Many of you will know that in the Jewish tradition, part of the wedding ceremony is the breaking of glass by the bride and groom Inevitably, there are many explanations, but the one that has meaning for me, as a very secular Jew, is that it is intended as a reminder that even at the moments of greatest joy, great sadness lurks. (Although I should reveal that the savvy couple uses old style light bulbs, rather than the official wine glasses – they make a much more satisfying sound.)
The “Sad” that I am formally announcing today many of you already know. I have a bone marrow cancer, called MDS, and the most likely life expectancy appears from two to five years. Right now the main problem is that although I produce a great number of red blood cells, for some reason they do not last long. So I get regular transfusions of red blood cells, which help, and am under the wonderful care of Dr. Michael McDevitt at Johns Hopkins.
In any event, in order to make it easy for those who wish to keep up to date, I have started using CaringBrdge as a medical blogspace. Here is the link, where you will find much more detail on my situation. While I do not promise every detail, I will try to keep it up to date with major changes. (You can register to get notified of updates if you wish.)
I should add that I am doing well emotionally, and am deeply appreciative of the love and support of friends and colleagues, and particularly happy that the Self-Represented Litigation Network is in wonderful hands with Katherine Alteneder as the new coordinator, and that it has funding from the Public Welfare Foundation has and a strong Executive Committee. As well as serving on that Committee, I hope to stay active in this access work in the emerging international arena, as well as on non-lawyer issues, and with Voices for Civil Justice, and, of course, through this blog.
Now the “Glad.”
I have been surprised at how much it has comforted me and meant to me to learn that the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators recently honored me by passing a “Resolution of Recognition.” The full text is here. Here is the last part of the Resolution, which includes some of the language most meaningful to me:
WHEREAS, Richard Zorza has been prolific in his production of influential scholarly articles, ground-breaking education curricula, innovative protocols and toolkits, and has served as the foremost ambassador and crusader for the cause of self represented litigants in the United States; and
WHEREAS, Richard Zorza’s service has been marked by exceptional accomplishments which have benefited innumerable litigants and courts throughout the nation; and
WHEREAS, Richard Zorza has been an active and loyal supporter of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators attending annual meetings, serving as a presenter for education programs, and maintaining effective lines of communication between the Conferences, the Network, and its related organizations; and
WHEREAS, Richard Zorza is respected, admired, and appreciated by the members of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators as an exceptional leader in the law and valued friend;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators express their deep appreciation to Richard Zorza for his thoughtful, unique, and dedicated service, loyal support and guidance, and for his unfailing commitment to improving the state courts of this nation, and the Conferences extend to him their best wishes for the future.
As I close in on the end of life, it’s impossible not to worry that I have done at least something to leave the world a better place that it would have been without me. So a million thanks for the honor and for the reassurance.
More importantly, all involved in access to justice work should regard this as a symbolic notice of appreciation of the work that you do. That work is not going unnoticed. As I will discuss in future blogs, I really believe that we are at a tipping point.
Finally, I want to note what unique groups the Conference of Chiefs and the Conference of State Court Administrators are. As I said in my note of thanks:
I have often told colleagues and friends that if the general public were to see the constructive and non-partisan way that the Chiefs and Administrators approach problems, they (the public) would be much more hopeful about the ability of our institutions to navigate the challenges we face.
Onward together even, when the glass threatens to break.
I am so sad to hear your news. You have not only been a wonderful source of information for me as I fight for a more user-friendly legal system, but have shown how much one can accomplish in this arena when one has limited resources, but a great deal of knowledge and dedication. I look forward to continuing to read your updates and perspectives on self-represented litigants for as long as you continue them, and wish you peace in facing your illness.
Dear Mr. Zorza:
I’m very sorry to learn of your illness. You have been an inspiration to me over the years as my organization has struggled to help meet the needs of unrepresented Marylanders. I have eagerly awaited your blog posts and shamelessly re-posted them to get out the word that there are practical solutions to many access issues. Your commentary and leadership has helped so many in our community–thank you. Please take some comfort in knowing what an important impact your work has had and will continue to have on access to justice.
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
Beth Kanter just sent me this link, and I was sad to read the news, but also delighted to learn about the wonderful work you have been doing. A big hug to you, and I hope we can share a meal again soon.
Richard, your e-mail makes all of us sad and glad. I’m sad to learn that your bone-marrow disease has not abated. Your ongoing vigor, determination, and willingness to share your wisdom are remarkable and should be an inspiration to everyone who knows you. I am glad, though, to read the CCJ-COSCA resolution, which says what all of us who have benefitted from your counsel and inspiration endorse wholeheartedly. I know you will keep fighting the battles ahead and I will follow along to see your progress on all fronts.
Best regards and best of luck.
Dear Mr. Zorza,
I, too, am very sorry to hear of your health news and wish you the very best. A few years ago, while I was at NLADA, I had the opportunity to work with you as you developed sessions about the Civil RIght to Counsel for the NLADA Annual Conference. During our phone conversations, I learned a great deal from you on the subject and was moved by your passion. Years later, your blog has been an incredibly important source of information for me in my current position as the Director of Access to Legal Services with the Virginia State Bar. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and inspiration as well as for being a tremendous advocate for those who lack access to legal counsel and for the access to justice community.
I am so terribly sad to hear your health news. Attending your workshops at the Court Technology Conference and reading your blog have given me all sorts of wonderful information and inspiration. You should know that you have really helped us from afar in trying to address the needs of the self represented here at the busiest bankruptcy court in the country. I hope that you realize how far your influence reaches and how many lives you have affected by your fresh approach to this important issue. Thank you for allowing your light to shine so brightly.
Prayers and good wishes for this difficult journey,
United States Bankruptcy Judge