Monday, January 26, 2009

California State Bar Meeting Plan Won't Change

01/26/09 The Recorder and 1/26/09 Daily Journal [subscription required]: The California State Bar's Board of Governors has decided not to act on the Beverly Hills Bar Association's request to change the venue of the State Bar's meeting in September. The meeting will take place at at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Doug Manchester, owner of Manchester Financial Group, gave the Prop. 8 campaign $125,000. In a letter to State Bar President Holly Fujie, Beverly Hills Bar Association President Nancy Knupfer objected that the meeting "will be held at a location whose ownership — despite supporting the repudiation of basic human rights — would profit from our members."

Lawrence Yee, the State Bar's acting general counsel, and Fujie have determined that Keller v. State Bar of California , 496 U.S. 1, would raise an unacceptable risk of litigation if the State Bar acted on the Beverly Hills Bar Association's request. The Keller Court barred use of membership dues to fund political or ideological activities. According to The Recorder, Yee said that "Proposition 8 is a fairly political issue." And Fujie told the Daily Journal that "the State Bar is not allowed to take any political action. We know that if we took action to move the State Bar meeting, it would result in a lawsuit for sure."

In July 2008, Californians Against Hate called for a boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt (and other Manchester hotels) to protest Manchester's contribution. But well before then, in 2004, the State Bar selected the Hyatt for its 2009 meeting. The State Bar has a $500,000 cancellation fee. "If we were to cancel and paid [Manchester] $500,000, he makes more money," Fujie said, "because he'd have the cancellation fee and what he can rent the rooms out for. We line the pockets of this gentleman."

The State Bar also booked the Manchester Grand Hyatt for the annual meeting of the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, which has planned to share the venue with the State Bar. According to executive director Laura Goldin, the Conference's board will consider its options on February 7th. "Our decision will have to include a review of the legal implications of any step we might or might not be able to take," Golden told the Daily Journal. "We might not be able to do anything," despite the Conference's resolution that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.

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