LACBA Update Back Issues - December 2014

A Weekend in Legislation Camp 

Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) passes five LACBA resolutions. Find out how to write resolutions for the next conference below.

“A Weekend in Legislation Camp” submitted by Charles K. Wake, Esq., member, LACBA Delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations Executive Committee; and member, Family Law Section Executive Committee. He limits his practice to family law litigation, appeals, and mediation.

I left for the 2014 Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) on a warm September morning, visions of erudite discourse dancing in my head. This year, the conference was in one of my favorite places: San Diego. But the real reasons I participate in LACBA's CCBA delegation are the people and an opportunity to debate policy rather than simply advocating on my clients' behalf.

For an old student government junkie like me, the CCBA fits like a glove. I find the process stimulating and the dynamics fascinating. I learn something new every year—and usually several things.

For the uninitiated, the CCBA is fast becoming one of the most effective lobbying groups in California, largely because its views are nonpartisan, and the conference is composed of attorney volunteers from across the state representing diverse backgrounds, experience, and expertise. That its delegates include such people as John Van de Kamp and James Brosnahan may help.

The LACBA delegation is usually the largest at each year's conference because we have the most members of any participating bar association. Our process for deciding what resolutions to propose and whether to support or oppose other bar associations’ resolutions is time-consuming but rewarding. We first consider each LACBA member’s proposed resolution and then vote as a group to decide which ones our delegation will submit to the conference. After all the CCBA member associations submit their various resolutions, we begin an analysis culminating in a position on each proposed resolution to be discussed that year.

The breadth of topics addressed by all the proposed resolutions is staggering. Needless to say, the process of analyzing those resolutions and adopting informed positions can sometimes be formidable. Fortunately, we divide into study groups, each of which is assigned resolutions in a particular subject area. The study groups then present their analysis and make recommendations concerning each resolution they were assigned. We are fortunate to have many experienced lawyers from different backgrounds in the LACBA delegation, so friendly but vigorous internal debate is often the norm. I suspect few if any of the other participating bar associations employ such a rigorous process analyzing the various resolutions to be presented each year.

Back to this year's conference. As usual, we considered resolutions ranging from the loftiest of ideals to the most pedestrian of statutory reconciliation. For instance, the Bar Association of San Francisco presented an emergency late-filed resolution that would prohibit any court from entering a protective order or approving a settlement that prevents disclosure of information concerning any "public danger to health or safety." On the other hand, a resolution proposed by the San Diego County Bar Association would amend the Vehicle Code to reduce the fine for running a red light at a freeway on-ramp rather than at an intersection.

This year's conference seemed to involve substantially more lobbying than some other years I have participated. The first Friday afternoon, it seemed as if friendly amendments were accepted to most of the resolutions considered. Each time the LACBA delegation caucused during the conference, several other delegations lobbied for our consideration, asking us to change our original position on their resolutions, knowing our support would translate into a large number of votes for passage.

While the conference got off to an apparently cooperative start, several resolutions debated later in the weekend created substantially more controversy. Regardless of how heated the debate became, however, it was always characterized by mutual respect of opposing views (at least in public) and camaraderie. After all, each of us who has participated in this process cannot help but understand that every other delegate shares the same dedication and willingness to give his or her time. Perhaps more importantly, everyone who has participated in this process realizes how much he or she can learn from those whose views may differ from our own.

I certainly plan to participate for many years to come and recommend the LACBA delegation to anyone interested in a chance to affect the laws that govern our society. If nothing else, it will be a rewarding experience with a wonderful group of other legislative junkies.

Editor's Note:
Five 2014 LACBA resolutions were passed by the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) at its annual conference held this past September at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Resolutions addressing the following issues were approved in principle or with amendments accepted by the authors:

Increase Rate of Credit for Time Spent Incarcerated from $30 set in 1976 to $100/day

Remove Criminal Threats (without more) from List of Felonies That Qualify as Three Strikes Offenses

Provide Range of Discretionary Penalty for False Immigration Documents

Whistleblower Protections Extended to Licensed Intermediate Care Facilities

Definition of Transport for Sale of Certain Drugs to Differentiate Penalty

Resolution authors work closely with the CCBA Board of Directors and with the conference lobbyist, Larry Doyle, to fine-tune proposals and locate appropriate legislators to carry the resultant measures, allowing authors an opportunity to take an integral part in improving the law. Following the conference, the LACBA Delegation voted to communicate to the CCBA and to Larry Doyle that its resolution extending whistleblower protections to employees of intermediate care facilities (currently only available to acute and 24-hour care facilities) is its first priority among the resolutions listed above.

Write resolutions for the next conference. If you are interested in making improvements to code sections that affect your clients and practice, please review these and other resolutions at  and consider writing resolutions (with statements of reasons) that the LACBA Delegation may submit to the statewide conference in 2015. www.calconference.org