Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Breakfast Club Endorses Yochelson for State Bar Board
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Breakfast Club yesterday endorsed Deputy District Attorney Alan S. Yochelson for election to the State Bar Board of Trustees.
The club is an organization of Los Angeles County lawyers who gather annually to hear presentations by board candidates and vote on whom to back. Its endorsees have, over more than three decades, won a majority of the board elections, although three club-backed candidates were defeated in 2001 and 2002.
Yochelson told the MetNews he was “thrilled” to have the club’s backing.
“I’ve wanted to serve on the Board of Trustees for a long time,” he said. “That the Breakfast Club put their faith in me as a candidate is very gratifying.”
Yochelson noted, however, that under the reorganization of the board—formerly known as the Board of Governors—candidates no longer run in Los Angeles County alone. The winner will instead represent the entire Second Appellate District, which also includes Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties.
Yochelson said he intends to meet with attorneys in those counties and has contacted the local bar associations there.
The candidate is currently in his second term on the Committee of Bar Examiners, and has also served on the Criminal Law Section Executive Committee and the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, along with task forces on civility in the profession and bar admissions.
He has been a State Bar member since 1980, and has been involved in some of the county’s highest-profile criminal cases, including those of “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, who died in prison last year, and of the four former Los Angeles police officers acquitted of charges resulting from the 1991 beating of Rodney King.
Yochelson is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and Southwestern Law School.
All four candidates spoke at yesterday’s meeting. Yochelson is opposed by fellow Deputy District Attorney Danette E. Meyers, private investigator Jeffrey Lustman, and attorney Robert F. Hunt.
In past years, some candidates have dropped out of board races after failing to win the club’s endorsement. This year’s meeting, unlike those in most recent years, took place after the deadline for withdrawals.
Meyers said she was “happy for Alan,” whom she has known for many years and called an “outstanding candidate,” but said the club’s endorsement would have no impact on her own campaign.
She added that she “was a little surprised there were less than 20 lawyers” in the room for the meeting. “I came in and I did my best,” she added.
Meyers served as president of the County Bar in 2007-2008. She ran for district attorney in 2012, finishing in fourth place with more than 13 percent of the vote in a six-candidate race.
A veteran of close to 200 jury trials, she has prosecuted more than 40 murders, two of which resulted in the death sentence.
She has served on the State Bar Complaints, Audit and Review Board, the Board of Directors of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, and the LACBA delegation to the State Bar Conference of Delegates. She is a graduate of UC San Diego and Howard University School of Law.
Lustman, like Meyers, said the club’s endorsement would have no impact on his plans. Hunt did not return a call for comment.
Lustman said he “would have been shocked” had he received the endorsement, given that he considers himself “an anarchist” with respect to bar affairs. The perennial candidate, who said he came to speak at the meeting because he “got an email” inviting him to do so, noted that he has based all of his campaigns on his belief that the State Bar is “using [its] employees to rip off attorneys” to collect fees in disciplinary matters.
“And they’re still doing it,” he added.
Lustman stipulated to a public reproval in 2006, admitting that he showed disrespect for the judiciary when he wrote a letter to three appellate jurists accusing them of dishonesty and corruption. 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 State Bar Court publicly reproved him in order to make money from fines.
Hunt, who did not return a phone call yesterday, said in an earlier interview that while he has not been heavily involved in past State Bar activities, he is at a point in his career where he has time to devote. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and Loyola Law School and was admitted to the State Bar in 1991.
Ballots are scheduled to be mailed to all active State Bar members in the district April 30, and voting is to be completed by June 30.
Under SB 163, the State Bar restructuring legislation approved in 2011, the Board of Trustees is transitioning from a 23-member body primarily elected by lawyers to a smaller board with a primarily unelected membership.
When the transition period ends this fall, the board will consist of 19 members, five of whom will be attorneys appointed by the Supreme Court.
The board will also include six elected lawyers, one from each of the state’s six appellate court districts; six public members, as at present; and two attorneys appointed by the legislative leadership.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company