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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