LET US HEAR FROM YOU!
We welcome letters to the editor on issues presented in the magazine. Email letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. All opinions, statements, and conclusions expressed in letters to the editor represent the views of the respective authors and do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the WSBA or its Board of Governors. Publication of letters to the editor is not to be deemed an endorsement of the opinions, statements, and conclusions expressed by the author(s).
This letter comments on two recent Bar News articles: “The Importance of Not Misgendering Anyone” (June issue 2022) and “[DEI Resource of the Month: Belonging]” (September issue 2022). It appears that attorneys now have a new burden to carry and incorporate into their practices. “Othering” has become the new bigotry. Lawyers are now expected to conform to the needs and demands of persons with gender dysphoria (the condition that arises when one’s sex at birth does not match one’s self-perceived gender). Failure to follow the transgender pronoun demands is characterized as “othering” the transgender person. Othering is described as marginalizing the person because of their gender identity.
While persons have the right not to accept their birth gender, often referred to as “assigned” gender, they should not have the right to force others into their neurotic paradigm. That is akin to a psychiatrist being required or expected to see the same pink elephants that his neurotic client sees.
We are being asked to abandon the binary world which is the world of reality which we actually see. The reality is that people are born either male or female and the vast majority live their lives as that gender. Yet we are expected to set aside this biological fact and use the bizarre pronouns and “neopronouns” being foisted on us by the gender dysphoric community.
The small child in the classic work of Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes, exclaimed that the emperor was really naked; he had no clothes at all. Just like that truthful child, it is time to admit that the trans culture’s nonbinary fiction is being promulgated to create a new victimhood and entitlement.
As the author and philosopher Ayn Rand might have insisted, we have a duty to live in the rational world, the binary world, the one which has always existed. Attorneys should not be forced, or even encouraged, to incorporate the pronouns or any other trans fiction into their pleadings or court appearances. The WSBA’s Equity and Justice Team should cease its focus on the irrational use of trans pronouns and instead deal with the real issues, such as innocent people in prison and the wrongly convicted.
Patricia Michl, Ellensburg
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Equity and Justice Team is one of many internal teams that carry out the functions and priorities of the WSBA established by organizational leadership and authorized by General Rule 12.
It Wasn’t a Waste of Time
In former [WSBA] President Brian Tollefson’s farewell column (Bar News, September 2022), he describes his year as mostly positive and laments that his presidential agenda, in his view, took a back seat to the work the WSBA Board of Governors undertook to examine the current structure of the Bar Association.
That is unfortunate. From my perspective, the work we did to determine our Bar Association’s most effective structure was crucial to ensuring its future success. As I was completing my term as president of the WSBA, the Board of Governors was engaged in discussions about litigation from around the country involving freedom of speech and freedom of association and how those constitutional principles relate to mandatory bar associations. [Washington Supreme Court] Chief Justice Steven González was informed of these discussions and called me with a request for the WSBA. Our Supreme Court was interested in receiving a recommendation from the WSBA about the current structure of the bar association and whether pending litigation required us to bifurcate the regulatory side from the many other programs of the bar association that could be managed by a voluntary bar.
The court also wanted to know, litigation aside, what is the ideal structure for the WSBA to accomplish its mission. The process was to include seeking out public and member input and making a recommendation to the court about our findings. In his column, former President Tollefson remarks, “The Board of Governors chose to undertake this task by having seven full-day meetings to do the work in a manner suggested by one Board member and supported by Bar staff time.” That “one Board member” was me. I took what Chief Justice González and the court said seriously and I prepared the draft schedule and original agendas for the process we would use to start Examining the Historical Organization and Structure (ETHOS) of the WSBA. Your WSBA Board of Governors adopted the initial agendas and a timeline that allowed for substantial public input and engagement from the members of the Bar.
Sure, it took time. Most hard things do. Over the course of several months, the Board of Governors listened to presenters from all across the state and country with different perspectives and ideas about how a bar association is best structured. We debated and challenged each other’s ideas. We reached out to stakeholders and encouraged them to share their opinions. The meetings were long, but the process itself was important. On Oct. 13, 2022, the current and former members of the WSBA Board of Governors presented the ETHOS Final Report and Recommendations to the Washington Supreme Court. http://www.wsba.org/docs/default-source/about-wsba/governance/bar-structure/wsba_ethos-final-report_final-9.23.22.pdf?sfvrsn=f33710f1_3. A majority of the Board found that the ideal structure of the bar is the current integrated model that provides critical programs and services that work together to support the public and the profession.
While some may say, “We didn’t change anything, so it must have been a waste of time,” I reject that. From time to time, self-reflection and re-examining our structure is important. We shouldn’t do something simply because we’ve always done it that way. Understanding why you do something and reaffirming why you do it is healthy, worthwhile, and demonstrates real leadership. That goes for people and associations alike.
I am proud of the hard work the WSBA Board of Governors, Executive Director Nevitt, and the WSBA staff did together on ETHOS. All of them deserve our thanks for their tireless efforts and contribution toward improving our Bar for all of its members.
Kyle D. Sciuchetti, WSBA President, 2020-2021
Insulting Misconceptions About Family Law Attorneys
In [a letter to the editor in] the October 2022 issue of Bar News, Liz Hallock of Yakima responds to the July/August 2022 “Family Law Issue.”
In doing so, in a very short statement she makes a number of incorrect and rather insulting assumptions and insinuations about family law attorneys and the practice of family law. And she does so, apparently, based on one email from an unnamed family law attorney in central Washington, in addition to family law being 5 percent of her practice, according to Avvo.
While such demeaning sentiments regarding family law are unfortunately common, her elitist generalizations are incredibly short-sighted and presumptuous. I, and I believe a great number of my colleagues and members of the bench, would welcome a discussion with her or anyone else to redress these misconceptions.
Anthony J. Zorich Jr., Gig Harbor
Don’t Call me Neurodiverse
I have received a slew of great feedback about my article on mental illness and attorneys that was published in the KCBA and WSBA newsletters/magazines [“Whatever Doesn’t Kill You … Can Make You a Better Lawyer,” September 2022 Bar News]. I have had a few Zoom meetings, phone calls, and even a couple of coffee meetings to talk to others who are struggling or know people who are. However, I have also had a number of people, all of whom were “allies” and not people with diagnoses, come down on me for talking about mental illness and not “neurodiversity.” They want to know why I am not using the politically correct term and, instead, continue to “spread the idea that bipolar and other diagnoses are an illness or a disability.” If you have a mental illness and want to call it neurodiversity, knock yourself out, but leave me out of it. I get to tell people how I want to be designated, just like they get to choose to honor that or be jerks about it. I already made a concession by calling it mental illness. As far as I am concerned, what I overcame is an f’d up brain, but that would not have gone over well in my article.
Now that I have, no doubt, offended a lot of people, I would like to once again thank those who responded to my article [with] questions, comments, or appreciation. I write and put myself out there for criticism for you. If that means a few opinionated people who are more concerned about being PC than about being genuine will cause me some heartburn, so be it.
Aaron D. Paker, Federal Way
In Response to ‘Systemic Racism is Long Gone’ Letter to the Editor
I read Mr. Stahl’s letter [September 2022 Bar News] with both amusement and anger. First, let me say that I was alive in 1948 when Shelly v. Kramer was decided (OK, I was a toddler) and in grade school when Brown was decided. I am still alive! My anger has morphed into sorrow.
It seems appropriate for me, a veteran, to respond to Mr. Stahl’s letter today. A quick internet research would reveal that public schools are still segregated. As a white baby boomer male, I can’t speak from firsthand experience about the personal impact of racism, but as a student of history I could recite the long list of American racist atrocities. For example, there has been much publicity recently as we pass the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa massacre. Very little publicity has been given to the Nov. 10, 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina, coup where whites threw out the elected city government to avoid being ruled by a black government (a successful insurrection). Ask most white Americans about the 1919 Elaine, Arkansas, massacre and they will have no idea what you are talking about. The list of white atrocities visited on Black Americans starts before these events and continues. George Floyd’s murder was a more recent example.
I must point out that Washington courts have recognized that we are plagued by systemic racism. For example, in June 2022, the Court of Appeals, Division III, issued its opinion in In re the Dependency of Q.S., 22 Wn. App. 2d 586 (2022): “Nothing has changed in all Washington court levels since the [Washington] Supreme Court’s June 2020 open message about racial injustice. The racism inherent in our court system and the child dependency system continues.” Id. At 618.
At its heart, the ridiculous false outrage about “critical race theory” being taught in schools is another manifestation of this country’s racism. No one has pointed to any K-12 public school where this has been or even attempted to be taught. If calling a core concept of this country “racism” makes you uncomfortable then call it marginalization. Indigenous people, women, Black people, queer people, transgender people have all been marginalized and have had to fight like hell to be recognized as valuable Americans.
For example, I stand in awe of the women who endured jailing and mistreatment to get the right to vote. Unfortunately misogyny still exists and adversely impacts all American women.
I tip my hat to the Harlem Hellfighters of WWI and the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII. Their love for this country that treated them so shabbily was and is incredible.
Systemic racism has existed since colonial days, and it still exists. If you are going to close your eyes and heart to that reality, I pity your warped perception of this country.
Leland G. Ripley, Duvall
Letters to the editor published in Bar News must respond to content presented in the magazine and also comply with Washington General Rule 12.2 and Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990).* Bar News may limit the number of letters published based on available space in a particular issue and, if many letters are received in response to a specific piece in the magazine, may select letters that provide differing viewpoints to publish. Bar News does not publish anonymous letters or more than one letter from the same contributor per issue. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, civility, and grammatical accuracy.
*GR 12.2(c) states that the WSBA is not authorized to “(1) Take positions on issues concerning the politics or social positions of foreign nations; (2) Take positions on political or social issues which do not relate to or affect the practice of law or the administration of justice; or (3) Support or oppose, in an election, candidates for public office.” In Keller v. State Bar of California, the Court ruled that a bar association may not use mandatory member fees to support political or ideological activities that are not reasonably related to the regulation of the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.