President Mark Gehan convened the MSBA House of Delegates and General Assembly at 1:55 p.m. July 2, 1999, at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. He recognized President-Elect Wood Foster, who asked delegates to observe a moment of silence as he read the names of attorneys who had died during the past year. President Gehan then continued with the following business agenda.
State of the MSBA
President Gehan expressed thanks to the Convention Committee and staff members for planning the annual convention. He spoke of the rewards of serving as MSBA president, noting the contributions attorneys have made in the community.
President Gehan also noted several new projects of the MSBA, including the recent office relocation, online services providing forms and appellate court decisions, the MSBA’s new book chronicling the history of the law in Minnesota, and discussions regarding a recent ABA report on multidisciplinary practice. He stressed the need to continue offering programs of value to all MSBA members.
State of the Federal Judiciary
President Gehan recognized the Hon. Richard H. Kyle, judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Judge Kyle noted that the year had seen the appointment of Judge Donovan Frank to the federal bench and authorization for a new magistrate judge. He described new technological features in the federal facilities in Minneapolis, as well as plans to install similar features in St. Paul. Judge Kyle also praised colleagues in the state court system for maintaining good relations with the federal bench.
Recap of the 1999 Legislative Session
President Gehan yielded the podium to President-Elect Wood Foster, who presided over the remainder of the agenda. President-Elect Foster recognized Lloyd Grooms, who replaced recently retired MSBA lobbyist Mike Flanagan at the start of the 1999 legislative session.
Mr. Grooms said that money -- refunds, rebates, and reform -- had dominated much of the Legislature’s dialogue this session. Each of the MSBA-sponsored bills passed through the Legislature, thanks in part to the efforts of committee and section coordinators. He also noted the new child support magistrate system, the prosecutor’s right of rebuttal, the seat belt “gag” rule, and legislation related to the Y2K issue. He said that new uniform acts were likely to be presented before the 2000 Legislature.
Status Report on Issues Related to Professionalism
President-Elect Foster recognized Julius Gernes Jr., who co-chairs the Professionalism Committee together with Leslie Altman. Mr. Gernes described the work of this committee during its first year.
Mr. Gernes said that the committee tried to include representatives from a broad cross-section of the legal community, devoting much of the year to setting priorities. One subcommittee has worked to draft aspirations; another has examined education and outreach.
MSBA Human Rights Committee, Immigration Law Section, and Public Law Section
President-Elect Foster recognized Mark Frey, chair of the Human Rights Committee, who presented the report and following recommendation:
Recommended that the MSBA formally adopt a resolution advocating the Rule of Law in the international community and affirming the importance of independence for both lawyers and the judiciary.
Mr. Frey noted that the report and recommendation had been approved by the Board of Governors the previous day. A motion was made and seconded to approve the report. The motion carried.
MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committe
President-Elect Foster recognized Bricker Lavik and Tom Mielenhausen of the LAD Committee for the presentation of the committee report, which calls upon the MSBA to petition the Supreme Court to establish a mandatory, anonymous report of annual pro bono service to be filed yearly at the time of annual attorney registration. Mr. Lavik noted that the Board of Governors had approved the report and recommendations the previous day.
A motion was made and seconded to approve the report and the following recommendation:
Recommended that the MSBA petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to require reporting of pro bono services and financial contributions provided in accordance with Rule 6.1.
After discussion, a motion was made and seconded to amend the report to make public any information collected under the proposed reporting. The motion failed.
Discussion then returned to the main motion. A motion was made and seconded to add language to the report stating that “[the MSBA] is absolutely opposed to mandatory pro bono in any form, at any time.” President-Elect Foster called the question; a division vote was requested after the voice vote was questioned. The motion to amend then passed in a 59-50 division vote.
After additional discussion, President-Elect Foster called for a vote on the motion as amended, with the clarification that the specific language of the form may be amended before a petition is filed with the Supreme Court. The motion carried.
Report of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission
President-Elect Foster recognized the Hon. Lawrence Yetka, retired associate justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Justice Yetka reported on the work of this commission to commemorate the first 150 years of the Minnesota court system.
Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers and MSBA Life and the Law Committee
President-Elect Foster recognized Jill Clark, chair of the Life and Law Committee, who presented the report together with LCL representatives Jerry Freeman and George Widseth. They presented highlights of the report as it appeared in the meeting materials, and moved that the General Assembly approve the following recommendation, which had been approved by the Board of Governors the previous day:
Recommended that the MSBA petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to form a statewide lawyers assistance program and to increase attorney registration fees in order to provide funding for the program.
The motion was seconded and carried.
MSBA Human Rights Committee
President-Elect Foster recognized Joan Bibelhausen of the Human Rights Committee, who directed attention to a report appearing in the meeting materials. Ms. Bibelhausen moved that the General Assembly approve the report along with the following recommendation, which had been approved by the Board of Governors the previous day:
Recommended that the MSBA adopt the Hennepin County Bar Association Diversity Issues Committee Disability Issues Subcommittee “Report and Model Guidelines for the Integration of Attorneys and Law Students with Disabilities into the Legal Profession.”
The motion was seconded and carried.
Report of the Task Force on Legal Education and Bar Admissions
President-Elect Foster recognized Treasurer Kent Gernander, chair of the task force. Mr. Gernander noted that the task force, formed at the time that the University of St. Thomas announced plans to open a new law school, had focused its work on the larger issues of legal education and bar admissions. Meeting on the previous day, the Board of Governors had approved the report, along with its recommendation that the MSBA form a permanent committee to continue the work of the task force.
Report on proposed changes to the format of the MSBA convention
President-Elect Foster recognized President Mark Gehan, who reported that the Board of Governors had rejected a proposal to change the format of the annual convention beginning in 2000. The Board of Governors voted instead to refer the issue back to the Executive Committee with directions to study the issue and report back to the Board of Governors with a recommendation for future conventions. The MSBA will hold an annual convention in Duluth in June 2000, as previously planned.
Report on the ABA Commission on Multi-Disciplinary Practice
President-Elect Foster recognized Steve Nelson, a member of the above-named commission. Mr. Nelson reported on the history of the group and summarized highlights from a written handout distributed at the meeting. He noted that the report and its recommendations were slated to go before the ABA at its annual meeting in August 1999. Following Mr. Nelson’s presentation, President-Elect Foster noted that the Board of Governors had approved a recommendation from the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee urging that the ABA postpone consideration of the report. A motion was made and seconded for the General Assembly to approve this recommendation as well. The motion carried.
The meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.
Jon Duckstad, Secretary