California Bar Journal
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Agreement to avert damage phase, speed bar appeal
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The judge who ruled last summer that the State Bar improperly funded some of its activities with mandatory membership dues is expected to enter a damages award of $10 each to the 43 plaintiffs.

An agreement reached last month among the parties to the litigation will avert a costly damages phase of the trial and permit the bar to appeal the court’s decision quickly.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Morrison England ruled in August that the bar improperly used member dues for much of its lobbying and several of its programs in 1991.

The case, Brosterhous v. State Bar, was filed in 1992 by 40 attorneys who objected to the bar’s first Hudson deduction — a refund system set up by the bar for attorneys who choose not to fund certain non-chargeable programs under the Keller v. State Bar decision of 1990.

That ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court held that mandatory dues cannot be used to fund activities with political or ideological coloration not “reasonably related” to the bar’s core functions. In 1991, the bar offered a $3 refund for activities it determined were “non-chargeable” to member dues. An arbitrator increased the deduction to $7.36.

Deputy attorney general Raymond Brosterhous of Sacramento challenged the way the bar calculated the 1991 Hudson deduction. After last year’s trial, England ruled the plaintiffs were entitled to a refund for activities that did not meet the Keller test. Rather than litigate the value of each program England said was nonchargeable, the bar stipulated to the amount of damages the judge can enter as a judgment.