Rockport solo Steve Fischer says he was at a TexasBarCLE event on May 24, collecting signatures to run as a State Bar of Texas president-elect candidate in 2013, when a hotel security guard told him to stop or leave the event. “I left because I was so upset,” Fischer says, adding that the guard told him the Bar had complained about him.
Fischer, a member of the Bar’s board of directors, says he’s following Bar election rules and gathering signatures to run as an independent president-elect candidate because he opposes the way the Bar’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee chooses two president-elect candidates each year. He maintains the process “isn’t democratic.”
He says the TexasBarCLE event, Advanced Evidence and Discovery 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, was the first CLE event where he has campaigned. He says he approached about 18 attendees during breaks and that 16 lawyers signed his petition.
TexasBarCLE Director Pat Nester declines comment.
Kelley Jones King, the Bar’s deputy executive director, says TexasBarCLE event staff asked Fischer to move away from the registration desk because his campaigning disturbed the registration process. They called TexasBarCLE in Austin to report Fischer’s activities, Jones King says, but she says no one from the Bar asked the Hyatt security guard to approach Fischer.
She says the Bar doesn’t allow campaigning at CLE events. However, Jones King says there is no official written policy that prohibits such campaigning.
“People are there to learn, for CLE, at this private event they paid for. We never considered it open for campaigning,” says Jones King, explaining the Bar has asked other candidates in past years to stop campaigning during CLE. She explains in an email that TexasBarCLE is part of the State Bar.
Fischer aims to collect 5,000 signatures from Texas lawyers by March 2013, and he says he’s gathered about 600 signatures by campaigning outside courthouses, another 143 at a legal seminar, and 40 signatures at a local-bar event in Lubbock.
Jones King says that at Fischer’s request, the State Bar’s board of directors may look into “some clarification of the rules” about campaigning at TexasBarCLE events.
-- Angela Morris