California Bar Journal
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Why there has been a steady increase of agoraphobics...

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Court gender bias a myth

Let’s be honest. There is no credible evidence of deeply rooted gender bias in the courtroom. A few isolated instances do not make a course of conduct or a national problem.

Naturally, Ms. Schafran, the National Judicial Education Program and others who make their living by whining about supposed gender bias could not be expected to face this truth. If they weren’t spending their time trying to “educate” judges regarding this non-existent problem, they might have to go out and, it is to be hoped, do something useful in this world.

Arlene Heath
San Francisco

No publication rule makes a mockery of the law

It is time for the bar to speak out against the no-publication, no-citation rule (CRC 977).

My client, a widow with an interest in a trust fund, was the recent victim of an unpublished Court of Appeal decision. The court’s opinion cannot be reconciled with California Supreme Court cases or the “Restatement of Torts.”

Many justices like CRC 977 because it lessens their work and increases their power. Defenders of the rule say that in view of the crush of cases, the court does not have time to be sure its rulings agree with existing law.

Let us be frank here: if the Court of Appeal is not bound by the law in reaching its results, what criteria does it use? The highest bribe?

A no-citation rule similar to CRC 977 was found unconstitutional by the Eighth Circuit in Anastasoff v. United States, 223 F.3d 898 (8th Cir. Aug. 22, 2000).

If the Court of Appeal is free to ignore precedent, the law is a mockery. Conscientious lawyers should inveigh against CRC 977 as an abortion of justice, at once.

William J. Moriarty
San Francisco

Judge Couwenberg should be ashamed

I have been a California attorney for over 25 years. I am also a partially disabled Vietnam veteran; I spent 19 months in Vietnam as an enlisted

man. Judge Couwenberg has violated the honor of every American military man by claiming honors not due him (October Bar Journal). Any one of his false military claims should constitute grounds for his removal from the bench.

Truly appropriate discipline for Judge Couwenberg would require him to serve in the Army for three years, be stationed in a war zone and to receive a shrapnel wound to his groin. As a pale substitute, I suggest removing him from office and referral to the State Bar for disbarment. Perhaps the order could issue on Veterans Day or Memorial Day to honor those who truly did what Judge Couwenberg cravenly claimed to have done to advance his personal agenda.

Tom Harriman

More discipline outrages

It seems that the disciplinary process is once again degenerating. Three disbarments v. 24 suspensions (October Bar Journal). And most of the suspensions coming after a number of previous offenses and violations.

But the most flagrant example of the bar’s tolerance of the sleaze and corruption infecting the profession is the suspension of Robert Neil Marcus. The court cited in mitigation Marcus’ pro bono work, a donation to the Diabetes Foundation, and bless his heart, a donation of uniforms to a softball team.

Egads! Can anything be more pathetic and revealing of the bar’s total incompetence in dealing with the trash calling themselves lawyers?

Norman Dreyfuss
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Ethics case not scary

The case cited by Diane Karpman in September, Streit v. Covington & Crowe, 82 CA4 441, is less alarming than it seems. The client sued the original attorney for malpractice, then joined the contract attorney as an additional defendant, even though the contract attorney had made but one special appearance.

The contract attorney moved for summary judgment, stating that, as a matter of law, he had no duty to the client. The appeal court refused to permit this, hardly a startling result. I would doubt that any contract attorney would be heard to say that he or she had no duty to the client.

What the contract attorney needs to do, and doubtless will soon do, is file a new motion for summary judgment, alleging that factually he committed no malpractice during his one brief appearance in the case. If so, he would be entitled to judgment, as he could not be held liable vicariously for the malpractice, if any, of the original referring attorney.

Michael Mahoney
San Francisco