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July 19, 2023

Artificial intelligence, U.S. Supreme Court, environmental justice among highlights at ABA meeting Aug. 3-8 in Denver

CHICAGO, July 19, 2023 — Guardrails for AI usage; implications of high-court rulings on college admissions and electoral maps; and the effects of climate change, focusing on their impacts on the underserved are chief among legal issues that will be explored at the 2023 American Bar Association Annual Meeting Aug. 3-8 in Denver.

Notable speakers at this premier gathering of legal professionals include U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (Aug. 7, time: TBD a.m.); high-profile trial judges Clifton Newman of South Carolina v. Richard Alexander Murdaugh and Eric Davis of Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News (Aug. 3, 10 a.m.); 2023 ABA Medal recipient Fred Gray (Aug. 5, 4 p.m.) and retired Judge Arthur L. Burnett Sr. (Aug. 4, 10:30 a.m.) on the frontline of U.S. civil rights; and founders of the Innocence Project (Aug. 3, 3-4:30 p.m.) on 20 years of delivering justice for the wrongfully convicted. (All times are Mountain Daylight Time.)

In addition, the 597-member ABA House of Delegates — the association’s policymaking body — will meet at 9 a.m. on Aug. 7-8 at the Colorado Convention Center (Mile High Rooms 1-3). For details on the proposals for debate and vote during the two-day session, click here.  

For reporter access, contact Media Relations and Strategic Communications at [email protected] with proof of credentials. Access code for online registration will follow ABA approval.

Programs of note include:

Thursday, Aug. 3

“The Art of Handling Key Complexities in High Profile Cases” Two of the nation’s top state trial judges — South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman of South Carolina v. Richard Alexander Murdaugh and Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis of Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News Network — share personal experiences of those trials, including managing security, media and the jury, and the emotional tolls on them, their staff and families.

10-11:15 a.m., Hyatt Regency Denver, Mineral Hall D/E

Warhol and VIP Products: Redefining the Boundaries of Fair Use and Parody in Copyright and Trademark Law Intellectual property experts will examine the tension between First Amendment speech protection and the rights of brand/copyright owners through the lens of two recent Supreme Court cases, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith and Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC, both of which address fair use and parody in the context of copyright and trademark law.

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 1961 Stout St.


Responding to Judicial and Lawyer Misconduct Top jurists — including Colorado District Court Judge Adam Espinosa, Nevada Supreme Court Justice Linda Bell and Executive Director Marla Greenstein of the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct — explore the ethical obligation to report misdeeds by judges and attorneys, discussing when reporting is required, as well as the tools for managing observed misconduct.

1-2:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency Denver, Mineral Hall B/C

Water Rights and Water Wars Stakeholders describe the water rights of citizens, the relevant policies of state and local governments that guide distribution and the conflicts that arise among jurisdictions, especially those concerning the Colorado River.

2:30-3:30 p.m., Colorado Convention Center, 502


AI & IP: IP Protection for AI-Generated Works, How AI Can Facilitate IP Protection, and Regulation of AI Use Futurists and intellectual property practitioners discuss AI usage by artists and other creators and the available protections for their resulting works, while also looking at current and proposed regulations and policies of relevance.

2-3:30p.m., U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 1961 Stout Street

The Roberts Court 2022-2023: College Admissions, Student Loans and the Election Clause Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law and other high-court watchers explore the implications of recent cases that affect everyday U.S. citizens, including key decisions on the role of racial identity in college admissions, ability of the executive branch to provide student loan relief and the application of the election clause to state court redistricting decisions.

3-4:30 p.m., Colorado Convention Center, 201/203

The Innocence Project at 20: What We Now Know About the Causes of Wrongful Convictions Leaders of the Innocence Project explore lessons learned in the past 20 years since it was established, and will join seasoned colleagues to share the typical causes of wrongful convictions and how they can be prevented.

3-4:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency Denver, Mineral Hall B/C

After Roe and the Promise of the 14th Amendment Reproductive rights advocates examine the impact of the Dobbs decision one year later and its effect on birthing people, marginalized communities, individual rights and the rule of law. Will state legislatures succeed in passage of laws that criminalize and civilly penalize providers and people seeking care? What's the path to regain the constitutional right to personal reproductive freedom and the promise of the 14th Amendment?

3:30-5 p.m., Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom F

Emerging Trends in Corporate Criminal Enforcement A prosecutor, in-house lawyer and member of the defense bar discuss the impact of the Biden administration's prioritization of corporate criminal enforcement in the past two years, specifically looking at the effectiveness of new policies on voluntary self-disclosure, use of independent compliance monitors and consideration of historical corporate misconduct.

3:30-5 p.m., Grand Hyatt Denver, Mt. Columbia 3rd Floor

Disproportionate School Brutality Upon Black Children— Practitioners and researchers discuss the excessive and unwarranted use of physical force in U.S. public schools, which Black children experience at multiple times the level of school brutality that white children experience. 3:45-4:45 p.m., Colorado Convention Center, 502

Indian Child Welfare Act: The Paths Ahead Indian Country leaders offer implications of the Supreme Court decision in Brackeen v. Haaland, which rejected challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act, leaving the law intact. What can tribes and Native American advocates do to change the discriminatory biases behind the statutory gold standard?

5-6 p.m. , Colorado Convention Center, 502

Friday, Aug. 4


From Cradleboard to Shallow Grave: Boarding Schools, ICWA, and Missing & Murdered Indigenous Persons Tribal leaders describe the devastation from the historic U.S. policies and programs forced upon Indigenous persons by the U.S. government between the mid-17th to early-20th centuries, and share what is being done to assist those impacted by the trauma, which has been significantly underreported, under-investigated and whose perpetrators have largely gone unpunished.

9-10:30 a.m., Colorado Convention Center, 201/203

Wildfire Resiliency Stakeholders spotlight concerns about wildfires in the western United States and advocate for solutions that create more resilient buildings, protect citizens and policy-driven legislation on wildfire resiliency.

9:15-10:15 a.m., Colorado Convention Center, 502

The 100th Anniversary of Pennsylvania Coal v. Mahon: How the Takings Clause Became the Primary Check on Government Power Experts explore the historic legal framework for federal, state and local government authority over the private property of citizens, including the limitations of that authority when exercised in the public's interest. What can we do to better protect citizens' rights?

10:30-11:30 a.m., Colorado Convention Center, 502

On the Front Line of Civil Rights Then and Now: A Conversation with Legendary Judge Arthur L. Burnett Sr.” Arthur L. Burnett Sr. shares his inspiring history on the frontline of the civil rights movement and his work today to effectuate racial equity in criminal justice, particularly in enforcement of drug laws and eliminating bias in jury selection.

10:30 a.m.-noon, Hyatt Regency Denver, Mineral Hall B/C

Extending Justice 3: They Don’t Look Like Extremists or Terrorists Pete Simi of Chapman University will offer insight on his study of more than 400 federal criminal indictments related to terrorism and the growing threat of extremism on elected officials and those in law enforcement, heath care and education. Editors of “Extending Justice: Strategies to Increase Inclusion and Reduce Bias” will join Simi to propose ways to prepare for and combat the violence.

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Grand Hyatt Denver, Mt. Columbia Room

Autism Awareness: How Courts Can Improve Access to Justice for a Vulnerable and Neuro-Diverse Population A multidimensional look into the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder in the court system will delve into the many issues that legal professionals typically encounter with those clients, such as adverse mental behavior, bullying, poverty, parental substance misuse, domestic violence and child abuse, as well as introduce innovative state initiatives that ensure the legal rights of citizens with the neurological disability.

2-3:30 p.m., Colorado Convention Center, 201/203

Environmental Justice Today: New Developments in Advancing Equality and Fairness–The ABA Environmental Justice Task Force addresses the disparate impact of environmental policies and practices on the underserved and will release its “Blueprint for Advancing Environmental Justice” with recommendations to mitigate negative impacts on the poor, people of color and other U.S. communities of concern.

3:30-5 p.m., Colorado Convention Center, 205-207

2023 Pro Bono Champions The ABA Pro Bono Publico Award is presented to those in the legal profession who have enhanced the human dignity of others by delivering volunteer legal services to the poor. The 2023 honorees are Charles B. Phillips of Blue Ridge Legal Services; Karen R. King of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello PC; David Cross of Morrison Foerster’s Global Antitrust Law Group; Ned Pillersdorf of Prestonsburg, Kentucky; and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

5:30-7:30 p.m.., Colorado Convention Center, Centennial Ballroom E

Saturday, Aug. 5

Gun Safety Policy in 2023: Where Does it Stand and Where is it Going? Community leaders — including Assistant Attorney General Kurt Morrison of Denver, Assistant District Attorney Amber Goodwin of Austin, Texas, and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul will offer viable solutions to keep our communities safe from gun violence, covering possible mitigating measures, such as safer gun storage and broader "red flag" laws.

9-10:30 a.m , Colorado Convention Center, 502

Bar-b-q, Wedding Cakes and Websites: The First Amendment vs. Anti-Discrimination Laws— Civil rights advocates — including Solicitor General Emeritus Eric Olson of the Colorado Attorney General Office, Chief Legal Officer Jenny Pizer of Lambda Legal and Legal Director Sunu Chandy of National Women's Law Center — will discuss the implications of the Supreme Court case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, in which a Colorado-based website designer asserts that the state’s anti-discrimination law violates her religious liberty and free speech rights by mandating service to LGBTQ+ clients. How does the court's decision impact free-speech rights in commercial settings and the enforceability of public accommodation nondiscrimination laws?

9-10:30 a.m., Colorado Convention Center, 201/203

“Exploring Cross-border Environmental Legal issues in the United States, Mexico and Canada” – Environmental lawyers from the three countries will discuss climate actions taken by their administrations, evaluate their effectiveness, and opine on current and future action that will be essential for a sustainable, resilient and just future.

9:45-11:15 a.m., Colorado Convention Center, 301

The AI Trap: The Missing Guardrails for Lawyers Technology experts in law will explore the ethical landmines as well as the professional risks and responsibilities of embracing artificial intelligence. What must lawyers know to protect themselves, their firms, their clients and the wider public from negative outcomes?

10:30 a.m.-noon, Colorado Convention Center, 205-207

“Is There a Penalty? Parenthood and Child Caregiving and Its Impact on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession” Researchers release the findings of their new national study on the impact of caregiver bias on legal professionals. Beyond sharing insights on the data, researchers will offer evidence-based solutions for creating more equitable workplaces for attorneys.

2-3:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom B

“The Response to the Displacement of Peoples in the United States, Mexico, and Canada - A Look Into Immigration and Asylum in North America” – Immigration attorneys from the three countries present the variety of approaches taken by their respective countries of origin to deal with the displacement in the Americas of more than 108 million peoples from all over the world in 2022, discuss their specific country's laws and policy on immigration and asylum.

2:15-3:45 p.m.., Colorado Convention Center, 301

General Assembly: Fred Gray The ABA’s highest honor, the ABA Medal, will be presented to civil rights leader Fred Gray, assembly keynote speaker.

4:30-6 p.m., Colorado Convention Center, Mile High 1-3

Award Reception: John E. Echohawk Native American Rights Fund Executive Director John E. Echohawk, a member of the Pawnee Indian tribe, will be recognized for 50 years at the helm of the nonprofit advocacy organization based in Boulder, Colorado.

7:30-10 p.m., Hyatt Regency Denver, Capitol Ballroom

Sunday, Aug. 6

Women Lawyers of Achievement— Five trailblazing female attorneys will be recognized with the 2023 Margaret Brent Award. Honorees are: Sabrina S. McKenna, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii; Melissa Murray, Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law; Yvette Ostolaza, Management Committee chair at Sidley Austin LLP; Deborah Willig, founder and managing partner of Willig, Williams & Davidson in Philadelphia; Jill Wine-Banks, MSNBC contributor, author, podcast co-host and former prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice.

3-4:15 p.m., Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom A-C

NOTE: ABA Annual Meeting programming is available to news reporters according to the ABA Open Meeting policy. Media credentials include free access to fee-based association events, including the award receptions. For general assistance regarding the Annual Meeting, contact [email protected] or 202-662-1090. Stay up to date on conference developments at the Annual Meeting Reporter Resources webpage.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.