Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Panel Discussion: Judicial Outreach Initiatives

Academic journal article Albany Law Review

Panel Discussion: Judicial Outreach Initiatives

Article excerpt

MR. ROBERT STEIN(**): Our first panel will discuss judicial outreach initiatives. I have the great pleasure of introducing the presider for this first panel, Roberta Cooper Ramo of New Mexico. Roberta was elected president of the American Bar Association at the same meeting at which I was appointed executive director, and so I've had the wonderful opportunity to work closely with Roberta for two years: first, when she was president-elect; then when she was president. She is widely known throughout this country and indeed the world as the first woman to serve as president of the American Bar Association. I think I'm well positioned to tell you that Roberta is also one of the truly great presidents of the American Bar Association. Brilliant, energetic, creative, dedicated, [and] compassionate are just some of the talents that she brings to leadership of our profession. Particularly meaningful to me is Roberta's gift for expressing eloquently the core values of our justice system that we care about so deeply. I have probably heard her speak as much as anybody in the world, dozens and dozens of times, and she is still able to move me, frequently to tears, by the eloquence by which she expresses those values, and I know others in the audience feel the same way. She has continued to exercise leadership for the profession after completing her year as an ABA president, most recently by agreeing to chair the Asian Law Initiatives Council to develop the rule of law in Asia and particularly in China. It is my great pleasure to present our presider, a great leader in our profession, Roberta Cooper Ramo.

MS. ROBERTA COOPER RAMO: Well, I thank you for that incredibly kind introduction. I think what you didn't say was how relieved you were that you didn't have to hear me anymore, but that was a very kind thing. This has been an extraordinary experience, I think, for all of us. Let me put just a little bit of international context to it. I think even judges and even lawyers sometimes forget the remarkable, miraculous nature of the American system of justice. You only have to spend a little bit of time in places like the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, or some of the places in Asia, where people are struggling to understand what it means to have a truly independent judge sit and listen to people expressing their views of the legal problems in which they find themselves. It is so easy for us to be critical of our system and so hard for us, I think, to speak and to spend enough time reflecting, not just on the mechanics of our system of dispensing justice in the United States, but upon the relationship of our justice system to the core of the American democracy. And I think our discussion yesterday that went from dealing with issues of how, in an increasingly complex, multicultural society, we dispense justice to how we make sure that justice is obtainable in a world in which it is possible now to have a media feeding frenzy about high-profile cases that reverberates, not just around this country, but around the world, how you make sure that judges who are in the position to be elected are somehow able to find the courage to insulate themselves from the enormous waves of public opinion that may come, rightly or wrongly, careening at them as they are trying to dispense justice in a case. All of those kinds of things lead us to look at judges themselves and to say, "Is there a role in our society, is there a role in our system, for judges to initiate any sort of outreach, and to what public [entities] should those judges be talking?" And that's what we are going to talk about today. Let me introduce our presenter, the Honorable Veronica McBeth, who is the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court. I want to introduce the rest of [the] panel [ ] and then we'll get right to work. We have the Honorable Richard Fruin, who is the Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court; the Honorable Thomas Merrigan, who is the First Justice in the Orange District Court of Massachusetts; Amanda K. …

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