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People and Events

<i> From staff and wire reports </i>

Los Angeles attorney Patricia Phillips, a member of the state bar’s Board of Governors, is spearheading an effort to persuade lawyers to be nicer to each other.

Phillips, co-chairwoman of the board’s Statewide Committee on Professionalism and Public Action, said she’s concerned about the “growing numbers of personal dogfights” in the courtroom, a problem that seems to be intensifying as attorneys’ ranks increase. The herd in Los Angeles County now numbers about 32,000.

Phillips has proposed a “Code of Professional Courtesy,” which she borrowed from a Texas bar association.

All right, you attorneys out there. Raise your right hands and repeat the following provisions of the code:

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“I will return telephone calls.”

“I will not be late for court or for appointments.”

“I will cooperate with my opponent as much as possible.”

“I will never take cheap shots.”

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The code, needless to say, would be voluntary.

“The law is a ass,” Mr. Bumble says in “Oliver Twist.”

And it can be peculiar in Los Angeles, where citizens who tear down illegally posted signs on city property could face legal problems because the signs are technically personal property.

Only law enforcement officers and city Public Works employees are empowered to take down such placards, said Christopher Westhoff, a deputy city attorney. In one case, he said, “someone who took down a real estate company’s signs on city property was sued by the company and had to settle out of court.”

“The law needs changing,” said Tom LaBonge, deputy to City Councilman John Ferraro.

The city attorney’s office is drafting an ordinance that would deem illegally posted signs as “abandoned,” Westhoff said, and, therefore, ripe to be torn down.

De Von Smith, a 61-year-old junk dealer from Wampum, Pa., arrived in town Tuesday, lugging what he says is the world’s largest birthday card.

It’s a 53-pound, 1,500-foot-long strip of papers bearing about 35,000 signatures. The card commemorates the birthdays of the U.S. Constitution and George Washington.

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“I thought this was a way that average people, as well as celebrities, could get involved in a patriotic project,” Smith said.

Over the past two years, traveling on a bus pass donated by Greyhound Lines, he has collected signatures at such diverse spots as Indian reservations in Montana, college campuses in Idaho and shopping malls in Florida. He also pasted in signatures from such celebrities as then-Vice President George Bush, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and actresses Mary Tyler Moore and Lynn Redgrave.

Smith plans to present his card to the White House next year in time for the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution.

He’d hate to be late and have to transfer all those signatures to a card that says, “Belated wishes . . . “

Bill Keene, KNX’s traffic reporter, received a letter the other day from his most prominent car-phone tipster, Catholic Archbishop Roger M. Mahony.

“He was a bit upset about one reference to him ‘making a call in his limousi” Keene related. “He pointed out that not only does he drive himself, but he has an ‘unpretentious Oldsmobile.’ ”

The freeway force hasn’t lost a volunteer, though.

“The archbishop said he’d continue to make calls,” Keene said.

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Either from his car or from his new helicopter.

Everything’s for sale . . .

A reporter, researching a story about the recent murders of prostitutes in South-Central Los Angeles, approached a lady of the night on Figueroa Street. The media-wise hooker yelled: “Five dollars a question, five dollars a question.”

Expense account limitations being what they are, that was the end of the interview.


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