Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Daybreak Group v. Three Creeks Ranch (Cal. Ct. App. - April 21, 2008)

Now you're just making fun of me.

It's a published opinion by Justice Bedsworth. It's got only three and a half pages of text. And it begins with the following paragraph:

"This is a case of first impression. Many such cases present interesting analytical challenges; others result only in rueful head-shaking. This, unfortunately, falls into the latter category."

Of course I'm going to mention that opinion! How can I not?! It's short, easy to read, and fun. Written in the classic Justice Bedsworth style.

The case is technically about an alleged requirement for a member of the California Bar who resides outside the state to be admitted pro hac vice. Or, as Justice Bedsworth rightly holds, the utter absence of such any such actual requirement. I get the keen sense that the case is really about what awe-inspiringly bad arguments attorneys can sometimes make. And that's definitely how Justice Bedsworth writes the opinion. In a way that's light, breezy, and deadly persuasive.

So fun for everyone. That is, I imagine, except for Stuart W. Knight, counsel for appellant (and 1968 Southwestern Law School graduate). For him: Not so fun. But trust me, Mr. Knight: It could have been a lot, lot worse.

The winner, by contrast, is R. Allen Payne. Who lives in Helena, Montana, but who is a member of the California Bar. A fact that's not only interesting, but dispositive to the appeal.

By the way, I thought to myself: "I wonder how many California attorneys there are in sparsely populated Montana?" So, having nothing more productive to do with my time, I checked. 331. Which, I believe, is roughly half the population of that State. Though I admit my math may be slightly off on that latter point.

Most of these Montana resident/California attorneys, by the way, have either resigned from the California Bar, are inactive, been suspended for nonpayment of Bar dues, or died. For example, of the 45 California attorneys who reside -- like Mr. Payne -- in Helena, Montana, only 9 of them (including Payne) are active; i.e., only 20 percent. The majority (25) are inactive, five didn't pay their bar dues (and hence not eligible to practice in California), five are dead, and one -- David DePasquale, a disgraced graduate of USD Law School, I might (sadly) add -- has been disbarred.

So Montana: A great place to retire or move or (maybe) work, or even die, but not such a great place to practice California law. But if you want to, we welcome you back. With open arms. No pro hac vice needed.