Thanks for nothing
After reading A New Day for States Paralegals
(February Bar Journal), I feel compelled to say to the State Bar, Thanks for
nothing. Prior to the institution of the laws, the unauthorized practice of law was
a misdemeanor punishable by fine and incarceration. During my last seven years as an
attorney, I have seen many so-called paralegals openly advertise their services for
matters such as living trusts, estate planning or wills. I have seen them handle divorces,
give advice on what exemptions to elect in bankruptcy cases and generally practice law
with open impunity. The State Bar did nothing. The district attorneys office did
nothing, and no other policing agency did anything.
Now, a new set of laws have been imposed on paralegals. They will
violate these laws as well. No one, including
the State Bar, will do anything about it. The laws only effect is to lend legitimacy
to paralegals practicing law without a license. They do nothing to curtail the onslaught
of impermissible activities by paralegals.
Role model for all lawyers
Thank you very much for running your recent article on Walter Gordon
(January). As a Los Angeles prosecutor, it has been my pleasure to work with that fine
gentleman from time to time for the last 20 years. His company is always a reminder of
gentility, courtliness, and the finer things towards which we may aspire.
Now that Mrs. Gordon has joined him on his rounds, she adds her own
grace and charm to their appearances together.
Live long, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon! We would sorely miss you if you ever
Patricia Molly Redifer
Multi-year dues: good idea
I can appreciate President Palmer Maddens defense of the State
Bar (January Bar Journal). But I am disappointed that he would fail to check his facts.
President Madden attempts to compare bar dues to those of engineers. My last professional
engineer dues, paid in 1999, were $160 and permit me to practice engineering for four
years. I realize that some attorneys appear to have trouble maintaining good standing for
this long a period, but surely this represents too small a number to provide any
justification for not considering this practice.
James B. Forrest
The bar is attempting to
secure a multi-year funding bill from the legislature, which authorizes its dues.
No way to spend dues
Your article (State Bar drops Brosterhous appeal, February) states
the legal fight may be nearing an end. The State Bar president says he cant justify
spending any more money pursuing the case.
My question: What has the State Bar paid in attorneys fees and
litigation expenses for 10 years of aggressively fighting a challenge to the way the
State Bar spends lawyer dues?
The bar wasnt the winner
Bar Journal readers were undoubtedly left with the impression that
the bar had won the majority of issues in Brosterhous v. the State Bar. The
rest of the world, however, knows that, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of
members dues fighting an untenable rear guard action against Pacific Legal
Foundation, the State Bar actually lost on all matters of significance which were
Moreover, the fact that prior to trial, the bar, under pressure of
the lawsuit, partially abandoned its patently unconstitutional practice of spending
objecting members mandatory dues on politically grounded programs, and the fact that
the legislature prohibited other challenged activities, doesnt make the bar the
winner on those issues either.
Now the State Bar is faced with the prospect of paying huge costs and
fees to PLF, a liability that never would have been incurred had the board of governors
respected the First Amendment rights of the membership.
Edward R. Jagels
District Attorney, Kern County
The respect is gone
In your report of the disbarment of Robert Franklin Dodenbier
(February) you quote Judge Nancy Roberts Lonsdale as writing, he has clearly lost .
. . any respect for the disciplinary system whatsoever.
Havent we all?
Henry M. Bissell
Bar didnt get the message
Bar President Palmer Madden asserts that the State Bar listens to its
members. I, and a whole lot of other conscripts, dissent.
Where was Mr. Madden three years ago when California attorneys, given
the chance, spoke as loudly as possible? It was the year the State Bar gave a voluntary
dues party and nobody came. It was the year the State Bar resembled Southern California
Edison and PG&E. It was the only plebiscite that matters.
A bunch of lousy letters
I have read with dismay the letters published in the February edition
which respond to Professor Chemerinskys cogent discussion of Bush v. Gore. Not one
of the letters even addresses his arguments concerning Bushs lack of standing to
bring the suit or the courts abandonment of irreparable injury as the predicate for
The plain truth is that the Supreme Court grabbed the opportunity to
stop Floridas statutory election process before a recount could demonstrate that
Gore had prevailed in the states popular vote. The entire sorry episode was nothing
but a naked Republican power play, and the Supreme Court played a starring role.
May Professor Chemerinsky keep preaching the hard truth.
Useless personal attacks
What I found interesting about the six letters criticizing Professor
Chemerinskys critique of Bush v. Gore was that while all six made personal attacks
on his politics (five explicitly and one implicitly), none countered his criticisms of the
quality of the majoritys legal reasoning regarding ripeness and standing, the legal
basis for the stay order, the basis for finding a equal protection violation on the facts
presented. What Im waiting to hear or read is just that a thoughtful,
well-reasoned defense of the Bush v. Gore opinion that harmonizes it with the courts
previous decisions. Any takers?
Chemerinsky was right
Lest your readership believe that Chemerinskys piece on the
Supreme Courts self-inflicted wound found a wholly hostile audience, let me assure
you that it met with strong approval in other quarters. Read Stevens and
Ginsbergs opinions and you will see that Chemerinsky is not alone in expressing
concerns about the basis and consequences of such an opinion. I distributed
Chemer-inskys article to many lay people I know as I believe it to be the best
written piece available describing what was shocking about what occurred. Little about the
questionable legal reasoning of the majority opinions made it to the general press, which
is the real reason why the public was not as offended as members of the bench and bar.
I have no doubt the institution of the Supreme Court will survive,
but there is also no doubt in my mind that it has been tarnished by the majoritys
blatant power grab.
An outraged Republican
Several letters intimated that only liberal Democrats were outraged
at the decisions in Bush v. Gore. I am an outraged registered Republican. The decision to
grant the stay was based on the holding that truthful (although complex and likely counted
in contravention to the Equal Protection clause) election result information would
irreparably harm a candidate. This holding was unAmerican. I had thought that,
in the United States, the public is entitled to the complete truth about elections. Only
in Cuba or the former Soviet Union would election results be suppressed on the ground that
they would embarass a candidate.
Its not enough that we citizens have to put up with the fraud
perpetrated by the Supreme Court in handing the election to Bush in an opinion that was
based purely on political favoritism. We additionally have to endure the whining of the
Supreme Court-Bush apologists who cannot bear to read an accurate assessment of the
Supreme Courts disastrous opinion in the form of Professor Chemerinskys
Please spare us any more self-righteous babble.
Raymond E. McKown
Political hacks at the top
Martha Barnett writes: Even though we recognize that judges
often come to the bench with a political past, we expect and demand that they set their
politics aside and rule based only on the law.
What a laugh! From the past election, the whole world has learned
what we attorneys have always known that our judges are political hacks, even at
the highest level. Now that our dirty little secret is out, surely the public would reject
Ms. Barnetts absurd assertion that our corrupt legal system is the best in the
Terry D. Oehler