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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Distinguished Alumni Honored as California Lawyers of the Year

Philip Kearney '84, Susan Badger '86, Laney Feingold '81 and Ann Ravel '74 were honored by California Lawyer magazine for their efforts in prosecuting corrupt law enforcement officers, making stores and services more accessible to the disabled, and cleaning up California politics.

Four UC Hastings alumni were honored by California Lawyer magazine for their work as California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year.

"The number of our graduates honored with this prestigious annual award is a testament to the leadership of UC Hastings within the legal community," said Chancellor & Dean Frank H. Wu. "We are proud of all of our graduates, and we’re also proud that our school has long been at the forefront in preparing people with the skills needed to bring about positive change in the world."

Philip Kearney ’84 and Susan Badger ’86

Philip Kearney '84 and Susan Badger '86 were honored, along with Hartley M.K. West and John H. Herman for their prosecution of corrupt law enforcement officers.

Philip Kearney"Some of the toughest and most controversial criminal cases to pursue are allegations of corruption among law enforcement officers. This team of federal prosecutors brought dozens of civil rights and public corruption charges against the former commander of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team (now disbanded) and four law enforcement officers. Badger led the case of two Richmond police officers, and West was the lead on the other cases until indictment, with assistance from Hemann. Kearney and West were co-counsel Susan Badgeragainst former Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff Stephen Tanabe, the only defendant to go to trial. The enforcement team commander, Norman Wielsch, faced charges stemming from schemes to steal drug evidence, extort prostitutes, and make phony arrests. Further corruption included a 'dirty DUI' sting operation by a private investigator, working with a divorce lawyer; some of the men set up for arrest were involved in child custody disputes with the lawyer's clients.

At the conclusion of the sweeping three-year investigation, Wielsch pleaded guilty and received a 14-year prison term; a San Ramon police officer and two Richmond officers pleaded guilty to various charges; and Tanabe was convicted in 2013 for helping in the DUI stings." 

Lainey Feingold '81

Lainey Feingold ’81 was honored with Linda M. Dardarian for their work on behalf of the disabled.

Lainey Feingold"In four groundbreaking settlements that advance the interests of blind people, Dardarian and Feingold demonstrated what can be accomplished through structured negotiations without ever filing a lawsuit. In March 2013, the lawyers got Bank of America to agree to upgrade its online and mobile security features, making them more accessible to people with visual impairments. The year before, the lawyers negotiated a first-of-its-kind deal with Walmart Stores Inc. in which the national retailer agreed to distribute prescription containers equipped with audio chips starting in 2013. The new containers provide blind pharmacy customers with critical information about the medications, including dosages, warnings, and expiration dates. And in June, Dardarian and Feingold announced a settlement with Weight Watchers International that gives its visually impaired members better access to the company's website and mobile applications. (Weight Watchers also agreed to strengthen its system for providing information in braille, large print, and audio formats.) Finally, in December the attorneys reached a settlement with the Safeway grocery chain to make its website easier for shoppers with visual impairments to use."

Ann Ravel '74

Ann M. Ravel ’74 was honored with Gary S. Winuk for their government work at the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Ann Ravel"In the largest settlement of its kind in California history, two Arizona-based advocacy groups linked to billionaires Charles and David Koch agreed to pay a $1 million fine to settle a lawsuit filed by the state Fair Political Practices Commission under Ravel's leadership. As nonprofits organized under section 501(c)(4), neither group was required by federal law to disclose the sources of its political contributions. But in 2012 when the groups contributed $11 million against one California initiative to raise taxes (Proposition 30) and to support another to curb the power of unions (Proposition 32), Ravel concluded that both groups had run afoul of this state's more stringent disclosure requirements. Ravel, who now sits on the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., was heavily involved in strategy and drafting briefs; FPPC Enforcement Division chief Winuk provided crucial support in negotiations and presenting arguments. According to Phillip Ung of California Common Cause, the October settlement "sets a precedent for stopping out-of-state individuals who are trying to sneak money into California politics.”

Read the full list of honorees here.

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