California Lawyer


September 2012

What Matters
Commenting on Martin Lasden's editor's note in the June issue of California Lawyer, in which he writes: "Wouldn't the president be strongly inclined to nominate a highly intelligent woman of color between the ages of 42 and 52?" It's always nice to be reminded of what California Lawyer believes are primary qualifications for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Anthony C. Starks,San Diego

Martin Lasden responds: The sentence Mr. Starks refers to comes from a paragraph in which I cite comments made in February by Thomas Goldstein in SCOTUSblog.

Landlords' Nightmare
The Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, although in its infancy, is already proving to be a nightmare in the landlord-tenant arena ["Testing Civil Gideon," ESQ., June]. Newly minted lawyers see their mission not to assist their poor clients, but rather to make life a living hell for the landlord while, it must be noted, the landlord is paying for their privilege through the filing fees the landlords pay (the tenants get fee waivers).

In the most basic of eviction cases - a tenant's inability to pay the rent - these lawyers extort time and money from the landlords by demanding jury trials and propounding the entire complement of discovery (including unlawful detainer form interrogatories with every single box checked). Additionally, while the project's mission is to provide defense, some have undertaken filing actions seeking affirmative relief for damages purportedly resulting from habitability violations. The landlord tenders the claim to his insurer, his premiums go up as a result, yet rents cannot be raised to meet the increasing costs.

So, while child custody battles may benefit from representation on both sides, in the world of unlawful detainers, the landlords and the courts are choking, unable to process the onslaught.
Stephany Yablow, Studio City

Look Within
Regarding "The Director for Moral Character" [ESQ., June], the question is, who needs their moral character investigated? I suggest the State Bar should direct its attention to the moral character and fitness of its own Office of Chief Trial Counsel, the State Bar Judges, and the California Supreme Court, who oversee "moral character and fitness" of the State Bar members. Their actions would not pass any such investigation.

On February 6, 2006, the Office of Chief Trial Counsel filed false charges against me for "moral turpitude" based only on documents filed in court cases, which are protected by the First Amendment. On September 28, 2008, the State Bar Review Department recommended my disbarment on false charges for "moral turpitude." On March 25, 2009, the California Supreme Court's denial of my Petition for Review became final. On August 30, 2011, the State Bar admitted that I was disbarred because of my "personal crusade" against payments made to Superior Court judges by counties. But no court ever held any lawsuit that I filed against any judge challenging the illegal payments from counties to be frivolous. Who needs their moral character investigated?
Richard Fine, Tarzana

Making a Difference
What an uplifting story ["The Temple Goes to Court," In Pro Per, June]. Knowing that no matter your specialty, if you do the research and put in the work, and if the matter is a cause about which you are passionate, you can make a difference.
Heather Rubino, Stockton

Catherine Lhamon came to work for Public Counsel from the ACLU of Southern California. Due to an editing error in "Section 8 Tenants Unwelcome" [July], her prior employer was misidentified. California Lawyer regrets the error.

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