By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le
Bar Seeks Nominees for 2013 Rosenberg, Brennan Awards
The D.C. Bar is calling for nominations for its 2013 Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service and 2013 William J. Brennan Jr. Award. Both awards will be presented at the Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting on June 18.
The Rosenberg Award is presented annually to a D.C. Bar member whose career exemplifies the highest order of public service. The Bar established the award in honor of Beatrice “Bea” Rosenberg, who dedicated 35 years of her career to government service and performed with distinction at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also served as a member of the Board on Professional Responsibility.
In keeping with the exceptional accomplishments of Ms. Rosenberg, nominees should have demonstrated outstanding professional judgment throughout long–term government careers, worked intentionally to share their expertise as mentors to younger government lawyers, and devoted significant personal energies to public or community service. Nominees must be current or former employees of any local, state, or federal government agency. For more information on the Rosenberg Award criteria, visit www.dcbar.org/rosenbergaward/rosenberg_info.cfm#criteria.
The William J. Brennan Jr. Award recipients are recognized for their excellence, achievement, and commitment to civil rights and individual liberties. Candidates must be members of the D.C. Bar who have demonstrated excellence in dedication and commitment to public interest law.
Nominations for both the 2013 Rosenberg and Brennan Awards may be submitted in one of the following ways: (1) online via the Bar’s Web site at www.dcbar.org/awards; (2) by e–mail attachment to email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org; or (3) in hard copy to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Chief Executive Officer, District of Columbia Bar, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005–4210. Electronic submissions are encouraged. The last day for submissions is February 1.
For more information about the Brennan Award, e–mail email@example.com; for information on the Rosenberg Award, e–mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Information for both awards can be found at www.dcbar.org/awards.
To learn more about the Bar’s 2013 Celebration of Leadership, which will be held at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, visit www.dcbar.org/annual_dinner.—K.A.
2013 D.C. Bar Elections Open for Nominations
The D.C. Bar is accepting résumés from members wishing to be candidates in the 2013 Bar elections. The deadline for receipt of résumés is January 7.
The D.C. Bar Nominations Committee is charged with nominating individuals for the positions of D.C. Bar president-elect, secretary, and treasurer; five members of the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors; and three vacancies in the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates, including a vacancy in the under–35 seat. All candidates must be active members of the D.C. Bar, and all candidates for ABA House positions must also be ABA members.
Nominations may be submitted online at www.dcbar.org/inside_the_bar/structure/nominations, or mailed to the D.C. Bar Nominations Committee, Attn: Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Esq., 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210.
D.C. Practice Manual, 2012 Edition, Is Available for Purchase
The D.C. Bar and its sections have released the District of Columbia Practice Manual, 2012 Edition, a two–volume, soft-cover guide covering the basics of law in the District of Columbia.
Produced with the assistance of Thomson Reuters, this easy–to–use format brings together the collective knowledge of hundreds of experienced practitioners in 33 chapters.
A must–have resource and the starting point for every D.C. practitioner, the new manual has an introductory chapter on Finding the Law in the District of Columbia, followed by specific chapters covering Administrative Procedure, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Antitrust, Appellate Practice in the D.C. Court of Appeals, Art Law, Child Abuse and Neglect, Commercial Law, Consumer Protection, Corporate Practice, Criminal Law and Practice, Criminal Traffic Offenses, Domestic Relations, Employment Law, Environmental Law, Government Contracts, Health Maintenance Organization Act, Human Rights, Intervention Proceedings, Juvenile Law and Practice, Landlord and Tenant Practice, Legal Ethics and Lawyer Discipline, Mental Health Proceedings, Partnerships, Personal Injury, Real Property, Small Claims, Superior Court Civil Practice, Taxation, U.S. District Court Civil Practice, Wills and Estates, Workers’ Compensation, and Zoning and Historic Preservation.
The title is available for $300 and may be ordered from the D.C. Bar Member Services Center, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005–4210. Credit card orders may be placed by secure fax to 202-942-9752. Individuals purchasing the new edition automatically qualify for subscription pricing discounts on subsequent editions.
For more information about the title, contact the D.C. Bar Communications Office at email@example.com.
Two District Attorneys Appointed as Superior Court Magistrate Judges
On October 26 Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia appointed Rainey Ransom Brandt and Gretchen Rohr as magistrate judges.
“The addition of these two very qualified and dedicated attorneys to our bench will enhance our ability to serve the people of the District of Columbia,” Satterfield said. “They are both experts in their field and have demonstrated a commitment to serving their community.”
Brandt is a familiar face around the courthouse, having served as special counsel for each of the past three chief judges of the D.C. Superior Court. In this role, Brandt organized two Fugitive Safe Surrender initiatives, which encourage people with outstanding warrants to turn themselves in. She also has spearheaded projects aimed at improving court efficiency and coordinated mentoring programs for students at Thurgood Marshall Academy.
“Her expertise, insight, and broad understanding of the Superior Court and the D.C. criminal justice system will make her a first–rate judge,” Chief Judge Satterfield said.
With her appointment, Rohr will serve as chair of the court’s Mental Health Commission and will preside over the Juvenile Mental Health Diversion Court. Previously, Rohr was the director of the D.C. Jail and Prison Advocacy Project of the University Legal Services, representing those with mental illness. During her tenure, she created an interdisciplinary initiative for diverting these individuals to community-based, self-directed treatment.
“Gretchen has devoted her career to ensuring due process, dignity, and fairness to those with mental illness. She is an expert in this field and a very capable lawyer. We are most fortunate to have her join our bench in the role of chair of the D.C. Mental Health Commission,” Satterfield said.—T.L.
N.Y. Chief Judge Talks Pro Bono Requirements at PART Luncheon
In the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, the annual D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program’s annual Pro Bono Partnership (PART) Fall Kickoff Luncheon on October 31 seemed all the more meaningful, emphasizing the importance of helping those in need.
Held at Arnold & Porter LLP, the event honored the more than 110 District law firms and government agencies that are committed to providing pro bono legal services. PART responds to the ever–changing needs of the community and exchanges ideas on how to expand its pro bono activities.
“What you do is give real meaning to the words ‘Equal Justice for All,’” said Chief Judge Eric T. Washington of the D.C. Court of Appeals. “For that, I want to express both my appreciation and the appreciation of [Superior Court Chief Judge Lee] Satterfield and all of our judges for your work, and our admiration for what you do.”
This year’s luncheon featured State of New York and New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman as keynote speaker. He gave his remarks through video conference after Hurricane Sandy kept him in New York. His name has made headlines recently when he announced that New York would be the first state to require attorneys to complete 50 hours of pro bono work before being admitted to the bar.
“I think this is a chief judge who sees the crisis in civil legal services, the crisis in access to justice for what it is. It’s a crisis and an emergency. In a crisis and an emergency, you don’t spend years deliberating and appointing committees. You act. You take bold action,” said James Sandman, chair of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee, former D.C. Bar president, and president of the Legal Services Corporation. “He decided that he needed to do something dramatic to expand the resources available to low-income people who otherwise every day face matters of safety, subsistence, and family stability without a lawyer. He doesn’t think that’s okay, and he’s committed to do something about it. I think the man is a hero.”
Judge Lippman then spoke about the New York Courts’ new pro bono rule, effective January 1, 2013, offering details about the requirements, how the decision was made, and why he believed the rule was critical to the culture of the legal profession. Aspiring attorneys currently in their first and second year of law school must fulfill 50 hours of pro bono work at legal services providers, nonprofit organizations, or in public service, including in the judiciary and in federal, state, and local government. Third–year law students are exempt because they had already registered for courses by the time of the announcement.
“It’s not enough to just keep the courthouse doors open. If what happens inside our courthouses does not foster equal justice, then we might as well close the doors,” Judge Lippman said. “Our commitment in the courts is not to run a business or a bureaucracy. It’s about justice for all. It is fundamental to everything that we do.”
Before lunch, representatives from local legal assistance providers spoke to attorneys about various pro bono work opportunities available at their respective organizations.—T.L.
Pillars of Justice
On October 24 Appleseed celebrated local law firms for their commitment to advancing the organization’s mission of building a more fair and just society during its Pillars of Justice Awards reception at the Newseum. Betsy Cavendish (left), president of Appleseed, honored Farraz Khan of Hogan Lovells as one of the organization’s D.C.–based Pro Bono Partners. Dechert LLP, DLA Piper LLP, Mayer Brown LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, and WilmerHale LLP also received special recognition as Pro Bono Partners.—T.L.
Bar Conducts Judicial Evaluations for 2012–2013 Cycle
The D.C. Bar Judicial Evaluation Committee (JEC) is conducting its 2012–2013 evaluation program. Selected attorneys are invited to provide feedback on the performance of certain judges who preside over the D.C. Court of Appeals and D.C. Superior Court.
Attorneys are eligible to participate if they have appeared before one or more of the judges listed below during the period between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2012. The survey is conducted online only. All participants will remain anonymous. Evaluations are due by 10 p.m. Eastern time on January 11.
The following D.C. Court of Appeals judges will be evaluated this year: James A. Belson, Anna Blackburne–Rigsby, Stephen H. Glickman, Warren R. King, Frank Q. Nebeker, Inez Smith Reid, John M. Steadman, Phyllis D. Thompson, and Eric T. Washington.
At the Superior Court, 23 judges will be evaluated: Geoffrey M. Alprin, Jennifer Anderson, Bruce D. Beaudin, Ronna Lee Beck, Kaye K. Christian, Jeanette Jackson Clark, Marisa J. Demeo, Todd E. Edelman, Wendell P. Gardner Jr., John R. Hess, Brook Hedge, Milton C. Lee Jr., Bruce S. Mencher, Gregory E. Mize, Stuart G. Nash, Hiram E. Puig-Lugo, Maribeth Raffinan, Judith E. Retchin, Robert I. Richter, Robert R. Rigsby, Judith A. Smith, Patricia A. Wynn, and Stephen F. Eilperin.
Judges are evaluated in their 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 13th year of service. Additionally, senior judges serving four–year terms are evaluated during their second year, and those serving two–year terms are evaluated once during their term.
Each evaluated judge, along with the chief judge of each court, will receive a copy of the survey results. Evaluation results of senior judges and judges in their 6th, 10th, and 13th year of service also will be sent to the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.
If an attorney is eligible to participate in the survey but did not receive an invitation from Research USA, an independent vendor administering the survey, he or she may request a link to the survey directly from Research USA at firstname.lastname@example.org.—K.A.
Superior Court Truancy Program Seeks Mentors
With the windows shut, one Washington, D.C., mom sat in darkness in her home each day with depression so great she could do little to ensure her child attended school. It took a social worker to come in and open those curtains and break the cycle—to get the mother to therapy and, eventually, the child to school on a regular basis.
“The reason that kids in middle school don’t go to school, it’s not because they don’t want to learn. It’s because their families are in crisis,” said Judge Zoe Bush, presiding judge of the Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
In an effort to curb truancy rates in D.C. schools, the Family Court partnered with the District of Columbia Public Schools, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to create the Truancy Court Diversion Program. The joint effort is aimed at local middle school students who are at risk of becoming chronically absent.
Through the 10–week program, families of at–risk students are given assistance to help overcome barriers that lead to truancy. CFSA offers community–based collaboratives, and social workers go into the homes to help identify the family’s needs and connect them to available resources. In addition, Family Court judges go into schools and spend an hour each week to do programming with children and families.
Last year the Family Court worked with two schools, and now the program has expanded to six schools—Browne Education Campus, Eliot–Hine Middle School, Dr. John Hayden Johnson Middle School, Kramer Middle School, LaSalle–Backus Education Campus, and Shaw Middle School. These particular schools feed into seven local high schools where six out of 10 kids have tallied up more than 25 unexcused absences.
“The vast majority of juveniles that come into the court system are truants,” said Judge Bush. D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric T. Washington agreed, adding, “We’re looking for a way to break that pipeline to prison for these kids.”
To improve its success rates, the truancy program is seeking volunteers from the community to act as mentors for these students. For eight to 10 hours a month, mentors will spend time with the kids outside of school, encouraging positive behavior and helping them as they navigate adolescence, including academic challenges and negative peer pressure.
“What makes a difference between a child who is successful and a child who is not? It’s one caring, committed adult. That can be a family member. That can be a teacher. That can be a minister or it can be a mentor,” Judge Bush said.
For more information about the program or to volunteer, contact Victoria Hardin, judicial administrative assistant for Judge Zoe Bush, at Victoria.Hardin@dcsc.gov.—T.L.
Bar Members Must Complete Practice Course
New members of the District of Columbia Bar are reminded that they have 12 months from the date of admission to complete the required course on the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and District of Columbia practice offered by the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program.
D.C. Bar members who have been inactive, retired, or voluntarily resigned for five years or more also are required to complete the course if they are seeking to switch or be reinstated to active member status. In addition, members who have been suspended for five years or more for nonpayment of dues or late fees are required to take the course to be reinstated.
New members who do not complete the mandatory course requirement within 12 months of admission receive a noncompliance notice and a final 60-day window in which to comply. After that date, the Bar administratively suspends individuals who have not completed the course and forwards their names to the clerks of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and to the Office of Bar Counsel.
Suspensions become a permanent part of members’ records. To be reinstated, one must complete the course and pay a $50 fee.
The preregistration fee is $219; the onsite fee is $279. Upcoming 2012 dates are November 17 and December 11. Dates for 2013 include January 12, February 5, March 9, April 2, May 11, and June 4. Advanced registration is encouraged.
For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/mandatorycourse.
Georgetown Law Report Calls for Gender-Responsive Reforms
Girls make up a growing percentage of young people in the juvenile justice system, yet their needs are not being met by a system that was designed for boys, according to a report released in October by the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center.
The report, “Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls: Lessons From the States,” recommends reforms at the local, state, and federal levels. The recommendations are based on reforms made in Connecticut, Florida, and Stanislaus County in California.
“It has been over 10 years since a group has produced a comprehensive report highlighting state reforms on girls in the juvenile justice system. Our report provides tangible recommendations and effective solutions that states and local jurisdictions can implement to support girls in the juvenile justice system, a growing population that has been thrust into a system, such as it is, that is aimed at boys,” said Georgetown Law Professor Peter Edelman, faculty codirector of the center. Edelman and Liz Watson, former executive director of the center, coauthored the report.
Although still outnumbered by boys in the juvenile justice system—816,646 males vs. 337,450 female juvenile offenders in 2010, for example—girls in detention make up the fastest growing segment of the system. Between 1991 and 2003, girls’ detentions rose by 98 percent, compared to a 29 percent increase for boys. Over the same period girls’ commitments to facilities rose by 88 percent while boys’ commitments increased only by 23 percent.
However, girls in the juvenile justice system are far more likely to be detained for nonserious offenses such as technical probation violations and status offenses, which include activities that are only crimes when committed by a youth.
According to the report, the typical girl in the juvenile justice system is a nonviolent offender who poses little risk to the public but has significant personal needs. The challenges these girls face include trauma, violence, neglect, mental and physical problems, family conflict, pregnancy, residential and academic instability, and school failure. However, the juvenile justice system “only exacerbates these problems by failing to provide girls with services at the time when they need them most,” the report states.
The report recommends for states and local jurisdictions to research and diagnose the problem, including the needs of girls in the system and the availability of appropriate community–based services; launch a public education campaign; develop pilot and demonstration projects; advance a legislative agenda; train staff on gender–responsive programming; and adequately fund diversion and prevention programs, among others.
At the federal level, the report recommends developing a stronger, standardized assessment tool for girls entering the system; encouraging the development of national standards for gender–responsive programming; mandating the U.S. Department of Justice to improve training and technical assistance among judges, law enforcement, and juvenile justice staff to better recognize the unique needs of girls; and closing a current loophole that allows states to detain juveniles for technical violations of court orders.
The full report is available at http://bit.ly/ReXna6.—K.A.
Court of Appeals’ CUPL Seeks Candidates for Vacancy
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals seeks applicants for a vacancy on its Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law (CUPL).
The CUPL is largely responsible for enforcing the court’s Rule 49, concerning unauthorized practice, and with releasing opinions interpreting Rule 49. Members of CUPL also conduct investigations and take part in compliance decisions. Members must belong to the D.C. Bar and are appointed to three–year terms, which are renewable.
For more information, contact CUPL staff at 202-879-2777, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Poverty Simulation Helps Attorneys Understand Client Hardships
For three hours on October 24, a large conference room at Mayer Brown LLP was transformed into a replica of a low-income community. The challenge for attorneys that day was to experience the lives of a person living in poverty for a month as they try to access services from essential businesses, including a bank, a grocery store, a public school, a social services agency, a mortgage company, a general employer, a legal aid organization, and a check cashing store.
The poverty simulation event, “Walk a Month in My Shoes: An Experience for Pro Bono Attorneys and Others Who Work With Low–Income Clients,” was part of the weeklong National Pro Bono Celebration from October 21 to 27. The event was moderated by Tiela Chalmers, a pro bono and legal services consultant, and supported by the Washington Council of Lawyers and several law firms.
Attorneys played different roles, forming families and struggling to make ends meet. One played the role of an abused mother of two. Others acted as grandparents caring for their grandchildren while the mother was in jail. Some played young children with diabetes or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
The goal of the workshop was to help lawyers gain a better understanding of the obstacles their low-income clients face by simulating a month in their lives. Each participant received a packet describing their living situation, from employment and family dynamics to monthly income and housing circumstances. After reviewing the information, the participants were given 10 minutes to strategize on how to meet their responsibilities. With the blow of a whistle, week one began.
People scrambled across “town” using a limited number of transportation passes that they were given to drop off their children at “Realville Public School,” cash paychecks, run errands, and look for jobs. One participant tried to cash a check at the “U-Trust-Us National Bank” but was refused because he had a $125,000 outstanding loan. Within minutes of his frustrated departure, the bank manager was on the phone with the man’s employer trying to garnish wages.
Mark Herzog, associate director of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program, acted as the neighborhood thief and drug dealer. He robbed the Locke family of their Electronic Benefit Transfer card, leaving the family unable to buy enough food. He partnered with the owner of “Betty’s Burgers” to start a drug ring when she began struggling to make money. In turn, she persuaded customers to buy and deal drugs.
As the role–playing progressed through each week, the desperation began to sink in for many. Clusters of chairs represented different homes. Some people came home to toppled chairs and an eviction sign from “Sweaney Mortgage & Realty” when they couldn’t pay their rent. Lines formed outside the homeless shelter and the social services department. To pay for food and avoid eviction, the Locke family resorted to robbing another family outside a check cashing facility, later remarking about how “easy it is to make a really bad decision when there’s so much pressure.” One child stole food. Another took cash to pay for glasses. Both went unpunished because their parents were so worried about finding the means to live.
“Zoe,” 9, and “Xerxes,” 7, were left at home alone during a school day when their grandparents could not pay for the kids’ field trip. One participant was fired from his job because he spent half the day trying to cash a paycheck.
Life Full of Red Tape
“You could see the frustration in people,” said Barbara Kagan, public service counsel at Steptoe & Johnson LLP who played the role of general employer. “They tried to come in every day and to get to work on time. Life just got in the way.”
In another scenario, a mom delayed getting a restraining order against her partner until numerous acts of violence had occurred. “I sat out [on getting the first restraining order] so that the bills could be paid. . . . Then I remembered the kids,” she said. “It was a hard choice actually.”
Despite the obstacles, participants showed a level of trust with community businesses that was unwarranted. The owner of the Food-A-Rama was doling out incorrect change with virtually no pushback until time wore on, money got tighter, and people became more vigilant about every cent.
Showing a lack of power—common among some low-income clients—one worker accepted at face value the employer’s explanation of no paychecks for another week. It wasn’t until a friend pointed out that he should get representation at Legal Aid did he try to help himself.
A Changed Perspective
After the simulation, participants gathered to talk about their experiences. The feeling of powerlessness was echoed by the majority in the room. “I had to put up with whatever I was subjected to,” said one attorney. “I felt alone and hopeless,” said another.
Those running the businesses and agencies, in particular the Department of Social Services and Legal Aid, also felt helpless and frustrated that they were unable to help everyone. The lines were endless and the need grew with every week.
The workshop offered participants a unique look into the lives of their clients, altering how many may do their pro bono work, whether it be trying to meet the client at their home or no longer assuming they know more about the public assistance system than they do.
“It’s not just a simulation of ‘those’ people over there,” Chalmers said. “It’s a simulation of all of us.”—T.L.