Turning the Tide

Letters from the week of January 2, 2003

Save the Children

Irresponsible pool owners: I have been a reader of your newspaper for about eight years, and I would like to say that you are the only voice of reality in the Valley.

Also, as a somewhat new parent, I have to say the story that you ran in your last issue ("Kid Drownings," Quetta Carpenter, December 26) was one of the most well-thought-out and well-written pieces that I have seen in some time. The sad fact of living in the desert is that many people have pools, and not necessarily those who are responsible enough to tend to them properly. It is appalling that kids have to die for this safety problem to be addressed, yet I commend New Times for this article. Please follow up this story in the coming months to allow us readers to see what (if any) progress is getting made to stop these horrible drownings that seem to occur far too often in Phoenix.

K. Adams

Drowning sorrows: I have some observations to make after reading your article on the dauntless campaign against backyard pool drownings in the Maryvale area.

Child drowning did not seem to be a problem back in the '50s and '60s for these same unfenced pools when Maryvale was essentially an Anglo, middle-class neighborhood.

Since many of the unfenced pools are at rental homes, if one is affluent enough to own rental property or, more likely, properties, I suggest the lack of pool fencing is a realty profit decision which government is directed to ignore.

The article seems to confuse the state of having low income with being ignorant and/or stupid.

If the families who supposedly cannot afford to fence their pools were given $100,000, I am sure most would spend all of the money on everything but a pool fence.

And the disgusting condition of the untreated pool water as seen on TV footage of drowning locations and, I would assume, also of a significant percentage of the 1,700 pools in Maryvale should be of great concern to Phoenix, county and state health authorities but apparently isn't. We stand together. You bet!

Jim Napier
Sun City

Secret Agents

Tight grip on injustice: I am a registered private process server and an officer of the court. I get my "authority" to serve legal process from the Arizona Supreme Court through the clerk of the Maricopa County Superior Court. To be registered, I need to pass a test, come out clean on a criminal background check through the DPS and the FBI, and pay a $125 fee for a three-year registration. I carry a registration card showing my authority to serve legal process. However, I have a problem with what the Arizona Bar Association is trying to do to document preparers under the disguise of the "unauthorized practice of law."

The word "license" and the phrase "licensed to practice law" are used extensively in your article about the unauthorized practice of law ("Courthouse Scoundrels," Paul Rubin, December 19). I know Paul Rubin is a thorough investigative journalist and researcher, so I recommend he look under the heading "License" in the index to the Arizona Revised Statutes. He will find references to many professions and occupations required to be licensed by the state, but none for attorney or lawyer (or reporter or journalist).

The fact is, attorneys are not licensed by the state but get their privilege to practice law from the Arizona Bar Association through the Arizona Supreme Court. I submit that lawyers are not licensed but hold a "union bar card" issued by a private association in a right-to-work state. The proposed changes in the rules come from the bar association, not the Supreme Court.

You cite the hundreds of complaints against document preparers and non-lawyers posing as lawyers, but just how many have been filed against lawyers? You will have a difficult time finding out because the bar keeps it secret. Complaints against attorneys are filed with the bar association but never forwarded to the AG's office. However, the bar association does publish a list of disciplined attorneys.

The bar association has a tight grip on the justice system that will get much tighter if the Arizona Supreme Court approves these rule changes next year. More people will get shut out of the court system because they can't afford the high hourly fees that lawyers bill to clients, and have the work assigned to underpaid paralegals which is another story.

Bill Blankstyn
Via e-mail

Make the damn lawmakers decide: Paul Rubin's article deserves clarification on a couple of salient political and constitutional points. The lack of a general "unauthorized-practice-of-law" statute, is not, as the article appropriately suggests, the sole reason why non-lawyer practice is flourishing in Arizona. Stanford University law professor Deborah Rhode has written extensively on this issue and reports that non-lawyer services "are flourishing because of inadequacies in lawyers' services." It is these deficiencies in lawyers' services that should be the focus of the State Bar of Arizona's concern.

On the other hand, public access to legal-service delivery is a matter that falls squarely under the authority of state legislatures. Because unauthorized practice provisions regulate the conduct of non-lawyers, nearly all states' unauthorized practice provisions exist in statute rather than as the State Bar of Arizona would have it in Supreme Court procedural rules.

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