[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----CALIF., S. DAK.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Aug 24 02:28:14 UTC 2006
Disbarred Calif. Attorneys Face Stricter Sanctions
California's most scurrilous lawyers could soon face the ultimate sanction
-- permanent disbarment from the practice of law.
The State Bar Board of Governors took a step in that direction Saturday by
voting to give attorneys no 2nd chance at continuing their legal careers
if they were convicted of certain crimes, or if they had engaged in
particular acts of misconduct.
The board also decided to make the reinstatement process more difficult
for all other attorneys disbarred for lesser wrongs by requiring them to
pass the bar examination for out-of-state lawyers.
"We're not talking about jaywalking here," Fresno governor Paul Hokokian
said during Saturday's meeting. "These are significant occurrences,
multiple occurrences of misconduct."
Both proposals, which need the California Supreme Court's approval, have
stirred up controversy since coming to the fore late last year. Supporters
and opponents sent dozens of letters and e-mail messages to the State Bar.
Proponents argued some lawyers have acted so badly that they forfeited any
right to practice law, while others contended permanent disbarment is a
cruel punishment that undermines the State Bar's commitment to
rehabilitating and reinstating attorneys.
As proposed, State Bar prosecutors would be able to seek permanent
disbarment if attorneys commit malfeasance in public office, steal from
clients, corrupt the judicial process, commit insurance fraud, practice
law while suspended or disbarred, or engage in unnamed conduct "so
egregious" that permanent disbarment is warranted.
Any act of misconduct after reinstatement also would be grounds for
The concept of permanent disbarment, which had been dismissed in years
past, was revived by the State Bar last year soon after the California
Supreme Court chastised the State Bar in a discipline ruling for being too
soft at times. In an opinion involving Pacific Palisades lawyer Ronald
Silverton, the court said disbarment is normally the appropriate
punishment for a reinstated lawyer who gets in trouble a 2nd time.
Whether the court meant permanent disbarment isn't clear.
Nonetheless, Scott Drexel, the State Bar's chief trial counsel, defended
the idea during Saturday's 30-minute discussion by the Board of Governors
and an earlier 3-hour committee meeting on Thursday, where pro and con
forces threw out their strongest arguments.
"It puts people on notice that these offenses are the most serious
offenses that can be committed by attorneys," Drexel said. "The Supreme
Court, in every one of these cases, is the ultimate arbiter of whether
permanent disbarment is warranted."
Kicking a lawyer out for good tells him or her "you forfeited your chance
to practice law again and you should turn to another profession," Drexel
Several people disagreed. Among them was State Bar President James
Heiting, who said the proposal wasn't fair to lawyers and also usurped the
powers of the courts in disciplinary matters.
"Isn't this really saying we don't trust the judges?" he asked.
The Association of Discipline Defense Counsel, The Other Bar and the Los
Angeles County Bar Association also opposed permanent disbarment.
Speaking for the L.A. County bar's board of trustees by speaker phone,
attorney Michael Marcus said the proposal gives "too much discretion to
the prosecutor, unbridled discretion." As a former State Bar Court judge,
he added, he knows prosecutors "have a tendency to always seek the
Debate also got heated over forcing certain disbarred lawyers to pass the
bar exam. Under the concept, any disbarred lawyers who aren't permanently
banished would have to take the test given to out-of-state attorneys who
want to practice in California.
Los Angeles lawyer Diane Karpman, who represents disciplined lawyers,
called the idea "Kafkaesque," while her law partner Joanne Robbins, a
former State Bar Court judge, said retesting lawyers doesn't address the
ethical problems that got them in trouble in the first place.
"To impose the attorney exam on someone who may be a better lawyer than
anyone in this room isn't logical," Robbins said.
The bottom line for governors favoring permanent disbarment and retesting,
however, was the feeling that both were needed to retain the public's
"There's symbolic value to be gained at a very minimal cost," San Jose
governor James Scharf said.
A companion proposal that would have required disbarred lawyers to wait 7
years before seeking reinstatement, rather than the current 5 years, was
rejected on Saturday.
The State Bar board's Committee on Regulation, Admissions and Discipline
Oversight approved the proposal on Aug. 17, but a majority of the board
governors 2 days later decided that there was not enough evidence that an
extra 2-year waiting period would accomplish anything.
(source: The Recorder)
Deal to treat inmates in pipeline---SAN PABLO: Hospital looks to get
revenues while offering services to San Quentin
San Quentin State Prison soon could transport as many as 25 inmates a day
to San Pablo for treatment at Doctors Medical Center, officials of the 2
The hospital is negotiating a long-term contract with the California
Department of Corrections that would set aside one of the hospital's 7
floors as a secure ward guarded by correction officers, the officials told
the San Pablo City Council at a study session Monday.
The deal would provide the underused and financially strapped hospital a
reliable source of new revenue, while the prison would get high-quality
health care at a convenient location, officials said. San Quentin prison,
which houses inmates of varying security levels and is home to
California's death row, is about 8 miles from the San Pablo hospital.
Financial details were not available, but hospital CEO Irwin Hansen said
the state would likely pay a so-far-undisclosed multiplier of the Medicare
rate, which reimburses hospitals better than other government health
Doctors' officials initiated the negotiations, spokeswoman Gisela
Hernandez said, and recent events have accelerated the discussions.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that inmate medical care in the state
prison system was so deplorable it violated the U.S. Constitution. The
judge, Thelton Henderson, put the prison medical system in charge of a
receiver, who is looking outside the prison system for medical care
Under the burgeoning San Quentin-Doctors San Pablo arrangement, the
hospital would provide care to inmates in fields such as cardiology,
orthopedics, gastroenterology and related surgeries and inpatient acute
care. The corrections department would guard and transport the inmates.
"Security is our business. This is what we do, and we do it very well,"
said Joe McGrath, a retired San Quentin official who is now a consultant
to the receiver.
San Pablo Police Chief Joe Aita said he is confident San Quentin guards
would "do an excellent job."
"They're experts in their field," he said.
The hospital already has treated some San Quentin inmates -- about 40,
beginning in mid-July. Councilman Leonard McNeil noted that fact with
"This went on for a month," he said. "Why did you wait so long to tell
Hansen and McGrath said about 100 San Quentin inmates were in urgent need
of specialty care and could not wait for a contract to be hammered out.
Patients are dying throughout the state prison system for lack of access
to medical care, McGrath said.
McNeil, citing "a prevailing negative image of Doctors Medical Center"
without elaborating, questioned whether treating prison inmates might
"exacerbate that negative image."
Hansen countered that it could eventually "build our reputation."
"In a lot of ways, it is an endorsement that the federal court has looked
at our system and found it adequate," Hansen said.
Treating inmates at Doctors San Pablo would not be novel, said Capt. John
Day, director of security at San Quentin. Similar arrangements exist
throughout the state: San Quentin prison alone does business with more
than a dozen Bay Area hospitals, including Marin General Hospital in
Greenbrae, Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto, UC-San Francisco
Medical Center and Highland Hospital in Oakland.
"There are state dollars being spent," Day said. "They're going to be
spent regardless. If your community allows it, they'll be spent here."
Doctors Medical Center San Pablo/Pinole is owned and operated by the West
Contra Costa Healthcare District, an entity created under the authority of
(source: Contra Costa Times)
South Dakota is about to perform its first execution of a convicted killer
in 60 years.
A judge set next week as the time period when Elijah Page will die by
lethal injection at the state penitentiary.
But the warden will decide exactly what day and time it will happen. That
is kept confidential until up to 48 hours before the event.
There are also a number of rules regarding who carries out the execution
and who can be witness to it.
A lethal injection takes a team of 6 to 8 people. They have various roles,
from escorting Page to the execution chamber, strapping him to the table
and inserting the needle. The tubes go into an adjoining room where
someone else administers the drugs which will kill Page.
The warden is in charge of who will witness it and there are strict rules.
South Dakota's Attorney General, the trial judge in Page's case, and the
state's attorney and sheriff of Lawrence County where Chester Poage was
murdered may all watch.
Page can request up to five family and friends and two members of the
clergy to be present.
3 medical doctors may also be witnesses the death, along with 3 "reputable
citizens of South Dakota" chosen by the warden.
2 media witnesses, representative from the Rapid City Journal and the
Associated Press will also be in attendance and afterwards must hold a
news conference to share information with other media outlets.
All witnesses are subject to background checks and pat downs. They can't
bring bags, cameras, cell phones, into the witness area and they cannot
record the execution.
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