California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - MARCH 2002
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - March 2002
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News / News Briefs
Midyear meeting will focus on fairness
E-briefs offer bar updates
Three strikes supporter has a change of heart, now wants the law restricted
ABA seeks nominations for three awards
Rule change proposed to protect government whistleblowers
More pamphlets added, translated
Innovation garners awards for 11 courts
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Trials Digest
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Public Comment
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Opinion
From the President - New era of bar-conference cooperation
Conference of Delegates: A valuable ally
PG&E's plan: A power play
Letters to the Editor
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You Need to Know
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Twilight zone cases can make practice tricky
Former deputy DA, convicted of grand theft, is suspended
Attorney Discipline
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MCLE Self-Study
At tax time, modify debt with caution
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events

YOU NEED TO KNOW

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Board of Governors election gets underway

The last day to file nominating petitions for the 2002 State Bar Board of Governors election is April 1, and ballots will be mailed to practitioners in four bar districts April 30. The election this year will fill five seats in the following districts: District 4 (Marin and San Francisco counties); District 6 (Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties); District 7 (Los Angeles County, offices 1 and 2); and District 8 (Orange County).

Any active member of the State Bar who maintains his or her principal office for the practice of law in the district in which there is a vacancy is eligible to run for a seat on the board. The last day to vote will be July 1. Terms are for three years and begin at the close of the bar's Annual Meeting on Oct. 13.

For further information, or to obtain a petition, contact Billie Sivanov, 415/538-2274, or Francisco Gomez, 415/538-2170. The petition also may be downloaded from the bar's web site, www.calbar.org.

VIP offers free mentor conference, MCLE credit

Volunteers In Parole (VIP) will hold a free statewide conference March 16-17 for current and prospective mentors to address the multiple challenges of mentoring disadvantaged young adults. Presen-tations by experts and experienced mentors will address communication skills, understanding gangs, addiction and sustaining effective relationships. Participants can earn four hours of MCLE credit.

The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza San Jose/Silicon Valley in Milpitas. The hotel offers a free shuttle from the San Jose Airport. There is no conference registration fee and VIP will cover the cost of hotel rooms and daytime meals. Those attending will be responsible for their own transportation. To register or get more information, contact VIP at 1-877/484-7462 (toll-free) or vipinc-statewide@mindspring.com.

VIP was founded by attorneys in 1972 and has programs throughout the state. It is the only California organization that recruits and assists attorneys to mentor young men and women on parole from the Youth Authority and Department of Corrections. Without mentors, most parolees end up trapped in a new cycle of crime, but VIP mentors have success rates of 70 percent or more.

398 pass specialist exam

Almost 400 California lawyers passed the most recent legal specialist examination, certifying them as specialists in one of eight areas of law.

The State Bar created the certification program in the early 1970s to help consumers find attorneys who have demonstrated ability and experience in specialized fields of law. It was the first such program in the country.

The bar announced that 398 attorneys - 72 percent - passed the Aug. 26 exam.

More than 36,00 attorneys are certified in one of the following areas: appellate; criminal; estate planning, trust and probate; family; immigration and nationality; personal and small business bankruptcy; taxation; and workers' compensation.

To qualify as a certified specialist, an attorney must be an active member of the State Bar, have substantial experience in the field, pass a written exam, complete approved legal education programs and be evaluated by judges and other attorneys.

Information about certification is available from the State Bar's Office of Certification, 180 Howard Street, San Francisco, 94105, 415/538-2100, or by visiting www.californiaspecialist.org.

Fee agreement seminar set in Century City

The Alternate Dispute Resolution Section of the Century City Bar Association will present a one- hour seminar on attorney fee agreements April 10 at noon. The workshop - "Will Your Fee Agreements Survive the Supreme Court?" - will offer an insider's perspective on fee agreement issues pending before the California Supreme Court.

Participants will earn one hour of MCLE credit.

Speakers include Sandor T. Boxer, Frank Blundo and Arne Werchick of the State Bar Committee on Manda-tory Fee Arbitration.

The registration fee for members of the Century City bar is $35 pre-paid and $40 at the door; for non-members, it's $50 pre-paid, $55 at door.

For information, call Mary Jones at 310/589-9648 or e-mail marysjones@earthlink.net.

ABA wants nominees for pro bono awards

The American Bar Association's standing committee on pro bono and public service is seeking nominations for the annual Pro Bono Publico Awards, which honor lawyers and law firms for extraordinary contributions to extending legal services to those who cannot afford legal representation.

Nominees may be lawyers, law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments and other institutions in the legal profession that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor. Nominees may not earn their income delivering legal services to the poor.

Nominations must be submitted by March 11.

Criteria for the awards are available online at www.abaprobono.org. Further information may be obtained from Dorothy Jackson at 312/988-5766 or jacksond@staff.abanet.org. The awards will be presented at the ABA annual meeting in August in Washington, D.C.

'A Week in Legal London' scheduled for June 23-28

The State Bar's Litigation Section is sponsoring "A Week in Legal London" from June 23-28. The London program offers an extraordinary opportunity to experience the inner workings of the English legal system, expand litigation skills and engage in thought-provoking discussion with members of the London legal community.

Participants will attend sessions at the Royal Courts of Justice, the Old Bailey, the High Court of Justice and the Courts of Appeal. MCLE credit will be offered.

For additional information, contact the Litigation Section at 415/538-2546.

Fee arbitrators needed

The State Bar seeks fee arbitrators for its mandatory fee arbitration program. Voluntary arbitrators serve for a minimum term of two years. Attorney applicants must be active members in good standing of the State Bar of California for a minimum of five years.

Criminal lawyers are encouraged to apply.

The application may be downloaded from the State Bar's website, www.calbar.org. For more information, call 415/538-2020.

Law review commission seeks public comment

A recommendation by the California Law Review Commission addressing appellate and writ review under trial court unification is out for public comment. The deadline is March 31.

The recommendation is available at www.clrc.ca.gov by following the public comment link. Comments should be addressed to the commission at 4000 Middlefield Road, Room D-1, Palo Alto 94303-4739; 650/494-1335; or Commission@clrc.ca.gov.

Deadline for MCLE Group 3 (last names N-Z) passes

A late fee of $75 will be assessed March 15 for members of MCLE Compliance Group 3 (last names beginning N-Z) who did not complete 25 hours of continuing education by Feb. 1. Those who did not complete the previously required 36 hours by Feb. 1, 1999, also were required to complete a total of 61 hours.

The next compliance period affects lawyers in Group 2 (last names H-M), who must complete 25 hours of continuing education by Feb. 1, 2003.

Questions about MCLE compliance may be directed to 415/538-2100.