|The California Supreme Court will consider a State Bar petition and a
request from the governor that the court take action to resuscitate the bar's nearly
defunct discipline system.
By unanimous vote, the justices set aside the entire
afternoon of Nov. 9 to hold an unusual public hearing on the two requests. The hearing
will be held in Sacramento.
The court set a deadline of Oct. 29 for interested parties to submit written comments
or requests to make an oral presentation. It will decide which individuals or
organizations will be permitted to address the court at the November hearing.
State Bar President Ray Marshall said he was "pleased and encouraged" by the
court's action. "The significance is that they view this as an important issue that
has far-reaching ramifications," he said. "There's a crisis out there that has
to be addressed."
The bar asked the court last month to order a $171 assessment for each active
California attorney in order to partially restore the crippled discipline system.
The petition followed by a few days a letter from Gov. Pete Wilson to Chief Justice
Ronald George seeking court assumption of the discipline operation.
Wilson warned that "it would be a serious mistake" for the bar to petition
the court because such a move would both intrude on the legislative process and raise
separation of powers questions.
The court acknowledged in its order that, in the past, it has "recognized that the
legislature has a legitimate role to play in the arena of attorney admission and
discipline . . ." Should legislation be enacted to provide