September 5, 2008
Amendment to California Bar Act Retroactive
This is an interesting retroactivity case. Although disbarred lawyers had long been responsible for paying the costs of disbarment, a 2003 amendment to the state bar act created a specific enforcement mechanism, rather than leaving it the disbarred lawyer to voluntarily pay. A lawyer was disbarred and at that time there was no enforcement mechanism in place, but six months later the statute was amended to create it. The bar sought to use the mechanism, and the disbarred lawyer argued the enforcement mechanism could not be used against him, as it was not intended to operate retroactively and its retroactive application would violate the law. Gadda v. St. B. of Cal., 511 F.3d 933 (9th Cir. 2007). It's an interesting read, particularly because the text did not indicate retroactivity but the court immediately went to the legislative history, which clearly stated that it was intended to apply to pending cases. It then quickly rejected the ex post facto and due process challenges.
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