Rosenthal scholarship assists law students

The family of the bar's executive director carries on Imelda Rosenthal's spirit of giving by helping with bar exam costs

by Kathleen O. Beitiks
Staff writer

When Imelda Mancia Rosenthal came to the United States from Guatemala as a teen-ager in the 1960s, she struggled to learn a new language and customs and to prepare herself to enter the workforce in her new country.

As the years went by, she decided to channel the profits from her successful small businesses in housekeeping and cosmetics to young immigrants who needed a boost finding a job.

To that end, Rosenthal worked with young people in San Francisco's predominantly Hispanic Mission District, helping to prepare them for job interviews, working with them in areas such as make-up application and giving wardrobe advice.

When she died in 1986, at the age of 42, Rosenthal's family wanted to establish a memorial to carry on her spirit of giving to the community.

After years of researching, establishing a solid financial base and tying up loose ends, the Imelda Rosenthal Memorial Scholarship was established, and today four law students are the recipients of a fund set up to help defray the cost of taking the California bar exam.

Herbert M. Rosenthal, executive director of the State Bar, said the fund established in memory of his late wife "is about giving back."

A commitment to public service is one of the most important criteria of the scholarship, said Rosenthal, and applicants also must show a financial need.

Rosenthal said that the cost of taking the bar exam has grown over the years and many law students could use some financial assistance.

Bar exam fees amount to $645, not including costs for late fees, repeat tests and other extras which may occur.

The Rosenthal scholarship awards $250 toward the cost of the bar exam.

This year's winners are Jennifer Duke, Robert Kosloff, Naomi Lifschultz and Lisa Shaw.

Scholarships are available to students taking the bar exam for the first time during the year of their graduation from law school.

Three board members seek bar presidency

Three third-year members of the State Bar Board of Governors have declared their candidacies for the 1996-97 presidency. They are:

They are vying to seek the post now occupied by Jim Towery of San Jose. The election will be held at the April Board of Governors meeting in Los Angeles.

Three other eligible board members - attorneys Maury Evans and Eileen Kurahashi and public member Jo Ellen Allen - declined to run.

Michael Case, 49, a litigator, has served on the baršs courts and legislation, admissions and legal committees during his three years on the board. He also has been involved in several community organizations.

A graduate of California State University at Fresno, Case received his law degree from Hastings College of the Law.

John McGuckin, also 49, joined the Bank of California as its chief trust counsel in 1981 and in January was named executive vice president. He is a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College, where he also earned his law degree.

While on the bar board, McGuckin has been involved with the ADR task force, continuing legal education and courts and legislation committees, and he chaired the Legal Services Trust Fund.

Thomas Stolpman, 46, who received his law degree from the University of Southern California, served as president of the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association in 1989.

During his tenure on the bar board, he chaired the Client Relations & Assistance Committee and served on the legal services and communications and bar relations committees.

The presidency

Only third-year members of the bar can run for a one-year term as president. The job is unpaid.

The new bar president, who will be sworn in during ceremonies at the State Bar's Annual Meeting in Long Beach Oct. 10-13, will be dealing with the outcome of the plebiscite on the existence of the mandatory bar.

Bar, judges to honor chief justice

Retiring California Supreme Court Chief Justice Malcolm M. Lucas will be feted by the State Bar and the California Judges Association at two dinners in April.

A Los Angeles dinner will be held April 2 at the Biltmore Hotel. A San Francisco dinner will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel April 10. Both events begin with a 6 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 7.

Former Supreme Court Justice David Eagleson and former bar board member Patricia Phillips will speak in Los Angeles. Former Justice Edward Panelli, Burlingame attorney Joseph Cotchett and Alba Witkin, widow of legal "guru" Bernie Witkin, will speak in San Francisco.

Dinner tickets are $55 each or $750 to sponsor a table of 10. The deadline is March 22. For more information, call 415/561-8210.

State Bar offers
MCLE opportunities

California attorneys can earn MCLE credits at the State Bar's two annual section education institutes and the Annual Meeting.

The education institutes will be held May 17-19 in Monterey and Nov. 8-10 in Rancho Mirage. Participants may earn 12 hours of credit at each.

More than 20 hours of credit will be offered at the Annual Meeting Oct. 10-13 in Long Beach.

For information, call 415/561-8210.

Legislature loses attorneys by end of '95

The number and percentage of lawyers declined slightly in the 1995 state legislature, with more than one-quarter of California's lawmakers listed as attorneys, the lowest since 1992.

According to Larry Doyle, chief legislative counsel of the State Bar, attorneys constitute 31 of the 118 sitting members of the legislature.

In the Assembly, lawyers were involved in each of the four special elections that took place last year. The result of these races was a net loss of one attorney in the lower house. There are now 20 attorneys in the 79-member body.

In the Senate, the number of attorneys stayed constant at 11. Attorney Ross Johnson, a Republican, was elected to fill the seat vacated last March by the election of non-attorney Marian Bergeson to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

However, the number declined again in December when Tom Campbell, a Stanford law professor, resigned upon his election to Congress.

Six of the 11 lawyers in the Senate are part of the 21-member Democratic majority (28.6 percent), while the 16-member Republican minority contains four attorneys (25 percent). Sen. Quentin Kopp, also an attorney, is one of two Independents in the Senate.

Attorneys in leadership positions decreased dramatically in 1995.The most notable was the end of Willie Brown's record-setting tenure as Assembly speaker. He was replaced by Curt Pringle, a Republican non-attorney from Garden Grove.

Richard Katz, leader of the house's Democrats, is also a non-lawyer, making 1995 the first year since 1973 an attorney has not been either Speaker or Minority Leader.

Senate President Pro Tempore Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward) is the sole attorney occupying a principal leadership position in either house. Attorney Ken Maddy of Fresno was ousted as leader of the Senate Republicans last summer, replaced by Rob Hurtt, a Garden Grove businessman with strong anti-attorney sentiments.

Survey shows court impact from "3 strikes":

Large courts in California report a substantial impact on their caseload as a result of the "three strikes and you're out" law, according to a survey conducted by the Judicial Council of California.

Results of the survey, released last month, also found that resources are being shifted away from civil cases in order to process three strikes matters and that trial rates are substantially higher for strike cases than for nonstrike cases.

The survey was conducted last August to collect information from Jan. 1-June 30 of last year. Another survey will be conducted to collect data from the last six months of the year.

The three strikes law, which took effect in March 1994, doubles the penalties for second felony convictions and raises the penalty to 25 years-to-life in a state prison for a third felony conviction.

Defendants convicted under the law also must serve 80 percent of their time before release.

Other findings of the survey:

Judicial Council votes
to ban pretrial electronics

A task force of the California Judicial Council has recommended banning electronic recording devices from all criminal pretrial proceedings, while leaving the decision on trial coverage to judges.

In light of the recent spate of high-profile trials, the task force was directed to examine California Rule of Court 980, which specifies the conditions under which cameras and other electronic equipment are permitted in courtrooms. The recommendation will be circulated for comment so the task force can come back with a final report to the council in May.

CJA supports bar

The executive committee of the California Judges Association voted last month to oppose dismantling the State Bar.

The board unanimously agreed that "the existence of the unified bar is critical to efforts to improve the administration of justice." Backers of the plebiscite failed to provide materials supporting their position.