Since ATL is fairly East Coast-centric, this week it’s all about numerous lawyer happenings alongside the West Coast. (Has anybody ever puzzled why it’s not known as the Western Seaboard?)
What do you consider this? A California legal professional who has been on inactive standing for roughly twenty years has reactivated his license and is now representing an indigent defendant in a demise penalty case. No matter you might take into consideration the passage of time and whether or not this legal professional has saved present with all of the developments in felony regulation and sentencing within the years since deactivating and now reactivating, I ponder what number of attorneys would really feel competent to undertake such illustration as a result of passage of 20 years.
The legal professional, Gary Turnbull, was appointed by the Indigent Protection Program in Bakersfield, which is in Kern County, the following county north of Los Angeles County (suppose farmland, oil wells, and Buck Owens). The Program selects attorneys when there’s a battle with the Public Defender’s Workplace. Turnbull changed the earlier legal professional appointed to characterize the defendant, however it’s unclear why that occurred and the Program, to date, hasn’t mentioned.
The ACLU of Southern California says it’s intervening in Turnbull’s appointment. Its argument? Turnbull engaged in “grave misconduct” when he had intercourse with two daughters of a then shopper again within the 1980s. Nevertheless, Turnbull was by no means disciplined. These encounters weren’t with a shopper, however daughters of a shopper. (Splitting hairs or really not a violation?) So, ought to years of inactive standing disqualify an legal professional from returning to energetic standing, particularly when there’s been no disciplinary motion? If the legal professional says he’s saved present on what he must be present, is that enough for competent illustration?
Let me be clear: I’m undoubtedly not suggesting that there needs to be any type of “refresher” bar examination. Yech. One time was greater than enough and the way many people should endure from some type of PTSD?
The hits preserve coming for Michael Avenatti, or as one wag has known as him, “Michael Avenaughty.” Sure, I do know he’s bicoastal, however he’s a licensee right here in California. The newest to pile it on is the previous girlfriend of an NBA star who was to obtain a multi-million greenback settlement arising out of the termination of their relationship. She claims she’s obtained little or no of what she is owed and that Avenatti embezzled her a part of the settlement (everyone knows, or ought to know, that an legal professional is entitled to his charges and prices), which totals nearly two million . This isn’t the primary declare of embezzlement that Avenatti faces.
It’s comforting to know that the State Bar of California just isn’t the one state bar affiliation that has had its share of complications. The Washington State Bar Affiliation, a unified bar affiliation, appears to be embroiled in its share of tsurris (Yiddish for hassle).
Not in contrast to the State Bar of California, members of the WSBA Board of Governors seem to have existential conflicting opinions as to what the function of the WSBA is and/or needs to be. This identical philosophical debate roiled my state bar till it de-unified as of January 1, 2018. The difficulty: what’s the objective of the WSBA (and the identical query could be requested of any unified state bar): is it public safety or is it to serve the wants and views of the lawyer members? The State Bar of California determined it was the previous.
Studying between the traces, one of many points that will have stirred the pot of controversy up in Washington State or at the least added gas to the continuing hearth was the termination of the manager director, Paula Littlewood, who had served in that function for twelve years. The identical difficulty that members elevate in lots of organizations, and never simply bar associations, is the dearth of transparency. Why was Littlewood terminated? Folks aren’t saying. WSBA is a public company, an arm of the Supreme Court docket. Was it the bar’s resolution to maintain the termination secret for sixty days or did Ms. Littlewood comply with that for no matter causes she and WSBA could have had?
In shifting for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit initiated by a bar member in opposition to WSBA (the thrust of that lawsuit just isn’t Ms. Littlewood’s termination however collateral to the request for momentary reduction) the difficulty the Superior Court docket thought of was whether or not the WSBA needed to adjust to the state’s open assembly regulation. The courtroom mentioned sure, that WSBA is topic to the state’s open assembly regulation, however declined to rule as as to whether Ms. Littlewood needs to be reinstated. She left her place as of the top of March 2019. As all of us realized in treatments (or ought to have realized) a preliminary injunction preserves the established order, and she or he is not within the place.
Parallels to the State Bar of California’s previous couple of years of controversy are hanging. The Board of Governors (now Board of Trustees) terminated then government director Joseph Dunn in 2014 and spent a number of years dealing with his claims earlier than the Bar lastly emerged victorious in arbitration.
Query: how can the general public trust in attorneys and imagine in public safety if a lawyer affiliation is preventing internally and, as occurred with the State Bar of California, hangs out its soiled laundry? It’s one factor to have attorneys vigorously advocating on behalf of shoppers, it’s one other to have an unseemly spectacle just like the State Bar of California debacles of the latest previous (and I’m not even mentioning the disciplinary backlog).
Saul Steinberg’s well-known New Yorker cartoon says there may be nothing of substance west of the Hudson River. These tales from the West Coast make it clear that I disagree.
Jill Switzer has been an energetic member of the State Bar of California for over 40 years. She remembers practising regulation in a kinder, gentler time. She’s had a various authorized profession, together with stints as a deputy district legal professional, a solo follow, and several other senior in-house gigs. She now mediates full-time, which supplies her the chance to see dinosaurs, millennials, and people in-between work together — it’s not at all times civil. You may attain her by e mail at email@example.com.