ABA sets 2009 policy agenda

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  • | 12:00 p.m. January 26, 2009
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The American Bar Association House of Delegates will consider nearly three dozen proposed policies addressing a wide range of issues, from the legal rights of military personnel, the elderly and immigrants, to criminal justice system treatment of juvenile sex offenders and a legal forum to hear habeas corpus petitions of detainees at the Guantanamo Navel Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when it meets on Feb. 16 in Boston during the association’s 2009 Midyear Meeting. 

Among proposals are ones that:

• Recommend the procedural framework for Guantanamo detainees be determined by federal district courts, not Congress, and the courts should grant detainees all rights of habeas petitioners

• Oppose federal control of state custody cases involving servicemember-parents and urge that military deployment not be the sole reason to deny child custody

• Urge amending the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to clarify the rights of servicemembers or their dependents to sue for civil enforcement of rights under the act

• Support measures to ensure due process and access to justice for persons involved in immigration enforcement actions

• Encourage legislation enabling a lawful permanent resident in the United States to sponsor for permanent residence a same-sex non-citizen with whom the sponsor shares an interdependent, committed relationship

• Urge prompt access to legal counsel and specialized services for child victims of criminal conduct

• Urge a re-examination of registry requirements on youth sex offenders and advocate leaving decisions on sanctions to juvenile court judges

• Support funding to develop standards regarding adult guardianship

• Oppose mandatory, binding, pre-dispute arbitration agreements between long-term care facilities and residents of the facilities or persons acting in their behalf

• Seek to reduce post-catastrophe harm and litigation.

• Urge legislation allocating general revenue sharing funds to the states

• Encourage the federal Office of Personnel Management to consider judicial status in good standing as a satisfactory alternative to requiring that candidates be licensed lawyers

• Urge establishment of voluntary pre-selection programs to assist judicial candidates in making decisions on pursuing judicial careers

• Amend Model Rule 1.10 to permit screening of lateral-hire lawyers so that conflicts-of-interest are not imputed to other lawyers in the new firm

• Amend Model Rule 1.10 to permit certain lawyers to move to an adversary law firm without client consent, if lawyers are screened

• Urge law firms and other law organizations to adopt the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge

• Amend federal law to provide for payment of attorney fees and costs in Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income claims directly to lawyers of prevailing parties, rather than paying them to the parties

• Urge the expanded use of mediation to resolve criminal matters prior to filing criminal cases.

These proposals will not constitute ABA policy unless adopted by the House during its Feb. 16 session.

The 555-member House will convene at the Hynes Convention Center from 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. The deliberative session includes members from state and local bar associations around the country, ABA affiliates and ABA entities, and is the finale of the ABA Midyear Meeting in Boston, Feb. 11-17.



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