California, Election 2012, Law Reviews, Politics

A Political Candidate’s Controversial Law Review Tenure

Julian Davis

On Friday, we brought you some controversial news about Julian Davis, a UC Hastings Law grad running for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He faces allegations of acting “royally douchey.” One of his accusers is a former classmate at UC Hastings, and after the story went up, we heard from a few more of his former Hastings peers.

One wrote in strong defense of Julian’s “firebrand” personality — and his politics. But a few others wrote to tell about his tumultuous — and unexpectedly brief — stint on the Hastings Law Journal.

Let’s jump right in and learn more about Davis’s interesting law school past…

UPDATED (4:35PM) with a significant response from Julian Davis.

The young candidate has had a rough couple of weeks in the press. So in fairness, let’s hear from another member of his law school class, who likes Davis’s style:

I was also in the class of 2012 with Julian, and I have to say that [this tipster] may just not know enough people at Hastings. Julian isn’t universally beloved (few people in any law school are), but he isn’t universally panned, either. I also had a class with Julian, but it was a small seminar with a great deal of student interaction rather than a large lecture, so I had the opportunity to get to know him personally rather than merely observe him from afar.

Julian is smart, self-possessed, passionate about helping the less privileged, and (relevantly) stands up for himself and speaks truth to power. So, was he a docile, subservient student? An “aw shucks” likeable classmate? No, he’s a firebrand and won’t let anyone talk down to him or run him over in a discussion.

This, of course, runs the risk of rubbing sensitive people the wrong way. He would be a good at representing the interests of his District for all of those reasons, though he should drop out of the race if the allegations are true. This isn’t meant to be a paean, and I don’t work for his campaign, but piling on to his misfortune here is irrelevant and unnecessary.

Our tipster makes a good point. Lawyers — and politicians — must be able to vigorously argue their opinions, even when more sensitive individuals may get a little peeved at that kind of assertiveness.

(N.B.: Mind you, we are mostly discussing Davis’s personality here, not his political stances. If you are a concerned voter looking for more policy-specific information, check out this site or Davis’s own campaign site.)

That said, there’s a time and place for vociferous debate. It may behoove Davis to make sure he knows when to keep his powder dry. As we wrote on Friday, he allegedly had to switch sections in one of his classes because things became too heated between him and his professor.

And it appears the editor-in-chief tried to kick Davis off was kicked off the Hastings Law Journal for various alleged failures “to meet his membership requirements,” as well as an “extremely embarrassing” incident, where he allegedly yelled at a night-shift security guard who would not let him into Hastings Tower (where the Journal’s offices are) after hours, due to some sort of administrative error. Two tipsters have independently corroborated the basics of the story.

One tipster claims Davis “yelled at the security guard, ‘This isn’t Communist Russia. This is America.’ This was apparently in reference to the guard’s thick eastern European accent.”

We received copies of Law Journal editorial board emails explaining the basics of the situation and Davis’s alleged expulsion from the journal. We’ve reprinted the full thread on the next page. Here’s the meatiest part of the saga, as explained by Sara B. Tosdal, the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief at the time:

I wanted to follow up with you all on the email from a little while ago about Julian Davis’s Journal membership. As Nic mentioned at the general meeting last week, Julian was removed from the Journal for failure to meet his membership requirements. Audio recordings from the Executive Board’s April 1, 2011 meeting on the matter, as well as from of the General Meeting are available on the H: drive in the office in the “Audio Recordings” folder.

A quick summary of the situation is as follows: Julian willfully failed to meet Notes deadlines, failed to attend his weekly Office Hour on several occasions, and there was convincing evidence that some of the hours he recorded were not earned. He also failed to pay dues until after the Board initially voted to remove him. There was also an incident over Spring Break between him and a Hastings employee that was extremely embarrassing for the Journal. The decision to remove Julian was not a random, sudden, or arbitrary decision or process; it was based on the accumulation of events, and was undertaken with an abundance of process, including the recorded meeting. If anyone has any questions or concerns about the matter, please get in touch with either me or another member of the Executive Board.

Ouch, that’s a rough break. Not the best law school legacy to leave behind for an aspiring politician. Because, like it or not, people care about that stuff. We’ve reached out to Davis again for this story, but we have not heard back. If his campaign responds, we will update our story with his comments.

UPDATE (4:35 PM): We spoke to Davis over the phone, and he had this to say. It sounds like things (as they often are) were more complicated than they appeared on the surface:

A lot of journal members don’t do third-year journal. It’s very common for journal members to serve on the journal in their 2nd year and not serve on 3L year. I was one of the journal members who chose not to serve on the journal during third year. I’m still a proud Hastings Law Journal alum to this day.

Davis says the EIC had attempted to “unilaterally” remove him, but that the matter was taken up by the dean’s office and eventually “settled in [his] favor,” and he was not removed from the journal.

Feel free to check out the controversial emails on the next page….

UPDATE (11/7/2012, 3:30 PM): In case you’re wondering, Julian Davis did not win a seat on the Board of Supervisors.

(hidden for your protection)

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