Here’s one of the more obnoxious things you’ll see in advance of the special session at the Louisiana Legislature coming up next month. The Louisiana State Bar Association passed a resolution last month to support a bill that would seek higher license fees from non-attorney notaries, and redistribute that money to pay for indigent criminal defense provided by members of the state bar.
It’s no surprise that the state bar is clamoring for more funding for indigent defense; they’ve been howling about it for decades. But this is obnoxious on a couple of levels.
First, if there is any effort at actual fundraising to support that aim, it’s low-key enough to have escaped our notice. Running to the legislature in an attempt to compel people to pay the freight seems to be the first idea anybody over there had. Which is obnoxious.
And second, this has the special effrontery of demanding that the competition be taxed to pay for indigent defense. Lawyers are notaries too, you know, and this resolution doesn’t say everybody who’s a notary should be paying an increase in the license fee – it says non-attorney notaries should be paying the increase. And it lays out why, outlining the fact that non-attorney notaries do lots of things only lawyers get to do in other states, which is a gripe about how these guys are horning in on their action.
As though the public honestly cares about the lawyers’ problems in a state where their faces are all over local TV and on every other billboard.
Bernette Johnson, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, has her name on this. The letter attached to the resolution indicates she submitted it for a vote by the LSBA’s House of Delegates. Perhaps that would happen if she didn’t actually support taxing people who compete with attorneys to provide services to the public, but we doubt it. This would indicate the state Supreme Court is led by somebody who’s OK with using the legislature as a weapon against the economic competitors of the legal profession, which is chilling.
So far, we haven’t found a bill any legislators have brought on this subject in either the special session or the regular session to follow it. The chances of such a bill actually being passed don’t seem very large. But if one of the leges does manage to take the plunge we’ll pass that information along.
Here is a copy of the resolution . . .