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A challenge to the legal profession

By Anthony P. Capozzi
President, State Bar of California

Anthony P. Capozzi, President, State Bar of California
Capozzi

In Henry VI, William Shakespeare wrote, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." This phrase is often used to criticize lawyers and our legal system. But in context, these words are actually an urgent appeal to respect the importance of lawyers, the rule of law and the legal process. Shakespeare recognized that anarchy could only succeed in the absence of lawyers, the rule of law and the legal process.

Our legal system is based upon the rule of law through our judicial process. This process, I believe, is being threatened by the impending budget crisis which may have a devastating impact on our judicial system.

Chief Justice Ronald George has stated that every Californian, not just those who enter the courthouse doors, should be considered a direct user and beneficiary of the judicial system.

A great deal is at stake with the lack of stability in the courts' budgets. It erodes public trust and confidence in our system of justice. The inconsistent and unstable funding has adverse consequences for all of us.

Our most vulnerable people are at greater risk — children and families involved in juvenile dependency or delinquency proceedings, domestic violence cases, divorce and custody issues — and are negatively affected by the ongoing reductions in court budgets.

Our business climate is destabilized when reductions in court services increasingly put pressure on courts, requiring them to do more with less. Regrettably, all of this leads to a mindset that the civil justice system is discretionary. The effects of the criminal justice side are also felt deeply, and our system's ability to ensure public safety is increasingly strained.

These issues are of grave concern to all of us. And these are more than budget problems. We must analyze and improve the structure of our court funding system to fully deliver on the promise of a statewide system of justice. We know that significant gains have been made from both policy and programmatic perspectives. But we aren't "there" yet.

All three branches of government have a responsibility and an obligation to engage in solving the funding issues that challenge us.

I recently had the honor of introducing Chief Justice George at a meeting he convened of representatives from all the key stakeholders in California's justice system to consider how to ensure a consistent and adequate source of funding for the state's courts. The chief justice has taken the lead on this crucial issue.

Also in attendance were Orange County Sens. Joe Dunn and Dick Ackerman, who have been outstanding leaders in the legislature in their efforts to secure adequate funding of our court system.

The budget crisis also provides an opportunity for the State Bar, the representative agency for California's 195,000 lawyers, to meet this challenge as an equal partner with the judicial branch to ensure the sound and fair administration of justice.

Lawyers are officers of the court and have a primary stake in providing their clients and the legal process with a court system that has adequate facilities, professional staff and a judiciary that has the support and respect of the public and the profession.

Shakespeare noted our importance as lawyers and as leaders in our communities. It is imperative that we do what we can to protect our judicial system and the legal process by ensuring a strong, independent and accessible court system.

A challenge to the legal profession

By Anthony P. Capozzi
President, State Bar of California

Anthony P. Capozzi, President, State Bar of California
Capozzi

In Henry VI, William Shakespeare wrote, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." This phrase is often used to criticize lawyers and our legal system. But in context, these words are actually an urgent appeal to respect the importance of lawyers, the rule of law and the legal process. Shakespeare recognized that anarchy could only succeed in the absence of lawyers, the rule of law and the legal process.

Our legal system is based upon the rule of law through our judicial process. This process, I believe, is being threatened by the impending budget crisis which may have a devastating impact on our judicial system.

Chief Justice Ronald George has stated that every Californian, not just those who enter the courthouse doors, should be considered a direct user and beneficiary of the judicial system.

A great deal is at stake with the lack of stability in the courts' budgets. It erodes public trust and confidence in our system of justice. The inconsistent and unstable funding has adverse consequences for all of us.

Our most vulnerable people are at greater risk — children and families involved in juvenile dependency or delinquency proceedings, domestic violence cases, divorce and custody issues — and are negatively affected by the ongoing reductions in court budgets.

Our business climate is destabilized when reductions in court services increasingly put pressure on courts, requiring them to do more with less. Regrettably, all of this leads to a mindset that the civil justice system is discretionary. The effects of the criminal justice side are also felt deeply, and our system's ability to ensure public safety is increasingly strained.

These issues are of grave concern to all of us. And these are more than budget problems. We must analyze and improve the structure of our court funding system to fully deliver on the promise of a statewide system of justice. We know that significant gains have been made from both policy and programmatic perspectives. But we aren't "there" yet.

All three branches of government have a responsibility and an obligation to engage in solving the funding issues that challenge us.

I recently had the honor of introducing Chief Justice George at a meeting he convened of representatives from all the key stakeholders in California's justice system to consider how to ensure a consistent and adequate source of funding for the state's courts. The chief justice has taken the lead on this crucial issue.

Also in attendance were Orange County Sens. Joe Dunn and Dick Ackerman, who have been outstanding leaders in the legislature in their efforts to secure adequate funding of our court system.

The budget crisis also provides an opportunity for the State Bar, the representative agency for California's 195,000 lawyers, to meet this challenge as an equal partner with the judicial branch to ensure the sound and fair administration of justice.

Lawyers are officers of the court and have a primary stake in providing their clients and the legal process with a court system that has adequate facilities, professional staff and a judiciary that has the support and respect of the public and the profession.

Shakespeare noted our importance as lawyers and as leaders in our communities. It is imperative that we do what we can to protect our judicial system and the legal process by ensuring a strong, independent and accessible court system.

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