Alan Insul, a Los Angeles attorney limiting his practice to business, corporate, and real estate, provides pertinent commentary on California Governor’s recent decision to veto a state bar membership dues bill that would have extended the State Bar’s authority to collect annual membership dues through 2010.
On October 13, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 641, which would have extended the California State Bar’s authority to collect annual membership dues through 2010. Schwarzenegger explained in his letter to Senate that he was returning the measure by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, without his signature “because the State Bar cannot continue business as usual.”
While the State Bar has enough funds to continue functioning through 2009, Los Angeles attorney Alan Insul, who is limiting his practice to business, corporate, and real estate cases, says that the veto “seems a bit like overkill” and that a “compromise between the Legislature and Governor,” should be worked out soon.
The governor opined that “inefficiencies remain unaddressed” and that the State Bar maintained a “political agenda.” Governor Schwarzenegger also alluded to Sharon Elyce Pearl, the State Bar’s former director of real property, who was charged in April 2009 with one count of embezzlement and six counts of filing false tax returns in the Alameda County Court. She faces up to nine years in prison if convicted on all counts. The governor went on to reference the media leak of the Fifth District Court of Appeal Justice Charles Poochigian’s “not qualified” rating by the State Bar’s Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission. Poochigian, a former Republican state senator representing the Fresno area, was nominated August 20, three days after the MetNews reported his rating in a column by Editor Roger M. Grace. Schwarzenegger said the commission “by failing to follow the law, damaged its reputation for impartiality and, in turn, the State Bar’s.”
“Some of the points made by Governor Schwarzenegger are difficult to argue with, and certainly possess merit, but the fact is, the State Bar should not be prevented from functioning as normally as possible next year,” Insul asserts, “while scrutiny of the State Bar is essential, so is the State Bar’s role in the state’s justice system, as the governor himself has acknowledged.”
“I’m sure that our State Bar will be reexamining the problems that the governor has noted, but we’re all hopeful that his veto has not placed our very system in any jeopardy,” Insul concludes.