Hosted by Attorney Louis Goodman
May 17, 2023

James Rodriguez - Alameda County Assistant Public Defender

James Rodriguez - Alameda County Assistant Public Defender

James Rodriguez is a highly accomplished Alameda County Public Defender, boasting an impressive track record of over 20 years. Throughout his extensive career, he has adeptly handled a diverse range of cases, ranging from misdemeanors to high-stakes felony offenses, including assault, attempted murder, and child torture. His remarkable professional journey also encompasses notable stints at esteemed institutions such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Berkeley Community Law Center, and the California Appellate Project. Tune in to this compelling interview, where James delves into the intricacies of managing emotions while tackling exceptionally challenging cases and explains why it’s so important for attorneys to cultivate early mentorship in their careers.

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A transcript of this podcast is available at

James Rodriguez

Born in Los Angeles – grew up between Sacramento suburbs and LA

UCLA undergrad - 1989 – started with an NROTC scholarship, dropped that, then studied film, then ended with History major, Studied at University of Guadalajara for a summer

In college worked at the American Film Institute, CARECEN - Central American Refugee Center and fry cook

After graduation worked for two years as a teachers assistant with learning handicapped students, summers with severely disabled students (now called Resource Program)

Applied to the four UC law schools after that – accepted at Boalt (Berkeley Law now of course)

Was granted a summer fellowship to work at MALDEF – Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund – during 1L summer

Worked at the Berkeley Community Law Center during school,  helping mothers recently paroled from prison who had passed aids to their children obtain SSI

Interned with David Coleman at Contra costa defender’s during school

2L summer worked at civil law firm in Sacramento

After graduation received fellowship to work at the California Appellate Project in San Francisco, working with team on death penalty appeals 

Then worked two years in San Diego Public Defender’s office

Moved back to San Francisco, worked two years in the Office of Citizen Complaints  - SF police oversight agency  (now defunct, the responsibilities of the OCC was split into two separate agencies) - with Mary Dunlap

Found my way to Alameda defender’s in 2000, been there ever since.

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Louis Goodman
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Louis Goodman

Attorney at Law



Louis Goodman / James Rodriguez - Transcript


Louis Goodman00:03

Welcome to the Love Thy Lawyer podcast where we talk with attorneys about their lives and careers. I'm Louis Goodman. Today I'm joined by Alameda County Public Defender James Rodriguez. In addition to his over 20 years of experience as a frontline Public Defender, James has worked for the Mexican American Legal, Defense and Education Fund, the Berkeley Community Law Center, and the California Appellate Project, James Rodriguez, welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.


James Rodriguez00:34

Thank you. It feels great to be here. It's an honor. I’m very thankful.


Louis Goodman00:39

Well, thank you for doing the podcast. I always enjoy talking to people who I see in court and I see you in court all the time. Where are you talking to us from right now?


James Rodriguez00:51

I'm in my home in San Francisco. Taking the afternoon off so I can be here. It looks very gray and rainy outside, we've got a big storm, of course.


Louis Goodman01:02

Where's your office right now? What assignment do you have in the Public Defender's Office?


James Rodriguez01:06

Right now I'm working on what we call a calendar assignment. So I'm in department 108 of the Wiley Manuel courthouse. Our office is on Clay Street, Clay and 4th. And I'm handling misdemeanors. And it's a nice change. I was just recently on what we call vertical trial staff handling the big felony cases in Dublin.


Louis Goodman01:25

What kinds of cases were you handling in Dublin up until a week or two ago?


James Rodriguez01:29

The various cases, I know that there are lawyers here on listening, so the people won't be shocked by this, child torture cases, assault cases, attempted murderer, the very, very serious stuff, I stepped into a caseload that had already been aged significantly by my predecessor, who had left the office abruptly. And the case is when I stepped into them about two years ago, now we're all ripe and ready to go to trial. And they had to be worked up in my particular manner. And I saw that a lot of things needed to be done. So that's how it came to be vertical trial in Dublin.


Louis Goodman02:11

You know, I do nothing but Criminal Defense in Alameda County. But the reality is that most of my cases are either lighter weight felonies or misdemeanors. And I'm always looking kind of for the happy ending for my client, and most of the time I can get it. Those kinds of cases don't really have a happy ending, do they?


James Rodriguez02:33

Most of them don't, happy endings tend to be, let's say, five years or less in prison or probation sentences. We always try to avoid, obviously, any resolutions that end in life. They're happy endings. They're happy endings for that particular their particular circumstances. But I understand what you mean about the misdemeanors, I'm doing misdemeanors now, I think that we do a lot of good. You and I do with people that are charged with misdemeanor offenses, because oftentimes those people, they have jobs, they have lives, they have families. And it's not that the felony clients don't. But since we see a larger volume, I think of misdemeanor clients and the sort of garden variety DUIs and assaults and thefts, I think that we're able to help the clients out in a much more concrete way. They tend to be out of custody, we can help them keep their jobs, for example.


Louis Goodman03:30

How do you deal with your own emotions and your own headspace when it comes to dealing with really heavy cases?


James Rodriguez03:39

Yeah. And that's a great question. I think every attorney has their own way of dealing with it. My way has been to simply almost split myself in two, I work as an attorney, but I'm not a attorney. I am not an attorney. I work as an attorney. So I try to when I'm at work, I focus on those cases, the ones that are the more difficult cases, have the uglier facts. I try to keep all of that, all of that energy, all of that work that I do, I try to keep that at work. And obviously, work also extends to home sometimes. I try to split myself, focus on my family when I'm with my family, although that can be very difficult at times that work-life balance, but it's difficult in this last, this is my third time doing felony trials for the Alameda County Public Defender's Office, and I sort of walked into it with a lot of hubris, a lot of arrogance. So I've done this a couple times before, this won't be any problem, I'll be able to just take these cases as they are, but one of them in particular was extremely emotionally draining and challenging. And I kind of jokingly say I had several meltdowns during the pendency of that case, which lasted about nine months, involved child torture.


Louis Goodman04:56

Where are you from originally?


James Rodriguez04:58

I am from Los Angeles. So I was born in Los Angeles, hospital, actually. And my parents divorced at a young age when I was a young age and my father moved to Sacramento. My mother stayed in Los Angeles. And so I sort of grew up between the two towns, sort of a suburban area and Sacramento, Fair Oaks and Folsom. And also more urban place which was the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.

Louis Goodman05:24

Where did you go to high school?


James Rodriguez04:58

Went to High School in Sacramento a place called Bella Vista High School.


Louis Goodman05:30

When you graduated from high school, you went to college, where did you go?


James Rodriguez05:34

I went to UCLA. And I went there because I was interested in film but also because I didn't know a whole lot about college. It ended up being a great experience, a great time, a time of tremendous growth for me. But I only applied to two schools. I applied to USC and applied to UCLA. And I got into both and I decided, well, UCLA seems like it's in a much better neighborhood. So that's how I ended up there.


Louis Goodman06:00

Now, at some point you graduated from UCLA and you went to law school, did you go straight through or did you take some time off?


James Rodriguez06:07

You know, I didn't, because I didn't really have an idea that I would go to law school. I graduated with a history degree. But I also studied film at UCLA as well, was sort of at a loss. People had always told me, you should go to law school, you'd be good at that. And mainly, they said that because I was sort of a bookworm as a kid. I worked as a teacher's assistant in a learning handicapped students classroom, also in Sacramento, at a high school called Del Campo. So I did that for about two years, during the summer, I would work with severely handicapped students. And that was probably the most rewarding job I've ever had. Unfortunately, it didn't pay the bills, as many people know, we tend to under pay and under appreciate our teachers. And coming out of college, I wanted to make a lot more than $13 an hour. And my family did just wanted me to as well.


Louis Goodman06:59

Well, that brings up the question of when did you first realize that you wanted to be a lawyer? And the related question of when did you decide to apply to law school?


James Rodriguez07:12

I decided to apply to law school, and I'll be honest about this. And I've said this to other people, I decided to become a lawyer because I wanted to get out of the sort of working class economic background that had come from. I grew up mostly with my father in Sacramento, he was a barber, money was tight. And I had thought about becoming a bilingual teacher, Spanish English, getting a master's at UCLA, I thought about maybe becoming a professor in Latin American Studies. And it sort of dawned on me that those two fields are not the most remunerative, let's say. And so I decided, law school sounds interesting. I know, I can handle the studies and I can handle the topics. Let me give that a shot.


Louis Goodman07:59

What did your friends and family say when you said, I want to be a lawyer, I want to go to law school?


James Rodriguez08:04

Oh, they were happy, very happy. They had always seen something like that for me, like I said, because I was very much a bookworm. And not so much an athlete when I was in high school, in college. So they're happy, they wanted to see me achieve, I was the first of my family to go to college. And very blue collar background, that I very much love and appreciate. I think it helps me now as an attorney, as a Public Defender relate to my clients. For the large part, they tend to come from that background.


Louis Goodman08:31

Where did you go to law school?


James Rodriguez08:34

Went to law school at UC Berkeley.


Louis Goodman08:36

How was that, the transition from Southern California, up here to Northern California?


James Rodriguez08:43

I hated it. I absolutely hated the weather when I got here. I was happy to be in Berkeley, new place, interesting place, wanted to find out what that was all about. But I would put on, I'd look out the window in the morning from my dorm room, I'd put on a big sweater jacket, go off to class, come out at noon, and it's sunny. And I'm sort of just perplexed by that and take off the sweater and the jacket and go through that. And I just didn't like it. It had much more of a change of seasons than Southern California. Subsequent to that having lived here now for so long. I really love it. I love the fog. I love the rain. I love seeing the change in the weather.


Louis Goodman09:27

So the whole northern California program kind of grew on you at some point.


James Rodriguez09:33

It did. It did. I had a lot of great experiences at Berkeley, met a lot of great people. A lot of them were more familiar with the area than I was, native to the Bay Area, etc. And so they showed me kind of what it was like to be up here and I really, just traveling going to see Santa Cruz up to the redwoods, that sort of thing. I really sort of fell in love with it.


Louis Goodman09:55

Now you got out of law school and now you are a rather seasoned Alameda County Public Defender. I'm wondering if you could take us briefly through your path in the law, from graduating from law school in Berkeley to where you are now.


James Rodriguez10:19

Sort of give a little bit of background on that. When I went to law school again, I didn't know a whole lot about it. I didn't, there was a lot, there was a TV program at the time called LA Law, which you might remember, there was, this is sort of the late 80s. And there was one character who was this contracts lawyer who worked in Hollywood, he was very debonair, very sexy sort of character, this one man. And I thought to myself that that'd be cool to do, that'd be cool to work with all of these stars in Hollywood and have that sort of very sexy life and do that. When I got into law school, I saw that that was really just contracts, all that work was about was just contracts and it was boring as anything. And so during my first year, my 1L year I took crim Pro and that was taught by David Coleman, who was the Assistant Public Defender, number two at in Contra Costa and he was just such a wonderful person, gracious man, look just like Harry Belafonte. We used to joke and so he kind of took me under his wing, and I interned at the Contra Costa Public Defender's Office, he needed somebody who spoke Spanish for case he was working on. And that's what really lit the fire that I wanted to go into Public Defender work, public interest work. So I had a number of jobs during law school that sort of focused me towards become a Public Defender. I was awarded fellowship after school, right after school to work for the California Appellate project which they work with habeas appeals and direct appeals for inmates on death row, was part of a team that was successful in getting a death sentence commuted to life without out parole, big victory, then I decided at that point that….


Louis Goodman12:07

Well, it is a big victory if you're the guy who they want to put to death.


James Rodriguez12:11

Right, right. I just I kind of mentioned that, because some people think, oh, life without parole, that's horrible, too. But it's a big victory when you-- there's such a difference between being housed on in the death row block at San Quentin, and having more freedom that you have, so to speak, when you're in the larger population of prison.


Louis Goodman12:33

It seems like you've always worked for the underdog.


James Rodriguez12:36

That's a good observation. And, and that's very much true. I've always been drawn to that. My mother, very Catholic, sort of liberal Catholic, early 80s, raising me, showed me a side of the Catholic church that was very dedicated to helping the poor, to working with those who were repressed. It was subvert her attitudes toward the church. And what she taught me were sort of an offshoot of the liberation theology that was sort of going to the Catholic church at the time, and I didn't really focus on all of the things that people kind of see as negative aspects of the church. And I agree, there are a lot of negative aspects of it. But I had always been drawn to working with the poor, working with the homeless, seeing what I could do to help them. And so you're right. I've always worked for the underdog.


Louis Goodman13:25

You're obviously a bright guy. You have lots of skills, you're bilingual. There's many, many things that you could do. You've stayed practicing law for all these years, what is it about practicing law that you're really drawn to?


James Rodriguez13:41

I think it's what we just talked about, I think it's making connection with a person who is in dire need. They've been charged, perhaps at the first time with an offence for the first time. Maybe a DUI, maybe something more serious, obviously, it's a felony. They don't know what's going on. We work as attorneys, we work in a very Byzantine system, right. And we don't tend to see that as attorneys, we use all of these words that are meaningless in the outside world, we're going to continue this case, for example, we're going to have a pretrial arraignment, I was using the Latin phrase Nunc pro Tunc today in court. So we work in a Byzantine system that we as attorneys know how to navigate and we know how it functions, but the average person when they come in here, they're bewildered, they don't know what's going on. And I like to use my abilities as a lawyer and as a human being to connect with them and to sort of guide them through the process and reassure them.


Louis Goodman14:41

If a young person was just coming out of college and thinking about a career choice, would you recommend the laws to that individual?


James Rodriguez14:48

That's a tough question. I think I would want them to be sure that this is the path they want to go down. I would say what are their interests do you have? What have you thought about? What other things sorts of careers could you imagine yourself doing? Oftentimes, people have the idea about the law that I sort of did, they're not sure about what it really means, they're looking for maybe some sort of accolades or some sort of fame, so to speak, recognition, and I like to make sure that they know that that's not really what we should as lawyers focus on, of course a lot do. We have to put those publicity hounds in the law, and then the ones who make the headlines in the splashy articles and things like that.


Louis Goodman15:38

Yeah, that's true. But I think that for 99% of practicing lawyers, there is neither a great bit of fame nor fortune for most of us. Most of us are trying to do work and present a workman like product for our clients whether it's civil law, criminal law. But...


James Rodriguez16:01

And I completely agree with you, I completely agree with you. When I advise people as to whether to go into legal career, I just want them to be sure they want to do it, I want to be sure that they go into it with the right motivation. Obviously, that's their decision, finally, but I just kind of make those suggestions and present to them things to think about before they make a final decision.


Louis Goodman16:22

Is there anything that you know now that you really wished you had known before you started practicing law?


James Rodriguez16:29

I think perhaps, if there is one thing I wish I would have known about, it's the personalities and the impact of judges on the system. And how there can be a tremendous difference in the outcomes of cases from one judge to another, you can be in one courtroom, and you'll have a judge who perhaps connects more with the client and is more respectful of the client. And there's a better outcome there. Let's say, you could be in the courtroom next door, and you have a judge who is the opposite, who maybe feels that himself or herself is there to you know, be a law and order type of judge and they're a little more oppositional to the client, and they can have a worse outcome. So that's what I wish I would have known if anything, not that there's a whole lot that I could have done about it or do about it. But that's one thing I think that I really didn't know about that I would have appreciated knowing.


Louis Goodman17:24

What's the best advice that you've ever received?


James Rodriguez17:28

The best advice I've ever received, I think apologize to my parents, obviously, they gave me a lot of advice. And I appreciate all the advice he gave me, Mom and Dad, I had two uncles who said different things to me one, one uncle told me as I was thinking about what to do after college, he said to me, don't be a professional student, do something concrete. And I took that to heart, meaning, don't get sort of trapped in my own head don't get trapped in the academy. And a second uncle later told me when I had applied to law school, law schools, I applied to the four UCS. And I didn't really know where I was going to go. But he knew an attorney who'd gone to Berkeley. And he said you should really go there. And I appreciated that advice. I did choose Berkeley, not so much because of its reputation, or its name or anything like that. But I wouldn't have had quite the experience in law school that I did at other law schools, I think and so I appreciate those two bits of advice that I had received at different times in my life.


Louis Goodman18:35

Did your uncle knows something about the experience of Berkeley?


James Rodriguez18:39

He knew an attorney who had gone there that he had talked to, and had heard from her sort of what the experience was like at Berkeley, she probably may have mentioned that it was one of these very, sort of all star law schools. And I think that was the extent of his knowledge.


Louis Goodman18:58

But what about the experience at Berkeley specifically that was different than maybe some other law school that you think was interesting, helpful, academically interesting, what was it?


James Rodriguez19:12

Well, we had a saying at Berkeley, and I don't know if they still have the same grading system, they're in the same was P equals JD, what I mean by that is they had a pass fail system. I mean, it wasn't really a pass fail system. They had high honors, honors and pass. So you could equate those two being A,B and C. But as long as you got to pass it in each class you would graduate, you would get your Juris Doctor. And that took a lot of pressure off of me I think to compete with other students. And I know it did for other students. It will took some of that grade, pressure away, trying to get A's and B's and have your resume look real very nice with the top grades. Because frankly, I'm not sure a lot of employers know what to make of the Pass Fail system.


Louis Goodman20:09

What advice would you give to a young attorney just starting out?


James Rodriguez20:13

Take care of yourself, keep yourself in focus. Remember who you are, take time to cultivate outside interests. Don't lose those outside interests. If you don't have any, if your head has been buried in the books for all those years, because maybe went straight from high school to college to law school, try to develop those things, they'll keep you sane, that's the main interest I would give someone who's just starting out.


Louis Goodman20:42

What, if anything, would you change about the way the legal system works?


James Rodriguez20:47

That's a good question. I've been thinking about that a lot actually. Now that I've started misdemeanors, I'm shocked actually doing misdemeanors doubt how many of the clients have mental health issues. And I'm talking a lot of the time, most of the time about clients who are in custody, I would say half to three quarters of the clients that I am dealing with now have serious mental illnesses that have gone untreated, I would change the way the current, let's call it a pipeline of works from criminal court to the mental health system. Right now, it's a little bit scattered, I think there's a behavioral health court, there is an informal behavioral health court, there's all sorts of diversions where the client can receive mental health treatment. But I think when someone with those symptoms comes through in the criminal justice system, I think we need a better way to funnel them into services, rather than sort of dragging them through arraignment and through pre trials and things of that nature before we kind of get them into services.


Louis Goodman21:56

I'm going to shift gears a little bit. What's your family life been like and how does that fit into practicing law?


James Rodriguez22:05

I've always had a difficult time while in law backup, I'm in a very blessed situation now recently married, lived with my partner, she's wonderful. I'll give her a shout out Katie Van Sant, she's a wonderful interpreter. And we share three children together two are mine, one is hers, they get along very well. That's a busy household. I also have a son Dalton who lives in Reno. But I've always found it difficult to balance work and life outside of work, let's say family, it's always been difficult for me, I was raised with a very strong work ethic. And so my tendency would be to work 24/7. If I didn't have a life, let's say a family, something like that, having finished trial staff and gotten to misdemeanors now a few weeks ago, I went out twice in one weekend, socialize with friends and went to a concert. And I'm more relaxed now. And my balance has sort of come back. My work life balance. Let's say that my interactions with my family, my ability to communicate with them and be there, be present for them. And Katie also remarks, I've got my partner back.


Louis Goodman23:28

What sort of things do you enjoy doing for recreation?


James Rodriguez23:33

I play the Congas the drums from Cuba, hopefully most of your listeners are familiar with. I play those, I'm also involved in a group called Local Bloco, which is a group in San Francisco that takes at risk youth, inner city youth, pairs them with adults, to teach Drum and Dance, Brazilian drum and dance, they do performances and also march in the Carnival parade, which is here in San Francisco.


Louis Goodman24:02

Have you had any interesting travel experiences?


James Rodriguez24:05

I have, I've traveled a lot in Mexico and Central America. And I remember one time we were in Belize, I was there with some friends I think this is after we graduated from law school and we were on horseback going through the forest there. And you know, horseback pretty high off the ground and I look up at the canopy which is not too far above me, maybe five or six feet and there's a snake up there. And the snake is just passing through the canopy above my head and I thought to myself, that's something you don't have to deal with every day, a snake over you. I'm not particularly afraid of snakes, spiders are more sort of my kryptonite so to speak. But I just always remember that.


Louis Goodman24:53

What mistakes do you think lawyers make?


James Rodriguez24:56

That's another tough one. Lawyers, we're human beings. We do make mistakes, and we need to be easy on ourselves, I think when that happens, and that comes with age and with experience, going back to what I had mentioned earlier about language, the language of the system, I think lawyers, the number one mistake we make, and I in most of my career did this, is expecting our clients to understand what we're saying to them, we're going to have a pretrial or we're going to go to jury trial, this is your arraignment, all of the various language that we use, we're going to do what I like is, we're going to continue your case, if you step back and think about what that would mean to somebody on the street, we're going to continue your case, what does that mean? For example, let's say you're on the street, I was going to go to this party last night, but they continued it to, I asked for a continuance of the party. That's just not a word that's normally used in that sort of meeting. So we make the mistake of thinking that they're on the same wavelength that we are sometimes.


Louis Goodman26:03

How do you define success?


James Rodriguez26:05

Well, for me personally, it's finding that right work balance, I think that's truly success, managing your stress, right? Being able to manage your stress, so that it doesn't have a big impact on your health and your well being. And you don't turn to substances, such as alcohol and drugs, and I've been sober 13 years now. And so I know what it's like.


Louis Goodman26:27



James Rodriguez26:28

Thank you. Thank you appreciate that. Now, I don't mention that for any sort of acclaim. But I mentioned it, because I've been through, I've gone down that road of using alcohol and other substances to sort of deal with my stress as an attorney. And I just found it was a dead end. And it was very dangerous. And I think success is again, finding that right work life balance and stress management, where you're not harming yourself or others emotionally or obviously physically.


Louis Goodman26:53

If you feel comfortable about talking about it, I'd be very interested in hearing about your recovery story.


James Rodriguez27:00

Okay, well, so a lot of drinking goes on in law school. A lot of, at least it did for me and my friends, we used to go to a lot of parties, we used to smoke, weed and do other things and be a good time. And that helped us manage the stress, I think in law school. Later on, as a young attorney, you turn to those substances, because it just seems like the natural thing to do. You go out to bars with friends with coworkers, you celebrate things at those places where alcohol is sort of the focus, you come home after let's say a day and trial and have an ice cold beer, it's a great way to just clear your head I think or can be a great way to clear your head and relax. But then it becomes too much of a habit. So in my particular situation, it became something that I relied on too much. And it began to lead to serious health problems. And I realized that at some point or others did for me, thankfully, that I had a real problem that I needed to address. I didn't see it, I didn't want to address it. And I could see that they were seeing that if I didn't do something about it that it was going to come to a pretty tragic end. And so I was able to get into recovery. I went to Los Angeles for a few weeks. Diane Bellis, our former Public Defender, I just want to give her a shout out, she was wonderful with me, she was very gentle and gracious allowed me this time off so that I could go get started in recovery and come back. And I came back a different person. And they came back sort of very conscious about alcohol and drugs and the impact that can have on a person. And that sort of that's allowed me to counsel other younger attorneys about situations that they might be involved in or concerns they may have about their own use. And again, it's something that allows me to sort of understand and connect a little bit more with somebody who went out and had too many drinks and got in the car.


Louis Goodman29:04

Do you still go to meetings?


James Rodriguez29:06

I still go to conventions, AAA conventions, I still talk with friends that are more dedicated to attending, daily or weekly meetings. And I go on retreats at the Jesuit retreat center down in Los Altos. And they have great programs there for the weekend where you can go and people in recovery can go and just sort of talk to each other and learn how to deal with life.


Louis Goodman29:30

Let's say you came into some real money, you came into several billion dollars, three or four billion dollars, what if anything, would you do differently in your life?


James Rodriguez29:42

From here on out, I think I would maybe I live in ocean view right now. I love this neighborhood in San Francisco. I probably moved to the Richmond maybe in a much larger house. I'm not going to deny that I would increase, or I would be a little bit more materialistic, but I don't think I would focus on that I would get a nice car and do all those things that people dream of doing. But I would honestly take a lot of that money and try to help fund organizations, especially here in San Francisco trying to help fund them in terms of having a place to set up shop.


Louis Goodman30:20

Let's say a magic wand. And there was one thing in the world that you could change in the legal world or otherwise, what would that be?


James Rodriguez30:27

I think first and foremost would be to end this war in Ukraine. It has just brought so much suffering to people and it's just awful.


Louis Goodman30:34

Let's say someone gave you 60 seconds on the Super Bowl, Super Bowl ad, you had put out any advertisement that you wanted to a huge national audience, what would you want to say?


James Rodriguez30:49

I think I tell them, look, wait about four hours before you decide to drive home to the Super Bowl, I would advocate for this billionaires tax at so much wealth is getting concentrated, I think that have some kind of commercial or some kind of message to try to get out to make that clear to people, Hey, we can do this we can come up with a tax. There are too many billionaires. Now it's a matter of time before I suppose we reach to the first person who is a trillionaire. Why do they need all that money?


Louis Goodman31:15

Well, what's the problem with having billionaires?


James Rodriguez31:19

Concentrating wealth in a few hands like that, I think it's dangerous. I think that there's a lot of things we could do. We could bring, you know better health care to people, we could lower the tax burden on sort of the rest of us, funding programs. I mean, there's a long list, but the money's there, the money is in the hands of a few. And there's a lot of things that can be done with it. A lot a lot better things for the rest of the 99%, so to speak.


Louis Goodman31:53

James, is there anything that you want to talk about that we haven't covered?


James Rodriguez31:59

One thing I wanted to say that I've always found interesting is that we need we need more inclusion I think in the legal industry we meet we need more people of color. I think we need in many instances, more women. One of the things I wanted to mention is that as far as mentors, I think it's important for a lot of new attorneys to have mentors, especially those attorneys who might be solo practitioners, who might be just starting out, volunteering for the for the appointed counsel bar, I forget what they call that here down Alameda County Court appointed lawyers. Yes, I think it's important to have mentors, I think it's important to teach each other. My mentors have always been women. I've always had the best mentors, Mary Dunlap, who worked at the office of citizen complaints. She was a giant in the area of civil rights for women and for the queer community. She was a great mentor for me. Dianne Bellis of course, Liz Campos, I'm sure you remember her. Just fantastic, just fantastic people. And I think they had an approach, less macho than a lot of male attorneys. And so that's one thing that I would say I think I think we should have a better mentorship, not just for attorneys in let's say the Public Defender's offices, but also for all attorneys that are new to the practice.


Louis Goodman33:15

James Rodriguez, thank you so much for joining me today on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. It's been a pleasure to talk to you, even though my voice has been less than perfect today.


James Rodriguez33:28

Like I said earlier to you just make it gives you a sexier sound. I think that sort of baritone. And it's really been an honor, I don't know who in the world is going to want to hear about me. But the other thing I really enjoyed about this is coming to get-- being able to know you a little bit better, coming to know you. I think we've seen each other for many, many years passing in the hallways in the courtrooms. And it's really nice to get to know you.


Louis Goodman33:50

Thanks, James, and thanks for being here. Okay.


That's it for today's episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and follow the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. Take a look at our website at, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs and information.


Thanks to my guests, and to Joel Katz for music, Bryan Matheson for technical support, Paul Roberts for social media and Tracy Harvey. I'm Louis Goodman.


Louis Goodman34:32

Do you think the legal system is fair?


James Rodriguez34:35

I don't think it is. The way it's currently. The way it's currently made up. The way it currently works. I don't think it's actually very fair.