Friday, May 12, 2017
Another Section Condemns LACBA’s Election Action
Corporate Law Departments Section Calls for Outside Probe of LACBA,
Three Past Presidents Criticize Its Conduct
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Efforts are intensifying within the Los Angeles County Bar Association to require that the results of the 2017 election be recognized and that a new election not be conducted.
Three former LACBA presidents have issued statements criticizing what’s going on in the organization, and the Corporate Law Section yesterday morning sent LACBA President Margaret Stevens a copy of its resolution “condemning” efforts to “undo” the election that was completed on March 22, asking that she forward it to the trustees. As of press time yesterday afternoon, she had not obliged.
Former LACBA President Charles E. Michaels said yesterday the Corporate Law Section is “outraged.” Past President Harry Hathaway, in a statement this week, said he is “appalled” by the state the organization is in, and Past President Joseph Mandel remarked that he is “gravely concerned.”
Although most of what has occurred has been behind closed doors, it is known that at least a dozen of the 28 members of the Board of Trustees were deemed disqualified from voting at the closed-door session of the April 26 Board of Trustees meeting, presided over by Treasurer Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. How many “non recused” trustees were in attendance is unknown, but a majority of those present voted to cancel the results of the election and hold a new one.
The action was taken based on a report—which the recused trustees are not allowed to see—indicating that there were breaches of confidentiality in the Nominating Committee.
Second Section Resolution
The Corporate Law Department’s resolution “condemns the actions of the Minority Board in wrongfully invalidating the 2017-2018 election of officers and trustees of LACBA; and the Section further condemns the Minority Board’s attempt to conduct another election.” That resolution is patterned after one by the Senior Lawyers Section released May 5, except that one referred to the action having been taken by a “Rump Board.”
Yesterday’s resolution contains a demand not included in the Senior Lawyers’ resolution: it wants the full board, at a specially called meeting, to “immediately authorize an independent investigation of LACBA’s corporate governance practices.”
The secret report was authorized by the board at its March 22 meeting. According to a May 1 statement, it was determined that “the appearance of a breach of confidentiality, demonstrated by media reports on that process, required an independent investigation of the 2017 Nominating Committee process.”
The identity of the three persons conducting the probe is not known.
It is understood that the suspected “breach” was occasioned by a March 1 article in the MetNews reporting that Immediate Past President Paul Kiesel had been lobbying the Nominating Committee to nominate Michael Lindsey for president-elect—a post he lost in last year’s contested election to Michael Meyer. The Daily Journal repeated the information two days later.
The MetNews article appeared two days after the Nominating Committee had completed its work, choosing officers—with trial attorney Brian Kabateck heading the list as president-elect nominee—and trustees. Their election was automatic when no one filed a candidacy petition by the March 22 deadline.
The members of the new Nominating Committee are to be kept secret, and a gag order has been imposed on all trustees.
Trustees who were members of the first Nominating Committee, and are therefore viewed as being “recused,” are—in addition to Stevens, Kiesel, Meyer—Ron Brot, Lavonne Lawson, Marc Sallus, Ed Summers, and Roxanne Wilson. Additionally William Winslow was disqualified based on discussing the election in an email and Jo-Ann Grace was excluded, over her objection, based on being co-publisher of the MetNews.
It has been learned that in addition to those 10, LACBA Senior Vice President Phil Lam, nominated for vice president, and Vice President Tamila Jensen, nominated as Senior Vice President, were disqualified because it was thought they would be candidates in the second election.
Below are the statements of past presidents:
The Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Board is operating in almost total election secrecy. They are wrongfully excluding duly elected officers and board members in a wrongful attempt to thwart one of the most fundamental functions of any organization: a fair and open election process that determines the future leadership of the organization. The Corporate Law Department is outraged over the LACBA board’s recent actions and intends to fight this battle head on. Our members pay their hard earned dues to LACBA and they deserve an association that is open, transparent and operates in their best interests. As corporate governance professionals, we are calling upon the Board to immediately authorize an independent investigation into LACBA’s corporate governance practices.
Charles E. Michaels
I express grave concern for the current deplorable state of affairs at the LA County Bar Association. As a past president of the Association and with over 50 years of leadership roles in the ABA, I am appalled at the poor leadership and financial abuse of our Association by a handful of its ignorant leaders.
Recent actions to hijack the Association by a small cabal of entrenched Trustees will destroy the historical legacy of our great Association. Continued hemorrhaging of money and membership are certain to destroy our wonderful Association unless WE take action to stop them now!
Harry L. Hathaway
As the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s President some 36 years ago, it indescribably pains me to see what has transpired within the Association over the last few years. I am not close enough to the financial and governance details to assess with certainty what has taken place. From all the accounts derived from respected journalists and former leaders of the bar, however, I find myself gravely concerned about the wisdom and propriety, legally and ethically, of what has transpired and appears to continue to be transpiring. I fervently hope that the bar’s leadership, current and prospective, will do all within its power to assure that the greatness of the Association’s past will be restored and that the critical issues that are now pending will be resolved in compliance with the Association’s governing documents and applicable California law and with the best interests of the Association and its members firmly in mind.
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