Tort reformers, trial bar honor Calif. assemblyman

Chris Rizo Nov. 14, 2009, 3:33pm

Mike Feuer (D)

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline)-Rarely do California's trial lawyers and tort reformers agree on anything. But they are both hailing state Assemblyman Mike Feuer as a political hero.

The dueling groups, which often have conflicting views on legal issues, have different reasons for honoring Feuer, a two-term Los Angeles Democrat.

Just weeks after the state's tort reform group, the Civil Justice Association of California, honored Feuer with its Civil Justice Leadership Award, the state's trial bar is honoring him as their Legislator of the Year.

Feuer, chairman of the powerful Assembly Judiciary Committee, is being honored by the Consumer Attorneys of California at its annual convention this weekend in San Francisco.

The group said Feuer "embodies what a great legislator ought to be: hard-working, supremely honest, highly ethical, even-tempered, and intelligent," adding that he is on "the front line protecting consumers and the civil justice system from harmful legislation promoted by the insurance, banking and tobacco industries."

The trial lawyer group has specifically praised Feuer for his Assembly Bill 590, a new California law that gives lower-income residents legal representation in certain civil proceedings.

The so-called "civil Gideon law" will at least temporarily provide free legal counsel for poor Californians doing such things as fighting evictions, home foreclosures or in family law matters such as child custody disputes and cases of neglect.

The pilot program will run from July 1, 2011, until July 1, 2017, under legislation signed last month by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, making California the first state to create a civil right to counsel program.

The Civil Justice Association of California, which did not take an official position on the civil Gideon bill, chose to honor Feuer for another reason: Assembly Bill 83.

Feuer's legislation, signed by the governor, amended California's Health and Safety Code to ensure that liability protections extend to all "Good Samaritans" who help out in good faith at the scene of an emergency.

The law was enacted in response to a state Supreme Court decision late last year that said state law only partially protected those who voluntarily act as Good Samaritans from possible negligence lawsuits.

CJAC President John Sullivan has commended Feuer also "for his dedication to making sure issues are fairly presented and all sides are fairly heard before the Judiciary Committee," a statement said.

Feuer is married to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer, a former environmental lawyer.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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