Police misconduct, over-incarceration, legalized marijuana among highlights at ABA meeting

Issues of implicit bias and police misconduct in light of racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and other U.S. cities; solutions to over-incarceration; and the workplace implications of legalized marijuana are chief among legal issues that will be explored at the 2015 American Bar Association Annual Meeting July 30-Aug. 4 in Chicago.

High-profile speakers at the meeting include U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (July 31, 12:15 p.m.), U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Aug. 1, 4 p.m.) and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill (Aug. 1, 10 a.m.). Also, members of President Obama's Commission on Twenty-First Century Policing will discuss policing in America in the aftermath of violence in communities such as Ferguson and Baltimore.

In addition to the more than 1,400 events at this premier gathering of legal professionals, the ABA House of Delegates - the association's policymaking body - will meet at 9 a.m. on Aug. 3-4 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago's Grand Ballroom, Gold Level, East Tower.

Legal programs include:

Thursday, July 30

"Is Sharing Really Caring? The Laws of Transportation Sharing, Uber, Lyft, etc." - As ride-sharing services become more ubiquitous, their more traditional competitors such as taxicabs, the state and local governments charged with regulating them and the passengers who use them all want to know: what legal questions do ride- and transportation-sharing raise?

"The Language of Justice: Removing Language Barriers to Justice in the Nation's Courts" - In light of Department of Justice priorities to ensure the nation's courts are fully accessible, a panel of judges, including California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, will discuss the use of technology and other innovations to improve access to justice for a diverse group of court users who have limited proficiency in the English language.

"Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Recent Trends and Things to Come" - Experts from Twitter, Google and the Recording Industry of America will discuss recent developments in take-downs and copyright management under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Friday, July 31

"Perspectives on Race, Communities, and Policing in Twenty-First Century America" - Members of President Obama's Commission on Twenty-First Century Policing are among panelists who will examine the roots of problems in relations between police and minority communities and will consider proposals for change in the aftermath of violence in communities such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. The discussion will include several different perspectives, from police officials and police officers unions, to community activists and lawyers who litigate cases of alleged police misconduct.

"The Employment Law Implications of Medical Marijuana" - As 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, an expert panel will examine the legal and policy issues in the workplace that arise from marijuana use. Panelists will discuss the intersection of off-duty conduct laws, disability laws, and conflicting federal and state laws that prohibit or permit the use of marijuana.

"Forum on Judicial Independence" - Missouri Supreme Court Justice Laura Denvir Stith is among panelists who will examine U.S. Justice Department recommendations from its investigation of the Ferguson Police Department related to Ferguson's municipal court practices and the actions taken by the Missouri Supreme Court.

"The 24/7 Workplace and its Ramifications" - A panel will explore the legal issues arising in the 24/7 workplace including privacy and data security, telecommuting and off-duty conduct, family responsibilities discrimination, performance standards and evaluation and privilege concerns.

"#IsThisAdmissible?" - Experts will examine the use of social media evidence including relevance, authentication, reliability and the application of the hearsay rule.

Saturday, August 1

"The First Ten Years of the Roberts Court" - Assistant Solicitor General Nicole Saharsky, U.S. Department of Justice, is among a panel of Supreme Court experts who will review the key decisions - and possible legacy - of the Roberts Court, as we reach the 10th anniversary of the chief justice's confirmation.

"Drones Incoming! Are You Ready for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles?" - As drone use grows, panelists will discuss the regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles, with specific reference to privacy and safety at both the state and federal level.

"The Ethical Implications of Bias in the Legal Profession and the Justice System" - Panelists will discuss real-world examples of how bias affects the administration of justice and point out areas where current ethics rules may be lacking in both language and enforcement.

"ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services Hearing" - The commission will solicit comments from ABA groups, members of the judiciary, bar leaders and other stakeholders about ways to improve the delivery of - and access to - legal services in the United States.

"Mass Incarceration: A Nation Behind Bars" - Panelists including NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill will address the explosion of lengthy prison sentences and the relationship of collateral consequences to recidivism. Also, panelist James Cole, former U.S. deputy attorney general, will discuss his so-called "Cole Memo" that described in 2013 new priorities for federal prosecutors operating in states with legalized marijuana.

"Women as Lead Counsel at Trial: What You Can Do to Take the Lead" - A panel will discuss new ABA research on how women can advance into lead roles at trial, how clients can have an impact on diversity of their trial lawyers and what firms can do to advance talented women into first-chair trial attorneys.

"It's Not Just Ferguson: Promoting the Rule of Law and other Solutions at Home" - Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the family of Trayvon Martin, is among panelists who will address legal solutions to remedy the explicit and implicit biases in the criminal justice system.

Sunday, August 2

"Supreme Advocate: Solicitors General Reflect on the Supreme Court As It Was, Is, and Will Be" - Solicitors general serving under the last five presidents Drew S. Days III, Kenneth Starr, Ted Olson and Donald B. Verrilli Jr will discuss Supreme Court practices and the balance of power among the branches of government, and examine the high court's trajectory in deciding major issues, including the doctrines it applies.

"Same Sex Marriage On the Cusp: Remaining Issues of Nonrecognition and a Look into the Future" - Experts will discuss the recent outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in marriage equality cases and how it changes the legal landscape regarding state laws on same-sex marriage and marriage recognition.

Published: Mon, Jul 20, 2015