Board Minutes - May 9, 2008
Jefferson City Capital Plaza Hotel
Charlie J. Harris, President
Thomas M. Burke., President-Elect
H.A. Skip Walther, Vice-President
C. Ronald Baird, Past President
Keith A. Birkes, Secretary
William R. Bay
Susan B. Bradley
P. John Brady
Hon. Richard Bresnahan
Thomas J. Casey
Mark W. Comley
Dana Tippin Cutler
Carol Chazen Friedman
Alan B. Gallas
Tracy H. Gilroy
Vincent F. Igoe, Jr.
John S. Johnston
Jennifer M. Joyce
Hon. John F. Kintz
Thomas M. Lang
William J. Lasley
Mark H. Levison
Karen King Mitchell
Matthew M. Mocherman
Douglass F. Noland
Daniel A. Raniere
W. Edward Reeves
Deanna K. Scott
Allan D. Seidel
Howard A. Shalowitz
Walter R. Simpson
Patrick B. Starke
Lynn Ann Vogel
Eric J. Wulff
Virginia L. Fry
H. Lynn Henry
Edward J. Hershewe
Max E. Mitchell
James C. Wirken
Members attending by telephone:
Richard F. Halliburton
Aaron D. Jones
It was moved and seconded that the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Governors of January 25 and of the Executive Committee meetings of January 8, March 3, March 17 and April 14 be approved. The motion was approved.
2. Finance Committee Report:
Mr. Erik Bergmanis reported that the status of The Missouri Bar’s finances is strong and that revenues and expenditures are tracking within budget through the first quarter of the year. No action was necessary.
3. Committee Reports:
A. Delivery of Legal Service Committee
Mr. Richard Halliburton provided a report of the legal service funding provided by The Missouri Bar in 2007. He noted that the funding, which came from a $20 per attorney allotment from bar dues and pro hac vice fees, accounted for $562,000 for legal services funding in Missouri, slightly less than the amount generated in 2006. Specifically, the funding allowed LSC to represent approximately 800 clients in 2007; provided matching funds for grants to LSC; and provided a valuable source of funding from Missouri lawyers to help provide assistance to low income citizens of the state.
Ms. Catherine Barrie reported on the status of legislation in the current legislative session. She reported that HJR 49, a bill that proposed a constitutional amendment that would significantly change the Non-Partisan Court Plan was defeated on a floor vote. She noted that another bill, HJR 41 is still alive. HJR 41 would put a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would strip Missouri courts of their jurisdiction in cases that involve taxes. This bill passed the House earlier in the week. It was voted out of committee in the Senate, but with substantially changed language. Ms. Barrie reported that although the language change would likely lessen the practical impact of the bill, it would still be preferable for the measure to fail.
Ms. Barrie reported that several bills contain controversial measures to redistribute judges within the state. The measure was attached to a bill related to the State Public Defender and an Administrative Hearing Commission bill. The latter bill has since mushroomed to more than 400 pages in length and is unlikely to pass.
Ms. Barrie reported that the judicial budget passed and provided an update on bar-drafted bills. She reported that the money from the surcharge for Legal Services was appropriated. She explained that this appropriation must be approved every year. This year’s appropriation was in the amount of approximately $3.2 million dollars. She noted that this legislation also was passed with an “E” associated with the bill, which means that if more than the amount appropriated comes in, additional money will be eligible for appropriation to legal services.
She further reported that several other bills drafted by bar committees remain viable going into the last week of the session.
HB 1358 the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act is in the hands of Sen. Ridgeway to take up on the Senate floor and is in a very good position to pass. This measure has been enacted by 49 other states.
HB 1469 is a separate bill dealing with authorizing the Administrative Hearing Commission to make summary determinations. This bill has passed the House and is pending to be taken up on the Senate floor.
HB 1360, the Interstate Family Support Act, has become part of the Omnibus Judicial bill, which does not appear to have a good chance of passing this year.
SB 1016, a bill that would make a statutory change to consolidate the tort victims compensation money with the surcharge money for Legal Service is in a good position to pass. Ms. Barrie reported that the money earmarked for Legal Services from the tort victims compensation fund is now consolidated in the judicial budget and will be administered by the Supreme Court of Missouri in the same way that the surcharge proceeds are administered.
She called attention to the written summary contained in the board handout materials containing all of the positions taken on legislation by the Executive Committee. She explained that if the position was substantive in nature, a statement on the position and the reasons as approved by the Executive Committee was sent to the sponsor.
A question was raised regarding the “no position” taken by the Executive Committee on HB 1446 and whether the $5 surcharge in that bill would generate a court filing fee increase. A discussion included the policy on Bar positions regarding filing fee surcharges. It was noted that the Bar typically opposes bills that contain a filing fee surcharge, if the fees do not directly relate to the court system. It was reported that this bill was not opposed because some members of the Executive Committee considered the training of correction officers as being directly related to the court system. Ms. Barrie reported that the bill does not appear to be in a position to pass; it was not taken up in committee and does not appear to be attached to any other existing bills. After Ms. Barrie provided further information on the bill confirming that it was a filing fee surcharge increase, a motion was made and seconded to change the position previously taken by the Executive Committee and oppose HB 1446. The motion was approved. Ms. Barrie was directed to write a letter to the sponsor indicating that the board took a position against the bill.
A. Current Appointments
(1) Fee Dispute Resolution Committee
Mr. Keith Birkes reported that the terms of Mr. Stamper and Ms. Preston on the Fee Dispute Committee are expiring and both are eligible for reappointment. It was moved and seconded to approve the reappointment of both committee members. The motion was approved.
(2) Judicial Evaluation Committees
Mr. Birkes reported that information had been sent to the board related to the 72 appointments that must be made to six different Judicial Evaluation Committees. He reported that the Executive Committee had been considering the best way to ensure that a nonpartisan mix of lawyers and lay people are appointed. He reported that the Judicial Evaluation Committee’s duties will include reviewing, analyzing, and reporting on the results received from the judicial evaluation survey for dissemination to the public before the November election. He noted that appointments will need to be made in the next month and that the committees will need to be functioning by the end of June.
He reported that The Missouri Bar had not heard from or received recommendations from a number of very important local bars around the state and that a follow up letter had been mailed asking for recommendations by next Friday. He also reported that the Executive Committee concluded that it would be difficult and probably premature to try to make appointments before this information is received. As a result, the Executive Committee recommends that the board defer making appointments at this meeting and that the board delegate the duty to make the appointments to the Executive Committee, which has a meeting tentatively scheduled for May 22.
It was reported that a list of lawyers and lay persons recommended for a position on the committee is being maintained and board members are encouraged to continue to make recommendations. It was also noted that the bar has a list of teachers who have been involved in the Bar’s statewide law-related education program and would be qualified and willing to serve as lay members. Letters have been sent to everyone recommended, asking for background information. This information will be reviewed and checked prior to making appointments. It was moved and seconded that the duties of soliciting, evaluating and selecting the 72 members of the six Judicial Evaluation Committees be delegated to the Executive Committee. The motion was approved.
(3) ABA Delegates
Mr. Birkes reported that the terms of four of the seven Missouri Bar delegates to the ABA House of Delegates will be expiring. These delegates are:
William Corrigan, Jr.
Joe B. Whisler
He reported that traditionally past presidents of The Missouri Bar serve two terms of two years each and Messrs. Corrigan, Doerhoff and Whisler are all completing their first terms. He further reported that Doreen Dodson has been a long term delegate to the ABA House of Delegate and is completing her eighth term. He explained that the theory behind having one delegate in a long term role will offer the opportunity for that person to become more involved in the ABA and its leadership and have stronger impact on behalf of The Missouri Bar. And Mr. Birkes noted that Ms. Dodson has done so in many ways and currently serves as chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence.
The Executive Committee recommends the reappointment of all four delegates. It was moved and seconded that the four delegates be reappointed. The motion was approved.
B. July Appointments
(1) Alcoholism Intervention Committee
Mr. Birkes announced that the board will be making an appointment to this committee in July. Nancy J. Pew’s term will be expiring and she is eligible for reappointment. A list of the committee members was provided.
6. Dues Protest and Possible Litigation:
The Missouri Bar Board of Governors went into closed session for this portion of the
7. Officers Report:
A. Executive Director’s Report
(1) Board of Governors’ Election Filings
Mr. Keith Birkes announced that a list board members and other lawyers who have filed for the upcoming board election was included in the board agenda. He noted that a nominating petition was also included for those who have not yet filed, but who intend to do so. He noted that petitions must be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Missouri by July 1. Ballots are sent out no later than July 20 and tabulations are done on August 15.
(2) Judicial Evaluation Survey
Mr. Birkes reported that the Judicial Evaluation Survey had been covered earlier in the meeting.
Mr. Birkes reported that some interest had been expressed during the last board meeting about the utilization of Fastcase by members of The Missouri Bar. He reported that statistics indicate that over the course of this year so far, we have had on average about 2,000 of our members utilizing Fastcase each month, registering 60,000 transactions. He noted that a lot of members are still not aware of this free service and efforts continue to publicize this benefit to membership. He further noted that there have been very few problems reported. It was also noted that a user satisfaction survey is being developed.
(4) Future Meetings
Mr. Birkes reported that the next board meeting will be in July at Big Cedar Lodge. Arrangements have been made for that meeting following the normal schedule and board members will have an opportunity to extend their stay at that location. He reported that Annual Meeting planning is coming along nicely and will be included in the President’s report and fall meetings will be back in Jefferson City in November.
B. Vice-President’s Report
Mr. Walther reported that as Vice-President he has had the opportunity to attend a number of meetings on behalf of The Missouri Bar including venues that provided opportunities to meet legislators. He reported that he is still considering locations for the 2010 Mid-Year Meeting. He noted that the 2010 Annual Meeting will return to Columbia.
C. President-Elect’s Report
Mr. Burke reported that he has researched locations for the 2009 Mid-Year Meeting and he recommends holding the January meeting at the South Seas Resort on Captiva Island in Florida. It was moved and seconded that the Mid-Year meeting be held at the South Seas Resort in Captiva Island, Florida. The motion was approved.
D. President’s Report
(1) Annual Meeting
Mr. Charlie Harris reported that the Annual Meeting is scheduled for September 17-19 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City and is expected to be an excellent conference. He briefly reviewed some of the programming being planned, noting that the presenters include Dennis Archer, the first person of color elected as president of the ABA, Frank Angones, the first person of color to be elected to lead the Florida Bar, Doreen Dodson, the first female president of The Missouri Bar, and Robert Grey, Jr., who also served as president of the ABA. Plenary programs will focus on diversity in the legal profession, judicial independence and immigration law. The Best of Missouri will be held at the American Jazz Museum and the Negro League Baseball Museum. He noted that a conference outline was provided in the meeting materials. He commended the planning committee and bar staff for their efforts.
(2) Proposed Rule on Accommodations and Court Access
Mr. Harris reported the Disabled Citizens’ Alliance for Independence contacted him asking The Missouri Bar for help related to issues of disabled access in courts across the state. It was determined that the accessibility of courthouses is a county by county issue and one which The Missouri Bar unfortunately has little ability to impact. It was reported that a Supreme Court of Missouri Committee undertook an analysis several years ago regarding this issue, concluding that many courts are not in compliance and options to make these compliant may be limited.
(3) Officer Efforts on Behalf of Missouri Bar Issues
Mr. Harris commended the efforts of his fellow officers on behalf of The Missouri Bar, expressing his thanks to Tom Burke, Skip Walther and Ron Baird for their efforts, especially related to issues related to the Non- Partisan Court Plan.
(4) Lawyer Advertising Report
Mr. Mark Levison reported on the current status of the lawyer advertising issues that may be the subject of action at the July board meeting. He briefly reviewed the actions taken by the Lawyer Advertising Committee during the past six years, including the initial analysis of key advertising issues; calling for and receiving comments from members of the bar; and the drafting of new rules that were enacted verbatim by the Supreme Court of Missouri. He further reviewed additional refinements needed and taken several years after the initial changes and the decision to reconstitute the committee.
He reported that some frustration surfaced this year, related to concerns about existing rules not being followed and/or the need for additional rule changes. He noted that MATA had initiated efforts to address these issues through legislative action. He also noted that although OCDC will respond to complaints involving advertising there is some concern about how aggressively OCDC will initiate investigations of violators.
He reported that the committee anticipates proposing steps at the July meeting to address the current issues. These are expected to include communication efforts directed to the public, as well as communication to lawyers and the possibility of a lawyer advertising monitoring committee of The Missouri Bar. He noted that the committee anticipates considering issues and potential changes related to the rules dealing with the following types of advertising issues:
• Direct solicitation
(5) Public Defender Study
Mr. Birkes reported that the Executive Committee is recommending the approval of up $17,000 to provide funding for the Public Defenders caseload study. This funding would be used unless funding becomes available from other sources. Mr. Birkes reminded the Board that former Missouri Bar President Doug Copeland reported in September that he was seeking $70,000 in funding for this study. He has received a commitment of $50,000 from the Missouri Bar Foundation and $3,000 from the BAMSL Foundation. Mr. Copeland is also seeking funds from other bar associations within the state, as well as from the IOLTA Foundation. It was moved and seconded that up to $17,000 be approved to provide funding for the Public Defender caseload study. The motion was approved.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
Keith A. Birkes, Secretary