Voluntary Bar Legislation Moves Past Judiciary Committee 4-1.

The House Judiciary Committee of the Arizona Legislature had a hearing last Wednesday, February 10, 2016 to consider the three voluntary bar bills introduced by Representative Anthony Kern this session. You can view the entire proceedings here or via this Arizona Legislature link for the House Judiciary Committee, February 10, 2016 at http://azleg.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=26

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/eb/Blue_check.svg/240px-Blue_check.svg.pngAfter taking public comment and completing deliberations, the Committee passed HB 2219, HB 2221 and HCM 2002 by a vote of 4-1. HCM 2002 is a House Resolution that requests (1) That the Arizona Supreme Court modify its rules related to the State Bar of Arizona to ensure compliance with Keller v. State Bar of California and the protection of the First Amendment freedoms of Arizona attorneys; and (2) That the Arizona Supreme Court establish improved transparency measures with respect to the practices and policies of the State Bar of Arizona in spending member dues.

The Committee also approved the following amendment to HB 2221:

Any person may request to examine or be furnished copies, printouts or photographs of any record during regular office hours or may request that the state bar of Arizona mail to the person a copy of any record not otherwise available on the state bar’s website.  The state bar of Arizona may require any person requesting a copy of any record to pay in advance for any copying and postage charges.  The state bar of Arizona shall promptly furnish, and may charge a fee for, the copies, printouts or photographs.  If requested, the state bar of Arizona shall furnish an index of records or categories of records that have been withheld and the reasons the records or categories of records have been withheld from the requesting person.  The state bar of Arizona may not include in the index information that is expressly privileged or confidential by law.  Any person who has requested to examine or copy records pursuant to this subsection and who has been denied access to or the right to examine or copy such records may appeal the denial through a special action in the superior court, pursuant to the rules of procedure for special actions against a public body. The court may award attorney fees and other legal costs that are reasonably incurred in any action under this subsection if the person seeking records substantially prevails.  This subsection does not limit the rights of any party to recover attorney fees, expenses and double damages pursuant to section 12‑349.  Any person who is wrongfully denied access to records pursuant to this subsection has a cause of action against the state bar of Arizona for any damages resulting from the denial.

“F.  For the purposes of this section, “record” means any record or other matter in the custody of the state bar of Arizona related to mandatory assessment monies that are collected by the supreme court and that are accepted by the state bar of Arizona pursuant to subsection E of this section.

As reported here, “House Representative Kern and other proponents of the bills believe that these measures would protect the people of Arizona by providing transparency, regulation and fairness for every attorney.” 

The House Judiciary Committee proceedings are video archived at the House of Representatives website but can be accessed via the following link:

02/10/2016 – House Judiciary 02/10/16 Video 01 hr. 58 min. MP4 Video

 

After a stop in the Rules Committee, the three bills are expected to proceed to the House floor for a vote. Proponents of voluntary bar legislation are urged to contact House Members to express their support for HB 2219, HB 2221 and HCM 2002.

 

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