Monday, May 4, 2009
Howard Miller Poised to Become State Bar President
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Los Angeles attorney Howard Miller is poised to become the 85th president of the State Bar of California, as all four of the other attorneys eligible to run have ruled out doing so.
Only members of the Board of Governors who are in the last year of a term are eligible to seek the post. The deadline for declaring a candidacy is the next board meeting, which is scheduled for May 14 in San Francisco.
If a contest were to develop, the election would take place at the July meeting in Los Angeles.
Besides Miller, a partner in the Los Angeles firm of Girardi & Keese, the eligible attorney candidates are John Peterson, who is of counsel in the Fresno office of a statewide firm; Auburn sole practitioner John Dutton; Richard Frankel, a partner in a five-lawyer firm in San Ramon; and San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Peterson Friday told the MetNews that he considered Miller a better candidate for the post because of his political background, including his service as president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board. “He can probably deal with the bureaucracy better than I could,” the Fresno lawyer said.
Dumanis said she will devote her energies over the next year to her present post and intends to be a candidate for a third term in next June’s primary election. She added that Miller “is really a great guy and has the background experience and concerns to be the State Bar president” and said she did not believe “now is the time to have a contested election.”
Dutton said the solo nature of his practice was one of a number of reasons for not becoming a candidate.
Serving as president is “very time consuming,” he said. “I applaud Howard Miller for being willing to do it.”
He predicted that Miller would do a “great” job in the post.
Frankel, as a small-firm practitioner, expressed concerns similar to Dutton’s.
“To do the job properly requires really a lot of time,” he said. “It is difficult to reconcile with making a living.”
He agreed with the other governors that Miller is up to the job.
“I think the world of Howard,” he said. “All four [of the other eligible attorneys] are fabulous....Any one of them would do a great job.”
Miller said the other third-year governors “are all good friends and I am honored by their confidence and hope I can live up to their expectations.”
State Bar rules also allow public members of the board to run for president, but none has ever been elected to the post and none of the current public members have expressed interest in seeking it.
Miller, 71, graduated from Pepperdine University and the University of Chicago Law School and was admitted to practice in California in 1961. He clerked for then-California Supreme Court Justice Roger Traynor in 1960 and 1961.
He taught at USC’s law school from 1965 until 1977, as a full professor for the last eight of those years. He unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 1974.
Miller served on the LAUSD board in the 1970s and was its president until 1979, when he was removed from office as a result of a recall campaign waged by opponents of the district’s desegregation plan. He later served as the district’s chief operating officer in 1999 and 2000.
He was executive editor of the Los Angeles Daily Journal from 1979 to 1981, and joined Girardi & Keese in 2002.
He was elected to the Board of Governors in 2006.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company