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Letters to the Editor

Money grab

In the June publication, President Miller proposed distributing unclaimed class action judgment money to the State Bar to help fund its legal aid programs. It sounds laudable, but it covers too many policy matters that are likely to be considered controversial. Among them:

Why are the State Bar legal aid programs more worthy than the programs of other charities and good-work organizations to whom the money would otherwise go?

Even if some money should be diverted to the State Bar, how much should be diverted and why that amount?

Should all cy pres money in the state be diverted to the State Bar? Why shouldn't the proposal be the subject of legislative hearings, held to determine the shaping of legislation? Further, long term or ongoing State Bar programs require ongoing funding of certain amounts of money. Cy Pres distributions would not be predictable as to the time or amount of payment. Good program management needs something better than unpredictability.

As it is, the AOC is trying to grab any money it can, even by taking some of what would be legislatively allocable to our law library system. While that Assembly-passed measure was rejected by the Senate, an end-run in the quiet of night can be expected when the two bills are brought to conference resolution. Only a nighttime run can do this. There is a real oddity in the State Bar charging our law libraries full retail price for State Bar publications and then secretly taking even more money from the law libraries.

Let the State Bar work above board. And if it wants access to cy pres money, let it go to the legislature in the light of day.

Jack Pepper
San Mateo

Untraceable JNE “leaks”

I served on JNE from 1997 to 2001, including service as vice-chair and chair in the last two years and later on the JNE Review Committee for three years and as chair in my last year. I note that your report (June) states that “63 candidates have been rated ‘not qualified’; and of the handful of leaks, only one was traced back to a JNE commissioner.” I understand that 63 “not qualified” candidates cover a three-year period. Since JNE was created, there have been many more candidates rated “not qualified.”

Much more importantly, my best information is that the only media-reported “leaks” on JNE-rated “not qualified” candidates over the life of JNE were reports about “leaks” concerning two “not qualified” candidates subsequently appointed to the bench by the governor. I do not believe that there have been any media reports of “leaks” about JNE evaluations concerning other candidates. Equally important, my best information is that there was never any conclusion or support, after investigation by specially appointed authorities, that JNE or any JNE commissioner was ever determined to be the source of any “leak.”

Based upon research that I have done in connection with subsequent work on JNE rules and procedures and responding to initiatives by the board of governors and other public agencies in the past, I have found no support for any statement that a “leak” was traced back to a JNE commissioner or in any way sourced to JNE. Indeed, the board of governors, the legal community and the public should be proud of JNE. JNE has national respect as a model of judicial evaluation.

William I. Edlund
San Francisco

Editor’s note: Board of governors member Richard Rubin stands by his statement, reported in the story, that one leak was traced to a JNE commissioner. However, the State Bar has no formal record of the results of any leak investigations. The 63 “not qualified” candidates were rated over a three-year period only, from 2007-2009.

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