The New Jersey State Bar Association’s governing body took action on a number of issues, from member benefits to legislation to ethics issues.
The association’s Board of Trustees met Dec. 14 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.
Here is how the trustees voted:
· Opposed A-455, a bill that would establish a
per se standard for driving under the influence of drugs if there is any evidence of a controlled dangerous substance in a person’s bodily fluids. The trustees opposed the legislation as overly broad. The board also opposed A-1015, which would increase penalties for drunk driving when minors are present and injured, since it is covered in other laws.
· Opposed A-944/S-1461, which would establish and enhance some insurance fraud prevention matters, since the issue is already addressed under existing law.
· Opposed A-2405, which removes the statute of limitations in some civil actions for sexual abuse and expands the categories of defendants liable in such actions as overly broad.
· Supported A-2179, which requires assisted living facilities to set aside at least 10 percent of its beds for people eligible for Medicaid and to accept at least five percent of Medicaid direct admissions.
· Approved the 2012 Diversity Membership Initative to offer a 50-percent discount on the first year of association membership, free membership in substantive law sections, and a voucher for a free live, three-credit continuing legal education (CLE) course to members of the state’s affinity bar associations. The offer will be launched at the association’s Diversity Summit in February and end in May.
· Agreed to allow the inclusion of the association’s CLE publications in the Bloomberg Law online legal database.
In addition to that action, the trustees approved the audit of the fiscal year 2012, which ended in June. The audit, prepared by Withum, Smith + Brown, found the association has a sound financial base and there were no issues of concern.
The trustees voted to reiterate the association’s earlier position endorsing the use, where appropriate, of a common law retaining lien so that lawyers can hold client files to secure payment of outstanding legal fees. The issue will be discussed at an upcoming Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics meeting, and stems from a disciplinary matter where a lawyer faced admonition for using the lien. The Supreme Court dismissed the admonition, but asked for further consideration of the use of retaining liens given the restrictions on holding client funds in the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The trustees also received an update from Wayne Positan, a former state bar association president who is the state delegate to the American Bar Association, on issues the national bar association will consider at its upcoming gathering, including consideration of the model rules and legal education.