Category Archives: Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting Review: 101 Years of the 19th Amendment

By: Chris Fortier

It has been only 101 years since the 19th amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920 granting women the right to vote.  One COVID year after the 100th anniversary of its passage, a panel convened to discuss where we are. Attorney General Mark Herring joined the program along with Professor Vivian Hamilton-Watts of William and Mary Law School.  This discussion and celebration, even if delayed by a year, is still relevant to our current events. The work continues for women’s rights and voting rights as the panel pointed out, as there are still areas where we have yet to achieve equality.

Suffrage for Women

Examining the history of women’s suffrage shows that while women gained the right to vote, those rights were still subject to previously enacted race and class limitations. When going over the history of the 19th amendment, Professor Hamilton-Watts noted some shortcomings in the suffrage movement. 

Women’s suffrage shows that while it opened up rights for women to vote, those rights were still subject to race and class limitations previously enacted by Congress and the states. Professor Hamilton-Watts noted that the leaders of the movement in the 1800s did not support or recognize the ramifications of the 15th amendment. However, suffragists went for a strategy of expediency, specifically going for white women’s enfranchisement, and had to get support of southern states.  As a result, African American women continued to deal with poll taxes and literacy tests.  Asian Americans and Native Americans were not able to enjoy suffrage as various laws prevented their vote until the 1950s. Officially, the Civil Rights Act of 1965 achieved universal suffrage for all races.

Professor Hamilton-Watts noted that women are going to higher office but far fewer women hold elected office today, as 27 percent of Congress and 29 percent of state legislatures are women. Ten million more women than men participated in the 2016 and 2020 elections. However, Latina women still lag in participation.  57 percent reported struggling to manage work and family compared to 37 percent of women overall.

The Civil Rights Act created the Preclearence rule, where states and localities with a history of voting discrimination had to clear their rule change with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  However, this rule was overturned in Shelby County v. Holder. As a result of Shelby County, states are ramping up voting restrictions.  Voting restrictions hit marginal communities disproportionately harder. Currently, states previously subject to preclearance are now passing voter suppression laws. 

Attorney General (AG) Herring noted that the Virginia Voting Rights Act passed this year created 45 days of no excuse absentee voting, removed the mandatory photo ID requirement, makes election day a state holiday, prohibits intimidation or racial discrimination from voting. If a locality wants to move precincts or change the location of the registrar’s office, it has to get permission (preclearance) from the Attorney General’s Office. Voter information was made in languages other than English. The Virginia Act also created a voter outreach and education fund.

AG Herring noted that while wording of law limiting voter participation is gender neutral, the effects of time limitations are on lead parents, primarily women. Professor Hamilton-Watts notes that limits have a disproportionate effect on women and women of color as they have less flexible hours in positions such as caregivers. 

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

Virginia was the 38th state to ratify the ERA in January 2020. The Constitution provides for equal protection because of the 14th amendment. While race generates strict scrutiny, sex only has intermediate scrutiny, meaning the law must be  substantially related to important government protection.  The ERA bumps up sex to strict scrutiny. Congress does not have wide-reaching jurisdiction over gender-based restriction, only limited jurisdiction.

When it came to what is missing, the ERA would give better gender-based protections with employment and gender-based violence for example, allowing for broad power to enact gender protections with the Constitutional basis. Castlelaw v. Gonzales outcome might be different as ERA would have required examination of law enforcement action for discrimination. The expressive effect of law is important as women are currently perceived as less than equal. For example, harassment or assault would be counteracted by an ERA.

AG Herring noted that every constitutional requirement has been fulfilled. When asked if there is a time limit to ratify, Herring stated that he believed there was none. He pointed out that there is no time limit to ratify amendments set out in the Constitution. As precedent, he pointed to the 27th amendment, that Virginia ratified in the 1700s but was not an amendment to the Constitution until 1992.  Congress could also remove the time limit with a bill pending to remove that time limit set in 1972. In any case, there is still work to do to make the ERA law.

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Chris Fortier is an attorney at the Social Security Administration and the multimedia editor for Invictus. He serves on the Board of Governors for the Diversity Conference. The views represented in this article do not represent those of the Social Security Administration or the Federal Government.

Juneteenth and the Official End of Slavery in the United States

By Alicia Roberts Johnson 

Many people believe or history books may tell you that slavery for African-Americans in the United States ended on January 1, 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states shall be free.  Unfortunately, while January 1, 1863 marked the end of slavery for some African-Americans in the United States, it did not mark the end of slavery for those in Texas.  Continued to be held in bondage, it was some two years later on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger brought the good news to Galveston, Texas that the war had ended and all those in bondage were now free.  Prior to Major General Granger’s arrival in Texas, there were not enough Union soldiers in Texas to enforce the proclamation.  Upon his arrival Major General Granger would issue the following executive order to the people of Texas:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.  This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.  The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.  They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”  General Orders, Number 3, Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865.

It was out of this executive order that the holiday of Juneteenth would be born and recognized as the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.  To date, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or ceremonial holiday and many businesses such as Target, Nike, and the National Football League have declared Juneteenth a holiday for their employees.  While Juneteenth has been celebrated by many African-Americans for well over a century now, it has recently gained increased national recognition with the development of more robust exhibits at national museums such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as through national television broadcasts.  The Commonwealth of Virginia would join in the celebration of Juneteenth on June 16, 2020, when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 66, declaring his intent to make Juneteenth a permanent state holiday.  This legislation was subsequently passed by the Virginia General Assembly in the fall of 2020 after lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of this historic legislation.  

Many communities and organizations across our nation have celebrations to commemorate Juneteenth to promote and cultivate awareness of African-American history and culture.  I encourage you to avoid using Juneteenth as just another day off, but rather use Juneteenth as a time to learn more about African-American history and the many contributions African-Americans have made and continue to make to our society.

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Alicia Roberts Johnson serves as the Chair-Elect on the Board of Governors of the Diversity Conference.

Editor’s Note: One day before this presentation, Juneteenth became a federal holiday with its first observance on June 18, 2021.

 

Annual Meeting Immigration Panel

Annual Meeting Immigration Panel: Complementary or Contradictory to the Rule of Law?

Panelists at the Annual Meeting program. George Fishman, Esq., Lisa Johnson-Firth, Esq., Dean Emerson Douglas, and Jacob Tingeman, Esq.  (Dee Norman, Virginia State Bar)

By: Chris Fortier

Immigration remains a hot topic for discussion. While this topic holds much interest with the public, lawyers are focused on Immigration Law for different reasons.  Between the changing policy with the Department of Justice, increasing workloads for judges, and the quick hearings that immigrants in the system face, the topic always provides content for a quick hour of CLE.  The Annual Meeting panel consisted of Lisa Johnson-Firth, Esq. (Immigrants First, PLLC, Manassas), George Fishman, Esq. (Department of Homeland Security, House Immigration Committee Counsel), Jacob Tingeman, Esq. (Solo Practitioner). Dean Emerson Douglas of William & Mary Law moderated the program.  Dean Douglas emphasized that lawyers need to play a critical role in the immigration debate, as they have the ability to see both sides and to be objective.

Mr. Fishman provided a history of immigration law from the 1990s through today. He cited Congressional studies in 1981 and 2016 where the illegal immigrant population grew from 4-6 million to 11 million, respectively. He noted that Deferred Action for Child Applicants (DACA) was based on inherent executive power of prosecutorial discretion.  DACA was initially meant to assist children brought to US under age 16 before 2012.  He reminded attendees that Article I Section 8 gives Congress the power to determine immigration policy and that Article II Section 3 provides the President the ability to execute these laws.  He urged limits on immigration and recommended actions such as setting a fair process to challenge the government’s immigration determinations.

Ms. Johnson-Firth noted the principles in the United Nations Secretary General Report on the Defined Rule of Law (S/2004/616), alluding to international human rights norms and four key principles: 1) law applies to everybody 2) law is not secret or arbitrary, 3) law is just, 4) law is fair (double check this).   Ms. Johnson-Firth argued that that United States did not adhere to rule of law, propping up military dictatorships in Guatemala and El Salvador.

Ms. Johnson-Firth also pointed out the challenges that our Immigration courts and parties in front of that court face. For example, she noted that there were no ex post facto, no Miranda warnings, long waits for hearing, no right to speedy trial, no discovery process (surprise impeachment using evidence they do not give you), and administrative warrants for parties in front of the court. Ms. Johnson-Firth also stated that Immigration judges adjudicate 700 cases per year and are employees of the Department of Justice without judicial independence.

Mr. Tingen reviewed case law affecting immigration.  He urged creation of a district court to adjudicate these asylum claims, as opposed to DOJ Immigration judges.  He noted Pereria v. Sessions, which held that a summons to appear needs to have a date, time, and place of appearance.  He reviewed the Matters of MS, LABR, and AB, which redefined widely accepted social groups in asylum analysis and took gangs out of the analysis of social structure in an immigrant’s country of origin.

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Chris Fortier serves on the Board of Governors of the Diversity Conference, working on the Invictus newsletter and the Diversity Conference website and social media. In his day job, he works at the Social Security Administration (SSA). The views in this article are his and his alone and do not reflect those of SSA or the Federal Government.

Annual Meeting Photo Album

Enjoy some of the sights of the VSB Annual Meeting’s Diversity Conference activities in June 2019.

HuYoung Perez

Michael HuYoung, recipient of the Dunnaville Award and Immediate Past Chair Luis Perez greet VSB Annual Meeting attendees to the new Welcome Reception.

HuYoung Family

Michael HuYoung and his family, accepting the Dunnaville Award

Diversity Conference

Michael HuYoung, receipient of Dunnaville Award, poses with the Diversity Conference Board of Governors.

Mentor-Mentee w:Justice Mims

The mentors, mentees, and Justice Mims at the Opening Reception at the VSB Annual Meeting.

HuYoung is the 2019 Recipient of the Dunnaville Award

Congratulations to Michael HuYoung, a former chair of the Diversity Conference.

Congratulations to Michael HuYoung of Barnes & Diehl in Richmond on his selection as the winner of the Dunnaville Award. Mr. HuYoung was one of the original members of the Virginia State Bar’s Diversity Task Force, the group that laid the groundwork to establish the Diversity Conference. Mr. HuYoung was the second chair of the Diversity Conference and participated in many activities that built upon and solidified the achievements of the inaugural Board of Governors. After his year as chair, he continued to support and lead the Diversity Conference, serving on its Board of Governors for two terms, and helped to create the Law Student Mentor/Mentee program at the VSB Annual Meeting. Mr. HuYoung continues to tirelessly promote the mission of the Diversity Conference and is a leader and mentor for diversity and inclusion within the Virginia’s legal profession and the public it serves.    

According to nominator (and Immediate Past Chair) Carole Capsalis:

Throughout his legal career, Michael has devoted his time, energy and leadership to make significant, demonstrable, and outstanding contributions to fostering, encouraging, and facilitating diversity and inclusion in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to serving on the Diversity Task Force, Michael followed Judge Capsalis as the second chair of the Diversity Conference and was a very involved and active board member of the Diversity Conference from 2010 to 2016. As the second chair of the Diversity Conference, Michael’s herculean efforts shepherded the new conference through the unchartered waters of an unfunded conference.

Mr. HuYoung has served on many boards and given much time to pro bono work in addition to teaching continuing education courses and authoring articles emphasizing the importance of diversity in the legal profession. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond School of Law.

The Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. Achievement Award, sponsored by the Diversity Conference of the Virginia State Bar, honors a member of the Virginia State Bar for setting an example that fellow members can emulate to meet the conference’s goal of fostering, encouraging, and facilitating diversity and inclusion in the bar, the judiciary, and the legal profession. The award commemorates the life of Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. and his unceasing devotion to improving diversity and equality in our commonwealth. The inaugural award was presented to Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. in 2012.

Winners of this award demonstrate:

  • Significant, demonstrable, and outstanding contribution to fostering, encouraging, or facilitating diversity and inclusion in the Commonwealth of Virginia;
  • Demonstrated dedication to raising issues of diversity and protecting civil and human rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia; and/or
  • Participation in corporate and/or community events that promote mutual respect, acceptance, cooperation or tolerance in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Mentor Program Thank Yous

The Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting will include more law students as part of our 2nd Annual Mentor-Mentee program. We are proud to bring the benefits of the Annual Meeting to students from each of Virginia’s eight law schools.

The law students participate in the Annual Meeting’s CLE programs, networking events, and other fun activities in Virginia Beach. While at the Annual Meeting, the law students will learn about the bar’s activities and how it promotes the practice of law.

We thank our mentors in advance for taking the time to mentor the law students. Click here to meet the law students and their mentors.

We also thank our sponsors: Candace Blydenburgh, Andrea Bridgeman, Peter Burnett, Latoya Capers, Sheila Costin, Kyung (Kathryn) Dickerson, Michael HuYoung, Linda Lambert, Providence Napoleon, Luis Perez, Rupen Shah, Virginia Diversity Foundation, Virginia Women Attorneys Association – Northern Virginia Chapter, Maura & Ed Weiner, and the Zavos Juncker Law Group.

If you are coming to the Annual Meeting on June 16 through June 18 in Virginia Beach, take a moment and introduce yourself to the law students. You will not regret it!

“Fore Diversity” Golf Tournament Report

Photo by tyler hendy on Pexels.com

June 19, 2011

Fun was had by all the participants at the “Fore Diversity” Golf Tournament. This year was our Inaugural “Fore Diversity” Golf Tournament which was held on June 16, 2011 in Virginia Beach during the Virginia State Bar’s (VSB) Annual Meeting. Not only was a fun time had by all, but we also had the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with one another and establish new friendships. But most of all, much thanks need to be given to our sponsors and donors; the raffle gifts were fabulous. The Diversity Conference raffled off many fine items, such as a full set of men’s Galloway golf clubs, a full set of women’s Galloway golf clubs, along with many other extravagant items. You had to be there to believe it.

The Virginia Beach National Golf Club (VBNGC) was a great host for this event. All staff and employees, as well as the Golf Pro, Russ Dodson, were very accommodating and took care of our every need. We look forward to returning next year to VBNGC during the VSB Annual Conference for the Second “Fore Diversity” Golf Tournament. We hope that many more can attend. The next time, we want more players than sponsors; however, we hope to have more of both.

Again, thank you sponsors and donors for your contributions and donations to the “Fore Diversity” Golf Tournament.

Michael HuYoung

Chair of the VSB Diversity Conference

2010-2011 Annual Report

The Diversity Conference’s inaugural year was a promising and successful one with much accomplished and much more planned in the year ahead. Its main accomplishment was to establish a Board of Governors with individuals who are energetic and focused on the Conference’s mission to:

  1. foster and encourage diversity in the admission to the bar and advancement in the legal profession and the judiciary;
  2. serve as a catalyst for creating leadership and bar service opportunities in the legal profession in Virginia; and
  3. work to ensure that the legal system is responsive to the legal needs of the people of Virginia.

Our Initial Board consisted of Manuel A. Capsalis (Chair), Michael HuYoung (Chair- Elect), Linda Y. Lambert (Secretary), Edward L. Weiner (Treasurer), Peter C. Burnett, Beverly J. A. Burton, Clarence M. Dunnaville, Jr., Michael A. Glasser, Manuel E. Leiva, Jennifer L. McClellan, Cathleen K. Memmer, Rupen R. Shah, Professor Henry L. Chambers, Jr., Dean Clinton W. Shinn, Judge Cleo E. Powell, John Y. Richardson, Jr., Kathy M. Coleman (Lay Member), and Michael Zajur (Lay Member). The Board met on at least six different occasions and in different locations throughout the state, and its members typified the true meaning of volunteer service to the legal profession and the community. Because of the staggered terms of our Board, Michael A. Glasser and Clinton W. Shinn have elected not to be re-appointed. They have been replaced by Latoya C. Asia and Marni E. Bynum.

Because of the fact that the Diversity Conference continues to operate without bar funding or active bar staff support, our main goal in this inaugural year was to raise funds so that we could accomplish the goals and plans established by the Board. To that effect, each member of the Board contributed financially to the Conference, and we did much of our own clerical and administrative work.

Our first major organized fundraiser, “Fore Diversity” Golf Tournament, was held during the VSB 2011 Annual Summer Conference in Virginia Beach at the Virginia Beach National Golf Club. Not only was a fun time had by all, but the golfers and members of the Bar also had the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with one another and establish new friendships. The Conference was able to raise more funds than expected. In fact, there were more sponsors and donors than golfers sending a message that the purpose behind the creation of the Diversity Conference is accepted by more than we know. The Diversity Conference raffled off many fine items, such as a full set of men’s Calloway golf clubs, a full set of women’s Galloway golf clubs, along with many other extravagant items. Since the Golf Tournament, Board members have heard from many who plan on playing next year. The Conference hopes to make the Golf Tournament an annual Diversity Conference event during the Annual Summer Conference in Virginia Beach.

Our second major organized fundraiser is Jazz 4 Justice to be held on September 17, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. at the Forbes Center, James Madison University’s new performing arts center. Jazz 4 Justice will be an evening of fabulous music and entertainment. Jazz 4 Justice will support not only the Diversity Conference, but also Blue Ridge Legal Services (BRLS) in the Shenandoah Valley area. BRLS provides free civil legal assistance to low income residents within the Shenandoah Valley. Jazz 4 Justice will also provide musical scholarships for students at JMU, and it will showcase talented music majors at the University. Individual tickets can be purchased for $15 at JMU’s box office or online at www.jmu.edu/JMUarts. The Conference expects this inaugural year of Jazz 4 Justice to be a “sellout” event with 600 people in attendance. A similar event has proven very successful at George Mason University winning awards from both the Virginia and National Bar Associations. The Diversity Conference looks forward to bringing this fun and successful event into the Shenandoah Valley, and we have sent out requests for sponsorship’s.

However, the Conference’s efforts have not just gone to fundraising. The Conference has accomplished or participated in the following since its inception:

  1. Created and established its own website, http://www.vsbmdi.org, which is linked to the VSB website at http://www.dcvsb.org.
  2. Participated in pipeline projects such as the “Rule of Law Program” established by Mike Pace of the Roanoke Bar and funded by the Virginia Law Foundation, reaching out to the middle and high schools, church to promote a better understanding of the legal system and to encourage individuals at an early age to seek a career in the legal profession with all of the opportunities that can be afforded to someone. The Conference hosted and presented in conjunction with other bar groups the Rule of Law Program in Petersburg, Virginia on February 17, 2011 and at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in the City of Richmond on April 14, 2011.
  3. Participated in the Southern Virginia Minority Pre-Law Conference at the Washington and Lee University School of Law sponsored by the VSB Young Lawyers Conference on September 25, 2010.
  4. Participated in the Hill-Tucker Pre-Law Institute at the University of Richmond School of Law sponsored by the VSB Young Lawyers Conference on July 10 – 15, 2011.
  5. Obtained Senate Resolution No. 31 sponsored by State Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. from Augusta County recognizing the efforts and achievement of the VSB in the creation of the Diversity Conference which passed unanimously in the General Assembly. A framed copy of the Senate Resolution was presented formally by the Diversity Conference to the VSB at the Bar Council Meeting on June 16, 2011 by Senator Hanger himself. This framed Senate Resolution now hangs on the wall of the President’s Office at the VSB offices.
  6. Started membership drive which unlike the other Conferences has no limitations or requirements for joining since it is open to all members of the VSB. With our new website, membership is easy by clicking on the Membership icon. Membership is free.

The following is our current agenda going into the next fiscal year:

  1. Diversity in the Law Conference scheduled on November 10-12, 2011 at the University of Virginia School of Law which will be held jointly by the Law School Center for the Study of Race and Law, and the Diversity Conference. There also will be ongoing presentations during the year at the law schools in the state. For example, the Diversity Conference is scheduled to have a panel presentation and discussion at the Appalachian School of Law on September 28, 2011.
  2. Sustaining Project. – It is the goal of the Diversity Conference to establish pipeline/ ladder programs in every judicial circuit in the Commonwealth.
  3. Signature Project. – It is the goal of the Diversity Conference to establish a grant- funded signature project significant in scope. We have in the works a film project, The American Tapestry: A History of Diversity in America. If successful, the film project may be made in conjunction with the renowned Ken Burns and his staff.
  4. Focus on presenting an event or seminar at the 2012 VSB Annual Conference in Virginia Beach other than the “Fore Diversity” Golf Tournament and to meet the time deadlines for this.
  5. Jazz 4 Justice Concert, fundraiser, as stated above.
  6. Continued development of the Diversity Conference website.
  7. Mutual liaison with the VSB Special Committee on Access to Legal Services.
  8. Continued membership drive for the upcoming year.
  9. Coordinate diversity initiatives and efforts with voluntary statewide bars, local bars, specialty bars, and foundations and academies.
  10. Reaching out to the local community and people of diversity as it pertains to the legal field and arena.

Submitted by:

Michael HuYoung

Chair of the Diversity Conference

August 5, 2011