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Calif. Bar Revives Discipline Rules

December 4, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The state Supreme Court overrode Gov. Pete Wilson on Thursday and ordered California’s 130,000 attorneys to pay $173 each to revive the State Bar’s discipline system.

The justices said the public is endangered by unregulated lawyers. The court, which has final authority over the practice of law in California, set lawyer dues for the first time without waiting for legislative action.

The bar laid off most of its employees in June after Wilson vetoed its annual dues bill, its chief funding source. Wilson said the organization, to which he and all other California lawyers must belong, was out of touch with its members and chief duties of licensing and discipline.

Bar President Raymond Marshall said they will use the new money to restore a toll-free hotline that formerly handled 140,000 complaints from the public each year, and to tackle a backlog of thousands of discipline cases.

Wilson said he was satisfied that the court restored the discipline system without funding the State Bar board entirely.

Other lawyers were generally, though not uniformly, favorable to the ruling, which stays in effect until a new dues bill is passed.

``Letting the discipline system fall apart for lack of funding is an incredibly bad move, both for the public and for the profession,″ said Charles Schulz of Palo Alto.

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