Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Capozzi Takes State Bar Helm, Invokes Aid of Past Presidents
By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer
Fresno attorney Anthony Capozzi was sworn in Saturday as president of the State Bar of California for 2003-2004 and vowed to seek the aid of his predecessors in guiding the organization.
“I will convene a meeting of the bar’s past presidents,” Capozzi said, adding he hoped they would help him to deal with the issues facing the bar.
“We cannot just find fault,” Capozzi said. “We must find remedies that work.”
Capozzi, whose practice emphasizes civil litigation and white-collar criminal defense in federal court, as well as appeals, was sworn in before an audience of several hundred at the Anaheim Convention Center by Chief Justice Ronald M. George. He becomes the bar’s 79th president, succeeding James Herman.
Capozzi was chosen as president by his colleagues on the Board of Governors in May, defeating Los Angeles County board member Nancy Hoffmeier Zamora in a secret ballot.
The swearing-in was held in the hall at the Convention Center where the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations met over the weekend. The State Bar Annual Meeting took place Thursday through Sunday at the Anaheim Hilton next door.
Also sworn in at the Saturday ceremony were five newly elected members of the Board of Governors, chosen by the lawyers in their districts in July, including Sheldon H. Sloan, a former Los Angeles Municipal Court judge and former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, who will replace Zamora as one of Los Angeles County’s five representatives.
Capozzi told the conference delegates and assembled attorneys, judges and others that he had had a change of heart since being elected to the Board of Governors three years ago.
“I was a bar critic,” he recalled, adding that he then believed the discipline system was badly run and dues money was not being well spent.
After serving on the board for three years, Capozzi, who last year chaired the Board of Governors’ budget and planning committee, explained, “my eyes were opened.”
“You can be sure that our dues money is not thrown away.”
He added that he found bar officials cooperative in dealing with his reservations.
“We didn’t find closed doors or resistant bureaucrats,” he said.
As for the discipline system, Capozzi said:
“I have come to have the highest respect for the discipline system. It is not petty. It is not arbitrary.”
The new president said, however, that a review of the system will be undertaken by the Board of Governor’s discipline committee, which will be led for the next year by Los Angeles County member and former California Attorney General John K. Van de Kamp.
Capozzi said he plans to organize a celebration during the coming year of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 school desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education.
Capozzi was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, based in Fresno, from 1973 to 1979. He became the top assistant in the Fresno office just six months after he arrived, and was a finalist for the position of U.S. attorney under President Jimmy Carter.
He did not get the appointment, but remained a supporter of Carter and became active in local, state and national politics after opening his own practice in January 1979. He campaigned for Carter in 1980 and for Walter Mondale in 1984, attending the Democratic national conventions both years as a member of the California delegation.
He also played leading roles as a campaigner and fundraiser for governors Jerry Brown, who favored him with a Regional Water Quality Control Board appointment, and Gray Davis, and for the late Tom Bradley when he ran for governor in 1982. He didn’t only favor Democrats, however, backing George Deukmejian’s successful bid for re-election as governor in 1986.
Also sworn in Saturday along with Capozzi and Sloan were:
•Chico lawyer Richard L. Crabtree, elected from District 1, consisting of 19 Northern California counties.
•Oakland Deputy City Attorney Demetrius Shelton, elected from District 3, which consists of Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
•Fresno lawyer Paul S. Hokokian, who previously served on the board from 1997 to 2000, and was elected from District 5, consisting of 14 Central California counties. Herman said Hokokian becomes the first person to serve a return term on the board.
•Raymond G. Aragon of Bonita, who was elected without opposition in District 9. The district consists of San Diego and Imperial counties.
The Annual Meeting features an array of speeches, luncheons, receptions and awards, but in recent years the main draw has been the over 200 MCLE courses offered.
Subjects for professional training credit at this year’s meeting included trial advocacy, international arbitration, resolving fee agreement disputes, postnuptial agreements, trust accounting, witness preparation, cyberspace law, and mold litigation.
Next year’s Annual Meeting will take place in Monterey from Oct. 7 to 10.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company