Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Courthouse Priority Access Card Pilot Program Fills Quickly
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Within 48 hours of being invited, more than 1,500 Los Angeles lawyers filled the available spots in a Court Priority Access Card pilot program sponsored by the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Superior Court, bar officials said yesterday.
The pilot program—described by the State Bar as the brainchild of its president, Los Angeles lawyer Sheldon Sloan—will allow participants to enter county courthouses via the employee weapons screening entrance. The pilot project, which is to be evaluated after three years, was designed to meet complaints by lawyers about long lines that cause them to miss or be late for court appearances.
“I am pleased at the overwhelming response of the Los Angeles lawyers to this pilot program opportunity,” Sloan said in a statement. “We had hoped that it would be well received, but the fact that we totally subscribed in less than 48 hours after we made the announcement is strong evidence that the members of our bar want programs of this type.”
The State Bar said it sent the invitation via private e-mail last week to nearly 26,000 bar members in good standing whose address of record is in Los Angeles and who maintain in their online bar profile a working private e-mail address.
The 1,500 participants will be issued a photo identification card this fall and will periodically be surveyed by the State Bar regarding their experience in the pilot program.
The court will set the date for the expedited court access to begin and will establish how the program will work under court rules.
The court also will be consulted periodically to determine whether the pilot program should be expanded or if the State Bar should take steps to establish a permanent program, the State Bar said. The program could be expanded beyond Los Angeles County, Sloan said last month.
“We thank the judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court, especially Presiding Judge Stephen Czuleger and Assistant Presiding Judge Tim McCoy, and Judge Cecil Mills, Chief of Security, as well as John Clarke, the Court Executive Officer, for this opportunity to help our members appear on time for court hearings.”
Czuleger also issued a statement:
“We’re pleased to join with the State Bar in a project that re-emphasizes our unfailing commitment to effective security. Attorneys have significant time constraints, and facilitating their courthouse access will help them to better represent their clients.”
The State Bar has an agreement with FedEx Kinko’s under which the accepted participants may go to any of the company’s stores and have a standardized passport-type picture taken, then uploaded to the Web site to be placed on the card.
Participants will get a new card each year, provided the member’s address of record remains in participating Los Angeles zip codes, and the member stays in good standing, and complies with dues and continuing legal education requirements.
Sloan told the MetNews that he originally proposed State Bar members be given priority upon the presentation of a State Bar card along with photo identification.
But court officials felt that approach would be too cumbersome, he said, which led to the idea of creating an entirely separate photo identification card.
Sloan said running the program would not cost members anything initially, and that it was within the State Bar’s current budget.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company