California Bar Journal
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


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Front Page - January 2000
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News Briefs
Former Unruh aide appointed to serve on State Bar board
Ardaiz, O'Leary named jurists of the year for '99
Judicial Administration fellowships
Public law section online library
Board meets Feb. 4-5
51.2 percent pass July '99 bar exam
Board hires search firm for new bar chief
Litigation section offers MCLE week in legal London
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Trials Digest
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From the President - Reciprocity reform: The future is now
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For most Americans, our system is a failure
Ethics 2000: On target, or lost in space
Letters to the Editor
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Public Comment
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MCLE Self-Study
Of Counsel: Avoiding Conflicts
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Important Information About Your 2000 Membership Fee
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You Need to Know
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Apply to serve on a bar committee
Bar seeks applicants for ABA delegates
Judge evaluation positions open
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Ethics Byte - Warding off the foul tort in a new year
Bankruptcy attorney disbarred after abandoning clients
Attorney Discipline


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The court appreciates your enthusiasm, juror number two. But for the last time, no, we don't need to sequester the jury

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Greater use of the Internet will save the bar money

The single greatest impediment to obtaining quality legal services for an average “Joe” or “Jane” is the absence of single practitioners, and small, low overhead firms to serve this market. These also just happen to be the groups that receive the fewest services from the bar.

Here are two suggestions to make the State Bar a useful organization, servicing the true needs of its members and the public, and two suggestions to save the bar money:

1. Under bar auspices, publish all appellate and Supreme Court decisions — for free — on the Internet.

2. Retain experts to write, and keep up to date, volumes on specific topics. Publish these works — for free — on the Internet.

3. Publish the Journal only on the Internet. This will save trees, money and time. Those who want to read it will do so.

4. Move the bar offices. San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. A smaller city, like Fresno, would allow the bar to pay lower office expenses and staff salaries, while allowing staff to save money on practically everything.

John Dalessio
Carmel Valley

What about FDR?

How can anyone with any sense of history place Dwight Eisenhower in the top five (President’s Column, December Bar Journal), much less place him ahead of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, without whom neither Eisenhower nor Churchill would have had an opportunity to make any significant impact on history?

FDR was our finest president, successfully dealing with the two most catastrophic events in our history, the Great Depression and World War II.

If bar President Andrew Guilford is going to pick an Indian, has he heard of Gandhi, clearly the equal of both Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa, combined?

John A. Lefcourte

The “greatest” list omits Lenin, Stalin and Hitler

Andrew Guilford begins by failing to understand what the word “great” means. It does not mean good or moral. Rather it means large, big or important. The three most important men of this century are Lenin, Stalin and Hitler, in that order.

Beyond these three, we come to the first leaders who could be called moral as well as great, Roosevelt, Churchill, Ronald Reagan. Roosevelt and Churchill are there because they defeated Hitler, and Reagan because he defeated communism.

If Guilford really feels it is necessary to choose a black man for his list, why not Nelson Mandela, who is a great leader, or Malcolm X, who rose from racism and bigotry to being a great leader.

Mother Theresa too is out of place. She was a moral individual, but not a leader, and as such she had no significant influence on the course of world events.

Susan Jordan
Los Angeles

More kudos for Joseph Ball

In reciting Joseph A. Ball’s impressive resume (November Bar Journal), you failed to mention that he was the very first recipient, in April 1994, of the Litigation Section of the State Bar’s annual “Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame” award. The award reflects the excellence of the recipient’s entire career, which distinguishes it from some of the “trial lawyer of the year” awards given by other organizations. The Litigation Section is pleased that Mr. Ball’s stellar career was also recognized by the State Bar in the granting of the Bernard E. Witkin Medal.

Robert S. Gerber
Chair, State Bar Litigation Section

Question to the court: Is that spit, or is it rain?

It is no great surprise that the California Supreme Court, employing the well-worn Rational Basis Test, upheld the MCLE program in its entirety.

I have noticed over the past 10 years that this particular court has a penchant for deciding what result it wants and then writing the opinion to justify it. Obviously, result-oriented decisions appear to be more important than carefully reasoned legal analysis.

The rational basis test, of course, has been a vehicle the courts have employed in order to massage facts and evidence into a pre-determined result.

The fact of the matter is there is no rational basis for some members of the bar being forced to sit through worthless continuing education classes while others are exempt.

The state Supreme Court can shout from the mountaintops that its opinion is justified based upon precedent all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Such gamesmanship is the equivalent of spitting on my neck and trying to convince me that it’s raining.

Robert L. Kelley


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Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

- Proverbs 18:2