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Release: Immediate
Media Contact: Patricia Gaul
Phone: 202/662-1094
Email: gaulp@staff.abanet.org
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News Advisory:

American Bar Association Announces Legislative Priorities For 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 8, 2010 — Anti-terrorism and the preservation of civil liberties, criminal justice system improvements and protection of rights, and health care law are among the legislative priorities approved Friday by the American Bar Association.  The ABA Board of Governors voted on the list of legislative priorities for this calendar year at the association’s Midyear Meeting currently being held in Orlando, Fla.
 
The legislative priorities on which the association’s governmental affairs office will focus most of its advocacy efforts on this calendar year include:

1. Access to legal services
2. Anti-terrorism and preservation of civil liberties
3. Criminal justice system improvements and protection of rights
4. Health care law
5. Immigration
6. Independence of the judiciary
7. Independence of the legal profession
8. Legal remedies to eliminate discrimination
9. Promoting the international rule of law, and
10. Responding to the economic crisis: flexibility in repayment of law student loans and related emergency programs.

Advocacy on each priority will focus on specific, timely legislative issues.
 
“I am pleased to see the Board of Governors approve an ambitious legislative agenda — issues of such import to both society as a whole and to the profession,” stated ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm.  “In these challenging economic times, it is especially critical for Americans to have access to legal services to help them with such pressing problems as foreclosure, restructuring a business and domestic violence needs. Too, individuals who want to serve society by becoming lawyers and yet are unable to find employment during the economic crisis, should have viable options for temporarily suspending payments of their law school debt, which is often $60,000 or more.”
 
The ABA has several recommendations that will come before its policymaking House of Delegates today and tomorrow, which — if adopted — will expand the association’s ability to lobby the legislative and executive branches on those issues.  These include several recommendations relating to reform of the immigration adjudication removal system, recommendations based on a study just released by the association and conducted by Arnold & Porter LLP; and recommendations concerning the criminal justice system, including limiting the collateral consequences of juvenile arrests, encouraging the use of civil remedies rather than criminal penalties in certain circumstances, and encouraging communication between parents in correctional custody and their children in the free community.
 
The international rule of law priority encompasses support for funding domestic and international agencies that promote the rule of law, advocating for passage of the International Violence Against Women Act, and urging the adoption by the United States of several international treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
 
The ABA believes that primary regulation and oversight of the legal profession should continue to be vested in the state courts as it has been for more than 200 years, and that the federal government should not unnecessarily regulate lawyers.
 
The association will continue its vocal advocacy for federal sentencing reform, remedying sentencing disparities for cocaine offenses and strong habeas corpus rights for those charged with offenses.  Further, the ABA will continue its efforts to assure that accused terrorists are prosecuted in federal courts so that trials are fair and perceived as such.
 
More information about the American Bar Association’s 2010 legislative priorities will be posted at the association’s governmental affairs Web site.
 
With nearly 400,000 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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