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March 06, 2009

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David Cameron Carr

One way the State Bar might operate more efficiently might be for the Office of Chief Trial Counsel to make it policy to attempt to settle discipline cases earlier. This would mean OCTC abandoning the current rigid approach to applying the disciplinary standards, and returning the historical practice of regarding them as guidelines. The current policy has led to trials being double and triple calendared in State Bar Court. State Bar Court Rules of Procedure allow for an early neutral evaluation conference before charges are filed. This process was put into place the last time the State Bar faced a major crisis, after the State Bar discipline system had been shut down by Gov. Wilson's veto of the dues bill. It was the idea of the special master appointed by the California Supreme Court to insure that the fee assessment they ordered was wisely spent. Then, as now, the State Bar faced a gigantic resource issue, albeit a different one: the huge backlog of unprocessed complaints that had built up during the shutdown. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel prioritized its cases and and ADR process, the early neutral evaluation process was instituted the resolve cases under court guidance quickly without sacrificing public protection. OCTC has departed from these practices in recent years in a misguided effort to "get tough" on discipline. The latest departure is the proposal currently out for public comment that would allow OCTC a unilateral veto in even scheduling an early neutral evaluation. A return to a reasonable interpretation of the Standards, a prioritization of cases early in the intake process, and a policy of encouraging settlement early in most disciplinary matters would conserve its resources and actually serve public protection by speeding up the discipline process.

David Cameron Carr
President, Association of Discipline Defense Counsel
www.disciplinedefensecounsel.org

THE CAT

HERE IS AN IDEA. HOW ABOUT DOING AWAY WITH THE STATE BAR AS A MANDATORY DEFACTO UNION THAT POLICES ITSELF AND ITS MEMBERS. LETS LEAVE IT UP TO CIVIL AND CRIMINAL COURTS TO DO THAT. SOME STATE AGENCY CAN ADMINISTER THE BAR EXAM TWICE A YEAR FOR LESS MONEY. BUT I GUESS THAT IS TO COMPLICATED. ITS GOING TO HAPPEN BECAUSE THE ECON IS NOT GETTING BETTER AND THE MEMBERSHIP WONT STAND FOR $1,000.00 BI YEARLY DUES EVEN IF OLD GEORGE ORDERS IT UNDER THE "INHERENT POWER OF THE SUPT CT TO REGULATE ATTORNEYS" DOGMA LIKE THE LAST TIME.

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