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Home Page Official Publication of the State Bar of California December2009
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Dismay over chief’s views

I read with a mixture of dismay and sadness the political statements of our chief justice, Ronald George, in the November issue. It is troubling that the chief justice has made such an extraordinary and misleading, or at least poorly thought out, comment on the initiative process. Characterizing the process as “extreme” and imposing constraints on elected officials such as to put them in a fiscal straightjacket is an astoundingly simplistic characterization.

These statements fail completely to ignore the reason citizens have had to resort to this process. Plain and simple, and completely ignored by the chief justice, is the plain fact that the overwhelming dominance of the legislature by one part has led to this result. When the legislature avoids the hard decisions, spends us into bankruptcy, consistently avoids or subverts the apparent will of the people, the initiative process is all that is left for citizens to voice their objections.

Marginalizing citizens for using a constitutionally protected right of initiative while ignoring the true source of the problem is disturbing, and quite honestly coming from the leader of the legal community in California, quite sad.

Richard J. Yrulegui
Fresno

Defending initiative process

Many object when American presidents make speeches in a foreign country that are critical of our nation. Shouldn’t we wonder why a California court official, as did Chief Justice George, would choose to travel to Massachusetts to complain about the California initiative process and how it hinders the judiciary?

He complained that the vote on Proposition 8 overturned our Supreme Court’s decision on marriage. He apparently feels the courts are fully justified in usurping the legislature’s function of determining rights of citizens.

He also complained of the two-thirds vote necessary to approve tax increases. That requirement seems to be the only restraint on a legislature that sees taking more money from the public as the only solution to its insatiable spending appetite. Our state’s money troubles are attributable to overspending, not to insufficient taxes  which are among the highest in the country.

If anything, the initiative process for now is the only means the citizenry has for countering the excesses of the judiciary and the legislature.

Francis J. Briscoe
Rocklin

No sex ed necessary

Sex with clients, and the need among California lawyers for rules on the subject, is the one thing that never fails to get an astonished look from my colleagues in New Hampshire (admitted 1983). You guys need to be told that? You guys get CLE credit for that?

While New Englanders certainly transgress from time to time, I’ve never heard a New Hampshire lawyer, or even a Massachusetts (admitted 1997) lawyer, suggest that, by golly, we need CLE to make sure this doesn’t happen again. But in California (admitted 1982), it just won’t go away. If a lawyer needs a class, a course or rule as a reminder that this is bad behavior, bad judgment and just bad, that lawyer is bad and cannot be fixed.

Andrew L. Isaac
Santa Cruz

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