Palmer Madden. "I think this is a reasonable
The settlement brings to a close a 10-year legal
battle over the use of mandatory bar fees to fund activities that were
opposed by 41 California attorneys on First Amendment grounds.
In 1999, Judge England found the bar improperly
used mandatory fees to pay for some programs, including areas such as
access to justice, the conference of delegates and a program that
provides attorneys as volunteer mentors to youthful parolees. However,
the decision applied to the 1991 dues year only. England awarded $10
to each of the plaintiffs.
PLF initially launched a sweeping challenge to
the use of mandatory fees to fund each of the bar's 30 program
categories, including such core activities as attorney discipline.
The bar dropped its appeal of the case in
January, primarily because it no longer uses member dues to fund
activities that were considered controversial.
Madden said the bar no longer operates the way it
did when the case was filed and he and the board opposed spending
additional funds to fight any fee award. "We didn't want to spend
any more money chasing an issue that has nothing to do with how the
bar operates," he said.
PLF had sought $1.1 million in fees for some
4,800 hours of work it put into the case and sought a multiplier of
two, raising the fee demand to almost $2.3 million. Multipliers can be
awarded if a case is complex and breaks new constitutional ground, and
if the winning side prevails.
PLF also brought the Keller case, which went to
the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in a ruling which prohibits the
bar from using mandatory member fees to pay for activities outside its
core functions. As a result of that case, PLF won a fee award of
$261,000 from the bar.