Thursday, April 3, 2014
Four Seek Election to Second District Seat on State Bar Board
Two Well-Known Prosecutors, Perennial Candidate, and ‘Semi-Retired’ Lawyer Vie for Post
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Four candidates—two well-known deputy district attorneys, a perennial contender, and a semi-retired lawyer who acknowledges little experience with bar governance issues—are seeking election to the State Bar Board of Trustees.
Running to represent Second Appellate District lawyers on the board are Deputy District Attorneys Alan S. Yochelson and Danette E. Meyers, along with private investigator Jeffrey Lustman and attorney Robert F. Hunt.
Tuesday was the deadline for filing nominating petitions, but those who filed can withdraw up until April 11. Ballots will be mailed April 30, and voting will be completed by June 30, the State Bar said on its website.
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.
Yochelson told the MetNews yesterday he decided to seek the position because he has been actively involved in bar activities for 15 years. He 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 is running, he said, with an emphasis on involving more lawyers in the organization on a committee level.
“Most attorneys aren’t aware of what the State Bar does,” he said, opining that a committee recruitment drive would be a good way of expanding knowledge, as well as participation.
Oversight of the discipline system is a major area of concern, he said, but he doesn’t believe it needs a major shakeup.
“They are doing a great job,” he said of the disciplinary arm, which he credits with clearing up a major backlog of cases.
He acknowledged discomfort with the thought of running against Meyers, whom he described as a colleague and a friend, and whom he said was “extremely qualified” to serve on the board. Meyers could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon, and Yochelson said the two had not discussed their competing candidacies.
Yochelson, a State Bar member since 1980, 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
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 is a non-practicing attorney who works as a private investigator and who ran for the board in five consecutive elections from 2007 to 2011. He graduated from the University of Maryland and Taft Law School in Santa Ana before joining the State Bar in 1995.
He said yesterday that he still views the State Bar the way he did in his previous campaigns.
“I’m still an anarchist,” he said. “I’m still mad.”
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.
He said yesterday that he still believes “the State Bar is corrupt and judges get away with too much.”
Hunt said he can make a contribution to the State Bar, despite his lack of past involvement, because he is “kind of in semi-retirement and have the time to devote to these activities.” He said he hopes to address the “crisis in court funding” and support access to the courts.
He said he does not see a need for major changes in the disciplinary system and would seek to “build a consensus in terms of making the judicial system a viable part of our society.” Hunt is a graduate of Rutgers University and Loyola Law School and was admitted to the State Bar in 1991.
Trustees are also being elected this year in two other districts.
A special election is being held in the Fourth Appellate District because Christopher Todd resigned from the board in January, for what were described as personal reasons.
Heather Rosing, the current treasurer of the State Bar, is running in that election. If she were to win, she would remain on the board for an additional year beyond this September, when her present term is scheduled to expire.
Rosing is a shareholder in the San Diego firm Klinedinst PC. Her opponents are Orange County Deputy Public Defender Larisa Dinsmoor; Irvine attorney Patricia Lee-Gulley, who is with Gordon & Rees LLP; and Babak Samini of Samini Scheinberg PC in Costa Mesa.
A full-term board election is being held in the Sixth Appellate District. The candidates, all of who head their own practices, are Janet L. Brewer of Palo Alto, Holden W. Green of Los Gatos, Roger Royse of Palo Alto, and Shannon Stein of Sunnyvale.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company