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STATE BAR SCORES WIN IN ELECTION RULES CASE An Arizona lawyer who objected to State Bar rules that prevent him from voting or running in elections for the organization’s governing board has lost in court for the third time. San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal ruled Friday that the State Bar voting rules do not violate the equal protection or free speech clauses of the federal or California constitutions. That finding gels with earlier decisions by judges in San Francisco Superior Court and the U.S. district court in Oakland. Hoffman v. The State Bar of California, A101491, was filed by Scottsdale, Ariz., solo practitioner Louis Hoffman, who has kept his California bar license. He challenged rules that limit voting in or running for seats on the Board of Governors to attorneys whose principal offices are located with the state. Justice Timothy Reardon said in Friday’s 28-page ruling that Hoffman’s suit posed “interesting policy questions” about the “continued wisdom” of an in-state residency requirement, “particularly given the realities of modern transportation and communication practices that encourage multijurisdictional practice of the law. “We can contemplate a day when the State Bar’s multijurisdictional task force, some other committee of the State Bar, the board or the Legislature itself takes up the issue and puts it to rigorous examination,” Reardon wrote. “This is as it should be. But we are not obliged under the California Constitution to compel the State Bar to abandon the requirement.” Justices Laurence Kay and Maria Rivera concurred. — Mike McKee ABA AND ATTORNEY AGREE TO SETTLEMENT PHILADELPHIA — The most anticipated libel trial on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s docket has been canceled now that the ABA Journal has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to attorney Richard Sprague and to publish a half-page apology in its February magazine that will say it intended nothing but praise when it described Sprague as “perhaps the most powerful lawyer-cum-fixer” in Pennsylvania. Sprague’s lawyer, James Beasley Sr., said the amount of money to be paid to Sprague is confidential, but that he considers it a “damned good settlement.” American Bar Association spokeswoman Nancy Cowger Slonim declined to comment beyond a joint press release that said the two sides had reached “an amicable resolution” of the case that “includes a payment to Mr. Sprague, the amount of which is confidential.” Beasley said the promise of a prominently published apology was a critical aspect of the settlement. The apology reads in part: “Intending to praise Mr. Sprague as a highly regarded and outstanding attorney, we said that he was ‘perhaps the most powerful lawyer-cum-fixer’ in Pennsylvania. Although we recognize that the word ‘fixer’ has a negative connotation in some contexts, we did not intend to disparage Mr. Sprague in any way. Rather, we intended the word to mean someone who is skilled in resolving problems in high-profile, complex cases. We apologize to Mr. Sprague for the personal distress that resulted from our choice of words.” The settlement cancels a trial that was set to begin Dec. 1 and promised to feature a parade of high-powered witnesses testifying on Sprague’s behalf. — The Legal Intelligencer

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