Another May 1st means — among many other things — that we get to celebrate another Law Day. At this website, May 1st has traditionally meant getting on our highhorse to remind lawyers that “law day is not lawyers day,” while suggesting ways the organized bar could create “a better law day” (by taking steps to put clients’ rights ahead of their own). The American Bar Association has taken over organizing Law Day celebrations, and tells us in this year’s Fact Sheet:
“[Law Day is a] national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share. . . Law Day programs are designed to help people understand how law keeps us free and how our legal system strives to achieve justice.”
Each year, Law Day is given a theme. The 2007 Law Day Theme is “Liberty Under Law: Empowering Youth, Assuring Democracy.” The Association will be putting out a report on Youth at Risk later this year and hopes, in part, that it will help show the problems of children who find themselves in court and “what lawyers can do to guide their way.” Law Day Talking Points explain that this theme:
“prompts us to listen to the voices of young people and consider how the law can better serve their needs and interests. It also encourages us to assure that our youth are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively make their voices heard within our democracy. “
With that in mind, let me tell you how New York’s Chief Judge Judith Kaye celebrated Law Day yesterday. As explained in one news account, “As pay stalls, chief judge scolds lawmakers,” Gannett News Service, April 30, 2007:
“With the governor sitting in the front row, New York’s Chief Judge Judith Kaye scolded lawmakers Monday for yet again failing to pass a bill to give state judges their first pay raise in nine years.
Kaye’s remarks, delivered at annual ceremony to honor the legal profession, came just hours after the Senate’s Democratic minority derailed a bill to raise salaries for judges and legislators. That development hardened the tone of Kaye’s “Law Day” address.
“Imagine our distress. We are caught, snared in the jaws of Albany politics,” Kaye said. “No one is disputing that the funding is fully available. … So is it any wonder we are upset?”
Chief Justice Kaye went on to say [perhaps hoping to sneak in a little education about the constitution and rule of law in America]: “This bartering business … was not what was meant by a system of ‘checks and balances.”‘ That’s right, rather than listening to the voices of youth and focusing on their needs in the judicial system, CJ Kaye appears to be listening to the adolescent brainstorming of Brooklyn Justice Albert Tomei, who was quoted on April 3rd in the NYLJ/Law.com, whining that the collapse of the raise effort was “the lowest point in my 29 years on the bench.” (“Judges Decry Failure To Approve Pay Hikes“). Law.com also reported:
“Our voices have to be heard,” [Tomei] said, suggesting that judges “go en mass on Law Day,” May 1, to Albany to “put it to the governor.”
Capital Confidential weblog, sponsored by the Albany Times Union newspaper, reacted to CJ Kaye’s May Day gambit with a posting yesterday titled “Judicial $ Quest Is Unseemly To Some“(April 30, 2007). Rick Karlin wote: “ ‘Appalled” was how some observers and participants of today’s Law Day celebration are describing their reaction to all the talk of the legislature’s looming failure to get judicial pay raises passed.” He continued:
“Their point was that the theme of today’s event was supposed to be youth law, with an emphasis on young people who volunteer in law-related activities, not judges salaries.”
The f/k/a Gang will bite our tongues and merely remind Judge Kaye that she can get press coverage whenever she wants and could have easily stuck to the Law Day theme and separately dealt with the important pay raise issue. Her example to our youth seems to be, “self-absorption is good; when you have a microphone and an audience, get in your licks, relevance be damned.”
To our perennial motto of “Law Day is Not Lawyers Day,” we now append “. . . Nor Judges Day, Either.”
Enough about lawyers. Here are a bouquet of May Day poems by my favorite accountant haijin, paul m. (a/k/a Paul Miller). They are from his newest collection of haiku, called home (Red Moon Press 2006, 92 pages, $12.00):
last night’s snow
not quite enough
she says again
the pictures straightened
late spring walk
where the ewe was sheared
daffodil shoots —
all these years
as an accountant
………………………… q.s. quickies
An editorial in today’s New York Times (“Law Day,” May 1, 2007) opines that, despite its roots as propaganda in the Cold War, “a day set aside to honor the rule of law was not a bad idea.” Sounding a lot like the f/k/a Gang, NYT notes however that Law Day “is marked today most notably by the American Bar Association, and it is perilously close to becoming a celebration of lawyers.” It makes the following point that seems most apt in 2007:
“In keeping with tradition, President Bush has issued a proclamation inviting Americans today to “celebrate the Constitution and the laws that protect our rights and liberties.” It rings more than a little hollow, though, as he continues to trample on civil liberties in the war on terror, and stands by an attorney general who has politicized the Justice Department to a shocking degree.
“The less committed a president is to the law, the more need there is for Law Day, which makes it a holiday whose time has come.”
You may recall our posting last week about New Jersey Governmor Jon Corzine, who was seriously injured in an automobile accident while not wearing his legally-required seatbelt, and with his State Trooper driver going 91 mph. Gov. Corzine left the hospital yesterday, all filled with contrition and spouting apologies (New York Times, “Corzine Leaves Hospital After Accident,” May 1, 2007):
“I set a very bad example,” said a contrite Mr. Corzine, who broke his left femur, his sternum and 11 ribs in the accident. He spoke from a wheelchair just outside Cooper University Hospital in Camden. His voice breaking with emotion, he added: “I hope the state will forgive me. I will work very hard to set the right kind of example.”
Our Prof. Yabut must ask: “Hey, Governor, just how hard is it to click that seatbelt and tell your driver, “Stick to the speed limit when there is no emergency”? I also don’t understand why people always say, as on tv last night, that it was a “bad example for our children.” I think the example is especially bad for adults — giving the knucklheads an eexcuse for their scofflaw ways.
my life sounds frivolous —