Friday, February 14, 2014

Robert Ottilie, Salary Setting Commission (Video)

Bob Ottilie, ubiquitous San Diego attorney

Robert Ottilie, Salary Setting Commission (Video)
Published on Mar 5, 2012

Robert Ottilie, chairman of the Salary Setting Commission, talks to "Evening Edition" about why the mayor and city council members deserve raises.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Legislator Calls for Audit of Court Administrative Office and Council

Legislator Calls for Audit of Court Administrative Office and Council
Courthouse News Service
February 12, 2014

(CN) - Assembly member Reginald Jones-Sawyer on Tuesday asked the Legislature to audit the 800-strong, San Francisco-based bureaucracy of California's courts as well as the agency's boss, the Judicial Council. "I have a myriad of things that I want an outside audit to look at so we can stop rearranging the chairs on the Titanic," said Jones-Sawyer in an interview.

Jones-Sawyer, a Los Angeles Democrat, heads the budget subcommittee on public safety that recommends the overall budget for California's courts, a budget that has been subject to massive cuts in recent years. Los Angeles Superior Court, the largest court in the nation, has been forced into an extensive reorganization while the staff has been cut from about 6,000 to roughly 4,000 employees.

The assembly member requested an audit of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the controversial and powerful bureaucracy that sits over the local courts, by filing a letter with the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Prior to sending the letter, Jones-Sawyer had been receiving visits and boxes of information from administrative office officials.

He said the first ever independent and outside audit will be aimed at the budgets of the Administrative Office of the Courts and the governing Judicial Council to make sure the agency and its leadership are making the most of every dollar.

"This is not a punitive or 'I got you' audit. There are a lot of people that have a lot of beliefs and an independent audit will put to bed what is really happening," Jones-Sawyer said. "The audit will help me find out a better way of spending the money. It's not about people making assumptions, it's about answering questions."

The audit was welcome news for state trial judges who have been meeting with Jones-Sawyer since budget hearings concluded last year.

"This all comes down to transparency," said Judge Susan Lopez-Giss in Los Angeles. "This is what we want to see, if in fact the money that is being allocated is being used in the appropriate way and maximized so that courthouses can stay open."

Judge Steve White in Sacramento said the priority for the use of public money should be the funding of the courts themselves that resolve the disputes and perform the many legal functions that affect the lives of Californians.

"If there ever as an operation that screamed out for an audit, it's the continued current level of funding for the administrative operations of the branch, the AOC and the Judicial Council," said White. "Neither the legislature or the Department of Finance has any clear understanding of how the AOC administers its funding internally.

If the legislative audit committee accepts Jones-Sawyer's request, the audit will be conducted by State Auditor Elaine Howle, who three years ago found extensive fault with the AOC's mismanagement of a massive statewide software project for the courts, called the Court Case Management System.

Trial judges for years had attacked the enormous amounts of public funds -- totaling more than a half-billion dollars -- being spent on the software project, while the courts were in the middle of a financial crisis. The Judicial Council pulled the plug on the CCMS project in 2012.

But the administrative office and the Judicial Council that worked with the bureaucracy had developed a spendthrift reputation with the Legislature based on a series of policies. The administrative office had ballooned from a small corps of support staff for judges to a 1,000-strong behemoth that seemed to have its own agenda, high salaries, recurrent raises, well-appointed offices, an insular and opaque process and what trial judges characterized as an arrogant attitude towards the local courts.

Among the policies that brought censure from the Legislature was a pension system that rewarded the top 30 employees with a 22% pension contribution from public funds with no match on top of already bloated salaries, criticized in a report by an evaluating committee of judges.

While the courts were in financial crisis and laying off staff, a large majority of administrative office employees were given a 3.5 percent pay raise in 2010 and another 3.5 percent raise in 2013.

The staff size has been trimmed in the last couple years but, according to statements at a Judicial Council meeting in 2012, still numbered more than 800.

The Legislature also criticized the lack of transparency at the administrative agency and the council evidenced by an attempt last year to impose a $10-per-file fee on any member of the public or press who wanted to research court records, as well as the secrecy with which the council conducts committee meetings that make policy recommendations.

Jones-Sawyer says the AOC so far has largely cooperated with his requests for financial documentation and internal audits.

"I'm looking at eight binders of Judicial Council audits and legislative reports," he said. "They've been really helpful in giving me all the audits that have been done on a regular basis. From what I can tell they've been hitting the mark on being in full compliance so far, based on a criteria they are supposed to meet."

He said a decision by the Legislature in 1997 unifying California's trial courts under one statewide-funded system may be a fundamental part of the problem.

"We're locked into these state governmental bureaucracies. Is that inhibiting then from doing their best work? Do we need to look at the structure of the AOC and the Judicial Council, is there a better way of managing it? If you look at how we put this together, the courts were put at a disadvantage," Jones-Sawyer said.

"We consolidated all these courts and brought them up to the state level," he concluded. "We did it overnight and I don't think we thought it all the way through."

Lopez-Giss in Los Angeles pointed out that Jones-Sawyer's district in South Los Angeles had suffered directly from the budget cuts and his constituents have a great interest in how the courts are funded.

"We have enormous respect for his desire to keep courts open," the judge said. "His district has been hit hard. All the funds that could be available to every county should be available and he understands that. We have confidence he's going to time this and do this in an appropriate way."

In Sacramento, White said the court bureaucracy's budget has been anything but transparent and is highly deserving of a careful audit.

"The budgets for the AOC and the Judicial Council are rather conclusory and general by way of title and it's unclear on what money is being spent on and what the priorities are," said White who is president of the Alliance of California Judges. "Even if there wasn't evidence of bad practices and mismanagement in the AOC, which there has been, this would be a smart thing to do at this time."

He added that many of the legislators, when they confer with the leadership in both houses, express concern with funding for the trial courts. "Getting resources to the courts, not the AOC, not the Judicial Council, is on their top three list. It's way up there. One way to address that would be to get an audit."

On behalf of the Alliance, White sent a letter last month to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, urging her to support an audit. While he did not hear back from the chief justice, she did meet with Jones-Sawyer.

"I had some initial discussion with the chief justice," said the assembly member who applauds her three-year plan to restore $1.2 billion to the judiciary. "I love her three-year plan, it's a great beginning."

But he also said the audit will determine whether the judiciary actually needs a full $1.2 billion or if money can be saved by looking at the administrative office budget.

"Part of it is accountability, most of it is transparency," Jones Sawyer said. "We just can't throw money at it. We have to use this money wisely and efficiently so we get the most bang for our buck."

"If it's status quo, and you're just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic, you're not making it better," he continued. "Whatever we give you, what efficiencies will you get from that? The only way both the legislature and the governor's office will buy into that is if they come back with specific, tangible results as to what that money will actually be used for."

White said the absence of an independent audit of the AOC is unusual for a state agency, but that lean financial times demand a departure from the status quo.

"State departments generally would never get away with the superficial and non-transparent accounting of expenditures like the Judicial Council and AOC does," said the Sacramento judge. "The reason why it has been different is we are a separate branch of government. And in flush times, before the recession, nobody much cared because there was money to appropriate."

"But when it became clear there wasn't enough money to run the courts, then it mattered," White concluded. "I would say it always mattered, but it matters in a compelling way when you have people driving four to five hours to get to a courthouse because of closures."

Is the San Diego ACLU a rogue organization, or does the national ACLU support attorney David Loy's bad behavior?

So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we'll be called a democracy.

-- ACLU Founder Roger Baldwin

I agree with Mr. Baldwin in theory, but in practice, people need to be able, as well as willing, to fight for their rights. Education is needed in order to have a democracy.

Sadly, San Diego ACLU attorney David Loy seems to be working on two fronts to stop the efforts of San Diegans working to improve the functioning of local schools. Worse still, the local ACLU is supporting him.

San Diego ACLU attorney David Loy

First, David Loy has gone out of his way to support a school attorney law firm (Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Hotlz) which has steadfastly worked to silence education bloggers.

Why? And why would the San Diego ACLU support Mr. Loy in this? In an email, Loy pretended he didn't know that that Judge Judith Hayes' injunction against this blog was unconstitutional. Loy demanded that I take all mention of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz law firm off my websites. I knew the injunction was unconstitutional, and I'm just an elementary school teacher without any legal training.

So why didn't Loy know this? Answer: of course he knew the injunction was unconstitutional. He just didn't care. He apparently wanted to score some points with school attorney Dan Shinoff. Certainly, Shinoff would have owed Loy an enormous debt if Loy had succeeded in silencing me.

Judge Judith Hayes

Judge Judith Hayes wrote a brazenly unconstitutional injunction in an effort to silence this blogger. When I objected, she told me that I didn't understand constitutional law. The Court of Appeal agreed with me. It's hard to understand why a judge would engage in this type of behavior. She must have had her reasons.

Happily, the injunction was thrown out by the Court of Appeal, and Mr. Loy's efforts to intimidate me into taking down my website failed completely.

But why is the San Diego ACLU working behind closed doors in direct opposition to its stated goals?

My theory is that David Loy tries to get publicity by complaining to the media about, ironically enough, freedom of speech for students in San Diego County, and then getting school attorneys like Dan Shinoff to settle out of court. The problem arises when Mr. Shinoff wants consideration for his cooperation.

Dan Shinoff

The second prong of the San Diego ACLU's efforts to undermine education reform is its startling inaction in cases like the ACLU suit regarding teacher quality in lower socioeconomic schools.

Why were San Diego school districts left out? I suspect that the answer is exactly the same as the answer to why the San Diego ACLU would support silencing education bloggers.

--San Diego blogger Maura Larkins

(See biographies of national ACLU leaders below.)

Steven R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU

Steven R. Shapiro is the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation's oldest and largest civil liberties organization. He directs a staff of approximately 90 full-time lawyers who maintain a large and active docket of civil liberties cases around the country. Those cases cover a broad range of issues, including: free speech, racial justice, religious freedom, due process, privacy, reproductive and women's rights, immigrant's rights, gay rights, voting rights, prisoner's rights, and the death penalty.

Shapiro has been the ACLU's Legal Director since 1993, and served as Associate Legal Director from 1987–1993. During that time, he has appeared as counsel or co-counsel on more than 200 ACLU briefs submitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Shapiro is also an adjunct professor of constitutional law at Columbia Law School, and a frequent speaker and writer on civil liberties issues.

After graduating from Harvard Law School and spending one year as law clerk to Judge J. Edward Lumbard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Shapiro joined the New York Civil Liberties Union in 1976. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights First for twenty years and is now a member of the Policy Committee of Human Rights Watch, as well as the Advisory Committees of the U.S. Program and Asia Program of Human Rights Watch.

Terence Dougherty, ACLU General Counsel

Terence Dougherty joined the ACLU in 2005 and since then has developed an in house legal team that advises the organization on all internal legal matters, including nonprofit governance, charity law, lobbying and political campaign activities, ethics rules and FEC, intellectual property, contract, endowment fund and litigation matters. In addition to serving as the in-house General Counsel, he is the organization's Assistant Corporate Secretary. Prior to joining the ACLU, Terence practiced law at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, where he represented numerous nonprofit organizations, including educational institutions, advocacy organizations, private foundations, museums and donor advised funds. Prior to that, he practiced tax law at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.

Dougherty has over a decade of experience working with nonprofit organizations on a wide range of legal issues, and he regularly lectures and gives CLE trainings. Dougherty co-authored an article in 2010, "Newspapers as Tax-Exempt Entities: The Newspaper Revitalization Act of 2009," that addresses proposed legislation that would grant tax-exempt status to certain newspaper entities. He assisted in the preparation of a section of the 2005 Independent Sector, Panel on the Nonprofit Sector's Final Report to Congress and the Nonprofit Sector, "Strengthening Transparency, Governance and Accountability of Charitable Organizations." He is the author of a series of policy studies published by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force in 2004 and 2005 on the economic detriment to same-sex couples resulting from their inability to enter into marriages recognized under federal and state law. He is a contributor to and the coeditor with Martha Fineman of Feminism Confronts Homo Economics, a collection of essays published by Cornell University Press in 2005 that addresses the negative impact of neoclassical economic theory on the study and practice of law.

Dougherty is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia Law School, where he was a James Kent Scholar and a recipient of a Human Rights Internship Fellowship. During law school, he interned with Hon. Jack B. Weinstein of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, and with Hon. Cheryl Valandra of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court in South Dakota.

In 2008, Dougherty was appointed as a Commissioner of the Women's Refugee Commission. Since 2005, he has served as a member of the board of directors of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and has sat on the Government Relations Committee of the Non-Profit Coordinating Committee. He is a former member of the boards of the Columbia University School of Law Alumni Association and the Ohio Public Interest Research Group.

Dougherty is a native New Yorker. Prior to attending law school, he worked as writer assistant to feminist cultural critic Bell Hooks and as a kindergarten teacher at a homeless shelter in the South Bronx.

Susan N. Herman, President of the ACLU

Susan N. Herman was elected President of the American Civil Liberties Union in October 2008, after having served on the ACLU National Board of Directors for twenty years, as a member of the Executive Committee for sixteen years, and as General Counsel for ten years.

Herman holds a chair as Centennial Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, where she currently teaches courses in Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure, and seminars on Law and Literature, and Terrorism and Civil Liberties. She writes extensively on constitutional and criminal procedure topics for scholarly and other publications, ranging from law reviews and books to periodicals and on-line publications. Recent publications include two books, TERRORISM, GOVERNMENT, AND LAW: NATIONAL AUTHORITY AND LOCAL AUTONOMY IN THE WAR ON TERROR, editor and co-author, with Paul Finkelman (Praeger Security International 2008) and THE RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL (Praeger 2006) (part of a series on the Constitution), and law review articles including The USA PATRIOT Act and the Submajoritarian Fourth Amendment, 41 HARV. CIV. RTS.-CIV. LIB. L. REV. 67 (2006).

Herman has discussed constitutional law issues on radio, including a variety of NPR shows; on television, including programs on PBS, CSPAN, NBC, MSNBC and a series of appearances on the Today in New York show; and in print media including Newsday and the New York Times. In addition, she has been a frequent speaker at academic conferences and continuing legal education events organized by groups such as the Federal Judicial Center, and the American Bar Association, lecturing and conducting workshops for various groups of judges and lawyers, and at non-legal events, including speeches at the U.S. Army War College and many other schools. She has also participated in Supreme Court litigation, writing and collaborating on amicus curiae briefs for the ACLU on a range of constitutional criminal procedure issues, and conducting Supreme Court moot courts, and in some federal lobbying efforts.

Herman received a B.A. from Barnard College as a philosophy major, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Note and Comment Editor on the N.Y.U. Law Review. Before entering teaching, Professor Herman was Pro Se Law Clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Staff Attorney and then Associate Director of Prisoners' Legal Services of New York.

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director ACLU

Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation's premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. He took the helm of the organization just seven days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Keep America Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis, achieving court victories on the Patriot Act, uncovering thousands of pages of documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, and filing the first successful legal challenge to the Bush administration's illegal NSA spying program. Romero also led the ACLU in establishing the John Adams Project, a joint effort with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to assist the under-resourced military defense lawyers in the Guantánamo military commissions.

Romero has also led the ACLU in its unique legal challenge to the patents held by a private company on the human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer; in its landmark lawsuit challenging Arizona’s anti-immigrant law that invites law enforcement to engage in racial profiling; and in its ongoing campaign to end mass incarceration, which has achieved significant victories, including the 2010 passage of the federal Fair Sentencing Act and the implementation of less punitive, evidence-based criminal justice reforms in several states.

An attorney with a history of public-interest activism, Romero has presided over the most successful membership growth in the ACLU's history and a large increase in national and affiliate staff. This extraordinary growth has allowed the ACLU to expand its nationwide litigation, lobbying and public education efforts, including new initiatives focused on human rights, racial justice, religious freedom, technology and privacy, reproductive freedom, criminal law reform and LGBT rights. In 2010, the ACLU completed the largest fundraising campaign on behalf of civil rights and civil liberties in American history. “Leading Freedom Forward: The ACLU Campaign for the Future,” along with the ongoing Strategic Affiliate Initiative, launched an unprecedented effort to build the organization's infrastructure by increasing funding to key state affiliates, enhancing advocacy capabilities nationwide and securing the ACLU's financial future.

Romero is the ACLU's sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. In 2005, Romero was named one of Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America, and has received dozens of public service awards and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.

In 2007, Romero and co-author and NPR correspondent Dina Temple-Raston published “In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror,” a book that takes a critical look at civil liberties in this country at a time when constitutional freedoms are in peril.

Born in New York City to parents who hailed from Puerto Rico, Romero was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He is a graduate of Stanford University Law School and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and has sat on numerous nonprofit boards.

Geri E. Rozanski, Director, Affiliate Support and Advocacy

Geri E. Rozanski joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2002, bringing with her more than 20 years of experience working in nonprofit advocacy.

Currently, Rozanski serves as the Director of Affiliate Support and Advocacy for the ACLU. In this capacity, she develops and implements initiatives and programs that strengthen and maintain the connections between the ACLU and its nation-wide affiliates. Foremost among her responsibilities is ensuring that the ACLU national offices and their affiliates work together as a cohesive nationwide organization that seamlessly promotes and pursues common objectives. Rozanski's supervision of the multi-unit Affiliate Support and Advocacy department also incorporates working with all the ACLU's state affiliates in such areas as organizational development, fundraising, communications, marketing, training, and the advancement of the ACLU's state and federal priorities. As part of this process, Rozanski consults with both professional and lay leaders to establish long-lasting and effective partnerships organization-wide.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Rozanski worked as a public school teacher who also handled community relations issues in New York City and Maryland. She spent a number of years working in traditional and alternative classroom settings. After several years she left public education to pursue a career that would allow her to focus exclusively on community relations, civil rights, and building effective advocacy organizations to advance the progressive agenda. To this end, she joined the American Jewish Committee's ("AJC") Washington, DC chapter office. Working on race and interfaith relations, she eventually moved to the national office in New York City. While at the AJC's National Office, she oversaw program development in field offices on issues ranging from immigrants rights to church-state separation. She subsequently became the director of the AJC's large field operation overseeing thirty-three offices nationwide. This experience gave her a unique understanding of the ways in which a national organization can use its network of offices to leverage its combined strength to create a stronger and more effective organization. Under her leadership, the number of AJC field offices expanded to new geographic locations; fundraising campaigns in the offices reached record numbers; leadership development programs designed to attract young leaders were successfully implemented, and an advocacy network was created. Rozanski left the AJC to help the ACLU build its new Affiliate Support Department.

Emily Tynes, Communications Director

Emily Tynes is Communications Director of the national American Civil Liberties Union, the nation's premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. Tynes returned to the ACLU in 2009, resuming her role as the organization's Communications Director, which she previously held from 2002 to 2006. She currently supervises a three-unit department at the ACLU: media relations, publications and website development. She was most recently Executive Vice President of the Communications Consortium Media Center, a public interest media group that she co-founded in Washington, D.C.

Tynes has over 30 years of experience in communications regarding strategies for achieving policy and social change. She began her communications career as a news reporter with several Gannett Company newspapers, followed by four years as an account executive in the Washington, D.C., office of Ruder & Finn public relations.

In 1983, Tynes became the first communications director for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) — now NARAL Pro-Choice — where she guided the organization's communications program during a highly volatile era of historic abortion rights battles. After that, she co-founded the Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC), where she designed and implemented strategic communications campaigns on women's rights, racial equality, national energy policy and immigrants' rights. She has conducted strategic communications workshops for social justice advocates in the United States, Senegal, Jordan and Argentina.

Tynes initially joined the ACLU as Communications Director in 2002, shortly after the 9/11 terrorists attacks — a period of unprecedented assaults on civil liberties. As Communications Director, Tynes managed all communications functions of the organization and its state affiliates, including brand development, paid advertising, media relations and the development of multifaceted campaign strategies. She was responsible for several successful communications efforts and was the lead architect of the Safe & Free campaign, the organization's communications strategy on civil liberties post 9/11. She also spearheaded the production and distribution of the first-ever ACLU television series, the Freedom Files.

Tynes rejoined the Communications Consortium Media Center in November 2006, and returned to the ACLU in 2009.

Tynes is the editor of two reference books for journalists, The Newsroom Guide to Civil Rights and The Newsroom Guide to Abortion and Family Planning. She is co-author of the Jossey Bass Guide to Strategic Communications, a reference book for nonprofit communication professionals.

[Maura Larkins' comment: I notice that Ms. Tynes came back to the ACLU at about the same time that the organization switched its focus from civil liberties to "relationships".)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

71 % of Obama's Judicial Nominees Are Corporate Attorneys (thnaks to GOP's "blue slip" obstruction strategy)

Blue slip judges (see biographies at end of this post):

Michael P. Boggs, insurance defense litigation

Mark H. Cohen, corporate governmental compliance

"The GOP can still use something called the "blue-slip process" as a de facto filibuster on nominations. Here's how: When the president is considering a potential judicial nomination, the senators from the state where the judge would serve are given a blue slip of paper. If both senators do not return their blue slips, the nominee is not allowed to move on to a vote in the Senate judiciary committee.

"It is because of the blue-slip process, for example, that Obama recently nominated two candidates to serve on the federal bench in Georgia who raised the hackles of liberals: Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs and Atlanta attorney Mark Howard Cohen. Boggs voted to keep the Confederate battle emblem as a prominent part of Georgia's state flag when he was a Georgia legislator in the early 2000s. Cohen helped defend Georgia's voter ID law, which voting rights advocates say makes it harder for poor people and minorities to vote."

Elizabeth Warren: We Need to Stop Packing the Courts With Corporate Judges
By Erika Eichelberger
Mother Jones
Feb. 6, 2014

On Thursday morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on President Barack Obama to nominate more judges to the federal bench who have backgrounds serving the public interest instead of corporate America.

Of Obama's judicial nominations so far, just ten—fewer than four percent—have worked as lawyers at public interest organizations, according to a report released Thursday by the Alliance for Justice, a network of civil rights organizations. Only 10 nominees have had experience representing workers in labor disputes.

Eighty-five percent have been either corporate attorneys or prosecutors. At an event Thursday sponsored by several civil rights organizations, including the Brennan Center for Justice and the Alliance for Justice, Warren called for more balance in the system.

"Power is becoming more and more concentrated on one side," she said. "Well-financed corporate interests line up to fight for their own privileges and resist any change that would limit corporate excess… We have an opportunity to…fight for something that balances the playing field in the other direction."

Warren noted that now is the perfect time to take up that fight. Obstruction by Senate Republicans has stalled the confirmation of many of the president's judicial nominees over the years. More federal judgeships remained vacant during Obama's first term than during President George W. Bush's, and there are still more than 50 vacancies on the federal bench that need to be filled. "So it's unsurprising that the president and a majority of the Senate gravitated to nominating corporate lawyers…that most conservative senators could not object to," Warren said. In November, however, the Senate voted to put an end to GOP obstruction by ending the filibuster for judicial nominations. Now it only takes a simple majority of the Senate to confirm nominees to the federal bench. Theoretically, that means that Obama can nominate progressive candidates with experience representing the average American, and Democrats will be able to confirm those nominees without any Republican votes.

On Jan 16, the president nominated four lawyers with public interest backgrounds to fill district court vacancies in Illinois, Washington, Nevada, and Missouri. Two of those nominees have significant trial experience representing plaintiffs in corporate wrongdoing cases, one is a former public defender, and one comes from criminal defense.

But there are still roadblocks that may prevent the president from nominating progressive candidates. The GOP can still use something called the "blue-slip process" as a de facto filibuster on nominations. Here's how: When the president is considering a potential judicial nomination, the senators from the state where the judge would serve are given a blue slip of paper. If both senators do not return their blue slips, the nominee is not allowed to move on to a vote in the Senate judiciary committee.

It is because of the blue-slip process, for example, that Obama recently nominated two candidates to serve on the federal bench in Georgia who raised the hackles of liberals: Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs and Atlanta attorney Mark Howard Cohen. Boggs voted to keep the Confederate battle emblem as a prominent part of Georgia's state flag when he was a Georgia legislator in the early 2000s. Cohen helped defend Georgia's voter ID law, which voting rights advocates say makes it harder for poor people and minorities to vote.

71 % of Obama's Judicial Nominees Are Corporate Attorneys - Sen. Elizabeth Warren is Not Happy
by Ray Pensador
Daily Kos
Feb 06, 2014

Every day we learn about the multiple ways large corporations are destroying democracy in this country (or whatever is left of it). They are bribing politicians, poisoning our air and water, pushing for the passage of cookie-cutter legislation specifically designed to undermine workers' rights, constitutional rights, women's rights, and regulations against predatory practices.

When people object to the abuses and take legal action, more often than not, the judicial system ends up finding in favor of offending corporations in a host of issues.

Given this reality, it is truly alarming to learn that when it comes to judicial nominees of a Democratic president, "corporate attorneys outnumber all other kinds of attorneys by three to one," as reported by the Huffingon Post: "Elizabeth Warren To Obama: Stop Putting Forward So Many Corporate Judicial Nominees."

And incredibly, a new AFJ report ("Broadening the Bench") referenced in the article "found that just 3.6 percent of the president's nominees have a background in public interest organizations."

Speaking at an event hosted by Alliance for Justice, a left-leaning association of more than 100 groups focused on the judicial system, Warren said the federal bench is currently dominated by judges who previously worked for large firms representing corporate interests. She lamented that little has changed under Obama.

"We face a federal bench that has a striking lack of diversity," Warren said. "President Obama has supported some notable exceptions but ... the president's nominees have thus far been largely in line with the prior statistics."


"Power is becoming more and more concentrated on one side," she said. "Professional diversity is one way to insulate the courts from corporate capture."


"It matters that someone has represented people other than corporate clients," she said. "That they've had real experience with people who can't afford lawyers. That they've had real experience trying to fight for the public interest.

[The emphasis is mine]...

Michael P. Boggs, insurance defense litigation

Judge Michael P. Boggs was appointed to the Court of Appeals of Georgia on January 6, 2012 by Governor Nathan Deal. On July 31, 2012, Judge Boggs was elected state-wide to serve a six-year term beginning in 2013. Prior to his appointment, Judge Boggs served as a Superior Court Judge for the six-county Waycross Judicial Circuit having been elected to an open seat in 2004. He was re-elected without opposition in 2008. Judge Boggs was raised in Waycross and now lives in Pierce County with his wife Heather, a kindergarten teacher in the Ware County public school system.

Judge Boggs obtained his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Psychology from Georgia Southern College in 1985. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law in 1990. While in law school, Judge Boggs was a member of the Moot Court Board and participated on the ABA Moot Court competition team. At Mercer, Judge Boggs was inducted into the Order of Barristers and was elected to the Student Government Association.

Following his graduation from law school, Judge Boggs joined the Atlanta law firm of McKenzie & McPhail where he practiced property insurance defense litigation until 1992...

Mark H. Cohen, corporate governmental compliance
Partner, Atlanta

Mark is a partner in the Atlanta office of Troutman Sanders. He specializes in civil and administrative litigation concerning government and regulatory issues, as well as advising on procurement matters, rule-making and corporate governmental compliance.
v Mark came to Troutman Sanders in January 1999, after an extensive legal career in state government. He spent 13 years as an assistant and senior assistant attorney general, representing a variety of government agencies in state and federal court, both in trial and on appeal, and providing advice to state and local agencies on a wide variety of matters, including education, election and voting rights, professional licensing, health care and law enforcement. He also worked closely with members of the Georgia General Assembly in formulating congressional and legislative reapportionment plans which were submitted to the United States Department of Justice.

Mark was appointed by Governor Zell Miller as the first chief state administrative law judge, where he was responsible for the formation of the Office of State Administrative Hearings, the agency charged with conducting licensing and regulatory hearings for the majority of state agencies. Mark next served on Governor Miller’s senior staff during Governor Miller’s second term, both as executive counsel and chief of staff...

San Diego ACLU new executive director Norma Chavez Peterson (and her senior staff David Loy, Jeff Wergeles, and Rebecca Rauber)

Norma Chavez Peterson
Executive Director ACLU San Diego
P.O. Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131
Phone: (619) 232-2121

Senior Staff

Executive Director, Norma Chavez-Peterson

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties’ new executive director, Chávez-Peterson has long been an integral part of San Diego’s organizing community. Chávez-Peterson has nearly two decades of experience in community leadership and nonprofit management, advocating for affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, and immigrant rights. Since starting with the San Diego ACLU in February 2012 as organizing director, Chávez-Peterson was promoted to associate director to oversee legal, communications, policy, and organizing programs in December 2012. In Chávez-Peterson’s short time as the associate director, she has been instrumental in creating integrated advocacy campaigns advancing priority issue areas, such as criminal justice, immigrant rights, and voting rights. Before coming to the San Diego ACLU, Chávez-Peterson was the co-founder and executive director of Justice Overcoming Boundaries, a network of faith, community, education, business and labor partners working together to advance social justice in San Diego. She has a Bachelor’s degree from SDSU in political science and Chicano/a studies.

Deputy Director, Jeff Wergeles

Wergeles joined the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties in February 2011 as the development director, and in November 2013 was appointed deputy director. In this position he leads our development work, and oversees the organization’s finances and operations. Prior to joining the ACLU, Wergeles was the director of development at the San Diego LGBT Community Center and before at KPBS, public radio and television for San Diego. He has an extensive resume of community involvement, serving as president on the boards of Mama’s Kitchen and the Greater San Diego Business Association. Prior to working at KPBS he was a member of their community advisory board, and also served as vice president of the Diversionary Theater and on the boards of the June Burnett Institute and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He holds a degree in economics from UCLA.

Communications Director, Rebecca Rauber

Rauber has devoted her professional and personal life to community organizing and community development. She is the former San Diego director of an international hunger relief organization, and program director for the Central American Refugee Organizing Project of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, helping to create the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s. While with the archdiocese, she led delegations of North Americans to see and live the reality of the region’s civil wars. She was a reporter and news anchor for KPFA and has written for numerous publications, including The Daily Cal, San Diego Lawyer, and Boston Phoenix. Rauber has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley and a certificate in Marketing and Media from San Diego State University.

Legal Director, David Loy

After graduating law school, Loy clerked for the Hon. Dolores K. Sloviter on the Third Circuit and then worked as a staff attorney with Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City and as a public defender and a civil rights attorney in Spokane. He has served on the Southern District Lawyer Representative Committee and previously served on the board of California Appellate Defense Counsel. Loy was named one of San Diego’s Top Attorneys 2009 and 2010 by San Diego Daily Transcript. Loy has a law degree from Northwestern and a B.A. from Brown, and is licensed to practice in California and New York (with inactive licenses in Illinois and Washington).

Norma Chávez-Peterson Takes the Helm at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
Nationwide Search Promotes South San Diego County Latina Leader
San Diego ACLU website
September 17, 2013

SAN DIEGO – Effective today—the birthday of our Constitution—Norma Chavez-Peterson is the new executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the organization’s board of directors announced. She will celebrate her new role by giving Constitution Day presentations at her alma mater Chula Vista High School at 8:15 a.m., and a presentation in Spanish at Lincoln High School at 10:30 a.m. (Open to the media; contact Jess Jollett for details.) Also, this Thursday night, Chavez-Peterson will receive an award on behalf of the ACLU at the Center on Policy Initiative’s gala.

[Lea este artículo aquí en español.]

“We know Norma’s excellent work, and we were deeply inspired by her vision for the organization,” said board president and Qualcomm senior vice president Greg Rose. “We are excited about the ACLU expanding its fight for civil rights and liberties for all people in San Diego.”

A search committee of the board conducted a national search and interviewed excellent candidates. Chavez-Peterson, who started with the ACLU in February 2012 as organizing director, was promoted to associate director in charge of legal, communications, policy, and organizing programs in December 2012.

As organizing director, she led the organization’s Latino voter mobilization campaign in Escondido, which turned out seven percent of that city’s electorate, and the San Diego component of the statewide campaign to replace California’s death penalty (Proposition 34). In Chavez-Peterson’s short time as the associate director, she has been instrumental in creating integrated advocacy campaigns advancing priority issue areas, such as criminal justice, immigrant rights, and voting rights.

She has also been a key leader for the ACLU of California’s efforts in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. Chavez-Peterson was one of the leaders who created an unusual and groundbreaking coalition of San Diego leaders, which included law enforcement, business, and labor leaders, that called upon Congress for commonsense immigration reform.

Chavez-Peterson has nearly two decades of experience in community leadership and nonprofit management, advocating for affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, and immigrant rights. Previously, Chavez-Peterson served as a senior manager at MAAC Project, a social service nonprofit that promotes self-sufficiency for low- and moderate-income families.

Chavez-Peterson was the founder and director of Justice Overcoming Boundaries, a faith-based leadership development and community organizing nonprofit that addresses issues of people historically excluded from decision-making and political power. She also played a lead role in previous fights for comprehensive immigration reform, leading to massive demonstrations, including a 2006 march of more than 100,000 people through the streets of San Diego. At JOB, Chavez-Peterson worked closely with the ACLU during the 2007 wildfires when false reports of an immigrant family looting goods from the Qualcomm evacuation center led to abuses and intimidation of immigrants and people of color throughout the county.

Key allies shared enthusiasm for the decision. Assemblymember and majority leader Toni Atkins said, “I’m excited for San Diego and California to have yet another strong woman in charge of such an important organization serving our communities.” Nora Vargas, vice president of community and government relations of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, said, “Norma is one of those exceptionally strong, strategic, inspiring leaders who also draws on a depth of personal experience to inform her work.”

Former Assemblymember and Republican floor leader George Plescia said, “I got to work with Norma in bringing diverse voices together to support commonsense immigration reform at an unprecedented press conference at Qualcomm headquarters. I appreciate her leadership in that effort, her advocacy, and her ability to look beyond labels to find common ground.”

“Building on the steadfast foundation created by our outgoing executive director, Kevin Keenan, I am eager to deepen our roots in communities directly affected by the civil rights and civil liberties issues of our day,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “It is tenacity and heart that makes our organization powerful, and I am excited to continue to work with our excellent staff, board, allies and community partners to build a better region and country for all.”

Chavez-Peterson succeeds Keenan who will move to New York City in December due to his wife being hired by the prestigious Union Theological Seminary as an assistant professor of social ethics. During his eight-year tenure, Keenan helped grow the organization from seven to 24 staff and achieve other accomplishments.

In the role of strategic projects director, Keenan will assist with the organization’s transition during the coming months.

Know Your Rights – An Activist’s Guide
Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations in California
ACLU San Diego website

Download a comprehensive guide for people who care as much about free speech as we do.

In large part created by our sister affiliate, the ACLU of Northern California, we produced a guide for people who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe and those who may never have thought of themselves as protester but who are forced into action to protect a precious freedom or right.

You are part of a vigorous tradition of protest that dates back generations in our state: from the founders of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties who marched alongside of farmworkers in the Imperial Valley in the 1930s to workers who went on strike against exploitative labor conditions on the docks in San Pedro in 1923 to the repressive Red Scare years, when demonstrators were hosed down by police outside House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in San Francisco City Hall; to the civil rights protesters of the 1960s and 70s who helped end segregation throughout the state.

Both the California Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protect your right to free expression. But there are questions you face when you decide to organize and speak out:

When do you need a police permit?
Are there things you cannot say or do?
Are there any limitations on when or where you can demonstrate?
What about civil disobedience?

We hope this guide will help answer these questions for you.

For more than 75 years, the ACLU has supported the rights of individuals from all walks of life to dissent, demonstrate and make their voices heard. Whatever you believe, we urge you to stand up and speak out.

Legal AS THE LAWYERS FOR THE BILL OF RIGHTS we’re committed to defending everyone’s freedom. Yours too.

Take Action Today

(All the above downloaded on Feb. 3, 2014)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Attorney Candace Carroll doesn't flinch in her support of Dan Shinoff's efforts to silence me

Former San Diego ACLU board member Candace Carroll
has been steadfast in ignoring my complaints to the ACLU
about the efforts of David Loy, chief counsel
of the San Diego ACLU, to protect his pal
Dan Shinoff from exposure on my website.

Ms. Carroll hasn't flinched in her determination to ignore violations of the First Amendment by the San Diego Superior Court. Well, perhaps she flinched a little bit. Instead of simply ignoring me, she caused me to be notified that she did not want to learn about recent revelations in the San Diego Union-Tribune about Mr. Shinoff. At least she's acknowledging my existence, right? And making sure that I can't prove that she knows about the witness tampering in San Ysidro Schools.

Attorney Candace Carroll was an ACLU San Diego board member when the organization tried to shut down my website exposing school attorney Dan Shinoff.

Yes, you heard it right. The San Diego ACLU tried to silence a citizen's speech on matters of public interest. Clearly, all the people who told me to go to the ACLU for help when Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz law firm sued me for defamation didn't know the truth about the San Diego ACLU. And neither did I until I got this message from ACLU attorney David Loy.

Attorney Candace Carroll does not want to revisit her long term support of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz' and David Loy's efforts to force me to remove all mention of Dan Shinoff and friends from my website. It would have taken me months and months to go through my large website, so essentially the San Diego ACLU was telling me to take down my website completely. Instead of helping me, the San Diego ACLU tried to force me to obey an exceedingly unconstitutional anti-free speech injunction by Judge Judith Hayes in San Diego Superior Court. The Court of Appeal had this to say about that injunction.

I thought Ms. Carroll might change her attitude after the FBI caught Dan Shinoff on tape sitting by while his client tampered with a witness.

Yesterday I sent her this email:

In the light of new revelations, does the San Diego ACLU board and legal team stand by your efforts to silence my blog re Dan Shinoff?

(Email was sent to "Candace M. Carroll" )

Today I got a message that Candace Carroll had reviewed my email and rejected it!

Intended Recipient : (Candace Carroll)

Message Subject : In the light of new revelations, does the San Diego ACLU board and legal team stand by your efforts to silence my blog re Dan Shinoff?

Message Date : Mon, 3 Feb 2014 15:29:22 -0800

Reviewer : (Candace Carroll)

Rejection Reason : Message goes Against Email Policies

Apparently Ms. Carroll's "Email Policies" include support for friends of San Diego ACLU officials, no matter what they do. It seems Ms. Carroll isn't a true believer when it comes to the First Amendment.

But I do notice that Ms. Carroll is no longer on the board of the San Diego ACLU. Did she get disgusted and leave? Or was she just trying to escape from responsibility?

I sent the same email to Greg Rose, president of the ACLU San Diego board. I wonder if I'll hear from him.

Board of Directors

Mark Adams
Nasser Barghouti
Warner Broaddus
Elizabeth Camarena
Jeff Chinn
Debra Coplan
Michele Fahley
Deborah Fritsch
David Higgins
Jonathan Lin
Jim McElroy
Udoka Nwanna
Norma Rodriguez
Greg Rose, Board President*
Madison Schockley
James Stiven [Retired judge! I talked to him personally and he refused to look into the matter.]
Joanna Tan
Luz Villafana
Stephen Whitburn
Andy Zlotnik

Board President, Greg Rose

Brief Biography
Greg Rose recently retired from QUALCOMM Incorporated, where he was a Senior Vice President of Engineering working on cryptographic security and authentication for mobile phones and other technologies. He holds a number of patents for cryptographic methods and has successfully cryptanalyzed widely deployed ciphers. Rose was program chair of the 1996 and 2000 USENIX Security Symposia, and General Chair of Crypto 2003. Rose has been an active participant in the ACLU’s Constitution Day program since its founding in 2007. He is also on the board of the International Association of Cryptologic Research.

Skimming money off the top is penny ante corruption.

Subverting the purpose of an organization in exchange for favors or friendship is true corruption.

I found this article about Candace Carroll. Perhaps Dan Shinoff is one of the people she loves, and she trusts him to do the right thing.

Attorney Candace Carroll says great public schools brought her family to La Jolla
La Jolla Light
April 13, 2012

Candace Carroll has lived in La Jolla for more than 20 years and is an appellate practitioner with Sullivan, Hill, Lewin, Rez & Engel. She has more than 30 years experience handling appeals in the federal and state courts, and has handled cases on a wide range of subjects, including contract disputes, insurance and indemnity issues, wrongful termination, intellectual property, personal injury and family law matters.

She has taught seminars in Advanced Legal Writing at Duke University and the University of San Diego Law Schools, and supervises a Ninth Circuit Legal Clinic at the University of San Diego Law School.

Carroll chairs Senator Barbara Boxer’s Judicial Appointments Committee for the Southern District of California. She is a past president of the San Diego County Bar Association and of California Women Lawyers, the statewide women’s bar association. She is a life member of the Duke University Law School Board of Visitors, and serves on the California Western Law School Council of Visitors. She is married to attorney Leonard Simon, with whom she has raised three sons, Dan, David, and Matt Simon. She sits on the board of the San Diego International Rescue Committee.

What brought you to La Jolla?
It was the public schools. Len and I are both the product of public schools and wanted that for our kids.

What makes this area special to you?
The weather; our boys could play outside 12 months a year and never need snowsuits!

What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
I would paint over the garish and unnecessary red curbs that have eliminated about a third of the parking in the Village.

Who or what inspires you?
People who devote their lives to helping others inspire me.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
I would send invitations to President and Mrs. Obama, Sean Penn, Tiger Woods, Elizabeth Warren, Barney Frank, Bono and Hillary Clinton.

[Maura Larkins' comment: What about Dan Shinoff?] What are your five favorite movies of all time?
“The Phantom of the Paradise,” “Almost Famous,” “Casablanca,” “The Usual Suspects,” and “Body Heat.”

What is your most-prized possession?
That would be my wedding ring.

What would be your dream vacation?
I would love to take our extended family someplace exotic like Tahiti.

What is your most marked characteristic?
My optimism.

What is your philosophy of life?
Trust the people you love to figure things out and do the right thing.