By Anne-Marie Fulfer
Public service is emphasized throughout a lawyer’s career through a variety of communications, including CLEs, meetings, columns, and rules. Here are two excerpts from the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct:
PREAMBLE: A LAWYER’S RESPONSIBILITIES  … As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education.
6.1 Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay. A lawyer should aspire to render at least fifty (50) hours of pro bono legal services per year to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and educational organizations.
When I was growing up, among the values my parents and grandmother instilled in me were public service and volunteering. I volunteered through church groups, school opportunities, and 4-H. In more recent years, I have served as a parent volunteer at my children’s schools, on my community’s youth hockey board, and as a Rotarian.
I have met many amazing volunteers, doing many amazing things through the years, but today I am focusing on two amazing volunteer opportunities that only lawyers have: first, to render pro bono legal services to persons of limited means, and second, to mentor law students by bringing them on to your pro bono cases.
Connecting to a pro bono case/client is easy! The Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program and Idaho Legal Aid Services jointly fund the Idaho Pro Bono Opportunities Website at www.idahoprobono.org providing “a free and convenient way for attorneys in Idaho to find and volunteer for pro bono opportunities.” Once an attorney activates their account, they can set up filters for types of pro bono opportunities by legal and geographic areas, and the system sends alerts as opportunities arise.
You are not limited to the cases listed on the IVLP website. If you have been considering representing an existing client pro bono, they may be eligible to participate through IVLP. They can apply to IVLP by completing the form at this site: https://laserfiche.isb.idaho.gov/Forms/IVLP-Application. You can let IVLP know that a potential client will be applying, and IVLP will let you know when they have set up the case.
If you need help with researching an issue or writing a memorandum, you can contact one of our two law schools to request a law student to assist you. The University of Idaho and Concordia University require their students to complete 50 hours of attorney-supervised pro bono work and encourage them to complete more than the 50-hour minimum, with success; students at U of I and Concordia, working with attorneys, completed in excess of 20,300 hours in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.
The nuts and bolts legal work that students complete with attorneys is invaluable in assisting them in becoming professionals who are better prepared to enter the legal profession. And, the collaboration can create a lasting mentor-mentee relationship that enriches both parties, as well as the legal profession. If you are not able to take on a pro bono case, please remember the Idaho Law Foundation’s Access to Justice Idaho (AJI) Campaign. Idaho is one of only two states that does not provide funding for civil legal aid, so AJI raises funds for DisAbility Rights Idaho, Idaho Legal Aid Services, and the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program. You can give today at https://isb.idaho.gov/ilf/access-to-justice/.
For more information on how to engage with law students to work on your pro bono projects, please contact:
Kristi Denney, Director of Externships & Pro Bono
University of Idaho College of Law
Brenda Bauges, Director of Externships & Pro Bono
Concordia University School of Law
Anne-Marie Fulfer is the Assistant Dean for Career Development at the University of Idaho College of Law and a 1999 graduate. Based in Moscow, Anne-Marie has overseen the Career Development Office for Moscow and Boise since 2003. Anne-Marie is a member of Idaho Women Lawyers and the Rotary Club of Moscow (celebrating 100 years in February 2020).
By Hon. Jim Jones
The grant of executive clemency to three U.S. servicemen charged with war crimes has raised concerns about the integrity of the military justice system. On November 16, 2019, the President pardoned an Army Lieutenant who had been convicted of ordering his troops to shoot unarmed civilians, as well as an Army Major who was awaiting trial on a murder charge. The third serviceman received a sentence reduction for his crime.
A number of military justice experts, including former Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers, have opined that the executive intervention was inappropriate. They say it casts unwarranted doubt upon the fairness of the military justice system. The pardon of the Major, whose trial was scheduled for February 2020, is of particular concern because it came even before the system had an opportunity to work. It would be akin to a state governor pardoning a murder defendant prior to trial.
Leaving the debate on the pardons to the experts, I want to share my observations regarding the military justice system. I was commissioned as an Army officer in 1964, admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1967, and volunteered for Vietnam service in 1968. My day job in Vietnam was serving as an artillery officer for a heavy artillery battalion in Tay Ninh Province, which is about 50 miles northwest of Saigon.
Every battalion, including mine, had discipline problems that resulted in the convening of special courts-martial. A special court-martial is not particularly special if you are the defendant. These proceedings dealt with a wide range of offenses, but incarceration upon conviction was limited to one year. There were not nearly enough JAG lawyers in Vietnam to represent special court-martial defendants so defense in the hinterlands was usually handled by non-lawyer officers.
Word soon got around amongst miscreants in the battalion that I was a full-fledged lawyer. Defendants could choose any officer in the battalion to defend them so I became the go-to defense counsel. I’d never had any JAG training but the battalion had a copy of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and a how-to manual, which was helpful in getting started.
I defended about a dozen special courts-martial. The usual offense was giving in to temptations of the flesh in Saigon when the troops were supposed to be fetching ammunition or parts for our cannons. It was a serious offense because we shot up tons of ammo every day and it was critical to keep the big guns in good repair. Other charges included violating orders, insubordination, theft, and misappropriation of vehicles. One fellow faced an AWOL charge for overstaying his leave in the States to work 39 days on Senator George McGovern’s presidential campaign. Another was charged with tossing a fragmentation grenade under his First Sergeant’s bunk, an unlawful practice known as “fragging.” Luckily, the First Sergeant was not in his bunk at the time.
Although I’d entered the service being somewhat skeptical of the even-handedness of the military justice system, I found that it worked pretty darn well in practice. The three-member court-martial boards took their responsibilities seriously. A not guilty verdict was possible if you stressed the need for proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the necessity for competent evidence to prove every element of the charged offense.
Our boards were comprised of battalion officers. Some of them told me the battalion commander informed them that he expected guilty verdicts and that he had given them heck on at least three occasions for not delivering. This is called command influence and it is prohibited. Nevertheless, the board members were willing to call it as they saw it and generally dispensed proper justice.
My second case provided a couple of valuable lessons. My guy was charged with consorting with a civilian woman outside the wire of his firebase. He was adamant that he “did not have sex with any woman.” As it turned out, he was lying and rightfully got convicted.
The first lesson one gets in defending the accused is that you can’t always rely on protestations of innocence. That lesson came through loud and clear in this case. More surprising was that a few weeks later word came down from the JAG office in Saigon that his conviction had been overturned. At the start of the trial, I’d asked one of the board members to recuse because my guy told me the two of them had a bad history. The JAG reversal was based on the board member’s refusal to recuse.
Nobody had told me that all conviction records were reviewed by JAG officers for potential error. I was surprised and impressed. About one-half of my cases ended with a guilty verdict and about half of those were overturned on review by the JAG folks in Saigon. Between the dedication to duty of the board members and JAG review of convictions, my view was that defendants got a fair shake from the military justice system.
Nowadays, all court-martial defendants have the right to representation by qualified legal counsel. The protections afforded to defendants are now fairly comparable to civilian courts. I can see no good reason to distrust our military justice system, nor for commanders at any level to distort the system by interfering in on-going court-martial proceedings, either for or against a defendant.
As an interesting side note, one of the JAG officers in Saigon at that time was also from Idaho. When I set up my law practice in Jerome in 1973, Bill Hart was already practicing there. He told me about his Vietnam service, which had included a review of court-martial cases. Bill was later elected as district judge for Minidoka County in 1987 and served with distinction until he passed away in 2005.
Hon. Jim Jones is a former Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, having retired in 2017. His recently released book, “Vietnam… Can’t get you out of my mind,” contains more on this and other aspects of his Vietnam service. It is available through Amazon or the Ridenbaugh Press website.
By Jennifer Wennig
A native of Haiti, Rose-Hermance Rony grew up in Florida before heading west to pursue her educational goals. Rose earned her undergraduate degree in history with a focus on political science from La Sierra University in Riverside, California and later earned a master’s degree in education from Concordia University’s online degree program.
Currently in her 3L year at Concordia University School of Law, Rose said she was drawn to the “hands-on” approach at Concordia Law and their focus on mentoring future lawyers. “As an immigrant, first-generation in American schools, it can be harder to network so I wanted an educational experience that placed a priority on mentorship to help me make a meaningful connection that would contribute to me becoming a successful lawyer.”
After graduating from La Sierra, Rose embarked on a one-year mission as a teacher in the Marshall Islands and continued teaching in Florida for another 10 years before attending law school. Teaching deepened Rose’s passion for helping others and piqued her interest in the law. “When I was teaching, I knew some students were living in deplorable situations,” said Rose. “I would hear stories about what was going on in homes and with family members and I knew I needed to find a way to help those children.”
Pro Bono Champion
As a student at
Concordia Law, Rose has been active in the school’s pro bono program. Her first
pro bono engagement was with CASA—Court Appointed Special Advocates. “I became
part of CASA because I wanted to help children in need and as guardian ad litem
I pick up where the social worker leaves off,” said Rose. Guardians ad litem
function in the judicial system as advocates for children who have been removed
from the care of their parent(s) or guardian(s). Some of Rose’s
responsibilities include conducting home and school visits and providing the
children with resources to help them cope, improve, and succeed.
“I believe that it is only in helping others that a person learns who he or she truly is,” said Rose of the value of pro bono service. “In doing this work, students will gain legal experiences as well as life experiences that they otherwise would not have had the chance to get.”
Rose has certainly put her energies into helping others. In addition to CASA, she has participated in the Parental Termination Rights Court charged with observing the proceedings and drafting statements of fact for the judge; focused on housing issues with Idaho Legal Aid; and, worked on an asylum case with the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (IVLP). “There are many others,” said Rose, “but those are most memorable because I learned from my clients; I was able to learn new skills and laws during all of my pro bono assignments.”
Knowledge to share
Rose’s personal immigration experience gives her a unique perspective on the potential perils of not understanding the laws of the United States. She said when her family moved here, they were offered little guidance in navigating the immigration system. “We had to figure it out ourselves,” said Rose. “I was fortunate to have educated parents who researched what we needed to know and taught it all to my sisters and me.”
With the knowledge that “small mistakes can cause someone to lose their immigration status,” Rose has initiated a Legacy Project at Concordia Law to help newly arrived immigrants and refugees have a better understanding of our legal system. Rose is working with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to create a class that explains laws that may be particularly pertinent to them and the consequences they may face if found violating a law. Rose explained that while refugees participate in orientation classes and workshops when they first arrive in the United States, the immigration session is quite brief and lacks pertinent legal details.
When those refugees try to obtain permanent residence or citizenship a year or two later, they may be denied if they have broken a law, a law they likely weren’t aware of. While those violations may seem inconsequential, such as “fishing in the wrong pond,” Rose said, “ignorance of the law is not a valid defense in American courts.” And, such mistakes can invalidate immigration status.
Intent on making the class as useful as possible for immigrants and refugees, Rose worked with the IRC to identify which issues are most prevalent with their clients. She then recruited fellow students to conduct research and is now working on a PowerPoint presentation that will be reviewed for accuracy and relevancy by immigration lawyers. Rose hopes to start scheduling classes as early as January 2020.
“I want to be proactive and not reactive,” said Rose. “I want them to have a fair chance to truly live the American Dream.”
Concordia University School of Law’s pro bono services and legal clinic are housed within 5th & Front, an innovative model that provides students with experiential learning that also benefits the community. To learn more about this program, check out 5th & Front.
Jennifer Wennig is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, Wennig is drawn to telling stories about people pursuing their passions and dreams. A mom of two, Wennig is a content writer for Concordia University-Portland and Concordia University School of Law in Boise.
Concordia University, St. Paul has reached an agreement with Concordia University-Portland to become the new parent institution for Concordia University School of Law, a transition that will provide the law school, students, faculty, and staff financial and institutional stability and preserve the legacy established by Concordia University-Portland leadership more than a decade ago.
For complete release statement click here
Sponsored by the Idaho Supreme Court
March 13, 2020
12:00 – 1:00 pm
Ada County Courthouse- Commissioners’ Hearing Room
200 W. Front St. – Boise
No Registration Fee
1.0 CLE Credit – pending
For attorneys who practice in guardianship and conservatorship law.
Participants will learn:
• The basics of eldercaring coordination and mediation;
• How this process can serve you and your clients;
• The judicial perspective;
• The perspective of eldercaring coordination and mediator providers
Click HERE for the agenda and registration information.
By Carey Shoufler
The Advocate recently interviewed retired Government teacher and long-time Law Related Committee member, Cindy Wilson to get her perspective on the state of law related and civic education in Idaho.
Carey: Share a little about your background and experience as an educator.
Cindy: When I first began teaching in tiny Pierce, Idaho in 1984, I found a big hole in student understanding of how local and state government worked. So, we began taking an annual field trip to Boise each year to see the legislature in action. Students raised money all fall and then traveled to Boise for a 3 day stay in the spring. I couldn’t believe what a positive influence this had on students, many who had not ever left north central Idaho prior to their field trip. That field trip continued at Pierce School until the school closed, long after I left there.
When I moved to Orofino we got students involved in YMCA Youth Government. Students participated regionally and then traveled to Boise for the state convention. We had several students elected Youth Governor and Chief Justice which meant they traveled to the East Coast to meet with students from all over the United States.
It was when I was in Orofino that I first became involved with Law Related Education. In the fall of 2000, I attended a workshop on The Supreme Court and elections. While there I learned about the Mock Trial program and we created a team to compete. I saw students from our small community become passionate about civic knowledge and activity and realized the importance of teaching and encouraging them to become caring members of their community while still in high school.
There are so many organizations like the Law Foundation that work to increase resources for civics learning. One activity I remember fondly was our annual mock trial performance. Students from the high school presented a mock trial of Little Red Riding Hood. Junior high students were the jurors in the trial, and elementary students came to watch. The local courthouse opened a large courtroom for us; we had local media cover the trial, and it became quite popular amongst our students.
We also worked with the local county clerk to put together a get out the vote campaign. Students arranged rides to the polls for people and worked with our school buses to take voters from the local assisted living home to vote. On election day, students stood on street corners all around town with placards reminding people to vote. Afterward, the county clerk came into our classroom and congratulated students for getting involved and raising voter turnout that day.
Carey: Share about some of the ways you think our Law Related Education program helps/enhances civic education.
Cindy: Since my early days working with students and watching them get so excited about participating in civic activities and especially the connection they appreciated in how adults treated them when they were involved, I’ve recognized that we have to provide hands-on activities for students to learn about the U.S. Constitution. Once students get the bug and become passionate (and they all do – every single one of them!) we create lifelong active citizens who make better communities.
I love how the LRE program offers so many opportunities for students. For example, the Mock Trial program gives students a chance to not only learn about how the law and courtroom works, but also to practice it. There is no better learning! When students actually DO it, act as attorneys and witnesses, they understand it so much better. It creates a chance for them to learn information not out of a textbook, but by actually experiencing in a trial. It’s a well-known principle of great teaching that having an audience and an element of competition increases student learning. That’s what our mock trial program does.
Our 18 in Idaho magazine is my favorite way to introduce students to their local government. At the beginning of every school year, I always started with the magazine and let students read through how state and local laws affected them when they hit adulthood. They really enjoyed the layout and information of the magazine and many took them home to share with their parents. We continued to discuss what they had learned in that first lesson throughout the school year. I want every classroom to have a set of these magazines so students can learn and understand the law and how it relates to them.
Our Law Day Podcast Contest is giving students an opportunity to show off their technology skills and meet them where they are. The complete traditional research on a topic, interview their sources, and then use their creative energy to create a podcast that focuses on a topic. Again, this is pedagogically sound in that there is an element of competition, audience, and also creativity, all principles that engage students in learning. I’m especially excited about this year’s theme for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and voting right and hope every student in the state will participate in it! And they can win cash prizes!
Carey: In the last couple of years you’ve spent a lot of time traveling around the state. What are some things you’ve learned about what kinds of support the students and teachers of our state would like from a program like ours?
Cindy: As I’ve traveled the state, I realize the truth about civic education: while it is happening in small pockets of some of our communities, it is stifled by a lack of information and resources and frankly time to participate in civic programs.
The recent emphasis on STEM learning is wonderful, but not at the expense of not providing education in the social studies. As No Child Left Behind began testing math and English, teachers put their emphasis on teaching that. We now have seen a new push for students to learn science and there are wonderful programs and opportunities for that. In fact, in Idaho the STEM action center is an entity of the Governor’s office and has a budget and partnerships across the state. There are so many resources available in this field of study now, particularly for our girls.
However, we don’t have the same resources or emphasis on civic education across our state. National research clearly shows a lack of information about the nation’s founding and documents that protect our freedoms. It also shows that a majority of young people don’t have a good understanding of how government works and that they don’t want to get involved in it or even vote.
As I said, there are pockets of excellence in civics and I’m seeing a renewed emphasis around the country with civic learning departments and associations being created in some states.
With the lack of school funding in particularly many rural areas, there is no money for buses to transport students and compensate teachers for the additional time spent outside of their regular duties to get students to participate in extracurricular activities that promote civics. Teachers are doing the best they can, but many of those who were active in civics in the 80’s and 90’s are retiring and we need to promote our activities and programs to new teachers and offer them the support that can help them facilitate the learning.
Carey: Can you share some info about the projects you’ve been working on for LRE?
Cindy: Our LRE Committee works hard to promote the programs we offer but it’s difficult in a state our size to inform all teachers about what’s available. One thing we’re doing this year is identifying schools and individual teachers in districts across the state and meeting with teachers one-on-one to explain the program, offer them a classroom set of our Turning 18 magazine, and assist them in creating a Mock Trial team or publicizing our podcast contest.
We’ve seen some success and real excitement from teachers and a willingness to get involved. This year, Boise High will have a Mock Trial team for the first time in years and we have interest from more Treasure Valley schools for next year as well as schools from north and south Idaho. It’s a slow process but more and more teachers are learning about what we offer and working to get it into their classrooms and the hands of their students. It seems if we can inform people and find those who understand the importance of project-based learning then we can get these opportunities to students throughout the state.
Carey: What information do you share with people – attorneys and teachers – when you are trying to get them involved with LRE?
Cindy: I like to tell personal stories of students who participated in hands-on-learning activities and how their interest in the law and respect for the US Constitution and their government’s principles were influenced by LRE. Every single student who was involved in civic participatory learning continues to stay involved in their communities today. Several of my former students have run for office and one just won his third term as mayor of Orofino. They still message me when they vote or want to discuss what’s happening in the news.
Every single child in Idaho deserves an opportunity to learn about their government and the law. The Idaho Law Foundation offers that through the LRE programs. We just need to get people informed about what’s available and then offer them the assistance to make it happen. Having been a part of so many of these programs for students, I KNOW they work to help students learn and that we can find time in the day to provide this for our kids.
I’d love to see everyone in the Idaho legal community work with us to inform individual teachers and students about what is available to them. It would make our network so much stronger! Oftentimes, all it takes is one passionate student can get something started in their school. Imagine if we could have every single school in Idaho represented? We could create an educated electorate in Idaho. How exciting!
Carey: Anything else you’d like to add?
Cindy: It’s so important for us to get everyone on board to help us spread the word about what’s available for kids today. Most attorneys and judges realize the importance of learning about the law and government. We need them to share how that can happen through our LRE program offerings.
Really, LRE is all about creating partnerships and working with community leaders and getting them and teachers connected to help students learn about their government and the law. I really believe in civic education.
Co-Authored by the Board of Attorneys for Civic Education
In November, our nation will once again be afforded the opportunity to exercise one of the greatest privileges of being a United States citizen: the right to vote, in a year that also celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment that afforded all women in the United States that same privilege. While Americans rarely shy away from learning about and debating a candidate and his or her stances on import issues, many might miss the essential foundation of citizenship: a solid understanding of our system of government and the rights and responsibilities that are part of being a United States citizen.
Unfortunately, with budget cuts and focus in other educational areas, civics education and related activities have received less emphasis than other subject areas. In response, a group of Idaho attorneys who recognized the importance of civic education founded the Attorneys for Civic Education (ACE) in 2013.
ACE is a public service project of the Idaho State Bar’s Government and Public Sector section, but anyone can join. ACE members share a common vision: to increase and sustain the opportunities for civics education in Idaho’s schools in order to ensure that Idaho’s citizens will have a solid understanding of the Constitution, the rule of law, and our form of government. ACE achieves that vision through volunteer recruitment and fundraising for three of Idaho’s civic education programs: Idaho We the People, YMCA Youth in Government, and the Idaho High School Mock Trial Program.
Idaho We the People
Idaho We the People promotes civic competence and responsibility among Idaho’s upper elementary and secondary students. It is partnered with the nonprofit, non-partisan Center for Civic Education which has a network of public and private sector organizations and educational leaders in every state and congressional district in the country. Since its inception in 1987, more than 30 million students and 75,000 educators have participated.
The foundation of the We the People program is the classroom curriculum. It complements the regular school curriculum by providing students with an innovative course of instruction on the history and principles of U.S. constitutional democracy. The program’s culminating activity is a simulated congressional hearing in which students “testify” before a panel of judges acting as members of Congress. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles and have opportunities to evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues.
Idaho We the People underwent exciting changes recently. The State Capitol hosted the 2019 State Competition using East and West Wing hearing rooms for the Competition and the Lincoln Auditorium for the Awards Ceremony. The Meridian Medical Arts Charter High School Team taught by Blake Gaudet won the 2019 State Competition. This was State Coordinator Troy Hamilton’s last year and Idaho We the People thanks him for his years of service.
Idaho’s new State We the People Coordinator is Pete Kinnaman of Meridian Medical Arts Charter High School. The College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho will host the 2020 State Competition on Thursday, January 30, 2020 and will see participation by additional high schools. The winner of the State Competition will have the honor of representing Idaho at the National Competition near Washington DC during April 24-27, 2020.
Idaho We the People survives on volunteers to mentor and coach students, assist teachers, judge competitions and fundraise. If you are interested in helping in any way with this worthwhile cause, please contact Pete Kinnaman at Pete.Kinnaman@gmail.com or Dan Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YMCA Youth in Government
Every spring students from across the state come to the Capitol and Idaho Supreme Court buildings to participate in the State Session of YMCA’s Youth in Government program, the second longest running program of its kind nationwide. Youth in Government is an educational program that offers civic education using an interactive experience involving direct participation in the process of all three branches of government. Students take on roles from each branch including Governor, Speaker of the House, Deputy Attorney General, and Chief Justice. The program also provides an opportunity for students to participate as lobbyists and members of press staff. Last year, 256 students from 14 high schools and one YMCA delegation participated in the program. Participating high schools included Bear Lake, Blackfoot, Caldwell, Capitol, Centennial, Eagle, Grangeville, Highland, Leadore, Mountain Home, Oakley, Orofino, Rocky Mountain, and Timberline.
Here’s how it works. Prior to the State Session, there are regional conferences at which students run for elected offices, attend workshops to prepare for the State Session, and compete for advocate positions for the Youth Supreme Court oral arguments. Also preceding the State Session, the student delegations submit proposed bills to debate during legislative hearings. Examples of issues addressed by the proposed legislation include loan repayment assistance in school districts struggling to retain certified teachers; immunization; assisted suicide; overtime wages for farm employees; smoking in vehicles with minors; and term limits. There may also be proposed legislation on lighter topics, such as trampoline parks in high schools and designating silver as the state metal. Whatever the subject of the legislation, the exercise affords students the opportunity to draft a bill and debate it with other students who have varying backgrounds and beliefs.
By the time this article is published, the 2019-2020 is already underway and the State Session is just around the corner on April 23-24, 2020. This year’s State Session will, as in prior years, showcase the talents and leadership potential of students from all over the state. The lessons and skills learned in Youth in Government are designed to not only teach student participants about the work of government, but also to learn how to advocate for their ideas, respect and value the opinions of others, and debate important issues with civility. Moreover, the YMCA reports that Youth in Government alumni are thirty percent more likely to vote and that eighty-eight percent of alumni over the age of 25 have received a post-secondary degree.
For more information about Youth in Government, including how to start a delegation or support an existing delegation, contact the YMCA Youth Coordinator at (208) 377-9622, extension 441. You can also learn more about the program by visiting the program’s website at https://www.ymcatvidaho.org/youth-in-government/.
Idaho High School Mock Trial
The Idaho High School Mock Trial Competition, sponsored by the Idaho Law Foundation’s Law Related Education Program, teaches students in grades 9-12 about the law and the legal system by participating in a simulated trial. Students from all parts of Idaho prepare a hypothetical legal case. Then, in real courtrooms, before real judges and attorneys, teams try their cases – from opening statements, through direct and cross examination, to closing arguments, each team has its own attorneys and witnesses and must be ready to present either side of the case. Teams compete in one of three regional tournaments. The top 12 qualifying teams compete in the state tournament, and the state champion qualifies to compete in the national tournament.
In 2019, the mock trial program piloted the Coach Development Initiative. The overall goal of the project is to develop a better prepared, more supported, and more committed cohort of teacher coaches for Idaho’s mock trial program.
Teachers who participate in the initiative commit to:
- Register a mock trial team from their school that commits to complete the mock trial season
- Participate in a training program to prepare the teacher to effectively work with a team
- Attend monthly mentoring sessions for support and troubleshooting throughout the mock trial season
- Complete an end of season survey and attend an end of initiative focus group
Once they’ve completed these requirements, participating teachers receive one of their six required professional development credits, paid for by the Law Related Education Program, and a $500 stipend.
Idaho’s mock trial program is still looking for volunteers for 2020 competitions. Regional competitions will take place in February and March in Idaho Falls, Lewiston, and Caldwell. The state competition will be in Boise from March 18 to 20. For more information or to volunteer, visit idahomocktrial.org or contact Carey Shoufler at email@example.com.
Hilarity for Charity
Hilarity for Charity is a creative, clever, and very entertaining all for a good cause: civic education. In June, ACE sponsored its sixth annual Hilarity for Charity event to raise funds for civic education programs in Idaho. A dedicated group of local improv comedians have volunteered their time and talents to support this worthy cause for the last six years. Idaho law firms and several Idaho State Bar Practice Sections have consistently and generously sponsored this fun event so that all funds raised from ticket sales go directly to the three civic education programs ACE supports. The 2019 raised $3,750. For 2020, ACE has set an ambitious goal to double that amount and raise $7,500, allowing the group to contribute $2,500 to each of our three programs. The event is in the planning stages but will be held in Boise in June. Look for more information soon.
The attorneys who founded ACE recognized that they have both an opportunity and a responsibility to share their knowledge about civics. Due to our education, experience, and role in society, lawyers are uniquely situated to further the cause of civics education. Attorneys enjoy the opportunity to experience all branches and levels of government to one degree or another. Sharing the resulting insight is rewarding.
Attorneys also have a responsibility to share their civic knowledge. Rule 6.1 of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer’s pro bono work may include “participation in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession.”
As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once said, “The fundamental skills and knowledge of citizenship are not handed down through the gene pool. They must be taught and learned anew by each generation.” ACE is dedicated to being engaged in that teaching process, through their involvement and support of civic education in Idaho. For more information about ACE, visit attorneysforciviceducation.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Hon. Sergio A. Gutierrez
What do you get when you combine a run/walk race event with a charitable cause? You get the Access to Justice 5K FUND Run/Walk! The A2J 5K race is entering its 7th year in 2020 and is proving to be quite a success.
The creation of A2J 5k was the legacy project of a graduate of the Idaho State Bar’s Academy of Leadership for Lawyers. Maureen Ryan Braley, Associate Director of the Idaho State Bar, participated in IALL in 2014. Maureen was a runner and knew lots of other lawyers who were runners. She wanted to create a lawyer-focused running event that raised funds and awareness for an important cause – the need for free civil legal services for poor and disadvantaged Idahoans.
In addition, she wanted to create an event where people of all income levels, especially younger attorneys, could feel like they were helping a good cause without having to write a big check. For just $25, participants can enjoy a beautiful day outside in Boise’s Foothills and know they are supporting a great cause.
All proceeds raised through the A2J FUND RUN/WALK race go directly to help address the legal needs of less fortunate individuals and families served by the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program, Disability Rights Idaho, and Idaho Legal Aid Services. In 2019, the legal community together with the general community helped raise over $12,000.00 in sponsorships and entry fees, including a generous contribution from our Lead Sponsor, the Fourth District Bar Association.
Since its inception in 2014, the event has raised over $48,000 for the Access to Justice Idaho Campaign. These funds help survivors of domestic violence, victims of unlawful housing practices, victims of consumer scams, and people with disabilities receive benefits and entitlements. The growing participation of members of the legal and general communities has been exciting to see.
Success in 2019
In 2019, 280 people registered for the A2J 5K FUND Run/Walk. The contribution of the folks who register makes a meaningful impact. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we all can do small things with great love.”
Having run the A2J 5K run, I can tell you that the race venue and course is just what one would want to experience regardless of age, ability, and fitness level. The race takes off from Fort Boise Park. Those of you who have run Robie Creek will feel right at home with the setting. For those who have not, just imagine hearing the theme music to the movie “Rocky” at the start of the race.
You then take off on Mountain Cove Road with a gentle ascent for 1 ½ miles. At the turnaround, and if you have entered your four-legged friend in the race, you will get a chance to water up at the Camp Bow Wow water station before having gravity give you just the right push to the finish line.
Upon completion of the race, you will be able to enjoy meeting a host of great community sponsors along with treats for you and your four-legged friend. Camp Bow Wow, Bandana Running and Walking, and Jete Bars are just a few of the community businesses that sponsored the event in 2019. We hope to recruit even more great local businesses as sponsors in 2020.
Awards are given to the top three finishers in the following categories: men, women, high school boys, high school girls, boys 12 and under, and girls 12 and under. In 2019, we added the esteemed Learned Foot travelling trophy that is awarded to the biggest team. The Idaho Supreme Court team won last year’s Learned Foot trophy. Who will win it in 2020?
How to Get Involved
Not into running or walking, but love the outdoors? The event needs volunteers! The A2J FUND RUN/WALK needs individuals to help check in racers, record scores, and direct racers along the course. Volunteering at the event is a great way to see what it is all about. It takes up a few hours one beautiful Saturday morning, but by the end of your shift you will want to be a participant the next season.
Attorneys work long grueling hours and they need a chance to get some fresh air and interact with colleagues outside of the courtroom and office. It is clear from the smiles and cheers from the participants and volunteers that everyone at the event is enjoying themselves.
You will not want to miss this great race event. I cannot promise everyone will experience a runner’s high, but I can promise everyone will have helped make a difference in the lives of many individuals and families who benefited from your thoughtfulness.
Hon. Sergio A. Gutierrez retired from the Idaho Court of Appeals bench in 2018. Judge Gutierrez always enjoys a good run, but even more so when it’s for a good cause.
By Erin E. Tomlin
Pouring a cup of coffee before an attorney meeting at my firm, I think about intention. It is a given that my partners and I will take a few moments to check in with each other and our collective practice amid the practical to-do lists we jot down. This check-in is specific to practicing law with intention and refining our focus.
When recently asked why I practice law and what I love about it, my first knee-jerk answer was, “I like solving problems”. I followed up with, “And, I love being able to do that in an office that supports being intentional about that.” The latter part of my answer seems like it should be a foregone conclusion, right? Shouldn’t attorneys, those charged with addressing legal problems, know what it means to fix problems and be intentional in our everyday practice?
What my first answer indicates is an inherent passion for helping people and situations with the law. However, almost more importantly, my elaboration indicates that how, where, and why I solve problems is what makes it great.
In terms of intention, attorneys aren’t afforded a broad interpretation of what it means to practice with intention. Most decisions we make about the cases we take on, the clients we engage with, and the way we do our job is characterized as deliberate. We don’t just happen upon a client; we decide to represent them.
As a third-year law student practicing with a limited license in 2012 alongside the late Chuck Kovis in the Second District, I received some good advice from a then District Court Judge. Idaho Supreme Court Justice John R. Stegner, at a local Inns of Court dinner and CLE, reminded me that attorneys are not meant to be potted plants. My takeaway was this: I should not be passive and to do my job effectively I must stand up and speak up.
What I didn’t fully grasp until practicing law in more depth was that I must also be deliberate in those endeavors and that doing so requires a thoughtful commitment to practicing with intention and being mindful of what I speak and when and where I stand.
It is easy to get swept up in the nature of a demanding law practice – reacting to opposing counsel or taking every case that walks in the door. While firing off pleadings, meeting deadlines, and signing up new clients may be benchmarks of a successful law practice, it doesn’t always leave time for mindful contemplation. It is too easy to get swept up in an ironic and reactive cycle in which the controlled environment of practicing law often feels out of control and success is defined by being busy.
How many times have you talked to an attorney or colleague in the legal field who recalls why they went to law school wistfully only to immediately lament cynically that now they are just grinding it out every day? How do we, as busy attorneys, practice in such a way that we don’t lose sight of why we went to law school while staring down the growing case files on our desks? Doing so allows us to grow the kind of practice and service we offer our communities.
For me, it is with mindful intention. This means a deliberate and contemplative approach to cases at the intake phase and with value placed on time – my time, my clients’ time, my partners’ time, and my family’s time. Diving into a well-paying case fraught with complex legal challenges and high-conflict tensions may be rewarding to resolve but may cost more in the long run in ways that are not as easily calculated.
In choosing cases and how to approach already active cases, it is important for me to remember why I became an attorney in the first place: helping people and fixing problems. More specifically and personally, I want to be available for those who don’t have immediate (or any) access to courts but desperately need it. When I apply intentional mindfulness, the practice of evaluating the moments that often get lost in the shuffle, I am in a better position to balance more of what matters to me.
I keep a folder of quotes with other inspirational stories and articles. There, I am reminded by the famous words of acclaimed author and professor Toni Morrison. She said, “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.’” I share this quote with students at the University of Idaho College of Law in Moscow when I teach in an adjunct instructor capacity and in sharing with them, I keep tabs on myself.
By practicing with intention, I can make time for the case or two that I want to work on pro bono. For others it may be serving on a board or volunteering time for a community event or cause. When I sit down with coffee and pen, my to-do list often includes what my firm calls ‘intention check-points’.
Where are my current cases at? What new cases am I considering? What will they require? Do they allow me to have time to give back through pro bono or volunteer time? Do they put me in a reactive and high-conflict case?
The answers may not be the deciding factor in whether or not I take a case or file the next motion in an existing one but they do help to create an intentional road map that accounts for my time, my passions, and how those affect those closest to me.
By being mindful and present in each moment of the daily decision-making in a busy and growing law firm, it is possible to practice with intention and create time and space for the cases we care about and remain grounded in the inspirational roots of our legal service – whatever that may be for each of us.
Erin E. Tomlin lives in Moscow with her husband, three sons, and their goofy Labrador, Riggins. After several years practicing law in the public sector, Erin joined the private sector in 2017. She is a partner at the law firm Westberg Roepke Moore PLLC and has been an adjunct instructor at the University of Idaho College of Law each spring semester since 2016. She currently volunteers with the Idaho Volunteer Lawyer Program. Erin graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law in 2012.
By the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program Staff
Like many who become Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program clients, Vickie Smith didn’t know where to turn to get legal help when she and her son were in the middle of complicated custody proceedings that spanned two countries and layers of international custody laws. She searched pro bono lawyers online and came across the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (IVLP). Smith remembers finding the IVLP website and thinking, “Why not give it a go?” After submitting her case information online, Smith was contacted by IVLP staff and completed the application process.
A few weeks later, someone who would later be part of what Smith calls “a fantastic team” contacted her by phone. This person was attorney Wendy Olsen of Stoel Rives. ILVP Director, Susan Pierson, had initially reached out to Olsen about Smith’s case because she knew that Olson had a wealth of experience working in federal courts, something that would be necessary if Smith were to get the legal help she needed.
IVLP’s mission is connecting low-income clients in need of legal representation with licensed attorneys around Idaho who are willing to volunteer and make a difference. IVLP volunteer attorneys change the lives of people who would otherwise trudge through difficult legal territory alone as pro se litigants. The role of pro bono attorneys is unique; when someone needs financial help, anyone can donate money, but when someone needs legal help, only an attorney can provide that service. IVLP loves finding lawyers who are willing to devote some time to helping someone in a way nobody else can.
Upon hearing about the uphill battle Smith was facing in her custody case, Olson agreed to take her case and she brought on another attorney from her firm, Elijah Watkins. Watkins also had extensive experience in federal courts and was committed to serving those who could not afford representation. In the end, the support that Smith received from her two volunteer attorneys and their paralegal staff far exceeded her expectations.
Smith and her teenage son were trying to sort through international law regarding which country her son was required to reside after she separated from his father. Smith spoke highly of the help the IVLP attorneys gave her, saying, “They make every client feel like they are the only client. I know they had a lot on their plates, but they made me feel like I was their equal. They valued my opinion and my son’s opinion.”
Olson and Watkins went far beyond filing paperwork or standing up in court. They stayed with their IVLP clients every step of the case, at one point even accompanying Smith’s teenage son to the airport and providing moral support through a difficult and complicated situation. Watkins explains that sometimes providing legal counsel to IVLP clients provides an excellent opportunity to focus as much on the “counseling” aspect as the “legal” aspect.
Although the case has been settled for many months now, Olson continues to show compassion and care for Smith, still checking in with her on occasion. Smith gives Olsen updates on how her son is doing these days and what’s going on in her life. It’s clear that the relationship that was built through Olson and Watkins’ pro bono work went far beyond a simple legal transaction to become a meaningful interpersonal connection.
For any attorney on the fence about taking a pro bono case through IVLP, Watkins and Olson encourage you to “Just do it! You’re helping someone.” Their firm, Stoel Rives, also encourages their attorneys to give back to the community through their pro bono work.
If you or your firm is interested in making a pro bono pledge, please consider activating your account on the Idaho Pro Bono Opportunities website at www.idahoprobono.org or email IVLP Director Susan Pierson at email@example.com.