What a difference a year makes! This time last year we were concluding a very successful meeting in Vancouver and looking forward to an expanded 70th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, D.C. Well … best laid plans as they say.
As usual, the National Office staff did an excellent job preparing for the Annual Meeting with a planned reception at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a black-tie Induction Ceremony at the National Building Museum. Annual Meetings usually average about 525 Fellows, plus spouses and guests, and we expected an even larger crowd for our 2020 Annual Meeting & 70th Anniversary Celebration in D.C.
When the Executive Committee reluctantly decided that 1,000-plus Fellows and guests could not safely (or legally in D.C.) gather, the decision was made to hold our first virtual meeting. Under the leadership of President Doug Young, Executive Director Dennis Maggi, and Senior Meetings and Conference Manager Suzanne Alsnauer, the staff quickly pivoted to make it happen, and it happened more successfully than any of us could have hoped. It turned out to be a meeting of many firsts. Our speakers were uniformly agreeable and helpful in becoming our first virtual speakers, and we were able to cover a wide range of current topics. Click here to view our list of speakers.
Of course, what we missed was the in person Fellowship, a quality we know is what primarily draws Fellows to our national meetings. There will be more on that subject in the coming months as we discuss the results of a Fellow Engagement survey in our attempt to better understand and improve Fellow involvement in the College. But while we could not gather in person, we had more than 670 Fellows register to virtually attend our Annual Meeting, more than the number who likely would have attended in-person. Hopefully we will never have another virtual meeting, but if the virtual experience leads some Fellows who haven’t attended a national meeting in a while to return in person when we meet in Maui next March for the Spring Meeting, so much the better.
Another first was our virtual induction ceremony where we welcomed 96 new Fellows into the College. Unique to this event, the Induction Charge was delivered through a recording of Founder and Chancellor Emil Gumpert, who wrote the charge and delivered it first in 1951 and every year thereafter until his death in 1982.
Of course, carrying on the mission of the College is our primary goal. That task has proved more challenging since we last met in person in Tucson for the Spring Meeting. Our general committees would normally have met in person at our national meetings, but they met virtually for the first time the week before the Annual Meeting. The Board of Regents also met virtually for two days prior to the Annual Meeting, during which time they approved 55 new candidates for admission as Fellows.
In addition to the ongoing work of our existing committees, there were several new initiatives and projects this past year that merit mention:
Under President Young’s leadership, the Equality and Justice Award was created by a new committee of that name. We hope to announce the first recipient in 2021.
The College created a new committee on Advocacy in the 21st Century (the result of a Task Force led by Regent John Day). If you haven’t read the seven sets of interim guidelines on best practices in civil proceedings posted by this committee on the College website, I highly recommend it. Click here to link to the Interim Guidelines.
The Teaching of Trial and Appellate Advocacy Committee has developed new programs for teaching and training diverse trial lawyers. The Committee had scheduled the first Diversity in the Courtroom program in Chicago, but unfortunately it was postponed because of the pandemic. The program has tentatively been rescheduled to next May.
Last year the College created a committee on Judicial Independence that was an outgrowth of a 2005 Ad Hoc Committee chaired by Past President Byman. The Committee published the 2019 White Paper entitled The Need to Promote and Defend Fair and Impartial Courts, and publicly commented on national and local attacks on the judiciary by both parties.
For a history of the College’s efforts on judicial independence see “Who Shall Lead The Defense,” in the current issue of the Journal
. As you could expect in the current political climate, the Committee and several state and province committees have been very active in responding to attacks on the judiciary by politicians from both parties. The Committee has also undertaken the formation of an educational program in connection with the National Association of Women Judges to increase understanding of the dangers posed to judicial independence. The programs will be focused initially on presentations to civic groups with a possible future school component. The Committee is looking for Fellows to assist in putting on programs in ten states, and you can contact Chair Buddy Wester to volunteer, JWester@robinsonbradshaw.com
Like our profession as a whole, the College faces significant challenges in our effort to further our core missions of maintaining and improving the administration of justice and supporting an independent judiciary, trial by jury, respect for the rule of law, access to justice, and fair and just representation of all parties to legal proceedings. I am confident that the College can meet these challenges. It will also prove challenging in the coming year to identify new candidates for Fellowship when many of the interactions between Fellows and potential candidates are now virtual. I hope you will all be vigilant in identifying trial lawyers who meet the high standards of the College.
I am honored to become the 70th President of the College. While it may take a while, Judy and I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones when it is safe to travel. In the meantime, we will continue to gather virtually. Hopefully, we will see you in Maui next March.
"The passing of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. Ruth Bader Ginsburg represents the loss of an Honorary Fellow who was a true advocate, an exceptional jurist, a trailblazer, and a champion of access to justice. She wanted to be remembered as 'someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability,’ and indeed she did. Her talents as a trial and appellate lawyer and a justice leave an extraordinary legacy.”
~ President Acker
If you registered for last week’s Annual Meeting, and you missed any part of the General Session or Induction Ceremony, or simply want to re-watch some of the speakers, the presentations are available to view now at your convenience.
We are still accepting registrations if you would like to have access to all four days of exceptional programing. Contact the National Office if you have misplaced the link or your username and password.
The College proudly announces the creation of its new Equality and Justice Award which will honor persons who have fought for equality and justice and against racism. The award, to be presented from time to time whenever worthy recipients are identified, will recognize those who have been champions of justice and equality in all forms, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
In announcing the award, Regents Joe R. Caldwell, Jr. and Richard H. Deane, Jr. who co-chaired the committee that determined its parameters, observed:
“Recurring issues of race and inequality are again at the forefront of our public discourse. Both the U.S. and Canada have long grappled with these issues through much of our history. Now, the tragic deaths of George Floyd and too many others have again put a spotlight on injustices and inequalities that continue to plague our pursuit of equality and justice for all... The College wishes to recognize champions who have fought for equality and justice and against racism in keeping with standards for such an award to be established by the College."
ACTL President Douglas R. Young said, "This new award is more than just a public statement; it represents a significant and lasting commitment to equality and justice. Each time the award is considered and each time it is presented will be a reminder that all persons are worthy of respect and equal access to justice in our societies."
The award will be named after a visionary leader whose name will represent vision, courage, and incomparable dedication and commitment to the struggle for equality and justice. The College expects the first award to be made in 2021.
Please share any efforts you or other Fellows have taken to address the unique challenges in your jurisdiction posed by inequalities in the justice system, COVID-19, or other significant issues, by sending examples to Communications Committee Chair Pat Lowry, email@example.com.
In addition to the activities mentioned by President Acker in his letter above, Fellows have been furthering our mission in the following ways:
The Alabama Fellows have scheduled a half-day program for the Alabama Circuit and District Court Judges to be held on November 13, 2020. The virtual presentation will focus on the components of a trial including voir dire, jury selection, and juror misconduct. The program will also include a panel discussion entitled Up Your Trial Game: A View from the Bench and Bar. The program was originally scheduled for a full day and to include an on-site luncheon, as well as an evening reception open to the entire Bar. Given the impact of COVID-19, the program has been modified to be presented virtually, with the full presentation to be given later. Fourteen Fellows will participate in the upcoming program.
The Colorado Fellows will again be presenting their popular CLE program “Winning at Trial” virtually November 11-12, in conjunction with CBA Continuing Legal Education. Fellows Carolyn Fairless and Jeff Pagliuca have put together a strong faculty of Fellows.
Early in the COVID-19 crisis, the Massachusetts Fellows reached out to all the chief justices of the trial courts to offer assistance. Over 35 Fellows volunteered to serve as voluntary mediators and arbitrators. The Massachusetts Fellows have now set up training programs for the volunteers to become certified. The courts have expressed much gratitude.
The Fellows are also working with representatives of the court system and other interested parties on how to open the courts safely and productively.
Members of the Massachusetts Bar, including Former President Joan A. Lukey, created a charity called Lawyers Honoring COVID Caregivers to demonstrate their appreciation for Massachusetts first responders and caretakers. The organization’s mission is to provide financial support for those caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Lukey serves as Chair of the Board, and with the help of the College’s Foundation, the charity recently made its first donation of $50,000 to the Boston Medical Center.
The Committee is actively supporting the work of the Pro Bono Fellows and encourages all members of the College to provide the 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.
Release of the Fourth Edition of Anatomy of a Patent Case is imminent. The Committee recently drafted a new handbook on the use of electronic evidence in trial and is continuing to fine-tune it. The Committee conducted three national video conference meetings of invited Judges and Fellows to discuss the use of electronic evidence as well as revisions to the draft.
After reviewing the issue of whether there should be a federal tolling statute due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Committee assisted in the preparation of a letter signed by President Doug Young to Senator Lindsay Graham and Representative Jerrold Nadler as Chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. The letter recommends the passage of legislation allowing federal judges to toll federal statutes of limitations when a litigant’s inability to file suit within the limitations period is caused by the pandemic.
The Committee published its white paper entitled “Update 2020: Recommended Practices for Companies and Their Counsel in Conducting Internal Investigations.” The paper updates the original version issued in 2008, including recommended best practices and new sections on cross-border investigations and joint or common interest agreements. The white paper is now available on the College’s website. Click here to view.
The Committee has completed a history of the College from its founding in 1950 to date and will be writing an article for each issue of the Journal regarding longtime Fellows who have not served as president.
The Committee is responding to attacks against the judiciary and providing public education about the importance of an independent judiciary. Fellows outside the Committee are encouraged to assist in educating lawyers, judges, and the public on the need to safeguard judicial independence. The Committee also requests that all Fellows alert the Committee to matters requiring its attention.
Fellows are invited to contribute writings on trial advocacy to the ACTL Free Boot Camp Library. Fellows are also invited to contact the Committee for the presentation of the boot camp in their jurisdictions and to serve as moderators for the Committee’s series of Trial Talks.
On August 4, 2020, Williams & Connolly LLP argued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on behalf of our last remaining client in the veterans’ delay litigation. Our client, the widow of a decorated Vietnam War veteran, has been battling nearly seven years since the VA denied Agent-Orange-related disability benefits to her now deceased husband. We expect to have a decision before the end of the year.
The Task Force has been converted into a committee, and it recently released two more “interim guidance” papers relating to the administration of justice during the pandemic: Issues to be Considered When Preparing for and Conducting a Civil Jury Trial During the Pandemic and Constitutional Protections Implicated by the Reopening of Criminal Courts in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As reported earlier, the Task Force has also produced five other documents to assist the Bench and Bar during this period: Conducting Appellate Arguments by Use of Remote Video; Conducting Nonjury Trials by Use of Remote Video; Conducting Remote Hearings by Use of Remote Video; Mastering Zoom Advocacy; Remote Video Depositions and Examinations for Discovery. The Task Force will continue to gather resources and experiences from our colleagues in both Canada and the United States and these works will be modified, as appropriate over time, in light of experience.
In addition to reviewing these papers, please also share them with members of your firms and lawyers and members of the judiciary in your community and in your State or Province. Should you have recommendations for improvements to these guidelines, including those based upon experiences in your courts, the Task Force will be grateful to have them.
To learn more about the important work of all of the College’s committees in furthering our mission, you can view the committees’ full reports to the Board by clicking here.
The College recognizes extraordinary individuals and their important contributions to the law through the awards described below. A nominator need only submit a letter of support, and the award committee will complete an investigation before deciding whether to recommend the person to the Board of Regents. Please consider nominating a worthy recipient. You may send your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to the committee chair indicated below.
Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy
Awarded only when appropriate to honor outstanding courage demonstrated by trial lawyers in unpopular or difficult causes. The award is one of the highest honors conferred by the College upon an individual trial lawyer and recognizes lawyers who have persevered in pursuit of an important cause despite substantial personal danger, fear, unpopularity, opposition or other difficulties. To view past recipients, click here.
Chair: Jeffrey D. Morris, email@example.com
Samuel E. Gates Litigation Award
To honor a lawyer or judge, whether or not a Fellow of the College, who has made a significant, exceptional and lasting contribution to the improvement of the litigation process. The person selected might be a trial practitioner, a judge, a teacher, a writer, a legislator, an administrator, or initiator of organizations or programs, or some other person whose work has been substantively significant or who has inaugurated or advanced significant programs. To view past recipients, click here.
Chair: Robert C. Riter, Jr., firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtual Meeting (by invitation)
October 14-16, 2020
2021 Spring Meeting
March 4-7, 2021
Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa
2021 Annual Meeting
September 30-October 3, 2021
Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park
Region 6 Regional Meeting
(Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas)
April 16-18, 2021
Windsor Court Hotel
New Orleans, Louisiana
Northeast Regional Meeting
(Atlantic Provinces, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island)
June 5-7, 2021
Northwest Regional Meeting
(Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington)
July 8-11, 2021
The Hotel Alyeska
Tenth Circuit Regional Meeting
(Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming)
August 26-29, 2021
Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
April 30-May 2, 2021
Missouri Fellows Retreat
Big Cedar Lodge
The Peyton Anderson Foundation announced a public service campaign aimed at educating young people on the consequences of illegal gun possession. Judicial Fellow Marc Treadwell participated in the video project depicting the story of Noah, a preteen youth facing life-altering decisions that lead to illegal firearm possession. Noah learns hard truths and irreversible consequences through personal points of view from the perpetrator, victim’s family and federal court system. For more information, click here.
The Tulane Law School Women’s Prison Project was presented with the College’s 2020 Emil Gumpert Award on August 14.
Former New Jersey State Chair Judith Wahrenberger received the Francis X. Dee Award from the New Jersey State Committee on August 13, 2020. Judy is the first woman recipient of the award, named in honor and memory of New Jersey Fellow and Former Regent Frank Dee, who exemplified the finest qualities of a trial lawyer and human being.
Fellow Martin F. Murphy was named president of the Boston Bar Association for a one-year term effective September 1, 2020. To read more, click here.
R. Joseph (Joe) Parker was awarded the John P. Kiely Professionalism Award, named after a deceased Fellow of the College, by the Cincinnati Bar Association. To learn more, click here.
Wisconsin Fellows Dinner via Zoom On Thursday, July 30, President Young put on a coat and tie and logged into the Wisconsin State Zoom dinner, hosted by State Chair Ralph Weber. Approximately 30 Fellows, including Regent Dan Reidy, attended. Predictably, drinks were enjoyed by some. President Young spoke about how the year has gone: the successes overall, including the Tucson meeting and all that preceded it; the almost-immediate changes starting about one week after the Tucson meeting closed; the work of the Task Force on Advocacy in the 21st Century; the two public statements the College has issued on judicial independence and the statements issued by the Alaska and Arizona State Committees; and the upcoming virtual Annual Meeting.
Following the President's remarks, Ralph introduced Brady Williamson, an accomplished attorney who has done considerable work assisting political candidates in various ways, including in preparations for election debates. Mr. Williamson gave a talk on the history of presidential debates beginning with the Lincoln-Douglas "debates" in 1858, the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960, the hiatus in debates thereafter until 1976 (Ford-Carter), and subsequent debates. As a veteran of several debate seasons, Brady was able to talk in detail about how the teams prepare. It was a fascinating and timely topic enjoyed by all. President Young lauded the creative efforts of Chair Weber, recommending this successful event as a model for College social events in the near future.
Iowa State Committee Meeting On the morning of August 8, 2020, President Young attended the virtual meeting of the Iowa State Committee, arranged by outgoing State Chair Martha Shaff, with nearly 40 Fellows in attendance. Such meetings will likely be among the models for State Committee meetings in the next several months. President Young spoke about how active the College has been since the Tucson meeting, including the work of the Task Force on Advocacy in the 21st Century and the Judicial independence Committee, as well as preparations for the virtual Annual Meeting.
Speakers included Regent Greg Lederer and Judicial Fellow Tom Waterman, a Justice on the Iowa Supreme Court. Justice Waterman addressed how the Iowa courts are dealing with opening for trials and appellate arguments during the pandemic. He noted that the Iowa Supreme Court successfully completed its term after a short hiatus. Justice Waterman prepared a short summary of significant appellate decisions applicable to trial lawyers which will be distributed to Iowa Fellows by email. Justice Waterman also expressed appreciation for the College's support for the judiciary.The remaining proceedings of the morning included shared remembrances of two Fellows who died in recent months as well as the ongoing important work of the State Committee.
Because justice can’t wait.
That’s not just your ACTL Foundation’s new tagline. It’s the answer to the question that many of us are asking ourselves in these extraordinary times. That question is: Why should I contribute now, in the midst of so much uncertainty, not just for others, but for me? Because justice can’t wait for people wrongly imprisoned. Justice can’t wait for veterans whose benefits were wrongly denied. Justice can’t wait for victims of systemic bias. Justice simply can’t wait.
The Foundation Trustees are no different from the rest of the College Fellows in being both professionally and personally impacted by the pandemic and social reckonings of this past year. We are going to continue considering these issues as we review the programs we will support in the coming year. Our 2020 Annual Report is posted online, and we encourage you to read it and learn more about the Foundation’s activities in our 2019-2020 fiscal year.
With a change made in our spending policy last winter, you can now feel even more confident that your Foundation donation is well spent. Interest from our investments is covering the Foundation’s administrative expenses, so 100% of your donation goes right into the pool of funds available for grants. You can donate today at actl.com/donate.
The Canadian Foundation saw a record-breaking year last year, with donations in memory of David Scott bringing them ever closer to our goal of awarding grants. You can help take the Canadian Foundation to that place by donating at actl.com/donate
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 city 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.
Walter Barry Cox, ‘86, Fayetteville, September 12, 2020
Thomas R. Braidwood, ’82, West Vancouver, April 11, 2020
H. A. Hollinrake, ’88, Coquitlam, March 18, 2019
James A. McIntyre, ’86, La Jolla, August 16, 2020
W. Foster Wollen, ’78, San Francisco, August 28, 2020
Mike Hilgers, ’77, Golden, September 22, 2020
District of Columbia
Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ’95, Washington, September 18, 2020
Richard L. Ackman, ’81, Jupiter, July 29, 2020
Carl A. Green, ’87, Jupiter, July 11, 2020
Mark V. Meierhenry, ’04, Sioux Falls, August 1, 2020
Max W. Foust, ’89, Leawood, March 7, 2020
Edward J. Barshak, ’74, Boston, August 12, 2020
John M. Callahan, ’84, Springfield, February 18, 2020
Richard W. Renehan, ’78, Milton, March 4, 2020
C. Roy Peterson, ’81, Edina, July 27, 2020
Robert A. Brown, Jr., ’84, Saint Joseph, July 20, 2020