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VETERAN PUBLIC DEFENDER DECIDES TO GO IT ALONE After 15 years at the Alameda County public defender’s office, Kimberly Kupferer is flying solo. Kupferer, now a private criminal defense attorney in Berkeley, said she had done just about everything that there was to do in the public defender’s office: death penalty cases, homicides and supervisory roles. Although some assignments, like capital cases, allowed her to put time into individual cases, in others she barely had time to say hello to the people she represented. “I have less money, but I will have more control,” said Kupferer. She ended up at the Alameda County public defender’s office after briefly working for the Santa Clara County PD. In the East Bay, she was a “star” in the office and among the youngest to work on the homicide team, said Assistant Public Defender James McWilliams. McWilliams and Kupferer represented Samuel Lee Johnson, a defendant who was accused of a double murder. The pair successfully persuaded U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti to force federal agencies to hand over 2,500 pages of documents that ultimately helped their client avoid death row. Before Conti’s ruling in Johnson v. Reno, federal agencies had the discretion — and often refused — to give up such information to defense attorneys in state court. Johnson has become a celebrated case in the defense bar, McWilliams said. Kupferer shares office space with Elizabeth Grossman, another criminal defense attorney. The two worked closely together at Women Defenders, an organization of criminal defense attorneys. After about two weeks on her own Kupferer has picked up her first client: a Three Strikes case. Although the case is familiar legal territory, at least one thing will be different. “Charging people,” she said. – Jahna Berry HEADY DAYS In 20 years of practicing law, William Grauer never experienced anything like he did last month. The Cooley Godward partner argued before both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court within a three- week period. While the cases before the courts addressed a similar issue — whether arbitration clauses can be circumvented — together they required an enormous amount of preparation. “Usually one Supreme Court argument is enough to keep you working full time,” said Grauer, who is based in Cooley’s San Diego office. “To have two in one month was extraordinarily time-consuming but extremely rewarding.” Grauer put in long days preparing and studying 92 Supreme Court decisions related to arbitration. More importantly, he said he made presentations before six separate moot courts, including one at the Georgetown Supreme Court Institute. “Nothing can prepare you for how truly penetrating the questions are from the Supreme Court justices,” Grauer said. “They have an in-depth knowledge of the case and the issues, and the moot court process only begins to prepare you.” In arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, Grauer addressed an issue involved in a class action by U.S. doctors against a dozen managed care companies. Considered to be potentially one of the largest class actions in history, the nation’s doctors claim the defendants manipulated their practices to avoid paying doctors all the money owed them. While In Re: Humana Inc. Managed Care Litigation, MDL 1334, is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, two of the defendants — including Grauer’s client, Pacificare Health Systems Inc. — asked the Supreme Court to reverse lower court decisions that held an arbitration clause is invalid if it prohibits an arbitrator from awarding punitive damages. In the case before the California Supreme Court, Grauer argued against two lower court rulings, which found that an arbitration clause is unenforceable when a plaintiff is allegedly seeking an injunction to benefit the public. In that case, members of a health plan are suing Pacificare. While Grauer was awed by his appearance before the nation’s highest court, his attention quickly shifted to more mundane matters. “I was standing on the steps of the court and gazing at the Capitol dome across the street when my 15-year-old daughter brought me down to earth by asking: ‘Is it over now? Are there any good malls around here?” But it took a while for Grauer to stop replaying the experience in his mind. “For the first two weeks after the argument, not a day went by that I didn’t wake up at night and think of a more eloquent answer that I could have given in response to the justices’ questions,” he said. – Brenda Sandburg BE PREPARED Activists who have publicly threatened to disrupt government services if the United States launches war against Iraq will need a good defense, and Deputy Public Defender Thomas Spielbauer says his boss should take the lead. In an open letter to Santa Clara PD Jose Villarreal, Spielbauer suggests that the defender’s office form an anti-war protester defense team that can already be researching strategy even before the arrests begin. “I am very concerned about what’s going on. I see the public defender — and not just here in Santa Clara County — having a very critical role particularly when it comes to protest and expression of opposition to American foreign policy, First Amendment rights and the potential for crimes against humanity,” Spielbauer said. This isn’t Spielbauer’s first friendly “suggestion” for the PD office. The three-time judge candidate, who last election ran and lost with a post-Sept. 11 civil liberties platform, was also behind a stillborn movement to make the Santa Clara public defender an elected position. So far though, Villarreal, who is trying to figure out how to cut 13.5 percent of his budget without laying off 24 attorneys, doesn’t seem to be biting. Chief Assistant PD David Mann said there are no plans to form a new unit, and anyway, it’s too early to act if no arrests have been made. But Spielbauer says Villarreal and public defenders around the state are foolish to wait. “If police agencies responded in the same way, you would have a whole bunch of police chiefs fired throughout the state,” Spielbauer said. “You can be sure law enforcement is anticipating and doing a lot of preparing around the state. Once the bloodshed starts, there are going to be protests.” – Shannon Lafferty STARRING PARTNER When Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker Washington, D.C., partner Judith Richards Hope visited the firm’s San Francisco office last week, she signed a lot of autographs. Hope was in town for a cocktail reception and book signing event Paul, Hastings organized in honor of her recently released book, “Pinstripes & Pearls.” The book recounts the true story of the 15 women in Harvard Law School’s 513-student class of 1964. The group, which included Hope, sought to break into the legal profession at a time when obstacles were both big and small. (Harvard Law’s main school building didn’t even feature a women’s restroom at the time.) Yet somehow all 15 went on to successful careers utilizing their legal skills. Among the group were former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder and D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Judith Rogers. And Hope has a number of distinctions on her resume — including becoming the first female partner at Paul, Hastings. Over the years, Hope said, many young lawyers have come to her for advice and to ask her how she did it. “These stories in written form I hope will be of help to young professionals,” she explained. It appears the tales have found an audience. Published by Scribner in January, “Pinstripes & Pearls” is already on its second printing and has received favorable reviews in publications including the Boston Globe and Publishers Weekly. The San Francisco event drew a large crowd, not only of local lawyers and judges, but also of law students. “It was quite overwhelming,” Hope said. – Alexei Oreskovic

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