by Matt Poppe
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
2016 SCCBA President
On January 20, the Santa Clara County Bar Association held its annual Installation Ceremony, at which this year’s officers and trustees took oaths to uphold their duties as representatives of the SCCBA and its members.
Consistent with this year’s President’s theme of “Outreach and Collaboration,” the event served as a reminder of our important ties to the local bench and to the American Bar Association. We also took time to recognize the contributions of last year’s SCCBA president, John Mlnarik.
A Strong Showing by Our Local Judges at Installation 2016
The Installation Ceremony is one of our regular events that most clearly demonstrates the thriving nature of the bench/bar relationship in our County. We were honored that Santa Clara County Superior Court Presiding Judge Risë Pichon administered the oaths; retired Superior Court Judge Jack Komar (now with JAMS) provided a keynote speech; and many other judges were in attendance to show their support.
Judge Komar addressed the bench/bar relationship in his remarks, including how a bar association and its members can support the courts and judicial system. He noted that lawyers are often reminded of their duty to their clients—in the words of Lord Brougham, a lawyer’s “first and only duty.” He also observed that self-interest can motivate, quoting Judge Thurman Arnold’s statement that “If someone has to go to jail, be sure it’s the client.” But he urged us to stand up not only for our clients and ourselves, but for justice and the judicial system. As an example, he urged us to “go to bat” for judges who unfairly come under attack during elections—a device that can threaten not only the position of individual judges, but judicial independence itself. One can easily think of other examples where the judicial system needs our help, such as the ongoing funding crisis that is harming the courts’ ability to dispense justice promptly and provide access to all who need it.
The SCCBA will find many opportunities this year to look to our local judges for support. Judge Komar’s words were a helpful reminder of our need to reciprocate.
Salsman Award Winner Bob Weeks: Our Link to the ABA
Among other things, the Installation Ceremony is the occasion each year when we name the winner of the SCCBA’s Salsman Award. Named after the late Justice Bryl R. Salsman, the award is given to a member of the SCCBA who is judged to have contributed the most to the Association over some particular time period (not necessarily a single calendar year) without having received public accolades for doing so.
This year we were pleased to present the award to Bob Weeks, who has served as the SCCBA’s ABA delegate for 16 consecutive years. Bob becomes the first two-time recipient, having previously been selected in 1996.
Bob has filled the role of ABA delegate enthusiastically and selflessly, incurring substantial time and expense to prepare for and travel to two ABA meetings each year. Bob has also educated us about his activities, submitting a detailed written preview ahead of each meeting and a detailed written report afterwards and attending Board of Trustees meetings to provide summaries and answer questions.
As I write this, Bob is preparing to attend the ABA Midyear Meeting in San Diego where he will represent our interests at gatherings of the House of Delegates, Women’s Caucus, Minority Caucus, Solo/Small Firm Caucus, and more. Bob is an active participant at the meetings and has become well-respected there. His reputation reflects well on us all.
Bob’s current two-year term as ABA delegate expires this year, and we will take the opportunity to include the position in our comprehensive review of how the SCCBA is governed. Should we continue to send a delegate to the ABA meetings each year, as we are permitted to do as a bar association with 2,000+ members? If so, what qualities should we look for in a delegate and what selection process should we use? How should we fund the position? How should we work with the delegate before and after ABA meetings to ensure optimal representation there? One thing we know: we cannot hope to do better than Bob Weeks.
If you have any comments on this President’s Message, or any suggestions for the SCCBA, I encourage you to contact me at email@example.com or (650) 614-7431.