November 15, 2006
HALT Organization Grades States' Lawyer Discipline Systems (and Utah Gets No Big Love)
Posted by Alan Childress
The watchdog organization HALT ("An Organization of Americans for Legal Reform") is out with its new report card on bar discipline. All the states' bar discipline systems are graded for 2006 based on such factors as adequacy of discipline, promptness, openness, fairness, and lay participation.
This follows up the organization's 2002 survey and assessment. "Unfortunately, few states showed any improvement, and many states' systems actually saw their grades decline!" Only Utah, right, received an F this time around (slow, gags complainants, and imposes public discipline in less than 5% of investigated cases). But that is hardly good news for many other states. It is not as if the plethora with a D+ (including New York, Ohio, Iowa, Texas, and California) or C- (Virginia, Louisiana, Kansas, and many others) can brag to their local papers. DC and Jersey got a C+. The 'best' grades (B-) went to Colorado, Arizona, and Connecticut. [Not the same curve used at many law schools today, but fascinating nonetheless.]
There's a helpful color-coded map rating the states. Specifics on each are found by a pull-down menu, with details on all factors and their changes since 2002. Here's the comparison chart for all jurisdictions. The HALT site follows other issues and is one of the permanent resources we link at left.
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HALT performs a most useful public service in its attempts to bring scrutiny to bar discipline. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for outsiders to know how truly bad a system may be.
Posted by: Mike Frisch | Nov 16, 2006 6:28:22 AM
Societal fear,ignorance and disunity protects and empowers unscrupulous political despots --, and unscrupulous attorneys far more than do their trade unions, the ABA or the ATLA as well as PAC money politics. Most Americans are not even aware of the 50 state attorney "discipline" bureaucracies much less understand how to file a formal complaint against an attorney. And the lawyers "like it that way". The first step to taking effective, corrective action against attorney monopoly and predation is to first fully inform millions of currently uninformed consumers of where and how to file a formal complaint against an attorney with their state attorney discipline counsel.
The second step is to set up an "in the public interest" LLC centralized "data base" with satellite data bases in three or four multi state breakdowns of the master data base.
The third step is to "exploit" those impotent, apathetic, "fox guarding the chicken house" attorney "discipline" counsels by having thousands of "fully informed -, unified and organized legitimate victims" of frivolous, malicious lawsuits -, filing a blizzard of formal, legitimate and valid complaints against attorneys with them. AND making thousands of copies of each "full disclosure complaint" including the names of ALL attorneys,their city of practice and dollar figure legal fees" for public distribution. That can be done via e-mail, Internet marketing, classified ads and the "fed up" international truckers distribution network". And the Anti Trust Division of the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov should also receive a copy of every formal "full disclosure" complaint filed against an attorney with the state attorney "discipline" counsel.
Banks, credit card corporations, vehicle leasing corporations, insurance companies and other giant corporations are permitted and empowered by law to "protect their interests" by obtaining a "dossier" from the credit bureaus on prospective customers and clients before risking doing business with them. But millions of hapless, working class Americans -, are expected to "blindly trust an attorney, risk their futures and fork over tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal retainers -, based solely on the word of the attorney". The legal exploitation and fleecing that thousands of Americans have suffered due that blatant double standard "speaks for itself" and is irrefutable..
Unscrupulous, "self policed" attorneys are able to rein over, prey on and pick our pockets "at will" because they are organized and focused. We are not. The lawyers have only two centralized major "trade unions" and informational data bases, the American Bar Association and The American Trail Lawyers Association. We, as their powerless legal prey are fragmented, disorganized, un-data based , intimidated, unfocused and "disarmed". And currently at the mercy of impotent, apathetic and "turf protecting" state attorney "discipline" counsels -, such a the one in Kansas . It gets an "F" from the American Bar Association itself for public participation--, a D minus (close to an "F") for Adequacy of Discipline and a "D plus" (one notch above an "F") for promptness in investigating a complaint. And members of all attorney discipline hearing panels -, in Kansas -, must be made up of a "deck stacking majority of two thirds attorneys.
That literally paralyzes our efforts to hold unscrupulous lawyers fully and effectively accountable and protect other citizens because we currently can't "credit bureau their chicanery" by "blowing the whistle. But with the strategy I've suggested we can do just that-, aka unified, organized and focused numbers of fed up victims filing a continuous blizzard of formal complaints against attorneys with their state attorney "discipline" bureaucracies -, with thousands of copies to "society at large". That should fall under and be protected by the "First Amendment" -, as long as we stick to the facts. The truth is allegedly an "absolute and un-breachable right --, and a defense". And the honest attorneys should have no quarrel with that strategy --, if they're as honest and they profess to be. After all as long as they "stay honest" they won't be profiled --, and there will be "less competition for their services" when the "rats in their ranks" are put out of business.
We need to imitate the lawyer's strategy and their success by channeling all of our anger -, our information and our formal complaints into one "Capitol Data Base" (like a credit bureau headquarters) with at most 4 or 5 satellite data bases which collect, organize and create "credit reports on lawyers" (copies of formal complaints filed by victims). Then we make that information available to the public for a nominal fee.
If we continue to struggle against predatory attorneys with the same fragmented, unfocused, intimidated disorganized strategy we've always used -, and continue to permit the lawyers to "police themselves without effective and consistent public oversight and participation -, we will continue to fall prey to predator attorneys. We have to take "attorney discipline into our own hands" by exploiting the "fox guarding house attorney discipline bureaucracies" as the vehicle of our mission by using it to initiate and formalize the complaints and then "mass produce and distribute" copies of those "full disclosure complaints" for a nominal fee to fund the program. We'll probably qualify as a tax exempt "public interest" enterprise.
Ivan Fail, Marshfield, Missouri. Retired Federal Prison Officer and retired over the road trucker -, and a current defendant in a malicious, frivolous lawsuit in Wilson County (Fredonia) Kansas.
Posted by: Ivan L. Fail | Oct 6, 2007 10:28:08 AM