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January 25, 2011

Legal Policy Issues to be Debated at Midyear Meeting in Atlanta

This year's ABA Midyear Meeting takes place in Atlanta Feb. 9-14.

This year's ABA Midyear Meeting takes place in Atlanta Feb. 9-14.

The _ will address legal policy issues ranging from cyberbullying, to urging the U.S. Sentencing Commission to assess current federal policy relative to sentences for economic crime, to urging the adoption of the Model State Code of Military Justice and Model Manual for Courts-Martial when the association’s 560-member House of Delegates meets on Feb. 14 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

In light of recent cases in which young people who were identified as gay were bullied, teased and taunted, the association’s Commission on Youth at Risk is bringing Recommendation 107(A) to the House of Delegates.  The recommendation urges federal, state and local officials to prevent and remediate the existence and dangers of bullying, including cyberbullying.  Further, the resolution calls for Internet service providers and social networking platforms to adopt terms of service that define and prohibit cyberbullying, and urges law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the FBI’s data collection program related to hate crimes committed by and against juveniles under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Recommendation 104(C) calls for the United States Sentencing Commission to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for high-loss economic crimes to ensure that the guidelines for such crimes are proportional to offense severity, and adequately take into consideration individual culpability in the offense.

As the role of the National Guard has expanded in response to natural disaster and global military crises, there has been an increasing need for harmonization among the applicable state and federal laws governing their operations.  Recommendation 103 seeks to promote uniformity in military discipline for guard units working together domestically, as well as their possible transition from relief mission to active combat mission overseas.  The recommendation does so by urging states and territories to adopt the Model State Code of Military Justice and the Model Manual for Courts-Martial.

Additional proposals include:

  • One, 100(A), which reaffirms the principles of law school self-governance, including independence of law school clinical programs.  In recent years, state legislatures have considered bills that have sought to restrict the activities of clinics.
  • A proposal, 100(B), through which the House of Delegates would concur with the association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, outlining consumer information law schools must provide and information regarding the law school accreditation approval process.
  • Recommendation 104(D), which urges federal, state and other governments to use electronic monitoring and home detention for juvenile offenders who are legally subject to secure detention but whose flight risk is minimal.
  • A proposal, recommendation 105, urging Congress to enact legislation to permit the payment of military Survivor Benefit Plan benefits to a special needs trust for a disabled beneficiary.  The bill would allow the benefit without sacrificing the ability of the beneficiary to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
  • Recommendation 107(B), urging governments to create and provide support for Youth or Teen Courts that divert youth from formal consequences of juvenile justice sanctions, by promoting community service opportunities, mentorship and civic education that builds respect for the rule of law.
  • One [108(B)] that urges the implementation of policies to ensure the humane treatment and disposition of seized animals from a scene of seizure.
  • Recommendation 111, supporting uniform standards for evaluating inventions relating to DNA technology.
  • A proposal, 115, urging states to establish clearly articulated procedures for judicial disqualification determinations and review of denials of requests to disqualify judges.
  • Recommendation 118, which encourages Congress to enact legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. Supporters of the resolution argue that this is necessary for federal regulators to have the legal authority and resources necessary to ensure a “safe, sustainable and commercially competitive chemical industry.”

These proposals will not constitute ABA policy unless adopted by the House. They are advocated by state and local bar associations, specialty legal groups within the ABA or affiliated with the association, and individual members, and reflect the broad range of issues confronting society.  Other measures may be filed for House consideration, while some on the agenda could be withdrawn or revised leading up to or during the House meeting.

During the Midyear Meeting, a press room for accredited journalists will be located at the Marriott Atlanta Marquis, International 8A, International Level. The room’s phone number will be 404-586-6355.

On-site media registration begins at 8 a.m. on Feb. 10.  Thereafter the press room will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Feb. 14.

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever. Credential guidelines are at https://abanow.org/reporter-resources/media-credentials/.

View results as they happen from the House of Delegates session on Feb. 14 on ABANow.org.