Santos Says Lacabe 'Fibbed' About Being Lawyer

Former Mayor Tony Santos scolds Democratic Central Committee member Margarita Lacabe for calling herself a human rights 'lawyer' in a campaign flyer.


Former Mayor Tony Santos has filed a complaint with the State Bar of California accusing San Leandro resident Margarita Lacabe of misrepresenting herself as a human rights "lawyer" on a campaign flyer. 

Lacabe, a blogger and frequent commenter on Patch, was the second-highest vote-getter in the June 5th Primary that selected 10 members to the Democratic Central Committee for the 18th Assembly District.

Central Committees make endorsements and perform party housekeeping chores

The only candidate to get more votes than Lacabe in Tuesday's race was Oakland political figure Ignacio De La Fuente.

Lacabe's transgression, Santos said, occurred in a campaign flyer urging Democrats to elect a slate of Central Committee members of which she was a part.

On that flyer, a copy of which is attached, Lacabe is described as a "Human Rights Lawyer."

Is she?

Well, that depends on the definition of lawyer.

Lacabe said she thinks a lawyer is someone who had a degree in law -- which she does -- although has never taken the bar exam nor practiced as an attorney.

Lacabe said she never took the bar exam or practiced because international human rights law does not involve litigation. Instead it has involved activism to persuade courts in various jurisdictions to enforce international human rights laws.

Lacabe said when she first ran for Democratic Central Committee in 2010, she had wanted to represent herself on the ballot as a "human rights activist." But she said county voting officials did not accept activist as a professional description, and so she appeared on the 2010 ballot as a "human rights lawyer."

On Tuesday's ballot she is described as a "human rights researcher." Lacabe said that term better described the work she now does and was acceptable to voting officials as a profession.

Then why is she called a human rights lawyer on the campaign flyer? 

Lacabe said she didn't put the flyer together and thinks the attorney language may have been copied from the way she was described on the 2010 ballot.

In retrospect, she said it would been better to have described herself as a human rights activist for campaign purposes.

But she doesn't think the use of lawyer is a big deal given her understanding that a lawyer is someone with a law degree, while an attorney is someone who practices law, which she has never done.

Santos thinks otherwise.

"In this state it's against the law to represent yourself as a lawyer," he said. "You're not supposed to use the title "lawyer" or "attorney" unless you are practicing."

His complaint has just been sent to the Bar Association and what they will or won't do remains to be seen.

A Bar Association spokesperson confirmed that Lacabe is not a practicing attorney and said the Bar's chief interest would be if she were alleged to have tried to practice law here.

The California Business and Professions Code makes it a misdemeanor "for (a) person (to) advertise or hold himself or herself out as practicing or entitled to practice law."

But that does not appear to be what Santos is alledging. His beef with Lacabe is more along the lines of resume-padding.

"People have been fibbing about their backgrounds to get elected," he told Patch, adding that, in his view, "she would not have finished second (in the vote for central committee) if she had not used that (lawyer) designation."

(Editor's disclosure: Margarita Lacabe routinely babysits my daughter and, after posting this story, I proceeded to her house for the evening pickup.) 

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Jay June 08, 2012 at 12:47 AM
With your comprehension of English grammar skills I can see why you only went to law school for "one year". Was it a even a full year or did you get kicked out after one semester?
Chris Crow June 08, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Mike I did a little research and came up with the same thing as Marga's. A lawyer is someone who is trained in the law. Pretty sure Ursula Reed interfered with my political activities as a city council candidate bu kicking me off the planning commission, which is also a misdemeanor. Guess I should have Patch write a story about it. Marga did not break any law here so that's why I don't think it's important.
Mike June 08, 2012 at 01:52 AM
As for David I asked a couple of the top Biotech Money managers about him and their comment was "Who?"
anthony June 08, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Chris ... sorry but it's bugging me, isn't it libel ? (Just to be safe, check your profile. ;-))
David June 08, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Sure mike. Which ones were they, so I know who to market to next?
David June 08, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Ps. Mike. I'm sure your dad has many accomplishments and has been a fine father. Mayor of San Leandro was not the high point of his life.
Stephen Carbonaro June 08, 2012 at 08:16 AM
Man, I would be reluctant to call myself a lawyer even if I had passed the bar. I'd go for "Psychopath", Garbage Man"
Rob Rich June 08, 2012 at 01:23 PM
It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but if you're not eligible to practice law anywhere, you're not a lawyer. "Lawyer" means a member of the State Bar of California or a person who is admitted in good standing of and eligible to practice before the bar of any United States court or the highest court of the District of Columbia or any state, territory, or insular possession of the United States, or is licensed to practice law in, or is admitted in good standing and eligible to practice before the bar of the highest court of, a foreign country or any political subdivision thereof. California Rules of Professional Conduct 1-100((B)(3), Chapter 1: Professional Integrity http://rules.calbar.ca.gov/Rules/RulesofProfessionalConduct/CurrentRules/Rule1100.aspx
Leah Hall June 08, 2012 at 02:19 PM
A bit harsh there, Carbonaro? ;-) ...kind of what I've been thinking, though. Seriously, I do think civil rights attorneys need to find a powerful and purposeful mission, and then go public with it.
David June 08, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Mikey, don't leave me hanging, I'm marketing in Texas and New York over the next 2 weeks, tell me which accounts you've talked to so that I can introduce myself. Or are you just lying? Don't break my heart.
Marga Lacabe June 08, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Wow, Rob, until now I thought you were perhaps confused, perhaps bitter, but still speaking in good faith. But now you appear to be deliberately deceitful. You know, of course, that statutes commonly define what they mean by specific words. So when the Rules say that "member" means "a member of the State Bar", they have not redefined the dictionary word or provided a legal definition to the word "member", but rather clarified what when the Rules say "member" they mean "members of the State bar". Same thing with "lawyer", "associate," "shareholder," etc. You haven't answered my question about whether you failed the bar, but here is a more serious one. Is the construction company you work for bidding or preparing to bid on any projects in San Leandro? Are you in the process of seeking or accepting work with any of the companies that will be doing construction work in San Leandro? I'm just curious.
anthony June 08, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Marga... So are you an "active member" or "inactive member" of the State Bar ? An opinion if you will, earlier up the thread Chris took a little shot at Council Member Reed on some misdemeanor charge, which one I have no idea, does that expose him to charges of defamation (libel) Thanks
Chris Crow June 08, 2012 at 05:03 PM
thanks anthony
Chris Crow June 08, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Already vetted it with multiple "lawyers" and "attorneys"...They said 'yep, she interfered, but I don't think the DA will prosecute' and I have no civil recourse, except defamation of character if I can prove my reputation was harmed.
Marga Lacabe June 08, 2012 at 05:30 PM
anthony, I'm neither. I practice international human rights law, which doesn't involve representing individual clients or appearing before state/national courts. That means that I have no reason to join the California bar, and don't relish the expense of doing so. In America, there is really only one international human rights legal issue that is litigated - torts brought under the Alien Tort Act or the Torture Act -, but that's not something I've ever been interested in working on. Some int'l human rights lawyers do represent clients before international bodies - but there aren't very many of them and none require that the "advocate" be actually a lawyer, much less a member of any particular bar. I don't do this work myself, mostly because I never ended up living in DC which is where the two or three organizations that specialize on this vis a vis the Inter-American system of Human Rights are located. I think one of the problems is that many people - lawyers included - seem to be unaware of the differences between domestic law and public international law, and thus cannot conceive of the idea of "practicing law" without representing an actual client. They should take this as an opportunity to learn :-)
David June 08, 2012 at 05:40 PM
To recap: 1) Tony would like to make Marga look bad by stating she misrepresented herself as a lawyer on a ballot for the Central Soviet, er, Central Democrat Committee, a position that has no requirement (nor should it) for any kind of legal training. 2) An election no one except a handful of Dems in some varied "leadership" roles care about. 3) Marga represents no clients, in no courts, regarding laws that are nearly always unenforceable, indeed aren't really "laws" and of course require no legal training to argue them, since, well, there's no court or client or law. Hello, Franzie! How are things going in the Kafka household...really...a bug you say...a beetle to be precise...you don't say...well, old chap, that's better than going to court for an indeterminate crime and for an indeterminate punishment...oh...sorry to have brought that up again...I know I know it's overused...sometimes it really does apply...Franzie, don't get so down...You really should eat...and take care of that cough, you sound like death...oh..umm...well, feel better, ok....*click*.
Marga Lacabe June 08, 2012 at 05:58 PM
David, you've been at our best on this thread. Thanks for making me laugh and laugh. I think you've said all.
tony santos June 08, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Well, well, comment has brought a lot of response. I am on a one person crusade to stop "lying" on resumes and to end the charade that those who run for office fudge their history. Fact is it is against the law to claim to be a "lawyer" or attorney when your not. It is clearly stated. Chris, it is going to be fun for me to work against your campaign for council end of year. There are now people in Oakland who are distressed by Marga's actions-could breed discussion on the committee when it meets. My word to anyone misrepresnting their history/resume, don't do it. It could be illegal! its like stealing clothes in a clothing store.
Chris Crow June 08, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Mr. Santos, It pains me to think I gave you my last RCV vote in 2010. All you have done since then is proven to me that I should have given it to someone else. You're the most uninspiring person I've ever met. On 2 occassions you spoke to a group of young up and coming leaders here in San Leandro, which I was a part, and on both occassions imparted your life's motto of "There is no such thing as a new idea, and all you can do is manage the situation". The epitemy of an old guard mantra. I can trace the genesis of my motivation to get involved in our local government back to that point. A lot of the questions I had about why San Leandro was the way it was while I was growing up here were answered in that moment - We have decision makers not focused on anything but the present, which is why my generation's future is in considerable financial peril. Your comment on the 'balanced budget' story about never thinking about the future is an admission of guilt on your part for having stranded future city hall administrations with such burdens. You squandered the largest surplus this city has seen in decades, couldn't get your senior center opened on time, depleted our reserves, and clearly were not thinking of any ideas to better this city's future. That's why you lost Tony. Do you remember or even acknowledge losing your election? This city can't afford to have bitter old men pulling the strings holding us back anymore. It needs new blood and new ideas and new leaders.
MarleenLee June 08, 2012 at 11:48 PM
In order to give legal advice, you need to have passed the bar.
MarleenLee June 08, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Apparently this person thinks she can "practice" international human rights law without having ever passed any bar exam. I hope this Tony guy cuts and pastes this entire exchange and forwards it to the State Bar as further evidence that she is attempting to mislead the public about her qualifications.
Rob Rich June 09, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Bitter and deceitful? Come on Marga, don't sugarcoat it! I am disagreeing with you and citing definitions you don't like. Why not "corrupt" too? Oh wait, there is that "serious" question (or is it a compound question?): "Is the construction company you work for bidding or preparing to bid on any projects in San Leandro? Are you in the process of seeking or accepting work with any of the companies that will be doing construction work in San Leandro?" Short answer(s): No, No, Yes, & No. Re: #3 - we regularly hire San Leandro subs (& employ San Leandro residents). In the spirit of full disclosure, I would love to build here. Now how any of this has anything to do with whether it is misleading for someone who is not admitted to practice law to call themselves a "lawyer" is beyond me. It almost seems like a diversionary tactic. You know, the best defense is a good offense. Lastly, you're right, I ignored your question about passing the bar. It seemed off-topic & I couldn't imagine anyone (but you) cared. In any case, yes, I'm also a lawyer. Now, is this deposition over?
Marga Lacabe June 09, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Rob, I'm just trying to figure out what's going on with you. Why would a rational person work so hard to try to "prove" something which is not only wrong, but as David has brilliantly pointed out below, ultimately immaterial? Bitterness over a failed bar exam could be a possibility. I don't discount it. But I'm not blind to the fact that this "hit" on me was delivered right after I fought the Village Marketplace deal. Payback? Trying to discredit me so I won't draw much notice to the next dirty development deal? Possible. I just wonder if you relate to that in any way. Which company, btw, are you seeking to work with?
Stephen Carbonaro June 09, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Good luck with the crusade. I do not believe anyone has been elected to public office without an "enhanced" resume. But who and what Marga is speaks for itself; not afraid to ruffle a few BIG feathers, and this issue of yours seems pretty damn irrelevant. It smells of a put up job. Why you would chose to do this yourself is beyond comprehension. So why don't you just give up this cause of yours Tony. The first three "Crusades" all ended badly. this could come back and bite you on the behind.
Thomas Clarke June 09, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Let'see here, this whole discussion is between a politician(s), a lawyer(s) and a realtor(s). Full disclosure does not really come from anyone. And are these not the folks you most respect and find most ethical? Give me a break.
Fran June 09, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Nah, I don't think it has anything to do with Village Marketplace. Tony was an outspoken critic of the deal, If I remember correctly. And nobody really cares about it that much, it's business as usual. If indeed it is Sheila Young behind it, it's probably because she is jealous of you because you are smarter than her.
Stephen Carbonaro June 10, 2012 at 09:14 AM
This smells like the recall of San Lorenzo Village Homes Association Director Brenda Carr did; like a rat. Brenda was set up, almost immediately after taking office. Now Marga wins, and out come the allegations. I guess this is politics, another area to avoid. So I guess a "human rights lawyer" cannot exist in this universe; like anti-matter. This is lame. Time to move on.
Stephen Carbonaro June 10, 2012 at 09:17 AM
A politician, a lawyer, and a realtor walk into a bar...........
Stephen Carbonaro June 10, 2012 at 09:57 AM
From another patch article on "snitches", this in the comments section: tony santos 3:45 pm on Monday, June 4, 2012 I am soon to be a snitch! Good for the goose is good for the gander. Wednesday is the day I snitch. Sorry about that!
Stephen Carbonaro June 11, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I'll report this to the Psycopathic Garbageman union (AKA Teamsters)


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