Photo courtesy of Roni Blau

Edward Blau entertainment attorney, 94


Prominent entertainment attorney Edward Blau died at his Los Angeles home on  Jan. 31, surrounded by his family.  He was 94.

Blau was born in the Bronx, N.Y., on Aug. 3, 1922. His parents emigrated from Hungary in the early 1900s and ran a successful neighborhood bakery.

His clients included many luminaries from the world of entertainment, including writer Henry Miller; TV personality, musician, writer and actor Steve Allen; actors Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson, Dennis Hopper and Jerry Mathers; comedians/actors Jerry Lewis and Rowan & Martin; singers Bobby Darin and Dionne Warwick; magicians Siegfried & Roy; the Magic Castle; and Ralph Edwards Productions. He represented renowned singer Johnny Mathis for more than 50 years.

He received an honorary award from the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors for his dedication to the organization. He mentored junior attorneys, many of whom became successful entertainment figures.

From an early age, Blau excelled in school, graduating from City College of New York with a degree in business administration. During World War II, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps (forerunner of the U.S. Air Force), achieving the rank of first lieutenant. After serving in the military, he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1951. His career began with the MCA talent agency in New York, where he worked closely with legendary talent agent and studio executive Lew Wasserman. He then drove across the country to Los Angeles, where he became a prominent entertainment attorney and a partner at a prestigious law firm before eventually branching out on his own.

He loved to regale friends with stories and jokes, and approached every challenge as an adventure, his family said. He enjoyed his daily newspaper, watching movies at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, playing tennis and playing with his grandchildren, his family added.

Blau is survived by his wife, Rita; children Gary, Roni and Sharon (Scott); granddaughters Ariella and Elana; sister Rita Goldstein; and nephew and nieces.

Drug abuse, shame and the Holocaust figure in film about family of notorious Dutch lawyers


In a country where 75 percent of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, the Moszkowicz family of lawyers stood out as a unique Jewish success story.

Descended from Max Moszkowicz, a steel-willed Auschwitz survivor who became Holland’s first modern celebrity attorney, his four lawyer sons took the family business to new heights, turning their name into a household brand here with winning arguments in some of the country’s most famous trials.

Max Moszkowicz himself in 1987 obtained a mere four-year sentence for the kidnappers of the beverage mogul Freddy Heineken. His second son, Robert, in 1976 became Holland’s youngest person to pass the bar exam at 23 (he was a millionaire by 29). Another son, Bram, kept making international headlines – including through the 2010 acquittal of the anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders of hate speech charges.

 

The Moszkowiczes were widely recognized as legal geniuses in the media and at events held in their honor.

But over the past decade, they have fallen from grace. Three of Max Moszkowicz’s sons were disbarred for improprieties, starting in 2005 with Robert — a former heroin addict and flamboyant womanizer who was accused of cheating his clients — and ending in March with the oldest brother, David.

This month, the Moszkowiczes are again making headlines in Holland because of “We Moszkowicz,” the first revealing documentary film about the remarkable family. Made by the first-born son of Robert Moszkowicz, the television production retraces the Holocaust’s deep effects on three generations that for many represent Dutch Jewry’s struggle to return to normalcy after the trauma of the genocide.

Combining footage from Amsterdam, Jerusalem and Auschwitz, the critically acclaimed work by Max Moszkowicz — a 37-year-old filmmaker who is named for his 89-year-old grandfather — offers an unprecedented insight into the rise and fall of a now notorious family.

The filmmaker describes to his father his own panic as a child at seeing Robert – then still a celebrated and practicing lawyer — collapse into a drug-induced stupor at his mansion near Maastricht. Heroin was in plain sight at the father’s Amsterdam apartment, the filmmaker recalls. Robert told him as a child that the beige powder and tin foil were for making special flu medicine.

Standing opposite his father, Max Moszkowicz confronts him over his shame at elementary school following Robert’s publicized arrest. Over the space of six years, the filmmaker followed his father around, assembling the portrait of a vain, sometimes selfish and ultimately unrepentant man who never apologized for actions that apparently have scarred several of his nine children, whom he had with four women.

But “We Moszkowicz” is no damning indictment, filmmaker Max Moszkowicz told JTA in an interview last week about his film, which the Volkskrant daily described as “confrontational, moving and often painful.”

Rather it’s a story about three generations of a troubled but loving family, and an attempt to examine their dysfunctions in light of secondhand emotional damage in siblings attempting to live up to their fathers’ ideals and legacy. The film reveals that the patriarch, determined to rebuild the Jewish family destroyed by the Nazis, disowned Robert because he married a non-Jewish wife — the filmmaker’s mother.

The rejection was so absolute that in 1993, the elder Max Moszkowicz and three of his sons appeared as a family on a television talk show without ever mentioning Robert.

“Four musketeers,” Bram Moszkowicz told the host in describing his family on the show. “One for all, all for one.”

David concurred, saying with a grin: “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Filmmaker Max Moszkowicz said the images, which he saw at 14, “cut like a knife.”

“I wanted to understand what my father had done to be cut from the family as though he never existed,” he said.

Ostracized by his kin, Robert Moszkowicz, a handsome fast talker who enjoyed Italian designer suits and expensive cars — though he struggles with debts, he still owns a late model Jaguar — was driven over the edge following the death of his third child. Jair lived less than one year. Robert had him with his second wife, a heroin addict who kept injecting throughout her pregnancy.

Robert Moszkowicz in Amsterdam in 2015. Photo from Max Moszkowicz
 
Following his first arrest in the 1990s for drug dealing, Robert received a visit in jail from his father, who despite their harsh disagreements took on his son’s legal case because not doing so “would’ve meant losing my son forever,” as the patriarch said during a television interview.

During the charged jailhouse meeting, the father told his wayward son that the facility reminded him of the concentration camp.

“That’s what I want to experience,” Robert replied in what he explained in the film as “a typical desire to feel what my father felt” in the Holocaust.

It’s a key moment in the documentary for understanding the Moszkowiczes’ self-destructive streak, the best-selling Dutch Jewish author Leon de Winter told JTA.

“It’s no coincidence that three sons of this amazing family were disbarred,” de Winter said.

Bram Moszkowicz’s disbarment for mismanagement of funds was “disproportionate,” de Winter said, noting that it ultimately came from legal transgressions motivated by an insatiable drive to please the family patriarch, who lost his parents and two siblings as a teenager in the Holocaust.

Max Moszkowicz, right, with Bram Moszkowicz in Amsterdam in 1987. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
 
The patriarch Max “raised his boys to be invincible,” de Winter said. “And they, in their desperate love and dedication to him, felt the only way to get close and equal to him was to follow him into hell.”

And though they built an empire, the Moszkowiczes always remained outsiders in the Netherlands post-Holocaust, separated from the intellectual elites they frequented by their own traumas and weaknesses for flashy cars and expensive clothes.

“It’s as though they overcompensated in a delayed and tragic effect of the hell that Max Moszkowicz went through in Auschwitz,” de Winter said of the family.

For all its tragic retrospection, “We Moszkowicz” also offers a sense of hope and redemption.

The filmmaker and his father are close, their bond cemented on a two-week trip they made to Israel in 2014. In one of the film’s most moving scenes, Robert Moszkowicz, who is somewhat Jewishly observant and recites his prayers in Hebrew, is overcome with emotion at the Western Wall and is hugged by his son as he cries against the ancient stones.

Robert is also a devoted father to his youngest children with his fourth wife. Opening up in this unprecedented manner to his son’s camera, the filmmaker said, “is his way of making up for mistakes.”

It was with an eye to the future that the younger Max Moszkowicz began making the film in the first place, he said, not wanting to repeat his father’s mistakes with his own first son, Ilai, who was born last year.

“Six years ago, I came drunk to a house party with a bloody mouth that I got from falling down en route,” the filmmaker recalled. “I had an alcohol and drug problem. I saw my bloodied reflection in a mirror at the party and I could see my father’s self-destructive pattern.”

That evening, filmmaker Max Moszkowicz decided to take a hard look at his life that resulted in the film.

“I feel I treated my demons,” he said. “I can move on with my life.”

The story behind the Hotel Shangri-La anti-Semitism trial


It was late in the afternoon on Aug. 15, a Wednesday, when the jury delivered its verdict to a Santa Monica courtroom. The discrimination case that had been brought against the oceanfront boutique Hotel Shangri-La by a group of young Jews had been going on for nearly four weeks, and the jurors had taken five full days for their deliberations. It was so late in the day, in fact, that James Turken, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, and some of his clients who were still standing by, had to be let into the locked courthouse building in Santa Monica by a security guard.

And even though Turken was already hopeful that the jury’s prolonged deliberation might mean good news for his side, it wasn’t until the attorney took a seat in the courtroom that he found out for certain just how overwhelming their victory was.

A court employee had already begun reading the jury’s verdicts for each of the 18 individual plaintiffs, and, with each additional decision, the message became increasingly clear: The jury firmly believed Turken’s clients’ allegations that the hotel and its president, CEO and part-owner, Tehmina Adaya, had illegally discriminated against them, solely because they were Jewish.

The total amount in damages and statutory payments awarded to the plaintiffs on that day added up to about $1.2 million. On the following day, because the jury found the defendants had acted with “malice, oppression and fraud” against most of the plaintiffs, they would also impose a fine on Adaya and the hotel of $440,000 in punitive damages — bringing the size of the total penalties to more than $1.6 million.

But Turken was already elated on Wednesday.

“Home run,” Turken whispered to this reporter. “Home run.”

This story dates back to two years before, to July 11, 2010, when the plaintiffs, most of them affiliated with the Young Leadership Division of the local chapter of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), all attended a pool party organized by the group at the Shangri-La.

The group had made arrangements for the event through an event promoter, Scott Paletz, who had been bringing people to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant since March of that year. Starting at 11 a.m. on that Sunday, the FIDF group had been allotted a cordoned-off area on the pool’s deck, where members had installed a pair of banners announcing their presence. At a check-in table in the courtyard, a blue shirt was displayed with the word “Legacy,” the FIDF program the group was fundraising for that day. It’s a program that brings the young relatives of Israeli soldiers killed in the line of duty for a month-long stay at a summer camp in the U.S.

Adaya, 48, a Pakistani-born Muslim, was also at the pool that day, there to watch the World Cup final game in her cabana. After examining some of the FIDF group’s promotional literature, Adaya instructed members of her staff to take a number of actions against the group — including forcing the FIDF group to take down its banners, literature and other evidence of the organization’s presence. Many of the plaintiffs testified to seeing hotel security guards inform some of the FIDF guests, all easily identified by the blue promotional wristbands they were wearing, that they were not allowed to swim in the pool, or even dangle their feet into the water. The plaintiffs also alleged they heard from a hotel employee that Adaya had made comments about wanting to remove “the [expletive] Jews” from the hotel or the pool.

The hotel staff did not forcibly kick out the attendees of the FIDF party, but their actions, the plaintiffs said, ruined the party. Though it had been expected to last into the evening, the day ended when the plaintiffs left the hotel, around 5 p.m., according to testimony during the trial.

Many of the plaintiffs (most, but not all, of them Jews) also testified that they could not believe they were experiencing discrimination of this sort, at a chic hotel in Santa Monica, in 2010. But that’s precisely what they came to believe had happened, and they were able to convince the jury that Adaya and the hotel had violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, a far-reaching California state law that outlaws discrimination on the basis of “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.”

The law entitles all Californians to “the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever,” and though it was adopted in 1959, a time when the most egregious forms of discrimination were directed against African Americans and other people of color, the statute clearly applies to religious groups, as well.

None of the legal experts interviewed for this article could point to a previous case in which the Unruh Act had been used to affirm the rights of Jews in the way that it was in the Shangri-La case, however. (One case, Sinai Memorial Chapel v. Dudler, had been brought in 1991 by a Jewish plaintiff and cited the Unruh Act, but in that instance the plaintiff was accusing other Jews of discriminating against her because she came from Russia.)

“I don’t think it makes new law, because it simply affirmed that there was a violation of existing law,” Turken said of the Shangri-La victory. “But do I think the case is important? Yeah, I think it’s important. My clients wanted the defendants held up to the world and found liable — and that happened.”

Built in 1939, the Art Deco Hotel Shangri-La is situated on the corner of Ocean and Arizona avenues, with a pool set in an interior courtyard, protected from any winds coming off the Pacific Ocean. The clean, white exterior of the 71-room facility glistens in the Southern California sunshine.

Tehmina Adaya’s father, Ahmad Adaya, purchased the hotel in 1983. Reading a March 2010 post on her blog, tamieadaya.com, one might imagine the Shangri-La to be the Santa Monica equivalent of the Chateau Marmont.

“I had the privilege of growing up in and around an LA institution that as Hollywood’s ocean front hotel had a long history of being a hideaway for high profile figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Bill Clinton, Tom Cruise, Diane Keaton, Madonna and Sean Penn,” Adaya wrote, not long after a $35-million renovation of the Shangri-La was completed in 2009.

But if the hotel does, in fact, aspire to a degree of exclusivity, some of the evidence presented in court appeared to belie that aim. When Adaya took the stand as a witness on Aug. 1, Turken asked her if a formal policy exists as to who is allowed to use the hotel’s pool. Adaya responded that a sign now stands on the pool deck informing visitors that only guests of the hotel and people who have rented cabanas are entitled to swim in the pool.

Asked whether such a sign was posted on the day of the FIDF event, however, Adaya responded, “I’m not sure.”

Attorneys defending Adaya and the Hotel Shangri-La maintained throughout the trial that the FIDF group had not made a formal arrangement with the hotel to hold its party there, and therefore the hotel and Adaya were justified in their actions.

Yet in cross-examination on the witness stand, Adaya retreated from some of her previous allegations about the plaintiffs. Adaya acknowledged that, contrary to the report prepared by the hotel’s head of security, the FIDF group was not behaving in a raucous manner. And when Turken asked Adaya about a lawsuit she had filed against his clients, in which she alleged that they had posted libelous and defamatory comments on various Web sites about her hotel following the ill-fated event, the hotel owner admitted that she had no evidence that it was Turken’s clients who posted the comments.

“But their friends did,” Adaya said.

Whether it was Adaya’s own apparent uncertainty about the Shangri-La’s policies — including those governing the relationship between the hotel and the separate company that in 2010 was running the hotel’s food and beverage concessions — that impacted the jury’s verdict, it is impossible to say. At the close of the trial, before jury deliberations, Adaya declined to speak to this reporter. Adaya also was not present in court when the verdict was announced, nor, despite a request by the court, did she appear to hear the additional penalties read on the following day. Follow-up requests for an interview with Adaya for this article, submitted to her representatives, were declined.

A number of members of the hotel staff were present in the courtroom representing her, accompanied by a recently hired communications counselor with a specialty in crisis communications. They spoke in her defense, saying she intends to appeal the ruling.

Ellen Adelman, chief business development officer at the Shangri-La for the past two years, said she had spoken to Adaya that morning, who, Adelman said, was “disappointed” with the verdict.

“I’ve worked for Tehmina Adaya for over two years, and I have always received the utmost respect from her,” Adelman, who is Jewish, said. Adelman described her boss as one of the “most open people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” and said that the hotel employs staff from “over 12 countries” and welcomed guests from “over 21 different countries” in July.

Standing next to Adelman was Miles Lozano, the hotel’s director of public relations and marketing. Lozano, too, is Jewish, a fact he also made sure to note in a conversation during the morning recess.

“I went to Crossroads School with [Adaya’s] children, her children attended my bar mitzvah,” said Lozano, who declined to state his age but appeared young enough that his bar mitzvah might not be such a distant memory. “I’ve always known Tehmina Adaya to be amazingly open-minded as far as religion or anything like that.”

As for the plans to appeal the ruling, Adelman said that Adaya “firmly believes in the judicial system, and she will appeal this.” Defense attorney Philip Black, meanwhile, wrote in an e-mail to this reporter on the day punitive damages were assessed that he was “mystified, perplexed and extremely disappointed in the jury.”

“Appeal expected,” Black added.

Allison Margolin, L.A.’s dopest attorney


Allison Margolin, 33, is speaking rapidly and interchangeably into two phones. Scribbling notes with her right hand and gesturing with her left, she punctuates points by emphatically tapping her 3-inch-stiletto-heeled boot on the floor.

It’s 10 a.m., and Margolin, dressedin skintight leopard-print pants, a striped T-shirt and oversize glasses, is working from home. The nanny for her 2-year-old daughter is off this week, which means the single mom is on child-care duty.

Two assistants help manage her calls. And as Los Angeles’ self-proclaimed “Dopest Attorney” — arguably one of the most recognizable local faces for criminal defense in marijuana cases — her phone lines are hardly ever quiet.

The Cultivation of a Dope Attorney

Born and raised in Southern California, Margolin comes by her specialization honestly; her father is attorney Bruce Margolin, who has been defending marijuana cases for more than 40 years. The elder Margolin also serves as the director of the Los Angeles chapter of theNational Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and his client list has included such famous drug-dabblers as Timothy Leary.

Growing up in Beverly Hills, Allison Margolin attended Temple Emanuel Academy Day School and Beverly Hills High School before heading East for Columbia University and then Harvard Law School. As an undergraduate, she edited the school newspaper and committed herself to studying. “Since I was 8 years old,” she said, “I’ve been very disciplined.”

After graduating law school and moving back to Los Angeles, Margolin worked with her father briefly before being given a case by a friend of her mother’s — also a criminal defense attorney — and in 2004, she opened a private practice operating out of the Flynt Building.

That same year, Margolin began to market herself. She took out ads in local alternative papers, describing herself as “L.A.’s Dopest Attorney,” some of which featured her wearing dark sunglasses or fishnet stockings.

The ads didn’t necessarily help her drum up business, she said, but they did make her a quasi-celebrity: “They kind of got me well-known … and led to other press.”

Margolin remained in her Wilshire Boulevard office for six years, growing her client list and her reputation. This month, she packed it up and moved a few blocks north, to partner with her father.

Inside the Margolin Operation

The office that Allison and Bruce Margolin share with three other attorneys is in a small building, just south of the Sunset Strip. In the waiting room, a large coffee table is stacked with magazines — including High Times and SPIN, as well as “The Margolin Guide” to state and federal marijuana laws, an instructional booklet written by Bruce Margolin.

Zach Lodmer, 30, walks into the waiting room with a big grin. As one of the firm’s newer associates, he’s adjusting to the transition of working as a criminal defense attorney after having been a prosecutor for two years — a switch that he calls part of “an epiphany.”

Working with the Margolins is, Lodmer said, “a trip.” But Allison’s frenetic personal style belies what he calls an “absolutely amazing” courtroom technique.

“I’ve seen nearly 120 closing arguments [in my career],” he said. “She was the best I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

Of about 12 cases that Margolin has argued in court, only two have resulted in sentences that were worse than what the district attorney originally offered. One was a client charged with identity theft, and the other was a DUI case, in which her client received community service in addition to standard DUI fines and penalties.

Margolin estimates that 60 to 70 percent of her cases are marijuana-related, and this fall, her area of expertise has become particularly topical. As an outspoken advocate of Proposition 19, which would legalize growth and possession of small amounts of marijuana, Margolin — who rattles off historical facts about prohibition and drug law as effortlessly as if she were reading the ingredients on a cereal box — has participated in several debates about the subject and has more scheduled leading up to the Nov. 2 vote.

She has yet to be impressed with the opposition’s arguments.

“This [one] guy said one of the health risks of marijuana is obesity,” she said incredulously, leaning forward and peering over the rim of her glasses, “because people get the munchies.”

Family Comes First

While her professional life has taken off, there’s no question that the central force in Margolin’s life is her family.

Back at her apartment, her 85-year-old grandmother — a Holocaust survivor — has stopped by for a visit. After letting herself in and promptly requesting a change in lighting, she sits down at the kitchen table to play with the baby and watch her granddaughter in action.

“I don’t know how she does it,” she says of Margolin’s deft juggling of work and family.

But the young attorney shows no signs of slowing down and, in fact, seems to thrive on the constant buzz of energy that surrounds her. After fielding a call from a worried client, Margolin hands off the phone before moving on to another task.

Taking the receiver from his boss, her assistant speaks calmly: “99 percent of the time,” he reassures the caller,  “when she says that it will be OK, it is.”

Book review: The Divorce Lawyers’ Guide


Divorce attorneys. Are there two dirtier words in the English language? Thoughts of them conjure up images of circling human sharks, cold-blooded assassins and profiteers feasting on the misery of others. Turning to them for suggestions on how to stay married would seem about as useful as seeking out Donald Trump for tips on humility or former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair for advice on journalistic ethics.
 
Sometimes, though, the conventional wisdom misses the mark. Drawing on interviews with 100 prominent divorce attorneys nationwide, author and former practicing attorney Wendy Jaffe has written an interesting and illuminating work called, “The Divorce Lawyers’ Guide to Staying Married.” Apparently, those with ringside seats in divorce court, a place where couples venture to shred their wedding vows and one another, have a special insight into how not to behave in marriage.
 
In her book, Jaffe outlines how to diagnose and treat myriad union-killers, ranging from no-sex marriages to infidelity to unrealistic expectations. Beyond that, she argues that many couples who end up in divorce court could have, and should have, worked harder to save their unions.
 
In Jaffe’s view, marriage, except in cases of physical or verbal abuse and untreated drug and alcohol addiction, is worth fighting for. She argues that the fact that about half of all marriages in the United States don’t last is less a reflection of widespread incompatibility than an indictment of a disposable American culture that encourages folks to trade in their old-but-perfectly good cars, computers and, yes, even spouses for newer, fresher models. All too often, Jaffe argues, mates in the process of shedding their significant others come to realize too late that they’ve made a terrible mistake, especially when children are involved. The grass might appear greener elsewhere, but that, like a waterhole in the desert, is often only a mirage. The proof: Two of three second marriages end in divorce.
 
Jaffe’s starts her book detailing all the ways sex can kill a marriage. Why start with sex?
 
“It is rare that someone who is having good and regular sex will come to me for a divorce,” says Miami family law attorney Maurice Kutner, one of several lawyers Jaffe quotes.
 
Couples having infrequent intimate relations should beware, Jaffe warns. Sex, she writes, is an integral part of most marriages, and its absence augurs poorly for their survival. There are myriad reasons why married couples’ love lives can cool, including familiarity and the exhaustion of parenthood. Still, a no-sex marriage is far from the norm. As Jaffe notes, just because married spouses have stopped making love with one another doesn’t mean they have stopped making love.

Take the case of Steve and Linda, one of several case studies Jaffe sprinkles throughout her book. The couple married in their mid-20s, had three kids in six years and moved to the ‘burbs. To the outside world, they appeared to have the perfect union. However, behind the smiles, Linda felt increasingly disconnected from her spouse, and her interest in intimacy dwindled markedly with the birth of her children. Over time, Steve also became more disenchanted, especially after his wife rejected repeated requests to discuss her waning drive with a gynecologist. Steve eventually left a “shocked” Linda for a work colleague.
 
So what to do if sex begins to vanish from the bedroom? Jaffe suggests the road to recovery begins with recognition.
 
“Even if sex is not important to you,” she writes, “you have to realize that it might be extremely important to your spouse, and that it is a significant cause of divorce.”
 
Throughout the book, Jaffe encourages readers to consult a therapist. She also offers a helpful list of reference books readers might want to peruse.Infidelity is another sex-related marriage-killer with which Jaffe grapples. On the upside, she argues persuasively that many marriages can withstand cheating. If both spouses figure out what caused the straying and address the problem; if the victim spouse can forgive the affair; and if the adulterous husband or wife truly recommits to the marriage — a lot of ifs — the couple might salvage the union. On the downside, Internet chat rooms and dating services have made it easier than ever for bored spouses to find a playmate.
 
Many marriages, Jaffe writes, are in trouble even before they begin. That’s because one or both partners bring unrealistic expectations to the altar.
 
Couples who expect the romance and fires of passion to burn indefinitely set themselves up for their marriage to flameout. Similarly, men and women who believe marriage will magically transform their significant other are deluding themselves. Her insane jealousy won’t suddenly vanish, just as his verbal abuse and alcoholism won’t disappear. The bottom line: What you see is generally what you get. A caveat, though: People often do change over the course of a marriage, for better or for worse, Jaffe says.
 
Even those who’ve never married, as well as people considering getting hitched for the second or third time, could benefit from “The Divorce Lawyers’ Guide.”
 
Jaffe and the attorneys she interviewed counsel against getting married at a young age. A little life experience, they argue, allows a person to grow up and figure out what they want from themselves and from a prospective spouse. It is no surprise, Jaffe writes, that Oklahoma, despite its location at the heart of the Bible Belt, has the second-highest divorce rate, according to 1990 stats. The reason: One of the lowest average ages for first marriages, at 22 for women and 24 for men.
 
As for remarriage, Jaffe warns against the “clone syndrome.” That is, finding a new spouse with a similar personality to the person just left behind. To avoid making the same mistakes again and again, such as repeatedly hooking up with alcoholics, Jaffe suggests seeing a therapist to “understand why your marriage broke down and how your selection of your spouse played a part in it.”
 
Jaffe’s book makes a surprisingly good read, considering that many lawyers tend to write in a turgid, tangled legalese. Still, Jaffe does trip up a few times.The lawyer in her devotes an entire section to prenuptial agreements. She argues that men and women with substantial assets need to protect them. Rational?

More Information on Getting That Visa


Visa Violations

The U.S. government estimates that about 40 percent of people who are in this country illegally arrived on a legal visa but lost their legal status either by overstaying or otherwise violating the terms of their visa. These are sometimes referred to as “nonimmigrant overstayers.”

Nonimmigrant overstayers include those who came here on a student visa (F-1 or M-1 visa, depending on the type of studies pursued) or their family’s visa (F-2 or M-2). Others come on a tourist visa (B-2) or temporary business visa (B-1).

Another visa commonly used by nonimmigrant overstayers is the H-series visa (H-1, H-2, etc.), which permits those with specialty occupations to enter the country, as well as their families, who enter with an H-4 visa. Another visa commonly used is the R-1, those permitted to enter the United States as “religious workers” and their spouses and children, who enter with an R-2 visa.

All of the above-cited visas are violated if the bearers remain in the United States in a different status from that stipulated in the visa, or if they stay beyond the valid period.

Aid for Those Who Overstay

There are a number of agencies that can help people who are here illegally and would like to talk with someone without fear of being arrested or deported.

Here is a partial list:

  • HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, offers a variety of services and acts as advocates for migrants’ rights. Their main office is in New York, 333 Seventh Ave., 16th floor, New York, NY 10001-5004. (212) 967-4100, (212) 613-1409 or (800) 442-714. www.hias.org.
  • In Southern California, Public Counsel has a program called Immigrants’ Rights Project, which offers a variety of services. Public Counsel, P.O. Box 76900, Los Angeles, CA 90076. (213) 385-2977. Their office is located at 610 Ardmore Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005, and their phone number at that office is (213) 385-9089. They accept appointments only, no walk-ins. www.publiccounsel.org.
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) offers a variety of services. They are located at 5228 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90022. For more information, call (213) 640-3883 or visit www.lafla.org.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union also offers aid at 1616 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026. (213) 977-9500. www.aclu-sc.org

There are also many private attorneys and legal firms that offer services to those in this situation. L.A. newspapers in Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and other languages all have ads for immigration attorneys who are experienced in dealing with cases involving nonimmigrant overstayers and other immigrant issues.

Pollard Appeal Fails; Few Options Left


There appear to be few legal options left for Jonathan Pollard, after a U.S. federal appeals court last Friday rejected the former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst’s claim that he had inadequate counsel when he was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel.

The court denied his request to downgrade his life sentence. At the same time, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied Pollard’s attorneys access to classified information they say would help in their attempt to win presidential clemency for their client.

The rulings, which affirm decisions by a U.S. District Court in 2003, leave Pollard with little recourse but the Supreme Court to change his fate. Pollard’s attorney, Eliot Lauer, said that another option was to ask the entire appellate court to hear the case.

“We are very disappointed with the Appeals Court decision,” Lauer said. “We hope that in time, and we are confident that in time, the American judicial system will give Jonathan Pollard his rightful day in court.”

The appeals hearing was the latest in the battle to free Pollard, who was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to spying for Israel as part of a plea bargain that the U.S. government did not respect.

Pollard’s attorneys and members of the American Jewish community lobbied hard for clemency during the Clinton administration, as well as previous administrations. Israel, which granted Pollard citizenship in 1995, has also raised the issue with successive American administrations.

They argued that Pollard’s life sentence is unjust, because he had pleaded guilty and because it is harsher than the penalties given to convicted spies who had worked for countries antagonistic to the United States.

The court said Pollard’s claim of inadequate counsel was untimely, because he knew the circumstances of his claim before he filed it in 2000. Motions can be filed up to a year after sentencing or when new facts are discovered.

“Pollard knew the facts; what he now claims not to have known is the legal significance of these facts,” Judge David Sentelle wrote for the court, which was unanimous on the issue.

Pollard’s attorney, Jacques Semmelman, said in oral arguments that a conflict of interest between Richard Hibey, Pollard’s original attorney, and Hamilton Fox III, who filed a motion in 1990 seeking a withdrawal of Pollard’s guilty plea, prevented Fox from claiming ineffective counsel.

“The conflict of interest is that Mr. Fox could not bring himself to say anything negative about Mr. Hibey,” Semmelman said under repeated questioning by Sentelle.

The new attorneys claim that Hibey was ineffective, because he did not appeal after Pollard received a life sentence, even though his client had pleaded guilty and had cooperated with the U.S. government.

Pollard’s attorneys also want to see 40 pages of a declaration written in 1987 by then-Secretary of State Casper Weinberger, which outlines his assessment of Pollard’s damage to U.S. interests. That declaration is believed to be key to Pollard’s long sentence, but the court ruled that federal courts lack jurisdiction to review claims for access to documents for clemency purposes.

“The Constitution entrusts clemency decisions to the president’s sole discretion,” wrote Sentelle, joined by Judge Karen Lecraft Henderson.

Judge Judith Rogers dissented, dismissing the jurisdictional question, but saying that Pollard’s lawyers did not have a “need to know,” which is required to access the information. A presidential grant of clemency is a government function, she said, while assisting Pollard’s petition is a private act.

“Simply asserting that one’s assistance is needed does not make it so, especially since executive clemency is a matter of grace,” she wrote, adding that the president would have to seek the assistance of Pollard’s attorney to meet the “need-to-know” standard.

It’s unclear when and if Pollard’s attorneys will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court could hear either or both of the two issues or choose not to review the case, essentially affirming last Friday’s decision.

Pollard, who is being held at Butner Prison in North Carolina, is eligible for parole, but his attorneys said he has not sought a parole hearing, because it would be hard to argue for parole without the classified information.

 

Stuart D. Buchalter


Stuart D. Buchalter, a prominent Los Angeles corporate and securities attorney and philanthropist, died Jan. 7 at the age of 66.

Buchalter, of Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Younger, mentored numerous attorneys and was a dedicated teacher of the law to all around him.

A Los Angeles native, Buchalter received a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and attended Harvard Law School. He served on the boards of directors for numerous public and privately held corporations, including City National Corp. and the Warnaco Group. Buchalter served as chairman of the board and CEO of Standard Brands Paint Company in Torrance from 1980 to 1993 and served as chair and CEO of The Art Stores.

Active in community affairs, Buchalter served as president of the Jewish Community Foundation from 1993 to 1996. He was also a past member of the Los Angeles City Fire and Police Pension Commission and director of the Constitutional Rights Foundation. A patron of the arts who amassed an expansive contemporary art collection, Buchalter served as a member of the Los Angeles Area County Museum of Art and as chair of the board of trustees of the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

Buchalter is survived by his wife, Gail; children, Stephanie, Michael, Douglas and Melissa; grandchildren, Amanda and Erin; and sister, Susan (Burton) Sunkin.

The family requests that donations, in lieu of flowers, be sent to the Gail and Stuart Buchalter Library Endowment Fund for Contemporary Art at UC Berkeley, the Otis College of Art and Design or the Jewish Community Foundation.

Rabbi to Undergo Anger Management


The UCLA Hillel rabbi who allegedly lost his temper and
assaulted a freelance journalist who called him a derogatory name has agreed to
a recommendation that he undergo 36 hours of anger management and pen a letter
of apology to his reported victim.

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller has also said he will place
himself on paid administrative leave from UCLA Hillel, while an independent
attorney appointed by that organization’s national office investigates the Oct.
21 event. It is not known how long the inquiry will last.

Seidler-Feller agreed on Dec. 23 to the recommendations,
which were made a week earlier by a Los Angeles city attorney hearing officer
who had heard the case.

Eric Moses, spokesperson for the city attorney’s office,
said Seidler-Feller would take the anger management courses through Pacific
Educational Services (PES) and would cover the $450 course fee himself. PES
will notify the city attorney’s office upon Seidler-Feller’s completion of the
course.

Donald Etra, Seidler-Feller’s attorney, said the rabbi had
accepted the recommendations because it was “the expedient way of resolving the
case.” He said Seidler-Feller would only apologize for “the fact that there was
an incident.”

Etra went on to say that Seidler-Feller was the aggrieved
party in this case.

“She [Rachel Neuwirth] called him names, she physically
stuck her hand in his face,” Etra said. “The evidence at the hearing was that
he did not do anything to offend her.”

As of press time, the rabbi could not be reached for
comment.

Moses said an apology had to be heartfelt and genuine,
although he offered no specific guidelines. Neuwirth said she would only accept
an apology in which the rabbi showed true contrition.

“I can’t get over this,” she said. “I relive this all the
time. I never in my life thought a rabbi would behave in such a violent
manner.”

Neuwirth filed a civil suit on Nov. 20 against Seidler-Feller,
UCLA Hillel, Los Angeles Hillel Council and Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish
Campus Life seeking undisclosed damages for battery, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent
retention. Seidler-Feller and the local and national Hillels have until late
January to respond.

Neuwirth’s attorney, Robert Esensten, said the hearing officer’s
recommendations bolster the civil suit. However, Etra said that the suit had no
merit, especially since the city attorney’s office  decided not to pursue
criminal charges against Seidler-Feller.

Rabbi Mark Diamond, the executive vice president of the
Board of Rabbis of Southern California, said he hoped the dispute could be
settled in a beit din (Jewish court of law) or through mediation or arbitration
rather than in court.

“Rabbi Seidler-Feller has shown a genuine desire to do the
appropriate teshuvah [repentance],” he said. “I very much hope and pray we can
resolve the issues and tone down the rhetoric.”

Neuwirth said she is not open to resolving the case in a beit
din.

Gary Ratner, executive vice president of the American Jewish
Congress, Western Region, said Seidler-Feller’s actions should permanently
disqualify him from working with college students.

“Who’s to say he is not going to blow up again at some later
date?” he asked.

But Emily Kane, co-president of UCLA Hillel’s student board,
said Seidler-Feller meant much to them.

“Chaim is a huge part of UCLA Hillel,” she said. “This is
just a temporary thing.”  

Pollard Lawyers Get Day in Federal Court


Sept. 2 is going to be a big day for Jonathan Pollard: The American Jewish spy is going to get another day in court.

Pollard’s lawyers will have 40 minutes in a federal courtroom to explain why they should be permitted to continue efforts to rescind the life sentence he received 18 years ago for committing espionage for Israel.

Years of tenacious motions by attorneys Jacques Semmelman and Eliot Lauer either have been vigorously opposed by government attorneys or allowed to languish in the court.

Now U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan has granted a hearing to Pollard and his attorneys — who are working on the case pro bono. Semmelman and Lauer will get 30 minutes to argue why they should be permitted to appeal, the government can take a half hour to respond and then Pollard’s attorneys will be granted 10 minutes for the last word.

So pivotal is the hearing that the judge has ordered federal prison officials in Butner, N.C., to shuttle Pollard to the U.S. District Court in Washington for the event. Prison officials said they are uncertain whether U.S. marshals would fly Pollard to the nation’s capital or drive.

"Normally, we drive them for a mere six-hour trip," a prison representative said, "but a high-profile prisoner like Pollard might be flown."

He added that arrangements would be made for Pollard’s kosher meals.

Despite mounds of legal briefs and well-researched citations, Pollard’s hearing boils down to two issues:

  • Was the ex-naval intelligence officer convicted in March 1987 on the basis of a misleading secret 46-page affidavit?

  • Was he denied due process by a defense attorney who declined to file a routine appeal after Judge Aubrey Robinson stunned Pollard and threw a crowded courtroom into pandemonium with an unexpected life sentence? The life sentence violated the prosecutor’s plea agreement to not ask for life in exchange for Pollard’s cooperation.

Then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger submitted the secret affidavit at virtually the last minute at Robinson’s personal request. In the affidavit, Weinberger wrote: "It is difficult for me, in the so-called ‘year of the spy’ to conceive of a greater harm to national security."

The message, backed up with some 20 classified documents, was clear: Give Pollard a life sentence — regardless of the written plea agreement.

Fifteen years later, Weinberger conceded that "the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance." Pressed on why this was so, Weinberger replied, "I don’t know why — it just was."

Attorneys Semmelman and Lauer have been filing motion after motion to see the supposedly secret documents so they can adequately appeal. But their efforts have been denied on the grounds of national security, even though they have been granted the necessary security clearances. Semmelman is a former U.S. attorney. The documents concern sources and methods used two decades ago, before the proliferation of personal computers.

The second question asks whether Pollard was denied due process on account of "ineffective assistance of counsel," according to the motion.

Pollard’s attorney at the time, Richard Hibey, has been widely criticized for inaction. He failed to object when prosecutors violated the plea agreement and asked for life, failed to call for an evidentiary hearing on Weinberger’s secret affidavit and then — to the surprise of most observers — declined to file the routine notice of appeal in the 10 days allotted.

For years, Hibey has dodged all questions on his representation of Pollard.

Despite the hearing, there are few prospects for a Pollard release in the immediate future.

Even if Semmelman and Lauer were granted the opportunity to appeal — consistently denied because Hibey failed to file the 10-day notice — it might take another year or two for any decision.

Pollard already has served far longer than the average for people convicting of spying either for enemies of the United States or it allies.

An Ethical Vision


Dov Seidman is used to riding a little ahead of the curve.
Back in 1998, the Los Angeles-based attorney and founder of the legal research
firm Legal Research Network (LRN) decided to expand his business to include an
online course in business ethics.

 At the time, no one could have foreseen the coming scandals
involving companies like Enron and Arthur Andersen. As soon as the wave of
corporate corruption hit, Seidman became the man to call — both by the media
for quotes and by companies seeking to ensure their reputations remained
spotless.

“In 1998, we were starting to write pamphlets and handbooks
that lawyers could proactively give to business managers and employees to start
putting out fires, so to speak,” Seidman said. “That was really a shift from
working with lawyers and helping them to be great firefighters to helping them
produce fireproof enterprises.”

Seidman, who dubbed his ethics department “LCEC,” or Legal
Compliance and Ethics Center, said he views sharing ethical principles as
crucial to a democratic system of law. He sees the Internet as the perfect 
tool to educate employees about legal ethics and “the rules of society’s road.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Western regional office
will honor Seidman for his vision of bringing a new ethical standard to
businesses here and abroad at its Jurisprudence Award Dinner on March 12. Other
honorees will include California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who will
receive the ADL’s Distinguished Community Service Award, and Joseph D. Mandell,
UCLA’s vice chancellor of legal affairs, who will receive the Stanley Mosk
Liberty Through Justice Award for his many years of public service.

“The award [Seidman] is getting is usually given to someone
in the legal profession who is doing something a cut above the rest of the
legal community,” said Barbara Racklin, director of development for the ADL’s
Western regional office. “Looking over what he’s done in his short career, we
felt he fit the bill for this award.”

Seidman, 38, attributes much of his career success to the
lessons he learned from his eclectic childhood. His father, Alex, a physician
born in Vienna to Holocaust survivors, lived in San Francisco and maintained
close ties with the European Jewish community there until his death in 1992.
Seidman said his father helped shape his outlook as a “citizen of the world.”

But it was his mother, Sydelle, who changed the course of
his life when she took him and his siblings, Ari and Goldee, on a trip to Israel
shortly after the end of the Six-Day War. Although she spoke no Hebrew and had
no family there, his mother decided to remain in the Jewish state.

“My mother had a very deep sense of intuition. Her bravery
and adventurism were really off the charts,” Seidman said. “In Israel at that
time there was a sense of euphoria and magic. All three of us kids grew up
bilingual and bicultural. It’s given me the ability to be creative and see
things from a different point of view.”

The family bounced back and forth between San Francisco, Tel
Aviv and Jerusalem for years, finally settling in Los Angeles. Seidman said
that 11th grade at Beverly Hills High School was the first time in his life
that he spent two consecutive years in the same school.

In addition to the challenges of always being “the new kid,”
Seidman also had to contend with dyslexia. He said he got into UCLA as a
“hardship case” and ended up majoring in philosophy, because it was the only
major where it was easy to get classes. In Horatio Alger fashion, he worked
hard, received his degrees, studied for and earned another bachelor’s degree
from Oxford and eventually graduated from Harvard Law School in 1992.

Two months out of Harvard, working at O’Melveny & Myers’
Washington, D.C., office, Seidman was doing research for a senior partner when
he came up with the idea to create a professional legal research firm in lieu
of using inexperienced lawyers for research.

“It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be in the grip of a
vision, but I was,” Seidman said. The young lawyer quit his job to build the
company. The risk paid off.

Within weeks of launching LRN (now called the Legal
Knowledge Company), Seidman’s company drew a mention on the front page of The
Wall Street Journal. Soon, companies like Motorola, Johnson & Johnson,
DuPont and Chevron were signing on for LRN’s services. LRN doubled its revenues
to more than $100 million in 2002, said company spokesman Ken Montgomery.

Determination and passion for the goal does indeed pay off,
Seidman told The Journal. “I think one of the qualities that makes someone a
true entrepreneur is the inability to contemplate failure,” he said. “You
really focus on what you have to get done.”

To make reservations for the ADL’s Jurisprudence Award
Dinner, call Les Williams at (310) 446-8000 ext. 267.  

Eulogies:Harvey Silbert


Harvey Silbert, philanthropist and attorney, died Sept. 28. He was 90.

For more than six decades, as a businessman, founding partner and attorney of counsel to numerous law firms, Silbert had been a professional and philanthropic engine in Los Angeles.

In a eulogy, Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel of Hollywood described Silbert as "prodigious in stature and dignity, magnanimous in his capacity to love, overwhelming in his generosity to individuals and to every good cause, to his people and to the State of Israel, indeed, to all humankind."

Silbert’s life began on June 10, 1912, in Boyle Heights, where he became a bar mitzvah at the Breed Street Shul. During the Depression, he graduated from Southwestern University Law School. Despite the threat of anti-Semitism, Silbert launched a legal career with a $50-a-month salary and a streetcar pass to the courthouse.

His first celebrity client, silent movie star Constance Bennett, broke him into entertainment law. When a Columbia executive asked him, in the 1940s, to join the board of what would become Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Silbert’s career as a philanthropist was born.

A recipient of numerous awards and honorary doctorates, Silbert served as the director of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and of Bet Tzedek Legal Services. He was a member of the board of trustees of UCLA, the founder of the Silbert International Scholars Program of UCLA’s Medical School and facilitator of the Fund for Interactive Biomedical Research in Washington, D.C. He was on the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University, sat on the board of directors of Southwestern University School of Law and was a member of the Western region board of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He also supported the Anti-Defamation League and Milken Family Foundation.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem was a special part of Silbert’s philanthropic life. He assumed a series of key leadership roles within The American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU), including chairman of the board of the Western states region from the mid-1980s to the present. He was also a chairman of AFHU’s board of directors and served as deputy chairman of the Hebrew University International Board of Governors. A tireless proponent of the institution, Silbert often brought delegations of supporters to Israel. He and his wife of 67 years, Lillian, became benefactors of Hebrew University in 1990. The Silberts’ generosity led to the establishment of vital facilities on the Mount Scopus campus, including The Harvey L. Silbert Center for Israeli Studies. He also initiated funding for the Lillian and Harvey L. Silbert Humanities Building, a rich cultural reservoir of educational resources; the Silbert Family Wing at Hebrew University’s Louis Boyar Building housing the Rothberg International School; and the Lillian Silbert Garden on the Mount Scopus campus.

He mixed easily with Israeli prime ministers, U.S. heads of state and Hollywood notables. He knew Gregory Peck well, and his friendship with Frank Sinatra, whom Silbert deemed "one of the nicest, kindest men I’ve ever met," led to the legendary crooner subsidizing a Hebrew University edifice. He also persuaded Barbra Streisand to fund a building on the Mount Scopus campus.

"I’d like to see more [Jewish] people involved [in supporting Jewish and Israeli causes]," Silbert once told The Journal. "There are some very important people in this industry, the heads of major studios, whom you still can’t budge."

"He was embarrassed by how good and generous he was. He was Harvey," said Patricia Glaser, partner at Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil and Shapiro, where Silbert had an office for the last four years.

"Harvey was a model for me and for many others in the Jewish community," said Peter Weil, president of the L.A chapter of AFHU, Western Region. "Just a walk through its campus on Mount Scopus … quickly shows his impact. Buildings, classrooms, faculty offices, even gardens, all bear the Silbert name."

Silbert is survived by his wife, Lillian; son, Kenneth; daughter, Lynne; grandchildren, Jill, Gina, David and Greg; great-grandchildren, Lucie, Sam and Eliana; and sister, Sylvia Stern. — Michael Aushenker, Staff Writer

Eulogies:Martin William Siegel


Martin William Siegel, workers’ compensation attorney, died Aug. 18 at the age of 50.

Marty was a well-known and respected attorney specializing in workers’ compensation law throughout Southern California. He successfully supported and defended the rights of a legion of workers.

He will be remembered for his kindness, compassion, dedication, honesty and devotion to family and work.

He is survived by his wife, Geri; son, Eric; daughter, Emily; parents, Sidney and Mildred; and sisters, Marie (Stan) Hecht, Lisa (Jeff) Bluen and Dr. Maxine (Dr. Jack) Baum. — Sidney and Mildred Siegel

Balancing the Scales


What is the duty to assist those in danger under Jewish law compared to American law? The question is no mere academic exercise to Neil H. Cogan, dean of the Whittier Law School, who spoke on the topic last week as the inaugural speaker of the recently formed Jewish Lawyers of Orange County.

More than 50 lawyers attended the Newport Beach luncheon at the Pacific Club, the second Jewish professional group organized under the Jewish Federation of Orange County. In addition to a 10-person advisory panel, the group’s honorary chair members include Todd Spitzer, a county supervisor; Joel Kuperberg, Irvine’s city attorney, and Kenneth Wolfson, counsel to developers of the Foothill Ranch and Rancho Santa Margarita.

"What the committee wanted was to tie into Jewish life," said Jeffrey Rips, the Federation’s campaign director and group organizer. Like the Federation’s other professional group, who are real estate executives, the lawyers’ group intends to meet three times a year. In addition to socializing and networking, the goal is for each event to also count as credit toward the State Bar’s continuing-education requirement. Whittier Law School certified the first event met credit requirements.

The school’s dean said such academic-sounding discussions can take on contemporary relevance when considering the extraordinary lengths the U.S. government sometimes takes to aid its citizens throughout the world. Yet, unlike Jewish law, which compels intervention to assist those in danger, most American statutes are absent a legal obligation and instead encourage autonomy, he said.

"Having talks about Jewish law or Japanese law or Islamic law, all of that is helpful because it helps thinking," Cogan said. "Lawyers have been trained to think outside the box before it was a phrase."

Cogan, too, will have to heed his own advice to achieve the goals he has set for himself and the school since relocating from Connecticut last July.

"I hope to take what is already a very fine school and build it into a state and national school," said Cogan, 57, who competed against 100 candidates vying for the job. The school’s previous dean, John A. FitzRandolph, who over a quarter century led drives for accreditation, relocation and growth, died last March, less than a year after retiring.

The 35-year-old law school relocated to a new Costa Mesa campus in 1997 from Los Angeles’ Hancock Park. Next year, two new teachers are to be added to the 27-person faculty, which includes three teaching deans. More than half of the school’s 653 students attend full time and 42 percent are minorities. Among the graduating class of 2000, 86 percent were employed a year later.

Cogan’s goal is burnishing Whittier’s reputation by encouraging faculty scholarship and establishing specialized centers where students learn the rules of their profession. He has also added a summer abroad program, including an alliance with Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University.

"It’s really support and encouragement that will make a difference," said Cogan, editor of three works on constitutional subjects and author of numerous articles cited by law reviews.

When tapped last March for the job, Cogan had been on sabbatical, serving as a visiting scholar at Yale University and coordinator of a distance-learning venture at New York University School of Law. For the previous seven years, Cogan was a professor and dean at Quinnipiac College School of Law in Connecticut.

Cogan, one of the few Orthodox law school deans in the country, often must balance observant practices with the modern workplace. For example, bringing along kosher-prepared food to a lunch meeting would be gauche. "I have to meet people. I can’t bring a brown bag to a restaurant," said Cogan, whose typical order is a tuna fish sandwich. "I don’t neglect any part of my job," he added.

Cogan lives in the Pico-Robertson area of Los Angeles with two of his five children. His wife and three younger children will relocate later this year.

In May, the Federation will consider creating similar networking groups for the county’s Jewish physicians and high-tech executives.

Community Scholar


Driven by a personal desire for intellectual growth, Arie Katz set out last year to attract to Orange County the sort of eminent Jewish scholars that few synagogues can afford to woo on their own.

With little more than his own chutzpah and considerable networking skills, the Newport Beach attorney won support and financial backing from the area’s most influential Jewish agencies to establish a community scholar-in-residence program. Its first event, at 7 p.m. Jan. 28, will kick off at the Jewish Federation Campus in Costa Mesa with the arrival of Avigdor Shinan, an Israeli professor and author.

During a monthlong U.S. stay, Shinan, 55, agreed to a jam-packed schedule of lectures, Shabbat events and study series at a range of interdenominational synagogues, four campuses, an educators retreat and a working weekend in Seattle. An engaging speaker and author of six books, Shinan is a specialist in rabbinical literature and has served as a guest lecturer at Yale University and New York’s Yeshiva University. He is currently a professor of Hebrew literature at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and is the immediate past chair of the department.

In an e-mail interview, Shinan told The Journal he agreed to the demanding schedule, although he conceded the visit will contribute little to his own career. "What is being a teacher if not standing before anyone who is ready to listen and try and bring into their life something new?"

Most of the lectures, with titles such as "Folk Stories in the Talmud and Midrash," are from material Shinan developed for previous presentations at established community scholar programs in Washington, D.C., and Houston, Tex.

If the pilot program’s intent is giving adults affordable access to high-level learning, it also reveals that the county’s Jewry is capable of organizing across denominations and institutional boundaries. "The Federation felt it was very important to create a communitywide education concept," said Bunnie Mauldin, executive director of the agency, which contributed $10,000 toward the program’s $25,000 cost.

"It’s one of the few co-sponsored events that builds community," added Julie Rubin, assistant executive director of the county’s Jewish Community Center (JCC). "It’s a model for Jewish programs in our community."

Only one major synagogue is not participating in the community-scholar program. Newport Beach’s Temple Bat Yahm has its "university," a five-part lecture series that on its own can afford to attract celebrated speakers. "I have speakers from Hebrew University all the time," explained Rabbi Mark S. Miller. "We ask our people to come to so much; we risk overload. I would wonder where to fit it in."

Though most local synagogues offer their members cultural and theological enrichment by scheduling visits by guest lecturers, a community scholar program’s duration can create a different opportunity. "My hope is it will whet people’s appetite for more, teaching adults that Jewish learning is a lifelong endeavor," said Rabbi Elie Spitz of Tustin’s Congregation B’nai Israel, a Conservative synagogue of 480 families that is sponsoring Shinan’s talk on "Moses and His Two Wives." "The depth of learning that creates personal transformation only comes through consistency," Spitz said.

While the region’s Jewish population of about 60,000 is successfully supporting the physical expansion of new schools and new shuls and providing learning opportunities for youth, the area lacks resources for adults that are available in larger cities. In fact, the void here is reflected in most American Jewish communities, which place less cultural emphasis on adult learning than communities in Europe and Israel, Spitz says.

Some residents resort to unusual steps to fill that vacuum. Take Linda S. Seidman. Before returning to full-time work, the Irvine aerospace engineer would schlep to Los Angeles to satisfy her interest in serious scholarship from a nontraditional, feminist perspective. That luxury ended when she resumed design work on a global positioning satellite for Boeing in Huntington Beach. Seidman’s solution was to hire her own professor, underwriting for a year weekly classes studying how Judaism perceives women. It is attended by a dozen other students and offered through the county’s Bureau of Jewish Education. "We’ve gotten stuck in the first two chapters of Genesis and haven’t come up yet," Seidman said. "I’d rather dig deeper than go broader."

Seidman, though, is an exception. Most Jewish adults effectively end their Jewish education after their confirmation. "What I think is missing is not big-name speakers but sustained education," explained Joan Kaye, director of the county’s Bureau of Jewish Education, which is sponsoring two multipart Shinan courses. "The problem with adult Jews, is they leave Hebrew school after the seventh grade; they have a 12-year-old’s vision of the world."

Demand for adult education has increased over the last 15 years, Kaye says, growing out of family-oriented programs in day schools and synagogues. "What family education has started to do is give people a taste of Jewish learning," she said.

Many communities offer nondegreed, adult education courses based on curriculum developed by the rabbinical training schools. These include the Melton curriculum, developed by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, training ground for rabbis of the Conservative movement, and the Me’ah Program, developed jointly in 1994 by the Committee of Jewish Continuity and Hebrew College, the Reform movement’s rabbinical school.

Avoiding denominational barriers and potentially drawing people out of hidebound routines is a clear benefit of a secular community scholar program. "Synagogues have their own agenda and bring a scholar that’s consistent with their religious orientation," pointed out Marilyn Hassid, program director for Houston’s JCC, which has hosted scholars in residence since 1985.

"People live for this," said Hassid, estimating that the Houston program cumulatively reaches about 4,000 people annually. That includes a cadre of 40 scholar groupies, who often attend every lecture by following the scholar’s itinerary. One consequence, she said, "is there’s a desire to continue learning after the scholar leaves."

The inspiration for Orange County’s community scholar program came from a weekend retreat that Katz attended last February through his synagogue, B’nai Israel. Noam Zion, a visiting scholar and master teacher infused the study of the familiar biblical story about Cain and Abel with relevancy about contemporary family relationships. "We did an intense text study that made people excited to learn," recalled Katz, 34, a corporate attorney who relocated with his family from Boston four years ago. "It was interesting and motivating."

After learning of the Houston and Washington scholar-in-residence programs from Zion, Katz set out to replicate their success by first seeking advice from two other synagogue members. "To me, it’s a very significant event in the development and growth of the community," said Mike Lefkowitz, who suggested Katz rely on the JCC for organizational strength.

"If it’s successful, it will perpetuate itself," added Dr. Harold Kravitz, a retired Costa Mesa family practitioner, who made federation introductions for Katz.

"No other institution offered this," Katz said. "We didn’t find it, so we created it." For seed money, he and 19 friends chipped in. Synagogues are paying fees beginning at $500 per session, which will help underwrite succeeding year’s events.

Even before getting underway, the scholar program is generating unexpected benefits, such as a co-presentation planned with the Balboa Performing Arts Theater Foundation of celebrated Israeli author A.B. Yehoshova next month.

Clearly an optimist, Katz is already securing bookings for February 2003.

Latino Group Sues Over District Lines


If the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) gets its way, state Senate elections scheduled for March will be postponed until June, and California’s newly redrawn congressional districts will be re-redrawn.

MALDEF has filed a lawsuit challenging congressional and state Senate districts in the San Fernando Valley, Southeast Los Angeles and San Diego. The suit claims that lawmakers, in their attempt to create "safe" districts for incumbents, have divided Latino communities to prevent them from joining to elect new Latino representatives. According to MALDEF, this division of communities violates provisions of the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees the right to representation for "communities of interest."

The congressional districts challenged in the lawsuit are held by two Jewish representatives, Howard Berman (D-Mission Hills) and Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista). Maria Blanco, an attorney for MALDEF, says, "I think this has been kept at the level of the Latino voters. Our focus isn’t so much about who the incumbent is."

Some in the Jewish community see it differently.

"What MALDEF is essentially trying to do is remove two Jewish members of Congress and replace them with two Latino members. They’re trying to shove all the Latinos in an area into one district so a Latino can win the primary. Berman’s been a champion of Latino legislation for 30 years. They want to replace him with someone whose last name sounds like theirs," says Jewish community activist Howard Welinsky.

Rabbi Gary Greenebaum also takes issue with the claims underlying the redistricting challenge. "The district that Howard Berman serves is a very mixed area. He has shown himself to be an effective representative of a mixed community. The MALDEF lawsuit claims Berman is not an effective legislator because he’s not Latino. I don’t think a Jew can be represented only by a Jew, or that a Latino can be represented only by a Latino."

Dissenting voices in the Jewish community are careful, however, to distinguish between the MALDEF lawsuit and Latino leaders in general. As Welinsky says, "We can’t paint this with one brush; virtually every Latino member of the Legislature voted for the reapportionment. Current Latino elected officials have been very supportive of Israel, as have African American elected officials, for that matter."

Gov. Gray Davis and Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg are among the state officials named in the suit, because of their roles in passing the new district lines. MALDEF is not challenging the Assembly districts, which Hertzberg attributes to "the meticulous and open procedures we used throughout the process" of redistricting. Unlike the state Senate and the congressional delegation, California’s Assembly did not hire political consultant Michael Berman (brother of Rep. Howard Berman) to craft the new districts.

Amadis Velez says the lawsuit has nothing to do with potential rivalries between Jewish and Latino candidates. Asked about the goals behind the challenge to Berman’s Valley district, MALDEF’s redistricting coordinator answers with a question: "Let me ask you, do you see this conflict between Jews and Latinos? Because I really don’t see a conflict. With few exceptions, I think Jews and Latinos have worked pretty steadily toward common goals.

"If you look at the district, it doesn’t speak to the needs of Jews or Latinos. It speaks to the needs of incumbents. It’s just not a matter of the ethnicity of the representatives."

MALDEF has asked that state Senate elections scheduled for March 2002 be postponed until June to allow potential candidates time to campaign, and that a panel of judges redraw the districts to include undivided Latino communities. The Central District Federal court in Los Angeles scheduled a temporary restraining-order hearing for Wednesday, Oct. 31, to determine if elections should be postponed. And if MALDEF loses? "There’s always an appeals process," says Velez.

Though all involved are anxious to avoid the appearance of Jewish and Latino conflict, the issues raised by MALDEF’s lawsuit hit a sore spot for some. "For a minority that’s always been a minority, to say you shouldn’t bother to serve your community unless you represent an area where you’re in the majority basically says Jews should get out of politics," Greenbaum says.

Oil Loses Round


Neighbors for a Safe Environment (NASE) won a round April 18 in its ongoing battle with an oil company that wants to expand operations at a site in the Pico-Robertson area.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe announced that he would issue an order that will force the City of Los Angeles to revoke approval of the environmental impact report (EIR) that Breitburn Energy Company needs to proceed with the expansion.

"We need to have people understand that we are not powerless and [not] just a little group of people fighting a big oil company and losing," said NASE’s Rae Drazin, who has worked to muster community support amid seeming apathy toward the cause. "We can do it, and that is something the community should know."

Joel Moskowitz, NASE’s attorney, said the judge will issue his order after a 10-day period during which Breitburn can comment upon a draft submitted by NASE. If the judge signs the order, the city will be forced to revoke approval of the EIR, and Breitburn will have to cease construction on the site at the corner of Pico Boulevard and and Doheny Drive.

Breitburn public relations consultant Howard Sunkin of Cerrell Associates said the company is awaiting finalization of the order before it determines its course of action.

"Breitburn is looking at its options," he said. "This isn’t a victory for NASE, it’s a victory against the environment," he said, maintaining that the proposed improvements to the site would eliminate most of the toxins currently emitted.

Judge Yaffe found the EIR unsatisfactory in its analysis of noise issues, saying he was not convinced neighbors would not be disturbed by pipes clanging in the middle of the night from the proposed round-the-clock operation.

If Breitburn is asked to revise its EIR, the report will be subject to a new round of public hearings and will come before the City Council — as it did last April, when the council voted to approve, under the recommendation of Councilmember Michael Feuer of the 5th District.

The last round of public hearings brought out hundreds of neighbors, both for and against the $6-million expansion of the pumping site, as well as modifications to the processing site across the street.

The project aims to increase output from 1,200 to 3,000 barrels of oil a day, pumped from the West Beverly Hills Oil Field, which supplies many of the drill sites in the area. The oil is transported to refineries via underground pipes; none is stored, shipped or processed above ground.

To achieve the increased output, a 129-foot, electrically powered derrick would replace a mobile diesel rig, called a "workover rig," that until now has performed regular maintenance on the site’s 69 wells. Breitburn had planned to increase the current 10 days a month of workover operations to 24 hours a day, year-round, save all Jewish and legal holidays. The project would also raise the perimeter wall from 12 feet to 25 feet and enclose most of the operations in soundproof structures.

Breitburn says removing the mobile diesel rig will eliminate almost all the diesel emissions at the site, which accounted for most of the toxins emitted.

The initial approval from the city’s Office of Zoning Administration laid out 78 conditions in areas such as noise, odor, air quality, worker decorum, landscaping, operations and monitoring.

But NASE sued the city and Breitburn, saying the EIR the city approved does not adequately measure the current output of emissions and therefore cannot reflect what the expanded operation would do to the environment. In addition, NASE questions the city’s ability to adequately monitor the site.

The judge’s finding — based solely on noise — was surprising to NASE members, they say, adding, however, that serving a setback to Breitburn and bringing the issue back to the public is what counts.

"We think there’s a lot more than clanging pipes that is wrong with this project, but that’s what we won on," Moskowitz said. "The way the law works, it doesn’t matter how many grounds you win on, the city still has to revoke the permit that it issued."

He says NASE can ask the judge to force Breitburn to pay NASE’s attorney fees, which would give the nonprofit organization funds to acquire experts for the next round.

NASE will again try to mobilize the public so that the councilmember’s office will understand neighborhood concerns.

"Of course we would have liked to have forced Breitburn to make a more adequate analysis of the pollution issues, but that doesn’t preclude us from forcing our representatives to look at pollution issues," Moskowitz said.

The impending election might also influence the case. Michael Feuer is up for city attorney, the governmental entity that was a co-respondent with Breitburn in the case NASE brought. Jack Weiss and Tom Hayden are in a run-off in the June election for Feuer’s vacated seat for the 5th District.

NASE members say Hayden would probably be most effective in fending off what they see as the oil company’s heavy influence over city politics.

But Breitburn says politics won’t matter. "We have absolutely no concern about any political changes that may occur in the June election because we believe that the improvements to the site are so overwhelmingly in support of the environment that this project will proceed," Sunkin said.

Spectator


Attorney GerrySchubert may be a relatively familiar face in Orange County; alongtime resident of Yorba Linda and a member at Mission Viejo’sCongregation Eilat, Schubert is actively involved in JewishFederation projects. But, soon, he may become better known for therelease of his second musical CD, “Life in the Moment” (GalleryRecords).

An accomplished pianist, Schubert financed theproduction of an earlier CD recording with profits from his legalpractice. Now, with the commercial release of his second, he’s hopingto make a gradual crossover from full-time attorney to full-timemusician, a lifelong dream he had put aside during law school.

On the new recording, his piano compositions areaccompanied by full orchestrations for what loosely could be calledNew Age music: melodic, lushly arranged compositions with a romantic,almost sentimental sensibility. The regional music chain TowerRecords has given Schubert’s “Life” CD a coveted place at itscustomer listening stations at more than 70 locations.

For now, Schubert earns his daily bread byrepresenting employers in workmen’s compensation-related cases. Buthis creative ambitions have always been bound up with music.

“I studied classical music from about 9 years oldto 17,” he said, “and jazz and theory when I got older…. I wasalways composing little melodies in my head.”

As a teen-ager and a young man, Schubert did themusical circuit in his native Maryland, playing with his band at barmitzvahs and weddings, and even scoring a local one-time gig with TheDrifters.

“It was a real thrill,” he said. “During my senioryear in high school, I was in this band called The Atlantics. TheDrifters came to perform in Maryland and needed a rhythm section. Ourmanager got us three dates with them.”

After college, Schubert played on the road, thenworked as a pianist at a Hyatt Regency Hotel, where his musicalaspirations stalled. “I felt I wasn’t going to have the career Iwanted,” he said. “I didn’t want to play hotels or parties the restof my life, so I decided to go to law school. So now I have apractice, and I am satisfied when I get a good result, but I don’tlike being adversarial all the time…. With the music, it’s sosatisfying. To begin with a little melody and then later to hear afull orchestral arrangement play your song, it’s like giving birth toa child, an indescribable feeling.”

Schubert said that his exploration of his ownheritage has enhanced his musical career. “My involvement withJudaism has helped to center me spiritually and helped me with mymusic composition. I look forward to people listening to it. I hopethey find comfort and joy in it.”

“Life in the Moment” is available at area TowerRecords stores.