Tucson Hosts ABOTA's National Board Meeting
“The jury box provides a unique forum for interaction among citizens who might otherwise never engage each other, people who live in different neighborhoods, attend different schools, worship in different congregations…In the jury box, we meet citizen to citizen, face to face, not just to exchange greetings or currency, but to listen to, learn from, and work with one another in the solemn task of self-government. Nowhere else, not even in the voting booth, must Americans come together in person to deliberate collectively about fundamental matters in our shared public life. Democracy is well served by the dialogue that takes place in the jury room.”
Akhil Reed Amar
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science
The American Board of Trial Advocates actively promotes the importance of an independent judiciary, the civil jury trial system, and civility in the profession. There are ABOTA Chapters in all 50 states. In April, ABOTA's National Board of Directors met in Tucson for meetings. This was ABOTA's first national meeting in Tucson, though our city holds an important place in its history.
The ABOTA was founded in 1957, under circumstance not so different from today. The jury system was under fierce attack from the press and politicians. Some Judges and legal commenters were hopping on board, and the 7th Amendment was under siege. The first Chapters of a new professional organization, dedicated to civility and preservation of the civil jury trial, were started in California, and the movement quickly spread to Pima County. Established in 1967, Tucson was the fifth ABOTA Chapter chartered.
Our own Hon. Michael Lacagnina, former PCBA President, served as National ABOTA President in 1983. At the time, he was the first non-Californian to be elected President.
The National Board meeting brought lawyers from coast to coast to enjoy a wonderful weekend in Southern Arizona. Coordinated with the meeting, ABOTA, in partnership with the State Bar of Arizona, presented its signature CLE offering, “Civility Matters.” Local members, David Rees, Dev Sethi and Tucson Chapter President Lisa Duran served as faculty with Judge Jim Marner and Bill Smith, an ABOTA member from California. The seminar covered a wide range of topics centered on civility in the practice. The seminar was well-received. It also served as a solid reminder of how nice it is – typically – practicing law in this community, where professionalism and civility are the rule not the exception.
Tucson's ABOTA Chapter is at the start of a revitalized era. Dev Sethi was inducted as a Member earlier this year, and Bill Poorten, a partner with Snell and Wilmer will be inducted shortly. Under the leadership of Lisa Duran, the Chapter looks forward to inviting more qualified lawyers into membership and working hard to further the important mission of the organization. To learn more about ABOTA, visit www.abota.org.