f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 30, 2004

bar advocates at it again

Filed under: — David Giacalone @ 10:43 am


                                                           mass. lawyers still looking out for #1   (Nov. 29, 2004)

Two of the biggest lawyer groups in Massachusetts are “challenging a ruling that allows judges in Hampden County

to force attorneys to represent the poor in criminal cases.”  This is one more episode in a consitutional crisis that began when assigned counsel for indigent criminal defendants (called “bar advocates”), started illegal group boycotts in July seeking higher fees.  (AP/Boston Herald, Legal groups challenge judges’ right to force them to take cases,  Nov. 29, 2004)


   The Massachusetts bar advocates are continuing to put put their own financial interests above the law, their ethical duties and the needs of their clientele:

  • First, they held a practice statewide boycott in 2003, shutting down courts and showing their destructive power;

  • then, they used a website to facilitate their joint action to raise their fees; 

  • in July, they orchestrated statewide illegal group boycotts last summer, to force the State to pay them higher fees — virtually closing down a number of courts and forcing the release of some prisoners;

  • in August, they insisted that a coerced 25% pay hike passed by the Legislature was insufficient and refused to return to work;

  • next, they screamed and whined when desperate judges used emergency powers to appoint lawyers to indigent defendants, in order to stem the crisis created by the boycotting bar advocates;

  • predictably, they intensified their fee boycott and resisted emergency recruitment, including drafting sample Refusal Motions for lawyers to use to avoid service

  • today, The Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Massachusetts Association of Court Appointed Attorneys, and three Springfield lawyers filed a lawsuit asking the full court to reverse the Interim Order by Justice Francis X. Spina that upheld the emergency appointment power 

In Indiana Federation of Dentists, 476 U.S. 447, 465 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court held that no sellers can decide their cause is so right that they can violate antitrust laws with impunity, in seeking to impose higher fees or other terms on their customers.   In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court heard all the same arguments made now by the bar advocates, in a case involving indigent defense counsel in Washington, D.C.  [i.e., fighting for 6th Amendment rights and better quality service; Legislature has failed to act quickly enough; fee is too low to attract experienced counsel in adequate numbers; the District/State has monopoly power, etc.]  The Court rejected each of the reasons for the so-called “strike,” and declared that a group boycott aimed at increasing fees is a clear violation of the antitrust laws.  FTC v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Assn., 493 U.S. 411, 1990.  


the mountain moon              
gives the blossom thief


in the misty day
no window can be seen…
a prison

– haiku of Kobayashi ISSA, translated by D.G. Lanoue

Click here to read a summary of Your Editor’s argument that the boycotts are illegal violations of the antitrust law and unethical interference with court processess and client rights.    Recent coverage at this weblog can be found here.

# Posted by David Giacalone on 11/29/04

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