The NITA community is saddened about the news of the passing of JoAnn Harris yesterday, October 30, 2014, in New York City. JoAnn was a beloved friend, talented faculty member and distinguished member of the NITA Board of Trustees for many years.
The NITA family will be reflecting, not only in our gratitude for having had such committed, motivated, and incredible support from JoAnn, but also in how we can take her vision and action forward as well.
Please share with us your personal recollections and thoughts about JoAnn as we share reflections through NITA Notes, in personal conversations, and elsewhere.
In her practice, JoAnn excelled with talent, leadership, and strong resolve to do the right things the right way. Her service as Assistant Attorney General at DOJ and throughout her career as a trial lawyer accentuated her keen eye for service to the public interest in justice.
JoAnn has long stood as one of the major proponents of ways for NITA to reach lawyers who advocate for under-represented populations. She was instrumental in our Tribal Program work, for example, and in communications with tribal leaders in underserved areas.
NITA will share a longer piece about her unforgettable legacy. NITA wants to share your thoughts as part of the collective voices of many who knew and admired JoAnn.
written by NITA Board Member Barbara Bergman
National Pro Bono Recognition week is October 19-25. As a result, this is a fitting time to reflect on NITA’s historic and continued commitment to pro bono and public service work. From its founding, NITA’s Board of Trustees and its staff have embraced public service as part of its mission. The first NITA programs included many lawyers who were either legal service attorneys or who actively represented pro bono clients. NITA continues to train those lawyers at its public and public service programs.
The Board of Trustees has chosen to make training attorneys and advocates who work with specific underserved communities a priority—including, but not limited to, areas such as legal aid, child advocacy, criminal law, tribal courts, and cases involving domestic violence. We do this through scholarships to public programs, NITA-funded public service programs, and working with local organizations to provide programs for those attorneys who serve these communities.
So far, in 2014, scholarships have been awarded to 94 attorneys in NITA public programs totaling over $100,000, enabling them to attend various NITA programs throughout the country. In addition, in 2014, over 500 participants were trained in NITA’s more specialized public service programs. Those programs included three child advocacy programs training 66 attorneys; two programs training 40 attorneys who do disability rights work; three legal services programs training 100 attorneys, two domestic violence programs training 56 attorneys, one death penalty program training 48 attorneys, a civil rights program training 32 attorneys, and three programs in conjunction with bar associations training an additional 56 attorneys. NITA has also sponsored teacher training programs for legal service and child advocacy attorneys, which were designed to enable those attorneys to return to their offices and train the attorneys with whom they worked to be more effective advocates. Finally, NITA is participating in advocacy training programs in Serbia, Singapore, Ireland, Kenya, and Japan. Overall, 150 individuals attended nine international programs.
Not only is NITA committed to training attorneys who give selflessly of their time and talents representing clients who are indigent, but in addition members of the NITA Board and staff continue to do pro bono work by volunteering for many service projects, including serving on boards, speaking and teaching, and working with service organizations.
During this Pro Bono Recognition Week, it is important to acknowledge the tremendous unmet need for legal services both in this country and internationally. It is equally important to recognize the dedication to pro bono work demonstrated by NITA’s staff, faculty, and Board.
Proud of our faculty’s talents, in teaching as well as in the law, I share with you these accolades for members of NITA’s Faculty. Our faculty are leaders. They are thinkers. They are restless – the world should be better! They walk the talk – they work to extend knowledge and advocate for real justice. They pass it on – they teach NITA, making others into more skilled trial lawyers. They achieve – honors, results, justice. These folks exemplify NITA – we are true-blue through and through.
(NITA faculty, please send us other honors and awards you know of – we would like to congratulate you and your colleagues too.)
By gathering these examples of our faculty’s leadership, I ask that you extend NITA’s outstretched hand to others with such top legal talent, inviting them into the NITA community across the nation. Our community grows through lawyers who care. It is an act of friendship to turn to a most talented colleague and say, “You would be great at teaching too. NITA is the one.”
Then call me.
NITA teaching. Recognition as a leader. The two go hand in hand.
Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Written by guest blogger Judge McGahey
I was admitted to the bar 40 years ago this month; in fact, I’m writing this review on the anniversary of my swearing-in. I went to law school between 1971 and 1974, when the DU Law School was right across the street from the courthouse where I now work. The courthouse looked much different then: many fewer women lawyers or judges, suits with really wide lapels and bell-bottom pants, ties as wide as tablecloths, and lots and lots of hair, on men and women alike.
Many ‘60’s and ‘70’s law students had a love/hate relationship with what they were studying and what they would do after graduation. On one hand, they saw the law and the courts as corrupt, venal, another manifestation of “The Man’s” power structure. On the other hand, they hoped – and believed – that the law and the courts could be vehicles for finding out the truth and bringing justice about. Perhaps no movie dealt with those conflicting feelings better than 1972’s And Justice for All.
And Justice for All stars Al Pacino as Arthur Kirkland, a criminal defense lawyer in Baltimore, Maryland, attempting to do his best for his clients, but caught up in a system of corrupt judges, indifferent prosecutors, massive pressure to plea bargain cases and a general cynicism about the entire legal process. We see Arthur thrown in jail for contempt after taking a swing at a tyrannical judge who keeps Arthur’s wrongfully jailed client locked up on a technicality. We see that wrongfully incarcerated client react against his treatment in a shocking way. We see another of Arthur’s clients erroneously sentenced to jail instead of probation – and then taking a drastic and heartbreaking step. We see one of Arthur’s friends hauled before the ethics committee on ridiculous charges. Through it all, we see Arthur trying – and failing – to maintain his professionalism and his hope.
The film primary focus is on Arthur being blackmailed into taking on the defense of Judge Fleming (played by John Forsythe of Dynasty and Charlie’s Angels fame), who’s accused of a vicious sexual assault. This is certainly an odd match-up, since Fleming is the judge Arthur earlier threw a punch at. Fleming is rich (he owns a helicopter), arrogant and stunningly corrupt. He is also absolutely sure that he’ll be acquitted. His contempt for the legal process is stunning and Arthur has to struggle mightily to provide Fleming with the defense that a lawyer is ethically required to provide. Eventually the case goes to trial – and it’s here that Arthur delivers one of the most amazing opening statements in the history of legal movies. I won’t give away the details, but after being told that he’s out of order for what he’s just said, Arthur bursts out with a famous and oft-quoted rant: “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order!” What follows brings into sharp focus the conflict between a lawyer’s duty to his client and his duty to seeing justice done.
Al Pacino received a Best Actor nomination for his performance as Arthur Kirkland. John Forsythe makes an eminently hate-able villain. There are also fine performances by Jeffery Tambor (of TV’s Transparent), Lee Strasberg, Christine Lahti, and by the seemingly ever-present Jack Warden as Judge Rayford, a jurist with a death wish and a very serious belief in the Second Amendment. (Warden pops up in many legal movies, including 12 Angry Men and The Verdict.) Norman Jewison directed and the writers, Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson, were also Oscar-nominated.
It’s hard to classify And Justice for All. You’ll see it described as a comedy, as a drama, as a satire and as a parody. The movie certainly has some extremely funny moments (watch the defendant who tries to eat the evidence in his trial) but any number of shocking, maddening and depressing moments as well. After you watch it you can decide for yourself what you think it is.
Here in Colorado, our state bar has declared October to be professionalism month. Watching And Justice for All brings to mind the inspiring language from the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct:
“A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.”
But as inspiring as those words are, you also can’t help also thinking of Arthur’s sad discussion with his grandfather:
Grandfather: Are you a good lawyer? Honest?
Arthur: Being honest doesn’t have much to do with being a lawyer.
Grandfather: If you’re not honest, you’ve got nothing.
After you watch And Justice for All, see if you agree with how Arthur resolves his dilemma about honesty and the quality of justice. I’d be interested in your answer.
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