California Bar Journal
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Bridging the communications gap...

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More shock over bar lobbying

I was shocked when I read in the February California Bar Journal that the bar has already hired an in-house lobbyist and that the bar expects to hire a second lobbyist as well. The lobbyist's salary is being paid by the bar's educational sections with the remainder coming from the bar's discretionary fund.

If the sections are in fact self-supporting, let them hire their own lobbyists. I do not want the bar spending my money to lobby for itself, and I certainly don't want it lobbying for me.

Jack D. Bybee
Walnut Creek

Deja vu all over again

Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem like the State Bar bosses are getting the message. We don't need lobbyists! No matter what the members want, I guess it's back to business as usual.

Robert N. Cleaves
Los Angeles

Discipline fee order unconstitutional

I find the order of the California Supreme Court commanding a $173 bar fee from every California lawyer to be both an outrage and a usurpation of legislative power. To raise money for any purpose whatever belongs to the representatives of the people, and the court's action is unconstitutional and unauthorized both at the federal and the state level.

It is exactly like the monies on interest in IOLTA accounts which belong to the client, not to the bar, and which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those of us who try and defend the independence of courts have a very difficult time justifying the unjustifiable when a court like the California Supreme Court makes a legislative grab of power to tax a group of citizens - no matter how good the intention.

Peter J. Riga

A dangerous redefinition

I read in the January issue that a former prosecutor was disbarred after setting fire to his former employer's office. The State Bar Court's review department indicated the crime of arson involved moral turpitude in addition to being a direct attack on the justice system.

Since when does arson involve moral turpitude? I was taught in law school that moral turpitude involved a person's honesty and did not necessarily involve every action with an evil intent. Evidently, the review department at the State Bar have either redefined the term or were not well-educated at the law school they attended.

Redefining long-standing legal principles and definitions by those with a vested interest leads to a general corruption of the legal process and can also be considered a direct attack on the justice system.

Someone should be watching these guys.

Robert L. Kelley

Private acts become public discipline

One attorney in your January discipline listing was convicted of DUI and driving with a suspended license. Another had pled no contest to filing a false income tax return. Another had been convicted of driving under the influence of a drug and transporting cocaine.

Surely these are all private affairs which do not touch upon the actual practice of law - yet, in each case, these private acts were apparently regarded as evidence of moral turpitude and/or the attorney's fitness or lack thereof to practice law. The very fact that incidents such as these, as well as the names, locations and bar numbers of the offenders are regularly published, strongly suggests that there are occasions when the private life of an officer of the court can be public business.

Mark Siegel

Be responsive: Dump MCLE

If the new State Bar is truly to be more responsive to the wishes of its members, let this be the test of the new attitude it proclaims: Have it drop the court appeal regarding its MCLE program.

As a person who regards the cost of needless but required seminars as part of my bar dues, the idea of the bar spending my money to protect both an unnecessary bureaucracy and a money-making scheme is outrageous.

If the bar hierarchy chooses to use our resources to revive an unpopular and extortionist program, let it be clear that our bar leaders do so for their own bureaucratic benefit (if not for the benefit of those in the seminar business). The bar leadership of old saw nothing wrong in forcing us to fund a legal battle that was against our interests. Will the new leadership be any different?

Todd M. Moreno
San Francisco