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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
"All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous judiciary."
AN INDEPENDENT AND VIRTUOUS JUDICIARY
If you missed the Annual Award Dinner and Installation of Officers at the Balboa Bay Club, you missed a great event. Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Jeff Roberts, the Joseph D. McNeil Civility Award was given to Richard Morton, and the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award was given to Gerald Klein. Special thanks to all of the board who volunteered, particularly Jennifer Russell. I would like to thank all the sponsors (who remain on our website) that participated in the event. Without our sponsors' continued support, we could not engage in furthering our mission. Also, special thanks to Rick Kraemer of Executive Presentations, who was present and took amazing photographs. Thank you to those who attended. Now that the Award Dinner and Installation is complete, the real work lay ahead.
From the outside, ABOTA looks only like a social group, but we are far more than that. One of ABOTA's -- including your Chapter's -- primary missions is the protection of an "independent judiciary." The importance of an independent judiciary is patently evident: We do not want our judges to ever worry about the popularity or political consequences of making a ruling or order. "Judges should never be placed in a position where their decisions are influenced by which way the political winds blow, how the media will react, or whether their decision is the most popular on any given day." (National ABOTA Press Release, "The Recall Effort to Unseat Judge Persky Is A Threat To Judicial Independence," dated 2017). Judicial independence is an absolute necessity for the survival of our democracy.
Our brothers and sisters of the San Bernardino/Riverside Chapter are dealing with this very issue.
Sheriff Chad Bianco has called for the resignation or recall of Judge Cara Hutson for the release of William McKay, accused of killing 32-year-old Deputy Isaiah Cordero. Sheriff Bianco improperly and publicly criticized Judge Hutson on Fox News, citing incorrect facts about the manner in which accused killer McKay was released, mis-leading the public. The death of Deputy Cordero is undeniably tragic. However, the failure to maintain judicial independence also has a far reaching and potentially tragic result -- the breakdown of our democracy. Conveying correct facts and circumstances of the release of accused killer William McKay is important. The San Bernardino/Riverside Chapter of ABOTA, CAL-ABOTA and National ABOTA have prepared a press release stating the facts and circumstances of the release, which can be found HERE.
The preservation of an independent judiciary requires constant effort. Your Chapter Board focuses on judicial independence in two primary ways: A short game and a long game. The short game requires your Chapter to continue to maintain a Judicial Rapid Response Team that monitors the media and is ready to prepare a timely media response, consistent with National ABOTA's guidelines and protocols.
The long game requires your Board to educate the public about the importance of the civil justice system and the 7th Amendment of the Constitution. This is challenging work, and your chapter has committed both financial and human resources to teach teachers and children (grades 3-12) the importance of the civil justice system, including the importance of an independent judiciary. One of the ways we do this, is through a program called Teachers Law School. The founder and current chair of our Teachers Law School Program is Hon. Linda Marks. Teachers Law School includes two programs:
1) Full Day Teachers Law School: October 3, 2023. In conjunction with the Orange County Department of Education, we will educate teachers on the importance of the Mendez v. City of Westminster (1946) and/or Korematsu v. United States (1944) cases with potential guest speakers that should include Sylvia Mendez and/or Karen Korematsu.
The full day Teachers Law school is a full day educational program for 3-12 grade teachers taught by ABOTA members. The teachers are educated on our civil justice system, including jury service, so that they, in-turn, can teach their students.
2) Mendez Historic Freedom Trail and Monument Project: In conjunction with the Orange County Department of Education, and the City of Westminster, students will be given a tour of an interactive park, Mendez Historic Freedom Monument, that recognizes the contributions of the Mendez v. City of Westminster case. Our Chapter has committed to the Orange County Department of Education financial resources that pays for a weekly public school bus trip in the spring quarter of the year, to the Mendez Historic Freedom Monument. The weekly bus field trips will be accompanied by ABOTA Board members (to include Mike Maguire and Doug DeGrave) or other ABOTA members who will discuss with the students (grades 3-12) the importance of the civil judicial system in the context of Mendez v. City of Westminster. Each student will be provided an ABOTA pocket Constitution and a pin or gavel pencil.
Teachers Law School is designed to educate students who will, hopefully, become adults that will appreciate the importance of our judicial system and judicial independence. This project takes years, but we are optimistic about the potential results.
Protecting judicial independence comes at a cost. It requires volunteer time and contributions. Your Chapter Board of directors contributes vast amounts of personal time and money to further these efforts. However, we cannot do it alone. We need volunteers to help put on the Teachers Law School and other programs that further our mission. We need your support.
Please plan to attend, sponsor, or volunteer for our annual Golf Tournament on May 1, 2023, or our June 8, 2023, Foundation Fellows Event at Keith More's home. You can go to our events page for more information on each of these events.
Thank you for your continued support and efforts in our common goals.
Yoshiaki C. Kubota
President | Orange County ABOTA