Court Funding Crisis and Other Critical Legal Issues Explored at ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, Feb. 1-6

CHICAGO, Jan. 17, 2012 — The U.S. state court funding crisis, efforts to ensure access to justice, foreclosure prevention and disaster preparedness are the focus of just some of the legal programs at the _ Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, Feb.1-6.

High-profile speakers at the meeting include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (Feb. 4, 2 p.m.), Attorney General Eric Holder (Feb. 4, 1:30 p.m.), and lawyers Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, co-chairs of the ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System, who will discuss measures to mitigate the impact of severe funding cuts to the nation’s courts (Feb. 4, 9 a.m.). Also, several local experts will discuss legal issues and disaster preparedness using Hurricane Katrina and the Deep Water Horizon oil spill as launch points.

In addition to the more than 900 events at this premier gathering of legal professionals, the ABA House of Delegates—the association’s policy-making body—will meet Feb. 6, 9 a.m., at the meeting headquarters, the Sheraton New Orleans, in the Grand Ballroom, 5th floor. For details on the proposals for debate and vote during the one-day session, click here.

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever.  Credential guidelines are at abanow.org/reporter-resources/media-credentials/. Stay updated before and during the Midyear Meeting by visiting abanow.org.

Among Midyear Meeting program highlights are:

Feb. 2

“Preventing Foreclosure: A Win-Win Solution for Everyone” – This session will feature a discussion on how to prevent homeowners from falling victim to rescue scams, offering tips on referrals to legitimate legal resources. The session will also cover federal and state laws that protect tenants in foreclosed properties. Panelists include Rutledge Simmons of NeighborWorks America and Ranie Thompson of Southwest Louisiana Legal Services.
2 – 4 p.m., Fleur de Lis A, Lobby Level, Royal Sonesta

“When Fracking Comes to a Community Near You” – High-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is a controversial issue that impacts land-use planning throughout the country. A cutting-edge panel will offer environmental, land-use planning, state and local government, and consulting perspectives.
1 – 2:30 p.m., Lavin-Bermick Center, 20 McAlister Drive, Tulane University

Feb. 3

“Rescue in Deep Water: Legal Liability of Rescue Efforts in Catastrophic Accidents” – The Deepwater Horizon crisis raises new and important questions on the appropriate liabilities of deep sea rescue companies under maritime and general law. A panel will explore amending legislation in order to make responders immune from claims.
9 – 10:30 a.m., Lafayette Ballroom West, 2nd Level, Ritz-Carlton

“Diversion: Best Practices to Ensure Fairness, Conserve Public Funds and Enhance Public Safety” – Experts in pretrial services will identify potential policy and programming reforms, and examine the current diversion reform efforts in New Orleans. Panelists will discuss the challenges in implementing a fair, safe and accountable system of pretrial justice, as well as discuss diversion’s impact on public safety, public funds, and reducing recidivism and racial disparity.
10 a.m. – noon, Teche/Belle Grove, 2nd Floor, Royal Sonesta

“Two Years After the Gulf Oil Spill” – Two years after the Gulf Oil Spill, many contend that Washington continues to keep a “boot on the neck” of exploration and production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in the name of the environment. Meanwhile, Cuba is set to begin drilling 50 miles from Florida. This program will consider what the United States can do to minimize the risk of U.S. environmental damage from Cuba’s new drilling program.
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Lafayette Ballroom West, 2nd Level, Ritz-Carlton

“A Comprehensive View of Where Cyber Crime is Headed” – One of the biggest challenges for lawmakers is keeping pace with emerging technologies and the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks. Panelists will provide an overview of: laws and proposed changes; the problems and emerging trends in cyber crime investigations; social media as an instrument of crime and a source of evidence; and legislation on cyberbullying.
1 – 3 p.m., Royal Condi, Lower Level, Royal Sonesta

“The Cost of Justice: Ensuring Access to Justice When There’s No Money” – A panel will outline what courts, prosecutors, defense counsel, police and lawyers can do to manage with limited resources, identify sources for new funding, and fashion collaborative strategies to effect vital policy and funding reforms at the national and state levels. Panelists will include Sue Bell Cobb, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
2 – 4 p.m., Fleur de Lis C, Lobby Level, Royal Sonesta

“Visible Invisibility: Breaking Down Barriers to Women’s Leadership” – Representatives from the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession will preview the results of its new survey of diversity dynamics in Fortune 500 corporate legal departments, focusing on the experiences of women attorneys—particularly women of color—in the areas of recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement.
3 – 5 p.m., Oak Alley, 4th Floor, Sheraton New Orleans

“Alexander Award Reception” – The ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline will present its Alexander Award to recognize exemplary leadership in encouraging young people of diverse backgrounds to consider legal careers. The 2012 honorees are The Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaskan Natives and Sarah E. Redfield.
5 – 7 p.m., Arcadia, 3rd Floor, New Orleans Marriott

Feb. 4

“Summit on Indigent Defense Improvement” – This program will include a review of national developments in indigent defense, such as new court decisions, legislation, funding, standards and federal actions that impact indigent defense. Attorney General Eric Holder will speak on the topic of indigent defense during the latter part of the summit, at approximately 1:30 p.m.
7:15 a.m. – 4 p.m., Balcony I/J/K, 4th Floor, Sheraton New Orleans

“Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System” – Forty-two states have cut the budgets of their state courts in 2011, thereby reducing access to justice for millions of Americans through lay-offs, reduced court hours and other money-saving measures. For more than a year, the Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System has studied the problem, hosting hearings in several cities across the nation. An in-depth forum that includes task force co-chairs Theodore B. Olson and David Boies will examine possible solutions, best practices and reform measures currently being implemented.
9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Napoleon Ballroom D3, 3rd Floor, Sheraton New Orleans

“Whither Cyberspace: Security, Privacy Rights, the Law and the Private Sector” -  Both the private sector and the government are in the process of creating new monitoring and security systems. Representatives from government and the private sector will explore related privacy concerns, a possible two-way exchange of information between corporations and government, and cybersecurity in the 21st century.
10 – 11:30 a.m., Napoleon Ballroom C1, 3rd Floor, Sheraton New Orleans

“Spirit of Excellence Awards” – The ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity will present its awards for lawyers who promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. The 2012 honorees are John W. Daniels Jr., Ivan K. Fong, Petra Jimenez Maes, Carlos R. Moreno, Cynthia E. Nance and Mary L. Smith.
Noon – 1:30 p.m., Grand Ballroom, 5th Floor, Sheraton New Orleans

“A Conversation with Justice Scalia”U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will address ABA members and answer questions from the audience. Reporters interested in attending this event should first contact ABA Communications & Media Relations at 202- for coverage guidelines.
2 – 3:30 p.m., Rhythms Ballroom I/II, 2nd Floor, Sheraton New Orleans

“Educational Rights Under HB56: Examining Alabama’s Immigration Statute and its Effect on the Right to Public Education” – Alabama’s House Bill 56 currently requires schools to report the immigration status of enrolled students to the State Board of Education. A panel of civil rights attorneys and immigration reform advocates will discuss the effects of HB56 in Alabama and the prospect of similar statutes nationally.
2 – 3:30 p.m., Bayside A, 4th Floor, Sheraton New Orleans

During the Midyear Meeting, accredited journalists should register on-site at the Sheraton New Orleans, 2nd Floor, beginning Feb. 1. A press room for accredited reporters will be provided at the Armstrong Ballroom, 8th Floor, of the Sheraton New Orleans, starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 2. The room will be open daily thereafter from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Feb. 6.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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Learn More About:  Access to JusticeMidyear Meeting 2012