During the past year, the CMBA’s Thought Leadership Committee has devoted significant time to considering the myriad of issues that surround justice in our community. This has included the state of bail/bond reform, the conditions of the county jail and the build/ rebuild project at the Justice Center. Much of that thoughtful consideration has focused on how best to focus the CMBA’s programs and activities in order to keep you, our members, up to date and engaged on what are unquestionably some of the most important and complex issues facing our community.
During a spring meeting of the 15-person committee, then-Thought Leadership Chair, Karen Giffen, offered a suggestion: why not devote an entire issue of the Bar Journal to our justice system and literally show our members just how focused we are on these issues?
By way of background, each Bar Journal issue is developed based upon an established, annual editorial calendar. That process ensures every issue will include 8–12 articles selected for submission by the chairs of two or three sections that are being highlighted in a given issue. Authors are not given any real direction about what to write other than a word count limitation and a request to pen an article that addresses some topic relevant for the section being spotlighted.
To the best of our organizational knowledge, we have never devoted an entire Bar Journal issue to one overarching subject. With Karen’s suggestion in hand, I reached out to Tasha Miracle, Chair of the Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources Section, and Dan Hinkel, Chair
of the Real Estate Law Section, to see if they would consider helping us build a “Future State of Justice” issue. We zeroed in on October because we needed time to plan (six months in the making), we thought our environmental and real estate lawyer members would be engaged by the topic, and because the 8th Judicial Conference is being held this month and we wanted to help inform those who will be in attendance as they take up discussion of what comes next in Cuyahoga County. As you can see, Tasha and Dan jumped on board and went to work drumming up support and excitement ... and great article ideas ... from their respective sections. I am grateful for their leadership in pulling this landmark issue together.
In the intervening months, as you’ve been reading in a variety of recent updates from Ian Friedman and me, the CMBA has been working toward creating a more direct line of access between our membership and the decisions that will be made in the coming months about the kind of justice system that will exist in our community. The CMBA was overlooked from the outset when our county’s leaders convened the Justice Center Project Executive Steering Committee. We believed that oversight could and would be remedied. We were wrong. While no one has offered a legitimate reason as to why the CMBA should not have a seat at the table, a few individuals have expended great effort to keep out.
Whether we are inside or outside of the formal structure, the CMBA will continue to shine a light on the discussions that are happening. The future course that is being charted by the 12 public officials who do
have seats at the table are too important to ignore. In addition to continuing coverage in the Bar Journal and periodic membership updates, our monthly Hot Talks happening at noon on the 2nd Tuesday of every month will be devoted to the subject of the Justice Center for the rest of 2019 and into 2020. These conversations are free, open to the public and streamed live on Facebook. I encourage every member to put these conversations on your calendars so you can participate in some form. Our community deserves the engagement, commitment and input of every one of our members.
If the discussions regarding the Justice Center were merely focused on building a building, I likely would not have the same burning sense of urgency to see the CMBA gain voting access to the Steering Committee. But the Justice Center Project is about far more than building a building. The Steering Committee members — all of whom exist in the politicized world of elections and public appointments — have the quintessential chance to transform our justice system, to do far better tomorrow than we did yesterday.
The CMBA exists to promote the rule of law — not for certain constituencies but for all. And so we will continue to create pathways that enable the many voices of our diverse, multi-faceted legal community and their clients to be heard
Rebecca Ruppert McMahon is the CEO of the CMBA. She has been a CMBA member since 1995. She can be reached at (216) 696-3525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.