The interviews continue

July 30, 2010
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From reporter Michael Hoskins

ELLEN BOSHKOFF

Boshkoff said a justice must be open-minded. Important that the person be collegial, that they be passionate about the law. Integrity is the most important quality, she said. “A justice must be absolutely faithful to the law, must be absolutely scrupulous and fair to the litigants.”

Commission members so far have asked her the most questions: her views on how she could compliment - not duplicate - the other justices’ experiences, her views on first impression issues, pro bono initiatives, and what the three most pressing issues the court may face. Boshkoff said that her review of court activity shows her that access to justice and civil-litigation costs are the two top areas that the judiciary must address.

She highlighted the court’s action on IOLTA accounts, court interpreters, low-cost ADR, civil legal aid, pro se litigants, and the mortgage foreclosure crisis. But there’s still a lot to be done, she noted, especially since there’s been a 35 percent increase in people needing services in the past decade and the ratio of lawyers to litigants is “fairly poor,” and most aren’t even aware of what resources are available to them.

The Supreme Court could do more to possibly motivate and incenticize lawyers to help on that front in improving access to justice. A second area of concern is civil litigation costs, which Boshkoff said is something that judges must be more focused on because it prevents access to justice. Specifically, she pointed to rocket dockets that are “incredibly painful for everyone involved, but it does accomplish something and those cases do get resolved quickly.” Boshkoff said ADR isn’t used the way it should be, and there should be a review on how it can be phased in earlier into the litigation process. She also said technology is an important focus, one that Justice Frank Sullivan is already highly involved in with the statewide case management

KARL MULVANEY

He told the commission that his experience in handling attorney ethics issues is his biggest accomplishment, and changes that could be made include how judicial mandates are handled and possibly a rule revision on how long juvenile cases can have to be briefed on appeal. One commission member praised Mulvaney’s appellate experience in that he’s handled multiple areas of law. It garnered a response from the attorney that he viewed his advocacy role as being like an umpire and calling balls and strikes, between the legislature and the Constitution. Mulvaney also highlighted his experience as a Supreme Court administrator in giving him insight on very many legal matters that come before the court, and he opined on the quality of law school graduates and how he’s personally responded to ethical issues he’s faced as an attorney.

In responding to the common question from member John Trimble about his views on first impression issues, Mulvaney cited an issue in recent years where the justices addressed the definition of a child in relation to the Adult Wrongful Death Statute. He noted the chief justice’s analysis of what other states have done and how those issues may mesh with the state constitution.

SEN. BRENT STEELE


Referring to the commission’s multi-part question given out, Steele said that question is one that keeps you up at night, about wanting to give the right answer.  His being a lawyer in the first place is his biggest accomplishment, and how he’s been able to use those skills in contributing back to his community and the overall society. Two areas that need the court’s attention are both technology and how attorneys are taught practical aspects of practicing law, he said.

“As a member of the court, with my experience in the legislature, I can keep the Odyssey program on track,” Steele said. He also suggested the Supreme Court setup a sort of “mini-law school,” or an indoctrination program for new lawyers to learn the basic tenets of the law and how to apply those to their practices.

Now, the commission members are on a break until 1:15 p.m., when the final three semi-finalists face interviews. The commission goes into executive session at 3 p.m.
 

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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