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
Bar board mandates two-thirds vote, twice, on backing any legislation
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Continued from Page 1
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A second two-thirds vote then would be taken before the board actually takes a position on legislation.

Response to criticism

Board member Ron Albers of San Francisco says a 2/3rds votes ensures proper cautionDespite objections from some governors that the procedure hobbles the bar unnecessarily, the board agreed that the new requirements send a strong signal to Sacramento that they are responding to past criticism of political activities. The new procedure also makes official the bar’s compliance with last year’s hard-won fee bill, which restricts its use of mandatory dues, and with a recent court ruling.

“I think this is the approach we should have taken years and years ago,” said Fresno attorney Paul Hokokian.

“We need to be cautious,” added Ron Albers, a board member from San Francisco, “and a super-majority just adds another barrier that makes us even more cautious.”

The board approved the new procedure by a 13-3 vote.

Bar lobbyist Larry Doyle and David Long of its research department said that with few exceptions, legislative positions taken by the board over the past 10 years have met Keller criteria for expenditure of members’ mandatory dues.

Those positions “have related almost exclusively to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services, including improving the structure and procedures of, and access to, the courts,” Doyle and Long wrote in materials prepared for the board.

Further, most legislative positions were approved by the board by almost unanimous votes.

Nonetheless, the bar’s political activities were a key element of former Gov. Pete Wilson’s 1997 veto of the bar’s funding bill, as well as the subsequent fight for funding in the legislature and litigation recently decided in Sacramento.

In Brosterhous v. State Bar of California, Sacra-mento County Superior Court Judge Morrison England prohibited mandatory dues from being used to fund the activities of the bar’s educational sections or the Conference of Delegates.

State parameters

Florida and other state bars require two two-thirds votes on legislative proposals.

The Florida, Michigan and Texas bars also have in place parameters on legislative activities similar to those required by Keller and have experienced reduced litigation and controversy over political positions.

In supporting the proposal, Tom Warwick, a board member from San Diego, said, “I don’t think it will affect how many items we send to Sacramento, but it may have the effect of stemming litigation over our activities. I’d rather reduce the potential for getting sued.”

Some reservations

Although board member Palmer Madden voted for the new procedure, he expressed concern about the bar restricting itself unnecessarily.

Palmer Madden of Alamo hopes the bar isn't restricting itself unnecessarily“The question is, how many shackles are we gong to carry before we can do anything?” he said.

After adopting the new procedure, the board approved seven proposals it will sponsor as legislation, including changes to the code of civil procedure, the probate code and an amendment to the California Rules of Court.

The board also okayed a requirement that its sections, committees and the Conference of Delegates include a disclaimer in any political position they take stating that their action does not represent an official position of the State Bar.