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Just as Los Angeles lawyer Nancy Zamora began her pitch to be the State Bar’s next president, a large plastic State Bar seal fell off a back wall and clattered noisily to the ground. It was a bad omen. A few minutes later, Zamora’s opponent, Fresno solo practitioner Anthony “Tony” Capozzi, was chosen by his fellow members of the Bar’s Board of Governors to lead the organization for the 2003-04 fiscal year. The 79th president, he will be sworn in during the Bar’s annual meeting, being held in September in Anaheim. The vote was taken Saturday during a governors meeting in San Francisco, and it all but ensures that next year’s board will have one of the smallest classes of female lawyers in a decade. It’s entirely possible that there could be only two women lawyers on the panel, just two years after the largest class of female lawyers. In winning the election, Capozzi, 57, a white-collar civil and criminal defense attorney who has run Gov. Gray Davis’ central California campaigns, vowed to continue the Bar’s campaign to improve lawyers’ image with the public. “Everybody loves their own lawyer,” he said, “but hates all other lawyers.” The Bar, he said, needs to point out that attorneys of all stripes sit on community boards and other local agencies statewide, doing good. “The public needs to know that,” he said. Pacing the center of the boardroom like a lawyer summing up a case to a jury, Capozzi reminded board members that when he joined the group he was a “complainer” about the Bar’s activities — a predecessor to current Long Beach governor Matthew Cavanaugh, the board’s strongest internal critic. “I ran as a critic,” Capozzi said. “I was sort of a Matt Cavanaugh, but not as strong.” He said he learned to work within the system, and he credited Bar staffers and other governors with advising him to seek change if he found problems. In his three-year term, according to the California Bar Journal, the organization’s in-house newspaper, Capozzi helped lawyers scale their dues, worked on a task force that could lead to online voting for board elections and pushed the Bar toward a travel program that could save thousands of dollars a year. On Saturday, Capozzi’s folksy speech included specific references to current board members, and he often used humor to lighten up the proceedings. At one point, he quoted from an Illinois bar group’s search ads for a leader, noting that the prospective candidate should be “able to herd cats,” be an “insomniac � with no life” and have the ability to “lead a dysfunctional, diverse membership.” All qualities descriptive of the California position, he noted. Though he used notes, Capozzi’s speech came across as off the cuff and rambled quickly from issue to issue. Zamora’s talk was more traditional and structured; she never left the podium and identified specific goals — a 10-point plan — for guiding the State Bar for the next year. Zamora, a 43-year-old bankruptcy partner with Zamora & Hoffmeier, stressed her accomplishments during her three years on the board and talked about the challenges ahead, particularly in nailing down a multiyear fee bill with the state Legislature. She called the latter “a matter of first priority” and said a fee bill that covered more than one year at a time could give the Bar’s president a chance to look ahead with revenues, budgets and mandates “firmly in place.” The actual tally of the board’s vote was not announced. Votes were cast by secret ballot. When Capozzi takes over in September, he will replace current President James Herman, a partner in Santa Barbara’s Reicker, Pfau, Pyle, McRoy & Herman. Capozzi is a graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law in Toledo, Ohio, and has been practicing in California since 1976. The District Five he represents includes 14 central California counties stretching from the Nevada state line to the Pacific Ocean. His wife, Paula, is a former public relations executive who now raises and trains horses. They have two children — a daughter who is an equestrian champion and a son majoring in political science at Fresno State University. In other action Saturday, the board unanimously waived the 2003 membership fee for any California lawyer called to active duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lawyers who shipped out — or their friends and family — are asked to contact the Bar because the organization has no way of identifying who was called up.

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