ITLA FYI



Posted by: Taylor Mossman-Fletcher on Oct 6, 2020

 
Representative John Lewis from Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District died on July 17, 2020 following an extensive and prominent career in politics.  Although he is gone, Lewis’s legacy will continue to shape civil rights and future movements intended to uplift the historically oppressed through his many contributions. Perhaps one of his most iconic contributions was his concept of getting into “good trouble.”  When Lewis was a little boy living in Alabama, he would too often pass signs proclaiming segregation and racism.  When Lewis questioned his parents about these signs, they matter-of-factly told him to avoid getting into trouble.  However, Lewis couldn’t ignore the many injustices that surrounded him and saw that others engaged in the civil rights movement were getting into “good trouble” as a way to stand up against these injustices—and be heard. From that point forward, Lewis made “good trouble” a centerpiece of his life as an activist and in politics, with civil rights and equal access to voting dominating his priorities.  He embodied this lifelong philosophy through nonviolent protest, sit-ins, boycotts, marches, speeches, and education.  Lewis used “good trouble” as a tool to achieve justice. “Good trouble” made both Lewis and his message of justice front and center and impossible to ignore.
 
Lewis used “good trouble” as a tool to achieve justice and shape the law. As trial lawyers, perhaps we have a lot to learn from Lewis. We have an obligation to seek justice on behalf of our clients, many of whom face the same or similar oppression as Lewis faced, be it discrimination, sexism, violence, inequality, injury, or harm. If “good trouble” is making your message outside of existing channels so that it stands front and center and be impossible to ignore, we trial lawyers must think harder about making “good trouble” on behalf of our clients.
 
Trial lawyers have some of the sharpest and most effective tools in the box to make good trouble.  Trial lawyers are known for digging with poignant questions.  They press with tough cross examination.  A room is held captive by the strong, convincing voice of a trial lawyer. And through persuasive writing, a trial lawyer’s pen is a force not to be ignored. While Lewis’s lesson of making good trouble, in comparison with what we do every day, may not seem equivalent in significance—the inspiration he bestowed is important to draw from. In short, the lesson trial lawyers take away is to not allow intimidation and oppression tactics get in the way of your client’s cause. 
Representative John Lewis from Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District died on July 17, 2020 following an extensive and prominent career in politics.  Although he is gone, Lewis’s legacy will continue to shape civil rights and future movements intended to uplift the historically oppressed through his many contributions. Perhaps one of his most iconic contributions was his concept of getting into “good trouble.”  When Lewis was a little boy living in Alabama, he would too often pass signs proclaiming segregation and racism.  When Lewis questioned his parents about these signs, they matter-of-factly told him to avoid getting into trouble.  However, Lewis couldn’t ignore the many injustices that surrounded him and saw that others engaged in the civil rights movement were getting into “good trouble” as a way to stand up against these injustices—and be heard. From that point forward, Lewis made “good trouble” a centerpiece of his life as an activist and in politics, with civil rights and equal access to voting dominating his priorities.  He embodied this lifelong philosophy through nonviolent protest, sit-ins, boycotts, marches, speeches, and education.  Lewis used “good trouble” as a tool to achieve justice. “Good trouble” made both Lewis and his message of justice front and center and impossible to ignore.
 
Lewis used “good trouble” as a tool to achieve justice and shape the law. As trial lawyers, perhaps we have a lot to learn from Lewis. We have an obligation to seek justice on behalf of our clients, many of whom face the same or similar oppression as Lewis faced, be it discrimination, sexism, violence, inequality, injury, or harm. If “good trouble” is making your message outside of existing channels so that it stands front and center and be impossible to ignore, we trial lawyers must think harder about making “good trouble” on behalf of our clients.
 
Trial lawyers have some of the sharpest and most effective tools in the box to make good trouble.  Trial lawyers are known for digging with poignant questions.  They press with tough cross examination.  A room is held captive by the strong, convincing voice of a trial lawyer. And through persuasive writing, a trial lawyer’s pen is a force not to be ignored. While Lewis’s lesson of making good trouble, in comparison with what we do every day, may not seem equivalent in significance—the inspiration he bestowed is important to draw from. In short, the lesson trial lawyers take away is to not allow intimidation and oppression tactics get in the way of your client’s cause. 
John Lewis would tell trial lawyers not to stop there, however.  He would remind us of one more tool we have, and that is our vote and our ability to empower voting.  The recent special session convened at Governor Little’s order focused on two important issues to the ITLA—immunity and elections. While the immunity bill related to Covid-19 litigation (limited in scope and time) passed despite deep protest, civil unrest, and even a swivel chair, another bill passed that pertains to the right to vote.  House Bill 1 guarantees in-person voting in every Idaho county, regardless of any emergency orders in effect. 
 
If signed by Governor Little, John Lewis would look at this as an opportunity for citizens, including trial lawyers, to make good trouble—educate, create opportunities, and volunteer. Accordingly, I am calling on ITLA members to do one of three things.  First, consider registering as an election volunteer.  Come November, that last thing we want is for our elderly and most vulnerable communities to be working in the polling stations.  Yet, that is the population that consistently raises their hands to ensure that we all have safe and open polling stations.  Should that population choose to stay home on election day, no one could fault them. However, we cannot let the burden of potential Covid-19 exposure fall on them in order to keep the polling stations open.  If you are willing to volunteer on election day, please go to www.idahovotes.gov/poll-workers and register to be a volunteer. Alternatively, reach out to your county clerks and inquire about volunteering.
 
As of September 1st, the Office of the Secretary of State confirmed that poll-worker volunteers are still in high demand.  The time commitment is minimal—two hours of training before election day and then setting aside the entire day on November 3rd, 2020.  I want to build a team of trial lawyers who can help ensure Idahoans have an opportunity to vote. If you have your own health concerns for you, your family, or anyone in your circle, or simply don’t want to even encourage in-person voting, I get it. No judgment.
 
Second, if volunteering is not a good fit for you, then this is my ask: Please commit to allowing your firm, staff, etc., the time and space to vote. Consider providing your office team with paid time off to vote. Keep your schedule open on election day and keep your staff’s schedule open. Think about your team’s family considerations and how you can help make the decision of whether to vote an easy one.
 
Finally, please share with me what your voting stories and strategies will be this election cycle. If you plan to volunteer or are enabling others to volunteer, then I would like to know about it. The goal here is to share with our community the message that Idaho trial lawyers are committed to empowering people to vote by ensuring safe polling stations and dismantling the idea that employees must choose between going to work and going to the polls.  
 
To be clear, this message is not about any particular candidate and is not attached with any agenda.  ITLA is not a partisan organization.  The ability to vote is equally applicable and important to all political parties.  This ask is crafted to appeal to everyone that cares deeply about the pursuit of justice and making good trouble.  If we can make good trouble doing this, then in the end, we can make even better trouble for our clients.  And in case you need one last push for inspiration, please consider these words:
 
"Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society."

– Congressman John Lewis