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American Bar Association elects ASU Law Professor Myles Lynk to Board of Governors

June 6, 2017

Arizona State University Professor Myles Lynk is one of the most respected law professors the country, and a national organization has affirmed it.

Lynk has been tapped by the likes of the White House, ASU’s president and the chief justice of the United States for his objective legal mind, as well as his sense of fairness.

More recently he was elected by the American Bar Association (ABA) to serve on its Board of Governors, which meets about four times a year and oversees the general operation of the association and develops specific plans of action. 

“At its best, in America the law is an instrument that helps define and protect the rights of even the weakest among us while restraining even the most powerful from abusing the rights of others,” said Lynk, a professor in ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

“Thus, I agree with the great English philosopher John Locke, who wrote, ‘Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’”

ASU Now caught up with Lynk, who is gearing up for his three-year term with the ABA starting in August.  

Question: Congratulations on your new appointment. What does this mean for ASU Law?

Answer: It is not often that a law professor is elected to the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. I think my election will give ASU Law a greater visibility to the bar nationally, and will afford me an opportunity to showcase the excellence of ASU Law's faculty, students and resources.   

Q: What function does the board perform, and how is this important to the law nationwide?

A: Founded in 1878, and with almost 400,000 members today, the ABA is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. The Board of Governors consists of 44 members, including the officers of the association and board members elected from geographical districts, from the sections of the association, and from different constituencies within the association such as judges and young lawyers.

I am being elected as what is known as a Goal III representative, representing the broad group of minority members of the association. The board oversees the general operation of the association, develops specific plans of action to develop and maintain the work of the association and has the authority to speak and act for the ABA.

The ABA is important to the development of uniform principles in the law, in the promotion of ethical standards for the profession, and for the protection of the public, nationwide. 

Q: How does our nation’s law system compare with other countries around the world?

A: “Equal justice under law” are the words that are carved into the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. This is what we strive for and, I believe, achieve to a greater degree than most other countries around the world. Though it is complex, the legal system in the United States is more transparent than in many other countries.

While access to justice and the availability of legal representation for all remain serious issues that our nation must confront, our courts and justice system are administered with integrity and competence. In fact, one of the reasons that non-U.S. citizens are so willing to invest their funds in the U.S. and immigrate to the U.S. is because of their confidence in our legal system. No legal system can be perfect, but for a heterogeneous society such as ours is, the American legal system is one of the ways we define our sense of community as a people, “under law.”      

Q: What is your personal philosophy of the law?

A: I see the law as an instrument, as the means by which societies order their priorities of social organization and provide a socially acceptable way to punish wrongdoers and resolve civil disputes that arise within the society. I definitely view the law as a vehicle that can promote equal justice and social order, but I recognize that it can also be used to protect the status quo. 

Today, our civil society is challenged to find in the law ways to address the tensions that exist between our constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and free association, and the equally important rights of all Americans to be fully integrated into a society that protects them from discrimination, hate crimes and harassment. We are also challenged to enact and enforce laws that deal responsibly with the complexities of immigration into our country. At its best, in America the law is an instrument that helps define and protect the rights of even the weakest among us while restraining even the most powerful from abusing the rights of others. Thus, I agree with the great English philosopher John Locke, who wrote, "Wherever law ends, tyranny begins."     

Q: What is so intriguing about the law that keeps you interested in the field?

A: After all these years, the rule of law and the role of lawyers in society continue to fascinate me. As chair for the past three years of the ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, I have been able to help interpret and develop the very rules that guide the conduct of lawyers in their professional lives, and as a professor of law here at ASU, I have been fortunate to be able to study the law, and to teach the law to the next generations of lawyers. The hopeful enthusiasm of my students enriches me and encourages me. They may not keep me young in fact, but they have kept me young in spirit and in my own enthusiasm for the rule of law in America.     


Top photo: Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Professor Myles Lynk was recently elected to the American Bar Association's Board of Governors, which oversees the general operation of the association and develops specific plans of action. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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ASU archivist makes Japanese Internment Camp Collection digitally accessible

ASU Library's online archive collections show commitment to open access.
June 8, 2017

Robert Spindler says publicly available, searchable resources allow a new look at a dark chapter of U.S. history

Uncomfortable as it may be, one way to avoid the mistakes of the past is to confront them — one of the reasons preservation of historical documents is so important, said Arizona State University archivist Robert Spindler.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order that cleared the way for the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II, a dark chapter of U.S. history that underscores the fact that xenophobia is not a recent phenomenon.

During the past couple of years, Spindler (pictured above) has helped to digitize a rare collection of newsletters and photographs from Arizona’s Japanese internment camps. The collection, a collaboration between the ASU Library Arizona Collection and the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, contains more than 5,000 pages of bilingual camp newsletters, now publicly available and text-searchable via the ASU Library Digital Repository.

“Over the decades, there’s been a fair amount of scholarship and exhibit work and historical interpretation done regarding the Japanese internment camps,” Spindler said. “But having this content searchable enables more research; a new look at this history.”

The collection tells the everyday life stories of the tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans interned in Arizona’s two campsMore than 13,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to the Gila River War Relocation Center, southeast of Phoenix on the Gila River Indian Reservation, and more than 17,000 were sent to Arizona's other internment camp, the Poston Relocation Center on the Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation. for three years during one of our country’s most difficult periods.

There are stories of baseball games, prom dresses and church services — and stories of soldiers who fought bravely for a country they loved “despite the great tragedy of internment,” as Spindler put it.

“There is deep and amazing patriotism expressed in these pages,” he said. “[Despite] the separation of families … and the loss of their businesses, the loss of their homes … they endured, and they pulled together as a community. That shows what it’s really like to be a patriot, to be a person who still believes in your country, even though the chips are down … and, in this extreme case, you’ve been unjustly incarcerated. That is real patriotism, and that, in my mind, is the greatest story here.”

When Spindler began working on the project in 2015, he had a massive amount of digitized image files that needed to be shrunk in order to be presented online in a user-friendly way. He taught himself how to use Adobe Acrobat to shrink the files and used the software’s optical character recognition feature to make the scanned images text-searchable.

“It’s really basic digital librarianship, but from a user standpoint it’s transformational,” he said. “Now you can search for your family members, or search for information about schools, or information about the baseball teams, or the other day-to-day things that are featured in these papers.”

Having the collection available online also reduces the handling and associated degradation of the physical copies of the newsletters and photographs.

An important aspect of the collection, Spindler said, is that it honors ASU and its partners’ commitment to open access.

“There are some organizations who have business models where they digitize materials and they try to generate revenue from the result of that work. Sometimes that’s the only way you can get this work done,” he said. “Then there are other institutions that can build collaborations that are dedicated to open access to material.

“So our work here at ASU has centered largely around trying to clear the rights for materials and to make materials open access. What that means, in a very practical sense, is that when you go to our site, not only can you download and search these materials but you could also repurpose this content in any way you choose.”

One thing about the collection Spindler found especially intriguing were the pages of the newsletters that are in Japanese.

“I’m really interested to find out what they were saying,” he said, adding that figuring that out “would be an outstanding graduate student project or faculty research project. But ultimately, anyone globally can work with this material, which is part of the fun of doing this work.”

Collection highlights also include cartoons from the newsletters and special holiday editions. Spindler and colleagues have been gradually acquiring more materials over the years, and he said there’s a possibility they may reach out to the Arizona Historical Society in Papago Park, which has a color motion-picture film documenting the construction of the camps that would make a nice addition.

“So there’s still some other materials we can bring forward to make this a richer collection,” he said, “but ultimately I hope the project honors the sacrifice, honors the community and maybe in some small way apologizes for the terrible injustice of internment.”


Top photo: Rob Spindler, the archivist of special collections at ASU's Hayden Library, looks over copies of the Gila News-Courier in the Luhr's Reading Room on May 4. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now