Published September 23, 2011
This is in response to the revolting opinion piece entitled “UCLA sells its soul for Milken’s gift,” submitted by a professor, Steven Mintz, from Cal Poly, attacking UCLA School of Law for accepting a $10 million gift from Lowell Milken, an individual with an unblemished record as a successful lawyer and successful business person.
When I attended UCLA School of Law, tuition was $800 per year. Now it exceeds $30,000 per year for the same education. Successful attorney alumni and other generous supporters have decided to support this great institution in its time of need, so that young law students can also get the best legal education. To see our public institutions of higher learning wilt and die without these funds would be unconscionable.
So plaudits and accolades should go to Lowell Milken and those who have chosen to give back, since their success can be traced to the fine education they received at UCLA School of Law, when public education costs were nominal.
Professor Mintz has exercised his right of free speech, but he advocates a philosophy that denigrates our Constitution in other ways. Professor Mintz claims UCLA “sold its soul” by accepting Milken’s gift. But I say to Professor Mintz: “Guilt by association” exists in dictatorships, not here. Lowell Milken was never tried for any crime. One has to be tried before one is found guilty.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is what we abide by in our legal system. Lowell Milken did nothing wrong. His brother, Michael, pled guilty and served time for his actions. Not Lowell Milken.
And, by the way, people do make mistakes, and the system allows them to pay their debt to society. In making this charge, Professor Mintz has lost his soul, if he ever had a soul. I do not know Michael Milken, or, for that matter, Lowell Milken, but I do know Michael Milken has paid his debt to society and done his time. In our society, if you admit your crime and serve your sentence, we do often forgive. It is the honorable thing to do. The crime committed here is this professor’s accusations that a brother’s crime indicts, convicts and condemns his innocent family members as well.
UCLA is proud to accept this gift along with the $90 million in other gifts it has received to conclude its $100 million endowment campaign it began three years ago.
Gifts received will ensure that this great law school will last at least another 100 years. They will give scholarships to the needy, support the brightest and best professors at law, and allow the school to thrive despite the huge cuts in its public budget.
Hopefully future young lawyers and judges will enforce our Constitution, protect the innocent and reject the concepts of “guilt without trial,” “guilt by association” and “trial by publication.”
— A. Barry Cappello, Cappello & Noël LLP, Santa Barbara
NOTE: Cappello is a donor to the UCLA School of Law with a $1.2 million gift to support the school’s trial practice program. The school’s courtroom was named after him.