Law Day 2016: Paulette Brown

By | September 5, 2019

>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington D.C.>>David Mao: All right. Good afternoon. Good afternoon everyone,
can you hear me?>>Woman: Yes.>>Okay. Well, welcome to
the Library of Congress, welcome to the Whittall Pavilion
here at the Library of Congress where we generally celebrate music
with our wonderful instruments here, but today we’re going to be
hearing about the music of law. [ Laughs ]>>David Mao: It is our pleasure
at the Library to be host to the Law Library of Congress’s
annual Law Day Celebration. We’re a few days early,
but ready to go. Most of you probably know that
Law Day was created by or created as a holiday by presidential
proclamation in 1958 by President Eisenhower and since
that time we have used that as a way to celebrate a lot
of different things, but most importantly the
importance of the rule of law and its impact on our daily lives. Before we start our program though I
want to mention a couple of things, we will have a small reception
afterwards with a few nibbles and invite all of you
to join and for that. We also have on display, if
you haven’t seen it already when you first came in, items from
the libraries manuscripts division. One of our curators
has brought out items from the manuscript
division’s legal collection, specifically from the
personal papers of – I want to make sure I
get all of them all. Supreme Court Justices Earl Warren,
Thurgood Marshall, Byron White, Hugo Black and William
Douglas all speaking to the topic of today
s conversation. So I invite you to take a
look at those on your way out. The only thing I do ask is that you
take no food and drink over there. [ Laughs ] We’d like to keep them in good
condition as we’re supposed to do. The other thing I should mention is
please turn off your mobile devices or at least silence them. We are recording this event
today, so that we can webcast it on the library’s website.>>Woman: [Inaudible]
behavior [laughs].>>David Mao: So I want to thank
the American Bar Association, the American Bar Association
Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress,
which is very instrumental in helping the Law Library here. Shelia Hollis is the current chair
and I don’t believe she’s here. I think she was unable
to join up with us today. The friends of the Law
Library of Congress, their Library’s manuscripts
division, all of us working together for making contributions of
Thompson Reuters for helping out with today’s program. I should note that we have president
elect of American Bar Association, Linda Kline and Vice
President at Thompson Reuters, Tom Laden with us here today. If you want to just turn
and wave to everybody. [ Laughs ] We thank them for being here. [ Clapping ] And with that I will turn it
over to my colleague, Roberta, to introduce to us our very
special guest, the current president of the American Bar Association,
who I’m very proud to be able to stand here and introduce
her because I am myself I’m from the Great Garden
State of New Jersey. And she currently practices
in New Jersey, so I’m very proud of that fact. [ Laughs ] And she is going to
tell us a little bit about her distinguished legal
career and also about today’s topic, her thoughts on the very important
Supreme Court decision Miranda, as we celebrate its 50th
anniversary this year. So with that, I will turn it over
to my colleague, the Law Librarian of Congress Roberta to get
us going on this program. Thank you.>>Roberta Shaffer: Great. [ Clapping ] Thank you, David, and thank
all of our distinguished guests and our colleagues who
are here, joining us today for a really momentous occasion. Paulette Brown, our honored speaker,
the first African American woman to head the American Bar Association
is probably also the first ABA president to address the Library
of Congress with a law library. So I know in your career
you have numerous firsts. [ Laughs ] And I hope that you
will have the people who are controlling your
biography add that…>>Paulette Brown: Yes. [ Laughs ]>>Roberta Shaffer: … to it, but you have had an
illustrious career in practice. You’ve been in private practice
as you are now with a law firm. You were a corporate counsel for
a number of large corporations and you even served as
the municipal court judge.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: So your
career has been very varied and you’ve had a great commitment
to both bringing highlights to some of the challenges that face
minorities and women in professions and actually even more
broadly in society. And I noted with a lot of joy that
you were on the Margaret Brent Award from the ABA Commission
on Women in the profession and there are two things
I’d like to say about that.>>Paulette Brown: Okay.>>Roberta Shaffer: You were
raised in Baltimore, actually sadly at segregated schools at that time.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: But,
Margaret Britton, for those of you who don’t know, was one of
the first women who practiced in the American colonies. She was from Maryland and she actually had a very
illustriousness career, including representing Lord
Baltimore in the Colonies. But she fell out of favor
with him because she insisted on paying soldiers their
fair due and she took that money out of his trust. [ Laughs ] And when I was thinking
about Paulette Brown, I thought my goodness what – these
people, these two are connected. [ Laughs ] They care about justice, but
they also are very forthright practicing attorneys. And the other thing that was kind of interesting was we
just lost Robert MacCrate who is another former president
of the American Bar Association, he died just a few weeks ago. And I believe that it was he
who created the Commission on Women in the Profession…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … back in 1987.>>Paulette Brown: Correct.>>Roberta Shaffer: And there’s just
one final historical note I will add and then we’ll go into the
conversation and that is that Bob MacCrate appointed the
first lady of Arkansas at the time to head that commission and that
was none other than Hillary Clinton. [ Laughs ] So there are lots of good vibes
in this room today for women and everything, but I think that Paulette you haven’t always
had an easy road and I wonder if you can take the story
of your career from here and tell us a little bit about
how you decided to become a lawyer and then a little bit about
obstacles you may have faced in the practice and entering
the practice and all that.>>Paulette Brown: Good, can I just
say one thing about Margaret Britton and how bodacious she was?>>Roberta Shaffer: Yes [laughs].>>Paulette Brown: She not
only was she practicing law, but she also decided that
not only should women vote, but she should have two votes.>>Roberta Shaffer: Right. She did.>>Paulette Brown: She
should have two votes. [laughs]>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: [Laughs] One as a
land owner and then one as a lawyer and as a regular citizen,
so she thought that she should have two votes. So what…>>Roberta: So you
followed in her footsteps? [Laughs]>>Paulette: Oh, I absolutely
agree that she should have – for each thing that you
do should have a vote. [ Laughs ]>>Roberta: We’re being recorded. [ Laughs ]>>Paulette: Exactly right. So I thought that was right. She was really ahead of her time. But, so, you know, like you said I
was born and raised in Baltimore, went to segregated schools until I was 10th grade,
didn’t know any lawyers. I knew Perry Mason
in black and white. [ Laughs ] But didn’t know any
personally and I had from my parents a great commitment
to community and giving back and so forth and so I thought
that I wanted to save the world and so I still think I
want to save the world, but I wanted to be a social worker. And I went to college with that
thought in mind and when I got to college I had two
roommates from New Orleans, and Will Jones now knows this. We went to college
together [laughs]. And…>>Roberta Shaffer: [Inaudible].>>Paulette Brown: Yeah. Yeah. He’s sitting right here.>>Roberta Shaffer: He’s 55?>>Paulette Brown: Uh-huh. And my roommates came to college
knowing that they wanted to go to law school and the backgrounds
weren’t that much different than mine, so I don’t
know how they got in it. Well, one reason is because
there was Judy Dimes, who was from New Orleans,
who they knew, who was a law librarian at Howard.>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: And so I got
to know Judy and my roommates sort of talked me into it and then we
had professors who were lawyers who taught us and then I decided that with a law degree I could
probably save more people. Quote, unquote, save more people,
but I decided that I would be able to help more people
with a law degree than I would as a social worker. Although, a social worker is
obviously an admirable profession. So that’s what I did, and I went
to law school and, you know, there were definitely challenges. When I first got out of law
school when I first went to court, you know, I was anybody
but the lawyer. [ Laughs ] Anybody but the lawyer. So I was either a defendant, was either court reporter,
was I one of the jurors. Well then, who are you? It was never they never got to the
part, well, are you the lawyer. And, you know, that sort of
persisted for a really long time and even now I’m confused
with other professions. My new favorite one is that so many
people think I’m a flight attendant. [ Laughs ] It’s really a true story. It’s a true story, even now. And I don’t have to
be in an airport. [ Laughs ]>>Roberta Shaffer: Oh, my goodness.>>Paulette Brown:
People to ask me that. I’ve twice been in an elevator, in a hotel where people ask
me was I a flight attendant from customs agents to people from other countries ask me
whether I’m a flight attendant. I don’t know what it is,
but, you know, again, that’s an honorable profession,
but I don’t know why people think. Only – I was buying Garrets Popcorn
most recently in Chicago airport and I was asked and I said does that
mean I’m going to get a discount? [ Laughs ] And that’s what it was, but
I didn’t take the discount because it would not
have been honest. But, you know, but it is, you
know, those I don’t, you know, with some people I don’t
take any offense to that. I really don’t, because I don’t
think people are being mean spirited in any way. But, you know, sometimes
some challenges do persist. One of the challenges that I’ve
been able to use to my advantage is that when people think that I don’t
have the requisite intelligence or knowledge, in a particular
case I’ve been a litigator for a long time. And especially when I’ve been
in cases with nothing but men on the other side and white
men on the other side, and they don’t really think
I know as much as they do, so it’s really great
when I crush them. [ Laughs ] So it’s been, you know, so that
has had some advantages too, but, you know, it’s been and for women
in general and for women of color, you know, there are
some unique challenges, especially in the large law
firm context that we need to do a lot better and just in
general the legal profession, you know, just wanting it not to
be the least diverse profession of all comparable professions
has been an ongoing challenge. And how do we change that and what’s
necessary to be done to change that. But I will say even with
all of those things, I don’t think I could have
chosen a better profession ever. It’s still the best. Librarians are wonderful and, you
know, my new psychiatrist friend. [ Laughs ] You know, they’re wonderful
too, but, you know, seriously, I think that a law license gives
you ability to do so many things. And it gives you some power to do
really great things for society. And as I tell people
all the time that even with all the different
professions that we have, generally a lawyer is going to
come into play in some way, and so, you know, no matter how much
people talk badly about lawyers, we really can’t live without them. So I am really pleased that I’m
an attorney and chose this path.>>Roberta Shaffer:
Well we certainly in the Law Library are
delighted you chose that.>>Paulette Brown: Thank you.>>Roberta Shaffer: And we totally
agree with you about how fulfilling, having legal knowledge and being
able to use it for the better…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … is a value. So I think we can move
now to Miranda.>>Paulette Brown: Okay.>>Roberta Shaffer: As David
mentioned we’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of that
really landmark decision. And I am delighted that you have
chosen that theme for Law Day and I know you’ve added on a
tag line “More Than Words.” And it particularly I
think strikes us all about how profoundly important
Miranda warnings and interaction in general with our judicial and
criminal justice system are today, because every day in the news we’re
seeing examples where we wonder about how fairly the
system is being applied. And I think that might have
been in the back of your mind as you looked back on the
50 years and look forward.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: So could
you tell us a little bit about choosing Miranda beyond just
the fact that it’s an anniversary.>>Paulette Brown: Right.>>Roberta Shaffer: And what
you think about how it plays into our justice system today and how it may have created some
skepticism among certain sectors of our society.>>Paulette Brown: So that’s
kind of a loaded question.>>Roberta Shaffer: Yes.>>Paulette Brown: But…>>Roberta Shaffer: Just slightly.>>Paulette Brown: But,
you know, many things. Some of which you mentioned it
is, you know, I looked at Miranda and how it’s evolved over time. And I look at the intention of
people not incriminating themselves, that it’s an extension of the Sixth
Amendment to a right to have counsel and so, you know, I think
about that and I also think about how there was a President after the court ruling he said it
was his main mission to make sure that we get rid of Miranda. And just how it evolves and when
we talk about more than words, what that means, it
means having people to understand what their rights
are with respect to Miranda and the ability to speak
freely and not freely. But them also look at how it’s
evolved over time with respect to what exactly does that mean? And when do the warnings apply? So if I give you a warning
today and I interrogate you, and then I Iet you go and then I
call you back in two weeks later, do I have to give you
the warning again? Court says, no, you don’t have
to give the warning again. And then, you know,
you think about – so you think about
also the implications that if you don’t talk now, how
silence can be used against you, that if you don’t say anything
that your silence can be used against you in a court of law. So you think about how
it’s evolved over time and then really the meaning of it, because all of us hear the
word Miranda we don’t even have to say the word Versus
Arizona anymore. [ Laughs ] It’s just the one word thing,
like Beyonce, like Price. [ Laughs ] You know, everybody
knows what it means. And then if you hear that, you know,
any of those famous police sounds, da, da, da, da, or any of those
we know that Miranda is coming. [ Laughs ] And, you know, we also
question about, you know, this shouldn’t be used
in every circumstance. You know, should there be
some exigent circumstances where we don’t have to
give the Miranda warning and then what happens if
we start making exceptions? How far will that crack expand? And I think it’s really important
that we think about those things when you have half of young people
in the United States believing that the justice system is not fair. And you have 66% of
African Americans who think the justice
system is not fair, and what impact Miranda
has on people like them? And what does it really mean
that people get Miranda? As a judge told a story a little
earlier today about people who plead guilty, who
confessed to things to crimes that they never committed. And the coercion that takes place, even after a person
has been Mirandized, which fortunately has led to
a lot of videos being placed in interrogation rooms because
there’s been so many people who have admitted to crimes
that they haven’t committed, even though they’ve
been read their rights. And people and the courts
have used those confessions, because people have been
Mirandized to do that. So it has been an evolution. I think there’s been a true
evolution of Miranda and I think that all of us need to pay
really close attention to it, so that the rights that people
have come to know as just Miranda, that they won’t be eroded. And people will have an
understanding and belief that they really don’t
have to say anything that will be against their interest. That they really have a right
to counsel and the right to counsel extends before
they get to the courtroom. So that people will
understand and believe that they really have
access to justice.>>Roberta Shaffer: And I know that you yourself have been
very active during your term in reaching out to young people.>>Paulette Brown: Yeah.>>Roberta Shaffer: I think
either before coming to West today or immediately following,
you’re going to be meeting with the Boys and Girls Club?>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: And I’m wondering what do
you tell these young people, these middle schoolers and
younger about the justice system and what do you use to encourage
them that there will be justice in the true sense of it and
fairness in this society that they are growing up in?>>Paulette Brown: So what I say to
everyone is that everyone has a role to play in our society, no
matter how young you are or no matter how old you are and
everyone can make a contribution. Understand that how access
to justice and people who have true access, how
it affects the rule of law. And that we are a nation of
rules, and that, you know, if people don’t perceive the
justice system as being fair that maybe they don’t feel
like they have to abide by the rules because why bother. And so when we have that
there can be no rule of law, and there will be just chaos and then they will just
not be a democracy anymore. And so they, a lot of
them understand that even at a very young ages, but one of
the main reasons I go to the Boys and Girls Club is to expose them,
because I never knew any lawyers. So they can see a lawyer
and one of the great things that happened the day
before yesterday. In New Mexico I said,
“Anybody know any lawyers?” And a couple of people
said, “Yes, I know three.” And there were three of the young
lawyers who had come with me and they met up in the tech lab. [ Laughs ] And so, you know, they
hadn’t known any before, but they feel so good now that they
can say that they know a lawyer and understand more of what a lawyer
does and their role in society. They ask the best questions. You know, a seven year old
asked me, “What do you do if you get a case you
don’t believe in?” And which I thought was a
very interesting question and young lawyers always go with me, so I punted it off
to the young lawyer. [ Laughs ] But, you know, they asked, you
know, really – you know, people say, “I bet you they ask how
much money you make.” Very, very, very rarely,
especially the younger kids. They very rarely ask
how much money you make. Now, there was one who realized I
was older than her grandmother… [ Laughs ] … and asked me whether
I knew any abolitionists. [ Laughs ] But, you know, but generally they
ask some really, really questions and so, you know, what we want to do is just really capture
this curiosity that they have. And make sure that they keep this
curiosity and they don’t get swept up in the school to prison pipeline. And so I always ask young lawyers
and law students to go with me. They really think that just driving
me there, and they sort of standoff to the side and I always
make them come forward and introduce themselves. Say what they do, because then
at the end of the day they get so involved with the kids that
generally I don’t have to ask them, but in case I do they always want to have a continuing
relationship with the clubs. And so that is really,
you know, kind of the idea to keep this curiosity going
with these young people. And even if they don’t go to
law school, they understand that there’s a window of
opportunity for them to go as far as they want to go.>>Roberta Shaffer: Oh,
that sounds marvelous.>>Paulette Brown: Yeah.>>Roberta Shaffer:
And I’m happy to see that even though you might
have known an abolitionist… [ Laughs ] … that you didn’t confirm or deny. [ Laughs ] That you still have a very youthful
optimism and that’s wonderful to see, because many times,
as you know, our colleagues in the law get a little bit
jaded as they are coming to a certain point in their career. And all they’re wondering about
is how much money will I make on this case.>>Paulette Brown: Right.>>Roberta Shaffer: And so it’s
wonderful to see the leadership of, you know, one of the oldest
professional associations in America be led by
someone who’s an optimist. I should have also
said that at one time in your career you were president
of the National Bar Association.>>Paulette Brown: Correct.>>Roberta Shaffer: And that’s
something very important for us to keep in mind, because I think in the 1920’s the National Bar
Association was created exclusively because at that time,
and not exclusively, most professional associations, the American Bars Association did
not allow African American lawyers to be a member.>>Paulette Brown: That’s correct.>>Roberta Shaffer: And so the
National Bar Association was created as an alternative for
African American lawyers to have professional development and
camaraderie, but in many ways it led so many of the civil rights movement
of the 20th century and continues…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: :… to do that, so I think you
are, you know, it’s so fabulous that you’ve sort of
worn the crown of both of those wonderful professions.>>Paulette Brown: Yes, thank you. Yes. And can I just say that one
of the things that the highlight of my presidency of the National
Bar was I had an opportunity to monitor the first free and democratic elections
in South Africa. Yeah. You remember Rachel,
yes, so it was great.>>Roberta Shaffer: I knew
that and I think you’ve also – was it at that time that you
testified before Congress about the diversifying
federal bench?>>Paulette: Yeah. Well, yes, it was, yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: I thought so.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: I was trying…>>Paulette Brown:
Indeed it was,yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … to remember pretty much…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … I’m writing the biography now.>>Paulette Brown: No.>>Roberta Shaffer: And I pretty
much have the dates right.>>Paulette Brown: Yes,
that is correct, yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: And that
is pretty terrific as well.>>Paulette Brown: Yeah. Thank you.>>Roberta Shaffer: So to
moving on this theme of access and diversifying, I know that a big
part of your agenda for your term as ABA President is to diversify
the profession and to do things through the ABA through
ABA outlets…>>Paulette Brown: Right.>>Roberta Shaffer: … to do that, And one of the
things that I loved reading about your interest was
that you would like to look at legal education and
see if you can find ways to reduce the cost
of legal education…>>Paulette Brown: Right.>>Roberta Shaffer: … as a way of diversifying
who can pursue it. And would you consider
talking a little bit about that or other things that you want to do
to diversify the legal profession?>>Paulette Brown: Yes. So it’s multi prong.>>Roberta Shaffer:
Yes, I noticed that. [laughs]>>Paulette Brown: Right. It’s multi prong and I think that
we have to do things in law school. We have to do things
long before law school. We have to build a pipeline, so we
do have a pipeline working group. And we look in K through
12, college, then law school through
Bar admissions. And the cost of law school is really
a big factor, so one of the things that the ABA has worked long
and hard on is loan forgiveness for those individuals who go
into some form of public service and work there for ten years. I think that, you know, it has been
taken out of the budget to Congress, but we’re trying to
make sure it goes back. And so there’s been a huge campaign. It’s hashtag loan 4giveness.>>Roberta Shaffer: Say it again.>>Paulette Brown: Hashtag…>>Roberta Shaffer: [laughs]>>Paulette Brown: … loan 4giveness. [laughs] Huh?>>Woman: What’s the
number for loan?>>Paulette Brown: Four, okay, yes. The numeral four. That’s like my twitter thing is.>>Roberta Shaffer: Oh.>>Paulette Brown: And
[inaudible] for lawyers.>>Roberta Shaffer: Loan 4 Giveness.>>Paulette Brown: Thank you Linda. And so we’re working
really hard on that. We’re looking at other means. There was a special
task force that talked about financing of legal education. And, in fact, some strong
recommendations were made that actually the American Bar
Foundation has gotten a grant to help to find ways that we can
reduce the cost of law school. We’re looking at people
who get scholarships and how scholarships are
administered as well, because the scholarships don’t
really trickle down to the ones who really need them, especially
now when there’s a shrinkage of people going to law school. So the issue has been
compounded because people want to give the scholarships to
attract what people consider to be the best and the brightest. I could speak about that for a
long time in terms of looking at other things other than
just grades for law school, but it is an issue that we
are constantly looking at. And, you know, one of the – we
have four working groups with this and another one in addition to
the pipeline working group is that we think when we talked about
earlier about the justice system and the fairness, and so forth, we
have an implicit bias working group, that is looking at how implicit bias
may affect decision making among judges, prosecutors
and public defenders. And so we’re creating videos trying
to be used as a training tool for judges, prosecutors,
and public defendants. And the one for judges
is already completed. It’s all available
on the ABA website. Please feel free to
look at it and use it, but it’s really very powerful I
think because we have three experts who talk about implicit bias, but
we also have three judges who are on the video who talk about and
admit to their implicit biases. And how they believe it may have
affected their decision making. And how now that they know
about them and because none of us are exempt from having them.>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: Right. And so, you know, it’s really good
and important to acknowledge that so that you won’t make
decisions based on any biases. And so we’re working
on the prosecutors one where we will have prosecutors on as
well and public defenders, because – and people say why do you have
public defenders doing trained? Because they’re the people
who do good, as yes they are. But one of the things that
triggers our biases more than anything, stress.>>Roberta Shaffer: Oh.>>Paulette Brown: And so when
we’re under stress and we have to move things along, you know,
we want to do things in a hurry and so all of those things
that have been in the recesses of our minds come flooding forward. And we make decisions based on that and so even the most well intended
people can be adversely affected by implicit bias. And then we’re also looking
internally at the ABA to see what we have doing, because
it would not be a good thing for us to go out and try and tell
other people what to do. 8 [ Laughs ] If we don’t have our
own house in order. We do a number of things correctly,
so if you looked at all of those who were following
me in ABA leadership. You have Linda Cline behind me. You have Hilary Bess
behind her and then in terms of our officers next year you have a
woman who’s going to chair the House of Delegates, an African
American woman. You’ve got the treasure elect
is an African American woman. You’ve got the secretary
whose a Native American, so it’s pretty incredible. So the lineup and, you know, the succession we’ve got
some men here or there. [ Laughs ] But it’s okay because they’ve had
it for the last 36 years, so… [ Laughs ] … you know, so we’re trying to
do a number of different things. And then we’re looking at economics. So we’ve got an economic
case working for that. You know, we hear over and over
again how all the women are more, you know, half of the profession
graduating from law school, only 17% of them are
equity partners in law firm. And women of color only about 2%. And so we think that part of
it has to do with economics, and that they’re not getting
enough business and getting credit for the business that
they bring to their firm. So we’ve got three general
counsels working on that and trying to create guidelines
for both law firms and companies use uniformed
guidelines, so that, you know, especially when it comes
to surveys and so forth of how law firms are doing, everybody is reporting the same
information to everyone else. So, yeah, so.>>Roberta Shaffer: Well I know
that you’ve been very active in your current law
firm, Locke Lord, and co-chairing the
diversity committee. I wasn’t surprised to
see in recent issue of the American Bar Association
Journal that there was a focus on women leaving the
practice of law.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: And I think it
might have been in the same issue of a presidential page you wrote
that I found really inspiring, so I’d like to talk a little
bit about that for a minute.>>Paulette Brown: Okay.>>Roberta Shaffer: And
that was when you spoke about the disparate impact
of bail and fines and fees on members of minority communities. And the reason it struck me so much
that was I think the very same week in the New York times they had
reported finding the same factor in library fines. [ Laughs ] That the very people that we want
to have access to public libraries, also find that many times
they can’t get to the library when the library is open. No, they can’t get to the
library to return a book or somehow a fine accrues. And these are the very same
people who we want to have access.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: So when I
read your column and that article, I was struck by that and I
wondered what do you think we can do as a society to really
level that playing field, because it seems so
disparate right now?>>Paulette Brown: I think the
first thing we have to do is we have to stop punishing people
for being poor. And figure out alternative ways for
the imposition of fines and not only that have the fines not
turned into a criminal action.>>Roberta Shaffer: Right. Which happens so quickly.>>Paulette Brown: So frequently. So, you know, we talk about the fact
that there should be no debtors…>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: …prisons, but we have certainly
created debtors prisons in the United States. And so some people are
actually looking at alternatives to heavy fines and I think one of
the things that the report that came out from the Attorney
General on Ferguson and how they collected fines
and how the fines turned into criminal actions and so forth.>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: That what we’ve
discovered is that, you know, people said these things
happen in Ferguson, but unfortunately Ferguson is a
microcosm of what’s happening all over the country and how
people are generally punished because they are poor. And so I think that we really
have to be innovative and creative in our thinking and think about
not just how we can do things other than impose fines, you know, there is something
called community service.>>Roberta Shaffer:
Community service. [ Laughs ]>>Paulette Brown: Community
service that we can do. There are some other
judges who are doing things that are finding alternatives,
having people to just sit and write about what it is that’s
going on with them, and explaining different things and
using that as a way to bridge a gap. And, you know, when its satisfactory
completed, that there are no fines and that there are no penalties. But, you know, you have
to have a commitment, because the judges I know who do
this, they get paid no extra money, the days become a little longer,
but all of them say that it’s so worth it, because it causes
us to have less incarceration. It causes people to maybe
who have made a mistake or who have gotten some
sort of fine, you know, maybe they should have that they
can deal with it and not end up with a criminal record. So I think that it’s
really incumbent us to really find ways to do that. And we have to find other
ways, because some of them are for people not appearing in court. We also have to able to use
technology for people who are unable to get to court to find a
means or maybe they could go to the library and get in.>>Roberta Shaffer: They can.>>Paulette Brown: To use… [ Laughs ] … to use the technology to
interface with the court system, so that they can state
with their cases without physically
having to go there. So, you know, because
if you get a ticket, you get your license suspended,
how are you going to get to court?>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: So
you can’t get to court, so then there’s a bench
warrant for you.>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: And it
just goes on and on and on.>>Roberta Shaffer: It’s a cycle.>>Paulette Brown: Exactly. You know, and the other
thing is that we have to really look at the bail process. You know, one of the things I
leaned through this process is that bail bonds people are
some of the biggest lobbyists.>>Roberta Shaffer: Oh. [laughs]>>Paulette Brown: Yeah. Neither did I. They’re some of the biggest
lobbyists because, you know, when you postpone you
don’t get your money back.>>Roberta Shaffer: Right.>>Paulette Brown: And so they want to have a continuous
robust bail system. because that is how they
survive and bail bondsmen in several states they
are the biggest lobbyist. You know, we have to look at privatization of
different things too. You know, I did not know that in so
many places to wear the ankle braces to get out on, you
have to pay for that. So some places as much as
$300 a month for the privilege of wearing the ankle
bracelet and so forth. So, and even sometimes probation
services are privatized now too. So, you know, obviously it’s
a benefit to have more people on probation to stay on
probation, if its privatized. So, you know, there are so many
things, there’s no shortage of what it is that we can
do, each one of us to help to try to make things better.>>Roberta Shaffer:
Well, I think you said in that wonderful presidential
page that you were concerned that all these fees were really
just a revenue generator…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … for the local jurisdiction…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … or for others.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: And they really
had lost their initial function…>>Paulette Brown: That’s right.>>Roberta Shaffer: … in the law.>>Paulette Brown: That’s right.>>Roberta Shaffer: And really
these sound like great ideas. Well, we’re at a point where as much
as I hate to do it, I think I need to turn the microphone
over to the audience. [ Laughs ] I’m so enjoying conversing with
you, but I know that others would like the privilege of
asking you a question, and so I can’t be that selfish. So we have staff members.>>Paulette Brown: You
can be, but you won’t. [ Laughs ]>>Roberta Shaffer: Thank you. I will not be. I will not be. So we have members of the
Law Library staff roving, and if you’ll just raise your hand,
they will bring a microphone to you and I know that Paulette Brown
will answer your question on the spot with great articulation. I’ve gotten such wonderful
tidbits from you today.>>Paulette Brown: Thank you.>>Roberta Shaffer: Any question? Cliff, right here.>>Barbara Moreland: Hello,
my name is Barbara Moreland and I must confess I’m one of the
people who knew not much at all about our justice system
until several years ago. And Michelle Alexander,
very well educated me.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Barbara Moreland: But when I
saw the topic today it did bring out some of the things I’ve learned and perhaps I’ve only partially
learned, but Miranda even when it’s said, but how effective
is it with many of the community in terms of actually making
their situation better? Do they get adequate help through
that process of being able to be in touch with the lawyer, because we
do hear so many people that confess to crimes that they
have not committed, and something happens
in that process. And so how would you evaluate how
successfully Miranda is working across these spectrums of
people, and especially the poor and what might be done
to improve it?>>Paulette Brown: First of all,
I think that Miranda is necessary because it does provide
some necessary protections that we will be much
more without it. But to your point there
are too many instances even after the person has been
Mirandized, people who need to get back to work, people who
need to be back with their families, people who want to be a witness
to their child’s graduation. You know, even though they
have Mirandized you know, they can be convinced into
pleading guilty that things that they haven’t done with
the notion that, you know, you can have your time served. You can be out in time for
your daughter’s graduation if you plead guilty to this. And so you still have situations
like that and sometimes, you know, the person who is encouraging
somebody to plead guilty, you know, maybe they are maybe they aren’t. But, you know, there are other
things that come along with that, you know, the collateral
consequences of pleading guilty to things, you know, you’re
giving up the right to vote later. You may not be able to
get certain housing later. You know, you may not be able
to get a plumbing license, electrician’s license, it
can go on and on and on. In fact, there are about
46,000 collateral consequences in the federal system. But, you know, what we can
do is that we can, you know, when I tell people all the time
that it’s so important to vote. And that not just vote on
presidential elections, but you have to vote on every
level from board of education to town committee to everything, because it really all politics
really start off as local. And there are so many
things that are affected by those initial elections
that have a great impact on everything else
that’s done, you know, in the municipalities
and all of that. And also to make sure you know who
the people who are representing you that you don’t wait
until there’s something. Let people know who you are in
your community, so that when you go to them you say this
is who I am I was here, you know who I am and
I have this issue. So everybody should make themselves
have a voice in the process and there are a number of
different ways that you have it, but it’s going to take an individual
and both collected efforts to make any type of
sustaining change.>>Barbara Moreland: Thank you.>>Roberta Shaffer: There’s
another question here on this side.>>Woman: First, I really
enjoyed your comments and I grew up in Baltimore much like you did
and I always want to help people, much like you did, so I
became a psychiatrist. But I went to law school for a year
before I went back to med school. So now I’m working in corrections and what I’m seeing is the same
thing you’ve been talking about, people that have pled guilty
when they haven’t done anything. Then as they’re getting ready to
be released, where they get a job? How they’re going to live? How they’re going to survive? But even deeper problem, which
I don’t know how to address, but I just like to hear what
you have to say about it, is in the inter city these
young people grow up. I have a case where the father
has been in prison on and off, because they were selling drugs. The mother may have mental illness,
so we have people that are growing up in cities that really
don’t have parents. And no one’s doing
anything about it. And so what I see is a prison system
all across the state of Maryland where people are just
funneled right into it. And they’re generally black
people and Hispanic people. That’s who are showing
up in my offices. And lower income white people. And I think that we are losing
generations of young, bright people, because we don’t intervene
early enough at all the levels, economic…>>Paulette Brown: That’s right.>>Woman: :… educational. And I just like to see if you’ve
had any ideas about that in the time that you’ve been taking
care of people too?>>Paulette Brown: Do I have ideas? How much more time is it? [ Laughs ]>>Roberta Shaffer:
It’s a quarter to. We have about 15 minutes. You are the one who is
really scheduled today.>>Paulette Brown: Right. So because that’s such a question. First of all, things
have to be looked at I think in a more holistic way. And we have to stop
treating poverty as a crime. And we have to really look it
out implicit biases to figure out why it is that only what such
a greater percentage of black and brown people are going
to or being prosecuted. I think that prosecutors have so
much power in the justice system, because they determine who is going to be prosecuted and
with what charge. And so some people, even though
other crimes are being committed by other people, some people are
given the benefit of the doubt. And whereas some may say this
is what we expect of this person and so we’re going to charge
him with as much as we can, because it’s expected that
this person should do this. The same judge they said that
they had two jurors who said that they could not be fair because they thought all black men
were criminals and committed crimes. And so they couldn’t be fair, but we
have these notions a lot of it has to do with what we see on TV
and just the constant images that are projected over and over and
over again telling us what’s good and what’s bad and
what we should expect from one group of people
over another. And so I think that’s part of the reason why there’s
so many more people. It’s the same with school
suspensions, school expulsion. The whole thing it’s
generally when brown and black children are
suspended or expelled from school it’s something
that’s discretionary, whereas if it’s a white person
there’s something that’s really like a clear violation, like having
drugs at school, for example. And so I think that just the
greater education of individuals to have them understand what
their implicit biases are, I think that everybody on this
earth should take the Implicit Association Test. To, you know, they have all types
of implicit association tests. You can find it on line. You can Google implicit
association test just to see what your biases are. You know, I know my sister
years ago accused me of one. I denied it but then I found out
about – I mean for years and years and years long before there was
any such thing as implicit bias. She was just saying,
“You’re prejudice against this group of people.” And I found out that not
so much that I’m biased against them, but I
slightly favor… [ Laughs ] … the other group. But, you know, I think that a lot of
it, you know, the way people react to things has so much to do
with what people have been told and taught about a certain
group of people for so long. Without recognizing what
the true history is. So I think that there’s a lot
of education that has to be done and that needs to be done. I think that all of us need to
check and see who we are first, and then I think that all of us has
an obligation to put other people in check when we hear
things, when we see things. You don’t necessarily have
to be really confrontational, but you can ask them a question,
“Do you realize what you said? Do you realize the impact
of what you’re doing? Do you realize the effect that what
you’re saying has on the person who is receiving the information?” I think that all of us has an
obligation to point out things to people when we see
or hear something.>>Roberta Shaffer: Are
there any further questions? Well I want to before we adjourn for
the afternoon, I want to just say that this is not the
first and last time that the law library will
be commemorating Miranda.>>Paulette Brown: Good.>>Roberta Shaffer: I don’t
want to say celebrating.>>Paulette Brown: Good.>>Roberta Shaffer: So I want to
put the following on your radar, we will have a program in
July at our Calpepper Campus, which Paulette, is where
we have our motion picture and recorded sound preservation
in a former federal reserve vault.>>Paulette Brown: Oh.>>Roberta Shaffer: And there we
will have experts talk about how TV and movies in the last 50 years
or so have spread the word to the population about Miranda. And basically I think it was
Justice Rehnquist who said in the Dickinson case in…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … 2000 that Miranda was
virtually a part of our culture.>>Paulette Brown: Sure, yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: So I hope
that you’ll be able to participate in that program, either in
Calpepper, which is a gorgeous place or virtually by streaming video. This year we will celebrate Human
Rights Day on December 9th and at that time we will look
at how Miranda in many ways has become
a human right. The Law Library of Congress
specializes in research about jurisdictions around the
world and a very quick survey showed that many, many jurisdictions,
everything from Australia to the Ukraine, I couldn’t find
a Z country that had Miranda. [ Laughs ] Have some version of Miranda
rights following our decision. And so it in a way we hope
gives the United States and our legal system some moral
authority around the world and that always makes me happy. And then please always follow
us on Twitter and we know a lot of people were tweeting today. If you are someone
who plans way ahead, next year May 1st will be a Monday. This year it’s a Sunday that’s
why we’re celebrating early. And we will have a
program on drawing justice which will display the many, many
collections of court illustrators that the library owns,
which is fascinating to see and we will have court illustrators
on the panel for Law Day. But we also hope that
Linda will join us and maybe make some
remarks and set a tradition.>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: Of the ABA
president making an appearance at the Library of Congress for this
very, very exiting day every year. And last, but not least, or second
to last but not least, of course, join us for the reception. I hope Paulette will
be able to stay…>>Paulette Brown: Yes.>>Roberta Shaffer: … for a very few minutes like
every president she is very tightly scheduled. [ Laughs ] But we also continue to have our
Miranda display in the background and if you’re killing just a
little bit of time this afternoon, last week we opened our
extraordinary Jacob Riis Exhibition upstairs. Remember he was the author of
“How the Other Half Lives,” and had a huge impact on
legal reform in the early part of the 20th century and we’re hoping
that there are his successors. I think I’m looking at one for the
early part of the 21st century. Thank you so much for being
with us this afternoon for a truly remarkable conversation.>>Paulette Brown: Thank you.>>Roberta Shaffer: Thank you.>>Paulette Brown:
Thank you so much.>>Roberta Shaffer: Thank
you, thank you, thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *