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Where Are They Now: Kevin Brazile

Judge Kevin Brazile recently appeared in a UCLA Newsroom article featuring his involvement in the College’s JusticeCorps program. The College recently caught up with Brazile to learn more about his time at UCLA and how he has dedicated his life to the law.

As a young boy, Kevin Brazile didn’t know any lawyers. But he always looked up to his elder brother who was a deputy sheriff.

“You’ll be the first one in the family to go to college,” Brazile recalls his brother saying. “You’ll be the first one in the family to ever go to law school.”

Today, Brazile is Assistant Presiding Judge with the Los Angeles Superior Court, the busiest and largest court system in California.

Brazile’s journey to the Superior Court started with the constant support from his brother, who at any chance he could get, would introduce him to his own lawyer friends. Those interactions fascinated Brazile, and although his family was poor, he knew that one day he would attend UCLA and become a lawyer.

It wasn’t an easy road. He first attended West Los Angeles Junior College, and then transferred to UCLA after two years.

As a non-traditional and first-generation student, Brazile remembers studying during the day and working several jobs during the evening and weekends to pay for school.

“I worked at a clothing store and at a place where we loaded boxes on trucks – I did whatever I could find,” he said. “I did gardening at one point and even worked for a moving company because I needed money.”

Despite the hard work outside of the classroom, Brazile was determined to make the best of his opportunity at UCLA. He excelled in his coursework and graduated in 1980 not only with a B.A. in political science, but with the distinct honor of cum laude.

By the time he completed his undergraduate career, he knew he wanted to pursue law at UCLA.

“When I got into the UCLA School of Law – that was it,” Brazile said. “I didn’t want to go anyplace else.”

Brazile earned his J.D. in 1983, passed the California Bar Exam, and immediately began to practice law.

Once a Bruin, Always a Bruin

Brazile worked 18 years with the County Counsel’s Office where he was the first African American to serve as division chief of the General Litigation Division. There, he oversaw the defense of police misconduct as well as employment discrimination and sexual harassment litigation.

It was also during his tenure with the county that he successfully argued the case Conn vs. Gabbert before the United States Supreme Court.

Brazile recalls working tirelessly on the case, which dealt with the question, “Does a prosecutor violate the opposing attorney’s Fourteenth Amendment right to practice his profession when the prosecutor causes the attorney to be searched at the same time his client is testifying before a grand jury?”

He readily admits to being extremely nervous during the months leading up to his arguments, but he was determined to know the facts of the case better than the opposition.

Sticking to his personal mantra, “Be ready. Be prepared,” Brazile sought the help of his alma mater to prepare for arguments before the Supreme Court. The UCLA School of Law referred him to then-professor, John Wiley Jr., an expert in antitrust, intellectual property and criminal law.

“John didn’t know me and I didn’t know him, but he said, ‘You’re from UCLA. You’re one of our former students, so I’m going to help you.’” Brazile said.

Under Wiley’s mentorship, Brazile fine-tuned his arguments and ultimately received a unanimous judgment from the Supreme Court in his favor.

Looking back at this career-defining experience, Brazile notes that it was his connection to UCLA that helped him to succeed.

“The people I met at UCLA are now lifelong friends and we help each other,” he said. “We’re there for one another, supporting each other in the good times and the bad times.”

To this day Brazile is good friends with Wiley, who now serves as a judge with the Superior Court.

In 2002, after nearly two decades as a lawyer and with a successful Supreme Court ruling under his belt, Brazile was appointed judge.

A Mentor for the Next Generation

Seeing firsthand the benefits of mentoring on his own life, Brazile has made a point of mentoring young minority lawyers. During his 15-year tenure as a judge, Brazile has sought to put people in a place to lead, and he encourages them to do their best to make a difference.

“Once you get to the top, you don’t want to push the ladder away, you want to hold it for somebody else,” Brazile said.

After completing his term as Assistant Presiding Judge, he will become the next Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. In his new role, Brazile would supervise 38 courthouses and nearly 600 judges and commissioners. He would also be the first African American Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Looking to the future, Brazile said, “I am excited about the opportunity to be the next Presiding Judge and look forward to finding, shaping and developing new leaders for the court.”

 

 

 

Visionary alumna Martine Rothblatt honored with UCLA Medal

Rothblatt is the CEO of a billion-dollar pharmaceutical company, who also remains a staunch proponent of generic drugs; she founded Sirius XM satellite radio; she’s helped develop pioneering work on organ transplants; she’s a powerful advocate for transgender rights; she’s a lawyer, medical ethicist, futurist, pilot, triathlete, parent and world-changing technologist.

$5 million gift from Meyer Luskin establishes research center for history and policy at UCLA

Thanks to a $5 million gift from longtime supporter Meyer Luskin, UCLA will establish the Luskin Center for History and Policy, the first academic research center on the West Coast devoted to using history to publish knowledge that promotes solutions to present-day issues.

Meyer Luskin

The new center will foster teaching, research and collaborations across campus and beyond the university that will direct historical insights to shaping policies and solving problems.

“I believe we can use history to better our lives,” said Luskin, the chairman, president and CEO of Scope Industries. “The best way to choose the path to the future is to know the roads that brought us to the present.”

The Luskin Center for History and Policy will be a pioneer in translating historical research into tangible and accessible sources of knowledge. The center will support policy-oriented projects developed by UCLA history faculty and their colleagues across campus, host visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows and provide funding for graduate students. It will also sponsor new courses that will train students to analyze historical events and apply their knowledge to current issues.

“Meyer Luskin has given UCLA the means to build a new pathway to using historical knowledge for the greater good,” said Scott Waugh, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “Situated in a global university with a public mission, the new center is well placed to have a decisive impact, from the local level all the way to the international level.”

The history department can already cite at least one recent example of the influence of historical research on public action. In 2015, Zev Yaroslavsky, a former Los Angeles County supervisor and now a senior fellow in history at UCLA, led a project examining the city’s bidding process for the 1984 Olympics. The resulting position paper was distilled into an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times and contributed to the decision by the Los Angeles City Council to delay a vote on the Olympic bid until all its provisions could be properly debated.

Stephen Aron, the Robert N. Burr Department Chair of the history department, said the center would be a hub for collaborative projects engaging researchers from the social sciences and the humanities as well as campus units including the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“My goal is to make history matter more to more people, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than through this center,” Aron said. “We are indebted to Meyer for his generous and visionary action.”

Initially, the center will be under the direction of history professor and former department chair David Myers, working closely with Aron.

“There is a new urgency to understand and apply our historical knowledge to today’s world,” said Myers, holder of the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History. “The new Luskin Center will be a national trend-setter in bringing many different angles of historical perspective to bear on key issues in the country — and world — today.”

Myers said the center would help develop new forms of teaching to equip students with the historical tools to make sense of the world around them and thrive in any number of careers.

Luskin, who graduated in 1949, and his wife, Renee, who graduated in 1953, are among UCLA’s most generous supporters. In 2011, they donated $100 million — the second-largest gift ever to the campus — to support academic programs and capital improvements. The gift was equally divided between the UCLA School of Public Affairs, which was renamed in their honor, and the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, which opened in 2016. Luskin co-chairs the UCLA Centennial Campaign Cabinet, serves on the campaign executive committee, and is a member of the UCLA Foundation board of directors.

Addressing graduates at the 2014 history department commencement, Luskin said, “The study of history creates important knowledge — but equally important is how you assemble and use that knowledge.”