BCBA Letter in Support of Public Law Libraries

March 29, 2021

Senator Skinner and Assemblyman Ting:

Since the 1960s, the Butte County Bar Association has advanced the role of the law and legal process in Butte County by advocating for efficient court administration and access to legal services for all. Unfortunately, like many other counties, Butte County is home to a disproportionately high number of low-income individuals.

Low-income individuals face barriers to justice and often must represent themselves in court – whether that be in family law matters, or defending themselves in other civil proceedings. Without the assistance of counsel, these individuals are unable to adequately and intelligently represent their interests, communicate with the court, and otherwise know their legal rights and duties.

For decades, the Butte County Public Law Library has assisted low-income individuals thoughtfully, efficiently, and effectively represent themselves in court and before administrative tribunals. Reliable access to the resources available at the Butte County Law Library, and to the law librarians, has allowed the courts to operate more efficiently.

In addition to low-income individuals, many attorney members of the Butte County Bar Association utilize the Butte County Public Law Library to conduct legal research to better represent their clients, which, in turn, enhances the efficiency of the administration of justice.

In 2020, the Butte County Superior Court saw a 32% decrease in civil filings from the year prior, which fund the Butte County Public Law Library. There is an urgent need for the Legislature to back-fill this lost revenue to ensure access to justice for the most vulnerable members of our community.

It is our sincere request that the California State Budget provide funding for County Law Libraries. The true need for adequate law library resources and services cannot be overstated.

Butte County Bar Association

Board of Governors

Anu Chopra- President

Michael Shepherd- Vice President

Chance Hansen- Secretary/Treasurer

BCBA Board of Governors’ Letter to Governor Newsom Requesting Recognition of Attorneys

December 18, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom:

With a potential end to the pandemic in sight, on December 18, 2020, the Butte County Bar Association recognized its members for their dedication to the legal profession. The Association invites the Governor’s Office to recognize attorneys across the state who have worked non-stop throughout this crisis.

Juvenile dependency and juvenile delinquency attorneys, and prosecutors and defense attorneys, have met with clients and appeared in court continuously since lockdown orders were issued in March. These attorneys have selflessly placed themselves on the frontlines, in close contact with countless people, ensuring that the rights of the most vulnerable are protected. As essential workers, their jobs required contact with staff, clients, witnesses, and the court in order to perform the main function of their jobs.

Together with court staff, judicial officers, bailiffs, and correctional deputies, these attorneys have kept the wheels of justice turning. Simply by adhering to their oaths, and despite extensive safeguards, many of these individuals have been exposed to COVID-19 due to their necessary interactions with the many individuals they work with daily.

As Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye explained, “Courts are clearly places of high risk during this pandemic…”

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary people to protect the rights of us all – victim and suspect alike. Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” Butte County District Attorney Michael L. Ramsey said. “I am immensely proud of our local prosecutors, defense attorneys and juvenile dependency attorneys who have stepped up to be, as the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Drum Majors for Justice.’”

“With the COVID crisis, the Public Defenders have worked through court shut downs and jail lock downs,” said Philip Heithecker, Executive Director of the Butte County Public Defender Consortium. “They have, despite health risks to themselves and their loved ones, worked tirelessly to provide their clients with robust and compassionate representation every step of the way.”

The public defenders, private attorneys, and prosecutors in California have faced these grave risks to ensure justice is preserved and should be recognized for their dedication.

Butte County Bar Association

Board of Governors

Anu Chopra – President

Michael Shepherd – Vice President

Chance Hansen – Secretary/Treasurer

BCBA Board of Governors’ Statement of Solidarity

June 5, 2020

The Butte County Bar Association Board of Governors strongly condemns racism and bigotry engaged in by any person, entity, or government. As attorneys, our duty is to seek justice for our clients.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”   Our responsibility is to lead by example and to stand resolute against the evil of racial inequality.  Our Constitution demands equal justice for all and we, as attorneys, must tirelessly work towards this mission.

The BCBA also supports the constitutional right of the people to peaceably assemble to make their voices heard and those who seek to influence the government to make meaningful changes in law and policy. The BCBA, however, condemns those opportunists who commit acts of violence, property damage, and theft.

 We pledge to listen to those discriminated against, to learn how we can make a meaningful difference, and to act to promote positive change in the justice system. In addition to asking our members to do whatever we can as individuals to ensure justice for our clients and others in the community, we invite our interested members to join the BCBA’s Racial and Social Justice Committee (RSJC). The RSJC works to uphold the values of diversity, social justice, and equality in our community. The Butte County Legal Profession values diversity, social justice and equality.  The Racial and Social Justice Committee of the BCBA is determined to be ever vigilant in upholding these values.

Anu Chopra (President)         

Michael Shepherd (Vice President)

Chance Hansen (Treasurer/Secretary)