CaliforniaALL, a Section 501(c)(3) charitable entity, came about as a result of a San Francisco restaurant meeting between Ruthe Ashley (a Diversity Officer at CalPERS and Vice President of the State Bar of California) and Peter Arth, Jr., Chief of Staff to CPUC President Michael Peevey. Also present at that meeting was Professor Sarah E. Redfield.
CaliforniaALL's alleged purpose was to award grants to entities that would increase minority participation in the "pipelines" that feed into various industries, such as finance, technology, and law.
On January 27, 2009 DLA Piper's Gilles Attia and the Office of Assembly-member Mike Davis co-hosted a reception honoring California ALL at the Tsakopoulos Galleria in Sacramento. Bottom (left to right): Ruthe Ashley; Judge Morrison England and Mrs. Torie Flournoy-England; Ruthe Ashley, Gilles Attia, News 10 Presenter Sharon Ito, and Assembly-member Mike Davis. Top right is Karina Hamilton. Mike Davis, an ally of former assembly-member Gwen Moore and Karen Bass, is the vice-chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, member of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, and the Chair of the California Assembly "Select Committee on Rail Transportation." DLA Piper's Gilles Attia is the corporate counsel of Wireless Rail Network (Wi-Fi Rail)-- a high-speed broadband wireless provider with specific focus on commuter rail lines and WiFi on trains. Around 2008, Wi-Fi Rail was in negotiation with BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to provide lightning-fast Internet connections for thousands of daily commuters. (Photo:courtesy)
Donations to CaliforniaALL came primarily from utility companies (including AT&T, Sempra Energy, and PG&E). In its brief existence from 2008 to 2010, CaliforniaALL collected close to $2 million, including an unusually large sub rosa contribution of $780,000 from the State Bar of California Foundation in 2008.
CaliforniaALL was abruptly dissolved in July 2010.
JUDGE AND MRS. MORRISON ENGLAND
Hon. Morrison C. England, born 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri, received a B.A. from University of the Pacific in 1977 and a J.D. from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in 1983. He was in private practice in California from 1983 to 1996 and served as a judge on the Sacramento Superior Court for the State of California from 1996 to 2002. In 2002, England was appointed to serve as a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, located in Sacramento, California.
Serving on the board of directors of CaliforniaALL (which was in a partnership relationship with the State Bar of California) were Torie Flournoy-England, the esteemed and educated spouse of a Sacramento- based federal judge, Hon. Morrison England.
Judge Morrison England, as well as then-State Bar of California Executive Director Judy Johnson and State Bar employee Patricia Lee were part of CaliforniaALL's Advisory Council. See below.
Sara M. Granda v State Bar of California (2009 cv 02015)
Ms. Sara Granda. It is easy to imagine Sara Granda in a courtroom, questioning witnesses, challenging the opposition, and fighting for justice with the force of her large personality. A ventilator, which she needs to breathe, would hang from the back of her wheelchair. An assistant would help her flip through files, since she cannot move her hands or arms. When she approaches the bench, Ms. Granda would maneuver her chair using her tongue. "So much of what happens in the courtroom is theater," says Ms. Granda, 29, who has lived out her own drama since she became paralyzed from the neck down at age 17. "I'm not sure how much time I will spend in court as an attorney. But I know I could do it." (Photo and Narrative Courtesy of www.alldeaf.com)
In May 2009, Granda graduated from U.C. Davis School of Law and, like most of her peers, hoped to sit for the July 2009 bar exam.
California's Department of Rehabilitation paid the $600 bar exam fee with a check, and Granda was assured that she was properly registered.
Ms Gayle Murphy (Image:courtesy of Cal Bar Journal)
However, the State Bar of California's Office of Admission, headed by Ms. Gayle Murphy, never processed Granda's application because the Department of Rehabilitation paid the $600 fee with a check, rather than a credit card.
The State Bar of California did not relent, and neither did Granda.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Courtesy CNN)
Local and national media expressed outrage after the situation gained publicity as a result of statements by Governor Schwarzenegger, who publicly stated: "It is outrageous that someone who has overcome so much in life is penalized by a bureaucratic error that prevents her from taking the bar exam. Government should work for the people, not against them and I'm calling on the state bar to allow Sara Granda to take next week's test. Sara is a fighter and I am with her all the way.”
Mr. Robert A. Hawley, California State Bar Deputy Executive Director and an adjunct ethics professor at McGeorge School of Law, stated to the Sacramento Bee: "It's a high-tech process, and people need to maneuver it successfully, and we can't be in the business of helping any one person out with it." Hawley continued: "That takes us down a path that ends up in a place we don't want to be. How do you then choose which ones to help and which you don't?"
"I worked very, very hard for every cent," Granda stated to the local media. "So for everything to come together in the end and for it to just kind of fall through on such a minor, minor detail."
True to her spirit, Granda filed an action in federal court seeking an order directing the State Bar of California to allow her to take the fast-approaching bar exam.
The case was assigned to the courtroom of Hon. Morrison C. England, the husband of California ALL board member Torie Flournoy-England who, together with State Bar Executive Director Judy Johnson, served on CaliforniaALL's advisory council.
Making an appearance and vigorously contending that the federal court had no jurisdiction over the State Bar of California was Mr. Mark Torres-Gil of the State Bar office of General Counsel, the same office that drafted the partnership agreement between CaliforniaALL and the State Bar of California.
In addition to Mr. Torres-Gil, the State Bar of California also retained the services of a private law firm -- Kerr & Wagstaffe.
To be continued.