High Noon for the Sheriff
Thank you, and thanks especially to your senior writer Terry Carter, for an outstanding, provocative and deeply disturbing article, “The Maricopa Courthouse War,” April. The story was compelling and well-documented, and I respect the American Bar Association for daring to print it.
It is sad to think that elected law enforcement officials in our own country may be behaving no better than tin-pot dictators. Indicting and “perp-walking” political enemies, and imprisoning citizens simply for applauding critical speakers at public meetings, are goon-squad tactics one would expect in Saddam’s Iraq, North Korea, Myanmar or Belarus—not in the United States of America.
I hope that the actions of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be fully and fairly investigated.
I come from a small town—Brooklyn, N.Y. based on what I read in your feature, I have more respect for the old mafioso who used to hold sway than the dueling “authorities” carrying on in Maricopa County. It’s starting to smell bad, even over here in Brooklyn. Time for an investigation (hopefully an honest one) by the Department of Justice.
Politics, police, judges and media have not changed in Arizona in over 120 years. If you understand the politics, police, judges and media stories behind the “shoot-out at the OK Corral,” it is clear that little has changed. The Earp and Clanton “cowboy mentality” still prevails. It just depends on who is in power.
To understand the mess in Maricopa County, all you need to do is understand what happened in Tombstone—no joke! It is really no different in Yavapai County, which is why County Attorney Sheila Polk backed off. Anything she said would likely have been used against her. Thomas’ biggest mistake was in relying on a sense of “justice” to prevail.
The unfortunate reality is we will likely never learn the “facts.”
UPDATE ABOUT HOLOCAUST EXHIBIT
Regarding “When Lawyers Disappeared,” April: While we are delighted to learn that this important exhibit, “Lawyers Without Rights,” will be presented at the spring meeting of the International Law Section in New York City and then at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, the article is incorrect when it states that “it was never made available to an audience of lawyers in the United States.”
In early 2005, the Beverly Hills Bar Association arranged to bring the exhibition to Los Angeles from a New York synagogue and proudly presented it at the Museum of Tolerance from Nov. 9 (the anniversary of Kristallnacht) through January 2006 (to coincide with the anniversary of Liberation). In fact, with the discovery that the family of one of our members had two “stories,”the German Federal Bar Association arranged to add their panel to the exhibit.
The presentation and ongoing exhibit was made possible by the tremendous support of many lawyers and law firms in our region. Also gratifying was the fact that at the opening, members and guests of the GFBA and the German Consul General were in attendance.
I plan to be in San Francisco in August at the ABA Annual Meeting and look forward to again seeing the exhibit and meeting those who were instrumental in arranging this showing.
Marc R. Staenberg
Beverly Hills Bar Association
ON DUES AND DRINKING SOCIETIES
“ABA Halves Dues for Solos,” March, notes that the association is reducing membership fees. The restructuring seems to me to be quite radical, and apparently it is going to go further.
A while ago, our local bar association, at one of its meetings, discussed how to make our association more attractive to lawyers in our county. I suggested we go back to the basis of the formation of the bar and return to a men’s drinking society. I was not treated kindly by one woman recently admitted to the bar. She was right.
Bar associations and such men’s organizations as Rotary were founded in the culture of their day. Their decline is not solved by making them inclusive. The problem is that their decline represents a cultural shift in society.
Most people just do not want to be members of these organizations anymore. When I say “men’s drinking society,”do not focus on the word men’s—focus on the cultural activity. If these societies did some good in the community, all the better, but they addressed a fundamental social desire. They grew up generally at the end of the 19th century and flourished throughout the 20th. The fundamental social desire of that day is gone.
As Judge Richard Posner says, we are a guild. In defense of guilds, it should be stated that they did much good, and of course our bar associations do much good. That is not to say that these guilds were made up of people who did not have great ethical instincts or were not people of honor and culture and value. Of course, bar associations do so much good—supporting as they do the ethical, honorable, cultural and valuable aspects of the practice of law. However, the fundamental basis of these organizations that existed in a culture of long ago is gone. They are simply becoming irrelevant. The problem for this bar association and others is how in the world do you stop the onslaught of such a fundamental cultural shift?
Peter V. Coffey
OBITER DICTA ADDENDUM
Regarding “Open Wide,” April: I happen to be the attorney representing Charles Gaal’s family. Probably the most egregious act of negligence was committed by the Florida Board of Dentistry. The board simply reprimanded Dr. Wesley Meyers, fined him $17,000 and forced him to take a three-hour ethics class. The civil case has since been resolved.
SUPPORT FOR SOLOS
“Turnaround,” March, succinctly evinces the struggle solos face in wearing multiple hats and being forced to step outside of their comfort zones in order to attract new business in these difficult economic times. Whereas the unexamined (professional) life is not worth living, anything worth having (a successful practice) is most certainly worth working hard for.
As a new solo in Atlanta, I have also found the law practice management information from the State Bar of Georgia to be an excellent resource. For more updated and in-depth information, there is also a wealth of resources regarding law practice management at area law school libraries that are not available at the State Bar of Georgia. I would recommend that solos utilize that sort of resource as well in building and maintaining their practices.
Best of luck to all solos and small-firm practitioners, especially those featured in this article, as well as the consultants who provided such excellent advice.