Thursday, March 4, 2010
Deputy Public Defender to Run for State Bar Board
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender Luis J. Rodriguez said yesterday he is running for a spot on the State Bar Board of Governors.
Rodriguez told the MetNews he will seek election to the second of the two seats up for election this year in District Seven, which covers Los Angeles County.
The news makes him the third contender to confirm a campaign for one of the district’s two seats. Private investigator Jeffrey P. Lustman said last week that he too will run for the second seat, while former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Gretchen M. Nelson said Monday she will seek election to one of the seats, to be determined.
A graduate of college and law school at Santa Clara University, Rodriguez was admitted to the State Bar in 1994 and joined the Public Defender’s Office that year. In 2007, he became head deputy for Central Misdemeanors, where he supervises and heads training for all new attorneys entering the office.
He has worked in the office’s Juvenile Division as a resource attorney—assisting trial attorneys in assuring that minors in need of special education, regional center assistance and mental health services received those services—and previously served as special counsel to the public defender.
Rodriguez was a member of the California State Board of Education in 2003, serving as liaison to the Commission on Special Education and the Curriculum Commission, and is a past president of the California La Raza Lawyers Association, the Mexican American Bar Association and the Latino Public Defenders Association.
He has also been active for the last three years on the State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness, which advises the Board of Governors on advancing State Bar diversity strategies and goals, and served as the council’s chair in 2008.
A native of Los Angeles, Rodriguez moved with his parents at age 3 to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and lived there for approximately nine years until the family returned to Los Angeles.
He said he will file his nominating petition this week and indicated he will campaign actively, including seeking endorsements from the Breakfast Club—a group of attorneys whose primary function is to endorse candidates for the Board of Governors—and other bar associations.
Rodriguez said he has already secured endorsements from Los Angeles Public Defender Michael Judge, District Attorney Steve Cooley, former State Bar President Holly Fujie and all five of District Seven’s current representatives: Michael D. Marcus, Rex Heinke, James H. Aguirre, Angela Joy Davis and Patrick M. Kelly.
Marcus and Heinke’s three-year terms conclude this summer, and their seats are the subject of the election.
Rodriguez said he has also secured the endorsement of the Mexican American Bar Association, and has endorsement interviews with other groups lined up.
Explaining his decision to run, he said:
“I reached a point in my career where I have the practical experience of being a leader and the support of various bar associations….I’m the kind of individual who listens to various stakeholders without taking an initial stand [and] I have the talent to work with people of opposing views to reach common ground.”
Rodriguez added that his assessment of his own abilities was reflected by the endorsements not only of his boss, but of Cooley and the others, and said he wanted to serve on the board now in light of the recent “turmoil” at the top of the State Bar.
The group’s executive director, Judy Johnson, said in January she will step down next year after 10 years at the post, and the Board of Governors last June declined to reappoint the chief trial counsel, Scott Drexel. A former State Bar employee from Oakland was also sentenced last month to two years and eight months in prison for embezzling over $600,000 from the organization.
Nominating petitions for seats on the board are currently available on the State Bar’s website and must be filed by April 1. Ballots will be mailed to State Bar members April 30, and voting will end July 1. Any active member who maintains a principal office for the practice of law within a district with a vacancy is eligible to run.
For the first time, the State Bar this year will conduct a “hybrid” election offering voting by mail and electronically. All eligible voters will receive a ballot packet in the mail, and those who vote online will be asked to provide their bar number and a PIN number printed on the ballot.
Three other seats on the Board of Governors are up for election this year and are located, respectively, in District Two, covering Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Napa, Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, Tuolumne and Yolo counties; District Three, covering Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; and District Four, covering Marin and San Francisco counties.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company