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July 28, 2023 Feature

Message to the Members, Summer 2023

By Edward Monahan, Editor in Chief
A message from Editor in Chief Edward Monahan to members of the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division and all readers of The Public Lawyer.

A message from Editor in Chief Edward Monahan to members of the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division and all readers of The Public Lawyer.

Morsa Images/DigitalVision via Getty Images Plus

Our legal environment is complex, with a wide range of issues on our plate that require much expertise and skill. To help us keep pace, our marvelous authors offer their substantial knowledge of Japanese internment in our country, high-profile litigation, the skills needed to draft and interpret legislation, the work of police reform, and how we can best use technology to better serve our clients.

Our country has remarkable ideals, including the “self-evident” truth “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet, we have too often fallen short, far short, of these proclaimed ideals. Or, better said, we have tragically violated our declared ideals. Our original sin was permitting the owning of another human being as property. And there were many other unjust days in our past. One stunning injustice was Japanese internment. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s February 19, 1942, Executive Order 9066, under the guise of protecting “against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material,” provided for the forced removal of all persons deemed a threat to national security. Some 125,284 people of Japanese descent were incarcerated, euphemistically termed relocated. Two-thirds were U.S. citizens. And lawyers were involved in this unjust system. What have we, as lawyers, learned from this tragedy? What have we, as lawyers, decided to do differently because of what we have learned from this systematic injustice? This past injustice dramatically informs our current behavior about the moral, ethical, and legal dilemmas we face today. GPSLD Chair Wendy Muchman helps us think about this in her review of Eric L. Muller’s Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe: Complicity and Conscience in America’s World War II Concentration Camps (Univ. N.C. Press 2023).

Government offices should be prepared to handle complicated litigation that may detract from their public mission and disrupt their operation. Liani Reeves, informed by her work as general counsel to a governor, reflects on effectively preparing for an office crisis and defending governmental entities in high-profile litigation.

Our legal landscape is shaped by laws. Bill drafting is the science of putting ideas and intent, often complicated, into words. Statutory interpretation provides many lawyers with much work. With her substantial experience, Abbie M. Gruwell digs into these important tasks. She is an attorney advisor with the Regulatory Affairs Law Division in the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Homeland Security. She was previously a senior legislative director with the National Conference of State Legislatures, a legislative assistant for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a drafting attorney for the Indiana Legislative Services Agency.

Police activity is in the news daily, and efforts for policing reform often prove challenging to achieve. Jessalyn Walker, director of the ABA Legal Education Police Practices Consortium, educates us on law school collaboration to support policing and public safety reform. The Fellows of the ABA Police Practices Consortium are learning what can be accomplished.

Technology changes more often than the weather. Do you ever feel, like me, that technology is as complicated as it is helpful and that it is hard to keep up with the changes? Well, somebody who knows a lot about technology, Catherine Sanders Reach, director at the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association, does us a great favor by educating us about the technological advances that can help our offices operate more effectively.

I hope you enjoy and learn from this issue of The Public Lawyer. Send your comments to [email protected]. We appreciate your feedback.

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By Edward Monahan, Editor in Chief