The Official Newsletter of the Federal Bar Association
Chapter for the Districts of Kansas and Western Missouri
President’s Spotlight: Looking ahead to busy chapter schedule for 2020
Kate Marples Simpson, Chapter President
I hope 2020 is off to a great start for all of you. 2020 is a very special year for the Federal Bar Association. National is celebrating its 100th year with many special events, centering on its Centennial Celebration in Washington D.C. from March 18–21. The Celebration will feature a reception at the United States Supreme Court on March 20, a luncheon at the Watergate with keynote speaker former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean on March 21, and a Centennial Grand Gala at the National Portrait Gallery also on March 21.
The national conventions are quite an experience if you have not had the opportunity to attend. They are a great way to network with other FBA members and leaders from across the country. This March’s meeting will be one to remember, and I hope many of you are able to attend.
But if you’ll be stuck at home, your local FBA Chapter has your social and CLE requirements covered.
We’re kicking off the New Year with our “New Year, New You 2020 Wellbeing Series for Legal Professionals” These two-hour ethics CLEs will focus on the six areas identified by the Kansas Task Force for Lawyer Well-being (Occupational, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Social, and Physical). We hope you can join us for one or more of these events:
February 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Washburn Law School with a Judicial Reception to follow
March 27 from 1:30 to 3:50 p.m. at Wichita U.S. Courthouse with a reception to follow
April 10 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at UMKC School of Law
Additionally, the FBA Chapter is working with our law school divisions from MU, UMKC, KU, and Washburn to put on several exciting programs this spring:
A one-hour lunch CLE at UMKC on an IP topic on April 1;
A full-day Education Law CLE that will be held April 3 at Washburn Law School in Topeka;
A collaboration with the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence for a two-hour art law CLE on April 22. Please help us welcome Raymond J. Dowd of Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP in New York for his presentation “From Murder To Museums: Abraham Lincoln, Adolph Hitler, and the Hunt For Nazi Looted Art in America.”
Call for Volunteers: Please save the date for our Civics and Diversity Subcommittees’ Law Day initiative. The FBA will be coordinating with the KBA Young Lawyers Division to send a group of lawyers and federal judges to Dodge City and Garden City, Kansas on April 30 and May 1. The group will put on a reenactment of a court proceeding involving suffragist Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women who were arrested in 1872 for voting. The reenactment will educate middle school students about civics as well as the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. The group will also facilitate mock oral arguments for high school students. Through this programming, the group hopes to encourage students to continue their education by attending college and maybe even law school someday. If you are interested in participating in the Law Day festivities, please contact Jordan Carter, our Diversity Subcommittee Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, the Chapter has listened to our membership, especially our student division members, and they want more social events. If you or your firm are willing to host a networking social for FBA members some time in 2020, please contact me at email@example.com.
We are always looking for new leadership for our various subcommittees. If you want to get the most out of your FBA membership, getting more involved is the way to go. Please contact me if you, or someone you know, might be interested. We have opportunities requiring very little time commitment.
Happy New Year!
Kate Marples Simpson
Judge James stays active beyond bench, including position as VP of this chapter
U.S. Magistrate Judge Teresa James
Magistrate Judge Teresa J. James recently celebrated the six-year anniversary of her appointment to the Bench. Judge James is a Kansas native who grew up in Hutchinson. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas. In the summer after her graduation, Judge James worked in Washington, D.C., for Congressman Dan Glickman. She then attended law school at the University of Kansas, where she received her Juris Doctor.
Following graduation from law school, Judge James started working at a small firm in Wichita now known as Adams Jones. There, Judge James began specializing in Oil and Gas law and worked frequently with then-partner Donald W. Bostwick, who later served as a Magistrate Judge in the District of Kansas. After becoming a partner at Adams Jones, Judge James briefly worked at another firm before moving to the Wichita office of Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer, LLP. She moved to the firm’s Overland Park office in 2003. At Martin Pringle, Judge James was a partner and specialized in Energy, Oil and Gas, Condemnation and Complex Litigation. In the last 15 years of her practice, Judge James primarily represented interstate pipeline companies and frequently appeared in federal court. Judge James enjoyed this work, which allowed her to collaborate closely with in-house counsel and represent her clients in varied arenas.
Judge James first became interested in going on the bench through her mentor, Judge Bostwick. She received her appointment on January 16, 2014, and sits in Kansas City.
Judge James has been actively involved in the legal community, both before her appointment and continuing thereafter. Before going on the bench, Judge James served on the board of the Kansas Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Commission, on the Bench-Bar Committee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, and on the Kansas Appleseed Foundation Board. Judge James is also Past President of the Earl E. O’Connor Inn of Court. As President, she organized a trip for Inn members to London to visit a British Inn of Court. While there, attorneys had the opportunity to observe legal proceedings and attend the Middle Temple Inn of Court’s annual garden party.
Judge James is currently a Fellow of the Kansas Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation and continues to serve on the Bench-Bar Committee. She is also involved with the FBA. Judge James is Vice President of the FBA, and she serves on the Executive Committee and the Diversity Subcommittee. Through her work on the Diversity Subcommittee, Judge James is helping organize a trip to Dodge City and Garden City where judges and lawyers will put on programs at schools designed to get young people of diverse backgrounds interested in the law. Judge James also volunteers her time outside of the legal profession, serving on the Board of Trustees for the Great Plains Conference of United Methodist Church.
When she was a young lawyer, a senior partner once told Judge James: “Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.” Judge James has remembered this saying through her career, and its meaning—be reasonable and do not overreach—has particular relevance to her work today. As a magistrate judge, Judge James deals extensively with discovery disputes between parties. Although the discovery standards under the Federal Rules are not quite so colorful, attorneys appearing in federal court may do well to remember this saying as they move through the discovery process.
Law Clerk, District of Kansas
Judge Melgren reflects on growth
into unique dual-circuit chapter
U.S. District Court Judge Eric Melgren
I had the opportunity to interview the Honorable Eric Melgren, who served as the Chapter’s President for two years when it expanded from the District of Kansas into the Western District of Missouri. Judge Melgren, I understand that you come from a family of cattle ranchers and wheat farmers, why did you decide to pursue a different career path? In particular, why did you choose law?
Although it was never discussed and neither of my parents attended college, there was an unspoken assumption that my sisters and I would go to college. As for wanting to be a lawyer, I knew I wanted to be one since fifth grade. I don’t know what sparked my interest in law or why I wanted to be a lawyer, but I’m thankful I went to law school. You served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Frank Theis, who served as a judge in the District of Kansas for over 30 years, including four years as the Chief Judge and 16 years as a Senior Judge. What was the most important thing you learned from Judge Theis?
Despite the significance of serving in the federal judiciary, Judge Theis was unassuming and didn’t take himself too seriously. I’d call him “charmingly informal.” I learned from him not to take myself too seriously. An interesting fact, Judge Theis’s old chambers is my current chambers. So, I’m in the same chambers I was in over 30 years ago when I clerked for Judge Theis. As a past president of this chapter, what prompted you to get involved in the FBA in the first place and then to lead this chapter?
Before my involvement with the FBA, the chapter was concentrated at the KU Law School, even though it technically encompassed the entire District of Kansas. There was a push to expand membership beyond the law school. Unbeknownst to me, the “plan” was to find someone from Wichita who went to Washburn for law school and served in the federal judiciary. Let me put it this way, I was invited to a reception, attended the reception, and left as the chapter president. I don’t think I even realized I had been nominated to be the president. I ended up serving as the chapter’s president for two years, the first year when the chapter included only the District of Kansas and then the following year when we expanded to the Western District of Missouri. Speaking of which, I understand you are the reason our chapter is comprised of the Districts of Kansas and Western Missouri, which uniquely positions our FBA chapter as the only chapter in the country that covers entire federal judicial districts from different appellate circuits. What is the story behind combining the two districts?
It just made sense, considering many District of Kansas practitioners also practiced in the Western District of Missouri. Also, at the time, there technically wasn’t a chapter encompassing Western Missouri, because there was only a St. Louis chapter. Because we were seeking to bridge two circuit courts, we had to obtain special permission from the national organization of the FBA. It took some time to accomplish, but national approved the request and we now have our current chapter structure encompassing the Districts of Kansas and Western Missouri.
Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP
Well traveled Mizzou Law graduate readies for bar exam, transition to private practice
George Brand, University of Missouri Law School
George Brand grew up in Columbia, Missouri, graduating from Rock Bridge High School. Both a good student and a good soccer player, George capitalized on those talents to secure a scholarship to St. Olaf College, a highly regarded liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota. Pursuing a hat trick of degree programs, George graduated cum laude in 2014 with majors in History, Religion and American Studies. Then, to expand his horizons, George moved to Thailand to take a position with Chiang Mai University teaching English. His fellow faculty members in the English Department caught a ringer and put him on the Department’s intramural soccer team that actually played in the University stadium.
George dabbled with the notion of seeking a PhD in theology with an eye towards teaching Religious Studies on the college level. But he had a good LSAT score in his hip pocket from when he was stateside, so he decided to enroll at Mizzou Law School. A wise decision, given its stellar reputation, but the decision was made easier by the fact that his father had graduated Mizzou Law School in 1984. George had witnessed the rigors and rewards of the practice of law while working summers in his father’s firm when he was a kid, so he knew what he was getting into.
But, before law school, this service-minded and adventuresome soul decided he would get a couple of more experiences under his belt. He spent the Spring of 2016 teaching students with special needs at a school in Columbia. Then, that summer, he was off to Europe, leading a group of high schoolers on a month-long, 200-mile trek through the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps.
As a 1L, George juggled a full course load while also coaching both the boys and girls soccer teams at his alma mater, Rock Bridge. Not content to be conversant only with Tillich and Torts, George decided as a 2L he needed the Truslaske College of Business curriculum to round things out. So he doubled up on the dual JD-MBA degree program. Of course, he completed the program in 3½ years as opposed to the standard four years.
I am sorry to report that this hard-charging, peripatetic young man is not currently rappelling down the Matterhorn or editing Robert Coles’ new book. He is simply here in Kansas City studying for the Bar. With his background in theology, he should have no difficulty with the MPRE. After some brief time off, George will begin practicing at Paul LLP in Kansas City where he was a summer associate in 2019.
While at Mizzou, George attended the promotional meeting for FBA with the inimitable Judges Bough and Epps as speakers. He was immediately hooked and became active in the student division. Before he knew it, he was president, and only recently has passed the torch. He believes participation in the FBA enhanced his law school experience. In particular, it provided the opportunity for him not only to meet practicing attorneys but also judges. And, it also helped him transition to Kansas City. He has already been tapped to be on our Chapter Board and serve on several committees.
By the way, George is getting married in October. I don’t know where he and his fiancée are registered, but I suspect Thai food restaurant gift cards, tickets to Sporting KC games or the Library of America’s edition of American Sermons would suit him just fine.
Federal Law Spotlight
MDL opioid litigation goes forward with creative bellwether approach
A recent filing before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in November 2019 demonstrates the evolving complexities in the opioid litigation.
Various categories of plaintiffs and defendants comprise the parties involved in MDL 2804, In re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation. Plaintiffs include governmental entities from across the United States: cities, counties, and tribes (some with overlapping jurisdiction), hospitals, third-party payers and classes of similarly situated individuals (for example, babies suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, known as “NAS Babies”).
Defendants include opioid manufacturers, distributors, dispensers or pharmacies, as well as third-party administrators of prescription drug programs, known as pharmacy benefit managers.
The Court is also tasked with coordinating parallel state court litigation, including 89 cases brought by state attorneys general. Forty-eight states, territories and districts have filed multiple lawsuits suing different categories of defendants.
Factoring in the various types of claims asserted, including RICO and conspiracy, the permutations of plaintiff, claim and defendant combinations are myriad. Ostensibly, this is why Judge Aaron Polster filed a request for an expedited hearing before the JPML to consider his suggestion for remands utilizing a hub-and-spoke bellwether system. The Court suggested, for example, that there could be a remand of categories of cases focused on claims and issues unique to manufacturers and the same with distributors, tribal issues, and others. Judge Polster suggests that strategic remands of cases back to the transferor courts will enable the Court to act as both the hub for the MDL and the locus for global settlement.
As the litigation continues to unfold, it will be interesting to see whether these new, creative approaches to global resolution will be effective in bringing one of the most complex set of cases in the nearly 60-year history of multidistrict litigation to a full and amicable resolution.
Matthew Dwyer & Blake Shuart
Hutton & Hutton Law Firm
Executive Board meeting, 4 p.m. conference call February 20
New Year New You Wellbeing Series: Two-hour ethics CLE focusing on Emotional and Social Wellbeing with spring judicial reception, 2 to 5 p.m. at Washburn Law School March 6
Executive Board meeting, 4 p.m. conference call March 18-21
FBA National Centennial Celebration and Leadership Summit at Washington, D.C. More information March 27
New Year New You Wellbeing Series: Two-hour ethics CLE focusing on Occupational and Physical Wellbeing, 1:30 to 5 p.m. at Wichita U.S. Courthouse March 30
Criminal Justice Act Panel Second Chair Program CLE (free), noon at Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse, Kansas City, Mo. April 1
Intellectual Property CLE, noon to 1 p.m. at UMKC School of Law April 3
Education Law CLE (full-day with two hours ethics) at Washburn Law School April 3
Executive Board meeting at Washburn Law School April 10
New Year New You Wellbeing Series: Two-hour ethics CLE focusing on Intellectual and Spiritual Wellbeing, 2:30 to 5 p.m. at UMKC School of Law April 22
FBA CLE: From Murder to Museums: Abraham Lincoln, Adolph Hitler, and the Hunt for Nazi Looted Art in America, 5:15 to 8 p.m., Spencer Museum of Art at University of Kansas, Lawrence, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-864-4710 More information April 30-May 1
Law Day: Diversity and Civics Subcommittee Field Trip to Dodge City and Garden City schools RSVP May 1
Executive Board meeting, 4 p.m. conference call June 5
Executive Board meeting, 4 p.m. conference call June 24-25
United States Sentencing Commission conference, cosponsored by FBA, District of Kansas, Western District of Missouri July 3
Executive Board meeting, 4 p.m. conference call August 7
Executive Board meeting, 4 p.m. conference call September 4
Executive Board meeting, 4 p.m. conference call September 9-12
FBA Annual Meeting & Convention at Charleston, S.C. More information October 15
Civil Rights & Pro Bono CLE at UMKC School of Law
Know someone or something we should spotlight?
Contact Eric Turner, newsletter subcommittee chair,
at ETurner@Foulston.com or email@example.com.