Monday, March 5, 2012

Pro Bono Emeritus

From the web page of the Tennessee Supreme Court:

The Tennessee Supreme Court has approved the petitions of two attorneys to receive pro bono emeritus status. Through the Court’s pro bono emeritus program, retired attorneys may provide pro bono legal services through organizations that offer free legal services to Tennesseans who are unable to afford legal counsel.

Susan Carolyn Howard of Memphis and Charles E. Racine of Gallatin received pro bono emeritus status from the Supreme Court in January.

“We commend Ms. Howard and Mr. Racine for sharing their time and talents with the growing number of Tennesseans who cannot afford legal services,” Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark said. “We hope more attorneys will follow their example by participating in this program and other opportunities to provide pro bono legal assistance.”

The pro bono emeritus program was established on Jan. 1, 2011, as part of the Court’s ongoing efforts to improve access to justice in the state. Three attorneys statewide have received this designation since the pro bono emeritus program was adopted.

The pro bono emeritus rule gives retired attorneys the authority to perform all legal work, without pay, on behalf of a client. Pro bono emeritus attorneys may represent the client in court with the approval of the judge hearing the case.

Retired attorneys who wish to participate in the program must file an application with the appellate court clerk’s office. They must have actively practiced law for five of the past 10 years or practiced law for 25 years preceding their application. The Supreme Court reviews all applications and provides a written approval to the attorney.

(Mike Frisch)

March 5, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Can't Encourage No Stinking Badges

A recent opinion from the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee:


May a judicial candidate’s spouse, with the candidate’s knowledge, attend a political party function wearing the candidate’s campaign badge?

ANSWER: No. The candidate must encourage the spouse not to campaign at the event, which would include wearing a campaign badge or otherwise being identified as the candidate’s spouse.



A judicial candidate’s spouse contemplates attending a political party function wearing the candidate’s campaign badge. The candidate acknowledges that if this constitutes campaigning, it would not be permissible.



This issue has been resolved by the Supreme Court in the reprimand issued in In Re Angel, 867 So. 2d 379 (Fla. 2004), and by this Committee’s opinion in Fla. JEAC Op. 10-16.

      In Angel, the judge’s wife, with his knowledge, attended and participated on his behalf at a “Meet the Candidates Night.” The judge’s wife assumed that the opponent was invited, but the opponent was not invited and was not present.  The Judicial Qualifications Commission and the Supreme Court found that this activity violated the spirit and the letter of Section 105.071, Florida Statutes, and Canon 7 of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. This activity, along with other transgressions, supported a public reprimand.

This Committee relied upon Angel in Fla. JEAC Op. 10-16 when we opined that although a judicial candidate’s spouse can attend a political party function, the spouse may not campaign in any way for the judicial candidate’s election. Wearing a candidate’s campaign badge at a political party function is clearly campaigning on the candidate’s behalf.

Both this Committee and the Supreme Court have recognized that a judicial candidate’s spouse has autonomy in the political arena and the spouse is free to engage in political activities which the spouse deems appropriate. However, a judicial candidate must adhere to Canon 7A(3)(b), which requires a candidate for judicial office to encourage members of the candidate’s family to adhere to the same standard of political conduct in support of the candidate which apply to the candidate.

For the reasons set forth above, the spouse may attend the political party function, but the candidate must encourage the spouse not to campaign at the event, which would include wearing a campaign badge or otherwise being identified as the candidate’s spouse.

(Mike Frisch)

March 5, 2012 in Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stalking Not Moral Turpitude

The March 2012 California Bar Journal has this summary of a disciplinary matter:

[An attorney] was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual two-year suspension and until he proves his rehabilitation, and he was ordered to take the MPRE and comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court. He received credit for a period of interim suspension that began June 23, 2008. The order took effect July 8, 2011, but the actual suspension ended Dec. 20, after he demonstrated his rehabilitation.

In 2009, [the attorney], a former deputy public defender, was convicted of felony stalking and misdemeanor harassing phone calls and violating a protective order. However, after the bar sought [his] summary disbarment, the review department determined that stalking does not involve moral turpitude and the crime therefore does not meet the summary disbarment criteria.

A woman [the attorney] met through an online dating service obtained a protective order against him after he sent her numerous emails that she interpreted as threatening. He also entered her home a few days after she left the state and rifled through her possessions; he claimed he went to the house to retrieve his personal belongings. [He] violated the protective order by trying to contact the victim through an email to her mother.

After a five-count indictment was filed against [him], he represented himself at a jury trial where he was convicted of a felony and two misdemeanors. The stalking felony was eventually reduced to a misdemeanor, based on [his] participation in substance abuse counseling, domestic violence prevention and payment of all fees and restitution.

[He] submitted extensive mitigation evidence, including no prior discipline, cooperation with the bar’s investigation, serious family problems, clinical depression and substance abuse. He has been sober since 2008.

The ABA Journal had this earlier report. (Mike Frisch)

March 5, 2012 in Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Louisiana Bar Admission Changes

A recent announcement from the web page of the Louisiana Supreme Court:

Two Orders have been executed that amend provisions pertaining to Part I of the Bar examination. The first Order is effective immediately and amends the February 2012 Bar examination. The current scoring structure is retained, except that the conditional failure option has been eliminated. Therefore, applicants who have conditionally failed the examination will have one final chance to sit for the separate subject examinations required to pass at the February 2012 examination. See Rule XVII, Section 8(A) (effective October 19, 2011).

The Court has also placed a limitation on the number of times an applicant may sit for the Louisiana Bar examination. Applicants shall have only five (5) attempts to pass the Bar examination. See Rule XVII, Section 8(C) (effective October 19, 2011).

The second Order is effective on July 1, 2012. It implements a "compensatory scoring" system commencing with the July 2012 Bar examination, and sets 650 as the required score for passing (with Code subjects to be weighted twice as much as non-Code subjects).

In addition, applicants are required to sit for all nine (9) subject examinations and make a good faith effort to pass each subject examination, or they will fail Part I of the Bar examination. See Rule XVII, Section 7(A) (effective July 1, 2012).

Questions regarding the amendments to Rule XVII should be directed to the Committee on Bar Admissions at 504-836-2420.

(Mike Frisch)

March 5, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fraidin on How We Talk About Child Welfare and the Lawyer's Role

Matthew I. Fraidin, a visiting associate professor at Georgetown Law, has posted to SSRN his 2012 essay, "Changing the Narrative of Child Welfare." Its abstract:

In child welfare, the difference we can make as lawyers for parents, children, and the state, and as judges, is to prevent children from entering foster care unnecessarily. And we can end a child’s stay in foster care as quickly as possible. To do that, we have to fight against a powerful narrative of child welfare and against the accepted “top-down” paradigm of legal services.

In this essay, Professor Fraidin suggests that we can achieve our goals of limiting entries to foster care and speeding exits from it by looking for the strengths of the people involved in our cases, rather than their weaknesses. We can look for what they can do, rather than what they can’t. We can focus on their abilities, not the shortcomings over which we often obsess — like drug addiction, impatience, illiteracy, poverty. We can start from a premise that families involved with child welfare are bundles of assets, rather than collections of problems. If we can do all this, we can help families build, rather than watch them fall.

[Alan Childress]

March 4, 2012 in Abstracts Highlights - Academic Articles on the Legal Profession | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)