Boston’s Midyear Assembly: Thoughtful and Reasoned Debate
By Jill Kastner
Jill M. Kastner is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and General Counsel of Strat-O-Kastner in Glendale, Wisconsin.
The ABA YLD’s Midyear Assembly in Boston on February 14, 2009, was dominated by thoughtful and well-reasoned debates between quality orators. The complete Assembly recap is available at .
The Resolutions
Three contested resolutions were debated at Assembly. Two resolutions passed. Resolution 106 concerned opposing federal legislation to create federal question jurisdiction in child custody cases involving service-member parents and encouraging states to enact legislation prohibiting courts from denying service-members child custody based on their absence because of military deployment. Resolution 111B involved supporting legislation that would void pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in long-term facility agreements.
The biggest debate concerned Resolution 1YL, the proposal by former ABA YLD Chair Christina Plum to create separate ABA YLD officer positions for a Treasurer and a Treasurer-Elect. The new Treasurer and Treasurer-Elect would take over the financial roles that are currently the responsibility of the Secretary/Treasurer. The Secretary would then focus on his or her secretarial roles including, determining conference sites, recording Assembly and Council proceedings, and so on.
Those favoring a separate Treasurer position argued that the ABA YLD needs a financial officer to take the burden from the Secretary and also take on additional fiscal accounting, fundraising, and sponsorship roles that the current officers have been unable to take on because of time and other constraints.
Those opposed to creating a new officer position expressed concerns about divesting such power and responsibility from the Secretary—who traditionally becomes Chair-Elect and then Chair. They argued that the Secretary/Treasurer should be able to take on the important fiscal responsibilities of the ABA YLD and that learning the budget was essential to becoming an effective Chair.
The vote was close, but Resolution 1YL was just shy of obtaining the two-thirds vote required to amend the Bylaws. Thus, the resolution failed and no new position was created.
Voting at Assembly
One hundred seventy-three delegates from forty-three states and territories attended the Midyear Assembly. Per the ABA YLD Bylaws, the Assembly is made up of delegates representing the affiliates of each state, one delegate from each of the armed services, two delegates from each national affiliate (for example, the Hispanic National Bar Association), and certain members of the YLD’s Council (made up of the YLD’s officers, directors, district representatives, and certain other ABA YLD leaders).
To vote at the Assembly, a delegate must comply with the ABA YLD’s delegate certification process, which is described at . Those who are not certified in advance of the Assembly cannot vote unless the Assembly votes to re-open delegate certification. At the Midyear Assembly, the motion to re-open certification was defeated and several potential delegates unfortunately were not able to vote. It is important that delegates remember to comply with the certification process at future Assemblies.
The Assembly is more than debates over resolutions. There are also interesting and informative presentations. For example, both ABA President H. Thomas Wells, Jr., of Birmingham, Alabama, and ABA President-Elect Carolyn B. Lamm of Washington, D.C., addressed the Assembly. Delegates were also introduced to the uncontested candidates for ABA YLD offices: Kelly-Ann Clarke, Chair; David B. Wolfe, Chair-Elect; Michael G. Bergmann, Secretary-Treasurer; Ethan Tidmore, Assembly Speaker, Lizz K. Acee, ABA House of Delegates; and Carlos A. Escurel, Assembly Clerk.