Thank you CAL-ABOTA!

Leading CAL-ABOTA this year has been a tremendous and fulfilling honor. During this past year I have had an opportunity to visit all eight of California’s ABOTA chapters, accepted on behalf of CAL-ABOTA the California Judges’ Association’s annual “Scales of Justice Award” (due to CAL-ABOTA’s ongoing support of an independent judiciary and for its efforts to come to the aid of unfairly attacked judges), led and moderated the statewide Teacher’s Law School in Sacramento, attended four National board meetings, led four CAL-ABOTA board meetings, wrote now four comprehensive newsletters and probably most importantly met and socialized with hundreds of our ABOTA colleagues from across the Country.  

Along the way, my message and the theme for my Presidency has been to encourage all ABOTANs to serve as “Advocates for ABOTA." In this regard, I have been asking our ABOTA friends to talk about our prestigious organization, search for trial lawyers who qualify for membership (both quantity of trials and content of character), inspire young trial lawyers to strive to become part of ABOTA and ultimately to help make ABOTA become more reflective of the evolving diversity of our trial bar. ABOTA’s long-term survival is contingent upon this type of growth, and I am happy to share that, as an organization, we are making great strides in this regard. For example, at the most recent National board meeting in Washington D.C., of the approximately 160 individuals who were voted in as new members more than 100 of them were women. Further, the average age of “member” level ABOTANs has dropped from 53.34 in January 2016, to 48 as of October of this year and “Associate” level member average age has dropped from 60.77 to 54.4 over the same time period. Solid strides are also being made in the area of ethnic diversity and this remains a major focus of ABOTA both locally and nationwide. All of this is very promising toward us thriving well in to the future as the vital, relevant and influential organization ABOTA has become. 

In that vein, please keep in mind that the current minimum trial requirement for membership is ten civil jury trials to verdict as “lead counsel." Lead counsel is defined as “an attorney substantially responsible for the personal representation of the client during the trial. ‘Substantially responsible’ means, at a minimum: (1) Selecting a jury, or opening, or closing, and; (2) Presentation of live witnesses through direct or cross examination.” Thus, in those instances in which you are trying cases with up and coming “second chair” trial lawyers, please keep this definition of “Lead Counsel” in mind. Of course, as ABOTA members and mentors, “civility” in the practice of law must always be displayed and emphasized as a priority.
As you know, the “legs” of ABOTA is the ABOTA Foundation. It is the Foundation that develops and funds most of the programs that support our effort to preserve the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial and to create a more informed and civically-involved citizenry. Programs like: Teachers Law School, Journalist Law School, James Otis Lecture Series, Masters in Trial, Civility Matters, Save Our Juries and others all flow from the ABOTA Foundation. If you have not done so already, I highly encourage all of you to support the Foundation by becoming a Fellow by making a pledge of $1,500 (payable at $150 annually over 10 years). If you have already made this generous commitment, there are always opportunities to raise your Fellowship level by increasing your pledge to the Foundation. Ultimately, all pledges and donations help support and foster these important efforts of our organization. To make or increase a pledge, or to learn more you can go to the website:
In anticipation of my year as CAL-ABOTA President, and with the notion that I would be asking the members to become “Advocates for ABOTA," my wife, Sue, and I designed and purchased thousands of ABOTA lapel pins. I have been busily distributing these pins to as many of you as possible with the request that you wear them as a visible sign of your membership in and commitment to the ideals of our organization. The ABOTA emblem consists of four distinct symbols: a lion which pays homage to our roots in British common law, an eagle reflective of American law, a sword as a representative symbol of the civil plaintiffs’ bar, and a shield representing the defense bar. Brought together, the ABOTA emblem exemplifies our founding principles of civility in the practice of law, preservation of the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial, support for an independent judiciary, and civic education and participation. I hope that you will wear your pin proudly and when you are asked about it, you will gladly take a moment to “Advocate for ABOTA." If you have not received a pin and would like one, kindly contact me or Jenny Blevins.
Serving as CAL-ABOTA President this year has been a distinct privilege and pleasure. I am most grateful to all of you for allowing me this opportunity and for so graciously supporting me in this role. 

With gratitude and respect,

Bryan Reid
Hawaii Conference 2019
Mahalo and congratulations to 2020 CAL-ABOTA President Chris Wesierski and his much better half, Maureen, for planning and hosting a fantastic Hawaii conference at the exquisite Grand Hyatt Resort on Poipu Beach, Kauai. Chris and Maureen planned a week’s worth of terrific parties, great entertainment, exciting adventures, engaging speakers and most important of all, plenty of opportunities to enjoy the camaraderie of our dear ABOTA friends, both old and new.  

Congratulations also to LA Chapter member, Dick Carroll, for receiving the most distinguished CAL-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year Award! We also enjoyed celebrating the Sacramento Chapter for receiving the 2019 CAL-ABOTA Community Service Award as well as all of the respective chapters’ Civility Award winners. What a terrific time and place to celebrate those who exemplify the principles for which we all stand!

Chris is off to a great start as our President with the support of President Elect Wally Yoka, Vice President Don Carlson and Treasurer Frank Pitre. 2020 promises to be a terrific year under Chris’ creative and energetic leadership and the future is surely very bright for CAL-ABOTA!

Don't forget that next year we will be back at the Mauna Kea and all can rest assured that Wally is planning an extraordinary conference for us! Mark your calendars for November 2-7, 2020 for the next great CAL-ABOTA Hawaii adventure!
National ABOTA in Washington, D.C.
This past October, CAL-ABOTA was well represented at Mike Maguire's (OC chapter) final ABOTA board meeting as National President of this great organization. It was a well-planned meeting by Mike and his terrific wife, Cindy. Highlights included a lovely and serene dinner cruise on the Potomac River, a moving and meaningful tour of The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a spirited board meeting in which the organization, among other important business, passed a resolution taking great steps forward in affirming ABOTA’s commitment to diversity by condemning all forms of racism, religious bigotry, hatred and discrimination. As passed, the resolution reads:

ABOTA hereby resolves that:

1. ABOTA opposes any action or effort to prevent, discourage or intimidate qualified citizens from serving as jurors on the basis of race, creed, religion, sex, gender identity or national origin. The right to jury trials on both criminal and civil cases guaranteed by the Sixth and Seventh amendments and by the constitutions and laws of every state can be secured only by the active and willing participation by all of the country’s citizens.

2. ABOTA condemns all forms of racism, specifically including the bigotry and poisonous doctrine of white supremacy, ABOTA reaffirms its conviction, immortalized in the Declaration of Independence, that all people are created equal.

3. ABOTA condemns all forms of religious bigotry and hatred, specifically including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination. ABOTA restates its commitment, growing from the First Amendment, that all people have a fundamental right of conscience to believe as they choose, to worship as they choose and to refuse to worship as they choose without government favor or reprisal.

4. ABOTA condemns all forms of discrimination including specifically discrimination based on gender and gender identity. ABOTA reaffirms its commitment to the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee that all people born in the United States or in any territory under the jurisdiction of the United States, and all people naturalized according to the laws of the United States are vested with full and equal rights and duties as citizens of this country.

Adopted October 12, 2019

All CAL-ABOTA members can be very proud of the tremendous vision and leadership Mike has provided this organization. Bravo Mike! Well done and congratulations!
On October 25 and 26, CAL-ABOTA, with the tremendous support and assistance of the Sacramento Chapter, played host to its third annual Teacher’s Law School which was again held in our State Capitol allowing us to provide our teachers and educators with direct access to leaders from all three branches of government. The program's success is greatly attributable to the tremendous efforts and leadership of Sacramento members Doug Adams and Matt Jaime, along with many of the chapter’s members who contributed to the event including sponsoring the Friday night cocktail reception. San Francisco member Niall McCarthy and Education Committee Co-Chair Greg Rizio (SB/RIV Chapter) were also instrumental in making arrangements for us, and we are very grateful for their efforts as well. 

This TLS was well attended by educators from across the State who were treated to Q and A sessions with three Justices from Third District Court of Appeals, as well as with Senator Bob Wieckowski, former Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. The visits included exclusive access to the court as well as the House and Senate floors adding to the prestige and excitement of the event.  

Following the Friday afternoon “field trip” and meet and greet, the education session was equally a success thanks to the excellent contributions of our generous and skilled members, Lewis Sifford, Cynthia McGuinn, Doug Adams and Dominique Pollara. Keynote speaker, Erwin Chemerinsky, a noted Constitutional scholar and Dean of the Berkeley School of Law, not only generously donated his time (driving several hours to participate in the event), but his presentation was sensational. His discussion, “Free Speech and Other Constitutional Issues on Today’s Campus” was lively, very engaging and well received by the audience. Dean Chemerinsky is truly a gifted speaker and a most generous man. Many of the attendees were thrilled that Dean Chemerinsky agreed to stay after the program to autograph copies of his book, “Free Speech on Campus,” which were provided as part of the attendees’ materials. It was a truly great event and thanks to all who participated in making this program a success!
With regard to Statewide educational efforts next year, at the recent board meeting it was decided that CAL-ABOTA will host the Statewide Teacher’s Law Schools every other year so as not to over tax the resources we have come to rely upon for presenting these meaningful and high quality events. Instead, starting next year, CAL-ABOTA will annually rotate between the TLS and a Statewide James Otis Lecture “month." Thus, in 2020 each chapter will be asked to host and present a James Otis Lecture during the month of September. CAL-ABOTA will be taking the lead in preparing all agendas, documents, handouts and promotional materials such that the chapters will simply need to identify and make arrangements for a location for the program and provide the speakers for their respective JOL presentations. This is an exciting development as this will be the first of its kind amongst the ABOTA regional organizations. We look forward to your participation with more details to follow.  
One Last Chapter Visit
My great thanks to president Rhonda Mallory and the board of the San Diego chapter for hosting me at their final meeting of the year which was held at the most impressive San Diego Yacht Club. The San Diego chapter is a spirited group that clearly enjoys getting together to relive old times while welcoming new members with gusto (and tossed napkins/dinner rolls!).

Under Rhonda’s leadership, the San Diego chapter has been very active with ABOTA activities and has launched a creative new program called "True Tales of Civility." The program involves Chapter members being filmed while providing brief descriptions of meaningful, memorable and sometimes moving situations where they experienced an ABOTA member acting above the call of civility and professionalism. The stories will be a tremendous tool not only for preserving history but also for sharing the true impact that civility can have on a profession and the broader community. This clever idea is applauded and will be sure to impact future generations of trial lawyers.

Congratulations Rhonda and the San Diego chapter. We look forward to seeing the final product!
TLY Nominations

Please note that nominations for CAL-ABOTA Trial Lawyer of the Year are due February 10, 2020.  Make sure to get your nominations to Jennifer Blevins by the deadline so that your candidate can be properly considered for the award!

Community Service Award Nominations are open

CAL-ABOTA is accepting nominations for the annual Community Service Award with nominations due by February 28, 2020. This award has been well-embraced by CAL-ABOTA and we are excited to recognize and honor another member, firm or chapter that is excelling in community service efforts. For reference here is a description of the award and its criteria:

The CAL-ABOTA Community Service Award shall be presented annually to a CAL-ABOTA member, firm, chapter or public entity that has undertaken an exemplary act or continuing acts of service to their community. While philanthropy may be a consideration for determining the annual award recipient, this award is intended to encourage, recognize and celebrate a CAL-ABOTA member or entity that has undertaken a significant commitment of time, talent, effort and/or resources so as to make a meaningful impact upon the quality of life in their community, or to support and enhance the effectiveness of existing charitable organizations. Donations of time and support to legal aid organizations qualify for consideration for the Annual Community Service Award, but emphasis will be placed upon those efforts and services dedicated to broader community needs. 
As a professional organization that encourages and celebrates “Civility," this award is intended to honor CAL-ABOTANs who extend and demonstrate civility beyond the practice of law and in ways that meaningfully impact and support the community, a consequence of which can be an elevation of the reputation and profile of our profession. 

Each chapter of CAL-ABOTA will be allowed to nominate one individual, firm, public entity or the chapter itself for consideration for the award each year. The nomination shall be forwarded to the Executive Director of CAL-ABOTA no later than February 28th of each year and the winner will be determined by a vote at the meeting of the Board’s Executive Committee occurring in conjunction with the CAL-ABOTA annual retreat, generally held during the first quarter of the year. After the winner is selected, the award will be presented to the winner by the current CAL-ABOTA President or a designee at either a regular meeting of the chapter to which the winner is affiliated or at the annual conference held in Hawaii each November.

Nominations shall be brief but provide a complete description of the community that has been served, the extent of the effort involved, the impact of such service and any positive effect the service has had on the profile of the profession (if any). Pictures, news articles, websites and other forms of media coverage/social media profiling can be submitted as well to support the nomination.
Happy Holidays all! See you in the next “Roarin’ 20s!" - BR