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COURT LETS IN SOME OUT-OF-STATE LAWYERS The California Supreme Court on Thursday cracked the door open for out-of-state lawyers to practice law in the state under certain restrictions. Acting on the recommendations of its own Multijurisdictional Practice Implementation Committee, the court announced it would permit practice by in-house counsel, legal services attorneys, litigation lawyers involved in or anticipating cases in the state, and non-litigation lawyers practicing temporarily within California. According to a press statement, a registration system will be enacted for in-house and legal services attorneys, while the other lawyers will be subject to so-called safe harbors defining when and to what extent they may practice. The court noted that there were neither recommendations for reciprocity, under which out-of-state lawyers could practice here if California attorneys were allowed to practice in their home states, nor comity, which would allow other states’ lawyers to practice in California even if their home states didn’t allow the reverse. Lawyers wishing to practice in California would be subject to the jurisdiction of the State Bar, which has been directed to implement the new procedures by Nov. 15. That could appease some members of the State Bar’s Board of Governors who worried last year that the Bar might not be able to keep track of out-of-state lawyers if they didn’t register and that they might be able to flout California disciplinary rules. — Mike McKee GRAND JURY INDICTS GEORGIA LAWYERS ATLANTA — A North Carolina grand jury has indicted Atlanta lawyers F. Edwin Hallman Jr. and H. King Buttermore III — along with their firm, Decker, Hallman, Barber & Briggs — for the unauthorized practice of law. Cleveland County District Attorney William Young said the misdemeanor charges could result in probated sentences for Hallman and Buttermore and an order that the firm return fees paid by Gardner-Webb University, a 3,500-student Baptist school in Boiling Springs, N.C. While a bitter internal dispute at the university seems to have prompted the charges, the action raises the question of how far law firms can go in serving clients in states where they are not members of the bar. The firm in 2002 conducted an investigation that largely cleared M. Christopher White, Gardner-Webb’s president, of wrongdoing for ordering that a basketball player’s grade point average be recalculated in a way that made the student eligible for the season. The firm’s report, however, led the school’s board of trustees to reassign two faculty members who had been critical of White’s actions — moves that led several faculty members to resign in protest. White later resigned. The National Collegiate Athletic Association last month cited White’s grade change order, among other things, in its decision to put Gardner-Webb on a three-year probation. In response to calls to Hallman and Buttermore, the firm issued a statement to the Daily Report declaring that its lawyers conducted interviews and provided a report to the board of trustees at the school — but did not practice law. “It is difficult for us to understand what is motivating these actions against us,” the statement read. “If former university employees, or those unhappy with the steps taken by the Board of Trustees, are disgruntled and seeking some form of retribution against this firm, their ire is misguided.” — Fulton County Daily Report FLORIDA JUDGES BLAST BAIL BOND WEB SITE MIAMI — Some South Florida judges are blasting an Internet site sponsored by the bail bond industry that attacks the decisions of state court judges to grant nonmonetary release of criminal defendants before trial. Since last spring, a group called Concerned Citizens for Pre-Trial Compliance, which includes bail bond agents, has been operating a Miami-based Web site called floridasrevolvingdoor.com. The site currently lists 49 pretrial release decisions by 12 judges in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Manatee and Sarasota counties. The listings include descriptions of defendants’ rap sheets and sarcastic comments about the judges. The site decries what it calls the judges’ “outrageous violations of the public trust,” and says that “it is the moral duty of taxpayers” to retaliate “at the ballot box.” Critics of the bail industry say the Web site reflects the bond agents’ anxiety about efforts to increase judges’ use of pretrial release services that eliminate the requirement that defendants post monetary bond. Bond agents claim that monetary bond is the best guarantee that defendants will return for later court appearances. The critics note that bond agents’ revenues depend on the fees they charge to post bail on behalf of defendants. — Miami Daily Business Review

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