By Ali McNally, LAW WEEK COLORADO
DENVER — The Faculty of Federal Advocates will hold its Annual Year End CLE Extravaganza tomorrow at the Magnolia Ballroom in Denver.
Guests will hear from speakers such as lawyer and lexicographer Bryan Garner, jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and attorney Rob Cary. FFA board member John Walsh said the speakers are a “star-studded cast,” adding that the organization tries to cover all angles when selecting speakers for their largest event.
“We evened it out. We wanted to offer an array of different topics to try to cover the interests of as many federal practitioners as we can,” Walsh said, adding, “We’re excited about all three parts of the annual meeting, but we’re very excited to have Garner to be our keynote speaker.”
Garner, editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, will discuss a book he wrote with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia titled “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Federal Judges.” Attendees will receive a copy at the event. Garner said the book was inspired by a series of filmed interviews he did with eight of the nine Supreme Court Justices on advocacy and writing. The videos are available to the public at Garner’s Web site, LawProse.org.
“The justices had never sat down and opened up this way on camera,” he said. “It’s an unusual archive of what Supreme Court justices do.”
Garner is also an attorney and lexicographer. He said he’s been writing dictionaries since he was a first-year law student when he started writing Garner’s Modern American Usage, which became an Oxford publication. It all started, he said, with a crush.
“When I was 15 years old, a girl I had a crush on said I had a big vocabulary and I decided that working on my vocabulary would be a great way to impress her,” he said. “It all went from there.”
FFA president Reid Neureiter said, “We thought it would be really a service to our membership to bring in Garner. Our organization is all about improving administration of justice in the federal court. If lawyers are better prepared and make their arguments better, it helps out the judges.”
In addition to learning about improving language for federal judges, attendees will also learn how to untangle the mysteries of juries by working with jury consultants, like Dimitrius. Local lawyers Dan Reilly, Natalie Hanlon-Leh and Lino Lipinsky will also join her on the panel.
Neureiter added that they also looked for speakers presenting information relevant to current events. Last year, he said, they had a city attorney and someone from the American Civil Liberties Union discussing the Democratic National Convention in Denver. This year, they have Rob Cary of Washington D.C.-based firm Williams & Connolly and defense attorney for former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
Stevens was convicted in Ocrober 2008 for failing to report alleged gifts totaling to $250,000 from VECO Corporation. The conviction was voided and charges were dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct. Cary will tell the story of the “many failures” of the trial and discuss ways to reform the rules to prevent misconduct.
“I think that it’s a story of a judge who went to heroic lengths to try to make the government live up to its constitutional obligations. It’s also a story of new prosecutors doing the right thing,” he said. “I hope to make everybody who works in the criminal justice system more vigilant about providing citizens and their lawyers and everything they need to have fair proceedings.”