ABA Policy-Making Body to Consider Proposals to Revise the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, Legal Services After A Disaster and Criminalization of the Homeless
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 31, 2007 – The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates will meet during the association’s Midyear Meeting, which runs from Feb. 7 -13 in Miami, Florida. The policy-making body of the ABA will meet on Feb. 12 -13 to debate a proposed new Model Code of Judicial Conduct, a model rule to allow out-of-state lawyers to provide legal services after a major disaster, regulation of residential treatment facilities for at-risk children, and opposition to laws and policies that punish the homeless for public behavior such as eating, sleeping, camping and begging. These are just a few of the recommendations to be discussed and voted on by the 546 representative delegates.
The Rt. Hon. Peter Lord Goldsmith, attorney general of the United Kingdom, will address the House of Delegates at 11:40 a.m. on Feb. 12.
The House will meet 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Feb. 12, and 8 – 11 a.m., Feb. 13, at the Hyatt Regency Miami, James L. Knight Center, 3rd Floor. Accredited reporters are welcome to cover the meeting for free. Credential guidelines are available at www.abanews.org/credentials.html.
An estimated 10,000 to14,000 at-risk children are sent to unregulated residential treatment facilities each year. Yet many of these facilities do not afford fundamental rights and protections, and the children risk mental, physical and sexual maltreatment, neglect and abuse. Recommendation 114 urges licensing, regulating and monitoring residential treatment facilities not funded by public or government systems that offer treatment to at‑risk children.
Recommendation 106 supports repealing laws and policies that punish homeless persons for performing otherwise non-criminal life-sustaining practices or acts in public spaces when no alternative private spaces are available. It also would oppose the increasingly frequent municipal practice of punishing people who provide food, shelter or other assistance to the poor or homeless.
In response to recent legislation commonly known as “Exon-Florio,” intended to improve the review process for foreign investments in the U.S., Recommendation 109 urges support for principles including respect for the discretionary authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., ensuring legal certainties in the CFIUS determinations, and ensuring the foreign investment review process revolves around national security interests and not economic protectionism.
Another recommendation (104) would adopt a model rule on providing legal services after a disaster such as a hurricane. The ABA Task Force on Hurricane Katrina, shortly after its creation, recognized the need for a model rule that would allow out-of-state lawyers to provide pro bono legal services in an affected jurisdiction. The Model Court Rule on Provision of Legal Services Following Determination of Major Disasters would also allow lawyers from the affected jurisdiction, whose legal practices had been disrupted, to practice law on a temporary basis in an unaffected jurisdiction.
The House will debate a proposed new Model Code of Judicial Conduct (Recommendation 200), the culmination of three years of evaluation and review. Among issues addressed are restrictions on judicial acceptance of gifts and free attendance at sponsored seminars and on political speech and activities of judges and candidates for judicial office.
Additional recommendations would:
- Urge lawmakers to respond to increasing social and family support needs of children of American military personnel deployed overseas. (108B)
- Urge Congress and the Executive Branch to partner with the insurance industry to promote availability of terrorism risk insurance. (110)
- Urge states to enact “apology legislation” to make apologies by medical providers or their staff for unanticipated outcomes of medical care inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability. (112)
- Encourage jurisdictions to develop community supervision programs that allow less serious criminal offenders to avoid incarceration and conviction records. (103A)
- Support the traditional right of private employers and property owners to exclude from the workplace and their property persons who are carrying firearms or other weapons. (107)
For a full listing of the recommendations to the House, visit the ABA Midyear Website.
In addition to the House debate, the Midyear Meeting will feature prominent speakers, topical legal programs and other debate on critical law and public policy issues.
During the Midyear Meeting, a Press Room for working journalists will be available in Riverfront Hall North, Lobby Level, of the Miami Hyatt Regency. It will be open for on-site registration at 8 a.m. on Feb. 8, and daily thereafter at 8 a.m. The Press Room will one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Feb. 13.
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 in a democratic society.