Policy to improve legal profession, advance justice adopted by Delegates

Judicial disqualification, legal education and changes in immigration representation were among the topics addressed Monday and Tuesday by the American Bar Association House of Delegates, the association's policy-making body.

After careful consideration and deliberation, the ABA has moved forward in urging states to develop clearly articulated procedures for judicial disqualification determinations when it adopted recommendation 107.

The House also adopted resolutions that were brought to it by ABA presidential task forces and commissions. First, resolution 302--from the Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System--urges states and local bar associations to document the impact of funding cutbacks to the judicial systems and to respond to the ramifications of funding shortages, and was adopted as ABA policy.

The second of these resolutions, 303--brought by the Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities--urges Congress to reject any proposal to alter the Fourteenth Amendment relating to the granting of U.S. citizenship.

The House also adopted several resolutions relating to legal education. The first was brought to the ABA House by the New York State Bar Association. Resolution 10B, as revised, urges steps to assure that law schools, firms, CLE providers and others provide the knowledge, skills and values that are required of the successful modern lawyers; and urges legal education providers to implement curricular programs to develop practice-ready lawyers though enhanced clinical courses.

Recommendation 111A urges Congress to pass legislation that would assist students with significant legal education debt by extending to holders of commercial lender loans the same repayment schedules as those with federal student loans; creating loan forgiveness programs for public service lawyers; and raising or eliminating the income level associated with the federal income tax deduction for interest paid on qualifying student loans.

Calling for additional transparency in employment data for law school graduates, recommendation 111B urges all ABA-approved law schools to report employment data that identifies whether graduates have full- or part-time employment, whether in private or public sector; and whether employment is permanent or temporary. Further, the resolution urges the collection of additional costs related to law school, such as living expenses, and posting this information on the schools' websites.

Finally, the ABA concurred with the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in its amendments to the Council's standards, relating to distance education and student complaints, among others (recommendation 119).

Additionally, the House adopted:

* A series of resolutions (103B-D) designed to improve circumstances for immigrant children relating to detention, whether it be their own or their caregivers; as well as a resolution to urge state legislatures to enact laws to more effectively aid minors who are victims of human trafficking (103A).

* A resolution (105C) that urges the Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service Immigration and Customs Enforcement and others to implement gender-responsive needs assessments that account for women's specific needs.

* Resolution 105D, urging governments to adopt disclosure rules in courts requiring the prosecution to make timely disclosure to defense all information known to prosecution that that tends to negate the guilt of the accused.

* Protocols that provide best practices in Canada-United States cross-border class actions, recommendation 101C.

* Policy that affirms the principle of civility as a foundation for democracy and the rule of law, recommendation 108.

* Recommendation 118, supporting improved access to counsel for individuals in immigration removal proceedings.

* Policy urging Congress to amend legislation to require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for returning veterans with combat injuries (recommendation 120).

A full description of actions by the 566-member House of Delegates can be found online at www.abanow.org/issue/?annual-meeting-2011&view=hod.

Published: Thu, Aug 11, 2011