NLGSF Election Procedures 2016

Election Time & Place: Chapter Membership Meeting, Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 518 Valencia in San Francisco. Polls will open at 5:30 p.m. and close at 8:30 p.m. for those who wish to vote in person.

An NLG Forum to Discuss Strategies and Methods for Confronting the Rise of U.S. Fascism as Embodied by the Trump Presidency Free and open to the public. NLG membership not required.

Chapter elections will be held, starting at 6pm. All NLG members in good standing are eligible to vote.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 6pm to 8:30pm 518 Valencia, Mission District of San Francisco Food and Refreshments will be Provided (voting begins at 6pm, panel begins at 6:30)


October 10, 2016 - First Day to Declare Candidacy/Submit  Candidate Statement/First Day to Submit Proposed Bylaw Changes

October 24, 2016 - Last Day to Submit Proposed Bylaw Changes/Last Day for New Members to Join to be Eligible to Vote/Last Day to Declare and be on Absentee Ballot

October 31, 2016 - First Day Absentee Ballots Will Be Mailed/Last Day for Lapsed Members to Renew to be Eligible to Vote

November 7, 2016 - Last Day to Request Absentee Ballots

November 10, 2016 - First Day of Online Voting

November 8, 2016 - Last Day Absentee Ballots will be Mailed

November 14, 2016 - Last Day to Declare Candidacy/Submit Candidate Statement

November 15, 2016 - Election Day

December 1, 2016 - Last Day Absentee Ballots can be Received/Online Voting Closes

December 21 - Results Released

Download the complete election rules. (pdf)


Executive Board Candidates


Nina Farnia

It would be my honor to serve another year as President of the San Francisco Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. During my first year, we engaged in our chapter’s first ever leadership summit, which included committee leaders, board members and longtime NLGSF leaders. At the summit, we developed a plan to engage in more robust, offensive activist work, including campaigns. As lawyers, legal workers and law students, we are uniquely situated not just to defend activists, but to fight to the change the law, to gain meaningful concessions for the people from the state. Our defense work is vital, but I seek to augment our defense work with campaigns and programs that demand more for the people. We will be deciding on the issues for these campaigns and programs at our next leadership summit in the spring.
We have also begun the process to revamp our membership categories, so that we are more welcoming of legal worker and activist members and are better able to facilitate their leadership of our chapter. This process will likely conclude in early 2017. In addition, we are developing new fundraising strategies that include meetings with local Bay Area foundations, and engaging more regularly with committee members and committee leadership.

Lastly, we are committed to making the NLG and the legal profession representative of those most impacted by state violence - Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian, Arab and Muslim folks. To that end, I am working with national leadership to develop a strategy not just to increase diversity, but to make the NLG an organization led by and committed to these communities, so that we practice self-determination in our fight to change the law.

I am committed to making the NLG a legal organization run by the people, for the people. Please join me in this effort!

In struggle,

Nina Farnia 2016 Chapter President

Vice President

Judith Mirkinson

I am running again for Vice-President of the San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter.

When Nina and I ran last year we had a vision of making the chapter a more vibrant presence in the Bay Area movement. We want to bring in more people of color, more younger members and more legal workers. At the same time we want to engage our more long term members in our plans. We also wanted to get the Guild on a more stable financial footing.

We have just begun this work. We are in the process of hiring a new executive director and developing new fundraising plans with our interim director, Cat Brooks. We are also reaching out to the activist community and urging them to join us. As a legal worker I am also engaged with developing strategies to bring more legal workers and legal observers into our fold officially.

One year is just not enough time to carry out our work (especially given the fact that our long time ex. director left us in the middle of our term). And of course, I am actively engaged in broadening the scope of our political prisoner support work. So please elect me again and pass the by-law that says that officers should be elected for two years.


Rachel Gendell

My name is Rachel Gendell and I am running for re-election as chapter Treasurer. I have been the treasurer for the past couple of years. I have been a member of the Guild since August 1991 (my first week of law school) and previously served on the board from 1992-2003, including terms a Student Vice-President and chapter Vice-President. I was the national Co-Regional Vice President for the Far West from 1998-2003. I am also a long time member of the Testimonial Dinner Committee. I am a contract attorney primarily handling maritime cases and plaintiff-side litigation. I work in San Francisco and I live in Oakland.

As treasurer, this has been a busy year. The chapter held a couple of leadership summits which included ideas for developing long term fundraising strategies and organizational plans. The departure of our long-standing executive director, Carlos, slowed this process somewhat as some of the more mundane and administrative tasks had to be addressed. However, it has also provided an opportunity to refocus the role of the executive director. In the short-term, we are very lucky to have Cat Brooks as our Interim Director. I am committed to seeing a smooth transition to a new permanent Executive Director and am very excited about the future of this chapter and working towards our chapter’s financial stability.

Thank you for your support. Rachel Gendell


Hasmik Geghamyan

My name is Hasmik Geghamyan and I'm a community lawyercommitted to social justice. I believe that a cross-functional model of activism, policy, organizing, and law can be effectively used to bring about transformative social change. I joined the National Lawyers Guild in 2007 while in law school in San Diego and then became an organizer for the chapter as a part-time staff in 2010. I moved to the Bay Area in 2013 and have been living in a radical justice cooperative house in Oakland. As the former Far West Co-Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), I helped organize the Far West Regional Conference at the Women's Building this year and recruit more members to the Guild. I was also the former national officer with The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) of the Guild and a recent fellow with the Sustainable Economies Law Center. I have served on the NLGSF Board for two years and would like to be elected as a Secretary for the next term.

I'd like to bring my immigrant Armenian voice to the NLGSF as a Secretary of the Board and continue to be part of the many solidarity projects that the Guild has been organizing around. I'd like to see the Guild's deeper involvement with various coalition-building projects and grassroots movements in the Bay, particularly focused on racial, climate and economic justice and economic justice. Vote for me!

At Large (2 Year)

Richard P Koch


I would be pleased and proud to serve the Bay Area chapter by being a member of the Executive Board the next two years.

The discussions on the Board address both important issues and how we can organize for change. Hopefully, my age adds to the Board's diversity and enhances our institutional memory. Particularly important to me is for our chapter to increase its membership. One way to do this is to increase the number of CLE programs.

Also, I would like us to reach out to BALIF and other progressive bar organizations.

Thank you for considering me for another term on the Executive Board. I have served with breaks(!) since 1977.

Terry Richard Koch

Dennis Cunningham

Dennis Cunningham went to law school at night at Loyola University and got his license in time to cut his teeth in 1968; defending people arrested in riots that followed the murder of Martin Luther King, and protests at the Democratic National Convention. Inspired again by lawyers and organizers working with the NLG, he helped found the People’s Law Office, and participated in numerous cases involving protesters and protest movements, prisoners and prison rebellions.

Chief among these were the 12-year civil prosecution of FBI agents, the State’s Attorney, and Chicago police officers involved in the infamous “weapons raid” on December 4, 1969, in which Illinois Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were shot to death, and the defense of dozens of prisoners falsely accused as “ringleaders” of the rebellion at the Attica State Prison in western New York in 1971.

Dennis relocated in San Francisco in the early 80s and has continued to do movement work and police misconduct cases. With other Guild lawyers, he helped represent protesters in mass arrests in the 1984 Democratic Party convention, anti-nuke actions at Site 300, anti-apartheid demonstrations in Berkeley San Francisco, the police sweep of Castro Street in 1987, Central American solidarity actions in the 80s, the Rodney verdict protests in 1992, Food Not Bombs, ActUp, Religious Witness with the Homeless, and others.

Most recently, Dennis represented Jade Santoro, one of the victims of the infamous drunken attack by off-duty San Francisco police officers, one of them the rookie son of the Assistant Chief of Police, which came to be known as “fajitagate”. Last June, a Superior Court jury awarded Jade a total of $36,500.00 in compensatory and punitive damages against two of the assailants, who testified they were, in effect, ‘judgment-proof’.

Finn Finneran

My name is Finn and I'd like to join the Board of the Bay Area National Lawyers Guild. I have worked against state and police repression in the Bay area since 2009. I worked with the O100 Support Committee then, which organized political and financial support for those who faced charges from demonstrations against the murder of Oscar Grant. I have also been a part of the Bay Area Anti Repression Committee (ARC) from it's inception in early 2012 during the Occupy movement. In the Anti Repression Committee I've helped organize and participate in court support, jail support, and the facilitation of a community bail fund for jailed activists who do not have the means to bond themselves. Through both the ARC and the Bay Area Grand Jury Resistance Collective I've participated in producing educational and political statements for on-the-ground activists to be prepared for the wily ways of state repression.

I look forward to the opportunity to further bridge some of the work of the ARC to the NLG (we already work quite closely with the Demonstrations Committee) and bring some of the perspectives that come from working with activist defendants as a peer. I am particularily interested in promoting cross movement solidarity against state repression and centering the perspectives and participation of poor people, people of color, and prisoners in our social movements and within the Guild. It would be a great opportunity and honor for me to serve as a Board Member for the NLG. Thank you for your time.

Gautam Gautam Jagannath

I am the co-founder and directing attorney at Social Justice Collaborative, one of the first nonprofits in the Bay Area and nation to have a specific mission of providing low-income people with complex removal defense services. Our goal is universal representation of those in removal, with a priority to those who have complex cases and those who also have the most sympathetic cases, including refugees and victims of crime. We also handle the related criminal defense and some limited civil matters surrounding client empowerment and economic stability.

As part of my duties at the nonprofit, I wear several hats as a director and attorney. In less than almost three years, I have grown SJC to a medium sized nonprofit, hired several attorneys and several support staff in addition to creating a broad internship program for students. During this time, I have been committed to immigration and criminal defense causes, and have been part of various CLEs through and co-sponsored by NLGSF, have presented at the NLGSF Far West Conference, and taught principles of criminal law to undergraduate students. Of course I have been fairly active in the chapter and board, participating in the recent Oakland NLG Convention. I am working with the CLE Committee to develop more NLG sponsored CLEs.

Several community members and experts have asked me to talk about nonprofit law, and I have developed a reputation for helping others with nonprofit incorporation and other exempt organization formation issues have called me up for consultation and advise.**

Jessica Lee

I hope to serve on the Bay NLG board to do everything I possibly can to make sure it is inclusive, accountable, efficient and ready to be a strong partner with our community as we fight against fascism.

I was introduced to the NLG while a law student because I was fortunate enough to have community members who encouraged me to get trained as an LO. Following law school I was a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where I worked on the International Human Rights docket, as well as on domestic issues of the death penalty, freedom of information, and free speech. I moved to the Bay Area in 2015 and joined the Center for WorkLife Law, where I work to prevent and fight gender discrimination in the workplace and education.

I am currently the chair of our local TUPOCC Chapter, and on the leadership team for the new NLG Freedom of Information Working Group. Especially in this climate, we need all hands on deck. I look forward to doing my part to strengthen and expand our chapter—and hope to have your support and participation!

Proposed By-Law Changes

Article 5, Section 5

Current By-Law:

Section 5 TERMS OF OFFICE Each at-large Executive Board member shall serve a two-year term. Election of at-large Executive Board members shall be staggered such that one-half shall be newly elected each year. Officers shall serve a one-year term.

Proposed Change:

Each at-large Executive Board member shall serve a two-year term. Election of at-large Executive Board members shall be staggered such that one-half shall be newly elected each year. Officers shall serve a two-year term.


We believe that a one year term for officers is too short. It really takes at least two years to get anything done. By the time everyone has gotten familiar with current events, issues and concerns, it is almost time to begin again. Many times the same people just run again (and again). Therefore we think that the by-law should be rewritten and officers should know from the beginning that they will serve a two year term.