September 1, 2011
Interim Chief Trial Counsel Named
From the September 2011 California Bar Journal:
Jayne Kim, a former State Bar prosecutor and current assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, was named interim chief trial counsel last month. She said her goal is to achieve a “zero/zero” goal — eliminating the discipline backlog while assuring zero tolerance for attorney misconduct in California. Kim replaces James Towery, who resigned in June after less than a year on the job.
The comment of David Cameron Carr is worth reading. Whether "zero tolerance" is rhetoric or policy, it does ignore the principle that the bar should educate its members as well as punish those who present a danger to the public. Perhaps the comment will trigger some useful debate about the proper role of professional disciplinary regulators.
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What does "zero tolerance" for attorney misconduct mean? Does it mean that every violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or State Bar Act will result in discipline regardless of whether the misconduct really presents a threat to public protection? That discipline prosecutors will refuse to settle cases unless they meet an arbitrary interpretation of California's nebulous discipline Standards? If so, the State Bar of California will again soon have a Drexel-era sized backlog of discipline cases that take years to resolve. Her predecessor Mr. Towery understood that the discipline system's limited resources had to be intelligently allocated to address the most serious misconduct quickly, even if that meant that some other kinds of misconduct were not punished as harshly. Ms. Kim's statement is the sort of political rhetoric that Chief Trial Counsel are required to engage in and hopefully means little more than she understands to politics of her position. Early reports that the Office of Chief Trial Counsel will be (once again) be restructured do not bode well.
Posted by: David Cameron Carr | Sep 1, 2011 6:50:49 PM