Protecting An Impartial Judiciary

Democracy’s Last Line of Defense


Threats to our nation’s democracy – and democracy across the globe – are at an all-time high. At Robins Kaplan, we respect and value the court system and its members, at the same level as the litigation process and the outcomes we seek for our clients. As threats continue to rise against judges and their families, including disinformation campaigns seeking to discredit legal proceedings, we believe these threats must be examined, discussed, and specific action be taken to protect the courts and those who serve it.

We support and sponsor initiatives that seek to shine a light on protecting the freedom of judges to make decisions impartially, such as Democracy’s Last Line of Defense: A Symposium on Why and How to Preserve the Rule of Law and an Independent, Impartial Judiciary. This event brings together major figures from the legal, judicial, political, academic, and media worlds to discuss growing threats to the independence and impartiality of courts in the United States and other democracies, and how to fight back.



Roman Silberfeld is a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office and serves as the National Trial Chair. He has more than 40 years of experience as a trial lawyer in civil and criminal cases, including white-collar crime, environmental, personal injury, antitrust, and securities law. He has been lead counsel in a number of high-profile trials, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, and has earned more than 50 trial victories.

Q: What is the symposium?

A: We’ve all seen the threats to the judiciary – the physical threats, the verbal threats, there is a social media disinformation campaign around judges and court decisions. The idea is to bring people together who are not only involved in the system, but care deeply about it for the purpose of protecting it and defending it.

Q: What impact does our [Robins Kaplan’s] role create?

A: So, Robins Kaplan is a firm that has been in existence for almost 85 years. Next year will be our 85th anniversary. We’ve represented every segment of society in those years. We care deeply about the system; we care deeply about access to justice. For Robins Kaplan to be involved in the symposium is actually a perfect fit.

Q: Why should current law clerks care about the symposium?

A: If you are in a judicial clerkship, that tells me you already care about the system. You care about judges, you care about fairness, and you care about impartiality. This symposium is intended to protect those very important ideas.

Q: Why are you passionate about protecting an impartial judiciary?

A: I’ve spent 45+ years working in the system. I care about fairness, I care about facts, I care about the rule of law, and I care about access to justice for the weak, the powerful, the strong, the rich, the poor – everybody should have access to our court system. It is the crown jewel of our system of government.

Q: Why is this symposium starting now?

A: A lot of attacks is the short of it. Social media has changed the game. Everybody can get on social media and pretty much say anything about anybody with impunity. There is a survey that is conducted every year of about 1,500 judges, state, and federal judges. Those judges have responded in the last year by saying 90% of them feel threats to them personally and their families from the decisions they are called upon to make. That is not an atmosphere that we want our judging to be done in.

Q: What can you tell us about the speakers at the symposium?

A: You can’t overuse the word luminary. I mean, we have luminaries from the academic world, we have people from the media, lawyers, judges, we have five chief justices of state courts. We have federal judges coming. Our keynote address will be delivered by Senator Doug Jones of Alabama.

Q: How will the subject of diversity be integrated into the symposium?

A: In two ways, really. We are very sensitive and thoughtful about the people we invited to be on our panels. We have 40 different speakers, and we have carefully selected people that represent all of the communities in this country through the speakers and panelists that we have – that’s one thing. The second is, we have an entire segment of the symposium that is about racial justice in the courts and that is going to be one of the pillars in the discussion we have on May 26th.

Q: We’ve heard about a special guest from the Ukraine – is that happening?

A: Yes, it is! For those of us involved in the system, this is very real, these threats are very real, but to really drive the point home we’ve invited a member of the supreme court of Ukraine to be with us. She is in exile from her country. She is in Romania on her way to the United States and she will be with us in Chicago.

Q: When and where is the Symposium?

A: The symposium will be held on May 26th, 2022 at the Old Post Office building in Chicago. There will also be a reception, the night before, at the Fairmont Hotel.

Roman M. Silberfeld


National Trial Chair

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