Sunday, October 2, 2011

Governor Signs Bill Re-configuring State Bar Governance

 Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., has signed into law SB 163 by Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), which makes the most profound changes in the State Bar of California since the professional disciplinary system was instituted over 20 years ago.

Senator Noreen Evans
The changes made by the bill range from the mostly symbolic (changing the name of the Bar's governing body from the "Board of Governors" to the "Board of Trustees"), to the mostly obvious (establishing in statute that the primary purpose of the State Bar is the protection of the public), to the substantive (changing the composition of the governing board from one dominated (15 of 23) by attorneys elected by their fellow attorneys to one comprised primarily of political appointees.  Once a "grandfathering" process has been completed to permit the current contingent of elected governors to serve out their terms, the resulting board will consist of 19 members, including six attorney members elected from new districts coinciding those of the courts of appeal; five attorney members appointed by the Supreme Court, which is encouraged to appoint the members from specified demographies; non-attorney public members appointed by the Governor, Senate Rules Committee, and Speaker of the Assembly (the same as current law); and two new attorney members appointed by the Senate Rules Committee and Speaker of the Assembly.

The Board of Governors has appointed a "Transition Plan Subcommittee" of its Planning, Program Development and Budget Committee, which will develop a "Proposed Plan to Transition the Bar to a Smaller Board."  The committee is chaired by third year governor Patrick Kelly of Los Angeles, and includes attorney members Alec Chang, Craig Holden, and Loren Kieve, and public members Dennis Mangers and Gwen Moore.  It will hold its initial meeting on Monday, October 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bar's San Francisco office.

The undisputed good news about the signing of SB 163 is that the bill extends for another year the Bar's authority to collect fees from the state's lawyers, thereby ensuring the continuation of the Bar's activities - and primarily its attorney discipline system - for the coming year.  The fees authorized under the bill are reduced by a $10 rebate, and all members will also be given the option of designating that $20 of their fees (as opposed to the current $10) go to support legal services programs.  In addition, the bill memorializes the Bar's agreement to transfer $2 million in each of the next two fiscal years from funds received from non-mandatory sources to the IOLTA program, again for the support of legal services.

For a detailed description of these and other provisions of SB 163, see the final Assembly Judiciary Committee analysis of the bill prepared for its September 2, 2011, hearing.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this information, Larry.
    On August 16, 2011 I filed a Section 1983 civil rights claim against the California State Bar (and others), USDC Case No. EDCV11-1300 DOC (SP), for violating my First Amendment rights to report the truth about matters of public concern.
    My reports criticized the California State Bar for its complete LACK OF PUBLIC PROTECTION. My Complaint exposes the collusory relationship between the CA State Bar, CA Attorney General's Office (at that time run by Jerry Brown), and the CA Department of Real Estate who all acted in concert to defraud California consumers.
    CA State Bar employees, including Paul O'Brien, Tom Layton and John Noonen paid Judge Franz E. Miller a significant bribe to enter 2 permanent injunctions against me to prevent me from reporting about these facts to the severe detriment of CA consumers in foreclosure.
    So, I find it ironic that Jerry Brown enacted this legislation, to do what every other politician has promised to do (but failed), in terms of protecting the public against California State Bar-licensed attorneys. If they were truly concerned, they would retroactively settle the thousands of claims now pending in the State Bar's Client Security Fund and disbar the attorneys associated with those claims. But they won't do that because then they would have to admit that they PROTECTED THE ATTORNEYS AND REAL ESTATE BROKERS, instead of the public.
    Don't forget, Senate Bill 94 prohibiting all loan modification providers from taking advanced fees EXPIRES IN 2013. At that point we will see an even worse debacle against consumers in foreclosure because the 3-year and 5-year interest-only subprime loans will transition in full-payment principal loans. Erin Baldwin: (951-333-1484).