Saturday, February 6, 2016

Satanic Temple Gets Opening Prayers Banned From Phoenix City Council Meetings

Members of the Satanic Temple of Tucson have forced the Phoenix City Council to ban its customary opening invocation before meetings. The organization had applied for and was approved to deliver the prayer at the February 17 council meeting. Councilman Sal DiCiccio decided to put a stop to it. Along with two other members of the council, he requested an “emergency clause” in order to request immediate changes to the council’s invocation policy.

A meeting was then held late this week where DiCiccio proposed limiting the invocation to Phoenix residents and choosing a rotating council member to pick which clergy member would deliver it. Currently, a rotating group of clergy delivers the invocation. The motions did not pass, and instead the mayor and the council in a 5–4 split voted to replace the regular invocation with a one minute moment of silence.

Members of the public were allowed to speak for three minutes each. The room reportedly was packed, with people unable to get in. Representatives from the Secular Coalition for Arizona and the Freedom From Religion Foundation spoke in favor of the Satanic invocation. Several ministers spoke against it, as did a state legislator, who brought along a letter signed by 20 legislators. Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves, blogging at The Friendly Atheist, complained, “The unending line of Christian representatives was tedious and aggravating.”

Read the rest of the article at The Stream

AZGOP chair looking into recall proceedings against Phoenix public officials over Satanic prayer

AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham: We Need Prayer! 

Published by Tim Sifert at February 4, 2016

 Residents Outraged: Phoenix City Council Votes to Ban Prayer at Meetings 

PHOENIX – This morning Chairman Robert Graham of the Arizona Republican Party criticized yesterday’s decision by City of Phoenix leaders to end the practice of beginning city council meetings with an opening prayer. Followers of the Satanic Temple had been scheduled to recite a Satanic Invocation at the council’s February 17 meeting.

“One of the great opportunities I’ve had as chairman of the Arizona Republican Party is to meet with, serve with, and pray with people of faith in the city of Phoenix regardless of their party affiliation. I’m saddened as a resident of Phoenix, that we would allow a few bullies to alienate people of faith from being involved in the public square.

“Our founding fathers, while of many faiths and some of no particular faith, recognized the value of prayer at some of our nations most pivotal moments. At our Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin admonished those in attendance, ‘I will suggest, Mr. President, that propriety of nominating and appointing, before we separate, a chaplain to this Convention, whose duty it shall be uniformly to assemble with us, and introduce the business of each day by and address to the Creator of the universe, and the Governor of all nations, beseeching Him to preside in our council, enlighten our minds with a portion of heavenly wisdom, influence our hearts with a love of truth and justice, and crown our labors with complete and abundant success!’

 “If a show of humility to God, rich in the American tradition, is to be ended because of a few satanic bullies, how are we going to fix some of our community’s and nation’s most pressing problems? Maybe it is time we send a message to the Phoenix City Council that they are out of touch with the people of Phoenix.”

Graham is collecting information necessary to create a ballot initiative to reinstate public prayer, as well as for the recall of elected Phoenix public officials.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Arizona High School Students’ Racist Photo: It’s Time to Retire the N-Word

People were horrified Friday when six white girls at Desert View High School in Phoenix decided to spell out a racial slur on their T-shirts, then post a photo of it to Snapchat where it went viral. My children attend that school, and know the girls involved. One of them has a black boyfriend, and at least a couple of the others have also dated black students. Outrage over the photo has gone national, and a petition asking to expel the students has acquired over 37,000 signatures. It is also asking to fire the principal, because there is a perception the school is only going to suspend the students for five days. The school has not formally announced the discipline, obviously under pressure to throw the book at the students. Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a young man who has fashioned himself into a sort of Al Sharpton of Arizona, is organizing a Black Lives Matter rally at the school Monday afternoon.

Here is the problem: Why do people still think it is acceptable to use such an offensive word and joke about it? I blame their parents. Society has become so politically correct that anyone with a pulse should know that using a word that actually is offensive is going to result in a backlash. These girls are 17 and 18 years old, old enough to know better. Unfortunately, parents don’t always monitor what their kids are watching on TV, listening to on their iPods and doing on the Internet. Watch a few too many movies with racial slurs in them, with no parental guidance explaining how inappropriate they are, and a teenager may treat them as a joke. 

These students were reportedly bullies who would take photos of other teens, post them on social media and make fun of them. No one ever did anything or stopped them — including their parents. So they began to feel they could get away with anything. The sad thing is, if someone had stepped in and stopped the bullying, they probably wouldn’t have ever gone this far.

Read the rest of the article at Townhall

Friday, January 22, 2016

REPRESENTATIVE KERN SPONSORS LEGISLATION THAT INCREASES LAWYERS’ FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX (Friday, January 15, 2016) – Representative Anthony Kern has co-sponsored House Bills 2219 and 2221 concerning the regulation of lawyers. The bills place all public protection mandates entirely under state supreme court control and active supervision and also minimize the regulatory independence of the State Bar of Arizona.


According to Rep. Kern, "The bills resolve the conflict of interest that exists when you have a state bar with both regulatory and trade association powers. It's just not smart to have one organization acting as both regulator of its members at the same time its beholden to their interests. Neither the public or lawyers are well served by such a conflict of interest."


HB 2219 and 2221 do not dismantle the state bar. Under both bills, the State Bar of Arizona would continue to perform its regular functions on behalf of Arizona lawyers but it would be limited to collecting only voluntary member dues for non-regulatory programs and services. Also under HB 2221, the bar would be required to file an annual, independent, and public audit.


HB 2221 further iterates if the state bar accepts any mandatory assessment monies collected by the supreme court, the bar would be subject to open records and public meeting laws. "These bills do not grow government or burden taxpayers," said Rep. Kern. "Like in every state in the U.S., lawyers would continue to pay the cost of their regulation and discipline."


Representative Kern continued, "These bills are intended to protect the rights of free speech and free association secured by the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions. Improving the practice of law and protecting the public through lawyer regulation are important functions but I don't see why doing so requires that lawyers give up their First Amendment freedoms from compelled speech and association."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Two bills introduced in the Arizona state legislature to deal with corruption at the Arizona State Bar, including removing mandatory membership

An update from our friends at SBA Bar Monitor


GREAT NEWS!

Two House Bills dealing with attorney regulation in Arizona have been introduced by Arizona House Member Rep. Anthony Kern and co-sponsors.

The first is House Bill 2219, which is identical to last session's HB 2629. It states that the supreme court shall license and regulate attorneys for the practice of law in Arizona. And it further states that an attorney shall not be required to be a member of any organization to become or remain a licensed attorney in Arizona. Read the complete text of HB 2219 below.

The second is House Bill 2221, which was a collaborative effort undertaken to uphold lawyer First Amendment Freedoms; improve public transparency; assure no government growth at taxpayer expense; fight further bar bureaucratic bloat; affirm Arizona Supreme Court state constitutional authority over lawyer regulation; transfer all lawyer regulation authority from the bar to the Court to better protect the public. And while HB 2221 preserves the State Bar of Arizona -- it does so as a professional association empowered only to collect voluntary non-regulatory dues from lawyers.

Consequently, based on the experience in 18 voluntary bar states, lawyer fees should go down since Arizona attorneys will only be required to pay for lawyer regulation not for the bar's non-regulation programs and services. If the 18 voluntary states are any guide, in those jurisdictions the average cost of lawyer regulation fees paid to the respective state supreme courts is $210. Moreover, during the 2013-14 Arizona Bar dues increase debate, the state bar's own website divulged that the annual mandatory fee dues portion representing the cost of lawyer regulation was $350. Dues are currently $490 with an eventual increase to $520.

Read the complete text of HB 2221 below but to sum up key provisions:

 1. It reaffirms lawyer regulation under the state supreme court;
2. It places all lawyer regulation assessments under supreme court control;
3. It limits bureaucratic expansion since the state bar is authorized to only collect voluntary membership dues for non-regulatory programs and services and requires the bar to file annual independently audited public accountings;
4. It subjects the bar to open records and public meeting laws if the supreme court delegates any of its regulatory authority to it.

I again invite you to attend a meeting on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 5:00 PM in Scottsdale to discuss the above-mentioned voluntary bar legislation and to work for a better bar -- a voluntary bar.

The meeting location is: 7272 E. Indian School Rd, Ste. 108 (Main Conference Room), Scottsdale, Arizona 85251.
Free underground parking below office building.


REFERENCE TITLE: attorney regulation; assessments; membership dues
State of Arizona
House of Representatives
Fifty-second Legislature
Second Regular Session 2016
HB 2221
Introduced by Representatives Kern: Finchem, Lawrence, Mitchell, Thorpe
AN ACT AMENDING TITLE 12, CHAPTER 1, ARTICLE 1, ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES, BY ADDING SECTION 12-119.06; RELATING TO THE SUPREME COURT.
HB 2221
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Title 12, chapter 1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes,
is amended by adding section 12-119.06, to read:
12-119.06. Regulation of attorneys; mandatory assessments;
voluntary membership dues; uses; public records
A. TO THE EXTENT PROVIDED BY THE ARIZONA CONSTITUTION, ALL REGULATORY FUNCTIONS RELATING TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW, INCLUDING THE REGULATION OF ATTORNEYS IN THIS STATE, ARE WITHIN THE AUTHORITY OF THE SUPREME COURT.
B. AS A CONDITION OF PRACTICING LAW IN THIS STATE, THE SUPREME COURT
MAY COLLECT A MANDATORY ASSESSMENT FROM EACH ATTORNEY TO SUPPORT THE COURT'S REGULATORY FUNCTIONS. THE SUPREME COURT MAY USE MANDATORY ASSESSMENT MONIES ONLY FOR THE FOLLOWING REGULATORY FUNCTIONS FOR ATTORNEYS WHO ARE UNDER THE ACTIVE SUPERVISION OF THE SUPREME COURT:
1. ADMITTING AN ATTORNEY TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW.
2. MAINTAINING ATTORNEY RECORDS.
3. ENFORCING THE ETHICAL RULES THAT GOVERN ATTORNEYS.
4. REGULATING ANY CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION MANDATES FOR ATTORNEYS.
5. MAINTAINING ATTORNEY TRUST ACCOUNT RECORDS.
6. PREVENTING THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW.
C. THE STATE BAR OF ARIZONA MAY ESTABLISH, COLLECT AND USE VOLUNTARY
MEMBERSHIP DUES FROM AN ATTORNEY FOR ANY LAWFUL ACTIVITY THAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN SUBSECTION B OF THIS SECTION.
D. THE COLLECTION OF MANDATORY ASSESSMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANY VOLUNTARY MEMBERSHIP DUES. THE SUPREME COURT SHALL INCORPORATE ANY MANDATORY ASSESSMENT MONIES COLLECTED INTO ITS BUDGET. ANY OTHER ENTITY IN THIS STATE MAY NOT COLLECT MANDATORY ASSESSMENT FROM AN ATTORNEY.
E. IF THE STATE BAR OF ARIZONA ACCEPTS ANY MANDATORY ASSESSMENT MONIES COLLECTED BY THE SUPREME COURT TO CARRY OUT A REGULATORY FUNCTION LISTED IN SUBSECTION B OF THIS SECTION, THE STATE BAR OF ARIZONA SHALL:
1. DISCLOSE AND MAKE AVAILABLE RECORDS AND OTHER MATTERS IN THE SAME MANNER AS IS REQUIRED OF A PUBLIC BODY PURSUANT TO TITLE 39, CHAPTER 1.
2. ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 31 OF EACH YEAR THAT MANDATORY ASSESSMENT MONIES ARE ACCEPTED, MAKE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC A LIST OF ALL OF THE EXPENDITURES THAT WERE MADE WITH THE MANDATORY ASSESSMENT MONIES AND PROVIDE AN INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF THE EXPENDITURES TO ENSURE THAT ALL EXPENDITURES WERE IN FURTHERANCE OF THE REGULATORY FUNCTIONS LISTED IN SUBSECTION B OF THIS SECTION.
_____________________________________________________________________
REFERENCE TITLE: supreme court; attorney licensing
State of Arizona
House of Representatives
Fifty-second Legislature
Second Regular Session 2016
HB 2219
Introduced by Representatives Kern: Finchem, Leach, Mitchell, Olson, Petersen, Thorpe, Weninger
AN ACT AMENDING TITLE 12, CHAPTER 1, ARTICLE 1, ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES, BY ADDING SECTION 12-119.06; RELATING TO THE SUPREME COURT.
HB 2219
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Title 12, chapter 1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes,
is amended by adding section 12-119.06, to read:
12-119.06. Attorney licenses; rules
A. THE SUPREME COURT SHALL LICENSE ATTORNEYS FOR THE PRACTICE OF LAW IN THIS STATE. THE SUPREME COURT SHALL ADOPT RULES TO CARRY OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION INCLUDING:
1. MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR LICENSURE.
2. TESTING REQUIREMENTS.
3. REQUIRING A BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION BEFORE OBTAINING A LICENSE.
4. DISCIPLINING ATTORNEYS.
5. DISBARRING ATTORNEYS.
B. AN ATTORNEY SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO BE A MEMBER OF ANY ORGANIZATION TO BECOME OR REMAIN A LICENSED ATTORNEY IN THIS STATE.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Right to Try: The FDA Has the Blood of Millions of Americans on its Hands

Darcy Olsen, CEO and President of the Goldwater Institute, has written a must-read book for anyone facing a serious ailment, The Right to Try: How the Federal Government Prevents Americans from Getting the Life-Saving Treatments They Need . It is common knowledge there is a problem with the FDA delaying the approval of drugs. But until now, most Americans did not realize just how bad the situation is  — hundreds of thousands of people, including children, needlessly lose their lives every year because new, breakthrough drugs that have worked in clinical trials and are legal in other countries are not approved here. In fact, the number of people dying is increasing, because the FDA keeps increasing the delays — despite its false claims that it approves drugs faster than it really does. The FDA continues to demand more data and statistical certainty from clinical trials, making them “larger, longer and more complex.”

The agency insists that unless a treatment has a high success rate, it should not be approved. But everyone is different; some people respond differently than others to medications. Peter Huber of the Manhattan Institute explains, “There is no such thing as breast cancer,” because scientists “have discovered at least ten distinct variations.” Therefore, indiscriminately testing one drug on all breast cancer patients is going to have skewed success results.

The FDA isn’t even delaying approval in order to establish the safety of a drug, merely to measure its effectiveness. This is cruelly unfair. As Darcy puts it, people with terminal illnesses like Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) or cancer would rather have a 50 percent chance of being cured than a 100 percent chance of dying from it. One doctor sarcastically stated, “These people would be happy to go to their own funeral five years from now rather than a year from now.”

Darcy relays the stories of several people with different terminal illnesses who went to great lengths despite the FDA to obtain these new groundbreaking treatments. Some moved overseas, while others persisted until they were allowed to participate in the clinical trials. Most of them were not rich so it was a difficult, uphill task, but the treatments ultimately worked.

Read the rest of the article at Townhall

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Clint Bolick joins the Arizona Supreme Court!

I have some great news to share you with today. The Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick will soon join the Arizona Supreme Court as its newest justice. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced earlier today that he selected Clint for the state’s highest court.

Unlike the U.S Supreme Court, state supreme courts rarely have constitutional scholars. Clint is well-positioned to advance the development of state constitutional law and enforce the freedom-oriented provisions of the Arizona state constitution. In turn, these precedents can be exported to other states.
As a litigator, Clint has vindicated the fundamental constitutional rights of all Americans, including winning landmark cases that protected the right to earn an honest living and expanded educational options for children nationwide. Americans can count on Clint to be on the side of all Americans in defending our constitutional freedoms.

And this brings me to some additional news I am excited to share.

Constitutional scholar and litigator Timothy Sandefur will succeed Clint as Vice President for Litigation, leading the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. Tim currently serves as a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation. He is the lead attorney for that organization’s Economic Liberty Project and works daily to protect businesses against abusive government regulations. He has won important victories for free enterprise in California, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon, and other states. His published books include Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America (updated for 2016), The Right to Earn A Living: Economic Freedom And The Law (2010), and The Conscience of The Constitution (2013).

To reach Clint in the future, please email clintbolick@yahoo.com. To welcome Tim, please email him at tsandefur@goldwaterinstitute.org.

Darcy Olsen
President
Goldwater Institute | www.GoldwaterInstitute.org

Read more about Clint here 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Judge Unbelievably Refuses to Grant a Retrial for Former Rep. Renzi Despite Finding Rampant Prosecutorial Wrongdoing

Tucson Federal District Court Judge David Bury issued a decision on December 30 denying a retrial for imprisoned former Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona, developments which I’ve been tracking over the last six months. Bizarrely, at the same time, Bury admitted in his nine-page opinion that virtually everything factual Renzi had asserted in his motion for a retrial regarding the prosecution’s misconduct was true. The prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence from Renzi’s defense — which likely would have changed the jury’s mind — not just once, but multiple times. Some of it was not discovered until after the trial was over, so the jury never got to see the other side of the story. That constituted a Brady violation, which the U.S. Supreme Court has held is a violation of due process. As a former prosecutor, I find this extremely disturbing.
Information is now coming out revealing striking similarities to the prosecution of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, which also involved corruption by FBI agents in order to obtain a conviction of a member of Congress. But when the judge in the Stevens’ case discovered after the trial that the prosecutors had withheld crucial evidence, the entire indictment was thrown out.
The prosecution of Renzi  was based on the premise he had proposed a federal land exchange that supposedly would have benefited him financially. But it came out after the trial that the prosecution’s key witness/victim, Philip Aries, changed his story to say it was Renzi’s idea to propose the land exchange instead of others, because Aries was told by the prosecution that he would receive money for his testimony. During the hearing to reconsider a new trial last October, Aries testified that he discussed compensation with an FBI agent for this: “$10,000 would be a home run,” he said he told the agent. “$25,000 would be winning the lottery.”

Judge Bury
 admitted in his December opinion rejecting a retrial that the proposal to include the Sandlin land, which supposedly would have benefited Renzi, really came from Aries, not Renzi. FBI Agent Dan Odom agreed on the stand during the October hearing that leaving out this exculpatory information was a “material omission.” Nevertheless, though chief DOJ prosecutor Gary Restaino knowingly put on Aries’ false testimony, he was never punished.

Monday, December 14, 2015

RIP Austin Hill, Beloved Conservative Columnist and Talk Show Host of ‘PC Friday’

The last time we saw Austin and his son

It was with great sadness that I heard fellow conservative writer Austin Hill, age 51, had passed away on November 13. Even more well-known for his conservative talk radio shows, he was one of those unique conservatives who appealed to everyone; as more of an intellectual, he rarely alienated anyone. You didn’t have to meet him to sense his warmth and decency, although once you met him, you knew you had a trustworthy, honest friend for life. He wrote for Townhall for many years, and we had many great conversations about how wonderful being with the site had been for our careers.

Townhall’s staff wrote about him,

As faithful readers know, Hill brought a wealth of knowledge and passion to his work, which focused on small business ownership, economics, and entrepreneurship. Beyond his role as columnist, Hill was an accomplished author, consultant, small business owner, and a popular syndicated radio show host.

Austin’s family reported that he passed away from a pulmonary embolism. It may have been related to the incredible pace he kept up. As one radio fan of his wrote, “He was a Christian, a conservative, a radio host, a news anchor, an author, a columnist, a consultant and a public speaker. Whew!” Austin had recently expanded to writing for The Blaze this year, and had started appearing more often on TV. Watch him debate the left-leaning Alan Colmes on a Fox show here.

Read the rest of the article at Townhall

Monday, November 23, 2015

Time for a Congressional Investigation? Shattering New Developments of Corruption in Rep. Renzi Trial

The case of the corrupt prosecution against imprisoned former Congressman Rick Renzi continues to explode with new evidence of wrongdoing - literally every few weeks something else comes out. It is beginning to look like Fast and Furious as more information pours out implicating the government.

As I’ve explained previously, the crux of the case against Renzi was he had proposed a federal land exchange that allegedly would have benefited himself. Evidence came out during the trial and especially afterward revealing this wasn’t true. The FBI offered to give money to the government’s key witness/”victim,” Philip Aries, to change his story and say the land exchange was Renzi’s idea. The DOJ prosecutor, Gary Restaino, whose wife worked closely under Janet Napolitano, never disclosed this information to the defense.

As more evidence came out about this collusion in July, U.S. Federal District Court Judge David Bury granted a hearing to consider a new trial. I attended the hearing,  where I met several of Renzi’s 12 children, who have developed into impressive young adults, sure of their dad’s innocence. I was shocked by what I heard as Aries and the main FBI agent repeatedly contradicted each other's testimony on the witness stand. How can you convict someone based on that?

Read the rest of the article at Townhall

Sunday, November 22, 2015

RIP Austin Hill

Our dear friend Austin Hill, longtime conservative radio talk show host and my fellow contributor at Townhall, passed away earlier this month. He had a talent for covering issues that no one else did, and covering them thoughtfully and analytically, not with hyperbole. Here is the press release from his family.

Austin Hill Press Release
It is with great shock and sorrow that we announce Austin Hill unexpectedly died on Friday night, November 13th. At this time, doctors suspect the cause of death was cardiac related.
As a follower of Jesus, Austin's faith permeated and influenced all aspects of his life. He was committed to speaking the truth and engaging people in thoughtful conversation. In addition to writing and public speaking, Austin had a national radio presence with dedicated listeners across the country. Most importantly, he was a loving husband, and as his son describes him, an avid father.
Details concerning a memorial service will be posted on Austin's Facebook page.
In lieu of flowers, it is requested that gifts be sent to a college fund for his son, Graham, a high school senior: https://www.youcaring.com/graham-hill-469857
- The Family of Austin Hill
 -------
Memorial Service to Celebrate the Life of Austin Hill
Saturday, December 5th at 2PM MT
Foothills Christian Church
9655 W. State Street
Boise, ID 83714
A reception at the church will follow immediately after the service. We invite you to stay and reminisce with family, friends and colleagues as we celebrate Austin's life.
In lieu of flowers, the Hill family has requested donations be made to a college fund for his son, Graham, who is finishing his final year of high school. A fundraiser has been set up at: www.youcaring.com/graham-hill-469855
The family wishes to express their deep gratitude at the overwhelming outpouring of support, memories and love.
Cards may be sent c/o
Summers Funeral Home
1205 Bannock St.
Boise, ID 83702

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I'm speaking to Tempe Republican Women Monday night about the horrific prosecution of former Congressman Rick Renzi

Meetings are free and open to the public, sign-in begins at 6:30pm. Located at Pyle Recreation Center (655 E Southern Ave 85282). From their website:


Meeting: November 16


We’ve scheduled a very special speaker: Rachel Alexander, political columnist and former prosecutor, will be speaking on the Rick Renzi case and explaining why she thinks he deserves a second trial. You won’t want to miss this one, as it is sure to be fun and informative!
Also, we will be electing people to 1st VC, 2nd VC, Treasurer and Secretary. This is an exciting time for our organization and we have some great candidates for these positions. Attend, and cast your vote.

Two upcoming important events regarding eliminating the mandatory Arizona State Bar

 SBA BAR MONITOR
A non-authorized independent advisory periodically informing members about proposed State Bar of Arizona plans, programs and rule amendments that impact them and their practices.

November 13, 2015 Report

MEETING AGENDA

ARIZONA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

INTERIM MEETING NOTICE
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Arizona House of Representatives

Ad Hoc Study Committee on Mandatory Bar Associations, Regulation of the Practice of Law, and the First-Amendment Freedoms of Attorneys

The study committee will examine the structure of the State Bar of Arizona.  It will review the history and role of a mandatory bar association in Arizona as well as the practice in other states.  It will also examine the practice of law in Arizona, how it is regulated, and the practices of other states.  Finally, the committee will address the associational and free-speech rights of attorneys in Arizona.  The study committee will create a report, which may include any recommendations for proposed legislation.

Date:                  Monday, November 16, 2015
Time:                  2:00 P.M.
Place:                House Hearing Room 1

                             AGENDA
1. Call to Order
2. Presentation - Mandatory Bars and the First Amendment Freedoms of Attorneys
                         - Jim Manley, Senior Attorney, Goldwater Institute
3. Discussion
4. Public Testimony
5. Next Meeting: December 7, 2015, 2:00 PM
6. Adjourn

Members:
Representative Anthony Kern, Chair
Representative Eddie Farnsworth, Esq.
Representative Randall Friese, M.D.
Paul Avelar, Esq.
Jared Blanchard, Esq.
Mauricio Hernandez, Esq.
Eleanor Miller, Esq.

People with disabilities may request reasonable accommodations such as interpreters, alternative formats, or assistance with physical accessibility.  If you require accommodations, please contact the Chief Clerk's Office at (602) 926-3032, TDD (602) 926-3241.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Announcement from the Maricopa County Bar Association - For your information

Maricopa County Bar Association (MCBA) PUBLIC FORUM ON THE UNIFIED STATE BAR

"There is much focus at the present time on whether or not the State Bar of Arizona should remain a mandatory, unified bar.  In order to better educate our members and the public on this subject, a Public Forum has been planned for Tuesday, December 8 at 4:30 p.m. in the MCBA’s CLE Conference Center.  Panelists will be Geoffrey Trachtenberg, State Bar President; John Phelps, State Bar CEO; Paul Avelar, Institute for Justice; and Jared Blanchard, Goldwater Institute.  The Forum is FREE OF CHARGE, but please let us know you are coming." 

RSVP Here

Rant

Oh look, Judge Snow is now considering going after Sheriff Joe Arpaio's underlings CRIMINALLY. When is the madness going to stop? I was only one of Arpaio's attorneys for a mere TWO AND A HALF MONTHS, not calling the shots, and they destroyed my bar license and I'm still fighting everything six years later. Like my friend Leigh wisely said to me, "at least they didn't go for the death penalty." Arpaio's enemies know the way to take him out is to tarnish and destroy those beneath him who don't have the money or connections to fight it in order to make them look crooked - they just cut off their attorneys like they did to us underlings, meanwhile they spend millions squandering the taxpayers' money to get us. When is everyone else - not just us conservatives and patriots - going to wake up and realize that spending millions to get Arpaio and people around him on behalf of sleazebags like Mary Rose Wilcox is not right? How many more lives have to be ruined at taxpayer expense to protect people like her?

Here's an article I wrote earlier this year on the trial against Arpaio. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

SBA BAR MONITOR November 5, 2015 - Rebutting the One-sided Message from the State Bar President on Eliminating the Mandatory Bar

Dear Colleagues:

This week you received a blast email from the State Bar of Arizona (SBA) President. And as one colleague replied: "The Bar’s approach to the current dispute is not simply about improving the practice of law or helping the public, although Bar leaders may sincerely hold that opinion. It is advocating an institutional self-serving position in what has become a political and ideological dispute. Let’s take the high road and give the pro-voluntary folks a fair shot to make their case."

Unfortunately, the SBA has so far been unwilling to let the other side be heard on a fair and equal footing. With all its advantages, it keeps presenting a one-sided misleading message. Here at least is one rebuttal.









SBA
BAR
MONITOR
A non-authorized independent advisory periodically informing members about proposed State Bar of Arizona plans, programs and rule amendments that impact them and their practices.
November 5, 2015 Report



Rebutting the Message from the State Bar of Arizona (SBA) President



Fellow Members of the Bar:

"Your Bar and, more broadly, your professional independence are under attack by factions that would allow the Legislature to regulate the practice of law in Arizona. Much of this debate centers around eliminating the "integrated bar" in Arizona and is premised upon what I believe are false or misleading claims that promise a future of lower costs, greater efficiency, and more benefits. These claims are not accurate. Worse still, the proponents are threatening to upend and politicize the practice of law in Arizona."

Response: The SBA President is correct. This issue concerns "your professional independence." Currently, you don't have any. No other Arizona profession -- except for lawyers -- requires membership in any organization to practice. Under the current mandatory bar membership structure, you do not have freedom of choice. Indeed, under a line of cases, most recently, Knox v. Service Employees Intern. Union, 132 S. Ct. 2277, 2289 (2012), the SBA's mandatory dues are a form of compelled speech and association that impinges on the First Amendment. If standing up for lawyers' First Amendment rights by opposing bar membership as a precondition to practice law means being part of a faction, so be it.

House Bill 2629  introduced last session had no provision "that would allow the Legislature to regulate the practice of law in Arizona." Instead, it reaffirmed lawyer regulation under the state supreme court. The Bill also stated, "An attorney shall not be required to be a member of any organization to become or remain a licensed attorney in this state."

As for lower costs to practice: lawyer regulation fees paid to the respective state supreme courts average $210 in the 18 voluntary bar jurisdictions that regulate lawyers without conditioning the practice of law on bar association membership.

In sum, the "false or misleading claims" are being made by self-interested stakeholders. And by controlling the means and access to communicate with all members, they're ensuring you only hear their side of this debate.  Ask yourself: For what reason?

Not to mention that those instruments of communication have been bought and paid for by all members.

"In terms of efficiency, the Bar is as lean and efficient as ever. Not only has the Bar cut its budget and staff size in recent years, but did you know that, as of 2011, the vast majority of consumer complaints to the Bar are handled by a simple telephone call? This allows staff to spend greater time on more serious charges. You will not find a more efficient self-regulatory agency than the State Bar of Arizona and other states borrow from us to improve their organizations."

Response: Just two years ago, the current SBA President joined 10 other governors to vote against a 13% dues increase, then deemed unjustified given the Bar's cost inefficiencies; unreliable fiscal discipline; and a projected $4.1M surplus. The increase was rammed through just the same, along with a 33% increase in membership fees; MCLE late compliance fees; and MCLE late filing fees. In-house counsel fees went up by $55 and pro hac vice fees also went up. And though the state bar says it cut expenses last year by $300,000, or 2% of a $15M budget, when the dues increase is fully implemented, incremental bar revenues will top $1.09M.

As for lawyer discipline: when it comes to borrowing from other states, the SBA followed Colorado when it revamped its disciplinary system in 2010 on Colorado's purported "best in class" lawyer disciplinary regime. Arizona, however, did not completely adopt the Colorado model. It made the significant exception of not completely separating its regulatory and trade association functions. That said, the state supreme court has already stripped away most of the public protection functions from the integrated state bar and placed them under professional staff that ultimately reports to the court. What are left are mostly discretionary trade association functions.  

"As far as member benefits, I've learned that our Bar provides many free or subsidized, low-cost benefits that I'd never noticed. The following is just a partial list. How many are you aware of?"

Response: The long list of SBA programs and services is very much like the long list of programs and services offered by state bar associations in the 18 voluntary bar jurisdictions. The SBA likes to mislead its members by conflating the existence of a mandatory bar with the availability of their programs and services.

If lawyers in the 18 voluntary jurisdictions want to take advantage of their voluntary bar association's programs and services, they do so by choice, not compulsion. Consequently, the voluntary bar associations in those states take a free-market approach. They incentivize membership by creating a value proposition of programs and services lawyers want and are therefore willing to pay for.

"And then there is our Bar's service to the public, which enhances the practice of law and the image of lawyers in Arizona. Last year our Bar's efforts to improve access to justice helped . . . . This month's President's message in Arizona Attorney magazine was a reminder: You don't know what you've got until it's gone. The reality is that if our Bar is broken apart, some of these services will disappear and you will spend more money to get some of the same services that you receive today. This means young, struggling attorneys might not have access to benefits like the ethics hotline or the trust account resources. But for all of us, this also means the practice of law, professionalism, and access to justice will likely suffer in Arizona."

Response: The reality isn't speculative. It is evident in the many years history of 18 voluntary bar states. Some of these voluntary state bar associations are among the oldest state bars in the nation. They enjoy robust memberships. They offer a diverse panoply of programs and services members want and are happy to pay for. They, too, offer programs that enhance the practice of law and the image of lawyers. They also promote access to justice.

For example, see the Tennessee Bar's Access to Justice page: http://www.tba.org/access-to-justice

And the New York State Bar's "Law, Youth and Citizenship Program" at: http://www.nysba.org/classroom/

And the full-fledged pro bono legal services initiatives started in 1966 by the Ohio State Bar at: http://www.ohiolegalservices.org/oslsa/about

And the Iowa Bar's young lawyer mentoring program: http://www.iowabar.org/?page=ISBAMentorProgram

Or see the Maryland Bar's fee dispute resolution services: http://www.msba.org/committees/fee-disputes/

And see the Minnesota Bar's government relations initiatives, free of Keller restrictions, which provides "the collective, persuasive voice of the legal profession at the Capitol." http://www.mnbar.org/public/government-relations#.VjqZGSsYyzl

"Our Bar's mission is to improve the profession and serve the public. While there is always room for improvement, changes being discussed at the Legislature will create chaos with no discernible benefit."

Response: The Bar wants to serve as both regulator and trade association. This is an inherent conflict of interest. It cannot serve both the public and lawyers. The "discernible benefit" we need is improved public protection by eliminating the trade association function from an organization that regulates its own industry. The "discernible benefit" we need is enhanced professional independence for lawyers. The "discernible benefit" we need is protected lawyer First Amendment rights. The "discernible benefit" we need is a voluntary professional association free of conflicts of interest. The "discernible benefit" we need is a SBA with the free-market opportunity to sell membership on the merits not by coercion. The "discernible benefit" we need is the same option lawyers have in 18 voluntary bar jurisdictions, which is the option to pay only the costs of lawyer regulation that protects the public.

"All I ask of you is that you become informed on this important matter, look carefully at the people on both sides and consider their biases and motives, and let your state representatives and senator know how you feel."

Response: Amen.