How Could I have Made So Many Mistakes and Succeed?

(Dan bottom left played second base for Coronado American Legion team at 13 with mostly 15 and16 year-olds)

How could I have made the impulsive decisions that rocked my turbulent youth? What made me change from a fad-loving teenager collecting popular songs, memorizing major league batting averages, and dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player, into a solemn born-again fundamentalist?  That deflected me from my own purpose. I almost claimed conscientious objector status, and then quit Duke N.R.O.T.C. to enter a pre-ministerial program, only to find the more I studied religion the less I wanted to preach it to others.

(Duke University Chapel and courtyard)

My father said he could not afford the steep tuition and said I should try for an appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy despite my lack of interest in the military! Since he and my brother graduated Annapolis I did the craziest thing to afford college, and entered Columbia Prep School in Washington D.C.to study how to score high on entrance exams. After three months I took the exams and was only one of 75 people to receive a presidential appointment from Dwight Eisenhower in the United States! Dad took me to see a patriotic movie about the Battle of Midway that changed the outcome of WWII in the Pacific due to our naval power despite Pearl Harbor that did so much damage that brought determination to build a strong military to protect our freedom.

 

(Midshipmen at the U.S.Naval Academy march into Bancroft Hall)

After entering Annapolis much forced me to realize this journey into a naval career had many negatives from my perspective. During my plebe year an upperclassman in revenge for the way my brother treated him, ran me into the ground with harassment until I developed mononucleosis and was sent to the hospital for five weeks ending my chance to quarterback the plebe football team as my coach and I wanted. Later I had the worst varsity baseball coach ever, who wrongly believed my father "got me into Annapolis" so kept me on the bench after I had a great year leading the plebe team with a .516 batting average. After graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy I wanted to fly airplanes but my eyesight dipped slightly and I could only qualify as a navigator. My plane was called the "Flying Coffin" by aviators because more than 50% were lost in accidents, and mishaps and was an easy target in Vietnam. After three close calls in training both my pilot and I transferred into ships and I navigated 300 marines to Vietnam.

(Dan flew in the RA5C Vigilante and was Carrier Qualified)

Forced to scrutinize my journey, filled with mistakes, nearly killed by a train on a trestle at 10 hitting rocks with a bat; dodging two trains after leading high school football players into a narrow train tunnel in Japan: escaping from two thugs at a beach,  having many confrontations with brutal and malicious bullies at Annapolis and one officer in the navy; surviving the “flying coffin” Mach 2 jet in Florida; I rebounded by earning a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship for two years as a community civil right lawyer after law school at UC Hastings in San Francisco. Selected as Director of the Farm Worker Project by the ACLU I won my first trial for six picketers accused of disturbing the peace; won many motions and appeals in 17 class actions and other police misconduct cases against growers, prosecutor, a sheriff and the Teamsters. I worked for one of the most effective civil rights organizations battling against some of the most powerful forces in America.

(Dan at his civil rights law office in Encino California)

From a Naval Aviator, to a Navigator of an Amphibious Ship to Vietnam with 300 marines, I eventually resigned, found my purpose and after law school when I went from a legal aid attorney to a staff attorney for the United Farm Workers and then director of the ACLU farm worker project. I had been propelled into a powerful movement that was an answer to a dream. I submerged myself into the cutting edge of civil rights and consumer litigation as a member of a team with all the energy I possessed. Meanwhile, Joan and I raised a family that fulfilled my vision coupled with my quickly learned advocacy skills that enabled me to continue a profession on a path others said would be impossible—it was one few traveled—but I met enough dedicated individuals whose life shined that I knew it was right for me. Recovering from each fiasco and having learned a lesson each time, I began to define a vision of what might occupy the rest of my life: a pursuit of social justice in whatever way I could find appropriate. The pieces fell together through hard work, determination, and a future with a woman who inspired me and calmed my wildness from swirling rapids to a deep river that refreshed and enabled me to continue against all odds.  Once I found a path that consumed me with passion I aimed as high as I could. No matter what confronts the reader, my story demonstrates an ordinary person can survive major conflicts, disappointments, injuries, risk of death, and still flourish.

(Dan and his lovely family in 1990)

Daniel C. Lavery

www.danielclavery.com

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From a Military Pawn to Pursuit of Justice

  Dan-at-Annapolis-at--the-wall-1961

(Dan a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland)

From a pawn in the military to law school and becoming a legal aid attorney started my recreated journey. Soon I became a staff attorney for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union (AFL-CIO).

Cesar Chavez and dogs Huelga and Boycott

(Cesar Chavez with his dogs, Boycott and Huelga)

Later the ACLU of Southern California selected me as Director of the ACLU Farm Worker Project in Los Angeles. I submerged myself into the cutting edge of civil rights and consumer litigation with all my energy.

Dan hired by ACLU for farmworker project in Los Angeles 1974

Dan, Joan, and Aleksey at the Gallo March during the Boycott

Dan, Joan, and Aleksey at the Gallo March during the Boycott

(Top) Dan Hired by The ACLU as Director of the Farm Worker Project.

Meanwhile, Joan and I raised a family that fulfilled my vision coupled with my quickly learned advocacy skills that enabled me to continue a profession on a path others said would be impossible—it was one few traveled—but I met enough dedicated individuals whose life shined that I knew it was right for me.

Dan and Joan with Shiva in Berkeley

(Dan, Shiva, and Joan)

I completed litigation for the UFW when we resolved pending cases and The Agricultural Labor Relations Act created a board that resolved farm worker labor disputes and decided to launch my own civil rights practice. At the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission I researched cases where the charging party needed counsel and selected those that appeared meritorious. Meanwhile, The San Fernando Valley Law School selected me as their Constitutional Law professor. At the Federal Court of Appeals, I represented indigent appellants from criminal convictions. Many EEOC cases settled, kept employees from losing jobs, or from other types of discrimination, and compensated the client and me.

CHAPTER 38 Dan  ENCINO LAW OFFICE

(Dan at his Encino Civil Rights Office)

A union client came to my office complaining that he had been defamed and terminated from General Telephone Company. A judge dismissed his case in an order that held an employer had a qualified privilege to slander an employee for internal communications. My appeal was successful in Kelly v. General Telephone, (1982) 136 Cal. App. 3d 278, 186 Cal. Rptr. 184, and established a precedent on pleading a slander case, qualified privilege, and negligent infliction of an employee’s emotional distress that also allowed punitive damages. A large jury verdict the next year established justice for my client,  trial expertise, and unforeseen success. Dan Reading poem at Onion Fall Poetry Festival 11102013

(Dan reading from his memoir at Crown Books in Woodland Hills)

Recovering from each fiasco in my life and having learned a lesson each time, I defined a vision of what might occupy the rest of my life: a pursuit of social justice in whatever way I could find appropriate. The pieces fell together through hard work, determination, and a future with a woman who inspired me and calmed my wildness from swirling rapids to a deep river that refreshed and enabled me to continue against all odds.  Once I found a path that consumed me with passion I aimed as high as I could. No matter what confronts the reader, my story demonstrates an ordinary person can survive major conflicts, disappointments, injuries, risk of death, and still flourish. And if one's life contains advice to others struggling to find themselves after many mistakes,  studying creative writing under poets, authors, and professors and publishing a memoir offers an opportunity to share that vision with gratitude.

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U C Hastings The Law of War & Peace Then and Now Fall 2014

Hastings College of Law The Law of War and Peace Fall 2014 - Pg 68Hastings College of Law The Law of War and Peace Fall 2014 - Pg 69Hastings College of Law The Law of War and Peace Fall 2014 - Pg 70Hastings College of Law The Law of War and Peace Fall 2014 - Pg 71 001Hastings College of Law published in its Fall 2014  Magazine many articles on the Law of War and Peace, in a 72 page magazine that included the four-page excerpt above.Susan Kostal, Editorial Director and others interviewed students and faculty and researched to present this tribute to the Hastings Community  that took a stance on one of our terrible mistakes when a president ignored the constitution and laws of war.

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Dr. Peter Stine’s Excellent Review of All the Difference by Daniel C. Lavery

book cover all the difference

Review of Dr. Peter Stine, PhD, U.C. Berkeley, Professor of English at South Carolina State U., Wayne State U., U. of Michigan;

 

I finished All the Difference, and what a fine memoir it is! I found it totally engrossing. The opening swept me in. I can imagine the pain your mother felt, you felt, and then the contrasting personality of your father, that swimming lesson he gave you, wow. It is so rich in episode, and in particular the chapter describing your shooting the crabs and beautiful bird, your remorse, and Ruthie’s gentle instruction in the holiness of all creatures, even the Golden Garden Spider, struck me. Or your discovery of the sanctity of nature’ beauty on your travels, or of baseball. The writing is lucid and concrete and engaging, you are on your way. Your story that begins in a military family split by divorce and ends with you emerging as a brilliant ACLU lawyer in California is quite remarkable and riveted me for days.

The section on Yokohama I loved, and Eddie is a great glimpse of raw American energy. Your portraits of scrappy uneducated types are consistently strong. Your account of cultural awakening is very well done, a great chapter, especially your discovery that the Japanese were individual beings physically and mentally, that our racist stereotype of them was nothing more. Strong descriptions of nature in your trips with Alex. Your sexual initiation in Yokosuka is cool. I liked the sports here, and Tom’s converting you to fundamentalist Christianity. Good on your religious inquires and the skepticism offered by Jerry’s dad, since the memoir is a long tale of deconversion, overthrowing indoctrination. Your brush with death in the train tunnel was excruciatingly real.

The Civil Rights history delivered by the professor on the Sunset Limited is a bit undigested in the narrative, but probably necessary to educate the reader to the world you will be entering. I admired your gutsy, principled withdrawal from NROTC at Duke, again a dramatic self-definition. Good on learning the brutality of the Old Testament God; it brought to mind Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature. A great account of your religious bible classes and new agnosticism. That freshman Dean of Students calling you a low IQ case is amazing. Your evolving shift from Duke to the Naval Academy is traced in subtle detail, and your account of that Plebe year fascinated and shocked me. Standing up to the two bullying upperclassmen over Civil Rights and then the great portrait of Joe Duff are superb. Dan, you are at your best when, against the odds, you courageously stand up to arrogant and abusive authority figures, whether Duff, the Folsom prison molester, or the landlord threatening his tenant – these moments sparkle, the portrait of malice is stark, your own moral principles manifest.

 

It is harrowing to read of your experience as an aviator on an AR5C, and I remember your telling me about the lethal risks involved in the late 1960s. It was fun to read about your time at Berkeley then, Jerry, your well-described acid trip, Delaware Street, etc. The conclusion of the memoir about your amazing legal work for the UFW, ACLU, your alliance with Jerry, life with Joan, all of it was interesting, totally engrossing. Finally, I noticed throughout the last third of the memoir you labeled the Vietnam War as genocidal, which is exactly right. Thanks for the opportunity to read your terrific book.

 

(Peter Stine is also the founder and editor of literary journal Witness,1987-2007, awarded eight grants from National Endowment For The Arts, and four volumes were reissued as books by university press; his  fiction, poetry, literary essays and journalism are widely published:The Iowa Review, Boulevard,The Threepenny Review, Contemporary Literature,The Cambridge Quarterly,The New York Times, Sport Literate, and Harold Bloom's Modern Critical Reviews. His latest book,The Art of Survival, contains essays on Isaac Babel, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Conrad, ISBN 978-0-9823319-3-4, by Rocky Shore Books, Marquette Mi, 2011)

All the Difference may be purchased from Amazon.com:

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/All-Difference-Daniel-C-Lavery/dp/1482676532/

   

Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/All-the-Difference-ebook/dp/B00BNXHV9Q

   

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BOADR8C

 

Amazon’s Dan Lavery author bio Page

Amazon author page

https://www.amazon.com/author/danielclavery

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Starting the Law School Grind after Resigning from the Navy

(Joan, Shiva, and Dan at Berkeley Apartment)click to expand

Accepted at Golden Gate College of Law in San Francisco, if my grades were high from hard study, a poverty law program might select me and fulfill my dream. Was it the right path? I was determined to give it my best shot. After paying my first quarter tuition, I went to a Berkeley bookstore to purchase my first-year books where a number of students waited in line. A female ahead of me held a book bag from Golden Gate College of Law, “What have you heard about the first-year courses?”I asked.

   

(U.C.  Berkeley during anti-Vietnam protests 1969)

“If you pass each course for three years, you earn a law degree, but to practice law you have to pass the California Bar Examination, the most difficult in the country. Less than fifty per cent pass the three-day marathon. The timed exam is brutal. Some don’t ever pass.” With a worried look on my face, I viewed first semester books: Real Property, Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, Procedure, Legal Research and Writing. I thumbed through them, and wondered how I would measure up. Each volume was more than five inches thick. It occurred to me a long, tedious, and winding road was ahead to becoming a civil rights attorney. Classes began in September. Excited for my new opportunity, and determined, I hoped this path would help me find a new identity.

The law professors dressed in expensive three-piece suits, fancy ties, dress shirts, and three-hundred dollar-shoes. I wore jeans, a sports coat with a dress shirt, and tennis shoes. So did the majority of my classmates. Perhaps one in five wore business attire. Some students appeared laid back, others arrogant in fashionable worn-out clothing. San Francisco in the sixties reflected a time when dress codes were eclectic. The students were astute. Golden Gate College of the Law did not have the elevated status of Boalt Hall at Berkeley, but for the most part we read the same texts.

The first week I drove over the Bay Bridge and back and studied until midnight. Law book vocabulary immediately confused me. We studied appellate cases that assumed the reader knew procedure, evidence, and the law that applied to the facts of each case. Absorbing legal concepts like a sponge, I only saw Joan for breakfast, dinner, and in bed.

Wondering if I could persuade Hastings College of Law to reconsider my application, as their classes didn’t start for another month, I contacted the Dean of Student Admissions and asked for an appointment to discuss why they rejected me. Dean Muenster responded. Fortunately, a former naval officer, he invited me for next morning.

(Hastings College of Law)

With transcripts in hand, in a three-piece dark green suit, white shirt, narrow blending tie with a Windsor knot, and shiny black dress shoes, I appeared an hour before my appointment at the Dean’s office and sat on a maroon leather couch. He opened his clouded glass door and said, “Are you Mr. Lavery?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Please take a seat.” The Dean’s desk was surrounded by legal texts and research. File cabinets lined the back wall. He sat in a high back black leather chair across from his neatly arranged desk with a folder containing my application materials, and rifled through my transcripts scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad. After fifteen minutes he said, “Mr. Lavery, I’m impressed with your background. Why do you want to become a lawyer?”

“I had an early interest in the law from a close friend who had attended Boalt Hall, received A’s on research papers at Cal State Long Beach in History and Psychology classes, which involved legal issues, had a double major at Annapolis that included English as well as a B.S.E.E., and achieved A’s in most History, and English classes as well as in my electives."

“I am impressed with your background and frankly don’t understand why you weren’t admitted, but since there isn’t an opening, I wish you good luck at Golden Gate Law School and for your future.”

Shaking his hand I said, “I enjoyed speaking with you Dean Muenster. If a position appears for first year would you please consider me?”

“That seldom happens, but if it does I will consult the Dean.”

Exiting his office and down the flight of stone steps to the streets of San Francisco, I drove across the Bay Bridge and glided into Berkeley where Joan had just returned from class. “At least the Dean spent an hour looking at my transcripts and listening to me.”

Her hazel eyes and smile consoled me, “You never know. Stay positive.”

(People's Park Berkeley1969)

After I arrived home at Berkeley from Golden Gate on October 1, 1969, the phone rang:

“This is Dean Muenster,” rang out a familiar voice. “I have good news for you. I have reserved a spot for you in our first year class!”

“Hallelujah!” I exalted, “What fantastic news!”

“We’re proud to have someone of your background at Hastings.”

“When can I pick up the class schedule and purchase the texts?”

“I shall put all the paperwork in the mail unless you happen to be in the area.”

“I’ll be there in an hour and save you the postage.” I drove over the Bay Bridge, parked close to Hastings, ran to the entrance, and announced my presence to the secretary.

“Dean Muenster wants to see you.” He came out of his office with an envelope under his arm and a smile on his face,

“Welcome to Hastings, Mr. Lavery, I am pleased to have you join us.”

“And I’m so glad to be here.”

“We expect you to study law with the ‘Old—Navy’ enthusiasm.” After completing the forms, handing them to the secretary, locating the books for classes, reviewing each course syllabus, I registered at the health office. Since Hastings was a part of the University of California, residents of California paid a minimal tuition that included health insurance.

(Auditorium for Law School Lectures)

I wandered through Hastings’ campus, their lecture halls that seated over one hundred and fifty students, the moot court with high bench and counsel tables in front of over a hundred seats for the audience, and finally the huge law library that dwarfed Golden Gate’s. Breathing in the atmosphere where I would be spending three years learning from some of the best legal minds in the country, I thanked my lucky stars.

(Law Library) While driving back to our apartment in Berkeley, I sang at maximum volume, “I’ve been waiting so long, to be where I’m going,” from Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” At our apartment, I walked past the German shepherd who guarded the landlord’s property, patted him on the head, jolted up the steps to our second floor dwelling, and swung open the screen door. Grabbing Joan for minute-long hug, “We’re going to celebrate. Hastings accepted me! They cover me for most health issues, have a medical staff, and the law school is fantastic!” We turned up the music, opened a bottle of wine, and danced.

My smile was permanent as I attended classes at Hastings the next week. The opportunity to improve myself, gain knowledge of the law, and become a lawyer made a giant leap in my self-esteem. If I applied myself, I would be an authority on legal problems and could assist any cause or person with my knowledge and enthusiasm. It was a dream come true.

(Hastings College of Law)

Reality set in as the grind of reading countless cases, briefing them on a specific set of facts, and understanding how the holding impacted the law, was the most difficult task I had ever encountered. Our professors had earned fame in their field and all but one belonged to the “65 and over club.” Professor William Prosser in Torts, Updegraff in Contracts, Green in Civil Procedure, Perkins in Criminal Law, and Faulkner in Evidence comprised the team. Rene Rubin taught Legal Research and Writing and was the only female on the faculty. Every professor but Rubin used his own treatise. Despite my eighteen years of education, I had never had a teacher lecture me on his own treatise. A bounce in my step remained even in tedious explorations.

(Hastings College of Law Emblem)

Each text of five hundred pages required us to use a back pack and a brief case for notes. Fortunately, my schedule included only three courses a day. When I stacked my books at the apartment, it occurred to me that I would not be the same person after a year. There was no time for watching sports, movies, or late comedy on TV. a href="http://domainsigma.com/whois/danielclavery.com">Danielclavery.com Trust

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