Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Page 3


Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill on Telephonic Appearances


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Friday approved legislation requiring uniform rules for telephonic appearances in general civil cases.

The governor gave his approval to Assembly Bill 500, by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance. Lieu practiced law for more than 10 years before being elected to the Assembly.

The legislation is adapted from Rule 3.670 of the California Rules of Court, and will permit a party in a general civil case who has provided notice to appear by telephone at conferences, hearings, and proceedings not requiring live testimony. The bill requires the Judicial Council of California to adopt rules effectuating its provisions by the end of the year.

Lieu told colleagues the bill was necessary because the standards for conducting hearings by telephone varied from courtroom to courtroom, and that some judges applied the procedures arbitrarily.

AB 500 sailed through the legislative process without a single ‘no’ vote.  Originally promoted by Consumer Attorneys of California, the bill picked up backing from a broad consensus of the bench and bar after certain concerns with the original language were resolved.

The original bill was amended to provide that certain details would be left to the Judicial Council through rulemaking rather than being made part of the legislation, and language was added giving judges the right to require all attorneys to appear in person “if the court determines on a hearing-by-hearing basis that a personal appearance would materially assist in the determination of the proceedings or in the effective management or resolution of the particular case.”

The bill also won backing from the Sierra Club, which cited the environmental advantages of having lawyers staying at their homes and offices instead of driving long distances to courthouses. The bill also won the backing of the Association of California Insurance Companies and California Defense Counsel.

Bruce Brusavich, a CAOC past president who participated in committee meetings on the bill this year, said in a statement that the trial lawyers’ group was “very pleased the governor recognized the importance of this bill to the state’s court system.”

The governor Friday also signed into law AB 1441, by Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad. The bill gives local candidates and officeholders the right, which their state counterparts already have, to raise money for legal expenses without reporting those donations as campaign contributions.


Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company