Supreme Court Appoints New State Bar Leadership


Paul Seeman pic

Paul Seeman

An experienced judge who served on the Alameda County Superior Court of California for eight years, Paul Seeman is a juris doctor graduate of Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkeley, law school. Prior to taking the bench, he spent more than two decades working with clients out of his own private law practice. While practicing, Paul Seeman was active in several legal organizations and was admitted to the State Bar of California.

As part of the state’s move to ensure that the leaders of the State Bar are all appointed to their posts, in January the California Supreme Court named Michael G. Colantuono the organization’s chair and Jas Lee, vice-chair. The move to have only appointed leaders comes as a direct result of Senate Bill 36, which enacted major reforms to the way that the SBA is governed.

The move is also historic in that it marks the first time an openly LGBTQ individual (Colantuono) will be the chair of the State Bar. In his comments, Colantuono said he will work tirelessly to ensure that the organization remains true to its mission of equal access to justice for every Californian.


CJA Talks About Importance of Independent Judiciary


California Judges Associationpic

California Judges Association

Paul Seeman is a former judge who was a member of the Alameda County Superior Court of California bench for eight years. In addition to his regular bench duties, he also served on the Judicial Council Task Force for Criminal Justice Collaboration on Mental Health Issues. Active in his field outside of the courtroom, Paul Seeman also was involved in a number of professional organizations, including the California Judges Association (CJA).

The CJA released a statement in March responding to recent attacks on incumbent judges over reasons that don’t point to illegal or unethical behavior, but rather simple disagreement with certain rulings. The group reaffirmed its commitment to supporting a fair and independent judiciary that undertakes its duties with only the rule of law in mind, and not popular opinion.

With its statement, the CJA pushed back against notions that judges should be political and urged Californians not to look to single policy issues or political posturing from challengers as reasons to unseat incumbents. Instead, voters should only consider removing judges who have broken the law or engaged in some other sort of behavior that crosses ethics lines.

California Judges Association Hires New Executive Director


California Judges Associationpic

California Judges Association

A former judge of the Alameda County Superior Court of the state of California, Paul Seeman earned his juris doctor from the University of California, Berkeley. An active member of the judiciary in policy matters, Paul Seeman held memberships in several legal groups and organizations, including the California Judges Association.

Founded in 1929, the California Judges Association brings together the judiciary of California in common cause. The nonprofit association’s membership is made up of judges, commissioners, and former judges from the state’s Superior Courts, Courts of Appeal, and State Bar Courts, and works to ensure fair and impartial justice is served throughout the state.

The California Judges Association recently announced the hiring of a new executive director and CEO of the association. On February 1, 2018, Nicole Virga Bautista took over for former executive director Stan Bissey, who left to take a leadership position with the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Ms. Bautista has an extensive nonprofit management background, including executive leadership experience with the California Association of Mortgage Professionals. A graduate of the University of California, Davis, she plans to leverage her experience in membership, education, and government affairs to lead new initiatives for the association.

16,000 Donors, Half of All Donations

A study by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that more than 3.2 million Americans contributed to federal candidates in the 2016 elections, but fewer than 16,000 of them provided half the total donations. Super PACs spent $1.1 billion in the 2016 elections, nearly 17 times more than such independent political committees put into federal races in 2010, the first year they came into existence, the report found.

“The system has completely transformed,” said Robert Bauer, a Democratic election law attorney who authored the report with GOP campaign-finance lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg and Stanford Law School professor Nathaniel Persily.

The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision did not result in the expected wave of independent corporate political spending. In 2012, corporations spent about $75 million from their treasuries on federal elections, roughly 1 percent of the overall spending that cycle, according to the report. In 2016, just 10 companies made independent expenditures, spending “relatively minuscule amounts,” possibly because corporations prefer lobbying on public policy to taking public political stances that may anger shareholders or customers.

The more significant change is that wealthy individuals and corporate leaders have made the largest donations to super PACs, accounting for 64 percent of the contributions to such groups in recent elections.