In this wide-ranging interview, TLC faculty member and former TLC Board member Mel Orchard lends his wisdom, knowledge, and experience to the issue of Civil Rights and qualified immunity.
Mel has served as a trial lawyer for over 27 years, and his passion for his work still burns bright. Here he discusses his concerns about efforts underway to further limit the liability of corporations for harm to their workers and to the public - an issue of particular urgency in the harsh light of the Covid-19 pandemic. "Of the three pillars of our democracy, our judiciary is still, in American life, the most respected," Mel says. "We still have plenty of good judges; we still have plenty of good lawyers. We officers of the court are responsible for this pillar of our democracy. But the powers that want more power have been eroding this particular pillar of late like we have never seen. This is just one more chink at the bottom of the pillar. Do you think workers' lives will be safer or less safe when businesses will not be held accountable for unsafe practices?"
Mel touches on the importance of truly listening and being present, in life and in trial, rather than trying to spin and manipulate. "All you can do is listen, hope to find some common theme that makes sense, then put your trust in these people and tell an honest story."
Mel calls on his fellow TLC alumni to come together as a family to serve one another and strengthen the jury trial system. "Let's not go back on the teaching. Let's pay it forward and continue to provide safe spaces for us to be creative. We've got a world to change."