Tuesday, March 17, 2009
‘Anarchist’ Runs for Board of Governors Again
By Sherri M. Okamoto, Staff Writer
Jeffrey P. Lustman, a non-practicing attorney working as a private investigator, yesterday confirmed that he will be attempting a second bid for a seat on the State Bar Board of Governors.
A self-described anarchist, Lustman said he is basing his campaign on the same criticisms of the State Bar disciplinary system and state court bench he made in his 2007 bid for a District Seven seat he lost to retired State Bar Court Judge Michael D. Marcus.
District Seven includes all of Los Angeles County and has a total of five lawyer representatives on the board.
He said that he ran two years ago because he was “ticked” after three justices of this district’s Court of Appeal “pulled a fast one on me,” prompting him to issue a letter of protest which resulted in his being publicly reproved by the State Bar in 2006.
“I’m still ticked,” Lustman said. “It never went away.”
After Lustman lost an appeal in Skobin v. County of Los Angeles, B170099, a now-dismissed medical malpractice/civil rights case in which he represented the plaintiff, he wrote a letter to then-Presiding Justice Candace Cooper, Justice Laurence Rubin and Justice Madeleine Flier accusing them of dishonesty and corruption.
In the letter 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 to provide him with justification for their ruling, according to State Bar discipline documents.
Lustman said he left the practice of law because “it’s difficult to deal with a system with judges who are so dishonest,” and pitched himself as the “reform candidate” who will “infiltrate” the State Bar and “change the system.”
He accused the Board of Governors of being “a bunch of prostitutes for the California Supreme Court,” who “lack the guts to go after bad judges who abuse the rights of bar members and their clients.”
Among his proposals for change, Lustman advocated for the State Bar to “be in a greater adversarial position against judges,” to monitor judicial behavior in a manner similar to the Commission on Judicial Performance.
The State Bar “at the very least, should be involved in [judicial] elections,” he insisted.
Additionally, he proposed that the State Bar disciplinary system should involve an independent jury with no professional or financial interest in the outcome of the disciplinary matters.
Patrick M. Kelly, the western region managing partner for Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, appears to be the only other candidate seeking the one available seat on the Board of Governors. The State Bar said the final list of candidates will be released once the April 1 deadline for nominating petitions has expired.
Century City solo practitioner Marty O’Toole—the only other attorney who had announced an intention to run—confirmed to the METNEWS last week that he decided not to enter the race and has thrown his support to Kelly.
O’Toole has twice unsuccessfully run for a seat on the board based on a platform critiquing the attorney discipline system, and Kelly has said that he and O’Toole were in agreement that the disciplinary system should prioritize disciplinary issues which affect the public.
Lustman said he agreed “to some extent” with the position advocated by Kelly and O’Toole, but clarified “my thing is the discipline system has a trier of fact who works for the State Bar instead of independent people, and the State Bar makes money doing it.”
On Thursday Kelly was unanimously endorsed by the Breakfast Club—a dues-paid organization open to any lawyer practicing within Los Angeles County which primarily endorses candidates for the Board of Governors race. Kelly has previously chaired the group, whose nominees have won the last eight elections for seats on the board.
“There’s no way they were going to endorse me over a former chair of the Breakfast Club, for crying out loud,” Lustman said, adding that his platform is “too radical for most organizations.”
Lustman said he has not been endorsed by any organization and his supporters include former Los Angeles attorney Bradford Henschel who was suspended from the practice of law in 2003 for practicing law while suspended, violating a court order, and failing to perform legal services competently, return client files or take steps to avoid prejudice to a client.
He also said that he attended a protest in front of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Friday in support of disbarred Beverly Hills attorney Richard I. Fine—who has claimed to be the victim of a vendetta by Superior Court judicial officers based on his litigation of suits challenging the payment of benefits to supplement the salaries of Los Angeles Superior Court judges and is currently in jail for contempt of court.
Fine “bucked the system,” Lustman said. “I’m bucking the system too.”
Although Lustman said he was not sure if he had a viable chance at winning the election, Lustman predicted that the odds of prevailing may be higher in this race because there is only one available seat and the “vote may be split between the ‘normal’ candidates, and then there’s me, the anarchist.”
“I’m counting on the anarchist votes.”
A graduate of the University of Maryland, Lustman earned his law degree from William Howard Taft University in Santa Ana and was admitted to the State Bar in 1995.
The State Bar Board of Governors meets approximately eight times a year to debate organizational, policy and professional issues.
It consists of 15 attorney members elected by their peers in geographic districts.
Whoever wins this year’s election will join current District Seven representatives James H. Aguirre of Richardson & Fair; Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela J. Davis; retired State Bar Court Judge Michael D. Marcus, now a private judge with ADR Services Inc.; and former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Rex S. Heinke of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company