California Bar Journal
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Taking their lessons from Washington Republicans

It is somehow comforting, in a status quo sort of way, to find that the California bar has learned nothing and we will likely have it to kick around for a little while longer yet.

Broke but unbowed, the bull-headed bar bureaucrats are taking their lessons from Congressional Republicans and charging forward with their tired, old, unpopular and doomed crusade. The bar elected the most pro-big bar candidate, who has ever since been proclaiming that the time has come to move on, put behind the troubles of the past, bury the hatchet, seek bipartisan agreement, work together, achieve broad consensus, and restore the bar to exactly the same bloated and arrogant behemoth that it was before, because now Gov. Davis will protect them.

But at least we discovered one fact out of the bar's self-inflicted mess: It costs $250 in annual dues to run the bar. Coincidentally, that is only a little more than what other similar state bars charge. Let's see how long it takes our California bar to get that back up over $400.

Duncan Palmatier
Los Angeles

A question of trust

I have never underestimated the power of spin, especially in, of all places, the California Bar Journal. Case in point, the headline of the January 1999 edition states, "Unprecedented, unanimous ruling enables bar to begin rebuilding the discipline system," as if the eighth wonder of the world had a new addition to it - the State Bar.

This very same unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court thought so much of the State Bar that it wouldn't even entrust the discipline money to it, but required it to be made payable to "Special Master's attorney discipline fund." Could it be that the Supreme Court has about as much trust in the State Bar as the average attorney?

One does not have to go further than the same front page to see that active attorneys may pay $145 as a voluntary membership fee, with the same graphic stating that "the special master has determined that no credit will be given toward the Supreme Court special discipline assessment for 1999." However, not to worry; more specious promises follow. "If you paid voluntary fees in 1998, you may seek a credit or refund after the legislature enacts a fee bill." In other words, the State Bar is again telling lawyers, "Trust me."

The only thing missing from the front page was the article on page 10 in which we learn that the State Bar, after it sold its building, is going to spend $861,852 for construction, $303,950 for furniture, and $61,400 for computer and telecommunications costs, all as a further memorial to its uselessness.

I guess the State Bar still doesn't get it.

Ira M. Friedman
Beverly Hill

And in the same vein . . .

Just finished reading the latest opinion from State Bar president Ray Marshall, which should be entitled "Back to Business as Usual."

As the State Bar was complaining that it was concerned about the economic welfare of its employees and the effect on the public of the lack of attorney disciplinary proceedings, it was always clear that the bar's only concern was perpetuating itself forever in the same form, and that its public stance was only political posturing.

How telling then, that in listing the State Bar's core values, Marshall does not mention attorney discipline, attorney education, attorney ethics, attorney competence, reasonable attorney fees, overzealous prosecutors, representation for the needy nor even any concern about stemming the ever-increasing hoards of new, young and often inept attorneys.

As long as the core values of the bar are oriented toward self-preservation rather than service to the people and the attorneys of the state of California, the State Bar will remain not only the most expensive but the most poorly run and least effective such organization in the nation.

J.M. Nave

How does the defendant plead... guilty, real guilty, or really really guilty?

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- Anonymous