Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Page 4


Attorneys Group Relocates Meeting From Manchester Grand Hyatt


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, has relocated its annual convention to avoid meeting at the San Diego hotel that has become the target of a boycott because of its owner’s support of Proposition 8.

In an undated letter addressed to members, President Les Weisbrod of Miller, Curtis & Weisbrod in Dallas announced that the organization’s convention has been rescheduled to take place from July 25 to 29 in San Francisco.

The organization was originally scheduled to meet at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego from July 11 to 15, the same hotel where the State Bar is scheduled to hold its annual meeting in September.

Weisbrod cited the ongoing boycott of the hotel led by Californians Against Hate, a non-profit organization devoted to drawing attention to the major donors to the Yes on 8 campaign, and UNITE HERE, San Diego’s hotel workers’ union as the reason for the change in venue.

“This coalition has repeatedly told our members in writing and verbally that they would picket if AAJ held its convention there,” he wrote.

After “numerous attempts to resolve the issue,” and “exploring all possibilities,” Weisbrod explained there were no other suitable hotels or meeting spaces available in San Diego, so the organization “made the difficult decision” to move its convention to the Hilton San Francisco, Hotel Nikko San Francisco and Parc 55 Hotel.

“We are very excited about holding our convention in San Francisco and know it will be a wonderful convention and a rewarding experience for our members,” he said.

The Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations was originally scheduled to hold its annual meeting at the Manchester Hyatt in conjunction with the State Bar’s annual meeting but the State Bar agreed to allow the conference to convene at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront instead in the face of strong opposition by some delegates.

The Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Bar Association of San Francisco, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s delegation to the Conference of Delegates have requested that the State Bar consider similarly moving its events from the Manchester Hyatt.

Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom—an organization representing gay lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area—has threatened to boycott the events entirely.

The State Bar has taken the position that it cannot breach its contractual commitments because the cost of doing so, if borne by the members, could violate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting public entities from using mandatory dues money for political actions.

The State Bar contracted with Hyatt to reserve the space for its 2009 and 2011 annual meetings before the divisive Proposition 8 campaign.


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