Message to the Members

By Edward Monahan, Editor in Chief

I am delighted to begin my duties as editor in chief of The Public Lawyer, now in its 27th year.

Twenty-seven years ago, public lawyers were just beginning to explore the notion of telework. Now with the pandemic upon us, most lawyers have been thrust into remote work situations, like it or not. Think back to when you used to go into the office (it seems so long ago!): How many of you worked in an office that may not have been deemed “beautiful”? In many public law offices, the physical work space may seem like an afterthought, with battered desks, scuffed surfaces, and little to no artwork in public areas. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Public law offices across the country are getting creative about beautifying both their spaces and their communities. What’s more, they are finding novel ways to fund this art. Katherine Mikkelson, the Division’s associate director, contributed Art and Public Law Offices, in which she discusses ways that public offices have made their spaces more lovely.

While the pandemic continues, all of us are facing new ways to work. Jill Mariani, a senior investigative counsel in the Rackets Bureau of the New York County District Attorney’s Office, wrote a piece for us about obtaining evidence remotely. Jill outlines how her office devised a means for the remote participation of a forensic document examiner. But perhaps more importantly, Jill argues that there are other opportunities in both the civil and criminal context where remote evidence gathering is advantageous. Check out her interesting and thought-provoking article.      

We also have a book review of Justice John Paul Stevens’ autobiography, titled, The Making of a Justice. Maureen Essex, a former Division chair, does a wonderful job of weaving together pertinent biographical details with some consequential decisions in which Stevens was involved.       

Last, another former Division chair, Pauline Weaver, spent some time as a nongovernmental observer at Guantanamo Naval Air Station. The purpose of Gitmo observers is to fulfill, in a limited way, the requirements of a public trial. This eye-opening article, A Peek Inside the Mysterious Military Commissions: Observing Guantanamo, sheds light into the process that defendants, lawyers and staff experience.

As always, we would love to hear your feedback on these articles, as well as your ideas for topics that interest you. Feel free to reach out to me at GPSLD@americanbar.org.