Wichita Bar Association Responds to
Racism, Inequity, and
Discrimination (June 2020)
The Wichita Bar Association’s
Board of Governors and its Professional Diversity Committee condemn systemic
racism and discrimination in society and our legal system. We are saddened and
disturbed by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and
so many more. The WBA is committed to taking action to help create systemic
change in our communities.
attorneys in Kansas swear or affirm their support of the Constitution of the
United States, a document that strives to form a more perfect union. In its
original form, the Constitution did not recognize the rights of black,
indigenous, and people of color. As our Constitution has been amended over time
to reflect the growth of our society, so must we as a legal community continue
to grow to ensure the fair and equitable processes the Constitution
Lasting change requires deep
introspection, and the willingness to sit in our discomfort as we acknowledge
the reality that inequity and racism exist in our society. As attorneys, we believe
in equal justice, the rule of law and due process for all. We have an ethical obligation to aid in the
administration of justice, seek improvement of the law and access to justice. The
WBA stands ready to help ensure that every voice is heard and that we continue
to work toward a more perfect union
inclusive of all people.
WBA Statement in Support of Public Defender
On June 3rd, the Kansas Senate rejected Carl Folsom III for a seat on the Kansas Court of Appeals. The Board of Governors of the Wichita Bar Association recognizes the role of the Senate in choosing new Judges for the Court of Appeals and recognizes their right to make that independent decision as they see fit. But we express our discouragement at the vocal disparagement of the job of a Public Defender. The role of the public defender is a vitally important role, one that keeps the criminal courts and the wheels of justice smoothly turning. Zealous defense lawyers have been an integral part of the American justice system since before the Revolutionary War. As a young lawyer, John Adams defended eight British soldiers accused of murder during the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770. Mr. Adams’s robust and impassioned defense, in the face of almost universal scorn from his fellow colonists, resulted in acquittal of the accused.
The right to the effective assistance of counsel was later enshrined in both the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Section 10 of the Kansas Bill of Rights. The public defender, and all attorneys, swear an oath to support and follow the Kansas and Federal Constitutions, as well as comply with the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct. Those documents lead to the requirement that the State provide representation to the poor, the downtrodden, the accused. That representation is a right shared by all, and is one fulfilled by the public defender.
To disparage any appellate court nominee for dedicating his or her legal career to providing that competent and zealous representation to the impoverished accused also ignores the fact that the candidate would provide a valuable diversity of perspective to the appellate courts. Courts that must not look at an issue from the perspective of the prosecution, the defense, the plaintiff, the petitioner or the respondent. Courts that must examine the issues fairly and evenly, using the Constitutions, statutes, and case law to decide the wide variety of issues that arise in the many appeals that are filed. Courts that must be fair to all sides. To denigrate a candidate for standing up for the poor, the accused, and for protecting the rights of those accused to a fair trial, to competent representation, and to meaningful access to the courts, is wrong, and reveals a profound ignorance of the United States and Kansas Constitutions. Without defense, there can be no prosecution, and all lawyers are ethically obligated to pursue the same end goal - Justice.
The role of the public defender is perhaps best stated in part of James J. Doherty’s (Cook County Illinois Public Defender, 1957) Public Defender Creed: As a public defender, “I am the guardian of the presumption of innocence, due process, and fair trial. To me is entrusted the preservation of those sacred principles. . . . My clients are the indigent accused. They are the lonely, the friendless. There is no one to speak for them but me. My voice will be raised in their defense. . . .” Unpopular clients and sometimes horrible actions do not negate the need for ethical, competent, and zealous representation of the accused, and no one should be rejected from consideration for service on a court for dedicating their career to providing that type of representation.
Wichita Bar Association
Updates Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The WBA values the health and well-being of our members and staff. We are monitoring directives from the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) and the Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) and will follow their
guidance regarding canceling meetings, luncheons, or other gatherings.
[Updated 4-9-20] The WBA will extend the use of Better by the Bulk and Cheaper by the Dozen discount programs for any CLE seminars (Live, Webinar, Video-Replay) provided by the WBA through September 30, 2020.
[Updated 4-8-20] Administrative Order 2020-RL-033 extends until September 30, 2020, the reporting deadline for continuing legal education that is required by Supreme Court rule to be completed between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020. An attorney unable to complete the education within the compliance period is automatically granted an extension until September 30.
[Updated 4-8-20] Wichita Brewing Company Beer Tasting Event has been rescheduled for Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
We encourage our members to adhere to best practices for preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses, including those provided by the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html)
and others. We appreciate your cooperation during this unprecedented time and will continue to keep you updated with any changes.