Letter to the Editor

Get rid of Bar Court

San Luis ObispoMay 12, 2014 

Dan Walters recently wrote an excellent commentary broadly critical of the California State Bar, but it lacked specificity (Commentary, April 23).

The State Bar has its own Bar Court and prosecutorial staff to discipline attorneys. In the rest of the United States, this function is part of the regular court system, as it has been in England since 1567.

After creating this Bar Court, the State Bar made it substantially more difficult to prosecute attorneys by requiring a high level of proof, i.e., clear and convincing evidence, instead of the regular civil criteria — fair preponderance of evidence, i.e., 51 percent — to prove a violation.

Contrary to the rules throughout the United States, the State Bar requires all arbitrators and mediators to be attorneys. The parties cannot have a member of the clergy mediate their dispute because the clergyperson would be practicing law without a license, which is a crime.

The only way to rectify these and other ills is to do away with Bar Court.

Instead, place Bar Court in the regular court system and lower the standard of proof to 51 percent. Second, do not allow commingling of funds. Third, accurately define what constitutes the practice of the law as it relates to mediation and arbitration, and pro bono work by attorneys for the elderly and poor.

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