California Bar Journal
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Retiree offers to help with discipline cases

I am among the many California lawyers concerned by the tremendous backlog of lawyer disciplinary cases currently on hold because of the State Bar dues problem.

There are many of us older California lawyers who served the State Bar for years back in the days when all of State Bar discipline was handled by volunteer members of the bar. I served as an examiner, member and chairman of a preliminary investigation committee, member and chairman of a trial committee, four years as a member of the old State Bar Disciplinary Board, and two years on the Client Security Fund Committee.

I am sure many of us are still available to help and happily would volunteer our time - with little or no training required - to relieve the current and intolerable situation.

Thomas E. Workman Jr.
Los Angeles

Comparing the bar to the Southern Confederacy

The cries of pain from what remains of the State Bar, continuing to sound in your pages each month, sound like unreconstructed Confed-erates who neither believe nor recognize that the war is over and they lost.

But it is.

The fight was idealistic and sometimes even brave but, in the long term, unsound. Too many conscripted dollars were sent up too many hills in the name of political correctness. They are gone, and there are no replacements.

Mr. Adelman and his heirs, successors and assigns can either recognize this fact and live with it (like Robert E. Lee), or continue to howl (like George Wallace).

It is, in the words of a Confederate chaplain, time to "furl the banner and let it rest."

Douglas Buchanan

Hotline shutdown means fewer frivolous complaints

Now that the complaint "hotline" is disconnected and complainants are instead directed to send a written complaint, the passage of five months since April has produced 2,097 such written complaints, about 420 per month or roughly 5,000 annually. Does this mean that as many as 120,000-125,000 of the annual telephone complainers would not bother to put pen to paper if that was required as part of the process of initiating an investigation into allegations of attorney misconduct which costs all involved thousands of dollars to pursue?

Nearly a decade ago, then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown amazingly could not push through a bill simply requiring that complaints against attorneys be, at a minimum, verified under penalty of perjury.

Now that the frivolous complaints seem to have disappeared, let's talk about the funding needs of a state agency (Department of Consumer Affairs, for example) charged with the duty to investigate typically 5,000 written complaints annually. In the meantime, those of us who long supported a voluntary bar can move toward getting the State Bar, one dedicated to serving its members' needs consistent with the public interest, back on its feet.

Richard G. Heston
Newport Beach

In the political wrangling, lawyers come out on top

What could be behind our governor's insistence on being able to appoint every member of the board of governors of the State Bar? What could be behind the legislature's annual requirement that the State Bar return to the legislature's knee for its required funding?

One might suspect that both the governor and the legislators are scared to death with 150,000 free lawyers operating without these artificial life and death government structures.

Why should they be so afraid of lawyers? Is it because lawyers by and large have money and are widely dispersed throughout the state? Is it because they are opinion makers? Is it because 150,0000 lawyers carefully nurturing their communities' votes could probably topple every legislator and each governor in turn?

Politicians have done lawyers a favor. The lawyers have slipped the noose and can survive well without the State Bar. They should keep running and not look back. There will be time enough for lawyers to reconsider and structure their status at their leisure.

Joseph G. Hurley
North Hollywood

Where's the beef?

Lots of vanity material in the October issue. But where's the summary of recent jury results? That is the most interesting and important regular item for us, and we miss it when it's omitted.

Peter Hughes

Back (on Page 4) from a vanity fair.

Services for poor are taxpayers' responsibility

I couldn't agree more with the first half of Peter Riga's article (August). Mr. Riga was in agreement with the Supreme Court which concluded that interest on client trust accounts cannot be seized by the State Bar, at least not without the consent of the client, for even the laudable purpose of funding legal services for the poor.

In the second part, however, Mr. Riga suggested that the solution for funding legal services for the poor was for the bar to seize property, either in the form of cash or labor, directly from attorneys. This would be done by requiring mandatory pro bono work or that attorneys donate up to 10 percent of their net pay. Mr. Riga justifies this proposed program by repeating the old mantra that an attorney's right to practice law is a privilege and that the object of our profession - justice - is unique.

If legal services to the poor are not being adequately provided by the current system, and there is a compelling moral argument that the poor have a right to such services, then the cost should be spread among all taxpayers and not simply among members of the bar.

Bryant C. MacDonald

Letters to the Editor

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