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Juvenile justice, DOMA, disaster planning among local news highlights at American Bar Association meeting Feb. 5-10 in Chicago

Juvenile justice, DOMA, disaster planning among local news highlights at American Bar Association meeting Feb. 5-10 in Chicago

By John Glynn

CHICAGO, Jan. 22, 2014 — Juvenile sentencing, the implications for employers offering benefit programs for same-sex couples and Chicago’s disaster preparedness are chief among regional issues that will be explored at the 2014 American Bar Association Midyear Meeting Feb. 5-10 in Chicago.

Local experts at the meeting include Shobha L. Mahadev of the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children, John Bouman of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Bryan Samuels of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Moreover, Amanda Snipes of the Special Victims’ Counsel Program at Scott Air Force Base will discuss the first large-scale federal program to connect victims of sexual assault with lawyers.

In addition to the nearly 750 events at this premier gathering of legal professionals, the ABA House of Delegates — the association’s policymaking body — will gather at 9 a.m. Feb. 10 at the meeting headquarters, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, in the Grand Ballroom, Gold Level, East Tower. For details on the proposals for debate and vote during the one-day session, click here

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever. Credential guidelines are at

Local and regional news programs include:

Thursday, Feb. 6

“They'll Take My Big Gulp From My Cold, Dead Hands — Public Health, the Police Power and the Nanny State” Panelists at this program will compare state and federal approaches to what limits on personal choice can be adopted in the name of public health, the environment and the traditional police powers exercised by governments. They will address how these measures work with a federal system where local regulation may conflict with state and federal laws.
2:45 – 4:15 p.m., Zurich E, 1st Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

Friday, Feb. 7

“Disaster Response and Preparedness: Hot Topics in Urban Mass Catastrophes”Andrew Velasquez, Chicago and Midwest regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will share developments from around the country to help in coping with catastrophic events. This program will inform those interested in preparation for and response to the inevitable but unpredictable urban mass disaster.
8 – 9 a.m., Lucerne Ballroom 1, Ballroom Level, Swissotel

“A Town Hall Forum on the School-to-Prison Pipeline: What Are the Problems? What Are the Solutions?” This town hall forum will bring together educators, lawyers, civil rights leaders and youth advocates to discuss implicit bias and its ramifications for disproportionality in education. Participants will discuss a collaborative plan of action to address the “school-to-prison pipeline” dilemma where failures in the education system push students out of school and often into juvenile justice facilities and prisons.
9 – 11 a.m., Toronto, Gold Level, West Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

“DOMA Overruled: Implications for Health Care Plans and Other Employee Benefits” — Panelists will examine the immediate implications for employers maintaining health and welfare plans, retirement plans and other fringe benefit programs for legally married same-sex couples.
9:15 – 10:15 a.m., Zurich B, 1st Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“Meeting the Educational Needs of Highly Mobile Students: The Education Rights of Homeless Children and Youth and Those in the Child Welfare System” — Laurene Heybach of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will be among the panelists discussing the educational needs of children experiencing homelessness and in foster care. Panelists will examine the McKinney-Vento Act and other laws that support school continuity and stability.
1:30 – 3 p.m., Grand Suite 3, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

“Poverty and State/County Family Intervention Due to Alleged Child Abuse and Neglect” — Attorneys and policy experts will examine the federal and state statutory and judicial reforms that could reduce a family’s risk of losing its children as a result of poverty related to child neglect.
10 a.m. – noon, Grand Suite 3, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

“The Post-Miller v. Alabama World — Redefining Juvenile Justice and Life Without Parole” — Panelists, including Shobha L. Mahadev, project director for the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children, will examine the state of juvenile practice laws since mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole were found unconstitutional for juveniles.
12:30 – 2 p.m., Montreux 1, 2nd Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel

“Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel Program: One Year Later” — The Special Victims’ Counsel program trains Air Force lawyers to advise sexual assault victims and help them navigate the criminal justice system. Panelists include Col. Dawn D. Hankins, chief of the Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel Division, and Capt. Amanda K. Snipes, special victims counsel at Scott Air Force Base and 375th Air Mobility Wing general law chief.
2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Montreux 3, Second Floor, Event Centre, Swissotel 

Saturday, Feb. 8

“A Profession in Crisis? New Results From the After the JD Study of Lawyer Careers” The After the JD Study has followed a national sample of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000. The research team will present results from its 2012 follow-up survey, including what these lawyers are doing now, career satisfaction and the state of women and minorities practicing law.
2 – 4:30 p.m., Columbus Hall EF, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

“Critical Cyber Issues Affecting you Today” — Recent data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus underscore the importance of cybersecurity to the private sector. In the wake of the Snowden and Manning incidents, it is increasingly harder for both the government and the private sector to protect its assets and secrets. Panelists will discuss these breaches as well as current cyber threats, applicable laws and the relevant ethical standards.
9 – 10:30 a.m., Plaza Ballroom A, Lobby Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

During the Midyear Meeting, accredited journalists should register on-site at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand Ballroom (Gold Level, East Tower), beginning at 2 p.m. on Feb. 5. A press room for accredited reporters will be provided in the hotel’s Riverside Center (Purple Level, East Tower), starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 6. The room will be open daily thereafter from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Feb. 10.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.

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