Thursday, September 20, 2001
State Bar Offers Assistance to Victims of Terrorist Attacks
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
State Bar President Karen Nobumoto yesterday expressed the organization’s condolences to the victims of last week’s East Coast terrorist attacks and offered the Bar’s assistance to deal with the aftermath.
“As we grieve this horrible loss, the State Bar calls upon all members to draw upon the strength of America which is rooted in its democratic institutions, its commitment to justice, and its tolerance of diversity,” Nobumoto, a Los Angeles deputy district attorney, said in a statement. “In our common pain and in our dedicated commitment to justice, democracy, diversity and tolerance, we shall find the strength to persevere together and defend and preserve our fundamental American institutions.”
State Bar Deputy Executive Director Robert Hawley said the organization has been in contract with the New York and Washington, D.C. bars and is offering its assistance to victims to deal with immediate family-related legal needs, filing a death certificate, seeking emergency relief from the government and other social services such as grief counseling.
“We want people to know we are here to be of assistance, but we don’t want to get in the way,” Hawley said. “Everyone is ready to be called up to help, but we realize there is not much we can do.”
In addition to offering aid to East Coast victims, the bar groups also turning to the families of the California victims to provide relief.
Many of the victims aboard the four hijacked planes were California residents and their families also need assistance, Hawley said.
The Los Angeles County Bar Association, along with the Bar Association of San Francisco, are currently coordinating efforts to provide legal services to the families of the California victims.
The BASF has started a fund, the SF Bar Endowment-Lawyers United for America, to raise money for all the victims and their families and LACBA is also working to collect money for the relief effort.
“Lawyers are actually one of the last defenses for freedom,” LACBA President Roland Coleman said. “If there is anything we can do to protect our freedom and serve people we are willing to help in this time of disaster.”
LACBA posted a Crisis Information Center on its website last week which contains up to date information about the disaster, ways attorneys can volunteer their services and links to a New York missing persons hotline.
The Barristers are formalizing a Disaster Relief Program to head the volunteer efforts of the LACBA, Coleman, a partner in the firm of Wilson, Esler, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, said.
“There has been a lot of pulling together, more than I have ever seen,” LACBA Director of Member Services Michael “Tim” Elliot said. “People are caring more and looking for ways they can be of assistance.”
The State Bar’s current relief activities include:
•The State Bar, its Sections and Standing Committees are offering assistance to the American Bar Association, the New York Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the New York County Lawyers Association and the Washington D.C. Bar Association in their efforts to coordinate and address the overwhelming offers from lawyers everywhere to assist lawyers and fellow citizens in need.
•The State Bar is identifying any members of the State Bar of California who were lost as a result of these events and will be offering assistance as appropriate to their families and firms.
•California attorneys with offices in New York lost or damaged by the destruction there can seek information and guidance regarding ethics and professional responsibility issues unique to this circumstance by contacting the State Bar’s Ethics Hotline: 1-800-238-4427.
•Through the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC), the State Bar has offered its support and assistance to the attorney regulatory agencies in Manhattan which were adversely affected by these events.
•The State Bar’s Office of the Chief Trial Counsel is policing the possibility of illegal solicitation and other improper activities here in California resulting from the tragedy. The State Bar “commends the position of the Association of Trial Lawyers of American and other representatives of the legal community which have urged attorneys to show compassion, respect, reflection and caution in addressing issues of liability and litigation which may ultimately flow from these events.”
•To “address misguided assaults on American citizens and legal residents here who follow the Islamic traditions or descend from Middle Eastern origin,” the State Bar is calling on all lawyers to maintain their dedication to the rule of law and America’s tradition of tolerance and the principles of justice. The State Bar’s Office of Legal Services, Access & Fairness Programs is making available to any interested parties its publication Representing Victims of Hate Violence in Civil Proceedings: A Manual for Attorneys on the Ralph and Bane Civil Rights Acts. This publication is available from the State Bar by calling 1-800-538-2173.
•For those looking for a way to contribute to those in need, the New York State Bar Association has provided an up-to-date accounting of the needs of those affected and the ways in which lawyers can contribute at www.nysba.org.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company