March 24, 2014
Too Jewish, a well-received one-act play performed by McGeorge students, was the featured topic for the 43rd Annual Lou Ashe Symposium Lecture on March 19, 2014 in the Courtroom to a standing-room-only audience.
In Too Jewish, former state Judge Ron Tochterman sets out a number of ethical questions for participants in the criminal justice system: Should a defense attorney influence her client to plead guilty because she believes her client will come across badly to the jury, even if her client insists she is innocent? Does a prosecutor violate his ethical obligations by trying to secure a plea by pressuring an ex-lover, the defense attorney? Is it ethical for defense counsel to ask the defendant to tone down her personal mannerisms and overall affect out of concern that the jury will react badly to her? "The students in the audience were treated to a well-acted rendition of Judge Tochterman's one- act play and then they heard a thorough discussion of important legal ethical issues that it raised," said Professor Michael Vitiello, Director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution. "The actors were well directed by my colleague Jay Leach, whose thespian roots were on display."
Professor Jay Leach, Director of the Advocacy Certificate Program and the National Ethics Trial Competition, directed the play. Students were cast to read the parts: Catherine Joyce - "Devorah" (Defendant); Patrice de Guzman - "Charlene" (Defendant's lawyer); Shoeb Mohammed - "Bert" (Prosecutor); and Robert Mayville - "Kenneth" (Defendant's ex-husband and current boyfriend, "a sociopath").
The Panelists were Marcus Crowder, Theater Reviewer for the Sacramento Bee; Art Scotland, '74, a retired Presiding Justice for the California Court of Appeal, and Professor Cary Bricker, also a former Federal Public Defender. After the reading, a panel led by Judge Tochterman discussed the themes and invited reflections from the audience of students and faculty members.
About the Lou Ashe Symposium
Lou Ashe was a long-time partner in Belli, Ashe & Choulos, the San Francisco law firm founded by Melvin Belli, the late eccentric "King of Torts." Ashe's pioneer work in the 1956 Cutter polio vaccine case set the precedent for strict liability in defective drug cases. Ashe founded and guided the annual Lou Ashe Practical Legal Symposium at McGeorge over a 10-year period until his death in 1981. His many friends and colleagues established a memorial fund to help underwrite expenses for an annual lecture in his honor.
Well-known presenters in the series include Gloria Allred, Robert Shapiro, Curtis Wilkie, Marvin Mitchelson, Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, Vincent Bugliosi, Pierce O'Donnell and Tony Serra.