Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice

Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section 2014-2015 Annual Report

The section has a broad mandate and a small membership. The steering committee has led the section in the following recent activities.

The Supreme Court: The View from the Press Gallery - July 3, 2013
Moderated by Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director, ACLU of the Nation's Capital. Panelists were Robert Barnes, The Washington Post; Joan Biskupic, ThomsenReuters; Jesse Holland, Associated Press; Adam Liptak, The New York Times; and David Savage, The Los Angeles Times. The section has presented each year such a panel of Supreme Court journalists for over two decades beginning in 1988. Held at Arnold & Porter, the program included behind-the-scenes observations of the Term including the 5-4 decision on the Affordable Care Act, handed down just days before the event. 

Guantanamo Tribunals: What Is Justice Post 9/11? – October 10, 2012
The program included "The Response," a documentary film directed byformer Hollywood producer Sig Libowitz, a 2007 law graduate and at the time onstaff at Venable. Comment on the film's reenactmentof an actual Guantanamo combatant status tribunal hearing was offered by former JAG prosecutor Morris Davis and the defense counsel for Khalid Muhammad. The Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section co-sponsored and D.C. Administrative Law Judge Nick Cobbs moderated.

Bench-Bar Panel and Brown-Bag Lunch with Family Court Juvenile Criminal Judges – November 14, 2012 Steering Committee Cochair Sharon Goodie moderated. Presiding Judge Zoe Bush moderated the discussion that included Associate Judges Rigsby, Raffinan and Ross, as well as Magistrate Judge Joan Goldfrank and Dr. Michael Barnes, head of the courthouse Child Guidance Clinic and a court services social worker. A very large crowd attended.

Implementing  A Civil Right to Counsel - April 19, 2013 Panel discussion in the afternoon segment of the Judicial-Bar Conference held at the Ronald Reagan Building Conference Center. The section's Access to Justice Committee, Steve Pershing, chairman, developed this panel, following up the section's session in April 2012, "When Justice So Requires: Toward a Right to Counsel for Indigents In D.C. Civil Cases." The panel was designed to complement the conference morning session on right to counsel 50 years after Gideon, presenting to a D.C. audience information from experiments elsewhere in the country with "civil Gideon," a term referring to expanded availability of counsel in civil matters. Moderated by Pershing, the panel included

  • Earl Johnson, Jr., who began his career here with Neighborhood Legal Services before heading the original OEO Legal Services program, later sitting as Justice on the California State Court of Appeal - District 2, and presently chair of the implementation committee overseeing 10 right-to-counsel pilot projects for the California Judicial Council asauthorized by the state's Shriver Act;
  • Catherine Carr, executive director of Community Legal Services, Inc., the largest legal aid provider in Philadelphia and the cochair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's Task Force on Civil Gideon and Access to Justice (whose leadership caused the Board of Governors unanimously to adopt a Resolution Calling for the Provision of Legal Counsel for Indigent Persons in Civil Matters Where Basic Human Needs Are at Stake; the resolution called upon the Task Force to, inter alia, examine civil Gideon efforts underway in other jurisdictions, develop strategies for developing civil Gideon and to focus initially on making recommendations in two areas of basic need: cases involvingthe imminent loss of shelter and child custody);
  • Mary Ryan, a law firm partner in Boston, past president ofthe Boston Bar Association and currently co-chair of the BBA Task Force on the Civil Right to Counsel that has directed a number of experiments there; and
  • Jonathan Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

The section provided a Drop Box Web address for participants for access to key documents such as ABA resolutions on civil rightto counsel. See at: 

Practice Manual
The section again updated its chapters in the D.C. Practice Manual. These provide guidance on civil practice in the U.S. District Court and appellate practice in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The Legal Aid Society of D.C. graciously lent the talent of Jack Keeney, director of the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project (and former section steering committee BOG liaison), for the Court of Appeals chapter review and the U.S. District Court provided staff expertise as well.

The section gratefully acknowledged the assistance with a contribution of a copy ofthe Manual for the LASDC staff law library.

Public Statement
The section worked with the Litigation Section and jointly issued on October 10, 2012, a "Public Statement Regarding the Video Visitation Policy of the D.C. Department of Corrections."

The statement analyzed research on the utility of community ties in maintaining rehabilitation of prisoners and expressed concern that in-person visits had ended for community members seeking to stay in touch with prisoners in the D.C. Jail. Visits had formerly been available in a room on an upper floor of the Jail, at 1901 D St., S.E. In summer 2012, the D.C. Department ofCorrections ended those visits and substituted visits by video link only (requiring community members to make an on-line appointment than to arrive and sit at terminals in a building elsewhere on the grounds of the old D.C. General Hospital to have a video and audio connection with the prisoner).The sections opposed the change as serving only narrow efficiency goals (such as reduced security costs) while weakening community ties of those locked up and thus possibly damaging their successful reentry.

Based on community opposition and statements from the Washington Lawyers Committee and the sections, the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety in June 2013 held a hearing on Bill 20-122 to reverse the video-only visitation policy and reinstate in-person visits as an option.

Member survey
The steering committee designed and distributed in June 2013 a survey to gather members' suggestions for programs and other activities. With the onset of Summer vacations and the end of the Bar year, few responded. The steering committee is planning to attempt the survey again later in the year.

November 20, 2013