Don't meddle with discipline standards
Board member Clara Slifkin writes (November California Bar Journal) that "lawyers
who are disciplined should have some fundamental rights, including reasonable notice of
the charges against them and the right to receive all exculpatory evidence from the State
Bar, and examine and cross-examine witnesses."
In fact, lawyers who are involved in discipline already have those rights guaranteed by
the State Bar Rules of Procedure and innumerable California Supreme Court and State Bar
Just as disturbing is her advocacy that lawyers before the discipline system have
"any rights guaranteed by the state or U.S. constitutions, incuding the right against
self-incrimination." She would elevate the disciplinary process to the same due
process plateau as criminal prosecution, again, completely ignoring the well-established
Supreme Court precedent in this area (see Emslie v. State Bar).
It is clear that some members of the board of governors think the way to curry favor
with the membership is to lower bar dues by gutting the discipline system. By this means,
they hope to maintain control of the system in their hands. Beguiled by the relative lack
of attention paid to the current crisis by the public, forgetting the lessons of the
1980s, they are acting to betray the very values that make this a profession. The
inevitable result will be a public backlash and the loss of the unique privilege of
David Cameron Carr
Marina Del Rey
Carr is a former prosecutor in the State Bar's
Office of the Chief Trial Counsel.
Free lawyers from the bar
I've been following the State Bar Board of Governor's desperate attempts to retain
their hold on the political voice of California lawyers for several years. It is obvious
to one viewing the contest from afar that their desperation comes from loss of clout, not
from loss of disciplinary authority or opportunity to be of service to their
"taxpayers" (the lawyers who are forced to fund the behemoth).
I wrote the following comments to Gov. Wilson in June: I am a member of the State Bar
of California. I have had the opportunity to practice in two states. One, California, with
a "coerced" professional association and one, Minnesota, with a
"voluntary" professional association. There is no difference in bar services to
Coercion is unnecessary to the public good; it is only essential to those who want to
use others' dollars to foster their own (often leftist) view of "public"
concerns. That is exactly why so many California lawyers want to be free to choose who
purports to speak for them on important matters.
Let a State Bar Association compete in the marketplace of ideas for the support of
every California lawyer. If they are as good as they claim, they will raise even more
"voluntary" dollars. If they can't get that support, probably they don't deserve
Certainly they don't deserve to have it coerced from everyone who wishes to practice
their trade as a lawyer.
Hamline University School of Law
St. Paul, Minn.
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