The decision to seek relief from the Supreme Court of California for the State Bar funding crisis did not come easily, nor did it come without significant and substantial debate. It had been the main subject of debate by the board of governors for almost eight months.
Every conceivable effort was made to craft a resolution with the legislature before going to the court, but to no avail.
The magnitude of the debate and the disparity of the positions that have grown between the Democrats and the Republicans in the legislature left us no other option.
Over the last eight months, we had grown farther apart, not closer. Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg’s heroic efforts to craft a compromise with AB 1669 seemed light years away.
The posturing by many in Sacramento left virtually no chance of a resolution before the scheduled layoffs of more than 400 loyal, experienced bar employees.
In addition, it did not appear there could be any resolution before the end of the legislative session in August.
Many angered board members and numerous leaders of regional, specialty and minority bar associations, upset over Gov. Pete Wilson’s veto of our funding bill, urged us to file a petition with the court as early as last November. Clearly, the relationship between the bar and some members of the legislature had reached a new low.
But the filing of a petition with the Supreme Court at that time, without efforts to work out our differences with the lawmakers, would have served only to alienate the legislature even further.
Intensive efforts by bar leaders commenced with scores of meetings with legislators and the governor’s office.
By Thanksgiving, we had identified an author for our emergency bill and, with the concurrence of the governor’s staff, had formulated the makings of a bill that addressed the points raised in the veto message.
I remember leaving my family on Thanksgiving Day, driving to the Capitol with board member Ann Ravel for a meeting the next morning with the governor’s staff. I left the Capitol feeling we had the makings of a bill the governor would sign.