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October 07, 2022 Lawyers Conference

LC Chair's Column

Looking Forward to a Fantastic Bar Year

By Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

It is my honor to follow Shenique Moss as the incoming chair of the LC as we embark on a new bar year. Like the work done under the excellent leadership of Shenique, we hope to engage our membership with some new and exciting programs and to assist judges as we strive to uphold the principles of democracy and the independence of the judiciary. Unlike the situation Shenique encountered, we hope all these activities will be in person and provide the opportunity to reconnect as we do our important work.

One new program to be developed by the LC this year is designed to address the serious issue of the safety of our judiciary and all those who work in and around courthouses. Ripped from the headlines are heartbreaking stories of threats and violence against our judges for doing the important work of resolving our citizens’ disputes, both civil and criminal. The message needs to be sent, far and wide, that there is no place or time for these heinous acts.

To deliver that message, the LC is developing a grass roots opinion/editorial campaign. Short letters to the editor are being drafted as templates to use in spreading the message that such violence against the judiciary is unacceptable in our society. They are designed to be submitted by ordinary citizens to their local newspapers expressing their concerns - not as features - but in the side column on the Op/Ed page. The template letters will be distributed by the LC to the other JD conferences as well as the other Sections, Divisions, and Forums of the ABA. A form will be developed to track where the letters are sent and whether they are published. The first letter is intended to be distributed in October, with other letters with slightly different themes to be distributed in January and April of 2023. Through this campaign, we hope to spread the message to all 50 states that respect for our judiciary is critical to the long-term health of our democracy.

Another new program is to reach out to persons eligible to have low level crimes expunged from their record. All too often there are serious long-term negative consequences in seeking employment, renting an apartment, or other aspects of one’s life for what may have been a regrettable moment in one’s life. Indeed, in the context of marijuana, low level convictions of the past are no longer even crimes in most states. Yet, the consequences of those convictions follow throughout life.

To address this issue, the LC will be hosting two expungement clinics - one in New Orleans during the Midyear Meeting and one in Denver during the Annual Meeting.  We will be partnering with local bar associations, legal aid clinics, young lawyers, and law students to provide those services. We also will be inviting judges in the jurisdiction with authority to act to attend and grant the expungements to those who qualify. There will be intake assistance in completing forms and providing the necessary documentation. There also will be a reception to congratulate those who have their convictions expunged as they get their clean start.

Of course, our long-standing programs will continue to be presented. Our lawyer admission to the U.S. Supreme Court program took place on October 4th for the first time following its suspension during the pandemic. We were honored to have our great friend, Judge J. Michelle Childs, recently appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit, as the Movant for the new admittees. Great work continues to be done by our newly renamed Court-Appointed Neutrals Committee which is working on a draft Model Rule that states can use to implement the ABA’s January 2019 Guidelines on the Appointment of Special Masters in Federal and State Civil Litigation. The LC also will be supporting the Judicial Outreach Network and participate in ABA Day on the Hill, where we get a chance to lobby Congress on issues of importance to the judiciary.

As you can see, there is a lot to be excited about. Please join us as we embark on our programming and make this a truly fantastic bar year.

Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

Mr. Daniel F. Gourash, Westlake, OH

2022-2023 Chair, Lawyers Conference

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