo Chapparo had served more than twenty years, the ADOC informed him that he would not be parole eligible after serving twenty-five years, or for that matter, ever. Based upon the 1993 statute, the ADOC had belatedly determined to write out of Mr. Chapparo’s sentence the words “for 25 years,” thereby converting the sentence to one of “life without possibility of parole.” The AJP, through a team that included several Fellows, challenged that ruling and succeeded in the Arizona Supreme Court, which held, “[r]egardless of [the Truth in Sentencing statute], Chaparro is eligible for parole after serving 25 years pursuant to his sentence . . . ."
The dedicated lawyers who volunteer their time through the AJP believe that the holding in Chaparro v. Shinn applies to at least one thousand similarly situated inmates who entered identical pleas and received identical sentences between enactment of the 1993 statute and the ADOC’s erroneous denial of Mr. Chaparro’s request for parole. They work tirelessly to ensure that all qualified inmates receive fair and just parole hearings when their turn comes. The $100,000 Gumpert Award will allow them to hire additional staff to help initiate and coordinate the parole and clemency proceedings to which the affected inmates are entitled.
Kudos to all of the Fellows and other attorneys who have devoted, and continue to devote, their time and their passion to this program. And, kudos to all of you who contribute to the Foundation that funds it. If you aren’t among that esteemed group yet, now would be a wonderful time to start!
Because justice can’t wait . . .
Joan A. Lukey
Access to Justice and Legal Services
The Committee is addressing the impact of COVID on agencies providing legal services, continuing funding for legal services, moving forward the Pro Bono Fellows project and services, and expanding collaboration with legal aid organizations both in the U.S. and Canada. The Committee is looking for additional Fellows who may qualify as Distinguished Pro Bono Fellows, as well as funding support for organizations such as the Innocence Project, NLADA and Immigration Crisis Solution groups.
Advocacy in the 21st Century
The following six White Papers were submitted and approved at the Spring Board of Regents meeting:
- Issues to be Considered When Preparing for and Conducting a Civil Jury Trial During the Pandemic
- Ongoing Constitutional Challenges to the Criminal Justice System as a Result of the Covid-19 Pandemic
- Conducting Appellate Arguments by Use of Remote Video
- Conducting Nonjury Trials by Use of Remote Video
- Remote Proceeding Advocacy
- Remote Video Depositions and Examinations for Discovery
The Committee has also prepared Overarching Principles Applicable to Civil Trials and
Conducting Remote Hearings by Use of Remote Video. To view all White Papers click here.
An important Committee initiative is to gather information from sources in Canada and the United States that address the need for technological and case management changes in the court systems of both countries. Another project is to continue interviewing judges and lawyers regarding their experience with conducting civil jury trials during the pandemic.
Attorney Client Relationships
The Committee has finalized a PowerPoint presentation describing various privilege issues frequently encountered by clients and their lawyers. It is expected that this will be an excellent training tool for both lawyers and clients. The Committee is also preparing a presentation or white paper on advanced conflict waivers in engagement matters.
Boot Camp Trial Training Program
The Committee has converted its full day program to virtual presentations. Following its success in Salt Lake City with over 250 young lawyers participating, the Committee held a second virtual program for young lawyers in Cincinnati. Over 180 young lawyers were in attendance, along with a faculty of 32 Fellows and members of the Bench.
The Committee has been busy updating its popular practice guide Anatomy of a Patent Trial. The Committee is also finalizing work on a treatise concerning use of Electronic Evidence. The Committee held focus groups with several federal judges to solicit their input on the treatise, and publisher Bloomberg has agreed to proceed.
Federal Criminal Procedure
In December 2020 the Committee issued a statement condemning federal executions occurring in the last months of 2020 while the pandemic limited counsel’s ability to properly represent death row clients. The Committee is currently working on a white paper to create concrete guidance on Brady/Giglio issues to enhance fairness of criminal proceedings.
Gale Cup Moot Court Competition (Canada)
This year’s Gale Cup Moot, one of Canada’s premier mooting competitions, was held virtually on February 26 and 27. President Rodney Acker presented the Dickson Medal to the moot’s exceptional oralists. In 2022, the moot will be moved to Ottawa and renamed the “Abella-Gale Moot” in honor of Supreme Court of Canada Justice (and Honorary Fellow) Rosalie Abella.
In 2020, members of the Heritage Committee interviewed by video a number of prominent Fellows who have been leaders in the College, and have more Zoom interviews planned for 2021. The Committee also forwarded to the Journal articles for publication based upon some of its interviews.
The Committee is exploring a variety of projects for international teaching and related activities in countries around the world. The Committee is busy planning the Pacific Judicial Institute Seminar for January or November 2022. The Committee is also exploring teaching opportunities in Eastern Europe. Finally, as a follow up to the successful seminar in the British Virgin Islands in November 2018, leadership from BVI and attendees asked for a return event with the College, which the Committee hopes to hold in 2021 or 2022.
The launch of the Public Education Program is the most prominent current feature of the Committee’s work. Designed to inform adult lay audiences about the Constitution and the Judicial Branch, the project began in early 2020, when the College entered into a collaboration with the National Association of Women Judges. Fellows in Southern California, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, and Washington recruited local Fellows to give the presentations. The COVID pandemic meant that the program would begin online, so the Committee revised the visual presentation and expanded its emphasis on the Judicial Branch, and made several presentations last fall. All of the materials are posted on the Judicial Independence Committee page on the College’s website.
The presentation has four major segments: the purpose, structure and supremacy of the United States Constitution and the parallel federal and state court systems; the distinction between the Judicial Branch and the representative branches; the most important criteria in selecting judges; and recent state legislative assaults on the judiciary. Fellows are encouraged to add local color about their particular state.
A wide range of audiences, including the League of Women Voters and other civic groups, have received these opening presentations, which encourage audience participation and can be adapted to the sophistication of the audience. The goal for 2021 is to have presentations in 10 states in early May, as part of the traditional Law Week celebration, and another 10 presentations in the fall when Constitution Day is celebrated.
The Committee also assisted in drafting a letter to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in response to an attack on the Court following its ruling in four election-related cases. Ralph Weber, state chair of Wisconsin, brought this attack to our attention. Justices Brian Hagedorn, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky faced harassing messages and threats. Justices Dallet and Karofsky were subjected to a wave of anti-Semitic comments. President Acker and our fellow committee members Howard Matz and retired federal judge Nancy Gertner offered valuable insights in evaluating and answering this attack on the Wisconsin Justices. To view public statements issued by the Wisconsin State Committee and other states working on judicial independence matters click here.
The Committee is soliciting names of creative federal and state judges who may be willing to consider the Model Jury Instructions set forth in the Committee’s recent White Paper Improving Jury Deliberations Through Jury Instructions Based on Cognitive Science
National Moot Court Competition (U.S.)
The semifinal and final rounds of the competition were held virtually the week of February 1. President Acker and Hon. Ann Donnelly, a Judicial Fellow, judged the final round, along with an esteemed panel of state judges, federal judges, and practitioners. The Committee has formed a long range planning subcommittee, tasked with recruitment of additional schools for the competition and promoting more engagement with Fellows.
National Trial Competition (U.S.)
Regional trial competitions in 15 Regions across the country were held in February, all remotely. While online is clearly inferior to being in the courtroom, one positive aspect is that recruiting judges for the competition has been easier than in the past. The National Trial Competition finals will be held virtually April 8–10, 2021. President Acker will preside over the final round on Saturday, April 10th.
The Committee recently conducted a technology audit to determine whether the College is using its database appropriately, whether the database is interacting well with the ACTL website and its platform, and whether the website is appropriately serving Fellows. The Committee concluded that while these functions were performing well, there was room for improvement and made suggestions to the Board and staff.
The Committee is also working to encourage State and Province Committees, and the membership, to use ACTL Connected. It offers many benefits, including easy communications, storage of agendas, meeting minutes and emails, and a way for future committees to view the work of past committees.
The Committee is working on the development of the external profile of the College. To that end, the Committee has been identifying and preparing a compilation of virtual Zoom-based CLE programs involving ACTL Fellows that have been offered across the country. The Committee plans to distribute that compilation, entitled “ACTL Fellow Engagement in Pandemic Busting Programs,” this spring.
In cooperation with the Communications Committee, the Committee has formed a sub-committee for College podcasts, and that project is expected to move forward in 2021.
The Committee is working to employ the significant influence of the ACTL to assist with issues concerning how the pandemic has impacted the training and funding for public defenders’ offices nationwide, as well as the trend of pretrial detainees and lawyers and staff in defender offices not receiving vaccines, which are critically necessary in guaranteeing the right to access trial in criminal cases.
Sopinka Cup Trial Advocacy Competition (Canada)
The Sopinka Cup Trial Advocacy Competition sponsored by the ACTL is Canada’s most prestigious National trial advocacy competition. This year, the competition was held virtually in March. Members of the Committee participated as judges, assessors, and feedback providers in the new virtual environment.
Special Problems in the Administration of Justice (U.S.)
The Committee has been very active and is now winding up its representation of veterans in the VA delay litigation. In its last case, the Committee prevailed on behalf of its client, a widow who battled nearly seven years after the VA denied Agent-Orange-related disability benefits to her now deceased husband, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. A remand by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to the Veterans’ Court Board resulted finally in the granting of the widow’s claim that her deceased husband’s injury and death were connected to his service and exposure to Agent-Orange.
Special Problems in the Administration of Justice (Canada)
The Committee is working on a long-term project that embraces the Pandemic’s positive effects on the administration of justice. The Committee is gathering material in preparation for “A Practical Guide to Best Practices for Canadian Litigators Post-Pandemic.”
Teaching of Trial and Appellate Advocacy
The Committee’s top priority is increasing Fellows’ awareness of the Committee’s many training videos and how they can easily be used to teach young lawyers, and to encourage State and Province Chairs to use or integrate them into live seminars in their local jurisdictions.
The Committee is also planning to present a Diversity Trial Advocacy Program on an annual basis, in Chicago. The program is designed to contribute meaningfully to the development of outstanding trial lawyers from diverse backgrounds, and to attract in-house counsel. The Committee also hopes to find a partner who would be willing to distribute videos of the Diversity program’s presentations and related materials to lawyers across the country.
Thurgood Marshall Equality and Justice Award
This Committee was formed in the Fall of 2020, and has identified its inaugural award recipient for this distinguished honor. The Committee unanimously decided to recognize the late Honorable John Lewis, a decision that was made prior to his passing. The Committee was successful in obtaining the Lewis family’s acceptance on behalf of the late Congressman, and that ceremony will take place at the 2021 Annual Meeting.
The Committee conducted the annual Jenckes trial competition between the University of Arizona and Arizona State virtually in November. The Arizona Fellows also conducted their state-wide meeting virtually. Planning is underway for a fall in-person seminar to be presented by Fellows and Judges.
In October 2021, the Arkansas Fellows, along with Fellows from Mississippi and Tennessee, are planning a one-day mock trial at the University of Memphis School of Law. The trial will center on the 1963 Massachusetts prosecution of Roy Smith for the strangulation murder of Betsy Goldberg. Fellows from all three states will participate as prosecutors, defense counsel and witnesses.
In November, the Colorado Fellows conducted a well-attended virtual CLE. On August 26-28, 2021 the Fellows will be hosting the Tenth Circuit Regional Meeting in Vail.
In January, State Committee members welcomed newly inducted Fellows with a virtual cocktail party over Zoom.
As part of its outreach efforts, the Committee is working on presenting a trial training CLE, and is also working to address attacks on the judiciary by a disgruntled litigant.
The Committee is planning a Black Tie Dinner to be held in Atlanta in August, Covid considerations permitting.
The Committee recently held a Zoom happy hour to reconnect the Kansas Fellows. Approximately one third of the Kansas Fellows attended, along with Regent Dan Folluo, and several spouses of Fellows. Based on the success of this event, the Committee intends to plan additional virtual happy hours.
Kentucky Fellows Jonathan Freed and Doug Morris have organized an ethics seminar for the 2021 virtual Kentucky Bar Convention. The Committee also is evaluating whether it can safely conduct a proposed trial skills training program for Legal Aid attorneys in September of 2021.
The Fellows will be hosting a regional meeting in New Orleans on April 22-23, 2022 at the Windsor Court.
The Committee has reconnected with the Law Society of Manitoba to revive a comprehensive weekend teaching program designed for all Manitoba litigators. Fellows also participated as faculty members in the recent Criminal Defense Lawyers two day conference.
The Chapter has been working with the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court and the Essex County Bar Association to provide a statewide mediation program to help reduce the backlog of civil cases. To date, nearly 40 Fellows have volunteered to participate in this initiative, which has received widespread support from the trial bar and state court judges.
The Committee is planning two public interest seminars to be held in St. Louis and Kansas City. In addition, the Committee has in the works a fall seminar featuring female Fellows directed to younger female practitioners, also to be held in both cities.
In February, the Committee sent a letter to the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee urging that it reject changes designed to bypass merits-based vetting of judicial candidates in favor of direct application to the Governor.
New York Downstate
The Committee hosted a virtual fireside chat with EDNY Judge Leo Glasser, who, at 96 years young, is still going strong. Regent Larry Krantz conducted a fascinating exchange with Judge Glasser, who described his life both in and outside the law to a virtual audience of more than 50 attendees. Due to the favorable reception of this event, the Committee plans to host additional virtual fireside chats throughout 2021.
The Annual Ontario Fellows Dinner will occur in Toronto, Ontario, in May or June, pandemic rules permitting. The Province Committee will present the brand new David W. Scott (former President of the College) Award at the annual dinner.
The Committee is working with Judges and trial lawyers to minimize the impact of implicit bias in jury trials.
The Committee continues its collaboration with Temple University Beasley School of Law, presenting in December a four hour CLE program titled “Masters of Litigation.” The Committee also continues to work with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to develop a series of CLE programs to be presented to judges across the state in fulfillment of their continuing education requirements.
The Committee is organizing a tri-state CLE program for Fellows from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, which will be held at the University of Memphis Law School on Friday, October 29, 2021. This will be a full day mock trial, based on the Boston Strangler Murder Case. All three states will be invited to visit Memphis, savor real southern Bar-B-Q ribs, enjoy a night on the town in Beale Street, and tour Graceland.
The Committee wrote to the Chief Justice, with copies to all state and Wisconsin federal judges, supporting her condemnation of threats and anti-Semitic slurs sent to her fellow justices following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in the election challenges.
Gale Cup Moot, Saturday, February 27, 2021: President Acker attended the virtual awards ceremony of the Gale Cup Competition, the premiere Canadian Moot Court competition. The event became known as the Gale Cup in 1974, and the College began awarding a medal at the event, the Dickson Medal, in 1991. This year the College elevated its support of the event to become a lead co-sponsor along with The Criminal Lawyers Association. Brian Gover, Chair of the College’s Gale Cup Committee, was very involved in organizing the event.
President Acker joined the Zoom ceremony from his hotel room in Newport Beach, where he was staying for the Spring Meeting.
He offered a welcome and greetings from the College, a discussion of the College and what it takes to become a Fellow, and a history of the College’s involvement with the competition.
President Acker and Judy were disappointed not to be in Toronto for the event and visit with former President Jeff Leon and his wife Carol. He was very pleased however to be able to participate virtually in this event especially in the first year the College was a co-sponsor with the Criminal Lawyers’ Association in Canada. He and Judy hope to attend next year in person.
National Moot Court Competition, Thursday, February 4, 2021: President Acker attended and participated in the judging for the 71st National Moot Court Competition, which was conducted virtually for the first time. The competition is a premier College event co-sponsored with the New York City Bar Association's National Moot Court Committee.
In lieu of personal meetings before the event, President Acker called and introduced himself to the President of the New York City Bar Association, Sheila Boston of Arnold & Porter, as well as most of the judges who sat on the panel for the Finals: Hon. Denny Chin of the 2nd Circuit, Hon. Paul Feinman, New York State Court of Appeals, Hon. Ann Donnelly, a judicial Fellow from the EDNY, and Hon. Katharine Parker, a federal Magistrate Judge from the SDNY.
Not surprisingly, the problem involved a pandemic, and claims around an allegedly defective vaccine and representations regarding its safety. Both teams did an excellent job and the voting was close on everyone’s ballots. Interestingly, the team who won Best Brief was beaten by the team who won the argument.
After the winner was announced, the winning team was identified as Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles, and the runner up was Texas Tech University. The Fulton Haight Award for Best Oralist and $2500 grant from the College was awarded to Jillian Dwyer of Loyola, and William Langford of Texas Tech was awarded the Runner Up Best Oralist.
While certainly not the in-person experience President Acker had hoped for, he still enjoyed the experience and thought the New York City Bar Association's National Moot Court Committee did a great job for its first (and hopefully only) virtual contest.
Sopinka Cup, Saturday, March 20th, 2021: President Acker attended virtually the awards ceremony of the 22nd Sopinka Cup Competition. The Sopinka Cup is the premiere Canadian trial competition, originated by the College and other friends and colleagues to honor Canadian Supreme Court Justice and Fellow John Sopinka following his untimely death in 1997. The first competition was held in 1999 and it is administered by The Advocates' Society.
Chairman of the Sopinka Cup Committee for The Advocates' Society, Fellow Ken McCullogh, along with his committee did an excellent job organizing the virtual competition and it went off without a hitch. President Acker was able to watch one of the semifinal rounds, in addition to joining the awards ceremony, and found the student performances to be superb. Rodney was also able to spend some time via Zoom with Ken, The Advocates Society President FACTL Guy Pratte, and Justice Sopinka’s daughter Justice Melanie Sopinka. President Acker enjoyed his time with the group and especially enjoyed sharing stories about former ACTL President David Scott with Guy.
The competition Assessors had a particularly difficult time deciding the winners. President Acker was quite impressed that the Canadians all made their remarks in both English and French. Ken was the Master of Ceremonies for the awards, and first introduced Chief Justice Wagner whose remarks about Justice Sopinka and the competition were delivered with the same flair as his previous comments at College national meetings. Next was a short video on Justice Sopinka which included stories from both his brother and a close friend from the Supreme Court. President Acker found the video to be an interesting biography of a remarkable man who led a diverse and fascinating life. Following the video, Justice Melanie Sopinka spoke about her recollections of her father in what must be quite an emotional moment for her every year. Following Justice Sopinka, President Acker delivered a welcome and greetings from the College, talked about the College and what it takes to become a Fellow, described the history of the College’s involvement with the competition and the importance to the College of honoring Justice Sopinka. The final speaker was FACTL Guy Pratte who provided remarks about his relationship with Justice Sopinka and the importance of the competition to The Advocates Society.
The awards ceremony concluded with Justice Sopinka announcing the winners. First Place winner was the University of Ottawa, Second Place went to the University of Alberta, and the University of Manitoba took third.
Although President Acker was disappointed not to make his first trip to Ottawa, he and Judy hope to visit in the near future, perhaps for next year’s competition.
The College has been notified of the passing of the Fellows listed below. The date after each name notes the year of induction into the College, and the date following the state or province is the date of his or her passing. A tribute to each will appear in the In Memoriam section of a subsequent issue of the Journal.
Robert S. Warren, ’74, San Marino, February 13, 2021
William R. Davis, ’75, Hartford, February 9, 2021
Bobby Lee Cook, ’95, Summerville, February 19, 2021
Terry C. Sullivan, ’93, Atlanta, January 16, 2021
Illinois – Upstate
James B. Burns, ’95, Chicago, December 10, 2020
Richard C. Roberts, ’84, Paducah, March 25, 2021
Bernard C. Brinker. ’89, Saint Louis, February 21, 2021
Kenneth H. Reid, ’79, Springfield, January 7, 2016
George N. Arvanitis, ’82, Eatontown, February 17, 2021
New York - Downstate
Paul J. Bschorr, ’81, New York City, February 21, 2021
Thomas S. Calder, ’86, Cincinnati, February 25, 2021
John Czarnecki, ’02, Toledo, January 9, 2021
Gordon W. Gerber, ’75, Philadelphia, February 23, 2021
Robert D. Laing, ’88, Saskatoon, October 10, 2020
Hugh P. Garner, ’87, Signal Mountain, February 10, 2021
Robert L. Green, ’77, Memphis, January 24, 2021
Charles H. Warfield, ’91, Nashville, February 19, 2020
D. Gary Christian, ’83, Santa Clara, January 4, 2021
Peter W. Hall, ’97, Rutland, March 11, 2021
John R. Tomlinson, ’83, Seattle, March 22, 2021