Sunday, June 19, 2016

California State Bar is failing in its duty to oversee lawyers' ethics

The California State Bar's dismal history shows why it should be broken up
Michael Hiltzik
LA Times
June 17, 2016

Let’s put this in terms that even an attorney with peerless loophole-seeking skills would consider straightforward: the California State Bar is a mess.

In recent years, the organization has been the target of withering state audits documenting misspent fees by the millions, overpaid executives, and inept management of its all-important duty of licensing lawyers and managing professional discipline. 

Its reputation is at a low ebb among state legislators, who last month placed on hold the organization’s yearly authorization to collect annual fees because the measure didn’t go far enough to achieve reform.

The Bar’s dual role as licenser and ethics enforcer as well as trade organization pushing policy changes,  critics say, leaves it hopelessly mired in a conflict of interest.

“You don’t delegate regulatory power to a special interest group,” says Robert Fellmeth, executive director of the University of San Diego’s Center for Public Interest Law and a frequent critic of the Bar. “To let them be the decision-makers is obscene.”

These issues seem to crop up every few years, but seldom with as much urgency as now. That’s because a 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has put professional licensing bodies on notice that they could be guilty of antitrust violations if a majority of their members are participants in the business they regulate.

The California State Bar is governed by a 19-member board of trustees, 13 of whom are lawyers. You do the math.

The Court decision isn’t the only driver of potential change. “People can suffer irreparable harm from attorneys,” says Fellmeth, a lawyer. They can be deprived of their liberty by inadequate representation in criminal court or immigration cases..

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rapist, a privileged Stanford athlete, sentenced to only six months in jail after a judge expressed concern for his future

Stanford Woman Shares The Powerful Letter She Read To The Man Who Assaulted Her

Lilli Petersen
Refinery 29
June 4, 2016

After her rapist was sentenced to only six months in jail for her horrifying assault, his accuser is speaking out.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, shared a full copy of the letter she read at the sexual assault trial of Brock Turner with BuzzFeed News. In March, Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault. A former Stanford University student and prospective 2016 Olympic swimmer, Turner faced 14 years in jail on the convictions, according to The Guardian. However, Judge Aaron Persky decided to sentence him to six months plus probation, saying that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over
an island looking for boats to save;
they just stand there shining. Although
I can’t save every boat, I hope that by
speaking today, you absorbed a small
amount of light, a small knowing that
you can’t be silenced, a small
satisfaction that justice was served, a
small assurance that we are getting
somewhere, and a big, big knowing
that you are important,
unquestionably, you are untouchable,
you are beautiful, you are to be
valued, respected, undeniably, every
minute of every day, you are powerful
and nobody can take that away from

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