New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03/12/04
CONTACT:Barbara S. Straczynski
Communications and Marketing Manager
732-937-7524

NJSBA Opposes Attorney Assessment In ACS-50

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association is urging the General Assembly to delete the current provision in ACS-50 that would impose a fee assessment on attorneys by amending the "New Jersey Medical Care Access and Responsibility and Patients First Act" and its companion on medical malpractice reform.

In a letter to members of the General Assembly, NJSBA President Karol Corbin Walker wrote, “We are strongly opposed to any bill that would unfairly tax all attorneys, the vast majority of whom have nothing at all to do with medical malpractice. While we recognize that access to competent medical care throughout the state is an issue of critical importance to the Legislature and serves the public good, we oppose the legislative scheme that seeks to shift the burden of providing a financial solution from state government to the private bar.”

Lawyers currently pay an annual assessment through the New Jersey Client Security Fund to support the Supreme Court-implemented ethics system governing attorney conduct and compensating victims of attorney malfeasance. In her letter, Corbin Walker also noted that the current list is arbitrary, excluding other licensed professionals who have close involvement in medical malpractice negligence matters, such as nurses and EMT workers.

“Any rational assessment should fairly spread the burden to all licensed professionals equally, instead of the current capricious list,” she said.

The NJSBA continues to support a commission to study the entire issue of medical malpractice reform before any legislation is enacted.

“The impact of this bill will penalize the private bar generally for a public health issue, better addressed through state governmental action,” she said.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.

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