California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - MAY 1999
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - May 1999
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News
Lending compassion to a difficult situation
Legal specialist exam set Aug. 29
Board to meet June 25-26
Domestic violence group seeking volunteers
Northern California legal services board to fill five vacancies
Court statistics report now available on CD
For Y2K advice, link through bar's web site
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
Hear the cries this time
A single letter, a big increase
Train time at the ABA
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From the President - Door to justice must be open
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Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - Litigation library great for attorneys out of office
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New Products & Services
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MCLE Self-Study
The Disabled Practitioner
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - What to do when a client goes missing
Attorney charged with exposing clients to deportation
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
Disasters
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Soliciting clients at an accident scene, at a hospital or on the way to a hospital;

Seeking clients who, because of their physical, emotional or mental state, are unable to exercise reasonable judgment; and

Seeking employment by mail unless the letter and envelope are clearly labeled as an advertisement.

Last year, one attorney was disbarred and a second resigned as a result of their representation of clients following a 1993 release of sulfuric acid from the General Chemical Corp.'s Richmond plant. The gas release affected about 80,000 mostly poor residents of Contra Costa County.

General Chemical paid $180 million to 62,000 plaintiffs to settle a class action suit.

Samuel Anya-Gafu of Walnut Creek was disbarred in April 1998 after irregularities were discovered in signatures on claims questionnaires and releases submitted by clients. He also negotiated settlement checks without client endorsements.

Jerry W. Varnado of Oakland submitted his resignation in November after the bar charged him with submitting claims against General Chemical which contained false information and bore false signatures.

Varnado submitted claims on behalf of 6,600 individuals. At least 800 claims were duplicates; investigators determined Varnado himself had filled out and signed some of the claims.

Within two weeks of the Chevron blast, three suits, two seeking class action status, were filed in Contra Costa Superior Court.