Death penalty case compensation increased

The California Supreme Court has increased the compensation for counsel appointed to death penalty appeals and related state court habeas corpus proceedings. As a result of the legislature's approval of an appropriation that makes the new rate possible, the compensation increased from $95 to $98 per allowable hour for all hours worked on or after Jan. 1, 1997.

Compensation for fixed fee appointments also increased by an equivalent percentage. The court is working with the legislature and Gov. Wilson to obtain funding to increase compensation to $125 an hour for attorneys appointed after Jan. 1 to represent defendants in capital appeals.

Attorneys interested in being appointed to represent a defendant in a pending appeal in a capital case should contact Robert Reichman, automatic appeals monitor, at 415/396-9549.

Deadline March 3 to apply to serve on bar entities

Applications for appointment to State Bar committees in 1997-98 are available.

Attorneys interested in volunteering to serve on a bar committee may request an application from the Appointments Office, State Bar of California, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco CA 94102-4498; 415/561-8855 or 213/765-1585.

The application deadline is March 3. (The application form and a complete list of vacancies appear on pages 31-32 of this issue.)

Your dues are due

The deadline for payment of State Bar membership fees was Feb. 1.

Attorneys who do not pay the full amount by March 7 will be assessed a penalty of 50 percent of the unpaid balance.

Failure to pay dues ultimately can lead to suspension from practice by the California Supreme Court.

Last year, 885 attorneys were suspended for not paying their dues.

Retired judges appointed to ease 3-strikes backlog

California Chief Justice Ronald George appointed 23 retired judges to nine trial courts to ease excessive backlogs resulting from "three strikes" cases.

Although the law has had an uneven impact, courts in heavily populated counties have experienced an increased workload. As a result, Gov. Wilson signed a bill last year providing $3.5 million for a Three Strikes Relief Team program, created to ensure that second- and third-strike cases are not dismissed because of inadequate judicial resources.

The judges, who may be assigned to nonstrike cases, were assigned to superior courts in Alameda, Los Angeles, San Joaquin and Ventura counties, and to superior and municipal courts in Fresno, Lassen, Riverside, Sacramento and San Bernardino counties.

Bar seeks applicants for ABA House of Delegates

The State Bar is seeking applicants for five appointments as bar representatives to the ABA House of Delegates. Each delegate serves a two-year term beginning at the close of the ABA's annual meeting in August. One of the five will be the young lawyer representative and must be less than 35 years of age before Aug. 6, 1997.

Delegates are expected to attend the mid-year and annual ABA meetings and to participate in occasional conference calls prior to those meetings. They are required to pay their own travel expenses.

In making the appointments, the Board of Governors will consider the applicants' participation in ABA activities, working knowledge of the House of Delegates, and understanding of current issues before the delegates. Attendance at meetings will be considered for those applying for reappointment.

Applications are due by Feb. 24 and are available from the Appointments Office, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498; 415/561-8855.

Applicants must submit an application with a resume and a statement describing their ABA and local bar activities.

More revenue sought for legal services fund

In a move to increase grants to California legal services programs assisting the poor, the bar is seeking permission from the state Supreme Court to use certain "sweep" or "cash management" accounts for client trust accounts which generate revenue for the bar's Legal Services Trust Fund program.

The proposal would allow three liquid investments: repurchase agreements for securities issued by the U.S. Treasury and U.S. government agencies; money market funds that only invest in U.S. government securities; and high-quality money market funds with diversified investments.

The Supreme Court rejected a more expansive proposal two years ago.

While the Trust Fund program was able to distribute more grant money this year -- $9.3 million -- than a year ago, the grants still total less than half what they were in 1992 due to a decline in interest rates.

New discipline rules

Effective immediately, any attorney who receives a disbarment recommendation from the State Bar Court will be placed on inactive enrollment before the Supreme Court acts on the recommendation.

In addition, attorneys may plead no contest in State Bar Court, they can be placed on inactive status for defaulting in a disciplinary proceeding, and suspended lawyers must pay disciplinary costs before returning to active practice.

The new rules are part of legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica.

1997 editions of bar publications available

The 1997 editions of Publication 250 and the Trust Accounting Handbook will be available this month at a cost of $10 each. A price increase was required due to higher paper and production costs.

Individuals wishing to order either publication should send a check or money order for $10, payable to the State Bar of California, to the Office of Professional Competence, Planning & Development, 100 Van Ness Ave., 28th Flr., San Francisco 94102-5238.

The cost for books sold on site is only $5. Walk-in orders are taken at the bar's Admissions Office, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco, and the fourth floor reception at the Los Angeles office, 1149 S. Hill St.

Further information is available from Renata Murry at 415/241-2112.

Coordinating civil actions in different courts

New procedures for coordinating civil actions pending in different courts yet sharing common questions of law and fact went into effect Sept. 21 under urgency legislation signed by Gov. Wilson.

The procedures are intended to simplify the coordination procedures for the litigants and allow the courts to manage caseloads more efficiently.

The new procedures (Code Civ. Proc. §403 et seq.) allow a party to make a motion to transfer and consolidate non-complex actions directly to a judge in the trial court in which one of the actions is pending, rather than to the chair of the Judicial Council.

Requests to coordinate complex actions must still be made by petition to the Judicial Council.

New California Rules of Court 1500 and 1501.1 to implement the legislation also took effect Sept. 21. Attorneys should refer to section 19 of the Standards of Judicial Administration for guidelines relating to complex cases.

State Bar board to meet March 21 in San Francisco

The State Bar Board of Gove-nors will meet March 21 in San Francisco at 555 Franklin St.

Board committees will meet on March 20.

A copy of the agenda is available from the bar secretary, 415/561-8200.