Archive for the ‘East Bay’ Category

What’s a Lawyer Joke Between Lefty Friends?

September 29, 2006

You know it’s a lefty crowd when radio personality Will Durst kills the room with this line about Dick Cheney: “I did love that he shot a lawyer in the face and got him to apologize.” On second thought, that would probably go down well with any group save the Bar Association, but such was the tenor inside the gilded Grand Lake Theater in Oakland Wednesday at an event organized by Progressive Action: East Bay.



Poochigian, Brown Scuffle in Online Ads

September 14, 2006

Democratic Attorney General candidate Jerry Brown will hit the airwaves Friday with four new television ads that tout his law enforcement endorsements while painting his Republican opponent, state Sen. Chuck Poochigian, as a gun-loving, environment-hating, right-wing nut.

Brown’s campaign released the ads today on, probably hoping for a little free media. Brown spokesman Ace Smith said all four will pop up on cable television spots around the state tomorrow.

Poochigian shot back Thursday with his own YouTube missive, which criticizes Brown for attending a pricey fundraiser hosted by the firm of Wexler Toriseva Wallace in Sacramento on Tuesday. Poochigian has had two other ads on YouTube for a couple months. Both blast Oakland Mayor Brown for his city’s crime rate.

All this Internet advertising reflects an attorney general’s race that’s gone a bit cyber-crazy. Both middle-aged candidates have their own campaign pages on, the wildly popular youth-oriented Web site.

For those of you who prefer your attack ads old-school, the California Republican Party has launched a new radio spot calling Brown a prisoner-coddling, soft-on-crime, liberal flake.

Cheryl Miller

Berkeley Lawyer a True Metalhead

August 22, 2006

A year ago, Berkeley criminal defense attorney Lawrence Gibbs suffered a near-fatal cerebral aneurysm. It took nine hours of surgery at UC-San Francisco to save his life.

Today, Gibbs is alive and well and litigating — just last week he helped obtain federal habeas relief for Michael Hutchinson, whose supporters say he was wrongly imprisoned for seven years for a robbery he didn’t commit.

This weekend, to mark his one-year anniversary of recovery, Gibbs is going to run a triathlon. He has dubbed it the Platinum Man Triathlon — a variation on the more common Iron Man — in honor of the platinum coils that were implanted in his skull to fix the aneurysm. He plans to run the entire Memorial Stadium steps at UC-Berkeley, swim two miles in a pool, then complete a 20-mile bike ride in the East Bay hills and along the bay.
Gibbs is using the event to raise money for the Neurovascular Service at UCSF. He’s taking per-mile donations and hopes to raise $50,000. If it’s a success, he plans to do it again next year with other former patients. Donors are asked to send checks made out to the UCSF Foundation with a note on the check, “Neurovascular Service Platinum Man Triathlon,” mailed to Sue Merrilees, UCSF Foundation, UCSF Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145-0339.

— Scott Graham

DaimlerChrysler Launches Dr. Gag Campaign

August 16, 2006

Here’s a question for Dr. Z: Why are you trying to prevent the news media from covering a high-profile asbestos trial?

DaimlerChrysler, the auto company represented in TV commercials by its chairman, Dieter Zetsche aka “Dr. Z”, moved yesterday for a gag order to stop an Oakland law firm from fielding calls from the press, including Legal Pad’s sister publication The Recorder.


Brown Counts Cash, Poochigian Counts Corpses

July 31, 2006

The attorney general’s race has turned into a numbers game, though each candidate is playing with different figures.

For Democrat Jerry Brown, it’s all about campaign cash. The Oakland mayor raised almost $1 million over the last six weeks and is now sitting on a campaign war chest of $5.2 million, according to records filed with the Secretary of State’s office today. Brown’s camp immediately issued a statement saying opponent Chuck Poochigian’s campaign “is in crisis” because the Republican only has $3.6 million in the bank.

Poochigian, the state senator from Fresno, would rather focus on numbers coming out of Oakland these days, namely the city’s rising murder rate. A missive from the Poochigian campaign Monday morning noted that Oakland notched its 81st over the weekend and, not surprisingly, blamed the high number on the city’s “eternally ambitious and disengaged mayor.”

Expect to see the war of numbers move from press releases to the air waves in the coming months. Whether it’s paltry or plentiful, a combined $8.8 million in campaign money will buy a lot of TV ads.

Cheryl Miller

“Woo Hoo! I’m No. 2! Yeah, baby!”

June 9, 2006

Most people who lose an election by more than 40 percent get discouraged, but not Joscelyn Jones.

In a voice message, Jones said she was “ecstatic, grateful, humbled and elated” by her 24 percent showing in Tuesday’s Contra Costa County judicial election. Jones, a probate administration attorney, was so excited she rattled off her final vote count — 29,594.

Not bad for someone who threw in the towel two months ago, after Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed federal prosecutor John Laettner to finish retired Judge Merle Eaton’s term on the bench.

Laettner thanked Oakland attorney Robert “Rod” Divelbiss for not only dropping out after his appointment but endorsing the newly seated judge. Divelbiss, who claimed 6 percent of the vote, helped Laettner win a majority and avoid a run-off against Jones in November.

As for Jones’ surprisingly strong showing, Laettner noted that before dropping out she had been campaigning for three months — longer than the judge’s own campaign.

He offered few clues to explain how an inactive candidate fared so well at the polls.

“I’m told if your name is first on the ballot, you [automatically] get 10 to 15 percent,” Laettner said.

Matthew Hirsch

Ladies First in Alameda County Judge Race

May 16, 2006

With six candidates jockeying for a seat on the Alameda County Superior Court bench, you can’t just flip a coin and decide who to vote for.

But you can figure out who’s working the legal community hardest when the races for judicial endorsements and support from county lawyers produce nearly identical results.

Kathy Mount emerged as the top vote-getter from an Alameda County Bar Association poll published May 15. The Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson partner collected 36 percent of ACBA member votes, almost twice as much as her closest competitor, Deputy County Counsel Sandra Bean.

As of May 4, Mount had also claimed the most endorsements from county judges. She had 13 of them, or 40 percent of all county judges’ endorsements at the time. Bean had the second most endorsements with a total of eight.

These victories give Mount some confidence heading into the last few weeks of the primary. She said she’ll make ample use of them in mailers and on the campaign trail.

The news of the lawyers’ poll wasn’t as promising for the four male challengers in the race.

Dennis Hayashi finished with 13 percent of the ACBA vote, followed by Frederick Remer (12 percent), Philip Knudsen (10 percent) and Mike Nisperos Jr. (8 percent).

It’s not an overwhelming defeat. Only one in five Bar Association members participated in the poll, which was open to the entire membership.

But it may be a sign that some candidates should turn their attention back to their law practice – assuming they haven’t already.

Matthew Hirsch

A Rocky AG Primary in Oakland?

May 11, 2006

Jerry Brown may be coasting through the Democratic primary election for attorney general, but his opponent hasn’t conceded an inch, even on Brown’s home turf.

The Rocky Delgadillo campaign rolls into Oakland this afternoon to unveil a TV ad to the press, part of a $2 million effort to boost name recognition for a candidate some voters still haven’t heard of.

Delgadillo spokesman Roger Salazar said come Election Day, the Los Angeles city attorney expects to be competitive in Oakland, where Brown has been mayor for the past eight years. An Oakland firefighters union, the Oakland Black Caucus and the Oakland Education Association have all endorsed Delgadillo for AG.

“We’ve got a lot of groups that ought to be for Jerry but are for Rocky instead,” he said.

But if Delgadillo’s found a support base among Oakland residents, they are not contributing generously to his campaign. In fact, they’re hardly contributing at all.

Campaign finance records show a total of seven donations to the Delgadillo campaign originating in Oakland, including one from a regional carpenters association and another from a consulting firm with headquarters in the East Bay city.

Four came from attorneys at Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliot, a law firm that’s hosted campaign events for Delgadillo. And the last came from Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson, an Oakland-based firm that does not endorse political candidates but gave Delgadillo $1,000 “to support one of our city attorney colleagues,” said Managing Partner Jayne Williams.

— Matthew Hirsch

Arguedas Honored by Women Defenders

May 10, 2006

Cris Arguedas is described by colleagues as a naturally skilled attorney born to play the role of advocate for criminal defendants. After all, notes Arguedas’ former law partner Penny Cooper, “The first five letters of her name spell ‘Argue.’”

But few may know that Arguedas envisioned a different career path when in seventh grade a teacher assigned her to write a report about her future.

“I thought, if I was a boy I would pick lawyer. But I’m not, so I’m going to pick social worker,” Arguedas told a crowd of more than 150 attorneys on May 4.

Arguedas, lead partner in Berkeley’s Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, rarely speaks in public about her clients. She says she never talks about herself, either. So those who attended the Women Defenders’ spring event, where Arguedas was recognized “for more than 25 years of remarkable advocacy,” were treated to an unusually personal glimpse at Arguedas’ life and law practice.


Not a Lawyer, But He Plays One on TV

May 2, 2006

Sandy Cohen will be visiting Boalt Hall School of Law on May 11 to present a fellowship award in his honor.

A one-time public defender who went to law school in Berkeley, Cohen might stir up some controversy for the staid Boalt Hall alumni. After all, he’s reportedly the target of a criminal investigation stemming from his role in a shady hospital development deal in Newport Beach, Calif.

That’s not to say Cohen isn’t a decent role model. He once ranked #25 in TV Guide’s list of the all-time greatest dads.

Oh, did we mention that Cohen is a fictional character?

In fact, it will be Peter Gallagher, the bushy-browed actor who plays Cohen on “The OC,” who will present the Sandy Cohen Public Defense Fellowship, an award that’s funded in part by proceeds from an annual “OC” Prom organized by Boalt students.

(That’s right, an “OC” Prom.)

“There are some fellowships that are bigger [in dollar value],” said Carl Gustafson, a second-year Boalt student and a member the “OC” fan club. “But around the school, this is the one people remember best.”

(That’s right, an “OC” fan club.)

Now in its third year, the Sandy Cohen fellowship is awarded to students who take unpaid associate jobs in public defense offices. Five law students share the $5,000 award.

This year’s honorees will be Rachel Pfeiffer and Loriani Santos, who will work in Contra Costa County, Van Swearingen (San Francisco), Joey McInnis (Los Angeles) and Ruth Mackey (District of Columbia).

For more information about the Sandy Cohen fellowship presentation on May 11, email Gustafson at

Matthew Hirsch