October 2008 • Vol. 28 No. 9 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

LACBA Board of Trustees Actions

September 18, 2008: Opposition to Proposal to Require Litigants in Superior Court Who Stipulate to Mediation to Bear Costs, Including Payment of Mediators
LACBA trustees voted overwhelmingly to oppose Beverly Hills Bar Association Resolution 3-3-08, which will be considered by the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations at its annual meeting in September. 

The proposal would amend Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1775, 1775.8, 1775.13, and 1775.14 to make the pilot mediation program in Los Angeles County courts permanent and would provide that parties who stipulate to mediation without being ordered to do so by the court under Section 1775.3 (exempting only cases valued between $25,000 and $50,000) would bear the cost of mediation, including compensation of mediators. The proposed resolution would eliminate most pro bono volunteer mediation panels as a means to resolve litigation where the parties agree to mediation.

Imposing a requirement to voluntarily mediate only before paid mediators raised concerns including the limitation of alternative means currently available to litigants to resolve claims, burdening litigants with unnecessary costs by making unavailable the vast resource of volunteer mediators, deterring parties from pursuing mediation as an option, and burdening the courts with additional workload when cases proceed to trial. The trustees listened to and considered the complaints about the court's mediation program expressed by the proponents of the resolution but felt minor problems with the program could be discussed with court leadership rather than eliminating the pro bono panel entirely. The board encouraged participation by mediators in the pro bono panel, not only because it is an excellent way for new mediators to gain experience but also in advancement of LACBA's commitment to volunteerism.

August 27, 2008: Amicus Brief re: Attorney Fees
LACBA trustees voted to approve the filing of an amicus brief in Chavez v. City of Los Angeles on the issue of attorney fees.

The plaintiff in Chavez was awarded $11,500 after many years of litigation, and his counsel moved for appropriate attorney fees, which the trial court denied under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1033. The court of appeal reversed, saying the Federal Employment and Housing Act fees provisions should control, and remanded to the trial court for a fee decision. The supreme court granted review upon the city's petition.

Upon its consideration of the amicus brief request, which was brought to LACBA by attorneys at Public Counsel and Bet Tzedek, the Amicus Briefs Committee voted 21-0 to recommend to trustees that LACBA file an amicus brief on the fee issue. LACBA has previously taken numerous supportive positions on fee-shifting statutes to encourage attorneys to take cases that are in the public interest.


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