A Real Prosecutor at WVRC on March 22nd
STEVE LOHR started us off with the Pledge. Next up, PP JIM DOWNIE with his new, lightweight keyboard, and PP STEVE SCHERER ran us through two Military numbers the U.S. Air Force Song and The Artillery Song of the Army. The keyboard did help!
CLARK McQUAY had our Invocation. We thank you for Rotary …and to guide our officers, President MIKE, and our youth. Also, continue to look out for the USC and UCLA Basketball Teams” ‘Nuff said, all good thoughts!
RICK CULLEN introduced his guest, Constance Bessada, an Attorney who is a member of the North San Fernando Rotary Club. LENNY FRIEDMAN was pleased, as always, to Introduce Sunny, his “A Number One”. PP STEVE SCHERER came forward, asking SALLY BRANT to join him. He asked her when she joined WVRC, and she replied, “Awhile ago”. He asked if anyone else in her family was a member, and she replied, “My husband, Bob, and our son, Bob”. Seems that her son, Bob, is a banker in Northern California. Son Bob also told Sally that Prexy MIKE has had a nice promotion, to Senior VP at City National Bank you know, more money, stuff like that…It was easy to move from that to deciding how you fine a sitting President, and MIKE himself now came forward, saying he would pay $1,000! This will also provide MIKE with a Paul Harris Fellowship, so all is well, and ending well.
This Saturday we are building a house in Tijuana, and it all starts at 0600 on this Saturday Morning in Manhattan Beach. There are two groups going down, and still room for a couple of people. ED GAULD is in charge call him, please.
April 10th is the next District Breakfast, and PEGGY BLOOMFIELD will sign you up.
Our District Conference is set for April 26th-29th at the Bahia Resort in San Diego, so get your reservation in soon, please (Again, PEGGY is the contact).
Someone in the back of the room announced that PP JOHN SINGLETON is doing well after his double knee operation, and expects to be back with us shortly.
FLOYD DEWHIRST is still at Cedars Sinai the number is 310-423-3277.
When our Speaker, Judge Daviann Mitchell, arrived, Prexy MIKE had two jokes: A lawyer was questioning the defendant, “Isn’t it true you accepted $5,000 to compromise this case? “ No answer, so the same question again and still, no answer. Finally, the Judge said, “Please answer the question”. “Oh”, replied the startled defendant, “I thought he was talking to you!” The judge confronted the two attorneys in Chambers. “You gave me $15K, and you (the other attorney) gave me $10K. The judge pulled out a check, and handed it to the first attorney. “Now that I have returned the $5K, we are going to decide this case strictly on its merits”!
Before the Speaker came on, Prexy MIKE listed several important characteristics, which Judges should utilize. These include equal justice before the law, accessibility, equally to serve all people who come before them, integrity, and finally responsiveness and responsibility certainly all excellent attributes, as we can all agree.
SHANE WAARBROEK introduced our Speaker, Superior Court Judge Daviann Mitchell, first pointing out that this was his last Speaker, and that many of them had made him nervous by getting stuck in traffic, thus being late, etc. He thanked her for overcoming the traffic today. Daviann has had over twenty years experience in Law, first in enforcement, then as a prosecutor, and now as a judge. She has tried over 100 felony jury trials, and has a 94% success rate meaning convictions. Judge Mitchell has received several awards for her service, and was just elected to the Superior Court last year.
Judge Mitchell outlined her own background. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, graduated from UC Berkeley and joined the Police Department in Sacramento! This wasn’t good news for her parents, who feared for her safety. She made this move because she wanted to help people. She gave an example of a person who had just lost her husband Daviann sat with this person, who was in her late 80’s, and learned that the new widow had never paid the bills bill paying was done by her husband. So during this visit she helped her pay the bills that’s making a difference!
She was injured on the job, and retired from police work. Her dad offered her a job at his bank, but she didn’t want that, so went to Law School. At Southwestern, she was on the Law Review, and worked as a Judicial Clerk in the Nevada Judiciary. She applied for and was selected as a Deputy District Attorney, where she worked for eight years until being elected to the Superior Court in Los Angeles. In her work as a Prosecutor, she learned that you have to accept people as they are, and that predators don’t attack strong women, only those who appear weak. She feels that her job is to protect those victims, and to incarcerate those who prey on them, be they families or strangers. In these matters, then and now, she has found District Attorney Stephen Cooley to be both supportive and helpful.
In her campaign for election to the Superior Court, she was the only candidate who was endorsed by all five County Supervisors. This is a non-partisan post, and election depends on telling people what you have done for the community and how you expect to make a difference. Her opponent was of Hispanic background, and was an Administrative Law Judge, but she received 60% of the votes. She noted that most people don’t know anything about the candidates, but there are relatively easy ways to find out. The LA Bar Association can supply the ratings of the candidates, for instance and the elections are important! Enough about her now to the Q&A!
ED GAULD, what percentage of the suspects you see are illegal immigrants? That’s hard to tell, since that information isn’t furnished to the Judge. However, in talking to suspects, you can usually figure out if they are legal or illegal. PP STEVE SCHERER, Would you comment on the types of individuals who come before you are they murderers, mentally ill, involved in the drug trade, whatever? In murder, the Judge has considerable leeway, depending upon the circumstances, since the Judge does the sentencing. There is a major difference in someone who is a sociopath who needs to spend the rest of their life behind bars, vs the sad type who continue to make bad choices. YOE, It doesn’t make any sense to me to send people to jail for using marijuana. Users are not sent to jail they go to Drug Court. It’s the dealers who serve time. The felonies are involving cocaine, amphetamine and heroin. PP MIKE NEWMAN, I’ve always been troubled by the concept that Judges have to run for election. Daviann stated that her campaign cost $190K, and she raised $150K (the rest, apparently, coming from her personal savings). Her support was widespread “Here’s a white Jewish woman being helped by the South Central community it was amazing”. She made a strong pitch for Ballot Statements being free for all candidates (and I must confess that I didn’t know you BOUGHT then). It cost her $30K and that should be a public expense, certainly. And along that same line statements have to be true if they are submitted too late to check, they can simply lie. CLARK McQUAY, What is the status of Gangs are they getting worse? If we had the resources, we could strongly tamp down gang activity but we don’t have the resources. RAY ZICKFELD, what effect does being a Superior Court Judge have on your family life? She no longer gets up at 04:30 to come in from Canyon Country-now it’s more like 0630, and that certainly helps. She does have late hours, but that’s because of the nature of her present assignment, where the caseload is not at all predictable. UNKNOWN, Do you carry a gun? I never have. I have one at home, but its in pieces because of my young daughter. YOE, How do you determine if the people coming before you are telling the truth? It’s a matter of judgment, and you get good at it pretty quickly. TONY MARRONE, If I’m ever in trouble, I’ll make sure to have the case in your court. (Laughter). MARK ROGO, You raised $150K how can you be sure there is no conflict of interest there? I know every check I get, because I deposit them. When I did have a possible conflict, I asked the Senior Judge, and I did not have to excuse myself. UNKNOWN, How do you feel about these kids growing up with gang bangers? It used to be you worried about them at 12 or 13 now you have to watch out starting at 7 or 8 years of age. She told the story of a young man who was helped materially by an adult, a former football player. He became the youngster’s Big Brother. A gangbanger, his same age, shot him, even though the good kid wasn’t wearing anything related to gangs. The shooter didn’t seem to know that he had done something terribly wrong. That’s scary. She believes a lot of things can be done, early on, to help but again, it takes dedication. CURT SMITH, Is it a crime not to volunteer as a witness? No, because you cannot prove that anyone saw what went on. Prexy MIKE asked about the new law regarding reporting Elder Abuse, and Daviann replied that she didn’t know anything about it.
WOW - I have to say this was a real bombshell talk. We need more public servants like Daviann Mitchell, for sure.