California Bar Journal
spacer.gif (810 bytes)


spacer.gif (810 bytes)
What will bar leadership do with MCLE results?

Now that the California Bar Journal MCLE survey has shown that at least 75 percent of the respondents do not feel that exemptions should be permitted for full-time professors, officers and elected state officials, and retired judges, it should be interesting to see what the State Bar leadership does with the results.

Will they respond positively to the clear desires of their members, or will they ignore the survey because it conflicts with their agenda?

Ernest Schaal
Mill Valley

MCLE can't cure the lazy

The argument goes: "Good law-yers educate themselves," "MCLE is virtuous . . .," and "An expensive exercise . . ."

Active lawyers and judges who do their work, who read the law for its reasons and not for its rule, are constantly educating themselves. Legal instincts are thus sharpened. Those who have no curiosity - who are not self-motivated - will likely not understand the law and its reasons. MCLE can't cure the dull shortcomings of those who enroll just to "get their numbers."

Ethics are learned from parents, teachers and from those who taught us the importance of reputation and fairness. Ethics is a part of being a professional. Ethics seem to escape those who are immersed in self-aggrandizement and those focused on money. MCLE can't change that. The issue is character, not text.

Each year there are basic developments in the law that all legal professionals should know, regardless of specialty. These developments, where local or national, should be the minimum required focus of MCLE. Further, all should be enrolled in a minimum program, whether lawyer, judge, educator. Some will benefit; others will not.

James H. Disney

IOLTA money for clients a bookkeeping nightmare

Allan W. Wallace (June letters) insists that interest on trust account funds belongs to the client and should be paid to the client. My trust account includes funds from several hundred clients, for each of whom I am holding between $250 and $500. The interest on the account last month was $22.62, paid to the State Bar.

The clients should certainly get this money. You can see that each client is entitled to one or two pennies, or perhaps a fraction of a cent, each month. If a client's contribution increased or decreased during the month, the calculation would be more complicated.

It should not take more than half a day each month to account for the interest and apply it to each client's funds. Would Allan W. Wallace be willing to drop by my office and do the bookkeeping?

Michael V. Mahoney
San Francisco

Gun safety mechanisms are not effective

Your July 1999 issue has an opinion that lawsuits relying "on traditional product safety law" allege "gun manufacturers have failed to place adequate safety mechanisms on guns, including child safety locks and devices that allow only the owner to fire the gun." However, child safety locks have been available for years, and devices that allow only the owner to fire the gun do not exist even now. Since I am not a tort lawyer, but one who sometimes attempts to justify their existence to non-lawyer friends, please help me with explaining how it is "traditional" for products safety law to rely on what is just not so.

Do I need to support my allegations? I can, but you published the allegations to the contrary without support.

Gun manufacturers think child safety locks are a good thing because the manufacturers make a little proft on each one. However, the locks are not effective because those who want a loaded gun handy do not put on a child safety lock, and those who really want safety unload the gun and keep the gun and its ammunition locked up in different locations. Also, a child safety lock - or a device that allows only the owner to fire the gun - will not stop one with some time and tools - a successful thief or anyone 10 or older who is mechanically inclined.

Stephen J. Church

Guns don't pose a public health risk

The actual statistics on firearms death can be found in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, and relevant statistical comparison as well. The reported accidental death per year from firearms since 1980 is less than 1,000. From handguns it is less than 250. In 1995, the accidental deaths from all firearms was 992, and from handguns 233. Compared to other causes of death by accidents, this rate is miniscule. Accidental deaths from handguns are the lowest of all causes listed, and firearms are near the bottom for causes of accidental death.

Thus, "countless individuals" are not being destroyed by firearms, and no "tragic toll" of deaths exists to justify any lawsuits against the firearms' manufacturers. There is no public health threat and no reason to expend time and resources on this misguided crusade.

The opinion written by Erwin Chemerinsky is an attempt to poison the well of public opinion. The thrust of the suits against the firearms manufacturers is that they produce too many guns. Where, in any capitalistic system, do we have any manufacturer who is encouraged to produce less of anything? To do so would raise prices by restricting supply. Cars certainly kill a lot of people each year. Should we reduce the supply of cars so less people drive and so fewer people are killed on the road?

Alan Dale Daniel

St. George to the rescue

Tireless, enduring, adroit: an apt characterization of Matt St. George, chair of the 1999 Conference of Delegates, in his quest to preserve and perpetuate the conference in a perilous era. One day he is jousting with the board of governors about a fair allocation of revenues generated by the conference; the next day he goes one-on-one with the state legislature about a good dues bill.

He became chair in the year of living dangerously - no bar dues legislation, no money, no anything. The conference goes forward on the strength of his perseverance.

Kirk Ah Tye
Santa Barbara

Rwanda editorial gave voice to different views

Thank you for publishing the editorial by Willis Shalita (May Opinion) regarding the carnage suffered in Rwanda. I, too, was deeply disappointed that the United Nations did not, and the United States did not, treat the war in Rwanda with greater importance. While I do not believe that the United States can come to the rescue of every civil war minority on the globe, we can take an even-handed approach.

Contrary to the comment of Robert A. Edwards (June Letters), I think it is very important and relevant to hear from the State Bar staff, or any other bar member, to gain the benefit of the diversity within our ranks. While Mr. Edwards sees this as "self-indulgent parochialism," I see it as a more global view.

Cheryl Anne Woodard
Los Angeles