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February 03, 2021

Reforms to boost racial equity top criminal justice issues at American Bar Association Midyear Meeting Feb. 17-22

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2021 — Results from a new data-driven prosecution model designed to promote racial equity, measures to address bias in the U.S. court system, and newly enacted municipal legislation to advance social goals are chief among justice system topics that will be explored at the 2021 American Bar Association Virtual Midyear Meeting Feb. 17-22.

With several dozen top-quality legal programs and events, and presentations by America’s foremost law experts and speakers, the ABA Midyear Meeting is the nation’s premier gathering of legal professionals.

The 597-member ABA House of Delegates — the association’s policy-making body — will meet Feb. 22 at 9:30 a.m. CT. For details on the proposals for debate and vote during the one-day session, click here.   

Online registration is available for news reporters;  use discount code: MEDIA. Credential guidelines are here.  

Newsworthy programs include:

Thursday, Feb. 18

Pain and Power of Judging— Three judges — Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez of the Washington State Supreme Court, Associate Justice Robert B. Foster of the Massachusetts Land Courts and Judge Tracie A. Todd of the Alabama 10th Judicial Circuit — provide firsthand accounts of being subject to and confronting implicit and explicit bias on the bench.
"10-11 a.m. CT

Peeking Behind the Blindfold: How Implicit Racial Bias Gives Courts a Black Eye” —  A panel of equality advocates and judges —  including Edwina Richardson-Mendelson of the New York County Family Court; Michael Hyman of the Circuit Court of Cook County; Kimberly Jade Norwood of Washington University; and Executive Director Robert Chang of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality — will discuss how and where implicit biases in the U.S. courts manifest, and practical strategies to manage them.
Noon-1 p.m.

Data & Racial Justice: Using Data to Drive ChangeState's Attorneys Kimberly Foxx of Cook County, Chicago, and Andrew Warren of Hillsborough County, Tampa, Florida, offer lessons learned from their pioneering implementation of the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators dashboard, a pilot effort to employ data to determine policy changes, ensure justice is served equally in all communities and track performance. Developers of the data model from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Florida International University and Loyola University will also participate to elaborate on their groundbreaking prosecutorial tool.
1-2:30 p.m. CT

Creating Local Change: Racial Equity & Social Justice— How effective is municipal legislation aimed at advancing racial equity? Representatives from two local governments — Dallas and Montgomery County, Maryland — who have successfully implemented such measures will discuss lessons learned in the development, implementation and impacts of their racial equity and social justice laws.
2-3 p.m. CT

Friday, Feb. 19

The Emotional Influence of Gruesome Photographs in the Courtroom Janice Nadler of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law demonstrates through two experiments how gruesome photographs of a victim can increase the propensity of jurors to convict, with an increase of conviction dependent on race. Legal experts will then explore how emotionally evocative visual evidence can affect the psychology of decision-making processes — through influence on emotions, attention to evidence and legal judgments at the individual and group level. Other panelists include Judge Bernice Donald; U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit; Mary Fan, University of Washington School of Law; and Sandra Thompson, University of Houston Law Center.
10-11:30 a.m. CT

Dark Money in Judicial Elections: Panel I— This is the first of a three-part program on media ads funded by special interest groups that influence U.S. judicial selection. Session 1 details the effect of "dark money" on judicial independence. Justice experts discuss the growing problem of outside money used to sway state and federal selection of judges, examined through the lens of recent cases.
10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. CT

Prosecution and Defense of Physicians in Civil and Criminal Opioid Death Cases— With the rise in opioid death cases, seasoned attorneys will explain what the government and plaintiff’s counsel must prove against physicians in opioid-related criminal prosecutions and medical malpractice cases, as well as provide comprehensive advice on strategies for the defense of these cases.
Noon-1:30 p.m. CT

Dark Money in Judicial Elections: Panel II— This is the second of a three-part program on media ads funded by special interest groups that influence U.S. judicial selection. In this session, panelists discuss the effect of dark money on public confidence in court impartiality as well as options for judges on disqualification, recusal and combating disinformation efforts by special interests.
1-2:30 p.m. CT

“Military Justice — Learning and Leading Change in American Criminal Justice” — As the mainstream American criminal justice system grapples with calls for reform, particularly in sexual assault prosecutions, appellate review and protection of the rights of the accused, representatives of the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps discuss parallel progressive changes in the military justice arena. Panelists: Maj. Scott Goble, Office of the Judge Advocate General; Karen Carlisle, Office of the Judge Advocate General; Lt. Col. Rebecca Farrell, The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School; Lt. Col. Adam Kazin, Office of the Judge Advocate General; Lt. Col. Philip Staten, Trial Counsel Assistance Program, Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Lt. Col. Angela Swilley, U.S. Army Defense Appellate Division, Fort Belvoir.
2-3:30 p.m. CT

Dark Money in Judicial Elections: Panel III This is the third of a three-part program on media ads funded by special interest groups that influence U.S. judicial selection. In this last session, panelists offer procedural strategies and innovative approaches to combatting the damaging effect of outside influence, including possible procedural rule changes, disciplinary actions and use of the contempt power against parties attempting to affect judicial outcomes through ad campaigns, among several proposals.
2:45-4 p.m. CT

NOTE: Midyear Meeting programming is available to news reporters according to the ABA Open Meetings policy. Media credentials include free access to fee-based association events, including the Spirit of Excellence Awards. To attend these virtual programs, contact [email protected] after reporter credentials have been approved by the ABA Media Relations and Strategic Communications Division. For general assistance regarding the Midyear Meeting, contact [email protected] or 202-662-1090.

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