Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Kamins spoke at the Gould School of Law on Tuesday as part of “Spirit of the Law,” a guest speaker and lecture series put on by the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.The series, which is co-sponsored by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the Office of Religious Life, highlights various legal professionals who have found personal meaning in their law degrees and have used their degrees in unique, innovative ways.“Hearing the personal stories of these speakers, we can reflect on our own journey,” Varun Soni, dean of religious life, said in his introductory remarks.Soni, who is a UCLA law school graduate, reflected on his time in law school and how he and his classmates would engage in stimulating conversation in the hallways but never had a forum to hold those discussions. He described the Spirit of the Law series as a centralized way to hold discussions and an opportunity to show students interested in the law what a law degree can provide them.Kamins, who graduated from the USC’s law school in 1968, spent 17 years as a public defender before becoming a judge and stressed the importance of respect and character in the courtroom.“I see my job as not having a big ego but being humble and respectful of the people who have come before me,” Kamins said.Kamins, who presided over the Rodney King police brutality case for a short time during his 22 years on the bench, has dedicated his life to the service of others, advocating for the treatment and rehab of criminals in place of harsh punishment. Kamins cited the statistic that it costs $35,000 a year to place someone in jail but only $6,000 to offer someone a year of rehab.Kamins also worked with a prostitution diversion project, which is aimed to help women, mostly of international descent, who are brought to the United States under the belief that they will work in massage parlors. The women are then forced into prostitution by their employers, who have control over their passports and visas.“The criminal turns out to be the victim,” Kamins said.Instead of charging them, Kamins ordered the women to complete a program that provided social services and the help they needed to successfully find employment outside of the prostitution rings.“It’s better to take these people out of terrible situations and put them into ones where they can feel a sense of pride and belonging,” said Kamins, who called himself a judicial activist.Kamins said he always opens up his classes at Pepperdine, where he is an adjunct law professor, by teaching students that the most important tool a legal professional has is his or her integrity.“The real thing you have to bring into the courtroom is your character and trustworthiness,” Kamins said. “What I’ve learned is that when someone is in front of me, I don’t need to show how much power I have. I have to show how humble I am and how much humility I have.”Though Kamins is now retired, he still presides over cases statewide in a program known as the Assigned Judges Program. The program allows retired or active judges to preside over cases that lack judges due to vacancies, illnesses or other judicial congestion issues.Kamins said he wakes up every morning, looks in the mirror at himself in his judge’s robes and is excited about the work he does.Students were impressed by Kamins’s work on the bench.“It was a very humbling experience,” said Melanie Franceschini, a freshman majoring in political science. “The judge had many important lessons to teach us about what it’s like to be a judge, like how you should be humble and not impose your power on people.”
The Panthers had the controversial statue of their founder and former owner removed Wednesday, a couple years after Richardson sold the franchise to David Tepper for $2.2 billion in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. The Panthers in a statement said they were “moving” the statue, and the Charlotte Observer reported “it will remain to be seen when and if” the statue will be put back.Jerry Richardson statue is off Panthers property. pic.twitter.com/TjpPsBPrRt— Joe Person (@josephperson) June 10, 2020″We were aware of the most recent conversation surrounding the Jerry Richardson statue and are concerned there may be attempts to take it down,” the team said. “We are moving the statue in the interest of public safety.”Indeed, protesters against racial injustice have taken to the streets of Charlotte in the weeks following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The 13-foot statue was located on the north side of the stadium. According to the Observer, “there has been speculation online that the statue would be an eventual target” of protesters.Panthers statues will be leaving with Richardson. pic.twitter.com/wMPJ2JmkGs— Joe Person (@josephperson) June 10, 2020The Panthers are removing the statue of Jerry Richardson right now. pic.twitter.com/0x9eNsEHN2— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP) June 10, 2020A spokesman for Richardson, 83, released the following statement on the Panthers moving the statue: “Mr. Richardson has made no public comments about the Panthers or the NFL since the sale of the team and doesn’t plan to do so now as a private citizen. He has worked to treat all people fairly in his business and personal lives and, like many other Americans, is troubled by recent events in Minneapolis, Charlotte, and around the country.” After his purchase of the team in 2018, Tepper told reporters he was “contractually obligated” to keep the Richardson statue in place.A couple weeks before his sale of the team was finalized, Richardson was fined $2.75 million by the NFL after a league investigation confirmed allegations of workplace misconduct. Sports Illustrated a few months prior had reported that at least four former Panthers employees received “significant” monetary settlements as a result of inappropriate workplace conduct by Richardson, including “sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout.”Days after that report was published, Richardson announced he would sell the team. Had the Panthers not taken down the statue of Jerry Richardson in front of Bank of America Stadium, somebody else would have done it for them.At least, that’s the reasoning the team is going with.