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Who is really protected?

I’m wondering whether those of us who buy malpractice insurance should also inform our clients of the following: “If I completely botch your case, perhaps missing the filing date in violation of the statute regarding Limitations of Actions, please be advised that my malpractice insurance company representatives, in the spirit of Moraldi v. Shalal (ca. 1989), will defend your case against me with the zeal of a starving lion attacking a rabbit.

“If you think you need help with your legal case now, just wait until the insurance company does everything in its considerable power to thwart your recovery of fair damages. My insurance company’s first responsibility is to its partners or shareholders, not to paying you.”

The headline on my copy of the June California Bar Journal read: “Finally, board approves an insurance disclosure rule.” Given the above, I don’t get the reason for the celebration. Let’s not kid ourselves: the goal here is to incrementally chip away at members until we all get the idea that we all ought to buy malpractice insurance so the insurers can build some more skyscrapers, buy yachts, etc.

Let’s not be deluded into thinking that our clients are going to be protected. We can call this “financial responsibility” just like mandatory auto insurance, which the Moraldi v. Shalal case pretty much kicked the “responsibility” part out of.

Without a duty of good faith and fair dealing and the threat of punitive damages against the insurers, the insurance doesn’t really do anything but protect me from the mistakes I make against my poor clients.

Remember my clients? Those are the folks who hired me to help them.

I found it hypocritical to see (on the same front page) the headline, “Lawyers and the neglected middle class.” We pay a lot of lip service to the gap between the justice the wealthy can afford and the lack of it for the middle class. In the same breath, we want to increase costs on the very lawyers who are the only ones available to provide relief.

Timothy Lee Davis
Elyria, Ohio

It’s about time

In response to the article, “Misconduct Charges for Three Prosecutors,” (July) it is way past time to purge the DA offices of California of lawless, sociopathic prosecutors who have little to no respect for the rule of law, truth or justice.

The bar has contributed to this problem by failing in the past to properly discipline prosecutors who violate ethical standards to which other attorneys are subject. I’m very happy to see a trend away from this on the part of the bar.

Many in the criminal defense bar quite reasonably believe the kind of conduct addressed in this article is cultural and just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s very frightening to contemplate prosecutors, such as described in the article, ultimately sitting on the bench, which is composed mainly of former prosecutors. Drawing judicial officers this way leads to cultural group think, which is detrimental to a balanced bench and substantial justice.

Our judiciary is desperately in need of more bench officers with diverse perspectives.

John A. Greaves
Los Angeles

Bad idea

Here are my comments on posting disciplinary charges online:

1. Part of the bar’s rationale for the proposal to put mere charges, as compared to results, online is that “the vast majority of charges filed by the bar are proved. In 2007, culpability was found in 92 percent of the charges filed by bar prosecutors; in 2006, it was 91 percent.” That means one out of 12 was exonerated in 2006, and one out of 11 was exonerated in 2007.

These are analogous to acquittal rates in felony trials. And just like formal charges, arrest records are public information. Would the State Bar support listing all arrestees on a California Web site, because “only” one out of 12 arrestees would eventually be exonerated?

2. The bar assures us that “should an attorney be exonerated or the matter dismissed, all reference to the discipline would be deleted.” And would the bar reimburse the innocent attorney for all fees he lost while being, essentially, libeled by the bar?

After all, since it’s “only” one out of 12, the bar wouldn’t have to pay everybody.

Kurtiss Jacobs

Political correctness

Don’t State Bar presidents grow weary of inveighing State Bar members and California Bar Journal readers about “diversity”? The president’s opinion piece in the July edition now informs us that pictures of “white men” in the State Bar’s board of governors room, portraying each past State Bar president, merit criticism because of their color and gender. The State Bar president even proclaims that so-called diversification reflects upon State Bar members’ “competence and . . . credibility.” At the same time, he concedes, “. . . legal problems are blind to race and gender.”

I recommend he read Article I, Section 31 of the California Constitution which arguably applies to the State Bar as a legislatively created state institution. That clause bars discrimination by preferential treatment on account of race, sex, color or national origin, perhaps even regarding 20th century portraits.

Quentin L. Kopp
Judge, Superior Court, Ret.
Redwood City

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