6                      UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA  
 7                COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES, CLASS OF 1997 
18                        Sunday, May 18, 1997 
20                       Nob Hill Masonic Center 
21                      San Francisco, California 
 1                                               (1:33 p.m.) 
 2      ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Thank you, Mr. Knox.  
 3    I'm so very proud to be at Hastings today.  In the four 
 4    years that I have been Attorney General, I've had the 
 5    opportunity to work with a member of your faculty who has 
 6    made a major contribution to the Department of Justice, 
 7    Professor Rory Little. 
 8      (Applause.) 
 9      I have been counseled on so many occasions by 
10    the brilliant lawyers who are graduates of this law 
11    school who now work at the Department of Justice.  I have 
12    served with Betty Richardson, the very distinguished U.S. 
13    Attorney with the District of Idaho, a graduate of 
14    Hastings.  I have watched on the fence where students 
15    develop a reverence and a joy for the law at this great 
16    institution and, just today, I met with some wonderful 
17    students who speak volumes for the greatness of this law 
18    school.  You come from such a great foundation and I know 
19    that you will use the law well; and I wish you God speed. 
20      From this great institution, you will take 
21    memories, you will take friendship, you will take 
22    learning, you will take understanding and new 
23    perspectives that will be with you for the rest of your 
24    life.  In these years just recently, I have had a chance 
25    to reach back to my law school days to look at how I 
 1    should analyze a problem, how I should form a judgment to 
 2    solve it, based on all that I learned in law school.  I 
 3    have been touched by professors and by deans. 
 4      At law school in 1960, the dean had the 16 
 5    women for dinner one night, 16 out of 544.  He asked us 
 6    what we were going to do with our law school education; 
 7    we were a little taken aback.  But that dean encouraged 
 8    me, even with handwritten notes, when I did well.  He 
 9    supported me, not just at law school, but in the 30 years 
10    that followed, whenever I saw Dean and Mrs. Griswold.  
11    They always knew what I was doing and they always gave me 
12    encouragement. 
13      As the President considered my nomination, Dean 
14    Griswold said he thought it would be a good idea.  And 
15    it's a wonderful, wonderful occasion when I was able to 
16    look at him and answer what I'd done with my law school 
17    education. 
18      So draw strength and wisdom from this wonderful 
19    faculty and this wonderful institution and let us 
20    together consider what you should do with your law school 
21    education.  First of all, enjoy the law.  I love lawyers 
22    and I love the law; I just don't like greedy, indifferent 
23    lawyers. 
24      The law provides you variety that few 
25    professions give you.  It provides challenges that 
 1    stagger the imagination and convert vanity to prayer; it 
 2    provides a view of life, its joys and its tragedies that 
 3    is better than any book; and it provides an opportunity 
 4    to serve others. 
 5      Use the law to serve others by solving their 
 6    problems, whether you choose to be the corporate general 
 7    counsel or a lawyer advising a person who makes $35,000 a 
 8    year on how to solve their aging parents' complicated 
 9    social security problem.  But, whether you're a legal 
10    services lawyer advising a lady in poverty about what to 
11    do about her recalcitrant landlord, solve the problem 
12    first.  Too often, lawyers do battle without solving the 
13    problem.  Too often, they make the momentary best deal 
14    without looking to the long-range interests of the 
15    clients. 
16      Let me give you an example of what I mean.  Too 
17    often, the prosecutor comes upstairs from court, 
18    triumphant because they've gotten a conviction, gotten a 
19    sentence for five years that fits the crime; but others 
20    know that one or two years will be all that's served, 
21    that there will be no treatment for the drug problem that 
22    caused the crime in the first place, no job skill that 
23    will help reintegrate that person into the community, and 
24    that that person will become part of a revolving door.  A 
25    prosecutor has more to do, to speak out, to work with the 
 1    community, to ensure punishment that fits the crime, to 
 2    ensure opportunity after the punishment. 
 3      The public defenders too often think they've 
 4    won the battle when they come upstairs triumphant on a 
 5    motion to dismiss or a motion to suppress yet at the same 
 6    time knowing that their client is suffering from a crack 
 7    addiction that is a worse bondage than any prison we can 
 8    provide.  We have got to do more. 
 9      But all lawyers, not just those in the 
10    criminal justice system, all lawyers, have an obligation 
11    to do more.  But, if they don't care about their 
12    obligation as lawyers, they've got to think about it in 
13    the greater sense of humanity. 
14      As a prosecutor, I would pick up a pre-sentence 
15    investigation of a 17-year-old whom I had just convicted 
16    of an armed robbery.  I would see, in that pre-sentence 
17    investigation, five points along the way where that child 
18    could have had something happen that could have avoided 
19    the crime in the first place, made him a productive 
20    member of the community, and probably have found them in 
21    college or on their way to college at that point.   
22      Last week, in Madison, Wisconsin, I went to a 
23    detention facility and spoke with 13-year-old detainees, 
24    all juveniles.  I asked them, "What is needed?"  "What 
25    would have been necessary to have prevented the problem 
 1    in the first place?"  And they talked about the need for 
 2    after-school programs and something to do during the long 
 3    hours of the day when they are unsupervised and alone. 
 4      Doctors took me to our public hospital to try 
 5    to figure out what to do about crack-involved infants and 
 6    their mothers but they soon taught me that the first 
 7    three years of life are the most formative, that that was 
 8    the time when the child learned the concept of reward and 
 9    punishment and developed a conscience. 
10      What good are all the prisons we build going to 
11    be 18 years from now if a child doesn't have a conscience 
12    and doesn't understand punishment? 
13      (Applause.) 
14      What good will the great educational 
15    institutions be for all America if we do not have an 
16    educational foundation that is strong and firm?  Lawyers 
17    across this country should be dedicated, both in their 
18    practice and in public and community service, to making 
19    sure that the children of America have appropriate 
20    preventive medical care, that the children of America 
21    have appropriate child care in those formative years of 
22    zero to five, that the children of America have 
23    educational opportunities that can match the challenges 
24    of the 21st century, that the children of America learn 
25    skills that can enable them to earn a living wage. 
 1      (Applause.) 
 2      Now, just in one day, I've had too many 
 3    graduates who are going to be litigators to know that I 
 4    can't tell you to put down your pleadings and lay down 
 5    your motions and close your books and leave your practice 
 6    behind.  But there is so much that we can do, in working 
 7    with the city council, with the legislature, and with 
 8    congress, to approach this issue in a bi-partisan, non- 
 9    political way based on common sense by which we create 
10    structures and processes in our legal system that can 
11    protect our children. 
12      If senior citizens can get legislation passed 
13    that gives them proper medical care at the age of 70, 
14    surely the lawyers of this nation can take the lead in 
15    seeing that our children are protected as well. 
16      (Applause.) 
17      I've seen a senior partner serve on the 
18    children's services council; I've seen another senior 
19    partner tutor a child who doesn't have a family; I've 
20    watched young associates be guardian ad litems; I've seen 
21    so much done by lawyers who care while, at the same time, 
22    I've watched them pursue their particular calling in the 
23    law. 
24      But it's not just in the criminal justice arena 
25    that we have much to do.  Too often, lawyers just do 
 1    battle in the civil arena without solving the problem;  
 2    they litigate at all cost.  And what are the costs?  A 
 3    matter not resolved for four years because a lawyer 
 4    wanted to litigate, dollars that were spent in a 
 5    litigation ate up the recovery so that the litigant 
 6    had little left, and the trauma of litigation.   
 7      I will long remember a case that fascinated me 
 8    in law school, Cashon v. Bascon in One Southern 2nd, one 
 9    of the great cases in the evolving law of the right of 
10    privacy.  About 25 years later, I met the lawyer 
11    responsible for that great decision and I said, "Ms. 
12    Case, that was a brilliant, brilliant effort."  And she 
13    looked at me with cold, blue eyes and said, "I made a 
14    great mistake; I put my client through hell just for 
15    legal principle.  I should have worried about my client.  
16    Remember your client." 
17      I think Abraham Lincoln said it best, 
18    discourage litigation, persuade your neighbors to 
19    compromise whenever you can, point out to them how the 
20    nominal winner is often a real loser in fees, expenses, 
21    and wasted time.  As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a 
22    superior opportunity of being a good person.  There will 
23    be business enough. 
24      How do you do it?  Be prepared to try the case.  
25    We still have a need for great trial lawyers because you 
 1    can't negotiate a case, you can't solve a problem unless 
 2    people know that you're not afraid to go to trial.  Learn 
 3    how to value a case and what it's worth.  Too many 
 4    lawyers litigate without understanding the economics of 
 5    what they're about.  Learn how to negotiate. 
 6      I had Roger Fisher for civil procedure at 
 7    Harvard Law School and no one had ever heard of teaching 
 8    people how to negotiate.  We've come a long way.  Use 
 9    those tools, use mediation and other forms of appropriate 
10    dispute resolution, take these skills then, not just to 
11    the courtroom, but take them to the community and do as 
12    the young lawyers in San Antonio have done and teach 
13    children how to resolve their conflicts without knives 
14    and guns and fists.  You can do so much if you use the 
15    tools of common sense to solve your clients' problems. 
16      But one of the major problems in America must 
17    be faced by every lawyer in America.  Too many Americans 
18    do not have access to a lawyer and to justice.  Each 
19    year, we graduate more lawyers and yet there is a 
20    tremendous and growing segment of our population who 
21    cannot afford the legal assistance they need.  It is 
22    estimated that 60 percent of the poor and the working 
23    poor in this country do not have access to the legal 
24    system. 
25      We create such great expectations of 
 1    constitutional rights, of civil rights, and yet we 
 2    deliver too few of these rights to reality.  As a 
 3    consequence, for too many Americans, the law is worth 
 4    little more than the paper it's written on.  And these 
 5    people become alienated and bitter and fray the structure 
 6    of democracy.  All of us have a responsibility to solve 
 7    this problem.  We must begin to work together as a 
 8    profession to match deficit with resource and make the 
 9    law real for all Americans. 
10      I have been so impressed with the opportunities 
11    Hastings provides for its students who are interested in 
12    public service.  You use the public interest 
13    concentration and clinical programs to get students into 
14    real settings and I understand that some of you 
15    participated in a graduation ceremony on Friday for 
16    having gone through the public interest law program.  You 
17    set an example for all law schools by what you have done. 
18      (Applause.) 
19      How do we make the law real?  First of all, 
20    let's simplify it; let's use small, old words so that our 
21    clients understand what they mean and can use the law 
22    without having to come to us all the time.  Let's make 
23    government more user-friendly so people don't have to get 
24    litigants and lawyers to litigate against their 
25    government because the government provides complicated 
 1    forms and processes.  Make a commitment to pro bono 
 2    service; choose your firm based on their pro bono policy, 
 3    not how much they're going to pay you -- (Applause.) -- 
 4    organize your firm or office so it can better deliver pro 
 5    bono service. 
 6      We have developed a pro bono program at the 
 7    Department of Justice and it is remarkable to see the 
 8    reward that young lawyers receive from this program.  
 9    Support legal services programs.  Democracy's success 
10    depends on the popular will that, if a significant 
11    portion of the population is alienated because of lack of 
12    access to the system, it undermines our democracy. 
13      (Applause.) 
14      Consider public service, maybe not all of your 
15    career but at some point. 
16      Now I understand that sometimes it's difficult.  
17    I've been cussed at, fussed at, and figuratively beaten 
18    around the head but there is nothing more rewarding than 
19    public service.  An example, to go with the President of 
20    the United States to South Carolina to dedicate a new 
21    church, replacing the one that had been burned in an 
22    arson and to have a lady burst through the lines and give 
23    me a big hug and say, "Janet, I haven't seen you since 
24    Miami.  You got me child support while you were State 
25    Attorney in Miami and I want you to see the two boys you 
 1    helped."  And two grown young men smiled down at me.  
 2    Those are the moments you never forget. 
 3      (Applause.) 
 4      And, as we are attacking our problems, we have 
 5    got to do all that we can to heal the divisions caused by 
 6    intolerance and bigotry, to heal the youth who is angry, 
 7    to welcome the immigrant, to cross the racial divide.  We 
 8    need to speak out against prejudice and hatred wherever 
 9    we find it. 
10      (Applause.) 
11      Haters are cowards and, when confronted, they 
12    usually batten down.  But too often we let them become 
13    entrenched before we speak out because we are too busy or 
14    we don't want to be involved, it's not our problem.  Hate 
15    and the turmoil it causes is everybody's problem. 
16      In our own generation, we have been remarkable in our 
17    progress, in our efforts to bridge the gap between our 
18    ideals of freedom, equality, and justice and the harsher 
19    realities of our daily experience.  But we cannot say 
20    that we have completed our work when, today, African- 
21    Americans and Hispanics and, in many cases, women still 
22    have a harder time renting an apartment, getting a job, 
23    or obtaining a loan.  We've not completed our journey 
24    when the unemployment rate for African-American males is 
25    still twice as high as it is for white males.  Even 
 1    college-educated African-American, Hispanic, Asian- 
 2    American men and women of every race and ethnic 
 3    background are paid less than comparably-educated, 
 4    comparably-trained white men.  That's not right. 
 5      (Applause.) 
 6      Worst of all, reports of violent hate crimes 
 7    against minorities, Jews, gays, and lesbians are far too 
 8    high.  If some of the church fires are any indication, 
 9    hate itself has become more brazen. 
10      Old habits die hard, attitudes change slowly.  
11    We must do more, much more, to open the doors of 
12    opportunity so that every American can share in and fully 
13    contribute to America's magnificent bounty.  Too often, 
14    we live in our insular worlds with each of us enforcing 
15    our own voluntary racial separation.  We pass each other 
16    on the streets or in a shopping mall but we don't connect 
17    as individuals.  With this separation, we cannot have 
18    understanding of the views and the perspectives of 
19    others.  We risk not learning of the wonderful, wonderful 
20    racial, ethnic, and cultural traditions that make this 
21    country strong. 
22      I don't have to tell you the value of diversity 
23    because you have experienced it here at Hastings.  Half 
24    the students of the law school are women and almost 40 
25    percent are minorities.  But I am concerned that, in the 
 1    wake of Proposition 209 and the debate on affirmative 
 2    action, that future classes won't be able to benefit from 
 3    such a rich mixture of students.  We have only to look at 
 4    the effect of the Hopwood decision in Texas.  There, 
 5    minority law school applications to the University of 
 6    Texas plummeted and, with 80 percent of next year's law 
 7    school class admitted, only five African-American 
 8    students have been admitted to UT at Austin compared to 
 9    65 in the entering class this year. 
10      Here in California and across the nation, there 
11    is another threat to tolerance and understanding and that 
12    is the growing development of anti-immigrant sentiment.  
13    There is a tendency to find in new arrivals a new 
14    opportunity for scapegoating.   
15      One of my first childhood memories is of my 
16    father describing his arrival in the United States from 
17    Denmark when he was only 12.  He spoke only Danish, not 
18    one word of English and people teased him about his funny 
19    clothes and his funny language.  He never forgot that.  
20    But, four years later, he was the editor of the high 
21    school newspaper writing beautiful English.  He went on 
22    to become a reporter for the Miami Herald.  He always 
23    made clear to me that this nation had done so much for 
24    him and for his children and that we must always honor 
25    this country's tradition as a nation of immigrants. 
 1      (Applause.) 
 2      We cannot let demagoguery carry the day.  While 
 3    immigration is a complex and a compelling area of public 
 4    policy, we must not let the public debate be ruled by 
 5    divisiveness and fear.  Our immigration policy is not 
 6    about fear of those from other countries, it is not about 
 7    the color of someone's skin or the native tongue or 
 8    cultural tradition or accumulated wealth of others, it is 
 9    about upholding the rule of law in a fair, respectful 
10    way. 
11      America is an ever-changing place.  We must 
12    continue to be a society that celebrates our differences 
13    while embracing our unique ethnic identities.  We cannot 
14    permit the narrow-minded to deny that we are a multi- 
15    cultural society, as we have always been.  Every person 
16    is diminished when any one of us, on account of color or 
17    accent or where we were born, experiences anything less 
18    than the full measure of his or her dignity and privilege 
19    as a human being. 
20      (Applause.) 
21      But sometimes problems don't get solved by 
22    problem-solving.  Lawyers must be ever-vigilant and 
23    always willing and prepared to use the law as a shield to 
24    protect against hatred, to protect against bigotry, and 
25    to correct the wrong. 
 1      For as long as I live, I will always remember 
 2    the case of James Joseph Richardson, a man who had been 
 3    prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to death for the 
 4    poisoning death of his seven children 21 years before.  
 5    The Supreme Court had set aside the death penalty so he 
 6    escaped that but he had always maintained his innocence 
 7    and the governor of Florida asked me to go to another 
 8    jurisdiction to reinvestigate his case.  I concluded that 
 9    the evidence was insufficient to have charged him 
10    originally, that it was clearly insufficient now, and 
11    that he should go free.  And I so advised the court and 
12    the court so ordered.  For as long as I live, I will 
13    always remember that man walking out of that court house 
14    a free man for the first time in 21 years.  
15      Be prepared to try the cases, be prepared to 
16    file the actions, be prepared to use the law to achieve 
17    justice for all. 
18      (Applause.) 
19      But some will turn from the challenge of 
20    problem-solving and protection, and even lawyers will do 
21    that.  They will throw up their hands and say, "I'm just 
22    one person; I can't make a difference."  Yesterday, in 
23    the East Bay area, a reporter asked me, "Whenever I come 
24    out here..." she said, "...the problems seem so 
25    overwhelming; it seems like we can't do anything."  Every 
 1    one of us can make a difference.   
 2      Yesterday, in the East Bay area, I saw 
 3    grandparents who were parents-on-patrol; I watched 
 4    coaches coach a little league team, they had been doing 
 5    it, week in, week out, for years and the students that 
 6    they had coached were now coaching with them as parents 
 7    who cared.  I saw teachers and police come together in a 
 8    community where I had been before.  Every one of us can 
 9    make a difference, because they had made a difference in 
10    Lockwood Gardens. 
11      Let us leave here today as lawyers, new 
12    graduates, senior partners, and Attorney General and, in 
13    answer to the question:  What will I do with my law 
14    school education?, let us answer by resolving anew to use 
15    the law in the right way to make a difference in this 
16    world, to serve and to protect the people, and to never 
17    give up trying our very best to secure peace, liberty, 
18    and justice for all. 
19      God speed to you all. 
20      (Applause.) 
21      (Whereupon, at 1:57 p.m. the address 
22              concluded.) 
 1                   C E R T I F I C A T E 
 4      This is to certify that the attached 
 5    proceedings in the matter of: 
 7    Name of Proceeding: 
 9                            GENERAL RENO FOR HASTINGS 
10                            COLLEGE OF THE LAW, UNIVERSITY 
11                            OF CALIFORNIA 
12    Docket Number:  N/A 
13    Place of Proceeding: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 
14    Date of Proceeding:  May 18, 1997 
17    were held as herein appears, and that this is the 
18    original transcript thereof for the file of the 
19    Department of Justice taken by me and, thereafter reduced 
20    to typewriting by me or under my direction, and that the 
21    transcript is a true and accurate record of the foregoing 
22    proceedings. 
24    _____________________________________ 
25                                    Margaret Devers