Thursday, April 3, 2008

California Changes

The web page of the California State Bar reports that amendments to the procedural rules governing bar discipline have been proposed by the Bar's Board of Governors. Among the proposed changes is a rule that prohibits last-minute resignations without any admission of misconduct. Such resignations will be considered "disciplinary resignations" and involve such an admission. In opposing the change, the president of the Association of Discipline Defense Counsel is quoted as saying that "[t]he current process...serves attorneys well..." Perhaps that is precisely why it needs to be changed. (Mike Frisch)

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Mike, what I actually said to the Regulation and Discipline Committee is that the "current system serves the bar well" because it encourages an early exit for those who no longer wish to practice law and who are have "charges pending". "Charges pending" in California is a term of art meaning that there is at least one open investigation, no matter what stage of the process it is at. Many attorneys in California resign even when the charges would not merit disbarment, when the charges are little more than allegations or when all or some of the charges do not have merit. If this change is approved by our Supreme Court, many of those cases will be headed for litigation in our State Bar Court. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel's proposal creates an incentive for attorneys to contest charges even if they no longer wish to continue practicing. And it does not cover just last minute resignations (which the Supreme Court is free to reject anyway) but all resignations.

Posted by: David Cameron Carr | Apr 3, 2008 1:04:16 PM

David-- many thanks for the thoughtful comment. It's rather easy to be snarky from a distance. As a former bar prosecutor, I'm well aware that disciplinary matters are best resolved when both sides are represented by competent and ethical lawyers.

Posted by: Mike Frisch | Apr 3, 2008 3:09:29 PM

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