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President Kelly, four new board members, take oath

By Amy Yarbrough
Staff Writer

Patrick Kelly and Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye congratulates State Bar President Patrick Kelly. (click on photo to view slideshow)
                                                         Photo by S. Todd Rogers

Vowing to fight for full and fair access to justice for all Californians, Patrick Kelly took the helm of the State Bar last month, joined by four new members of the Board of Trustees.

A partner at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, Kelly told a crowd attending the swearing-in ceremony Oct. 13 that his number one priority as president will be reversing the devastating budget cuts to the judiciary, and he urged all lawyers to join him in that effort.

“Because of limited court funding, justice is now being rationed in our state,” Kelly said during his inaugural speech at the State Bar's Annual Meeting in Monterey. “It's our duty to use all of the tools available to us as lawyers. We are moving to the front lines and we are going to stay there and fight.”

Elected by fellow board members in late July, Kelly succeeds Keker & Van Nest partner Jon Streeter as president of the 238,000-member organization.

In his remarks introducing Kelly, Streeter spoke of Kelly's “unbelievable background” as well as his reputation as a prominent and well-respected lawyer in Los Angeles.

“I can think of no one I am prouder to pass the gavel on to,” Streeter said.

A former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Kelly, 69, served this year as chair of the Board of Trustees' Planning, Program Development and Budget Committee. He is a graduate of Loyola Law School and will serve a one-year term.

In his speech, Kelly urged lawyers to speak up for the judiciary – noting that sitting judges are prohibited from getting politically involved – and stressed the need to educate the public about the role of the courts in protecting battered spouses, the wrongfully evicted and other vulnerable members of society.

“Make no mistake, this is indeed a call to action,” he said.

In addition to Kelly, four new board members were sworn-in: Christopher W. Todd, 51, of San Diego, David A. Torres, 51, of Bakersfield, David Pasternak, 61, of Los Angeles, and Michael G. Colantuono, 51, of Penn Valley. Each will serve three-year terms.