President's Message

Heather Stern
WLALA President 2018-2019

April 2019

Stop the presses — this just in.  There is yet more to say about the lawyer who described his trial judge as “succubustic” in his notice of appeal.  A “succubus,” as the Fourth District Court of Appeal noted in addressing the lawyer’s misconduct, “is defined as a demon assuming female form which has sexual intercourse with men in their sleep.”  As my March President’s Message shared, the Court of Appeal took umbrage with this manifest gender bias and reported him to the State Bar.  (See


The latest update is not that the State Bar has acted yet on the report made by the Court of Appeal, although we look forward to seeing what sort of action is eventually taken.  Rather, the latest update is that we have heard from the lawyer himself.  Because of the possibility you might be interested in reading what this lawyer has to say for himself, lest you judge him too harshly I suppose, we are reproducing his “press release” below in its entirety, in italics, so you can judge its contents for yourself.


“Dear Beloved Press Corps:

In reviewing the press coverage of the Martinez case, I understand that it is the path of least resistance to climb on, and side with, the mob-shame bandwagon of power, and I even get that it is a lot of fun and probably good business.  However, if you can access a little intellectual discernment by focusing on the causes actually worthy of your loudspeaker, and stand up to power by getting past the triviality of linguistic insults being tossed and cross-tossed about, it would be an act of journalistic courage to instead study the argument I am making about judicial advocacy, repeated again in the attached rehearing brief. 

This manner of doing business infects thousands of rulings per year and marks the most destabilizing aspect of the judicial business: the refusal to rule on the arguments made by the parties because they are inconvenient to the adjudicator’s desired (popular) legal position.  Unless you always happen to be on the politically-popular side of an issue – and trust me, that is a statistically-aberrant scenario – you’ll someday want or need a court to actually rule on your legal argument, and not engage these dubious ways of avoiding it, and thereby enabling a ruling for the politically popular (or entrenched power) side while tacitly admitting the mob target’s legal argument is in actuality correct.

Meaning every respect, please consider how utterly misled you all actually are: at the behest of power, you are unwittingly (or wittingly) part of a mob dynamic that is singularly focused on ostracizing a lawyer based on a concern only found in a Dungeons & Dragons fictional world – while ignoring the important point about a serious flaw in the way almost all appellate courts do actual business in the real world.

As a lawyer used to having public sentiment with me in various popular causes I have litigated over my career, assiduously accurate and complete legal analysis is your only friend when you find yourself on the unpopular side of an issue.  If not even the judiciary can summon the intellectual discipline to rule on the arguments made by the parties, and instead takes the easy way out by inventing alternative grounds on a harmless error basis in order to rule against a mob target, and if the media is similarly blinded by the bright light of power’s distractions, then there is really no point to having a rule of law system at all, said a group of dead Salem (female) “witches.”

Kind regards,

-Ben Pavone”


P.S. According to the docket, on March 22, 2019, the Fourth District Court of Appeal denied the appellant’s petition for rehearing.