Board Minutes - January 25, 2008

Atlantis Paradise Island, Nassau Bahamas

Members Present:
Charlie J. Harris, President
Thomas M. Burke., President-Elect
H.A. Skip Walther, Vice-President
C. Ronald Baird, Past President
Keith A. Birkes, Secretary

Erik Bergmanis
Suzanne B. Bradley
P. John Brady
Hon. Richard Bresnahan
Thomas J. Casey
Mark W. Comley
Dana Tippin Cutler
Brian Francka
Tracy H. Gilroy
Mike Greenwell
Richard F. Halliburton
Edward J. Hershewe
Vincent F. Igoe, Jr.
John S. Johnston
Aaron D. Jones
Hon. John F. Kintz
Thomas M. Lang
William J. Lasley
Mark H. Levison
Max E. Mitchell
Matthew M. Mocherman
Douglass F. Noland
Allan D. Seidel
Howard A. Shalowitz
Walter R. Simpson
Wallace Squibb
Patrick B. Starke
Lynn Ann Vogel
Eric J. Wulff

Members Present by Telephone:
Carol Chazen Friedman

Members Absent:
William R. Bay
Virginia L. Fry
Alan B. Gallas
H. Lynn Henry
Jennifer M. Joyce
Daniel A. Raniere
W. Edward Reeves
James C. Wirken

Also Present:
Chris Janku
Robert Stoeckl
Hon. Richard B. Teitelman
Federalist Representative

1. Minutes:

It was moved and seconded that the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Governors of November 16 and of the Executive Committee of November 16 and December 14, 2007 be approved. The motion was approved.

2. Financial Report:

Mr. Bergmanis reported that finances of the Bar are in good shape as of the end of 2007. He reported that enrollment fees, pro hac vice and penalties were $177,000 more than anticipated. A summary of the end-of-the-year financial status and statements of receipts and disbursements were distributed to members. It was moved and seconded that the report be approved. The motion was approved.

3. Legislation:

Mr. Birkes called attention to a packet of information containing summaries of legislative issues on which the Executive Committee has taken position so far. He noted that because the session just opened, this list is limited. He reported that the Executive Committee will be holding regular conference calls in the coming months to review and take positions on legislation that fall within the scope of The Missouri Bar and these positions will be reported to the Board. It was moved and seconded to ratify the positions taken to date by the Executive Committee. The motion was approved.

4. Committee Reports:

A. Client Security Fund Committee

Mr. Janku reported that the Client Security Fund had received 75 claims in 2007. The Board of Governors had approved 13 claims totaling $15,936 at its July 2007 meeting and 21 claims totaling $173,726 at its November 2007 meeting. The committee requests authorization to pay 16 additional claims totaling $124,033.85 at this meeting and the denial of 7 claims. He reported that the committee was currently investigating one additional claim with a maximum payment of $3,412. To avoid delaying a decision on that claim until the May Board of Governors meeting, the committee requests authorization to submit a recommendation on that claim to the Executive Committee for action. He reported that the balance of the Fund as of December 2007 was $143,762.58 and the 2008 budget appropriation is $185,000. It was moved and seconded to approve the additional fund payments as proposed. The motion was approved.

Mr. Janku reported that at the November Board of Governors meeting, the committee was asked investigate the possibility of obtaining judgments against lawyers who are the subject of claims. The committee anticipates reporting on this issue at the May 2008 meeting of the Board of Governors. He also reported that the committee received a request from Alan Pratzel, Missouri’s chief disciplinary counsel, to amend it Regulations and Rules of Procedure to allow consideration of claims when a lawyer is mentally disabled due to a medical condition, but had not been adjudged mentally incapacitated. The committee is considering this request.

B. Complaint Resolution and Fee Dispute Resolution Programs

Mr. Birkes reported that the meeting materials contain reports of the Complaint Resolution Committee and the Fee Dispute Resolution Committees for information purposes.

C. Lawyer Advertising Committee

Mr. Levison reported that the Lawyers Advertising Committee has begun it work. Four subcommittees have been formed: (1) Liaison Subcommittee, (2) Rules Subcommittee, (3) Internal Lawyer Communication Subcommittee, and (4) External Lawyer Communication Subcommittee. Mr. Levision reported that he is chairing the Liaison Subcommittee. A meeting was held with SLDC and the Supreme Court Counsel and everyone is working together.

The Rules Subcommittee is more substantive and will be looking at how most recently revised rules are working and whether they should be adjusted. This subcommittee will be reviewing an ABA report, which contains a compilation of lawyer advertising rules in every state, and may make recommendations after completing its review.

The Internal Communications Subcommittee is looking at other methods of communication with fellow lawyers within the Bar, including podcasting.

The External Communications Subcommittee will be reviewing options, including ABA tools and public relations efforts conducted in other states, for external public relations actions. A report will be made at the May meeting of the Board of Governors. No action was required.

5. Appointments:

A. Current Appointments

(1) Lawyer to Lawyer Dispute Resolution Committee

Mr. Birkes reported that the rules for this new committee require the Board of Governors to appoint the five-member committee and Judge Gary W. Lynch, who chaired the committee that developed this program, recommends the following members:

Theresa L.F. Levings, Kansas City
Keith A. Cutler, Kansas City
Ronald Willenbrock, St. Louis
Janet M.Thompson, Columbia
Honorable Gary W. Lynch, Bolivar

It was moved and seconded that the five lawyers recommended be approved. The motion was approved.

(2) Legal Aid of Mid-Missouri Board Appointment

Mr. Birkes reported that the Board of Governors appoints one member of the Mid-Missouri Legal Aid Board of Directors, and Gary Tatlow, the current appointee, is unable to continue. It was moved and seconded that the Board of Governors delegate this appointment to the Executive Committee, which will make the appointment at a conference call next week. The motion was approved.

B. May Appointments

Mr. Birkes reported that the Board of Governors will have an appointment to the Fee Dispute Resolution Committee to consider at the May meeting and that information related to that appointment has been provided in the meeting materials.

6. Selection of Slate of Candidates for the Three Court of Appeals Districts:

Mr. Birkes reported that candidates had until January 10 to submit a nomination petition to be considered for the district election. He reported that a total of four nominations were received in the Eastern District, seven from the Western District and three from the Southern District.

He further reported that after discussions among the Board of Governors from several caucus districts, the Executive Committee recommends using the following procedure to select the slate of candidates in each district.

Members of the Board from each caucus district will review the candidates who submitted nominating petitions. Each caucus will assemble and discuss the nominees and each member of the caucus will vote yes or no on each candidate. To be placed on the district ballot, a candidate must receive one vote more than half of the ballots cast by member of the caucus.

The ballot containing the slate of candidates from each district will be sent to the membership in that district electronically on February 1. Each candidate has been asked to provide a 750 word statement indicating why they should be elected and a photo that will be included in the electronic ballot. Members will have until February 28 to vote electronically and members who requested a paper ballot will have until 10 a.m. on February 29. Results will be announced on February 29.

It was moved and seconded to approve the recommended uniform procedure. The motion was approved. Dana Tippin Cutler voted no.

After district caucusing, the following candidates were selected:

Eastern District
Nicole J. Colbert-Botchway
Julia Pusateri Lasater
Reuben Shelton

Western District
Nimrod Chapel, Jr.
Jane Drummond
Nancy Morales Gonzalez
Karen King Mitchell
Donna M. White

Southern District
Aldo J. Dominguez
Robert A. Lynch
Deanna K. Scott

Mr. Birkes reported that the candidates would be immediately informed of the results and the results will also appear in ESQ this afternoon.

7. Officers Report:

A. Executive Director’s Report

Mr. Birkes reported that there was some traffic on listservs last week about the members-only website and lawyer directory being offline. He reported that the members-only website has been inoperable for about four months to accomplish some reprogramming work. He reported that a new association management software package is currently being installed, noting that installation has been onerous, but moving smoothly.

He reported that the reprogramming of portions of the members-only portion had been set aside in favor of some other areas that required more urgent attention, but went back online last week, and it is much more accurate and dependable. He reported that the technology efforts are on track and in good shape. He also noted that having the members only portion of the website offline clearly revealed that members rely on and missed the online member directory feature of the website.

A request was made that information be provided as to the use of Fastcase by the membership. Mr. Birkes reported that the use is good and increasing over time. He noted that the Fastcase member benefit is continually being publicized to members, which should help increase usage. He indicated that usage reports would be sent out to members of the Board.

He reminded everyone about the reception and dinner this evening, which will take place at the Water’s Edge patio and Water’s Edge room.

He noted that the next meeting of the Board of Governors will be May 9 in conjunction with the Spring Committee meetings in Jefferson City.

He also noted that their will be a dinner on February 4 in Jefferson City for bench and bar leaders from throughout the state on the eve of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri’s State of the Judiciary Address. The Missouri Bar will sponsor a luncheon at the Supreme Court following the address, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. All Board members are encouraged to attend the dinner, the address and the lunch. He noted that this is also a good opportunity to visit with legislators.

B. Vice-President’s Report

Mr. Walther commented on the value of attending legislative dinners organized throughout the state including the major metropolitan areas of St. Louis and Kansas City. He noted that many state representative and state senators attend these events and encouraged board members to try to attend when possible.

B. President-Elect’s Report

Mr. Burke reported that he has given some thought about the areas he will focus on as president of the Bar in 2009. He stated that the Bar has initiated several major initiatives in the past few years that he anticipates will continue to require significant efforts and attention during his term. As a result, he does not anticipate introducing any new projects or initiatives at this time. He indicated that he does intend to travel around the state in an effort to personally connect and reach out to lawyers and judges of the bar.

He reported that he is still considering locations for next year’s Mid-Year Meeting, but anticipates that it will either be in Florida or Southern California.

C. President’s Report.

(1) Public Information Campaign

Mr. Harris reported that the Bar has signed agreements with Aboussie and Associates and with Sipple Strategic Communications to provide assistance in developing the public information/education campaign focusing on a fair and impartial judiciary and justice system.

He noted that in the past one of the firms has primarily represented Democratic interests, while the other has primarily represented Republican interests. He noted that this was done to help ensure balance and fairness in the development of the survey questions and sampling. He noted that the Executive Committee has input throughout the development of the survey process and expects information on sampling and survey questions in the next 30 days.

(2) Meetings with Leaders of the Republican and Democratic Party

Mr. Harris reported that he and others on the Executive Committee recently met with leaders of both the state Democratic Party and Republican Party regarding the Non-Partisan Court Plan. He reported that the leaders from both parties were forthright and, while there remains disagreement on some points, it was very helpful to hear their perspectives and he anticipates that these meetings will prove to have been worthwhile moving forward.

(3) Letters to Bar Leaders Urging Support for Justice System

Mr. Harris reported that he also had a meeting with Rep. Bryan Stevenson and Chief Justice Stith to talk about cooperation between the Legislature and the Judiciary and that this meeting provided the opportunity to cement The Missouri Bar’s position on issues of a fair and impartial judiciary including the Bar’s commitment to public information and education in this area.

He reminded members that he sent a letter to the leaders of the other bar associations asking for their help in providing public education and public information in support of a fair and impartial justice system and in support of the Non-Partisan Court Plan. He also reported that he and Chief Justice Stith co-signed a letter to all judges in the state with a similar message. He reminded everyone that a broad-based coordinated effort would be needed in addition to Missouri Bar efforts.

8. Other Business:

(1) Terms of the New District-Wide Board Members

Mr. Birkes reported that the initial terms for two of the three district board members will be for one year and seven months; one will receive a two year and seven month term. All three will take their seats and be full voting members at the May meeting. Their re-election will coincide with the Board of Governors elections as those terms expire. The Board of Governors will select the slate of candidates for each election.

It was moved and seconded that the Eastern District Board member will have the longer term of two years and seven months. The Southern and Western District Board members will have initial terms of one year and seven months.

A discussion ensued about establishing whether the three district board would be included and able to vote as a member of the caucus for future district-wide board member elections. It was moved and seconded that the district-wide board members are excluded from the election caucus in the district-wide member slate selection. After additional discussion regarding the application of the conflict policy in this situation, the motion was amended as follows:

It was moved and seconded that the district-wide board members are excluded from the election caucus in the district-wide member slate selection, if they are running for reelection. The motion passed. Messrs. Wulff and Seidel and Ms. Friedman voted “no.” 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Keith A. Birkes, Secretary