Monday, September 12, 2005
Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations Backs Community Property for Domestic Partnerships
By a MetNews Staff Writer
SAN DIEGO — The Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations voted Friday to back changes in state law that would make property acquired during a domestic partnership community property.
The conference met over the weekend in San Diego for only the third time as a body independent of the State Bar of California, which met at the same time. The conference met at the San Diego Convention Center, while the State Bar met there and at the San Diego Marriott next door.
The community property resolution, which urged amendment of Family Code Sec. 760, was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association. LACBA delegate Matthew St. George said the amendment was necessary because of the “separate and unequal system of laws” in California, which does not permit couples of the same sex to marry.
The conference Resolutions Committee recommended a vote in favor of the proposal, but the State Bar’s Family Law Section recommended against it. Inserting domestic partnerships into Sec. 760, the section warned, could lead courts to hold that their absence from other statutes meant the Legislature did not intend them to cover such partnerships.
Opponents also suggested that the resolution was unnecessary, since Family Code Sec. 297.5(a) already provides that domestic partners have the same rights and obligations as married couples.
But proponents argued that Sec. 760 was different from other statutes, because it uses the term “married person” rather than the term “spouses.”
St. George said that California has a “whole variety of laws that we now have to go through step by step” to remove bias against gay and Lesbian couples.
The conference on its first afternoon of business completed work on family law and labor law resolutions, except for several controversial proposals set for debate later in the weekend, as well as on a group of resolutions classified as “miscellaneous.”
Outgoing State Bar President John Van de Kamp opened the conference proceedings by reading excerpts from a message posted on the Internet by Michelle Ghetti, a law professor at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, La., detailing the destruction of records and disruption of the legal system and the lives of lawyers and judges wrought by Hurricane Katrina. He noted that, among other things, it is possible that the bar examinations completed in July by Louisiana law students may have been destroyed by the flooding in and around New Orleans, which included the nearby town of Metairie, where the bar examiners store the documents while they await grading.
Van de Kamp urged conference delegates to help hurricane victims in any way possible.
In other action Friday, the conference:
•Voted to urge direct election of the president of the United States. Proponents pointed out that the electoral college system gives the votes of Californians less weight than the votes of residents of smaller states.
•Voted, 109-88, in favor of making it an unlawful employment practice to condition employment on the signing of a covenant not to compete that would be illegal in California, even if the covenant purports to apply the law of a jurisdiction in which the covenant would be legal.
•Voted in favor of amending the Labor Code to require doctors in workers’ compensation cases to provide their reports to patients and their lawyers at the same time they send the reports in to claims administrators.
•Voted against allowing defendants wrongfully accused of elder abuse to recover attorney fees. Current law only allows fee awards to plaintiffs.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company