Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Page 1


Six Declare Candidacy for District 7 Seats on Board of Governors


By TINA BAY, Staff Writer


Three candidates each are set to vie for Los Angeles County’s two open seats on the State Bar Board of Governors, according to an official candidate roster released yesterday.

Running for District 7’s Office 1 are retired State Bar Court Judge Michael D. Marcus, non-practicing attorney Jeffrey P. Lustman and business litigator James H. Park. 

Office 2 candidates are appellate lawyer and former Los Angeles County Bar Association president Rex S. Heinke, juvenile law practitioner Darold M. Shirwo and entertainment merchandising and licensing attorney Thomas Dover.

The candidates, who were required to submit their nominating petitions by Monday, have until April 11 to withdraw their nominations.

Of the Office 1 candidates, Marcus has the most experience, having been a trial lawyer for 27 years, a State Bar Court hearing judge from 1995 to 2001, and then a mediator and arbitrator.  He currently works with ADR Services based in Century City.

Most Experienced Nominee

During his tenure at the State Bar Court where he most recently served as supervising judge of the court’s hearing department, the 67-year-old Marcus presided over approximately 160 court trials. Since leaving the bench, he said he has performed over 150 pro bono mediations.

From his admission to the State Bar in 1968 until 1985, he was a prosecutor holding supervisory posts in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Beverly Hills and Santa Monica branch offices. He served as senior trial deputy for three years in the office’s consumer and environment protection division.

In private practice, he worked as of counsel to the Encino-based Sanger, Grayson, Givner & Brooke from 1985 to 1987 and as a partner in Coleman & Marcus from 1987 to 1995.

Additionally, Marcus has taught evidence and other subjects at numerous law schools locally, including USC Law School and Southwestern, and has published articles on mediation and arbitration, attorney discipline, litigation practice, and evidence.

He also currently serves on this city’s Ethics Commission.

Marcus has previously said his top three priorities as a State Bar governor would be to further President Sheldon Sloan’s civility standards, improve the attorney discipline process, and help revise the rules of professional conduct.

Marcus graduated from the University of Maryland and earned his law degree from the William Howard Taft University.

Non-Practicing Candidate

Lustman, currently a private investigator in Los Angeles, is the only Board of Governors candidate who is not currently practicing law.

Admitted to the State Bar in 1995, the 55-year-old told the MetNews he has never worked for a firm and has “relatively little experience as an attorney,” but was running in order to advocate for improvements in the State Bar’s attorney discipline system. He said he learned of the system’s problems when he was publicly reproved last September for writing a threatening letter to justices from Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal.

After he lost an appeal in Shirley Skobin v. County of Los Angeles, B170099, a now-dismissed medical malpractice/civil rights case in which he represented the plaintiff, Lustman in September 2005 wrote a letter to Presiding Justice Candace Cooper, Justice Laurence Rubin and Justices Madeleine Flier accusing them of dishonesty and corruption. He charged the jurists with engaging in a “blatant misrepresentation to protect the county” and threatened to report them to the Commission on Judicial Performance, “with probably follow-up publicity,” if they failed within three weeks to provide him with justification for their ruling, according to State Bar discipline documents.

Attorney Discipline

Lustman said he had twice called the State Bar Ethics Hotline before sending the letter in order to confirm he was not engaging in misconduct. Notwithstanding his reliance on the advice he received, he said, the Bar publicly reproved him in order to make money from fines.

The fact that the Bar “can only get a bunch of money from you if they can get you on a public reproval or higher” creates a “whopping conflict of interest,” the candidate asserted.

In his statement of candidacy, Lustman also said that, if elected, he would push for collaboration with the Legislature and Commission on Judicial Performance to address impropriety by bench officers, and for the abolishment of MCLE requirements.

He added that he does not expect to return to the practice of law due to the corruption of judges and “dishonesty in the courts.”

Park, 36, was admitted to the State Bar in 1997 and is currently of counsel to Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley. Specializing in commercial real estate transactions and disputes, Park also has experience in enforcing and defending contracts, particularly indemnification provisions.

He holds a degree from Southwestern University School of Law and  undergraduate degrees in political science and philosophy from UC Riverside.

He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Shirwo told the MetNews his decision to run for Office 2, Shirwo was “sort of a fluke.”

The veteran juvenile delinquency and dependency attorney has been in solo private practice since his admission to the State Bar in 1981, and currently has an office in Beverly Hills.

He has been a long-standing member of numerous professional organizations including LACBA and the Juvenile Court Bar Association, on whose executive board he has served for 25 years.

Prior to his legal career, he was the chief executive officer of a large stock brokerage firm in California as well as other retail/wholesale businesses. He has authored seminars and lectured at law school and public law organizations on both law and business.

Noting his involvement in “public service,” which includes pro bono work for legal aid and children’s rights projects, he said:

“I just happened to see that there was an open seat in Los Angeles, and decided that at 67 years old, maybe I can use my expertise to further the interests of the State Bar.”

Shirwo is a graduate of the University of Illinois and the University of West Los Angeles School of Law.

Dover, 40, said he was interested in joining the Board of Governors in order to “add a new viewpoint.”

The 1994 State Bar admittee, who is currently vice president of business affairs and general counsel at Playhut, Inc. in the City of Industry, has practiced entertainment law in firms—MacIntosh & Dean, Byrum, Holland & Brumfield, and Bacalski, Byrne, Koscka & Ottoson—and on his own.

He has also worked in product management, licensing, merchandising, and marketing in a non-attorney capacity.

Dover, who graduated from the University of Minnesota and holds both a master’s and law degree from the Southwestern University, has been an adjunct professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law since 2001.

“Several colleagues prompted me to transfer my interest in supporting new lawyers (as an adjunct professor of law) to the State Bar with the hopes that I can energize a new generation to bring their new (and possibly better) viewpoints into practice,” he said.

Heinke, 56, has previously said that he was interested in getting the State Bar to remind attorneys of their “higher purpose” of public service.

Currently a partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld—he heads the firm’s national appellate and litigation strategy group and its local litigation practice—Heinke has been a lawyer in Los Angeles for 30 years.

He specializes in First Amendment issues but handles matters in a wide range of other areas including intellectual property, employment and corporate law.

In addition to his term as LACBA president in 2000-01, Heinke has served on a State Bar advisory committee to review the rules and procedures of the Judicial Nominees Evaluation commission, the California Supreme Court’s Task Force on Multi-Jurisdictional Practice. He also served as president of Public Counsel and for four years as a member of the board of directors of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Heinke and Marcus were endorsed last month by the Breakfast Club, whose nominees have prevailed in the last six contests for a District Seven seat. Prior to its recent streak, the club saw self-described “outsider” candidates defeat three of its nominees over two years.

Also listed on the roster for the 2007 Board of Governors election are Sacramento-based lawyers Paul August Kramer Jr. and Theresa M. La Voie for the single District Two opening, which covers Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Napa, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, Tuolumne and Yolo counties.

Walnut Creek attorney Stephen R. Sonaty and San Jose lawyer Patricia P. White are running for the open seat on District Three, comprised of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

San Francisco practitioner William Hebert, the only candidate certified from District 4, which covers San Francisco and Marin counties, has been deemed elected, the board’s executive director said.


Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company