State and local bar regulation, law enforcement access to third-party records, and standards for language access adopted as ABA policy
The American Bar Association has adopted new policy on a number of key legal issues. The association’s 560-member House of Delegates met Feb. 6 during the ABA Midyear Meeting. Read more >>

Court funding crisis, responsibility of profession common themes in remarks before the ABA House of Delegates
During the House of Delegates one-day session at the ABA Midyear Meeting, an array of high-profile speakers—including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III and ABA President-Elect James Silkenat—addressed the policy-making body of the association. Read more >>

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia discusses federal courts, past cases
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia candidly answered questions from the audience of ABA members Feb. 4 at the ABA Midyear Meeting. With few issues off limits, Scalia touched on topics such as Roe v. Wade, the future of the legal profession, the criminalization of federal law and the Constitution. Read more >>

ABA task force finds court underfunding still a crisis, business partnership an opportunity
“We all accept the premise that one branch can’t kill the other off,” said Covington & Burling LLP partner Thomas Barnett—but politicians, judges and lawyers at the ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System hearing Feb. 4 cautioned that cuts to state court budgets are all but lethal. Read more >>

Attorney General Holder announces support for indigent defense systems at ABA summit
As the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright approaches, participants at the ABA annual Summit on Indigent Defense Improvement Feb. 4 unanimously agreed that full access to competent counsel for indigent defendants has fallen far short of Gideon’s promise. A “crisis” is how keynote speaker U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder characterized the patchwork of state indigent defense systems before announcing two new Department of Justice programs. Read more >>

Pro bono services, help for pro se litigants needed to bridge funding gap, say legal aid providers
A steep rise in the number of people living in poverty and a big decline in funding for legal aid services has led to a crisis in access to justice for the most vulnerable Americans, said a panel of judges and attorneys Feb. 3 at the ABA Midyear Meeting. “This is truly ‘a drop off the cliff moment’ in the legal services funding world, but I would say to you nobody is going to quit and go home,” said Martha Bergmark, founding president/CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice. Read more >>

Diversion programs save money, enhance public safety, say ABA panelists
In a time when states are desperately looking for ways to save money, programs for pretrial release and diversion are not just conserving funds but also ensuring fairness and enhancing public safety, according to a panel at the ABA Midyear Meeting. A Feb. 3 program brought together experts from around the country to discuss best practices for diversion programs. Read more >>

Pipeline diversity program honored for exemplary leadership in diversifying legal profession
The Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaska Natives received the 2012 Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award. When the program started in 1967, its leaders could only locate 25 Native American attorneys in the country. Today, the estimates are from 2,500 to 3,000 lawyers and nearly 1,000 of them have gone through the summer institute. Read more >>

Six lawyers pave the way for others to follow
Six exceptional lawyers dedicated to promoting a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession were honored Feb. 5 with 2012 Spirit of Excellence Awards. “These distinguished lawyers and judges embody the Spirit Awards’ motto ‘To the Stars through Difficulty,’ said Reginald M. Turner Jr., chair of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, noting the recipients’ many achievements. Read more >>


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