At its meeting last month, the State Bar Board of
Governors took the following action:
the elimination of emotional stress component from MCLE requirements,
effective Feb. 1, 2003. Attorneys may still take classes in the
subject if they wish, but it no longer will be required. The action
came after a survey last year found that 77 percent of respondents
said substance abuse and emotional stress classes were of little or no
The board authorized the addition of a check-off box to the annual fee
statement which would enable California lawyers to make a contribution
to the California Supreme Court Historical Society. The society has
lived a "hand-to-mouth existence" since its 1989 creation, said
president Kent Richland, surviving on a budget of about $50,000, most
of which comes from large law firms.
Former appellate Justice Elwood Lui, who served
as a Supreme Court-appointed special master in 1998 overseeing a
special assessment for the bar's discipline system, said he
generally opposes check-off boxes on the fee bill, but called the
society "a rare exception" whose work deserves attorney support.
The board rejected two proposals to file amicus briefs in Viner v.
Sweet, a case involving conflicting standards in malpractice cases.
The board nixed a proposal that the State Bar file an amicus which
would not take a position on the merits of the case but would ask the
court to clarify the standards. In a second vote, it rejected a motion
to allow the Business Law Section to file a brief taking a position on
Hearkening back to a position it took on lifting
the MICRA cap several years ago (a move which got the bar into serious
political hot water), board member James Herman said, "Every time we
as a bar decide to take a side where two groups of our lawyers have
different positions, we get into trouble. It sets us up to create
Exercising what he called "a voice of
caution," Herman said the debate should be left in the hands of
specialty bars with expertise in the area.
The board also approved posting on the State Bar website the
imposition of private reprovals against disciplined lawyers,
regardless of when that reproval was issued. An attorney had sued to
stop the posting of his name on the website because the reproval was
issued before the internet existed. Both the superior and appellate
courts ruled against him and the Supreme Court refused to hear the