tv UC Hastings Law Commencement- Joseph Cotchett CSPAN May 29, 2018 6:30am-6:59am EDT
speaker of r, the uc hastings law school commencement school. -- he alsoke challenge president trump on daca. joseph: all of the graduates, your friends, your family. i am one of your fellow alumni. you have had in the past governors, you have had senators, you have had it noted politicians, you have had all types of people stand here and tell you how wonderful it is for you to be graduates. i stand here with no title at all. i stand here having sat where you set many years ago. -- sat many years ago.
i know my hair looks gray i know but that is what happens when you get old. [laughter] second, let me welcome you into the profession. when i say welcome you into the profession, what i mean is this is not just a profession where you get a graduate degree and to go out and make money. i'm going to talk about that. this is a profession that is under brutal attack. for those of you that know me, you're sometimes terrified of what i'm going to say when i stand up. [laughter] i'm going to tell you that our profession today, as you just heard from these two fabulous lawyers today, is under very serious attack. it is under attack from wall street, to our current president who sits in the white house. [applause]
this week, don't get me started going down that road. [laughter] this week, attorney general jeff sessions was in california. he came here to attack some of our district attorneys. he took on our governor of course. who is a lawyer. he took on our attorney general on the issue of the wall and sanctuary issues on immigration. he took on everybody that had a legal degree in practice law basically in california. that is what we are dealing with. get ready for it, folks because you are about to enter a profession that unfortunately, is in the focus right now of some very serious future days. let me just give you an example
of what you see when you turn on cnn tonight. i guarantee you will see that michael cohen received money from somebody else. [laughter] he is the attorney for the president. i'm going to be as blunt as to say he is no more an attorney then my five-year-old who will be -- my grandchild who is five who will be a great attorney. [applause] or the recent attempts to put lawyers on the bench who have never been in a courtroom in their lives. who called out wall street and corporate america. a gentleman was so embarrassing if you watched it on tv, this was in mississippi or alabama, he hadn't been in a courtroom in his life, but he was up for a district court appointment. can you imagine the justice he would render?
or, let's be fair about this, how about an attorney general from new york who goes out and crusades for women and then on than four step and said what are you talking about? that is what we see and that is the problem today. [applause] friends, it is on both sides of the aisle. trust me. our television news are full of stories of lawyers who are falling by the wayside one way or another, but they don't see people what you are about to become. they don't see the great majority of lawyers that are now out there working as you just described you are going to work for these fabulous, 150 of you that will do pro bono work. our television news are full of
heads talking heads, playing down our profession. lawyers can make a difference. i don't want to waste your time, i am going to be very short, that lawyers can make a difference. the computer nerds, of which we have many in the bay area, they invent new technology, who do they need? they need lawyers to help them. god bless. [laughter] new medicines, doctors come out with new medicines. they need lawyers to make sure the fda approves it and it is safe and has wonderful warnings. good warnings. excuse me. industry needs lawyers, some of you will all do this, that need contracts to save whatever their contracting for and they are not cheated. society can't exist without lawyers. let's talk about, for a moment, what separates most countries from our country.
do you really believe there is a legal profession -- if you pick up the new york times every day, do you believe there is a legal profession like we have in our country, do we had our problems, of course we do. it's you young people like you taught and educated by people sitting behind me, who can change and continue to change the way our society should move forward. there is going to be a little tough line which for some of -- there is going to be some tough language for some of you, but i'm used to that. having been removed from a court of appeals for exciting a jury. [laughter] there is an author, it is terrible but i do it -- there's a wonderful author, if you -- his name is kenneth wheeling and if you haven't read his pieces on how the were developed over the past 100 years, you
should. just 80 years ago -- and i hate to say it, but there are some people in the audience who are older than 80 -- 80 years ago, he describes what happened in germany. he describes how at that time, hitler -- hepler -- stated that it was his goal to make -- i am quoting, his goal to make every citizen realize that it is a disgrace to be a lawyer. that lawyers were the greatest single threat to a new world order. folks, that was 80 years ago. that is not that long ago, and as a result of that, 6 million people lost their lives. i'm not telling you that lawyers would have saved 6 million
lives. what lawyers would have done was create a society where that couldn't take place. what was remarkable of course, found in his book, is that he made it clear that women, communists and jews could not become lawyers. that was stated in the 1930's and 1940's. not many people stood up to him. that is the key to tomorrow's profession. is standing up. you pick up the papers every day, you look at the tv, you look at cnn, as i do, you read the new york times. for out of five people in this world living to countries that do not have a legal system like you are getting ready to enter.
there is one purpose of being a lawyer. it is not to make money. it is to see that the doors of the courthouses are opened to everyone on issues of public interest according to the rule of law. that is not complex. that is to keep our court system open. we have three aspects of our government, one of which is the judiciary, the law. that keeps, hopefully the other two in-line. it is the most underfunded branch of our government. it should be the single most funded. it is not that it is for everyone. it is to make sure that the public interest has a way to go.
public interest law is not the legal aid society. it goes so much further than that. public interest law is what is happening right out there in the civic center. i'm going to give you some examples in a moment. i'm not interested in picking up the news are listening to the news at night about stormy daniels' lawyer. that is not the law to me. a defamation suit of that nature does not interest me. there are several things that do every day, i wonder where are they. and i will give you three quick examples. i want to move into those mbs -- and the as short as i can -- and be as i can because i know you want those degrees. here is three quick examples. in 1770 in boston, it's not the tea party. there was a revolt over taxes being paid at the time.
not the tea party. there was a conflict in the commons, and the british troops were called out. this is 1770 just before, as you know, our independent. -- our independence. the troops were called out, colonists were killed, and the crown at that time agreed to prosecute, when i say prosecute, to hold a trial. they had two or there would be greater riots. the british soldiers, they had said they were being attacked by the rioters. the british soldiers could not get an american lawyer. we all know the story, but i just want to make sure that we understand where our profession is going. who stepped up?
a lawyer by the name of john adams, who was a poor lawyer doing nothing. he stepped up to defend them. in a trial where everybody was convinced they would be convicted, even though, i don't want to defend the british lawyers for killing colonoists, even though they were attacked, he got an acquittal for six of them and three were acquitted. -- were convicted. he was ostracized as a lawyer. but stood up for what was right. this is in 1770. followed quickly, 40 years later in 1839, again, i'm going to be very brief. by a lawyer of the name of roger baldwin. very interesting case. what did roger baldwin do? there was a ship coming from africa with slaves on it. 1839, focus back on the year. the slaves revolted.
remember, in the 1830's and 1840's, who owned america, were rich slave owners and rich property owners. we have come a long way. although, one might dispute that. they landed, the boat, they took the boat, the slaves took over the boat and landed in new haven, connecticut. president martin van buren up for reelection at the time, decided that all of these slaves had to go back for their owners, because he wanted the votes from the southern states. roger baldwin, who was a nothing attorney, a very brave and bold attorney, gave up his practice and defended those slaves on the basis that they were african citizens who had been kidnapped, which is exactly the case. he tried the matter.
he got them all american citizenship, that is to say the right to stay in this country without the rich slaveowners taking them back. roger baldwin died penniless. in a pauper's grave. by the way, before they did that, they did it all the way to the then u.s. supreme court and another jenin by the name of -- and another gentleman by the name of john quincy adams took it to the supreme court and got affirmed that the slaves had a right to stay in america. that was 1839. let's move quickly through this. what happens in illinois in 1850? a young gangly lawyer by the name of abraham lincoln couldn't make any money because he didn't represent rich landowners. how did it all happened? he took a case one day of the
widow with five children who ran a farm because of some rich landowner is trying to take over her farm. he got her the farm, he was crucified by the rich landowners. but he did something very smart, which runs equally -- he did something very smart, which runs equally as important as our profession and that is the free press. what he did, we all will do and all of you younger lawyers will learn how to do this, you will make sure that the press knows, as you take that step forward in life, that the public, through a free press knows what is going on. when the press got their hands on the story of the rich people trying to take this little
widow's land and children and throw them off, everything sided and changed and went with abraham lincoln. so, we walked together, don't we? we walked to the courthouse but we make sure that the courthouse is not shrouded in secrecy. we make sure, that the press the free press, is there to tell us what you young people are going to do tomorrow. the most important thing we can do on the profession tomorrow -- look, let's get down to realistic noise. there is many of us young lawyers going out there and the first thing they want to know is what is the salary i will be paid? i hate to say this, but along with asking about the salary,
could the next statement be and do i get time to do pro bono work? forget the word pro bono, do i get time, rather than 30 days vacation in hawaii, do i get time to go out and go down to legal aid, go look at someone who is being evicted from their house. go knock on the door, they don't have to come to you, i probably violate all kinds of ethics by doing that. [laughter] i don't wait for people to walk into our office, i go out, as all the lawyers in my firm do. we go out looking for bad people. [applause] i am sure that someone will write a letter to the state tomorrow and condemn me for what i just said. i don't care. look at the color of my hair. [laughter]
the reality is, that we have to step up to the plate. and understand of the new challenges. let me give you some quick examples. you will agree or disagree, but i don't really care. because this is where my head comes from. they introduced me as a former paratrooper, yes, i was, i was trout to jump out of that plane. [applause] what isell you happening to our country that gun manufacturers are creating. they are creating safety problems for our children both on the streets and in schools. [applause]
it's not just the schools. day that the gun shooting on streets, the average victim is 23-24 years old. that's what's happening to our children. how about child pornography that is now rampant on the internet. is anyone going to jail for that? i'm not sure. because silicon valley who i love has passed a lot of laws to keep them immune from lawsuits. toxic pollutions in our air, though -- those who it's deal from pensioners drug manufacturers, pick up today's new york times and read about the trump program and how he is going to straighten that out. the opioid epidemic. when you walk out of this
auditorium, you will be fortunate if you do not step on a needle across the street. that is what we are down to with opioids, so what am i talking about? i am talking about the ability of you young people to take on those who would violate our clean air. let me give you one quick example. right across the street, volkswagen was brought into the federal court. they were caught selling over 600,000 automobiles in the u.s. with fake emissions standards. not a single executive went to jail. yet, our air was poisoned by faking emissions standards by a company as reputable as volkswagen. clean water.
just the other day, a company up in northern california was cited for dumping bad chemicals into the delta. for those of you who do not know where the delta is, it is just north of here, maybe 100 miles. they went up there, they took the trucks up there and dumped into the delta. you think that water does not come down here into the bay? do you think no one will lose a job? no one will lose a job here there will be some fines. they will treat it as the cost of doing business. and, by the way, they write it off as simply a tax loss. access to our beaches, don't let me get started about martin's beach. a billionaire goes out and buys some beautiful acreage down here on the coast, and after 70 years of public use decides that he is going to close the beach to the public that has been with the
surfers, the fishermen using it for 70 years. he did that for four or five years. why? because, unfortunately, people do not want to go after him because he was a big contributor. that is our martin's beach case, now going to the supreme court. the result in a situation in the u.s. supreme court, where on both coasts and our great lakes public access was lost. ,what happened there? we stepped up. a group of us you have to take , on these people. a woman's right to choose. [applause] mr. cotchett: do you realize my daughters, your sisters, if they moved over to arizona, texas, or any of the states in the midwest could not get an abortion of a
child that they did not want? can you imagine the laws? they prevent that and it is incumbent to you to make sure you have read that and run with -- you grab that and run with it and make sure that our women are protected. [applause] [cheers and applause] mr. cotchett: how about our lesbian, gay, and transgender society? let me tell you this. you all know this. just two months ago, a young man was beaten almost to death where? in california. over in the san joaquin valley. now, that amazes me. a state like california, which we talk about as being so progressive. a young man walks into a store, whatever it is, and leaves
almost dead because he was identified as being gay. the issues cry out for young people like you to help. look. i could stand here and spend a lot more time, telling you situations that are now developing. it is just not the legal aid society. you must get up. you must go out. you must pick up the paper and see where is there in justice. it is not just walking into a legal aid office. many people cannot walk into a legal aid office. that is what your profession is all about now. are all of you going to do that? no. [applause] mr. cotchett: and i understand that. i do.
but there are many of us -- and that was the beauty of going to a school like hastings, berkeley, stanford, in the bay area here. there is a quality in the air that i think we breathe that makes us a little different that we really believe in justice, and i will leave you with this thought. if it is not you, then who? who is going to stand up for the people that need that help? they cannot walk into legal aid. you have got to walk out there. you have got to say to your future employers, law firms, "sure, i have a billing requirement. believe it or not, it is now 2200 hrs a year. it is preposterous. but of those hours, mr. jones or ms. smith, how many hours are i
-- i allowed to go out and do am some pro bono work?" [applause] that is the question i present to each of you when you interview. [applause] mr. cotchett: and, lastly, i'm going to do something i probably should not do. i have not told the dean, but i do not care. [laughter] mr. cotchett: because i am one of those silly people. i would like every graduate to get up, it'd just one minute, i will tell you why. you're going to stand up. you are being honored, but let me tell you who should be honored equally with you, and the dean alluded to it. do you see the people seated behind me? this is the faculty that is beyond anything -- well, it is a faculty that these schools have, -- that few schools have, and i would ask in closing that each one of the graduates stand up
and give them a fabulous applause. [applause] [cheers and applause] mr. cotchett: thank you so much. i will not see all of you again, but i hope to see some of you in court, standing there, speaking jose gonzalez who cannot speak for himself, or maria gonzalez, and i will be there beside you. thank you. [applause] [cheers and applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: commencement speeches. and then the me too founder, a
ceo, and nikki haley. wednesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, hillary clinton, rex tillerson, james mattis, and canadian prime minister justin trudeau. thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, apple ceo tim cook, governor john kasich, congressman luis gutierrez, and on friday, jimmy carter, betsy devos, representative mark meadows, and a mayor. this week in prime time on c-span and c-span.org and on the free c-span radio app. coming up live on tuesday, the korea economic institute looks at u.s. military forces in south korea and what role they play if north and south korea leaders agree to