Sep 01, 2017
Welcome to Sunny September, aka Summer in the Bay Area
Sep 01, 2017
By Dorothy Chou Proudfoot
Despite the slight disappointment of overcast skies on Eclipse Day, we’ve been hard at work at MCBA arranging the next few months of thought-provoking programming and working on the leadership pipeline for the organization. I hope you will join us for our September General Membership meeting. Marijuana laws are topical these days. Many of us who practice criminal law have been adjusting to the portions of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) which went into immediate effect the day after the 2016 election, but for consumers and civil practitioners, the significant regulatory January 1, 2018 deadline is looming imminently. Join us on September 27 for a discussion of the budding multiple sides of this weedy issue.
In October, not only will we kick off our Membership Drive, we have two fantastic events at the end of the month. Of course, you know our October General Meeting signals our Judges Luncheon. Though our judges attend our meetings throughout the year, October is the time we invite our judicial officers to share with us the state of the Courts as well as ways we can work together to improve the quality of justice in Marin. I am proud to say we have a professional and often wonderfully collegial relationship between our Bench and Bar and we'd like to keep it that way!
In addition to the October Membership Meeting at which next year’s Board and Officer election will be held, we have a special event that does not happen every year. As you are already aware from the April edition of the Marin Lawyer, the MCBA Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Retired Judge Michael Dufficy, celebrating his 52 years in practice, on the bench, with MCBA, and beyond. This is only the second time this Award has been given; Judge Richard Breiner received the inaugural honor in 2012. Your host committee is planning a lovely reception and dinner on Thursday, October 26, at Jason's Restaurant. You will not want to miss this entertaining evening, with the eloquent Gary Ragghianti serving as the Master of Ceremonies.
Also, please mark your calendars for the MCBA/MCWL 10th Annual CLE Fair in November. By popular demand, we’re having it on a Thursday, so take note that it’s early in the month— November 2, 2017. I'm pleased to announce our keynote speaker is David Kelly, General Counsel and Vice President of Basketball Management and Strategy for the Golden State Warriors. Mr. Kelly is a phenomenal speaker with an amazing story to cap off a great CLE deal on engaging specialty and general credit topics.
On a sobering note, I debated for a while what message I should include about Charlottesville and the rising tide of hate and divisiveness that pervades our national and regional consciousness. I thought about how people either can’t or won’t distinguish any more between the expression of a legitimate difference of opinion in the democratic discourse of a civilized society and disrespectful, angry, racist ranting, designed only to marginalize and terrorize. Cherishing our First Amendment right to free speech does not require willful ignorance of unconstitutionally discriminatory motives and evil intent.
Last month, I attended a conference at which one of the panels touched on the Presidential pardon power. The context was, of course, a discussion speculating about whether impeachment should be bandied about short of any criminal conduct, and whether a President could pardon himself.
Last week we were given a disturbing reminder that using the pardon power to flout the law was not just a hypothetical concept. To people who take the law seriously, pardoning someone for criminal contempt for flagrantly violating a judicial order is like offering someone immunity from prosecution for perjury in order to induce them to testify under oath. Furthermore, there is no other reasonable way to parse the pardon as anything other than an endorsement of the acts of racial profiling. Regardless of one's political views, every attorney, sworn to uphold the Constitution, should be unnerved by this attack on the rule of law.
As guardians of justice, please stay vigilant against the insidious, real-world effects of bigotry and those who would promote it. Draw strength from one another and don't get discouraged. Never give up. Always speak the truth.
Dorothy Chou Proudfoot is a Deputy District Attorney at the Marin County District Attorney’s Office, and President of the Marin County Bar Association. She earned her B.A. and J.D. from UC Berkeley.