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ABA House passes resolutions opposing legal discrimination against the LGBT community

Midyear Meeting

aba-house-passes-resolutions-opposing-legal-discrimination-against-the-lgbt-community.pngImage from Shutterstock.

The ABA House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed two resolutions Monday opposing legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Resolution 114, sponsored by the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, takes a stand on a live legal issue: the extent to which LGBT people are protected from discrimination by federal law. It urges Congress to enact legislation affirming that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act, and affirming that religious freedom laws don’t authorize otherwise illegal discrimination.

Resolution 113, sponsored by the National LGBT Bar Association as well as the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, says the ABA opposes laws that discriminate against LGBT people exercising their right to parent.

The intersection between LGBT rights and religious freedom has taken on a high profile in recent years as business owners have increasingly challenged laws of general applicability on religious freedom grounds. Religious rights were the basis for the Supreme Court ruling that permitted Hobby Lobby and other closely held companies not to offer birth control coverage to employees. More recently, a baker in Colorado and other wedding vendors have challenged state anti-discrimination laws that penalized them for refusing to serve same-sex couples, arguing that they sincerely believe their Christianity requires them to refuse.

At the same time, a related issue has arisen: whether federally prohibited sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Under President Barack Obama, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it did; the Trump administration reversed that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether to take up three cases that raise that question, all involving people fired from their jobs for their sexuality or transgender status.

Resolution 114 was moved in the House by Victor Marquez, chair of the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Marquez noted that the resolution is consistent with earlier ABA policies. Indeed, he said the ABA has taken public positions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as early as 1989 and on the basis of gender identity starting in 2006.

No one spoke in opposition, and the measure passed easily.

That resolution was considered after Resolution 113, on a similar topic of parenting rights for LGBT people. The report for the resolution says 10 states currently permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse placement of foster or adoptive children based on the agency’s religious or moral beliefs. The report says this is contrary to the best interests of the children, and in some cases also violates the law.

Delegate John Francis Stephens of the National LGBT Bar Association moved the resolution in the House but said little on the subject, likely because there was no opposition. More was said by ABA President-elect Judy Perry Martinez, who told the House about her niece, who is part of a same-sex couple living in Louisiana. When the two women decided they’d like to become foster parents and eventually adopt, they had a home visit from a woman who told them up front about her feelings on the matter.

“She advised them that she was Baptist but regardless of what she believed, she was going to fulfill her duties and do what the law required,” Martinez said. “She followed the law with respect, fairness and equality.”

Martinez’s niece and her wife have now fostered 20 children and are on track to adopt their third child this spring. Martinez urged the House to help create more such stories by voting for the resolution. Overwhelmingly, it did.

Follow along with ABA Media Relations’ full coverage of the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting and the ABA Journal’s news stories.

Expungement, prisoners’ rights and child abuse were criminal justice issues tackled by ABA House

MIdyear Meeting

expungement-prisoners-rights-and-child-abuse-were-criminal-justice-issues-tackled-by-aba-house.pngImage from Shutterstock.

The ABA House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved a trio of resolutions targeting criminal justice reforms Monday at the Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas.

Resolution 109B urges legislatures to define criminal arrests, charges and dispositions that are eligible for expungement or removal from public view via sealing, and to establish application procedures for individuals who have been arrested, charged or convicted.

Stephen A. Saltzburg of Washington, D.C., the delegate from the Criminal Justice Section, said the section has worked to limit the lifespan of records of individuals who are returning from jail or prison back to school, work and homes since 2004. This resolution, he said, would not only make rules relating to expungement and sealing consistent, but also encourage procedures to fairly process applicants.

“In most places, even if you can get a record expunged, these folks coming out have no clue how to do it,” he said. “There is not right to counsel when it comes to sealing, no right to counsel when it comes to expungement.”

The resolution builds on two resolutions related to expungement previously adopted by the ABA House of Delegates at the ABA Annual Meeting in August 2017.

Resolution 109C calls on governments to enact legislation, and correctional and detention facilities to enact policies, that provide all female prisoners with unrestricted access to free toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.

Neal R. Sonnett of Florida, also a member of the Criminal Justice Section, contended that this resolution addresses an important issue, as women comprise the fastest growing segment of jailed individuals. He said even though there are more than 200,000 women confined in prisons or jails across the country, most facilities continue to be geared toward men.

“Institutions have failed to understand exactly what female prisoners, both adult and juvenile, need in order to respond to their monthly needs,” Sonnett said.

While several states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have instituted policies to provide women with access to free toilet paper and feminine hygiene products, Sonnett added that “we think it ought to be nationwide.”

Resolution 109D urges legislatures to amend or enact laws to clearly define child torture, making it a felony offense regardless of whether a child suffers serious physical injury. It also asks jurisdictions to educate judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and other relevant personnel on emerging issues in child protection.

Saltzburg, who also addressed the House of Delegates on this resolution, offered a “shocking statistic,” saying that an estimated 676,000 children were abused or neglected in 2016, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report. Despite the Criminal Justice Section’s concerns with overcriminalization, he said members felt it was time to amend or enact penalties to include a felony charge to “begin to do a better job of helping our children who are abused.”

The ABA previously addressed this issue in 2013, by adopting a resolution urging states to review and potentially strengthen their child abuse and neglect laws.

Follow along with ABA Media Relations’ full coverage of the of the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting and the ABA Journal’s news stories.

Daily News: Google’s Ad Campaign Support, LSA19 Privacy Sessions, Facebook’s Messaging Platforms


Here is today’s roundup of news related to local marketing and advertising, local media, technology, local commerce, consumer behavior and more.

On February 4, Google Will Start Intervening in SEM Campaigns (January 28, 2019)
LSA Insider: “Last week an email went out to an undetermined number of paid-search marketers. It says, “Google Ads experts are identifying key changes that can help you get more out of your ads, from restructuring your ad groups and modifying your keywords to adjusting your bids and updating your ad text”.”

LSA19 Privacy Sessions: What You Need to Know — and Do (Now) (January 28, 2019)
LSA Insider: “Today, January 28, is officially “Data Privacy Day,” which began in 2007 in Europe and in 2008 in the US. Privacy is a topic that many people find confusing or boring. But it’s probably the most important topic facing marketers and brands right now.”

2019 Predictions: Voice Technology Will Become #1 Tool for Consumer Search (January 28, 2019)
LSA Insider: “Voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are becoming the preferred search tool for consumers. In response to that, businesses will need to start adopting strategies to prepare for this shift in voice technology reliance. One strategy we predict will be implemented across brands is Voice Engine Optimization, which refers to a new content marketing strategy to provide these voice assistants with questions and answers that consumers are frequently asking.”

Facebook to Integrate Technical Infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger (January 28, 2019)
Street Fight: “A seemingly strange move at a time when regulators and public opinion are turning sour on the size of big tech, Facebook is at work on a plan to integrate the tech underlying its messaging platforms by the end of 2019 or early 2020, the New York Times reported.”

Playable Ads:  The Next Big Thing for Mobile Advertising? (January 25, 2019)
eMarketer: “”Time is money” has never had more meaning than it does today. The “attention economy” has become another challenge for advertisers—particularly on mobile devices where users have lower tolerances for attention-grabbing ads. But short attention spans may have met their match in playable ads, which embed games or puzzles into ad units.”

ABA House condemns government shutdown, opposes any diversion of disaster-relief funds

Midyear Meeting

aba-house-condemns-government-shutdown-opposes-any-diversion-of-disaster-relief-funds.pngImage from Shutterstock.

In two late resolutions, the ABA House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to condemn government shutdowns and oppose withholding or diversion of emergency relief funds.

Resolution 10B, sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, was originally drafted before Friday’s legislation that reopened the government. However, President Michael Miller of the NYSBA said on the House floor that members were concerned that the situation was likely to recur. He painted a picture of federal employees lining up at food pantries and aircraft safety inspectors deemed nonessential.

“The shutdown was a national embarrassment, but worse, it was a disgrace,” Miller said. “Federal courts across our great nation were forced to cut back operations severely and in some cases shut down entirely.”

The bar group’s report notes that the shutdown had bad effects on the justice system. The federal courts were able to sustain operations through a combination of reserves and aggressive cost-cutting. But parts of the system were not functioning: FBI agents said their investigations were impacted; contractors weren’t getting paid; numerous civil cases were postponed; and U.S. Marshals limited the hours of operation in the Southern District of New York. The immigration court system was shut down completely to nondetained immigrants, and court staff serving detained immigrants were working for free.

Before the House voted, delegate Ted Davis of Georgia moved to amend the resolution to condemn federal shutdowns, plural, in recognition of the fact that the most recent federal shutdown has ended. This caused a brief pause while the resolution was so amended. There was no opposition to the amendment. Connecticut state delegate Daniel Schwartz of Hartford spoke in favor of the resolution before closing, noting that delayed justice is also an attack on the rule of law.

The measure passed with no audible opposition.

That vote immediately preceded Resolution 10C, sponsored by the Virgin Islands Bar Association and the Puerto Rico Bar Association, and also on a matter of recent political importance. Those jurisdictions and several states were allocated $90 billion in disaster-relief funds by Congress in response to the hurricanes, floods and wildfires of 2017. That disaster funding is still being used, and some of the affected areas are not yet fully recovered, but President Donald Trump has recently begun suggesting that he may redirect the emergency funds to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Anthony Ciolli, the immediate-past president of the Virgin Islands Bar Association, condemned the idea because of its effects on the parts of the United States that were hit hardest by 2017’s natural disasters. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were hit by two Category 5 hurricanes in a row, he said. Providing emergency relief to those affected should not be controversial.

No one rose to speak in opposition, but delegate Carlos Rodriguez-Vidal of the Bar Association of Puerto Rico chimed in to share his personal experience. In Puerto Rico, he said, communities were forced to spend months without electricity and replace some of the most basic infrastructure on the island.

“The rule of law demands that the current administration implement the ,” he said. “Diversion of disaster-relief funds for other purposes is unacceptable.”

That measure, too, had no audible opposition when it passed.

Follow along with ABA Media Relations’ full coverage of the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting and the ABA Journal’s news stories.

Lawyer gets prison time for shooting into another lawyer’s office

Criminal Justice


A lawyer who practiced law in Portland, Oregon, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Wednesday for firing shots into the office of another lawyer.

The lawyer, Erik Graeff, was sentenced after pleading guilty in October to unlawful use of a weapon and recklessly endangering another person, report the Columbian, the Oregonian and KATU News. Prosecutors had recommended a five-year sentence, according to a press release.

Graeff was accused of shooting six rounds at the office of lawyer Terrance Hogan of Beaverton in December 2017. Investigators later determined that one of the bullets missed a woman inside the building by less than a foot.

Graeff and Hogan had exchanged taunts in emails on the day of the shooting, police had alleged.

lawyer-gets-prison-time-for-shooting-into-another-lawyers-office.pngErik Graeff. Photo from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Andrew Erwin of Washington County imposed the prison sentence. He also ordered Graeff to undergo two years of supervision after prison, participate in mental health and alcohol treatment programs, and pay a $5,000 fine to the victims.

The email dispute allegedly began when Hogan left a voicemail telling Graeff he didn’t approve of his work in a case they were handling. Graeff responded with an email showing an image of a cat playing a violin, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Hogan responded by saying Graeff would have to explain his conduct to the state bars in Oregon and Washington, where he has licenses to practice, according to the affidavit. Graeff said he would be waiting, and that he is tougher than Hogan and the state bars. Hogan responded, “You know where I am, tough guy.”

A search of Graeff’s home in Vancouver, Washington, turned up the gun used in the shooting. It also found evidence that led to new charges against Graeff: unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine. That case is still pending.

One way to deal with cops who lie? Blacklist them, some DAs say


In the racially divided city of St. Louis, the chief prosecutor has embraced a controversial tool to hold police accountable: blacklisting cops who she says are too untrustworthy to testify in court.

So far, Kim Gardner has dropped more than 100 cases that relied on statements from the 29 officers who got on the list for alleged lying, abuse or corruption. And she won’t accept new cases or search-warrant requests from them, either.

From Philadelphia to Houston to Seattle, district attorneys recently elected on platforms of criminal justice reform are building similar databases of their own. Often known as “do not call” lists, they are also called “exclusion lists” or “Brady lists” after a famous Supreme Court decision requiring prosecutors to disclose to defense lawyers information about unreliable police officers or other holes in their cases.

The goal is to help prosecutors avoid bringing cases built on evidence from officers who are likely to be challenged in court, these new DAs say. Having a centralized list at a district attorney’s office, they say, allows for the gathering of institutional knowledge, so that if one prosecutor on staff knows about a bad cop, all the prosecutors do.

But the strategy has infuriated police unions and some law-enforcement officials, who say they should get a say in who’s named on the lists—or else crime victims will pay the price.

“Kim Gardner is saying that when you dial 911, you’re playing 911 roulette: You may get an officer who’s on her list and who can’t give you justice,” said Jeff Roorda, spokesman and business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association.

Prosecutors who’ve adopted exclusion lists counter that victims rely on officers to be able to testify about the evidence they’ve collected and the witnesses they’ve interviewed without being challenged on integrity grounds.

Supporters of the lists say that officers are typically included based on documented instances of lying on the stand or in their police reports, not rumors. And under police-friendly state laws and employment contracts negotiated by powerful unions, cops have a variety of legal opportunities to clear their names.

“As elected prosecutors, we have the discretion to choose whether to entertain certain cases from certain individuals,” Gardner said in an interview. “Our obligation is to evaluate the credibility of any witness, regardless of whether they’re police.”

“We have people whose liberty is at stake,” she said.

Exclusion lists are not entirely a new phenomenon. But in the past, they worked more like a grapevine, with anecdotes about cops shared among line prosecutors case-by-case. DA’s offices would discreetly inform police departments about officers with credibility issues, and those individuals would just as discreetly be reassigned to desk jobs.

In a city like Baltimore, which struggles to maintain police credibility in the black community, exclusion lists date back a decade. In 2008, the elected prosecutor, Patricia Jessamy, listed 15 current or former officers her office deemed not reliable enough to call as witnesses in court cases.

Police union leaders called the move unfair to officers, saying they are often subject to false complaints. Judging should be left to courts or administrative tribunals, they said. Prosecutors responded that those processes of determining guilt often took years.

Baltimore’s exclusion list forced the police to assign officers to desk duties, where they couldn’t make arrests or have other contact with the public. Due to the bad blood the policy created between cops and prosecutors, it was abolished in 2010 by Jessamy’s elected successor.

But the spectre of the list hangs over frigid police-prosecutor relations to this day. DAs still factor in the credibility of officers when mulling over cases, and the current prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, is actively considering reconstituting a list, said her chief deputy, Michael Schatzow.

The Baltimore police union did not respond to requests for comment.

The city has dealt with a spate of high-profile allegations of police abuse and corruption, from the in-custody death of Freddie Gray in 2015 to a group of police officers who were convicted in the last year of robbing people.

one-way-to-deal-with-cops-who-lie-blacklist-them-some-das-say-1.jpgSt. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

Especially in the black community, the lists can help reassure frustrated citizens who believe that too many police officers have gotten away with misconduct, proponents say. While landing on a list may not get an officer fired, it is a roadblock to advancement.

“There has to be some level of balance where you’re not ostracizing police officers who are working hard at making their cities and communities safer, and also some way for a city to not go through what Baltimore has had to deal with,” said Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott.

There are challenges to implementing do-not-call databases successfully. Officers who have committed wrongdoing in other states or counties may be difficult to identify, for example.

And in many parts of the country, prosecutors are not given full access to police departments’ files. In a handful of states, they are banned from seeing certain disciplinary records altogether, effectively preventing many DAs from maintaining a comprehensive list of bad cops.

Prosecutors and some police officials note that DAs may not be aware of low-level efforts to mislead on the part of rogue officers; due to the sheer volume of cases that district attorneys’ offices handle, individual prosecutors say they can’t go back and reinvestigate everything the police are telling them. That means that the most everyday forms of dishonesty by officers (and crime lab employees) might never land them on an exclusion list.

Ronal Serpas, executive director of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration, an advocacy group of more than 200 police chiefs and prosecutors, said a better solution than blacklists would be for district attorneys to urge police leaders to implement “one and done” policies. Such rules would require immediate firing for any work-related lie.

Serpas said he followed that policy when he ran both the Nashville and New Orleans police departments.

“You don’t need to have a ‘Brady no call’ list if the police department is terminating people,” he said.

Chris Magnus, the police chief in Tucson, Arizona, says that’s easier said than done.

“If I had my way, officers who lie wouldn’t just be put on a list, they’d be fired, and also not allowed to work in any other jurisdiction as a police officer ever again,” said Magnus, who says he hands over a list of problem officers to prosecutors. “But unfortunately, we have to allow them back into the workplace” due to union contracts.

“It frustrates the hell out of me,” he said, “that we have employees receiving full pay but who can’t really function as full police officers.”

This article was originally published by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for the newsletter, or follow the Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

Attorney suicide: What every lawyer needs to know

On Well-Being



I woke up to find these words in an email: “He committed suicide.”

Suicide: the action of killing oneself intentionally. I stood, staring at my iPhone as the word suicide repeated over and over in my head. There were so many emotions that washed over me all at once: anger, fear, regret, remorse, grief—and others that I have no words for.

This is the first time I was touched by suicide. As though I was on autopilot, I showered, got dressed and went to work. It seemed strange that time continued to pass and all of my day’s obligations still existed despite this tragedy.

Later that day, I searched for all the emails we exchanged and read each one. I looked at the words said and unsaid. I wanted to find the implied words; the words I should have heard. I went to Google, typed in his name and read through all 14 pages of Google results. I read through his Facebook posts. I don’t know exactly what I was looking for or why I was doing this, but I did it. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I must have missed something. Maybe if I found some clue that he was reaching out for help, I could go from grieving to being angry at myself.

After Justin died, suicide went from an abstract idea to reality. A few years later, when I fell into a deep depression, I caught myself thinking about suicide as a way to escape. Fortunately, with a combination of therapy and medication, it got better.


To fully understand the conundrum of suicide within the legal profession, it is important to assess factors that can lead to depression. Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than nonlawyers, according to the American Psychological Association. Substance abuse rates within the legal profession are also much higher than for the general population. Clinical depression and substance abuse are highly correlated with suicide rates. The legal industry has the 11th-highest incidence of suicide among professions.

According to Alex Yufik, clinical rehabilitation coordinator for the State Bar of California’s Lawyer Assistance Program, common contributing factors for lawyer suicide include depression, anxiety, job stress, unfulfilled expectations and a perceived sense of failure.

According to Rachel Fry, a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama, who often works with lawyers, “Lawyers tend to score higher in pessimistic thinking, which often results in higher success rates and becoming a better lawyer. However, this type of thinking is also highly correlated with depression.” What makes you a better lawyer can also predispose you to depression.

Additionally, lawyers are expected to work—and be successful—in adversarial situations. They have unpredictable schedules, and they often lack tools to deal with stress. All of this predisposes them to chronic stress and/or depression. Lawyers are also expected to be the ultimate problem-solver. Fry says she often hears lawyers say that the expectation is that they are “a superhero” with no room for error or humanness. Furthermore, the mental health stigma often discourages identification, discussions and access to care. Chronic stress and depression often trigger unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse and personal problems, which can sometimes result in suicide or suicidal ideations.


According to Fry, the warning signs of suicide aren’t always clear. Some individuals outwardly share their suicidal thoughts or plans, while others might keep their intentions secret. The main thing to look for is changes in patterns—someone acting differently, even if it feels insignificant. Changes in patterns can include excessive sadness or moodiness; expressing helplessness or feeling defeated—that their circumstances can’t improve in the future.

Examples could include someone losing their sense of humor, someone continuing to be fully engaged but becoming more agitated and/or drinking more. While some of these signs mirror depressive symptoms, it is sometimes difficult to determine when the line shifts from depression to suicidal thinking, especially if someone is not seeing a professional.

Some obvious signs include someone talking about suicide, death or dying; seeking
access to firearms or pills; giving away important possessions; experiencing relief or sudden improvement in symptoms and telling people goodbye for seemingly no reason. The person may also exhibit sudden calmness after making a decision to end his or her life.

Some more subtle signs can include withdrawing from family and friends, experiencing mood swings, feeling hopeless or trapped, increased substance use and/or experiencing sleep changes.

Read more …


Read more: Tools help lawyers and legal employers deal with substance-abuse disorders
  • The Well-Being Toolkit for Lawyers and Legal Employers is at
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255.
  • A directory of LAP programs by state is at

Jeena Cho consults with Am Law 200 firms, focusing on strategies for stress management, resiliency training, mindfulness and meditation. She is the co-author of

The Anxious Lawyer and practices bankruptcy law with her husband at the JC Law Group in San Francisco.

Trump announces deal to reopen government until Feb. 15

Executive Branch


President Donald Trump. Photo from

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a deal to end the government shutdown for three weeks while negotiations continue on funds for a border wall.

Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump said he would sign a bill to open the government until Feb. 15 and he would make sure employees receive back pay very quickly.

During that time, Trump said, he expects Democrats and Republicans to negotiate in good faith.

Trump said he has “a very powerful alternative” but he didn’t want to use it at this time, an apparent reference to using emergency powers to tap funds for a border wall.

Trump said a bipartisan conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers and leaders will begin reviewing requests of experts from the Department of Homeland Security. Based on that guidance, lawmakers will put together a package that addresses border security and includes desperately needed humanitarian assistance, the president said.

Trump said a brick wall is not needed “from sea to shining sea” because some natural structures at the border act as physical barriers. He called for walls that would be made of steel and have see-though visibility, and said that state-of-the art technology such as drones will also be used.

“The walls we are building are not medieval walls, they are smart walls,” Trump said.

Trump said he believes that crime will go down “a massive percentage” with strong security at the southern border.

If there is no agreement on border security by Feb. 15, Trump said the government will shut down or he will use the powers afforded to him.

The government has been shut down for 35 days, the longest shutdown in the country’s history. About 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or required to work without pay.

Federal courts have been operating on a scaled-back basis with money from court fees and other funding sources, but the money was expected to run out on Jan. 31.