March 2016 Bar Bulletin
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Dr. Who? KCBA Time Machine: 1935

 

 

We’re beginning the third month of KCBA’s 130th anniversary year, so it seems appropriate for us to enter the blue police box parked here at the KCBA office, marvel at it being bigger on the inside, and set the coordinates for the year 1935. With the sound of wheezing engines in the background, let’s begin our journey 81 years into the past.

As the doors open, we find ourselves at the Arctic Club at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 13, 1935. Charles Donworth, president of the Seattle Bar Association, is presiding at the organization’s regular quarterly dinner meeting.

We begin with Treasurer Harold Shefelman’s report. After beginning with a “balance on hand” as of December 12 of $555.04, the Association had received $18 in dues, bringing receipts to $573.04. Four disbursements had been made since December. First, $90 was spent by the “Executive Office” for unnamed purposes. The postmaster was paid $49. Bank charges of $0.16 were duly noted, and finally $10.50 was expended on “guests’ luncheons.” The ending balance on hand was $423.38.

For comparison purposes, KCBA in December 2015 had $2.1 million in revenues and $1.6 million in expenses for the fiscal year, for a net balance of $537,000.

Next up, Mr. H.A.P. Meyers, Jr. (he only is known by those initials — do you think his friends called him “Happy”?) was presented to the Association as the only person seeking membership that month, and “upon ballot being taken he was declared by the President to be duly elected” as a member.

For comparison purposes, for the most recent month for which I have data available, KCBA gained 30 new members in January, bringing our total to 5,451 members.

Moving on to more substantive issues, Mr. Paul P. Ashley reported for SBA’s Judiciary Committee about the need for an additional judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The members unanimously adopted this resolution: “Be it resolved that the Seattle Bar Association urge upon the Congress of the United States the adoption of pending legislation which will result in increasing the number of judges of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to five members. The wide-spread territory within the Ninth Circuit, the increase in population and enormous increase in litigation in our judgment makes it imperative that the number of judges of that court be increased to five.”

For comparison purposes, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals currently has 44 judges, of which 16 have senior status.

The next order of business was brought by Mr. Bert C. Rose, secretary of the Washington State Bar Association, who asked if it was “the pleasure of the Seattle Bar Association” that WSBA and the Pacific Institute of Law be invited to hold their next annual meetings in Seattle in July. The request was approved and the president was “authorized and directed to appoint a Committee of the Association on Cooperation and Arrangements” to assist with that effort.

For comparison purposes, WSBA is currently headquartered a block away from the KCBA office, so WSBA meetings held within the city of Seattle have become commonplace and routine. While no cooperation committee exists, WSBA Executive Director Paula Littlewood and I are good friends and regularly in communication.

It was then time for the speaker of the evening, the Hon. James T. Brand, who was both president of the Oregon State Bar Association and a judge on the circuit court of Marshfield County, Oregon. Judge Brand “read a very interesting and scholarly paper followed by an extemporaneous address on the subject of ‘The New Deal and the Constitution.’”

For comparison purposes, at the most recent Bench-Bar Conference in November, our special public policy focus session was titled “Modern Debtor’s Prison — Legal Financial Obligations (State of Washington v. Blazina).” Almost sounds like a topic that would have come out of the Great Depression, doesn’t it? And yet sadly, it’s happening today.

As the final agenda item of significance, Mr. Otto B. Rupp reported that a past president, the Hon. Alfred Battle, had been seriously ill, but was now recovering. The president then appointed Mr. Rupp as a “committee of one” to send a note expressing “the gratification of the members upon his recovery and their anticipation of seeing him again at the meetings at an early date.”

For comparison purposes, this month’s Bar Talk column reports no illnesses or deaths among KCBA members, but happily does celebrate many partner promotions, associate/of counsel additions, the establishment of two new firms, and several other honors, appointments and awards.

As this March 13 dinner meeting came to an end, I quietly retreated back into the nearby TARDIS for my 81-year return trip to 2016. As my time machine dematerialized, I found myself musing on how the Seattle Bar Association members would react if they returned with me to the next meeting of KCBA members on March 29 at our Breakfast With Champions at the Sheraton Hotel. I like to think those visitors from the past would be very proud of the 1,000 attorneys who will turn out to raise money for pro bono services and diversity scholarships that morning.

And like those visitors from 1935 watching the 2016 event, I bet we’d all be proud as well if we stepped into a future meeting when some 5,000 KCBA members had assembled to discuss increasing the Court of Appeals to 100 judges, while everyone was hovering overhead wearing their jetpacks.


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