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Feel Good Friday: Highlighting the Pound Civil Justice Institute


— October 7, 2016

This week’s Feel Good Friday is a bit different than most. Usually, I highlight a lawyer or a law firm that does good works in the general communities in which they live and work. This week, I’m highlighting an organization that does good work within the legal community (which then benefits the people helped by the lawyers and firms I usually highlight. So let’s get going, shall we? This Feel Good Friday, I’m highlighting the Pound Civil Justice Institute.


This week’s Feel Good Friday is a bit different than most. Usually, I highlight a lawyer or a law firm that does good works in the general communities in which they live and work. This week, I’m highlighting an organization that does good work within the legal community (which then benefits the people helped by the lawyers and firms I usually highlight. So let’s get going, shall we? This Feel Good Friday, I’m highlighting the Pound Civil Justice Institute.

From the Institute’s website:

“We are a national legal ‘think tank’ created by trial attorneys in 1956 to honor the life and work of Roscoe Pound, one of America’s great legal scholars and educators. Our programs and publications give a balanced view of issues affecting the U.S. civil justice system.”

Mary P. Collishaw, the Institute’s Executive Director, announced via email some of Pound’s recent accomplishments. “I am writing to update you on some exciting developments within the Pound Civil Justice Institute. We’ve been very busy the last few months, moving from multiple programs at the Los Angeles convention in July, right into our 2nd Academic Symposium this a year in September, and a Trustees meeting this past Friday.” Let’s take a look at each one.

The Academic Symposium on Workers Compensation

This particular event was held on September 23 and is the fourth Pound Symposium involving law schools. This year’s was at Rutgers Law School and was “The Demise of the Grand Bargain: Compensation of Injured Workers in the 21st Century.” Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility cosponsored the Symposium with Pound and Northeastern University School of Law.

The Institute explained the Grand Bargain as follows: “Workers’ compensation systems arose as one of the great political compromises of the Progressive Era: workers injured on the job gave up the right to sue their employers for personal injury damages in return for less generous but more certain benefits. This exchange became known as The Grand Bargain.”  There are opponents to the Grand Bargain who would like to put an “opt out” system into place. This would allow them to substitute their own designed plans instead of the workers comp coverage required by law. The justifiable fear is that these “opt out” plans will offer less coverage to injured workers.

This was the first Symposium of this type and involved many professionals from different areas, including academics, non-profit advocates, government/industry/insurance and labor reps, as well as lawyers and jurists. The focus was looking at how U.S. workers comp systems compare to those in other nations, alternatives to the current system – both existing and yet-to-be developed, and the impact on injured workers. Five research papers were presented by legal academics and the audience gave responses to each.

The papers and responses are to be published in May 2017 in 69 Rutgers U. Law Review. Videos and other information can be found here.

The Pound Institute 2017 Judges Forum Topic: Personal Jurisdiction

At the Trustees meeting, it was decided to address this important legal topic at the 2017 Judges Forum on July 22, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Personal jurisdiction is, essentially, a court’s ability to have authority over parties in that court’s jurisdiction. Certain elements must be met in order for a court to have this power. We won’t be looking at those here (the issue took a good part of first year Civil Procedure Class in Law School, so it’s a bit much to cover here).

The big issue regarding personal jurisdiction is that it is one of the determining factors in people’s access to the civil court system. If a court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over a particular defendant, the plaintiff’s ability to access the system may be compromised. The goal of the Forum is “to educate state judges on how to preside appropriately over these cases, and to expand the legal thought on the issue.”

The Pound Institute Convention, Los Angeles, July 2016

This event covered a lot of ground, from the Trustees meeting, Twiggs Lecture, Judges Forum and a reception for Pound Institute Fellows, both current and new. We’ve already discussed the Trustees meeting.

2016 Twiggs Lecture

Stephen B. Bright; image courtesy of the Pound Institute.
Stephen B. Bright; image courtesy of the Pound Institute.

This lecture was given by Stephen B. Bright from Yale Law School and the Southern Center for Human Rights. The topic was avoiding bias in jury selection and highlighted his involvement in a recent SCOTUS decision, Foster v. Chatman. The High Court ruled 7 – 1 in for Mr. Bright’s client. Janet Stumbo from the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Mike Wolff, formerly the Supreme Court Chief Justice in Missouri gave commentary on the lecture and a very active question and answer session followed.

24th Annual Judges Forum

This year’s topic was “Who Will Write Your Rules – Your State Court of the Federal Judiciary?” Attendance was 105 state appellate judges and the Forum was an in-depth look at “whether and to what extent state courts should adopt amendments to the Federal Rules.” Specifically, the newly adopted Rule on proportionality in discovery was examined.

This is an important Rule as it could have a significant impact on access to justice. The new Rule (Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) now states: “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties’ relative access to relevant information, the parties’ resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”

This new Rule does away with long-used standard for the scope of discovery, which has been anything “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” It could also limit what is discoverable, thereby limiting fair access to the civil judicial system.

The papers presented can be seen here. The final report is due to be published in January 2017.

Mary Collishaw shared a message from a Florida judge who was at this year’s Forum: “Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend and participate in the Pound Institute Conference held in Los Angeles. It was such a privilege to be around so many intellectuals and academics; it was like a think tank or law school for judges. We do not often get the chance to step out of our judicial roles and enter the academic world and I appreciate the chance to do so every time, especially when the program is one like the Pound Institute. Thank you again and I look forward to the conference in Boston next year!”

In short, the Pound Institute does a lot of great work toward the advancement of fairness and accessibility to the civil justice system by educating judges and other legal professionals and rule makers.

The Pound Fellows Reception

Who doesn’t love a good party? All of this good work deserves recognition and this year’s Fellows Reception was no exception. The Pound Institute’s 2016 Appellate Advocacy Award was given to three winners, Robert F. Daley, R. Scott Marshall and Brent M. Rosenthal, all who worked toward achieving a landmark decision in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The decision in Tooey v. AK Steel Corp., gave workers the right to seek common-law tort remedies for certain cases of work-related diseases. Kathryn Clarke also received the Institute’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for Appellate Advocacy. Of course, there was also a lot of fantastic food and, by all reports, a hot salsa band.

Robert F. Daley, R. Scott Marshall and Brent M. Rosenthal (left to right). Image courtesy of the Pound Institute.
Robert F. Daley, R. Scott Marshall and Brent M. Rosenthal (left to right). Image courtesy of the Pound Institute.

The Institute also announced its newest Academic Fellows, law professors who have agreed to serve in guiding Pound’s work. They include:

  • Judith Resnik, Yale Law School
  • Arthur Miller, NYU
  • Thomas Main, UNLV
  • Stephen Subrin, Northeastern
  • Sean Farhang, UC Berkeley
  • Patricia Moore, St. Thomas University
Arthur Mill of NYU giving a lunchtime presentation. Image courtesy of the Pound Institute.
Arthur Mill of NYU giving a lunchtime presentation. Image courtesy of the Pound Institute.

For those interested, the full listing of Pound’s Academic Fellows is available here.

So, this week, we say “Thank you!” to all of the Pound Fellows and others at the Institute for their hard work in making the civil justice system as accessible and fair as possible for all who need it. Well done!

Sources:

Pound Civil Justice Institute

Email from Mary P. Collishaw

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