Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, January 29, 2002


Page 1


Nobumoto Tells Lawyers, Judges to Be Proud of Profession


By a MetNews Staff Writer


State Bar President Karen Nobumoto told lawyers and judges who gathered Friday to honor her that they should be as proud as she is of the work they do.

“We make a tremendous contribution to the American way of life,” Nobumoto said of legal professionals at the Metropolitan News-Enterprise 2001 Person of the Year dinner at the Biltmore Hotel.

As for her own role as leader of the 170,000-member organization, Nobumoto said she felt like she “must be dreaming” to be thrust into the spotlight at a time when the State Bar is rebuilding. But she said she looked forward to conclusion of her term because it would mean she could return to her role as a Los Angeles deputy district attorney.

“I know I will wake up to a life where I get to practice law,” Nobumoto said.

The prosecutor was named the newspaper’s Person of the Year in September. MetNews Co-Publisher Jo-Ann Grace presented the annual award to her at the dinner after leaders of the local legal community lauded Nobumoto for her commitment to diversity and access in the profession.

Public Defender Michael Judge complimented Nobumoto’s efforts to encourage young lawyers, especially women and minorities, to go into both prosecutorial and defense posts.

Nobumoto’s actions in promoting diversity “has affected hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of people, he said. “She has looked at the justice system and  recognized that it is a system” that requires high-caliber people on both sides in order to work properly, he added.

Presentations came to Nobumoto from District Attorney Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County Bar Association President Roland Coleman, attorney Maria Villa on behalf of the entire District Seven contingent of the State Bar Board of Governors, Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden, and county Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

Most of the evening’s tributes to Nobumoto were combined with quips and humorous digs among the presenters.

Offering an unframed scroll to the honoree, Cooley took a swipe at ex-District Attorney Gil Garcetti, whom he defeated in the 2000 election, by explaining that “my predecessor spent all the money [for] frames.”

He also answered Master of Ceremonies and former District Attorney Robert Philibosian, who said Cooley has done an “absolutely superlative job” in the post, by telling Philibosian “you were okay” at the job. He then turned to former District Attorney John Van de Kamp, there as a member of the Board of Governors, and said, “John, you were pretty good too.”

Judge, who followed Cooley, answered the remark about frames by saying that his office “never framed anyone so we don’t have any frames.”

Coleman made an oblique reference to the continuing reference to Nobumoto as the State Bar’s first minority female and public lawyer president by announcing:

“I believe this is the first time in the history of bar associations that the State Bar president and the Los Angeles County Bar Association president, the largest local bar association in the state, are both single.”

Coleman also poked fun at himself, and referred to Nobumoto’s award and the five-course banquet that accompanied it, complete with gin sorbet to cleanse the palate between courses, by saying he would be honored as the “man of the moment” with a dinner—limited to the gin sorbet.

Grace, presenting the Person of the Year award, called the honoree “candid, opinionated and gregarious.”

Nobumoto, she said, “has ideas, the drive to put them into action and the persuasive ability to get others to go with her, or at least get out of the way.”


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company