STATE BAR PROSECUTORS KEPT DISCIPLINE BACKLOG LOW IN 2012

Contact: Laura Ernde 

415-538-2028 

laura.ernde@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco, Jan. 7, 2013 – Surpassing its goal for December, the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel ended 2012 with an investigations backlog of just five cases.

The State Bar also rounded out the year with a lower-than-expected backlog of 232 complaints where investigations had been completed but formal charges not yet filed. Cases are considered backlogged if they have not been disposed of, or formal charges have not been brought within six months of the State Bar receiving them.

Last January, the State Bar announced that for the first time in decades it had eliminated its investigations backlog, and pledged to continue to keep those numbers low.

“By maintaining a zero backlog, we are slowly showing our constituency, the people of California, that we are deadly serious about meeting our regulatory responsibility,” Executive Director/CEO Joe Dunn said.

“This year, probably the biggest factor is that we started out with zero,” said Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim, who added that not having old cases to worry about at the start of last year left investigators free to focus on newer ones. “We just pressed on people to monitor this backlog every day.”

Kim said her office’s goal had been to have no more than 250 complaints total in backlog as of the end of December.

To help expedite the handling of complaints, the State Bar offered additional training for prosecutors last year and used supervising investigators to help track aging cases.

“We just had a different mindset to it,” she said.

Kim said her office plans to continue to look at ways of increasing efficiency by continuing to strengthen its audit processes and holding additional summits with law enforcement and other outside agencies.

In addition to meeting backlog goals, the State Bar also saw a significant uptick in the number of discipline trials that began in 2012 – 176 last year compared to 101 in 2011 and 112 in 2010.

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The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By January 2013, membership reached 242,000.