The State Bar Of California Is Lawless And A Travesty, And Should Be Abolished

8 09 2014

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1][2]

When I took and passed California’s bar examination and became a lawyer and a member of The State Bar of California, I was very proud of what I had accomplished.  I worked hard in law school at Berkeley—and later at Georgetown, for a second law degree—and I considered it an honor to be a member of the State Bar . . . but not anymore.  Under former California Governor Pete Wilson, for all intents and purposes, it was put out of business; and its uselessness was exposed for all to see, like the emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”[3]

This stinging indictment should have been a wake-up call for California lawyers.  However, the State Bar has come roaring back with a vengeance; and it is worse than ever, and a true disgrace.  Once again it is a “rogue” trade association; a waste of its members’ and taxpayers’ monies; and a travesty.  It should be eliminated permanently, with its staff sent looking for other jobs.[4]  Or at the very least, it should become voluntary, with its disciplinary functions transferred to an independent arm of California’s Supreme Court—and its present staff of rogue prosecutors eliminated completely.

Today, I am ashamed to be a member of the State Bar; and I never thought that I would come to that conclusion.[5]  It is like belonging to a private club that discriminates, and is run by an inbred clique or cabal.  At best, it is a third-rate trade association—and Sacramento and Washington, D.C. are full of them.

Undergraduates in colleges, and others who enter law schools in California, have been lulled into the belief that being a lawyer is some “magical” ticket to success—which it is not—and that it is an honorable profession to join.  What they do not realize is that very successful lawyer friends of mine and I have recommended for many years that our kids and others never become lawyers or practice law . . . albeit I am proud of what I have accomplished as a lawyer.[6]

The value of this advice will be even more evident as California’s economy deteriorates during the balance of this decade, and fewer Californians are able to afford legal services.  The State Bar has defrauded would-be lawyers by failing to disclose that the debt obligation a legal education entails may encumber the students (or their parents) for much of their lives, and there may be no jobs when they graduate.[7]

A $15-an-hour job as a non-lawyer will not service a $150,000 debt incurred during law school, yet the State Bar never discloses this because it is knee-deep in fraud itself.  The first goals of any trade association are to perpetuate its existence and full-time employment for its staff members, which the State Bar has been doing with gusto since it essentially went out of business.[8]

Also, the State Bar has done almost nothing to police abuses by lawyers in California, relating to fraud in mortgage lending and other activities.  It has wasted valuable resources pursuing “minnows,” all the while allowing the “big fish” to escape unscathed.  It has never gone after the lawyers at Countrywide who participated in and/or condoned predatory lending practices; and one of Countrywide’s lawyers even testified on the State Bar’s behalf in a predatory lending case[9].

Equally disturbing, disconcerting and odious is the fact that divorce lawyers prey sexually on their vulnerable and distraught clients.  They should be automatically disbarred; and the State Bar is culpable and morally reprehensible for failing to act.  As in the case of other professionals—such as medical doctors and psychiatrists who prey on their vulnerable patients—the most stringent sanctions must be imposed, but they are not.  The State Bar turns a blind eye, which undermines any notions of morality and propriety that it purports to represent.

Its failure to disbar these divorce lawyers is inherently repugnant.  Women’s rights organizations especially should be up in arms, protesting the State Bar’s culpability.  Anyone is vulnerable during divorce proceedings, and this is particularly true of women.  Yet the State Bar does nothing.  If some lawyers can act with impunity in the context of divorces, what use is the State Bar to society—or to those lawyers whose conduct is above reproach?

Unlike the District of Columbia Bar, of which I am proudly a member—for example, because (1) it is more prestigious, with its members being recognized on a nationwide and worldwide basis, and (2) it does a far better job, and (3) its members are charged much less in terms of annual dues—the State Bar forces its members to satisfy Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) requirements every three years, which is absurd.  Financial “kickbacks” are standard for the State Bar, which is a travesty unto itself; and mandatory CLE is merely one example.

Most CLE courses that are required have no bearing whatsoever on a lawyer’s legal specialty and practice.  Over the years, I have never seen a successful lawyer who failed to keep up with the nuances of his or her specialty.  Indeed, truly proficient lawyers do it each and every day that they practice law; and there is no need to take mandatory CLE courses to accomplish this.  Quite to the contrary, it is a waste of time—but the State Bar mandates this because it enhances the State Bar’s financial coffers and insures the perpetuation of the trade association’s existence and power.[10]  

The contrast between the State Bar and the District of Columbia Bar is striking in almost every respect.  Aside from costing much more, the State Bar is grossly inefficient in serving its members.  For example, I received a check from a purported “client” in what turned out to be a fraudulent “phishing” scam; and I contacted both bar associations to ask what I should do with it, ethically.  The D.C. Bar got right back to me; and one of its attorneys was very thoughtful and helpful.  No one from the State Bar ever called me back, and I gave up trying to reach them.

To say that the State Bar is totally worthless—and lawless, and does not pay its bills—is not to exaggerate one iota.[11] When I was sworn in as a California lawyer, I was in awe of the State Bar.  However, this has not been true for many years.  It is just one more fraudulent trade association, whose existence is perpetuated to serve its staff members above everyone else.  Lawyers are held in low esteem today, inter alia, because rogue organizations like the State Bar exist, which are bankrupt morally and ethically.

Its support from financially strapped Californians and the equally strapped State of California[12] is wasted and must be eliminated completely; and its membership must become voluntary, at best.  Clearly, enough political forces coalesced to effectively put the State Bar out of business when Pete Wilson was California’s governor.  The same thing must happen now—this time to accomplish the job once and for all, and eliminate what is probably the most corrupt and diabolical trade association of its kind in the United States.

In a quotation attributed to the Irish-born statesman Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] do nothing.”  California lawyers must rise up and say enough is enough, and mean it this time.  Perhaps it is naïve, optimistic and idealistic to believe this will happen, but hopefully not.  American justice requires nothing less.[13]

© 2014, Timothy D. Naegele

Ban State Bar of California


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search: Timothy D. Naegele

[2]  Note: The author has held these personal opinions for many years, probably since the State Bar was effectively put out of business (see infra n.3), and he and other members woke up to problems with the Bar.  The author paid dues, but worked full time in Washington, D.C. then, and did not pay much attention to the Bar.  He began drafting this article in 2012, long before he heard the names Erin McKeown Joyce, Thomas A. Miller or Lucy Armendariz; and he made refinements (i.e., principally to its footnotes) before it was published here.

[3] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Bar_of_California#Member_fee_authorization_process (“Member fee authorization process”) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

[4]  Two general counsel (i.e., “the State Bar’s lawyer,” or chief legal officer) have served during this time frame: Joseph Starr Babcock and Thomas Allen Miller.  Babcock came in to pick up the pieces after the State Bar essentially went out of business; and Miller came on board recently after practicing law.

Miller has taken a “hands’ off” approach, by saying that his “Office of General Counsel” has no “direct involvement” with “the exclusive jurisdiction of the Office of Chief Trial Counsel,” despite the fact that Miller was told by the author that (1) one of his lawyers in the latter office—Erin McKeown Joyce—has totally ignored the law nationally, as enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit and California’s Supreme Court; (2) the State Bar owes the author a substantial sum of money stemming from his deposition testimony as an expert witness, and payment is required by a California statute; (3) another member of the State Bar is reportedly subject to criminal prosecution for fraud, Lloyd J. Michaelson (SBN 94145), yet no actions have been taken by the State Bar; and similarly (4) the State Bar has not taken action against a second attorney, Richard H. Lubetzky (SBN 154032), even though he suborned perjury with respect to testimony before the State Bar, and his troubled history with the State Bar began before his admission to the Bar.  See, e.g., http://articles.latimes.com/1990-07-25/news/vw-1012_1_state-bar; see also infra n.11.

See, e.g.http://www.vcreporter.com/cms/story/detail/a_paramount_problem/8566/ (“The suits claim that from 2008 through early 2010, defendants Nicholaus Skultety and lawyer Lloyd Michaelson were scamming millions of dollars from individuals and businesses across the United States by fraudulently promising to fund construction projects in exchange for an up-front cash fee of 2 percent of purported loans. . . . Various people . . . , including some of the alleged victims, said they have been in contact with the FBI”) and http://redcatsboards.yuku.com/topic/34142/Local-men-charged-in-real-estate-loan-scam#.UOyJ5LtWpkg (“Local men charged in real estate loan scam – Complaint says they collected fees for loans that were never delivered”) and http://www.californiarealestatefraudreport.com/archives/date/2011/03

While Miller may be competent, and the “new kid on the block,” he is in charge now.  If he will not take actions (1) to rein in abuses by lawyers in the “exclusive fiefdom” of the Office of Chief Trial Counsel, and (2) to address other serious problems with the State Bar—and he allows such problems to fester—who will?  Ultimately, he is responsible and the buck stops with him, yet he is turning a blind eye to wrongdoing by those who work for him.  Indeed, others beneath him have taken the State Bar down a path that must end.  Investigations by California’s legislature and its Governor are warranted and needed; and there must not be a “whitewash.”

[5] The author has debated for some time whether to go “inactive,” or resign from the State Bar altogether.  He applauded the actions that essentially put it out of business.  While it may be best to fight it from within—because only a relatively small number of lawyers know how truly corrupt it is—the State Bar costs the author money, and it wastes his time satisfying useless CLE requirements.

Since being admitted to the State Bar, the author has handled very few matters in California, and less than a handful for individual clients.  Mostly, he has purchased banks there from the federal government for large business clients located elsewhere in the U.S. or overseas; served as an expert witness for the FDIC, in connection with a failing national bank case; and served as a special consultant to the State on banking matters, during the first administration of Governor Jerry Brown.

[6] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/justice-and-the-law-do-not-mix/  (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article) and http://www.naegele.com/documents/Twill-Naegele-JusticeAndTheLawDoNotMix.pdf  (“Justice And The Law Do Not Mix”); see also http://www.naegele.com/documents/TimothyD.NaegeleResume.pdf

[7] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/ (“The American Legal System Is Broken: Can It Be Fixed?”) (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[8] If one looks hard enough at the State Bar’s Web site, its staggering budget is set forth, although nowhere is an overall summary presented.  See, e.g., http://www.calbar.ca.gov/AboutUs/Reports.aspx (“2015 Proposed Final Budget”).  Its members must be provided with such information in great specificity, because they pay dues; and the public must be as well, because the State Bar’s budget is part of the General Fund support for California’s judicial branch.  Also, funds for the State Bar should be eliminated entirely.

For 2015 alone, more than $5 million is shown for the Office of General Counsel, even though the State Bar’s lawyer apparently will not “intrude” in the activities of his lawless Office of Chief Trial Counsel (see infra n.4 & 11), whose budget for the same period is shown to exceed $30 million.  Both individuals are shown to earn $200,000 per year.

At the State Bar’s Web site in July, 2014, it was stated:

The bar’s programs are financed primarily by fees paid by attorneys and applicants to practice law. In 2011, the bar’s general fund budget was more than $64 million, over 75 percent of which funded the bar’s attorney disciplinary activities.

See http://www.calbar.ca.gov/AboutUs/StateBarOverview.aspx (“How is the State Bar funded?”).

Surely, the State Bar must cite figures that are more recent than three years old; and 75 percent of “more than $64 million” equals almost $50 million.  This means that the Office of Chief Trial Counsel’s budget is likely more than that amount today, rather than the amount shown in the “2015 Proposed Final Budget.”  And this money is paid to rogue prosecutors, who are seeking as many “scalps” as they can take.  Not many lawyers can afford to fight this vicious and unholy juggernaut.  See infra n.11.

[9] James Goldberg of Bryan Cave LLP, San Francisco, represented related persons and entities—for example, Bank of America, N.A., Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., ReconTrust Company, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. and Kelly Germa (hereinafter referred to collectively as “Countrywide”)—which have been defendants in a lawsuit alleging predatory lending and fraud; namely, Kaleb v. Bank of America Home Loans, et al. (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 3:09-cv-05958-RS).

In turn, Goldberg testified on behalf of the State Bar in a predatory lending case before the State Bar Court, In the Matter of Sharon Lapin, 165919, A Member of the State Bar, in which Countrywide’s wrongdoing was an issue.  Clearly, the State Bar has zero problems with (1) allowing the “fox” into the “chicken coop,” and (2) not pursuing the lawyers at Countrywide—which was headquartered in Calabasas, California—for their wrongdoing, despite the fact that Countrywide has been the “poster child” for fraud in America’s mortgage lending scandals.  Also, all of this occurred before State Bar Court Judge Lucy Armendariz, who presumably had no problems with it either.  See also infra n.11.

[10] Instead of eliminating CLE requirements altogether, the State Bar has actually advocated increasing them, which is patently absurd—and simply underscores how irresponsible the State Bar is.

See http://calbarjournal.com/August2013/TopHeadlines/TH3.aspx

Furthermore, the State Bar is wasting money auditing thousands of its members—to ensure compliance with the requirements—which is absurd, abusive, and another reason why the trade association should be abolished.

See http://calbarjournal.com/July2014/TopHeadlines/TH6.aspx (“5,500 attorneys expected to go through MCLE audit”)

Education of California’s lawyers can and does take place on an individual, very personal basis.  Also, there are many private organizations, such as universities, which provide superior educational resources.

[11] For example, the author testified as an expert witness before the State Bar pursuant to its subpoena on June 27, 2012, with respect to matters involving another member of the State Bar.  Section 1986.5 of California’s Code of Civil Procedure states in pertinent part:

Any person who is subpoenaed and required to give a deposition shall be entitled to receive the same witness fees and mileage as if the subpoena required him or her to attend and testify before a court in which the action or proceeding is pending.

See http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/CCP/3/4/3/2/s1986.5

The State Bar has not paid the author, and one must assume that it has not paid others as well.  In its defense, on September 12, 2013, it produced a handwritten “Clarification order,” dated July 9, 2012, for the first time—which had been signed by State Bar Court Judge Armendariz, and purported to shift the fees and costs away from the State Bar.  However, it did not override or nullify the California statute; and arguably the State Bar Court judge is “complicit” in the State Bar’s lawlessness.

How many people have been “cheated” financially by the State Bar?  Indeed, it must be determined—by means of an independent investigation—how many other times the State Bar has used the State Bar Court or other ruses to cheat people out of monies that are owed.  The spotlight must be focused on the State Bar’s employees and State Bar Court judges who engage in such abuses.

Clearly, the State Bar is dodging the courts and the laws by turning to its own State Bar Court judges to bless its decisions.  The State Bar’s rules and those of the State Bar Court are Byzantine at best, and are skewed against lawyers in California.  See, e.g., rules.calbar.ca.gov and www.statebarcourt.ca.gov/ProceduresProgramsandRules.aspx (“Rules of Practice and the Rules of Procedure, which govern State Bar Court proceedings”)

Next, a “Senior Trial Counsel” with the State Bar, Joyce, told the author that the “black letter law” decisions of federal courts (including the U.S. Supreme Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) do not count as far as she was concerned, nor do decisions of California’s Supreme Court.

In essence, she was saying that the “law of the land” could and should be ignored.  Needless to say, the author was stunned and flabbergasted by her ignorance and naïveté, yet these are the types of lawyers who are apparently employed by and represent the State Bar.  They are lawless; and hence, when the State Bar acts through them, it is lawless.

Evidently the performances of the State Bar’s prosecutors are measured by how many “scalps” they take, which gives them enormous incentives to go after the State Bar’s members, whether they are innocent or not—and grotesquely distorts the prosecutorial process.  When State Bar Court judges override existing laws, without thinking twice about it, one understands how corrupt the system is, from one end to the other.

Most prosecutors seemingly have never laid eyes on an innocent defendant.  As the author has written:

Anyone who thinks that prosecutors are advocates of truth and justice is living in a “Mary Poppins” fantasy world, and knows nothing about how our legal system really operates. It is seldom if ever discussed or written about, yet it is often said—by lawyers—that the only thing separating prosecutors from guilty criminals is the “badge.”

See infra n.6.  Imagine a life spent hurting people.  Joyce may be a perfect example, and the question is: how many people has she hurt?

Unlike some state bar associations such as the District of Columbia Bar, where the membership is worth something, the State Bar is a burden and not something to be proud of.  When it essentially went out of business, it was not missed except by its staff members, who had been feeding at its trough.

As the author has written in an article cited above:

Can our legal system be fixed, and will the American people come to trust and respect lawyers and judges again, and believe that justice not only exists but prevails in this great nation?  Maybe . . . if the profession is restructured, and if it attracts those people who believe that the law is sacred, sacrosanct and pristine—truly a shining city upon a hill—and they put such principles into practice.  The profession does not require saints, but it does need something different than “Law West of the Pecos by Judge Roy Bean.”  And it needs people who are different than it has been attracting: who are often driven, ruthless, unprincipled, money-hungry, and power-hungry.

See infra n.7 (emphasis in original).  At the very least, Joyce seems to be Bean’s successor.

On July 29, 2014, Joyce commenced a disciplinary action against the author based on (1) “Failure to Update Membership Address,” and (2) “Unconscionable Fee” and “Failure To Refund Unearned Attorney Fees.”  The charges were totally false, bogus and constituted pure harassment—and this article was written well beforehand (see infra n.2)—but she brought the action anyway.  And Miller did nothing to stop her, even though both were briefed fully about the issues.  See, e.g., infra n.4.  It is unrealistic to expect even a modicum of justice from a rogue prosecutor such as Joyce, or a judge like Armendariz to whom the author’s case was assigned,  who ignores the law.

It is interesting that on the same date, July 29, 2014, the homepage of the State Bar’s Web site asked in a banner headline: “What can the State Bar of California do for you?”  Above that question in bold print appeared another headline: “MCLE audit will include more than 5,500 [members].”  See infra n.10. Below the question appeared another headline: “State Bar Court recommends three-year suspension for prominent ex-prosecutor.”  This is the State Bar today: hurting its members in every way possible, to justify its bloated budget and staff.

The author has maintained and paid for the same Post Office address continuously since 1989, but some mail was returned to the State Bar through no fault of his own.  Also, the author and a legal team that he assembled lost a class-action, RICO Internet fraud case against the national infomercial company, Guthy-Renker, despite the fact that its agent in Texas testified as to the full extent of the fraudulent scheme that hurt large numbers of Americans.  Other attorneys (including one who is a federal judge today), law clerks and the author worked hard to win the lawsuit; however, “success has many fathers, while defeat is an orphan.”

There is no way to predict with certainty how a federal judge will act: lawyers are not fortune tellers or seers.  A new District Judge decided against the author’s clients, just as the judge decided against a major Hollywood movie studio where a friend of the author is Executive Vice President and General Counsel.  Hence, the former clients came after the author—even though no lawyer can guarantee success, and the author made that clear to them—and Joyce was only too happy to oblige.

Imagine every lawyer in California being harassed by the State Bar when he or she loses a lawsuit, which is Joyce’s modus operandi and constitutes nothing more than a witch hunt.  The author ceased to represent the former clients more than ten years ago. Hence, the case is time-barred by “Rule 5.21 Limitations Period” of the Rules of Procedure of the State Bar of California, which states in pertinent part: “[T]he proceeding must begin within five years from the date of the violation.”  The case was baseless for other reasons as well.  However, this did not matter to Miller or Joyce, or deter them.

The tragedy is that Californians and other Americans were defrauded by Guthy-Renker, yet the federal judge did not care; and certainly, neither Miller nor Joyce care, even though Guthy-Renker conducted its fraudulent scheme from and in California.  Just as the State Bar does not take action against Countrywide’s lawyers—or against (1) attorneys who prey sexually on their vulnerable clients in divorce proceedings, or (2) Michaelson who is reportedly subject to criminal prosecution for fraud, or (3) Lubetzky who suborned perjury with respect to testimony before the State Bar, which is a crime—so too it looks the other way regarding Guthy-Renker and its lawyers.

[12]  Lots of Californians and Americans are hurting these days, including lawyers.  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/poverty-in-america/ (“Poverty In America”) (see also the comments beneath the article).  California has severe financial problems.  However, the State Bar continues to spend like a “drunken sailor,” which is unfathomable and reprehensible.

[13] Also, it is not beyond the pale of reason to believe that boycotts of the State Bar and its activities by members may occur; mass refusals by them to pay State Bar dues may take place; and California lawyers may refuse to satisfy the State Bar’s CLE requirements.





Poverty In America

7 02 2012

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made one of the dumbest and most insensitive comments that I have ever heard from an American politician since I became involved with politics:
You can choose where to focus.  You can focus on the rich; that’s not my focus.  You can focus on the very poor; that’s not my focus.  My focus is on middle-income Americans.

He went on to explain that “[w]e have a safety net for the poor.”  And “[i]f there are people that are falling through the cracks, I want to fix that.”[2]

However, the fact that America’s poorest citizens theoretically have access to food stamps, Medicaid and housing vouchers[3]—which Romney cited—does not constitute much of a “safety net” at all.  Some Americans, such as senior citizens, are too proud to accept any governmental assistance (other than Social Security and Medicare benefits) or handouts.  They have worked all of their lives; and to find themselves in poverty is embarrassing and deeply depressing.  They and others are often turned away or sanctioned by the government bureaucracy that can be brutal and cruel, especially to people who are truly in need.[4]

Those Americans who had moved into our “Middle Class” will lose their homes and everything else, which is happening already.  The idea that colleges and professional schools were guaranteed pathways to success will also evaporate.[5]  Our society and that of other countries will be upended.  And yes, there will be “class warfare,” which Barack Obama and his surrogates are fanning already.  Leave aside the fact that he will add more debt than all 43 prior presidents combined, demagoguery is in season and full swing.

When I worked in the U.S. Senate as a young lawyer with its Senate Banking Committee and later headed the Senate staff of Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass)—the first African-American in the Senate since Reconstruction following our Civil War, with Obama being the third—the senator and I met with Mitt’s father who was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (1969-1973)[6], and I was very impressed with him.  At that time, I was working on the passage and implementation of the Housing and Urban Development Acts of 1969 and 1970, which included the “Brooke Amendment” relating to public housing; and the national “Housing Allowance” program, which morphed into the Section 8 housing program that has helped millions of Americans.  The senator, George Romney and I talked about these programs at length.

On behalf of Senator Brooke, I also established a summer program for disadvantaged kids in Massachusetts, in conjunction with the Pentagon, which involved underutilized military facilities within the state (e.g., the Boston Navy Yard, Otis Air Force Base) and served approximately 100,000 kids during its first year alone.  Indeed, the senator and I traveled to Massachusetts with then-Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird in his private plane to review the program and its progress.

In making my observations, I am not singling out Mitt Romney for condemnation.  I have believed in Mitt for a long time now, and will vote for him—in no small part because I share most of his positions with respect to the economy and national security issues.  However, lots of politicians and other successful Americans are “tone deaf” when it comes to the needs of the poor.  They do not relate to them at all, and they cannot understand them.  To be poor is a sign of failure in our success-oriented and driven society.  Our advertising touts beautiful bodies and fancy cars and materialistic dreams.  In no way are the poor glorified, much less given dignity.  Shame is heaped on them, which is wrong.

When I was graduating from grade school in Los Angeles, my mother came to the ceremony in a wheelchair, and I was mortified.  No other mothers were present like that.  She had suffered the convergence of two debilitating illnesses, which robbed her of her beauty and almost killed her.  By the time that I was entering high school, her right leg had been amputated, which stopped the onslaught of what she had gone through; and during the Vietnam War, she walked with an artificial leg and was named the “Woman of the Year” by the local chapter of the Red Cross—for her outstanding volunteer work.

What all of this taught me was that her faith in God had sustained her, and given her courage, hope, joy and great love.[7]  And that stigmas and discrimination attach, especially in Southern California, to those people who are physically or mentally “challenged” or handicapped, the poor, and to those who are not “beautiful.”  Hollywood has gone nationwide and worldwide since then, with a vengeance; and life-threatening illnesses and poverty are not part of the “American dream,” which has been embraced by people globally.  As the U.S. economy declines more between now and the end of this decade—which will happen to an even greater extent in countries around the world—poverty, human suffering, misery and anger will increase dramatically.[8]

The core issues will be how Americans adjust to their poverty and hopelessness, which will be just as rampant in this decade as during the Great Depression of the last century that did not end until the onset of World War II, at the earliest.  There are no easy solutions to losing one’s job, home, car and everything else.  As State governments scramble to avoid bankruptcy, programs that might have helped the poor will no longer exist.  For example, in California, State parks are being closed; and the nightly price for staying at those that remain open equals the cost of a cheap motel already.  Where will the poor stay, especially if they have no family members who can—or are willing to—take them in?  How will they afford food to eat, and find transportation to get from one place to another (e.g., looking for work)?  When inclement weather sets in, how will they survive?

The published numbers of “poor” do not begin to tell their tragic stories; and the human suffering will increase and become unfathomable during the balance of this decade, whether Romney is president or not.  Pure economics will dictate this; and there is nothing that can be done governmentally, by any politician.[9]  And yes, many of those poor will be “middle-income Americans” or those who had been members of our Middle Class.  They will be devastated; suicides and divorces will increase[10]; and families will be torn asunder.  Mitt Romney and the wealthy of the United States—which includes Obama and most members of Congress—need to wake up now, and begin to demonstrate real compassion.  The problem is that they have no earthly idea of what it is like to be poor.

In Greece today, parents are giving away their children because they cannot afford them.  Kids are being dumped in streets or abandoned at shelters with notes attached to them, saying that one or both parents are at wits’ end.[11]  Poverty breeds inhumanity on a scale that is unknown to most Americans; and it also breeds crime (including massive Internet fraud[12]), which will increase in the United States as money for law enforcement declines and as our prisons are overcrowded and prisoners are released.  Reality is crashing down with a thud like never before in our lifetimes.

As I wrote almost three years ago:

America and other nations are in uncharted waters; and their politicians may face backlashes from disillusioned and angry constituents that are unprecedented in modern times. Also, the limits of godless secularism and paying homage to the false gods of materialism may become self-evident.[13]

The chickens are coming home to roost, in spades; and the “good times” are ending for vast numbers of Americans and their counterparts around the world.

Others will remain rich, or attain great riches[14]; and I do not begrudge it to them at all.  I do not envy or covet what another has.  I have never done so.  My parents taught me that, by their own words and actions.  In my lifetime thus far, I have had lots of money, and none.  I have friends with many millions, and one with several billions; and others who have nothing.  I have treated them all the same—with love, respect, dignity and compassion.

I lived in a tent for months at a time—with water everywhere inside it, during the rainy season—because that was all I could afford.  I have had two cars repossessed, as well as a boat.  I have been evicted; and lost my dream house, as well as most of the possessions that were important to me, including priceless family items that had been handed down over generations.  When I was in law school, I had a pair of shoes resoled so many times that I was told it could not be done anymore; and I have struggled to make ends meet for food.

I do not wish any of this on others.  However, I realize that many Americans have experienced losses, pain and suffering that are far worse than I ever have; and this is true today of people abroad who are dying of wars, diseases and malnutrition, and are being forced into slavery and prostitution.[15]  I have great faith in God, the United States, all Americans[16], and people everywhere.  I believe we will survive like my mother did.  However, we will be tested like never before.

© 2012, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele

[2] See http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/02/politics/campaign-wrap/?hpt=hp_t1

[3] As discussed later in this article, “housing vouchers” are an outgrowth of the national “Housing Allowance” program that I crafted as a young attorney with the Senate Banking Committee—which was complementary to the “Brooke Amendment,” and morphed into the Section 8 housing program that has helped millions of Americans.

[4] As I have written:

[L]awyers who are prosecutors are often less interested in fairness and justice than they are in winning at all costs, and exercising their raw power and hurting others in the process—such as those who are innocent but are convicted anyway.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/

And I added:

A federal official with reason to know told me that between 15-20 percent of the indictees in federal courts are probably innocent.  Some are seniors who have been charged with cheating the Social Security program, and they are scared to death, so they agree to plea bargains rather than fight for their innocence.

See id. at n.8.  This is truly frightening, and cruel.  Also, those who are engaged in prosecutorial misconduct are “sheltered” by the government, which is a travesty unto itself.  Aside from any civil remedies against them, such prosecutors should be prosecuted and disbarred.

See, e.g.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-02-06/ted-stevens-prosecutors-justice-department/52922922/1 (“Taxpayers pay to defend prosecutors in Ted Stevens case”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1700 (“Perhaps the best remedy for such abuses is to have the ‘guilty’ prosecutors incarcerated; and let justice be meted out with respect to them, by those in prisons”)

[5] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-american-legal-system-is-broken-can-it-be-fixed/#comment-1977 (“Law School May Amount To The Worst Investment Of Her Life!”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-colleges-dinosaurs/ (“Are Colleges Dinosaurs?”) (see also the footnotes and all other comments beneath the article)

[6]  See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Romney#Secretary_of_Housing_and_Urban_Development

[7] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/what-and-where-is-god/ (“What And Where Is God?”) (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[8] See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-1960 (“Global Economy Could Endure Disaster For a Week”) (see also the article itself, as well as the footnotes and all of the other comments beneath it)

[9] See, e.g., http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/173_212/-365185-1.html (“Greenspan’s Fingerprints All Over Enduring Mess”) and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html (“Euphoria or the Obama Depression?”); see also http://www.philstockworld.com/2009/10/11/greenspan’s-legacy-more-suffering-to-come/ (“Greenspan’s legacy: more suffering to come”)

[10] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/divorces/ (see also the footnotes and comments beneath the article)

[11] See, e.g., http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2085163/Children-dumped-streets-Greek-parents-afford-them.html (“Children ‘dumped in streets by Greek parents who can’t afford to look after them any more'”)

[12] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/lawyers-and-internet-scams/ (“Lawyers And Internet Scams”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)

[13] See http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/tms/politics/2009/Apr/08/euphoria_or_the_obama_depression_.html

[14] See, e.g., http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2012/02/02/the-youngest-and-richest-people-in-america-from-mark-zuckerberg-to-sean-parker-photos.html (“The 10 Youngest Richest, From Sergey Brin to Mark Zuckerberg”)

[15] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/ (“Human Trafficking”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)

[16] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/america-a-rich-tapestry-of-life/ (“America: A Rich Tapestry Of Life”) (see also the footnotes and all of the comments beneath the article)





The American Legal System Is Broken: Can It Be Fixed?

3 01 2011

By Timothy D. Naegele[1][2]

I have been an American lawyer for 44 years.  I am a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court, the District of Columbia Bar, the State Bar of California, and the bars of other federal courts.  I have been a U.S. Senate lawyer and a lawyer at the Pentagon, and have represented more than 200 banks and other financial institutions.  I have purchased banks for our clients, and advised two States; and I testified as an expert on behalf of the FDIC in a failing bank case.  I have done essentially everything that I ever wanted to do in the law, except work at the White House; and I have attended meetings there.  In these and countless other ways, I have seen the American legal system “up close and personal.”[3]

I have two law degrees, from Berkeley and Georgetown, at opposite ends of this great country.[4] I can say without any hesitation, reservation or equivocation that the finest education I received was at Berkeley’s law school par excellence, Boalt Hall.  I was taught—to think analytically, and to write—by outstanding professors[5] who instilled in my fellow students and me a belief that the law is sacred, sacrosanct and pristine, “a shining city upon a hill.”  Since then whenever I have encountered what I perceived as legal injustices and incompetence, I have taken umbrage and railed against them, albeit generally in my own quiet ways.

John Lennon probably said it best: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  I never truly wanted to become a lawyer; that was not my life’s ambition.  I wanted to be a businessman instead, and buy and sell companies, but the Vietnam War intervened and changed my life forever.[6] I never dreamed of being a lawyer, like so many of my law school classmates at Berkeley did, which may explain why I view the profession—which so many Americans have come to despise—with a certain degree of detachment and healthy skepticism.  For example, I would not recommend the practice of law to anyone.  Among other things, the time demands and stress on young lawyers are a “family-killer,” which is why there is a high rate of divorces among members of the profession.

When my son wanted to attend law school, I encouraged him to get both a JD and an MBA, to “hedge his bets” and give him options.  When he was nearing graduation with both degrees in hand, I did my best to talk him out of practicing law.[7] Friends of mine, who have practiced law for many years and have been very successful at doing it, feel much the same way and have told their kids and others not to pursue a legal career.  Indeed, some of these friends and I have joked that we should give lectures to graduating college seniors and entering law school students, telling them what the practice of law is really all about.  If we told them the unvarnished truth, many might decide not to enter the profession.

Despite a healthy contempt for many lawyers, and judges—who are often egotistical, callous, mean-spirited, power-hungry, arrogant, self-righteous, condescending and incompetent—I have had wonderful friends over the years who are lawyers and even judges.  I have worked with them, and some have represented me, and I will always respect and be deeply indebted to them.  They are special people, who stand head-and-shoulders above others in the profession; and they are nice people as well—which may be what distinguishes them from the others.

Perhaps the most disturbing qualities about lawyers and judges are their arrogance and abuse of power, and their lack of empathy and innate legal and life skills to deal with vital human issues that come before them.  For example, lawyers who are prosecutors are often less interested in fairness and justice than they are in winning at all costs, and exercising their raw power and hurting others in the process—such as those who are innocent but are convicted anyway.[8]

Similarly, lawyers are trained in law schools to be advocates.  When they represent clients in divorce proceedings, the last things that estranged couples need are their respective lawyers “stirring the pot” to earn greater fees, and increasing the acrimony that already exists.  Also, male lawyers prey sexually on their distraught and vulnerable female clients, which should give rise to immediate disbarments but it does not.  The American legal system is broken today, inter alia, because it has often attracted the wrong type of people.[9]

Can our legal system be fixed, and will the American people come to trust and respect lawyers and judges again, and believe that justice not only exists but prevails in this great nation?  Maybe . . . if the profession is restructured, and if it attracts those people who believe that the law is sacred, sacrosanct and pristine—truly a shining city upon a hill—and they put such principles into practice.  The profession does not require saints, but it does need something different than “Law West of the Pecos by Judge Roy Bean.”  And it needs people who are different than it has been attracting: who are often driven, ruthless, unprincipled, money-hungry, and power-hungry.

© 2011, Timothy D. Naegele

[See also (1) https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/justice-and-the-law-do-not-mix/ (“Justice And The Law Do Not Mix”), (2) https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/the-united-states-department-of-injustice/ (“The United States Department of Injustice”), (3) https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/the-state-bar-of-california-is-lawless-and-a-travesty-and-should-be-abolished/ (“The State Bar Of California Is Lawless And A Travesty, And Should Be Abolished”)]


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2] The issues addressed in this article are discussed further in a partially-completed book of mine entitled, “Never Become A Lawyer.”  Its chapters include but are not limited to the following subjects: law schools, law firms, divorces, bar associations, Congress, lobbying, mergers and acquisitions, litigation, law enforcement, state governments, the federal government, judges, federal courts, the U.S. Supreme Court, politics, abuse of power, justice, lawyer scams, and other careers.

The book’s last chapter starts with the words:

I began writing this book with the idea of thoroughly trashing the legal profession of which I have been a member for more than 40 years, as well as the American “system of justice”—and God knows there is plenty of support for that approach.  However, the United States has many fine lawyers, including former classmates of mine at Berkeley and friends who have tried to do their very best to help others, such as those lawyers who have helped me.  Thus, in the final analysis, I endeavored to present a somewhat objective view of the profession. . . .

I assume my assessment will remain the same, or close to it, when the book is finished and published.

[3] See, e.g., http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html

[4] See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/america-a-rich-tapestry-of-life/

[5] They included but were not limited to Edward C. Halbach Jr. (see, e.g.,  http://www.law.berkeley.edu/php-programs/faculty/facultyProfile.php?facID=44), who became dean of the law school and gave me an “A” in Conflicts of Law during my last year at Boalt, which I will remember always; Sanford H. (“Sandy”) Kadish (see, e.g., http://www.law.berkeley.edu/php-programs/faculty/facultyProfile.php?facID=61), who taught Criminal Law and became dean of the law school too; Barbara N. Armstrong, who was the first woman law professor at a major American law school (see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UC_Berkeley_School_of_Law); Richard W. Jennings (see, e.g., http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/senate/inmemoriam/richardwjennings.htm), who taught Securities Law and came to Washington when I was a young attorney with the Senate Banking Committee, and we shared stories; and Michael (“Mike”) Heyman (see, e.g., http://www.law.berkeley.edu/php-programs/faculty/facultyProfile.php?facID=52), from whom I never took a class, but I will always remember his smiling face, and that he was a “force” for excellence at the law school and beyond (e.g., he ran the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. for many years).  A giant in the law of Torts, William L. Prosser (see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Prosser), was at Boalt too; however, he left shortly before I arrived—although his spirit was still there.

[6] As a result of enrolling in Army ROTC as an undergraduate, I had a commission as an officer when I graduated from UCLA in January of 1963.  I wanted to attend a business school; however, I needed to work from January to September at two jobs, to earn enough money so I could afford any graduate school.  Even though UCLA’s business school had classes that I could begin right away, in January—whereas, law school classes only began in September—my choice became a law school.  The Vietnam War was raging; and the Army would defer me for law school, but would not let me work for the same amount of time before entering a business school, which is the graduate education that I really wanted to pursue.

Having become a lawyer, however, I have always tried to do my very best, and believe that I have done so.  Also, reading endless legal decisions at Boalt Hall and later at Georgetown, I learned the English language in ways that were unfathomable at the time, but have proved to be quintessentially-invaluable with respect to any skills that I have today as a writer.

The great American poet, Robert Frost, wrote a wonderful poem about life choices entitled, “The Road Not Taken,” which perhaps says it all:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

See, e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_Not_Taken_(poem)

[7] I was adamant that neither of my kids would work on Capitol Hill, because of what I had witnessed there.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/washington-is-sick-and-the-american-people-know-it/

[8] A federal official with reason to know told me that between 15-20 percent of the indictees in federal courts are probably innocent.  Some are seniors who have been charged with cheating the Social Security program, and they are scared to death, so they agree to plea bargains rather than fight for their innocence.

[9] This is true of many judges, who serve for life and cannot be removed if they are federal judges.