Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Four Seek District Seven Seat on State Bar Board of Governors
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Manhattan Beach attorney Joseph R. Donnini and Deputy Public Defender Rhonda Haymon have filed papers to run for a position on the State Bar Board of Governors, bringing the total number of candidates to four.
Craig E. Holden, a partner with Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith LLP, and Jeffrey Lustman, a non-practicing attorney working as a private investigator, both had previously announced their intention to seek the one available seat for District Seven—which represents all of Los Angeles County—but Donnini and Haymon did not widely broadcast their potential candidacies.
Haymon, a past representative for the California Young Lawyers Association on the board, is seeking election as an attorney member for the first time. She could not be reached for comment yesterday and the voicemail message at her work phone number indicated that she has been out of the office for some time.
Donnini is a sole practitioner and licensed real estate broker who previously served as general counsel for RE/MAX International in California and Hawaii. He has been practicing for 14 years, and said yesterday that he is seeking a seat on the board because “at this point in my career I just wanted to be able to assist in that capacity…to help address and resolve issues on the State Bar.”
He said his “agenda has not really changed” from last year, when he finished second to Gretchen Nelson, receiving a little more than 10 percent of the vote cast.
The most important issues Donnini said he wishes to address involve the “more efficient use of funds,” by reducing the size of the State Bar’s administration, increased utilization of technology, and revising the disciplinary system.
Calls Himself ‘Outsider’
A self-described State Bar “outsider,” Donnini said he has not had any previous involvement with the agency aside from paying his annual dues so his “perspectives are fresh.” He added that he hoped the voters would consider this an asset in a candidate since Donnini claimed the Breakfast Club had not looked upon it favorably when he inquired about receiving its endorsement last year.
The Breakfast Club is open on a dues-paid basis to any lawyer practicing within Los Angeles County and has been endorsing Board of Governors candidates for nearly four decades. Every candidate backed by the group has won a seat on the Board of Governors since 2003, and last month it voted to support Holden.
Donnini explained that he did not seek the Breakfast Club’s support last year or this year because “I’m not going to try to get endorsed by someone who has a preconceived idea of what a candidate should look like…on paper,” with a history of State Bar committee involvement.
He was admitted to the State Bar in 1996, after attending Drew University in Madison, N.J., and Whittier Law School. He said he has served as an adjunct professor of law at his alma mater for the past four years.
Haymon was elected to a one-year term on the board in 2008, and according to her candidate statement, her “desire and zeal to serve at the California State Bar level remains unabated.”
If elected, Haymon’s stated goals include having the State Bar provide “greater assistance to new attorneys,” as well as “[g]reater interaction with the public” and “[g]reater transparency regarding bar expenditures.”
She is a graduate of Tuskegee University and the Willamette College of Law in Oregon, where she is also licensed to practice. Haymon joined the California State Bar in 2001.
Holden, who did not return a call seeking comment yesterday, touted his experience in State Bar leadership in his candidate statement. He is chair of the organization’s Council on Access and Fairness—a 25-member advisory committee which provides recommendations to the Board of Governors on ways to increase diversity in the legal profession—and co-chair of the Intellectual Property Litigation Committee for the Intellectual Property Section.
He claimed that these roles “have given me valuable leadership experience, including the opportunity to work with the Board of Governors,” and that he “understand[s] the varied interests of lawyers throughout the state and this district” because he has also worked with several local bar associations.
The attorney also promised to “advocate for sensible, measured reforms that increase public protection and restore public trust in our profession” as well as address court backlogs, increase training opportunities for young lawyers, encourage pro bono work and diversity efforts, ensure “fiscal responsibility with Bar dues,” and aid in the provision of affordable malpractice insurance.
In addition tp the endorsement of the Breakfast Club, Holden’s candidate statement also listed Los Angeles County Bar Association President-Elect Eric Webber; past State Bar Presidents Howard Miller, Holly Fujie and Sheldon Sloan; and the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles as supporters.
Holden graduated from UCLA in 1991 and UC Hastings Law School in 1994. He gained admission to the State Bar that same year.
Whoever wins this year’s election will assume office at the conclusion of the State Bar Annual Meeting in September, when the three-year terms for current representatives James H. Aguirre of Richardson & Fair, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela J. Davis, end. Only one seat is available in District Seven this year due to redistricting in 2010 to reflect shifts in the state’s attorney population.
Five Seats Up
The 23-member 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, and five seats—one for Districts Four, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine—are being vacated this year.
A total of five candidates are seeking the District Four seat representing Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties: Miles Cooper of Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & McGuinn; David A. DeGroot of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; Forrest A. Hainline III of Goodwin Procter LLP; Douglas S. Saeltzer of Walkup Media; and Nancy L. Fineman of Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy LLP.
San Jose civil litigator Timothy D. McMahon and Mark W. Shem of Borton Petrini LLP are facing off for the District Six seat, representing Santa Clara Ccounty.
Four candidates are seeking the District Eight seat—representing Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties: Pearl G. Mann of Fullerton; Jeffrey A. Milman of Hodes Milman LLP; Natalie Panossian, in-house counsel for Ricoh Printing Systems America Inc.; and Santa Barbara Deputy District Attorney Ronald Zonen.
The District Nine seat—representing the Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties—also has four candidates: Riverside practitioner Reina Canale; San Diego attorney Paul H. Neuharth Jr.; Heather Linn Rosing of Klinedinst PC; and San Bernardino lawyer Michael A. Scafiddi.
Friday was the deadline to file nominating petitions for the seats, which will become vacant this summer. Next Monday is the last day for candidates to withdraw their nominations.
Ballots are scheduled to be mailed May 2 and the voting period is slated to end June 30.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company