A Grave Challenge
What would you say when they come to take away your
Constitutional religious freedom?
Tell the Tort reformers “No” when they come to take away your
Constitutional right to a trial by jury. —Douglas B. Levy, Tucson Lawyer
Despite charges and political attacks among
our State’s leadership, this has been a fairly uneventful year. I have traveled throughout rural Arizona reviewing proposed changes to the discipline system and speaking to members in every county in Arizona.
The proposed changes will make attorney discipline fair, timely and
predicable. More important, making the initial probable
cause determination independent from the leadership of State
Bar of Arizona will make attorney discipline more transparent
to the public—and will
allow lawyers to remain the only
My monthly President’s
Message has focused on a variety
of topics, including the State Bar
of Arizona’s Bar Leadership
Institute, Military Legal
Assistance Committee, and
Animal Law Section, and how
much animals enrich our lives.
I’ve also written on the golden
opportunities that exist to assist
the Arizona Foundation for Legal
Services and Education.
For the most part, these are
not controversial topics, and they
reflect well on the legal profession. Because of the outstanding work of the staff of the State
Bar of Arizona, even in a statewide environment of economic peril, the Bar is financially sound.
The year has provided some surprises.
We are now living in an environment in which the leadership of our State has determined that citizens will
no longer be required to undertake the additional educational component previously required to carry a concealed
firearm. You might take some slim comfort in knowing that
citizens will not be able to carry a concealed weapon in a bar
or restaurant without the previously required educational
component. As a gun owner, I always felt that the education
component was important not for the right to possess a
firearm, but to “carry” a concealed weapon in public set-
Attacks to the jury
attacks on judicial
The jury trial is the final
check by the citizens....
the greatest danger to
tings. Sadly, for some of our State’s leaders, education is not valued, even when
firearms are concerned.
Challenges to the rule of law include
ongoing attacks on the independence of
the judiciary and the right to trial by jury.
As attorneys, we are duty-bound to resist
“unfair” attacks on an independent judiciary. This does not mean the current process
of selecting judges—in which there is no
legislative confirmation and where judges
never stand for election—should never be
the subject of honest debate. In fact, reasonable minds have advanced worthy reasons why judges should be subject to confirmation, reconfirmation and even a vote
of Arizona citizens.
There is an even greater challenge to
the rule of law in our immediate future.
That challenge will be evidenced by attacks
on the right to trial by jury.
The right to a jury trial is a faceless concept many lawyers avoid or rarely experience in their practice. To many lawyers, the
jury trial represents a boatload of work in
which they must first recognize the weak-nesses in their own cases. In fact, jury trials do represent obstacles to a happy marriage and to a polite practice. For these reasons, attacks to the jury system—rather than
attacks on judicial independence—remain
the greatest danger to our profession.
Any calculated and deliberate move to
destroy or hamper the right to trial by jury
remains the greatest challenge to the rule
of law. The jury trial is the final check by
the citizens on the executive, legislative
and judicial branches of government.
As my final act as President of the State
Bar of Arizona, I ask you, our members, to
actively resist any attempt to limit the
rights to trial by jury. AZ AT