“Be the Change”: Attend the 2017 Conference of California Bar Associations in Sacramento October 6-8, 2017
Have you ever thought, “This law should be changed or amended,” or “it should not exist at all?” Have you ever thought “there ought to be a law about this” but when you researched the appropriate legal authorities, you found no law existed that addressed the topic you researched? Do you enjoy debating policy and the law as well as meeting interesting people from across the state? WLALA’s delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations will have an opportunity to participate in all of these activities and more at the state-wide Conference of California Bar Associations (“CCBA” or “Conference”) from October 6 -October 8, 2017 in Sacramento and have a lot of fun in the process.
CCBA is a group of attorneys from local, specialty, and minority bar associations across the state, that are focused on improving California’s laws. This year, CCBA will meet from October 6-8, 2017. During the Conference, the various bar associations debate revisions and amendments to California law called “resolutions.” Once a resolution is passed by the Conference, CCBA’s lobbyist takes the resolution to the State Legislature or California Judicial Council to find a sponsor and hopefully get the resolution passed into law. To see the resolutions that will be debated at this year’s Conference or to register to attend the Conference, go to CCBA’s website at www.calconference.org.
The success rate of the CCBA lobbyist, Larry Doyle, has been impressive with many of the last few years resolutions enacted into law. CCBA typically sponsors or supports approximately 20 bills containing 20 or more resolutions that the Governor signs into law on a wide range of topics. For example, one of the resolutions WLALA sponsored in 2016, is currently pending before the Governor. This resolution relates to motions to compel further responses to discovery and is something the Los Angeles Superior Court supports. As you may be aware, some of the LASC courts have either required or offered to have the parties come before the Court/Judge for an Informal Discovery Conference (“IDC”) before filing a motion to compel. This informal procedure is a great way for the judge to get a preliminary sense of the controversy and try to resolve it without the hundreds or thousands of pages of a separate statement, exhibits, etc. that often accompany the motions. In the vast majority of the cases, the IDC is effective and the matter is resolved without the need for a motion to compel thus saving the courts and the parties a lot of time, money etc. However, there is currently no statutory authority to allow a court to require an IDC.
After the resolution passed at the Conference last year, Assemblymember Ed Chau, introduced it as Assembly Bill 383. To address concerns raised by the plaintiffs and defense bar, as well as some judges, the bill was improved and amended and passed both the Assembly and Senate with near unanimous votes in favor. WLALA was an integral part of the amendment process with each proposed amendment vetted by both Shaun Dabby Jacobs, Chair to WLALA’s CCBA delegation, and the Honorable Holly Fujie, WLALA's Multi Cultural Bar Alliance Liaison, providing a judicial perspective. On September 1, 2017, Governor Brown signed the bill into law.
At this year’s Conference in October, WLALA is sponsoring a resolution to amend the California Penal Code to provide that the birth of a prosecutor or defense attorney’s child constitutes good cause for a short continuance of criminal proceedings. Existing law does not address whether good cause exists for a continuance to accommodate an assigned attorney’s absence due to the birth of a child. Presumably, most courts and legal professionals find “good cause” under such circumstances. However, there have been instances where courts have found childbirth does not constitute good cause because it is not listed in the statutes that identify when a case may be continued. This resolution recognizes the uncertainty and stigma in our profession whenever an attorney requests a continuance to address an important personal matter. It permits a brief continuance in proceedings due to the birth of a child of an assigned attorney, so that she can give birth, or be there for a partner, without putting one’s client, career, or family at risk. WLALA's resolution, as well as all the approximately 140 resolutions submitted by all the different bar associations are at CCBA's website at www.calconference.org.
It is not too early to start thinking about resolutions to submit for next year’s Conference which will be held in the fall of 2018. Although the final deadline to submit resolutions to CCBA will be in February or March 2018, if you want WLALA to sponsor a resolution, WLALA’s delegation chair, Shaun Dabby Jacobs, (email@example.com) needs it by November 30, 2017 to give WLALA sufficient time to complete its vetting process. We encourage anyone who has ever had an idea for how the law may be improved, as well as people curious about the process to talk to Shaun, and also to get more involved by joining the WLALA delegation and attending this year’s Conference in Sacramento. WLALA’s Shaun Dabby Jacobs and Farah Tabibkhoei plan to attend this year’s conference and encourage others who are interested in attending to send an email to Shaun (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 29, 2017 so we can submit our Delegate List to CCBA.