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July 21, 2021

Police reform, cryptocurrency, voter suppression among highlights at ABA Annual Meeting Aug. 4-10

CHICAGO, July 21, 2021 — Law enforcement reform since the George Floyd verdict and the future of U.S. policing; cryptocurrency law and regulation of the $2 trillion virtual market; and the movement to preserve U.S. voting rights are chief among issues that will be explored both online and in person at the 2021 American Bar Association Hybrid Annual Meeting Aug. 4-10.

Among notable speakers at this premier gathering of legal professionals: Benjamin Crump, attorney for the George Floyd family; Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor; and her attorney, Lonita Baker, join law enforcement officials to assess what’s working and what’s not in regard to recently implemented police-accountability reforms across the country. Also, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and leaders of national advocacy groups — Thomas Saenz of MALDEF, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and John Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, among them — strategize to combat the uptick in state and federal election-reform measures that they say will curtail voting rights.

In addition, the ABA House of Delegates — the association’s policymaking body — will meet in person at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and online Aug. 9 at 8:30 a.m. CDT and Aug. 10 at 9 a.m. CDT. For details on the more than three dozen proposals for debate and vote during the two-day session, click here

Online registration is available for news reporters: Select the “Non-Member All Access” option; use “MEDIA” discount code. To attend the Thurgood Marshall Award and/or Margaret Brent Awards ceremonies, select ticket on Events page during registration process. ABA media credential guidelines are here.

Newsworthy programs (all sessions in Central Daylight Time) include:

Wednesday, Aug. 4

Advocacy Before the Court: Federalism, Diversity and Rule of Law”  Public interest attorneys and legal experts demonstrate through case history the importance of a diverse bar for effective advocacy, particularly in matters that disproportionately affect underrepresented communities.
Online, 10-11:30 a.m.

Voting Rights: Legislation, Strategy and Developments in the Movement for Voting Justice”  Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and leaders of national advocacy groups — Thomas Saenz of MALDEF, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and John Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, among them — will strategize opposition to state proposals to limit early voting, remote voting and voter assistance, and discuss how federal measures will impact those local efforts.
Online, noon-1:30 p.m.

"Cybersecurity, Critical Infrastructure, and the New Era of Information Sharing" — Security  experts, including the chief counsel for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, will explore the uptick in online attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure, including the May 21 ransomware incident involving Colonial Pipeline, and discuss the necessary changes to address the problem. The government’s recent cybersecurity executive order and the Department of Homeland Security's 60-day "sprint" to hire hundreds of additional cybersecurity professionals are among responses that will be examined.
Online, Noon-1:30 p.m.

The Era of Environmental Justice: Prioritizing Protection and Remedies for Underrepresented Communities” — Environmental harms often disproportionately impact underrepresented communities, and with greater national awareness of systemic racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd, the pursuit of justice for those minority groups is a rapidly emerging driver of decision-making across government and commercial development. Seasoned practitioners will discuss implications of the trend and examine the Biden administration’s unprecedented prioritization of environmental justice.
Online, 2-3:30 p.m.

Women in the Legal Profession: Progress and Remaining Challenges – Current ABA President Patricia Lee Refo will join nine past female presidents of the association at the General Assembly to discuss progress in the advancement of women in law and the obstacles that remain in achieving equity and equal opportunity.

Online, 4-5 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 5

Beyond the Schoolhouse Gate: Student Speech Rights After Mahony School District v. B.L.” Mary Beth Tinker of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District joins First Amendment rights experts to examine progress in the 52 years since the landmark Supreme Court ruling on student free speech — including the high court’s most recent 8-1 vote in support of public-school students’ free expression outside of school. What are the practical consequences of the ruling in an era when so much “speech” takes place at home on private devices and personal social media accounts?
Online, 10-11:30 a.m.

Cryptocurrency Law: The Wild West or the Financing of the Future?”  Lawyers working in cryptocurrencies examine the $2 trillion virtual currency market, including the legal and regulatory regimes — or lack thereof — that govern this space and whether further regulation is necessary, or even possible.
Online, noon-1:30 p.m.

The Future of Policing: Ending Senseless Violence and Igniting Transformative Reform — Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor, and her attorney, Lonita Baker, join Benjamin Crump, attorney for George Floyd's family, and law enforcement panelists to discuss various reforms to address accountability concerns and systemic racism in U.S. policing. Which local reforms have been most effective in ensuring law enforcement is held accountable when citizens are deprived of their constitutional rights? What are the obstacles to progress and will the Biden administration’s effort to reinvigorate federal policing oversight and push for meaningful changes make a difference?
Online, 2-3:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 6

The Roberts Court 2020-21: ACB for RBG and the Chief Justice’s Loss of Control — High court watchers explore key decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court’s term since Justice Amy Coney Barrett took the place of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and read the tea leaves on the court’s often-subtle directional movements that could have lasting effects, not just on American society but also our political system.

Online, 10-11:30 a.m.

Constitutional Long Haulers: The Undiagnosed Long-Term Impact of Judicial Review on Emergency Public Health Orders”  Through litigation, frontline decision-makers explore the judiciary’s role in reviewing the scope of state authority on emergency-response measures to a crisis like COVID-19, highlighting issues such as the separation of powers, allocation of authority between state and local government, use of scientific evidence, administrative review and the appropriate standard-of-review to apply in analyzing a government’s response to a declared crisis. Examined through mock situations and informed by actual events, participants include Associate Justice David K. Thomson of the New Mexico Supreme Court; Associate Justice Shawn Ellen LaGrua of the Georgia Supreme Court; Matt Garcia, chief of staff and former general counsel, Office of the Governor of New Mexico; and health law professor Wendy Mariner of Boston University School of Public Health.
Online, 1-2:30 p.m.

Civil rights leader Dr. Clarence B. Jones” — Adviser and lawyer to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence B. Jones, will accept the 2021 ABA Thurgood Marshall Award. Fellow civil rights legends will offer tributes including former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who worked alongside Jones in the Black Freedom Movement; ACLU National Legal Director David Cole, who will discuss shared mentors; and Akonadi Foundation President Lateefah Simon, who will speak to Jones’ legacy and ongoing influence on younger generations of activists.
Online, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 9

Ethics, pro bono leader Lawrence Fox– The association’s highest honor, the ABA Medal, will be presented to Lawrence Fox, a longtime champion of legal ethics, professional responsibility and lawyer volunteerism, who also has given decades of other service to the association and the legal profession.

Online and in person at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, TBD

What should be done to ensure that the public has confidence in the electoral process and accepts the outcome of the vote? – Election law experts, including Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Voting Director Sylvia Albert of Common Cause, examine new laws that give state legislatures greater power over how elections are run and decided, taking that authority away from secretaries of state and nonpartisan election boards. Will future election disputes be resolved in a fair and neutral manner? Can legislatures override the will of the electorate?

Online and in person at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 11 a.m.

Reporters: Stay updated before and during the Annual Meeting by visiting the conference’s Reporter Resources and general information website.

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