Annual Meeting

San Francisco row houses

Photos from Shutterstock.

There are nearly 650 events planned for the 2019 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco and some important resolutions being brought before the ABA House of Delegates. From Thursday to Tuesday, attendees will have opportunities to hear from civil rights stalwarts like Rep. John Lewis and Dale Minami; to socialize at events including a benefit concert for the Legal Services Corp.; and to learn from both colleagues and leaders in the field while earning CLE credit.

In the “And Then They Came for Us: The Perils of Silence” program from 2 to 3:45 p.m. Thursday, panelists including 2019 ABA Medal recipient Minami will discuss the obligation of lawyers to speak out against injustice. The panel will use the role lawyers played in events during World War II as examples.

The program will feature a screening of And Then They Came for Us, the ABA Silver Gavel award-winning documentary that tells the story of Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps in the western United States.

The Board of Governors will meet Friday to discuss the association’s business matters. Among the long list of panels and CLEs also that day, general counsel from Lyft, Microsoft, 23andMe and Oracle will discuss their roles in shaping socially responsible policies; addressing artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and other emerging areas of the law; and anticipating future challenges. “Shaping Our Future: Top Tech Company Lawyers on Innovation and Social Responsibility” is from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

The 19th Amendment Then and Now: Lessons for the 21st Century” panel is also on Friday, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The discussion, which will be moderated by NBC News Justice correspondent Pete Williams and include panelists Harmeet Dhillon, Republican National Committee committeewoman from California, and Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, will focus on how to ensure full and equal exercise of the right to vote for all.

During the General Assembly on Saturday, Minami will receive the ABA Medal, the association’s highest honor, for championing the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other minorities. The event is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and includes a keynote address by Chief Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Thurgood Marshall Award Reception honoring Lewis, D-Georgia, one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, for his commitment to civil rights is also on Saturday. The event begins with a reception at 7 p.m. and includes a performance by Grammy Award-winning folk artist Rhiannon Giddens.

The Rule of Law Luncheon, featuring a conversation between Rule of Law Initiative Board Chair Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court of Canada Senior Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, is from noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The luncheon will also recognize the 2019 ABA International Human Rights Award recipient, Saudi lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, for his work to advance human rights in Saudi Arabia.

San Francisco skyline

Nearly five dozen proposed resolutions and amendments will be considered by the ABA House of Delegates when the official policymaking body convenes at the Annual Meeting on Monday and Tuesday in San Francisco.

While the final number may change if resolutions are withdrawn, amended or introduced ahead of the final vote, the House’s 594 delegates are preparing to discuss a range of significant issues including criminal justice, advance care planning, pay equity, intellectual property, sexual assault and immigration.

Resolution 101 urges the federal government to immediately implement the First Step Act—which was adopted in 2018 to shorten some federal sentences and give federal judges more discretion to bypass mandatory minimum sentences for some offenders—by providing all necessary funding.

It is co-sponsored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section and the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section.

The Criminal Justice Section is also sponsoring Resolution 104, which calls on Congress to enact legislation that exempts the production, distribution, possession and use of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in order to resolve conflicts in state and federal law.

The Standing Committee on Gun Violence, along with co-sponsors the Criminal Justice Section, the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section, the Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Judicial Division, is asking jurisdictions in Resolution 105 to limit the possession of firearms in courthouses and judicial centers to courtroom security and law enforcement officers. The resolution was originally submitted at the Midyear Meeting in January, but withdrawn.

Resolution 103B encourages attorneys who provide estate planning services to include counseling for advance care planning that conforms with seven principles developed through a John A. Hartford Foundation project. As part of the project, the Commission on Law and Aging, the sponsor of the resolution, tasked legal and clinical experts with examining how advance care planning practices of lawyers and clinicians could better align.

The Senior Lawyers Division and the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section are co-sponsors.

Two resolutions target the much-debated topic of fair compensation. Resolution 106 is sponsored by the Commission on Women in the Profession and urges legal employers to implement practices that close the compensation gap between male and female lawyers. Resolution 115B is sponsored by the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section and urges Congress, states and territories to pass legislation that provides stronger remedies and protections against pay discrimination on the basis of sex, race and ethnicity.

ABA logo

With Resolution 110A, the Intellectual Property Section supports legislation that would create a Copyright Small Claims Program within the U.S. Copyright Office. The proposed program, which is also supported by the Litigation Section, could adjudicate copyright small claims as a more efficient and economical alternative to federal court litigation of these claims.

The Litigation Section is also sponsoring Resolution 116, which encourages courts and bar associations to review their policies on the use and admittance of cellphones in courthouses. It asks that these policies balance security risks posed by phone use with the needs of litigants, particularly those who represent themselves or have lower income.

Resolution 114 calls on legislatures and courts to define consent in sexual assault cases as “the assent of a person who is competent to give consent to engage in a specific act of sexual penetration, oral sex, or sexual contact.” The resolution, co-sponsored by the Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Criminal Justice Section and the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section, also calls for consent to be expressed by words or action in the context of all of the circumstances and that requirements that sexual assault victims have a legal burden of verbal or physical resistance be rejected.

It builds on Resolution 115, which was adopted at the Midyear Meeting in January, to oppose placing upon victims of sexual assault the burden of demonstrating resistance to the assault.

The House of Delegates will also consider six proposals sponsored by the Commission on Immigration, including Resolution 121A, which urges the U.S. Department of Justice to implement standards and procedures to govern how the attorney general refers cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals to himself or herself for adjudication.

Resolution 121C recommends that the Executive Office for Immigration Review continue implementing an electronic filing and case management system, and Resolution 121D seeks to reestablish the criteria through which an immigrant who is not subject to mandatory detention under the Immigration and Nationality Act could obtain release from detention, including by parole.

The full program and additional details can be found on the 2019 ABA Annual Meeting website.