SUBJECT

Proposed modifications to Rules of Procedure of The State Bar of California.

DISCUSSION

The Rules of Procedure of The State Bar of California, which provide both procedural and substantive requirements for cases in the State Bar Court, have been revised as part of the ongoing efforts of the State Bar to clarify the organization and language of its rules.

With some exceptions, most of the revisions are not intended to substantively change the rules of procedure. The substantive changes, which are set forth in more detail below, are intended to streamline the processing of discipline matters.

BACKGROUND

In 2006, the State Bar undertook a rules revision project to integrate the organization’s more than two dozen sets of rules into a comprehensive structure of seven titles and to make the rules simpler, clearer, and more uniform. The Rules of Procedure of the State Bar were originally adopted by the Board of Governors in 1989 to provide both procedural and substantive requirements for cases in the State Bar Court. While the Rules of Procedure have been amended on occasion, in recent years the rules have been criticized as too complex and cumbersome. In addition, while the majority of cases are processed in a fairly timely manner, highly contested cases can take several years to reach their final outcome as a result of the detailed procedures.

To address these concerns, the Supreme Court asked the State Bar Court to review the rules and determine whether revisions were warranted. We have reviewed the rules with two main goals:

  1. Simplifying the language as part of the State Bar’s overall rules revision project, and
  2. Streamlining the adjudicatory process before the State Bar Court.

To facilitate our first goal, we contracted with Bryan Garner to redraft the rules using straightforward language, i.e., plain English. This process did not involve any substantive changes to the existing rules.

As for streamlining the process, we examined our current procedures to determine where delays and other obstacles to a timely resolution exist. As part of this process, Presiding Judge Joann Remke of the State Bar Court, presented an overview of possible changes at the March 2010 Board of Governors meeting in Los Angeles.

Following that Board meeting, the State Bar Court held two public hearings. The first on April 8, 2010 in Los Angeles and the second on April 9, 2010 in San Francisco. Representatives from the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel and the Respondent’s bar attended both meetings. At that time, the proposed changes were discussed and input was requested.

The attached draft provides a side-by-side comparison of the original rules (left side) and corresponding proposed revisions (right side).

PROPOSAL

Please see attached agenda item.

ATTACHMENTS
SOURCE

Discipline Oversight Committee

COMMENT DEADLINE

The public comment period is extended for proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure that seek to clarify language and streamline cases before the State Bar Court.

August 25, 2010

DIRECT COMMENTS TO:

Doug Hull
State Bar Court
180 Howard Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-538-2015
415-538-2090 Fax