The California Supreme Court today directed the State Bar of California to fast-track new, more robust procedures to help identify potential conflicts of interest among candidates for key State Bar offices.
The court’s roles in appointing members to the Board of Trustees and State Bar Court—which adjudicates attorney discipline cases—are governed by the California Rules of Court, rules 9.11 and 9.90, respectively. Each rule currently establishes an independent committee to review candidates and present appointment recommendations to the court.
The letter directs the State Bar to expedite new amendments to these rules requiring candidates for the State Bar Board of Trustees and State Bar Court to be screened for potential conflicts of interest.
Under the new guidelines, candidates for those offices would be required to disclose financial and nonfinancial interests that might be affected if appointed. Candidates would also be required to provide a list of attorneys for whom they identify as having a conflict, and the committees would then evaluate whether those conflicts would disqualify the candidate or reduce that candidate’s rating recommendation.
The court’s letter comes in response to the release of two reports on March 10 detailing the State Bar’s handling of prior complaints involving disbarred attorney Thomas Girardi.