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Release: Immediate
Media Contact: Stephanie Ortbals-Tibss
Phone: 202/662-1091
Contact: Dave Jaffe
Phone: 312/988-6139

Critical Legal Issues Highlight ABA Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles

CHICAGO, Jan. 9, 2008 — Possible legal remedies for the current subprime lending crisis, the meaning of “rule of law” in an increasingly multi-cultural society, and challenges to California’s initiatives to mitigate climate change are among hot topics to be explored at the 2008 American Bar Association Midyear Meeting, Feb. 6 – 12, in Los Angeles.  Headquarters for the Midyear Meeting is the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

Featured law experts and speakers at this premier gathering of legal professionals include Kenneth W. Starr, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, Erwin Chemerinsky, Alston and Bird Professor of Law and Political Science, Duke University, and Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of the civil rights movement leader Rev. Ralph David Abernathy.

On Feb. 11 the policy-making ABA House of Delegates will meet at the James L. Knight Center, 3rd level, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza to consider and vote on policy recommendations on such diverse topics as immigration detention standards, state redistricting, legal safeguards for assisted reproductive technology, and law school bar passage rates. For more details, the House’s preliminary agenda  is available online.

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever.  Register by Jan. 11 to take advantage of ABA conference hotel rates. Accredited reporters are welcome to cover the meeting for free. Credential guidelines are at  During the Midyear Meeting, a press room for working journalists will be set up at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in the California Showroom, California Level, and will open for on-site media registration at noon on Feb. 6.  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. 



Friday, Feb. 8:

“Causes and Possible Remedies for the Current Subprime Lending Crisis”  It has been estimated that one out of every 88 homes in California is in foreclosure.  There has been much debate about the role of federal versus state regulation in the area of consumer protection in mortgage and other consumer lending products.  This panel will address state and federal regulatory and legal developments that may have played a part in feeding the problem once it started, and will also consider possible remedies.

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

“The Mortgage Crisis in America: Helping Clients to Survive and Thrive During Uncertain Times”  Foreclosures of home mortgages are on the rise due to higher interest rates and re-pricing of mortgage payments for many "subprime" and other mortgage loans. This program will explain how the mortgage lending industry prices loans, why the current mortgage crisis has happened now, how lenders are addressing the increased default rate among borrows, and how lawyers can protect and advise individuals caught in the fall out.

11 a.m. – noon

“California Initiatives to Mitigate Climate Change”  In the face of federal inaction, a growing number of states, individually and collectively, are launching efforts to control carbon emissions within their own boundaries.  This panel will address California’s programs, the challenges and opportunities that they create for the private sector, and the legal issues in the automobile emissions standards dispute. 

9 – 10:30 a.m.

“Stranger in a Strange Land:  Cross-Cultural Issues in the Courts”   What does “rule of law” mean in an increasingly multi-cultural society?  In a growing number of cases, immigrants are pleading “the cultural defense,” invoking the customs of their homelands to seek to explain their actions.  In this unique, interactive program, the audience will serve as judges and vote on the outcome of vignettes drawn from controversial, real-life cases presented by an interdisciplinary panel of the country’s leading cross-cultural experts.

1 – 2:30 p.m.

“Re-Approaching Jena”  Last fall, the town of Jena, La., came under intense scrutiny for the treatment of the “Jena 6” – six black high school students were charged with attempted murder after they allegedly beat a white high school student – by the criminal justice system. This session will examine that case to identify the role mediation, discretion and restorative justice can play in addressing highly-charged issues before they escalate.

3:15 – 5:15 p.m.

"Is Jena 6 the Tip of the Iceberg?"  U.S. Attorney Donald W. Washington, Western District of Louisiana, will be among a dynamic group of speakers – judges, media representatives, prosecutors, juvenile justice lawyers and youth – who will discuss the issues raised by this controversial case. Some of those issues include the role of media, disparities in the juvenile justice system, and the overrepresentation of juveniles of color in that system.

1 – 3 p.m.

“What is the Criminal Justice System’s Role in Ending Homelessness?”  Communities across the country have passed laws and implemented initiatives aimed at moving chronically homeless people from the streets, and advocates have responded with law suits.  Is the traditional criminal justice system an effective use of resources to address the issues surrounding homelessness?  Panelists will dialogue on effective strategies to assist a population that is most difficult to serve. 

1 – 3 p.m.

“The Constitutionality of Denying Federal Rights and Protections to Married Same Sex Couples”  Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act defines the terms “marriage” and “spouse” for all federal purposes to be limited to heterosexual marriages and spouses, resulting in continuing confusion and uncertainty for same-sex spouses who are validly married and living in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages. This program’s panelists will discuss both the impact of DOMA and the legal arguments surrounding it.

3:30 – 5 p.m.

“How Civil Juries Really Decide Cases”  As a result of research conducted with actual juries, what really happens during jury discussions and deliberations can now be seen.  This program will examine the civil jury’s process of determination, how jurors process information received in the courtroom and the factors they apply to making decisions, the role of trust in jury deliberation, and how jurors use such tools as jury instructions to make decisions.

11 a.m. – noon

“Fourth Annual Summit on Indigent Defense Improvement”  The all-day summit offers the opportunity for bar and indigent defense leaders and others interested in indigent defense reform to gain valuable information about the latest systemic research and trends, learn from experienced reform advocates, and engage in a dialogue with their peers from other states.

“Can Attorneys Go Undercover?: Ethical Issues in Intellectual Property Pretext Investigations”  This program will focus on the ethical issues involved with using deception to detect and stop wrongdoing, especially in the intellectual property area.  Among topics to be considered, can a lawyer misrepresent himself to a target or can such misrepresentations only be performed by investigators and other proxies?

9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

“Pathways to Success for Women and Minorities in the Public Sector”   A diverse panel of public lawyer leaders will describe their current positions and discuss the obstacles, encouragement, and serendipitous events that helped them achieve success.

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Taking Appellate Advocacy to the Highest Level”  Erwin Chemerinsky and Kenneth Starr, who between them have argued more than 38 cases before the Supreme Court and more than 75 cases before federal courts of appeals and state supreme courts, will offer tips and advice on appellate advocacy to lawyers.

4 – 5:30 p.m.

“Bong Hits: Tinkers Legacy and the Deadline of the Culture of Deference,” is the title of Kenneth Starr’s keynote address to be presented during the ABA Section of Administrative Law Reception and Dinner at the UCLA Faculty Center, 480 Charles Young Dr.

6:30 – 9:30 p.m.


Saturday, Feb. 9


The ABA Spirit of Excellence Awards, which celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers and judges who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal professions, will be presented.  The recipients are: Mia F. Yamamoto of Los Angeles, Christopher J. Arriola of Santa Clara County, Calif., Lawrence R. Baca of Alexandria, Va., John W. Kozyak of Miami, Judge George Bundy Smith of New York, Margaret Bush Wilson of St. Louis, Mo., and Cesar L. Alvarez of Miami.

"Voting with the Stars" The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession will hold a 20th anniversary event to celebrate the group’s leadership on the advancement of women in the legal profession.  The program features a screening of oral histories of star women trailblazers and an opportunity for the audience to participate in an interactive poll on the success of women in the profession.

4:30 – 6 p.m.

With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  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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