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President's Column

David F. Maron

Article by David F. Maron 2012-2013 CABA President

Email: dmaron@bakerdonelson.com
Posted

It has been nearly a year since we began the 2012-13 CABA year, and it has been eventful. CABA committees and members have been busy and their hard work has provided CABA members many opportunities to engage with each other, within the profession and in the community.

Staying connected allows CABA to be a resource for information, free CLE, and service opportunities. But connection requires effective and accessible communication. This past year, CABA’s communication committee, chaired by Meta Copeland and Melissa Baltz, updated the website and improved electronic communication using email, Facebook, and Twitter. The CABA Newsletter, under leadership of editor Kate Margolis, has published five issues full of excellent articles. And we have launched CABA’s new eNews for shorter articles and alerts to be sent out on short notice. We hope you’ll continue to take advantage of these resources and let us hear from you on how CABA can improve its service to the bench and bar in the metro area.

Here are some highlights from the past year:

  • LJAP director Chip Glaze and Mississippi Bar General Counsel Adam Kilgore presented an ethics CLE, Your Brother’s Keeper, in August 2012 (free to CABA members).
  • The Fall CABA Battle of the Barristers Tennis Tournament at River Hills Club, organized by committee chair, Stephanie Jones, raised approximately $4,500 for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project.
  • Noted authors and commentators, Andy Taggart and Jere Nash, presented a pre-election political forum, Red Blue Smackdown, in October.
  • CABA supported our Federal Judiciary in the Southern District Division realignment caused by federal closure of the Federal Courthouse in Meridian.
  • Executive Director Pat Evans and committee chair Joanna Kuhn organized CABA’s annual Christmas Party in December with a special 80th Anniversary celebration at the Old Capitol Inn.
  • Bench and bar committee chairs Judge Carlton Reeves and Cliff Johnson organized and presented an invaluable CLE entitled Turning the Tables in January 2013, by providing CABA members a forum for posing questions to a panel of state and federal judges (free to CABA members).
  • Past-president John Henegan organized CABA’s participation in the Jackson, Mississippi Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in January.
  • Diversity committee co-chairs Charles Griffin and Ashley Wickes organized a diversity forum with distinguished panelists entitled Diversity through Building Better, Stronger, and Lifetime Relationships at Jackson State University in March, raising over $3,500 for CABA’s Reuben V. Anderson Minority Scholarships at both Mississippi College School of Law and the University of Mississippi School of Law. The forum was followed by a well-attended reception at The Penguin.
  • Pro bono committee co-chairs Troy Odom and Denita Smith organized the 2013 Wills for Heroes pro bono service opportunity.
  • Committee co-chairs Kevin and Mary Margaret Gay organized the 2013 CABA Golf Tournament, raising approximately $6,000 for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project.
  • Executive Director of the American Judicature Society’s Center for Judicial Ethics, Cynthia Gray, and Mississippi Judicial Performance Commission Executive Director, John Toney, presented an ethics CLE panel discussion entitled Where Everybody Knows Your Name, organized by Rebecca Wiggs, in April  (free to CABA members).
  • Social committee chair Joanna Kuhn and membership committee co-chairs Davetta Cooke Lee and Justin Peterson organized a Spring Social, hosted jointly with the Jackson Young Lawyers Association, to recognize and celebrate with our newly admitted Mississippi Bar members.

None of these events, activities or programs would have been possible without either the dedicated service of CABA members or the generous support of CABA sponsors. And there are two more events this bar year! I know you’ll want to attend and participate:

The May 16th Evening Honoring the Judiciary banquet, organized by committee chair Gretchen Kimble, will be held at the Country Club of Jackson again this year. The Honorable James Graves will be our keynote speaker. His bio is listed on our website and you’ll find more information in the article on page 8 of this newsletter. Judge Graves is no stranger to members of CABA as a distinguished Hinds County Circuit Court Judge, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, and now as United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. We are looking forward to an outstanding evening as we honor our state and federal judiciary.

On May 18th CABA Women’s Initiatives committee will hold a work day in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build. Organized by CABA Women’s Initiative chair, Rebecca Wiggs, CABA is a sponsor of this opportunity to make a new home a life-changing reality for a Jackson family. If you haven’t signed up, please contact Rebecca at rwiggs@watkinseager.com.

Throughout CABA’s 80 year history there have been changes in how the practice of law has developed over time — carbon paper, typewriters and fountain pens have been replaced by Microsoft Word, computers, iPads and email — but what lawyers do should not change. Just as it was 80, 100 or 200 years ago, the practice of law today still entrusts lawyers and judges with the duty to uphold the rule of law and defend the freedom, justice and equality secured under the law. Whether it is the inspiring standard set, for example, by pioneers such as Justice Reuben Anderson, Justice Fred Banks, Constance Slaughter Harvey or by Governor Bill Waller’s (then Hinds County District Attorney) historic prosecution of Byron de la Beckwith for the murder of Medgar Evers, or the legacy of others who also championed the rule of law despite controversy and in the face of political pressure, the unwavering dedication of the bench and bar has been and remains critical to preserving what most defines us as a nation.

With Memorial Day approaching I am also reminded of the need to express our gratitude for the service of those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending the rights, principles and freedom our nation stands for. In a few weeks, there will be parades and ceremonies at War Memorials across our nation. But a monument remains a memorial only if its significance is passed to the next generation. That’s our job.

The rights and liberty we defend and enforce in court are not merely abstract sections in a code book; those rights are embodied in the law and represent values that men and women in the military have fought and sacrificed for. Both liberty and justice under the law and the military defense of the rights, freedoms and liberty secured under the law are inseparably linked. Core values secured under the rule of law would be hollow aspirations without courageous men and women in uniform defending them and an independent judiciary to enforce them.

We’re all beneficiaries of the sacrifices that we recognize on Memorial Day. But perhaps more than any other American, apart from soldiers and their families, judges and lawyers deeply value the sacrifices made by men and women of our armed forces. As lawyers we also have the privilege of leading by example. We should personalize and honor the sacrifices made by men and women of our armed forces. Let me offer a few ideas:

  1. Think about Memorial Day and what it represents more often than on the holiday. Consciously support those who have served with a thank you, with help for a family with a father or mother deployed overseas. Think about it when you see a convoy driving on the interstate or when you see a massive C-17 landing.
  2. Tell the next generation. Make a point to tell the next generation that a monument or war memorial is not simply a beautifully carved stone listing names of men and women we really don’t know. They are real names of real people representing real sacrifices. They are real heroes.
  3. Live in a way that demonstrates gratitude. When you have an opportunity to vote, attend church, or are called to jury service, think about countries around the world where many risk imprisonment or death to exercise rights that we often take for granted. A jury summons rarely comes at a convenient time; but our state and federal Constitutions preserve a right to trial by jury — a right that also was fought and sacrificed for. Exercising these rights may seem an inconvenience, but it is a far smaller inconvenience to us than war to an 18-year old GI on a beachhead on D-Day or to a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq today.

In closing, I deeply appreciate having been given the opportunity to serve as president of CABA this past year. It was a privilege to work with a team of so many dedicated men and women. I know each of you will join me in thanking our Executive Director Pat Evans and all the 2012-13 committee chairs and volunteers. As we begin the new bar year, let me congratulate CABA’s newly elected officers and directors — Treasurer Mike Malouf, and Directors Tiffany Graves and Troy Odom. We look forward to the upcoming years during Collins Wohner’s 2013–14 term, Amanda Green Alexander’s 2014–15 term and in the years to come.