MCLE compliance cards overdue as of Feb. 1

Attorneys in MCLE compliance group 1 — last names beginning A through G — should have submitted compliance cards by Jan. 31. The compliance card was printed on page 4 of the January 1998 California Bar Journal.

The 44,000 active attorneys in that group were to have attested to their completion of 36 hours of continuing education during the past three years.

Because the constitutionality of the State Bar’s MCLE program is before the California Supreme Court, the bar will not assess the usual $75 late penalty if lawyers do not show their compliance. However, the board of governors recommends the all California attorneys complete their hours.

Apply for appointment to bar committees

Applications for appointment to State Bar committees in 1998 – 99 are available.

Attorneys interested in volunteering to serve on a bar committee may request an application for a 1998 appointment from the Appointments Office, State Bar of California, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94102-4498; 415/561-8855 or 213/765-1585.

The application also appears on pages 11 – 12 of this issue of the Bar Journal.

The deadline to apply for appointment is March 2.

Disaster planning manual available from State Bar

Already in the throes of El Nino-induced winter storms, California may face weather-related disasters this winter. In the past, when floods, earthquakes or other disasters have occurred, attorneys have generously volunteered their help.

Now the State Bar has prepared a comprehensive 300-page training manual entitled the California Handbook for Disaster Legal Services. The new volume is geared for local bar associations which are seeking to create their own disaster response plan.

Topics include disaster-related housing assistance programs, Small Business Administration loans, unemployment assistance, food stamps and other public assistance programs for disaster victims.

A wide range of experts and emergency services personnel contributed to the handbook, which was published with funds from the Foundation of the State Bar.

Bar associations, legal services and pro bono programs, and State Bar-certified lawyer referral services may each obtain one free copy of the manual (until the supply runs out). Others may purchase the handbook for $20. Checks should be made payable to the State Bar of California and sent to Mary Holomon-Thomas, 555 Franklin St., San Francisco 94012.

Further information about the manual is available from Sharon Ngim, 1-800/628-4858 or 415/561-8267.

Emeritus attorney program seeks volunteers

The State Bar’s emeritus attorney pro bono participation program offers retired attorneys the opportunity to contribute their valuable legal skills to assist low-income Californians. The bar waives the active membership fees of emeritus attorneys who volunteer through qualified legal services programs.

Attorneys may vary their level of involvement and do not need to have expertise in poverty law. Emeritus attorneys receive training, access to MCLE programs and malpractice insurance coverage through their local programs.

To be eligible, an attorney must be a member in good standing with the State Bar, have practiced law or served as a judge in California at least three of the last eight years, and have been admitted to practice law at least 10 years.

Further information is available from Eve Hershcopf in the bar’s office of legal services at 415/561-8213 or 1-800/628-4858.

Appointment of attorneys in criminal cases

Beginning Jan. 1, the Supreme Court amended its internal operating procedures for appointing attorneys in habeas corpus matters. The change was required under recent legislation requiring that the court “offer to appoint counsel” for habeas corpus and related representation in capital cases.

Full text of the changes to section XV of the court’s “Internal Operating Practices and Procedures” are available on the court’s web site: www. courtinfo.ca.gov.

Regulation of lawyers seeking judicial office

The Supreme Court has approved Rule 1-700 of the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct, regulating the conduct of attorneys seeking election to judicial office.

The new rule incorporates the relevant portions of the Code of Judicial Ethics into the Rules of Professional Conduct applicable to attorneys and makes clear the State Bar’s authority to discipline attorneys who are candidates for judicial office and violate the standards contained in the judicial code.

Although the Code of Judicial Ethics establishes standards for candidates for judgeships, the jurisdiction of the Commission on Judicial Performance extends only to candidates who are judges.

The new rule requires attorney candidates for a judgeship to comply with Canon 5 of the judicial code.

Access to Justice group plans three projects

California’s new “Access to Justice” commission has three projects in the works: a series of community forums addressing barriers to access; roundtable discussions of pro per issues, initially focusing on family law; and a pro per survey to determine the needs of individuals who are forced to handle their own legal matters.

Information about the commission is available from Mary Viviano at 415/561-8251.

Emergency changes sought for bar exam rules

The State Bar recently took steps to clear up an ambiguity in the admissions requirements which raised a question about the admission of more than 100 out-of-state and foreign attorneys to practice law in California.

The bar filed special motions with the state Supreme Court to ensure that these attorneys would not be adversely affected. The board of governors also will seek emergency legislation to resolve the situation.

Adoption law seminar

The Academy of California Adoption Lawyers will hold its fourth annual seminar in San Francisco March 7 and in Los Angeles March 14. For information, call George Maricic at 909/945-9549.

Trial court fees increased Jan. 1

New and increased filing fees took effect in all California superior and municipal courts Jan. 1 as a result of the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act of 1997. The changes include, among other things, a fee increase for filing a civil complaint in both superior and municipal courts; a new $75 superior court fee and a new $45 municipal court fee for filing an amended complaint; and a new $14 fee for filing any motion in small claims court.

In addition to increasing court fees, the new trial court funding legislation consolidates all court funding at the state level, caps the counties’ financial responsibilities, and requires the state to fund all future growth in court operations costs.

The fee increases are expected to generate approximately $87 million annually for trial court funding. Since they did not take effect until last month, it is estimated they will raise about $44 million during fiscal year 1997-98.