ABA House of Delegates adopts resolutions on cybersecurity

The American Bar Association adopted policies relating to cybersecurity, domestic and sexual violence and LGBT rights when the association's policymaking body met during the 2014 ABA Annual Meeting in Boston.

The meeting of the House of Delegates - made up of 560 members representing state and local bar associations, ABA entities and ABA-affiliated organizations - marked the culmination of the Annual Meeting.

During the two-day session, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. addressed the House, discussing the influence of Magna Carta on the rule of law in the world, and kicking off the ABA's celebration leading up to the Great Charter's 800th anniversary on June 15, 2015. Also, William C. Hubbard took over as president of the association.

Recently, cybercrime and cyberterrorism has increased and become a serious problem to our economy and our country. The ABA House of Delegates passed a resolution that encourages all private and public sector organizations to develop, implement, and maintain an appropriate cybersecurity program that complies with applicable ethical and legal obligations.

This year, the ABA will mark the 20th anniversaries of the Violence Against Women Act (Sept.13) and its Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence (Nov.19). The Commission put forward and had approved two resolutions. The first encourages all workplaces, public and private, including governments, law schools and the legal profession, to enact formal policies on the workplace responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking violence that addresses prevention, assistance and accountability. A separate resolution condemns forced marriage as a fundamental human rights violation and urges governments to amend or enact laws to prevent it. The House passed a resolution that recognizes the rights of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender as basic human rights around the world and condemns laws, regulations, rules and practices that discriminate against them on the basis of their status while encouraging the U.S. government to work to end this discrimination. The ABA Standing Committee on Election Law had two resolutions passed, one urging states, localities and territories to develop written contingency plans to preserve the election process in the event of an emergency or disaster and another urging governments to improve enforcement of voting rights for persons with disabilities and that election personnel and volunteers receive accessibility training. Additionally, the House passed several resolutions dealing with the legal community, including one that urges national, state, local and territorial bar associations and foundations, courts, law schools, legal aid organizations and law firms to create and advance initiatives that marshal the resources of newly-admitted lawyers to meet the unmet legal needs of underserved populations in sustainable ways. Another resolution opposes changes in current educational debt loan forgiveness programs for public service lawyers and urges Congress and the presidential administration to support and continue public service student loan repayment and forgiveness programs. The House also passed a measure that urges states and territories to adopt clearly articulated and timely procedures to ensure that judges disqualify or recuse themselves in instances where conflict or bias warrant it, and another measure that recommends that bar organizations enhance their efforts to improve professionalism.

The House concurred with a package of changes to the ABA's law school approval standards, including increased requirements for practical-skills training, allowance of more distance-learning credits and a move toward outcome-based evaluations of J.D. programs based on factors such as bar-passage and employment rates. In concurring with the new standards approved by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the House referred back to the section for further study an existing standard that prohibits students from being paid for internships that grant academic credit.

Additionally, the ABA House of Delegates adopted resolutions to:

- Oppose the suspension or delay of the fundamental right to a civil jury trial, even in the face of difficult financial circumstances.

- Urge jurisdictions where capital punishment is permitted to adopt a rule that allows successors or legal entities to bring a claim on behalf of an executed individual to prove that the individual was innocent.

- Urge Congress to insert the phrase "and territory" after the phrase "each state," so that all states and territories within the jurisdiction of the federal courts of appeal may be represented on its bench.

- Encourage law schools to create veterans law clinics to serve veterans who cannot afford legal services.

- Urge Congress to enact legislation to prevent and punish crimes against humanity.

Published: Fri, Aug 15, 2014