A civil-rights attorney who has more than 10 lawsuits pending against the Utah State Bar has asked the Utah Supreme Court to either limit the bar's lobbying efforts or to allow lawyers to drop out.
Brian Barnard told justices Tuesday he feels it is unconstitutional for the bar to lobby lawmakers because it was created and is controlled by the state Supreme Court. The bar may lobby for laws that later are challenged in the court, he said."Lobbying by the Utah State Bar taints this court," he told justices. "It offends the concept of the separation of powers."
Barnard wants justices to at least limit the types of things for which the bar can lobby, and he wants them to hurry with a decision before lawmakers convene for their 1989 session on Monday.
But Christine Burdick, attorney for the bar, said the bar is not "off on an idealogical mission."
Members of the bar elect their leaders, and the bar's main function is to regulate attorneys, Burdick said. "The bar doesn't take positions on things that don't affect the practice of law."
But the bar is not restricted in the things for which it can lobby, and Barnard said he believes it is wrong for the bar to force attorneys to join and then to lobby state lawmakers for anything it wants, regardless of whether attorneys agree.
Barnard also questioned why members of the bar commission are quoted in the minutes of a meeting last year saying they intended to meet with supreme court justices to discuss lobbying efforts.
The justices said they have never been approached by the bar regarding lobbying. Justice Christine Durham said the justice system would have suffered without lobbying efforts in the past, however.
A new state court of appeals would never have been formed, she said. "Judges wouldn't have had a raise in the last 50 years."