ABA to address policy issues at annual meeting

The American Bar Association will address legal policy issues relating to ethical considerations for the profession in light of globalization and technological advancements, the statutes of limitations in child sexual abuse cases and civil immigration detention standards when its policymaking body meets next month.

The 560-member House of Delegates will meet Aug. 6 and Aug. 7 in Chicago to consider policy recommendations and vote on resolutions.

During the two-day session, Morris Dees, co-founder and chief trial attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will receive the ABA Medal, the association’s highest honor. 

Among other noteworthy House activities, ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III will address the policymaking body on Aug. 6, and later that day, incoming President Laurel G. Bellows will make remarks following the ceremonial passing of the president’s gavel.

Specifically, six recommendations from the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 are expected to be brought to the House.

The resolutions, 105A through F, provide guidance in the following areas: lawyers’ use of technology and confidentiality; lawyers’ use of technology and client development; ethical implications of retaining lawyers and nonlawyers outside the firm to work on client matters; the detection of conflicts of interest when lawyers move from one firm to another; as well as amending Model Rules relating to practice pending admission and admission by motion. 

The ABA’s Criminal Justice Section is bringing Recommendation 107A, which urges governments to review child sexual abuse statutes of limitations to determine whether extending them is warranted.  

Resolution 102 supports adopting the ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards, intended to assist the Department of Homeland Security with a blueprint for developing civil detention standards, and to help DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement with reforming the U.S. immigration detention system.  

Additionally, the House is expected to consider recommendations that:

• Concur with the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in making amendments to Standard 509 and Rule 16 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, clarifying the obligations of schools with respect to the reporting and publication of consumer information, and strengthening the range of sanctions that may be imposed for violations of the standard

• Urge prosecutors to fulfill their traditional prosecutorial functions through the use of a broad spectrum of strategies to discharge that duty, and urge increased funding for prosecutors to achieve these objectives (107B);  

• Urge defender organizations and criminal defense lawyers to address clients’ interrelated criminal, civil and nonlegal problems, and urge funding for these purposes (107C);

• Urge Congress to amend U.S. code to permit a federal district court to review de novo, based on the record made in the federal court, claims of ineffective assistance of counsel by petitioners under sentence of death (107D);

• Urge governments to enact legislation to protect individuals and organizations that choose to speak on matters of public concern from meritless litigation designed to suppress such speech, commonly referred to as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (115);

• Adopt the Guidelines for Retention of Experts by Lawyers, laying out guidance relating to the lawyer-expert relationship, including integrity/professionalism; competence; confidentiality; conflicts of interest; and contingent compensation of experts (101);

• Reaffirm ABA policy that the sharing of legal fees with nonlawyers and the ownership or control of the practice of law by nonlawyers are inconsistent with the core values of the legal profession and the law governing lawyers (10A);

• Urge the Department of Defense to strengthen efforts to prevent and eliminate sexual assault within the military, and oppose enactment of legislation in the 112th Congress, H.R. 3435, the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (114); and

• Amend ABA policy regarding racial and ethnic profiling to include religious profiling and characteristics indicative of religious affiliation (116).