Friday, February 12, 2016

AZ House Judiciary Committee passes two bills to reform and eliminate the corrupt mandatory Arizona State Bar

Mark Lynch testified about massive fraud and perjury by attorneys he's seen as a mediator, but the Bar won't do anything about it.
Rep. Anthony Kern, the main sponsor of HB 2219 and HB 2221, opened the hearing explaining that the bills were being run based on recommendations of an ad hoc committee which studied the issue this past year. There are concerns that attorneys' First Amendment rights are being violated because they are forced to pay dues in order practice law. Consequently, the bills propose to move the regulation of attorneys back under the Arizona Supreme Court, which is what the Arizona Constitution mandates.

The first person to testify was John Phelps,* the CEO and Executive Director of the State Bar. He makes $225,000 annually. He said that Clint Bolick, the respected libertarian litigator who was just appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court, says our legal system is the best in Arizona. So? What else is he going to say, now that's been appointed to the court? This is the same Clint Bolick who served as a mentor for me while the Bar was targeting me, so I could continue to practice law while appealing. Read what you want into that...

Then he said the ad hoc committee found no problems with the Bar. Is he out of his mind? I sat through the ad hoc committee meetings and the committee discussed nothing else but problems with the Bar. 

He said the appropriate place to bring these problems is to the Arizona Supreme Court. Well, that's his opinion, they haven't done anything so far, whereas the legislature started bringing one of these bills last year. He noted that the court set up their own ad hoc committee and found no problems with the Bar. The committee was stacked with Bar insiders! Of course they're not going to find anything wrong with the Bar. 

Next, Phelps claimed there wasn't any research done on how much it will cost to move the regulatory functions over under the Supreme Court. Really? Again, I sat through the legislative ad hoc committee hearings and there was plenty of discussion of costs, especially by Mo Hernandez, and they were all much lower estimates than what the Bar currently racks up in costs.

When asked what the Bar does that is invaluable, Phelps said the ethics hotline. He said a voluntary bar's ethics advice wouldn't carry the same weight. Really? I'd be plenty happy with ethics advice from the voluntary Maricopa County Bar and use that in my defense should something happen. 

He was asked if the Bar had conducted a survey about these bills and he said no, but brought up the tired old "satisfaction survey" that has been refuted as meaningless previously. The Bar claims that 70% of attorneys say they are satisfied with the Bar — but only 11% responded! Attorneys don't bother responding because they feel they have no input, no real say. He claimed that the Pima County Bar surveyed its members on the mandatory bar bill and 80% opposed it — but he couldn't say what the participation rate was! Probably the usual handful of insiders. 

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth commented, "89% of your members didn't respond, that's a little disturbing to me. I am an attorney and I talk to attorneys in my district. They don't like the Bar, they don't like the compulsory nature of the Bar, they don't feel they have any say." 

Rep. Sonny Borrelli added, "I've polled attorneys in my district too, and they are concerned if they respond unfavorably there may be repercussions." I'd add that Phelps said the surveys are anonymous, but it is my understanding that even if they assign a number to the survey instead of a name the Bar can easily track it back to an individual attorney.

Phelps claimed that the mandatory Bar is necessary since "people in rural counties don't get the support they need especially in regards to CLE." Really, how do attorneys in the 18 states that don't have mandatory bars get CLE then? The reality is, the Bar's CLE is overpriced and it is simple to take an online interactive CLE from thousands of other providers.

He said that the Bar adheres to the legal decision in Keller; attorneys can request to take out a pro rata share if they disagree with some lobbying position. However, how many attorneys even know this? He then claimed that the Bar is not involved in political campaigns. Really? Much of it is done behind the scenes. What about the Bar's current effort to make attorneys take loyalty oaths saying they will not discriminate against LGBT? 

He said he doesn't consider it a trade association, which is strange since the Bar files its tax returns with the IRS as a 501(c)(6), which are essentially trade associations. Regardless, I think due to its mandatory nature it is really a labor union and should be a 501(c)(5). 

He said one of the crucial aspects of the mandatory Bar is its call-in line for Spanish speakers and others to get free advice.He said, "People who want or need legal help aren't getting it." Well that's a ruse, because the voluntary bars already provide that service. Several years ago I answered phone calls for the voluntary Maricopa County Bar with other attorneys during an evening they provided free advice to the public.

The next person to testify, Terry Decker, said when Steve Wilson represented the Bar in 2010-11 to the state legislature, he never saw one time where he didn't misrepresent the truth. He noted that he thinks the Bar is really a trade association.

Mark Lynch introduced himself as a mediator. As such, he attended the Bar symposium, where he listened to appellate court judges talk. He asked them if the Bar was subject to open meeting laws and they said no, it's private. He sees perjury and fraudulent documents submitted in court all the time by attorneys. He complains to the Bar and gets responses so poor they don't even cite the correct statutes.He can't get any satisfaction from the Bar or other areas of the courts. So his only recourse he has is filing actions in federal court. He would prefer a public body where the grownups can keep an eye on things with public records and open meetings.

Mo Hernandez, who is spearheading much of this effort, pointed out that doctors don't have a union. He said 18 state have voluntary bars, and they operate much less expensively. He said there is little transparency with how members' dues is spent. The bar calls itself Keller pure (dues limited to a narrow purpose of administration, etc., not politics), yet its own regulations say it can do anything justified by law. "It's so broad you can not only drive a dump truck through it but unload it!" As for the ethics hotline, that's a false nexus, look at other states that get by without a mandatory Bar. He said the Bar started out as voluntary in 1895, and remained that way for 30 years, with joint oversight by the legislature and judiciary. That sunsetted in 1955.

Institute for Justice attorney Paul Avelar noted how the Bar's board of governors is made up of almost all lawyers, who represent lawyers. Even the few nonlawyers are elected by lawyers. The key public protections of the Bar have already been taken from the Bar and given to a committee of the Arizona Supreme Court: admissions, unauthorized practice of law and the client protection fund. He said there is an unconstitutional separation of powers problem - the Bar claims to be private but it has been given regulatory powers. Our own Arizona Supreme Court as well as the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled this cannot happen.

David Alger said the Bar has not protected the public. He spent five years in family court as a citizen. He finds it unfair that $520 (mandatory annual Bar dues) is overriding his rights. He just retired from the military and he didn't serve his country in order to have his rights violated. He's never heard back from the Bar once. Whenever he's gone to the Bar, it's been dismissive and unhelpful. He said there was a big ethics violation last year, there were changes made to Rule 74, and a parenting coordinator sat on the committee making the changes. The Bar did nothing about it. He's seen a criminal statute violated, where neither the attorney nor judge said a word.

Jack Levine, who has served on the Bar's board of governors and campaigned for a voluntary bar for years, said he's talked to thousands of lawyers over 52 years of practicing law, and found that 85% are in favor of a voluntary bar. The 15% who oppose it are in large law firms. They control governing boards, executive offices, etc. So there is no competitive bidding. Large law firms now bill $1,500/hr and more. They contribute large amounts to politicians then get their business. The Bar does nothing. The lawyers should protect the public, not the lawyers.

Laura Hall, the girlfriend of internationally renowned boxer Michael Carbajal, testified about his horrible experience dealing with the Bar. He has hired many attorneys and been embroiled in litigation for nine years. He's filed complaints with the Bar but nothing has been done. It has crippled them financially. He has proven there are forged checks, where lawyers accepted the money. She said,  "I'm not going to stop until each of these lawyers is held accountable. They are protecting their own."  

At the conclusion of the hearing, both bills passed 4 to 1 (with a fifth member absent). Now the bills head for the Rules Committee, and after that the House. 

This would eliminate the mandatory nature of the Bar, and was unsuccessfully introduced last year.

This transfers the regulatory functions of the Bar to the Arizona Supreme Court. Note that Rep. Kern added an amendment clarifying that the public can request records from the Bar.

For more information, see and

*During the first public meeting of the ad hoc committee, Phelps had the nerve to bring up a screenshot during a Powerpoint presentation showing the disbarment information on Lisa Aubuchon. Her disbarment was one of the most egregious actions ever taken by the Bar. Completely unprofessional and classless. This is who is running the mandatory Bar.   

1 comment:

Sherry Lund said...

The State Bar absolutely protects the members of their "secret society"! They do nothing to the attorney's of the "inner circle" who commit absolute crimes against the citizens. Bryan Murphy and Dan Cracchiolo were disqualified from our case for unethical and illegal actions yet the State Bar has refused to do anything. We have had 3 complaints sitting at the bar since 2011 supposedly "under investigation" with no action taken to date. The State Bar has refused to terminate the pro hac vice admitance into the AZ court of 2 Calif attorneys who have violated the AZ courts orders several times and filed AZ sealed and HIPPA protected documents in the Calif courts. These are criminal acts by the state bar and as far as we are concerned RICO actions. Due to the deep corruption, the state bar is allowing and participating in these crimes. It is time for accountability! Investigation by the FBI would certainly uncover the crimes and then those who participated should be punished to the fullest!