Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Assembly Denies State Bar Funding Bill-- Perhaps Enough is Finally Enough!

Useless, Anachronistic Organization Must Answer for Paying Director More than Governor

It looks like enough is finally enough. After paying 14 employees each more than California Gov. Brown, the Assembly has finally had it. The State Bar, funded entirely by bar dues, is unable to fund its operations without billing its members.

"This is new territory for me," said Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) as he counted the votes for his committee's simple bill to reauthorize membership dues imposed on attorneys, who must join the State Bar of California in order to practice their profession and keep their jobs. Most of them would have nothing at all to do with the State Bar, if they had any choice in the matter.

Only eight assembly members voted to support the State Bar's request for money, after a bipartisan group of assembly members refused to once more accept the agency's corrupt way of doing business, in the wake of a recent audit and accusations leveled by its former executive director, Joe Dunn.

Like so many inherently corrupt organizations before it, the State Bar's downfall was sealed when it opened its doors to a man of decency. Former state Sen. Joe Dunn is suing the California State Bar for what he alleges is wrongful termination as its executive director after he reported unlawful and unethical conduct by board members and staff. That's what happens when a good man opens the door and walks into a house of ill repute. He calls in the police.

The Bar, which in theory is governed by the California Supreme Court, in fact answers to no one and does whatever it wants to do. This means it disciplines only attorneys who represent poor people, such as personal injury plaintiffs, and leaves rich people lawyers entirely alone. It decides whom it wants to get, subpoenas records, makes up a bunch of charges, and summarily, permanently disbars anyone it doesn't like--anyone who opposes it's tyrannical authority.

The Bar has faced complete disgust over its business practices and internal operations for decades. The state audit earlier this month concluded that the agency had a "lack of transparency" in its dealings with both attorneys and the public -- which is an understated way of saying it's completely corrupt.

Assembly Bill 2878 tried to place a bandaid on the enormous, insoluble problems of a 90 year old organization patterned after the Soviet Communist Party (I'm not making this up: with a temporary the authorization to impose $390 annual membership fees for attorneys.

"Everyone agrees that the bar needs to be reformed in some significant ways," said Stone. But his colleagues held their collective noses when asked to fund such a corrupt organization for yet another year.

"It's time that we send a clear message to the state bar," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

"I hope we have the opportunity to vote on a bill that reflects real reform," said Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco).

Other professionals in this state are regulated by the State of California, usually through the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Lawyers are no better than plumbers or hairdressers or auto mechanics. They should answer to the same authority. This is an opportunity for the State Legislature to correct an historical wrong, and incorporate the State Bar of California, into the State government.

Says the Sacramento Bee:


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