Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on March 31, 1968 · Page 37
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 37

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 31, 1968
Page 37
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Page 37 article text (OCR)

P tantt, SaiHky, March 31, m the Adaofta Republic A*2i Self-Policing Arizona Bar Attacked Continued From Page A-20 Membership in the American and county bar associations is strictly voluntary, and there is no formal connection among the three levels except in one important respect: By state law and by Supreme Court rule, the professional conduct of Arizona lawyers is governed by the ABA's canons of professional and judicial ethics. EVERY LAWYER who wants to practice in Arizona must be a member of the State Bar of Arizona; admission to the state bar is a license to practice. The basic requirements for admission are: —Graduation from a law school accredited by the bar. —A passing grade on Arizona's bar examination. —Evidence that the candidate's moral character is good. The state bar is a public corporation directed by a 15- member board of governors who are elected from eight districts apportioned roughly according to lawyer population. Six of the districts elect one member while Pima and Maricopa County elect three and six respectively. The lawyers themselves are distributed where the business is. The state bar roster shows about 1,350 of the state's 2,100-plus lawyers live in Maricopa County and another 520 in Pima. That leaves fewer than 200 attorneys scattered through the other six districts. ANY MEMBER OF the bar can run for election to the board of governors in his district by getting five other lawyers to sign a petition. In the last election, 24 attorneys ran for six seats. The board of governors chooses bar officers from its own members. Members of the state .and county bar associations donate hundreds of hours and a large segment of their dues to a variety of programs, including: continuing education to keep lawyers current and competent; legal publications; discouraging illegal law practice; lawyer referral service for low income persons; financial support for the Legal Aid Society serving indigents; volunteer counsel for indigent juveniles, and volunteer aid to lawmakers when the legislature is working. The state bar has more than 30 standing committees, most of which work at revising state laws and court procedures or provide services to the courts and the community. IN ALL OF THESE things the bar operates as an independent organization. But in its two most important functions — admission and discipline of lawyers — the bar is handmaiden to the Supreme Court. In the last analysis, the state bar cannot grant or deny admission to anyone, nor can it discipline its members. These powers are reserved to the Supreme Court alone, and in this important sense the Supreme Court stands at the head of the bar. It has the ultimate authori- ty to regulate the practice of law. Although the state bar maintains a Committee on Examinations and Admissions and six separate local administrative committees to i n v e s t i g a t e charges against lawyers, these are committees appointed by the court from names supplied by the state bar. The state bar is moving to combat the problem of lawyer ethics on several fronts. At the request of the bar, the University of Arizona Law school is conducting a course on ethics for its undergraduates. In conjunction with this, the bar examination now contains a special section on ethics which is graded separately from the rest of the exam. Even if a bar candidate breezes through the rest of the exam, he cannot be admitted to practice without passing the ethics section. In the last bar examination 14 of 85 candidates failed the, ethics test. , IN MACHCE, the lawyer- caft consult the; state bar's standing committee on professional ethics if he questions his position in some situation. A written request for advice will usually bring a reply in 10 days or so, according to the state bar. But according to highly- placed members of the bar, the profession is losing, or at least not gaining, on the task of protecting clients from dishonest or unethical practitioners. One recognition of this is the state bar's client security fund. Financed entirely from members' dues, the fund is maintained to repay clients who have been damaged by crooked attorneys. It is being raised from $70,000 to a permanent level of $100,000. A major stumbling block may lie in the canons of ethics themselves. Automatic disbarment or suspension from practice is sup* posed to follow a lawyer's conviction on a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or his commitment to a mental institution. Otherwise, there is no ground for disciplining a lawyer except for a specific violation of one or more of the canons of ethics. AN ATTORNEY may be involved in a dozen shady deals; he may be a drunk; he may be totally incompetent to give legal advice — and all of this may be known to other lawyers. But unless the evidence can be found to support a violation of one of the canons, no action will be taken against him. As one bar official put it, "The canons- are outdated, VagWand 'A Ibusy'guide to the real, complex problems a lawyer faces every day in practice." The 47 canons .contain much emphasis on the conduct of lawyers in and toward the courts and toward each other. The two most detailed sections are on prohibitions against ad? Vertising legal services and "stirring up" litigation. The American Bar Association is currently rewriting the whole set of canons, and the new ones should be in use in mid-1969. But some lawyers question why the Arizona bar and Supreme Court don't write some of ttieir own. It would require only a minor revision in state law. For an attorney to be charged with a violation, the complaint also must come from a client, not because of any law or regulation but because it's a rule of thumb that lawyers won't attack each other. THE OFFICE OF the state >ar concedes that it's almost unheard of for a lawyer to odge a complaint against another attorney. But according to disgruntled members of the bar, the largest hole in the disciplinary dike is created by discord between the jar and the Supreme Court. The bar is on record in asserting that its procedures are too combersome and time- consuming for a gtowing num- )er of complaints to be handled efficiently and quickly. Records indicate that disciplinary cases which reach the Supreme Court take one to two years for processing. In the meantime, it's business as usual for the accused law yer. Some members of the bar declare that the court demands a standard of evidence nearly equal to that required in criminal prosecutions. "By the supreme court's Continued On Page A-22 IONLY is BAYS urrl WITCHCIUUFT^M^^S!'-y i • . i ' _ • . ' i . ti. • ^ ... i. i. i»^ i. i • —. i WON'T WORK your INCOME! AH But WE WILL! Taxes am tricky BOTH business, but- our year* of ex- FEDERAL perience have provided us AND with all the magic formulas. Avoid toil and trouble. Let BLOCK brew up your tax return! LIFE GUARANTEE! We guarantee accurate preparation of every tax return. If we make any errors that cost you any penalty or interest we will pay the penalty or interest. America's Largest Tax Service with Over 2000 Offices 132SN. Central 7823 N. 21th Ave. 4403 S. Central 1710 E. Indian School 3265 E. McDowell 710 E. Dunlap 1423 W. fndian School Scettsdale 7155 E.Thomas. Clendole < 5142 W. Glcndale 1 4535 W. Indian School Tempe 2102 S. Mill Ave Chandler 547 N. Arizona Mesa 45 E. First Ave. Goodyear 112E. Weitern Weekdays 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.-Sat. & Sun. 9-5 Phone 258-6971 fO.APPOINVMINT NICISSAMTl CUSTOM DRAPERY SAIE ONE WEEK ONLY! CHRIS-TOWN CENTER Call 264-0603 for FREE HOME DECORATING SERVICE CUSTOM DRAPERIES WITH LINING INCLUDED! REG. $3 to $5 yd. Prict include* wrinkle free lining and a complete color selection in many »olid» end printed fabrics. EXAMPLE: 13 FT. LINED CUSTOM DRAPERIES CEILING TO FLOOR Reg. $89,00 Using $1.69 Fabric with lining included ... 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