Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, June 10, 2004


Page 3


State Bar President Tells Audience Grace, Downing Should Be Elected to Board of Governors


By a MetNews Staff Writer


State Bar President Anthony Capozzi has called for the election of Jo-Ann W. Grace and Marguerite Downing to the State Bar Board of Governors.

Speaking before the San Fernando Valley Bar Assn. Tuesday night, Anthony Capozzi pointed out that the three-year terms of the only two women lawyers currently on the board will expire in October.

“I’ve tried to recruit women to run,” he disclosed.

Capozzi noted that Ruthe Ashley is running in Sacramento and Dena Cruz is a candidate in San Francisco. Each of those women, he said, has a good chance of winning.

The bar chief added:

“I know we have two people here in Los Angeles who I know are going to win.”

He proceeded to introduce Grace, who is seeking Office No. 1 in District 7 (Los Angeles County), and Downing, a candidate for Office #2 here.

“These are two great candidates and we’d like to see them elected to the Board of Governors,” Capozzi said.

Grace, who is president of the Metropolitan News Company and co-publisher of the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, is a corporate transactional attorney and a former government tax lawyer. Her opponent is James A. Otto, a Northridge sole practitioner and businessman.

Downing, a deputy public defender, has three rivals: Phillip Feldman, a Sherman Oaks transactional and trial attorney; Joseph Lewis, a Los Angeles sole practitioner; and Frank Tavelman, a deputy district attorney.

Otto, Feldman, Lewis and Tavelman were unsuccessful candidates last year in the race won by former Los Angeles County Bar President Sheldon Sloan.

Each of the female candidates in Northern California whom Capozzi mentioned has one opponent.

In District 2, Ashley, who is  director of Career Services at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, is pitted against Paul A. Kramer Jr.,  senior staff counsel with the California Energy Commission in Sacramento.

In District 4, Cruz, who is employed by First American Title Insurance Co., is dueling with Jeffrey Bleich, an attorney in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson.

Two males are competing in District 3. They are James A. Scharf of MacMorris & Carbone in San Jose and Mike Schmier of Emeryville, a labor and employment law practitioner.

The two women on the board whose terms are coming to an end are Vivian Kral of Redwood City and Windie O. Scott of Sacramento. Both ran for election by the board to the State Bar presidency, as did Russell Roeca of San Francisco, with all three losing last month to former attorney general John Van de Kamp.

Ballots for the Board of Governors election were mailed to active members April 30. Under the rules, ballots must be in envelopes postmarked no later than June 30, and be received by the time the votes are counted, from July 12-15.

The victors will be sworn in, along with Van de Kamp, at the State Bar’s annual convention, to be held this year in Monterey from Oct. 7-10.

In his remarks Tuesday night, Capozzi said that the State Bar was formed in 1927 largely because “Jews, women and blacks were not allowed” in the legal profession. Formation of an organized bar, under control of the Supreme Court, was seen as the way to block discrimination, he said.

The Fresno lawyer related that a recent survey shows that while only one out of five members of the State Bar are women, one half of those members who are under 35 are females. Of those students now entering law school, he said, 49 percent are women.

“Male lawyers still earn more,” Capozzi reported.

He also touched on some of the points raised in his column in the June issue of the State Bar Journal titled “Gender Bias Is Alive and Well.” He pointed to an 1876 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in which one Lavinia Goodell was denied admission as a lawyer because it would have contravened legislative intent.

The attitude, Capozzi told his audience, was that a woman should simply “nurture kids, maintain the home.”

He likened the conduct of an Orange County judge last April to the attitude of the Wisconsin justices in the 19th Century. The bar leader pointed to the episode where a judge-whom he did not name either in his talk Tuesday or in his column-badgered a lawyer, Pamela M. Roberson, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, deriding her attire (pants and a shirt) and querying if she was about to give birth.

She prematurely gave birth the following day. The jurist, Superior Court Judge Thomas N. Thrasher Sr., later sent Roberson a written apology.

Capozzi commented that Thrasher is in “deep trouble,” implying a prediction that action will be taken against the 67-year-old judge by the Commission on Judicial Performance.

“Gender bias still exists,” Capozzi told the bar group, assembled at the Woodland Hills Country Club.


Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company