About CHBA

Charles Houston Bar Association - About Us

The Charles Houston Bar Association (CHBA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization comprised of lawyers, judges, and law students throughout northern California. Named in honor of the legendary civil rights practitioner Charles Hamilton Houston (1895 – 1950), CHBA continues his legacy by working to address the unique challenges facing the African American community.

The association was founded in 1955 as the Charles Houston Law Club, though the Law Club’s beginnings date back to the early 1900’s (read the extended CHBA History here). Initially, its purpose was to provide a forum in which Black lawyers could address issues that affected their practices. Since then, CHBA has grown steadily in its purpose and membership.

In 1975, the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California recognized CHBA as an official state bar association. The Charles Houston Bar Association is now also an affiliate member of the National Bar Association (NBA), and a member of the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL).

Using the Law as a Tool
The association has always been fundamentally concerned with civil rights and promoting diversity in the legal profession. Since its inception, CHBA has extended its voice into local, state, and national matters as an advocate for inclusion. The organization has joined other organizations in filing amicus curiae briefs in the United States Supreme Court, most recently to support the University of Michigan Law School’s admission policies in the Grutter v. Bollinger case (2003).

Developing Young Lawyers
CHBA law students benefit from membership. They gain access to, and guidance from established Bay Area practitioners representing a wide variety of legal fields. Our Mentor Program matches students with lawyers practicing in their area of interest. In the fall, CHBA presents an interview and resume writing workshop to help students prepare for their job search. Student scholarships are awarded annually.

Community Services
CHBA contributes generously to various community and charity organizations. Members provide free legal services to the community at large, participate in clothing drives, and support partner community groups in a variety of ways. Members are mentors in schools and colleges, and participate in CHBA’s High School Outreach Program (an annual event bringing lawyers into Oakland high schools to encourage youth to pursue higher education, and showing them how to prepare for and succeed in college).

Social Events & Networking
CHBA organizes social and networking events throughout the year to bring the legal community together in a setting away from the office. These events are an informal way for attorneys to stay abreast of news in the legal community, create new personal and business relationships, and have a good time among colleagues, their families and friends.

Honoring Our Own
CHBA has a proud history and a membership we continually celebrate. Our members contribute to the greater society in immeasurable ways. The association acknowledges the dedication and hardwork of its members each year at the Judicial Luncheon in April, the annual Gala Dinner Dance in December, and in our publications.

The History of the Charles Houston Bar Association

The Charles Houston Bar Association (CHBA) was founded in 1955 as the Charles Houston Law Club. The group took its name to honor the groundbreaking lawyer and educator Charles Hamilton Houston. Houston was a remarkable constitutional lawyer and the key legal strategist
in the early battles against racial discrimination in education, labor, and housing. He fervently believed that African-American lawyers should be “social engineers” who use the law to promote fundamental social change. Both his career and his life were devoted to this precept.

Law Club Beginnings 
Between 1910 and 1940, there existed but a handful of Black lawyers practicing in the Bay Area of Northern California. This small group included Lawrence Sledge, McCants Stewart, John Drake, Edward Mabson, Leland Hawkins, and Annie Virginia Stephens Coker (California’s first
African American woman lawyer), among others. For the most part, neither law firms nor the government would hire them. So these lawyers set up their own private practices. Some, like attorney Tabytha Anderson, worked out of their homes. Others, like Frank Larche and John C.
Henderson, managed a caseload around full time non-legal jobs. A few attorneys, like Oscar Hudson in San Francisco and H. Leonard Richardson in Oakland, for example, built up successful practices and acquired prominence in the community. When Charles Hamilton
Houston would visit the Bay Area during national tours of the NAACP branches, he would stay at the Derby Street home of attorney H. Leonard Richardson in Berkeley, or with Walter A. Gordon, another prominent African American lawyer who, in 1958, was later appointed Judge of
the Federal District Court of the Virgin Islands. 

These early African American attorneys faced overt racism on all fronts. The legal community
itself was unwilling to embrace its Black practitioners. The American Bar Association refused to accept African Americans until 1943. Local Northern California bar associations would admit Blacks, but the role they would be permitted to play was perceived as restricted. In some Bay
Area courts, these Black lawyers faced intense hostility from the bench. Outside of the courtroom, they contended with a few competitive white attorneys who bad-mouthed them to potential clients, circulating false rumors and scaring away business. Even without the spread of these rumors, people generally seemed to prejudge Black lawyers as less competent than their white counterparts. These attitudes towards the Black lawyer made the task of developing a successful practice difficult. 

Despite these obstacles, the number of Black attorneys in Northern California grew. Unwelcomed by many of the communities they sought to serve, they turned to each other for support. During these times, when a recent Black law school graduate passed the bar exam, he would often be extended the opportunity to start his legal career in the office of a more experienced Black practitioner. For decades, Black lawyers used this intimate system of employment and training to cultivate new talent in the profession. 

In 1955, the African-American lawyers in Northern California were summoned together to formalize their bond as Black practitioners. A law club, the likes of which had never been seen before in Northern California, was formed. At first, these founding members met monthly at each other’s offices after work. There, they discussed ways to promote their practices and counter the racial bias that affected them personally and professionally. They also used this time to share knowledge and experience with one another. They exchanged ideas and strategies for handling individual cases, served as each other’s mentors, and strengthened friendships. 

The original Law Club members, our founders, consisted of thirty-two lawyers. They were: John D. Drake, Lawrence Sledge, George R. Vaughns, George D. Carroll, Carl B. Metoyer, Terry A. Francois, Clinton W. White, Lionel Wilson, Claude O. Allen, Thomas L. Berkley, Charles E. Wilson, Sherman W. Smith, Richard Bancroft, Franklin Williams, Wiley W. Manuel, Raymond J. Reynolds, Francis S. Heffron, Murvill C. Abels, Edward D. Mabson, H. Leroy Cannon, Joseph G. Kennedy, John Adams Jr., John W. Bussey, Hiawatha T. Roberts, William C. Dixon, Cecil Poole, Maurcie Hardeman, Armeka T. Jackson, Solomon Johnson, Garfield Steward, Wilmont Sweeney, and Charles Blagburn. John C. Henderson, one of the pioneer Black lawyers of the Bay Area who had practiced in Oakland since 1934, passed away in May of 1952 but was included on the original Law Club roster in memoriam. 

These ambitious men would go on in their professional careers to become judges, mayors, ambassadors, city supervisors, and successful businessmen. Almost all of them were active in the NAACP and helped support its litigation efforts. At least eight of them led NAACP branches as officers, including six presidents of Bay Area NAACP offices. Franklin Williams worked directly with Thurgood Marshall and the Legal Defense Fund on important equal protection cases and would later be appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana. Ten of these founders would become judges, one of whom — Wiley W. Manuel — broke ground as the first African American Justice to sit on the California Supreme Court. Two others, John W. Bussey and Lionel Wilson, became the first African American judges on the San Francisco and Alameda County benches, respectively. Judge Bussey was also personally responsible for training a large bevy of lawyers, White and Black, to pass the tough California bar exam.

It was founder Richard Bancroft, a graduate of Howard Law School, who proposed that the Law Club take the name of Charles Hamilton Houston, the celebrated American civil rights lawyer, teacher, and activist who strategized the legal plan that would one day topple America’s “separate but equal” doctrine of legalized discrimination. The membership agreed. Charles Houston exemplified the type of lawyers they aspired to be. 

Over the next twenty years, between 1955 and 1975, the Charles Houston Law Club continued to grow. Annual events like the Christmas party and summer barbecue ripened into tradition. From this solid foundation, professional careers flourished. 

Growth into a Bar Association 
Benjamin Travis graduated as the only African American in his law school class in 1960 and promptly began working with Hiawatha T. Roberts, a member of the Charles Houston Law Club. At Robert’s invitation, Travis joined the club in 1961 and profited from the social and professional support. In 1973, he became the group’s president and embarked on a mission to transform the local law club into a nationally recognized bar association. Travis, aided by another prolific young attorney named Robert L. Harris, coordinated a reorganization of the group into a community-conscious political force that extended its collective voice to advocate against racial injustice wherever it arose — locally, statewide, and nationally. Under their leadership, the lawyers’ group gained official recognition as a specialty bar association under the State Bar of California in 1975 and became an affiliate of the National Bar Association. The Charles Houston Bar Association, or “CHBA” as it has come to be known, was incorporated in 1976. 

Joined by colleagues from the association including George Holland, Alfred Reginald Brown, Henry Ramsey, Horace Wheatley, Gordon Baranco, Ruth Herch, Thomas Broome, Annette Green, Ruth Blackwell, Geoffrey Carter, Dale Rubin, Donald P. McCullum, and too many others to list here, Travis and Harris created the blueprint for the organization as it stands today. CHBA would soon become instrumental in breaking down barriers and opening doors of professional opportunity. Leading by example, Benjamin Travis accepted judicial appointment to the Alameda County bench. Robert L. Harris, after serving as CHBA President, went on to become the first National Bar Association President from west of the Mississippi River and the youngest president in that organization’s history. 

Since 1976, CHBA has remained proactive in its efforts to increase diversity in the legal profession, to advance African American access to the courts, to bring services to under-served Bay Area communities, and to counsel youth. To that end, each year, CHBA’s Legal Affairs and Community Action Committees conduct neighborhood outreach and administer programs to benefit the community. The Young Lawyers Committee reaches out to support law school students and the many Black Law Students Association chapters of Northern Californian law
schools. CHBA’s annual College Awareness Advisory Program focuses on high school students to discuss preparing for college. 

CHBA members have been innovative in organizing groups and programs that benefit many people. In April of 1977, members co-founded, along with jurists from Southern California, the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL), the first and only statewide alliance of predominantly African American bar associations. In 1982, our members helped create the Wiley W. Manual Law Foundation, a charitable organization providing scholarships to Bay Area students and administering an annual mock trial competition for students.  CHBA has also been involved in litigation aimed at protecting the legal rights of the African American community. In 1976, CHBA successfully sued the County of Alameda over perceived unfairness in the assignment of criminal defense cases involving indigent defendants.  

In 1978, CHBA members defended, pro bono, the NAACP after police officers sued the association for libel and slander. In that case, CHBA’s motion for summary judgment was granted on the ground that the NAACP’s criticism of the police department was protected by the First Amendment. Lead counsel, Robert L. Harris, received the NAACP’s prestigious William Robert Ming Award for his successful advocacy.

In the early 1980s, CHBA and CABL sponsored anti-ku klux klan legislation, now codified at California Penal Code of Civil Procedure section 527.7 [allowing an injunction to be obtained against a group which is meeting and taking substantial action in furtherance of the commission of acts of violence if it can be shown that the group will probably engage in those acts]. 

In 1983, the association joined with other community groups to submit an amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of African-American firefighters in Memphis, Tennessee, who had been threatened by impending layoffs under an unfair seniority system. That
same year, CHBA successfully petitioned the California State Supreme Court to review a Court of Appeals decision that held that the Unruh Civil Rights Act did not apply to charitable and volunteer organizations. 

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, CHBA supported affirmative action in state and federal cases. This fight continues today. In 1995, CHBA joined forces with numerous community groups to oppose Proposition 209. In February 2003, CHBA again spoke out to advocate for diversity in
education when it joined an amicus brief, authored in part by member Eva Paterson, supporting the University of Michigan in the United States Supreme Court cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, lawsuits attacking the school’s student admission policies. 

The success of the Charles Houston Bar is due to the leadership of the association’s past presidents and the hundreds of board members and committee chairpersons who, over the years, have volunteered much of their precious time and energy to realize the organization’s benevolent
goals. The association is equally indebted to the many Bay Area law firms and corporations who support CHBA’s endeavors. It is this wealth of talent and dedication of spirit that enables CHBA to continue its mission. Our work has not gone unnoticed. The organization’s efforts have earned recognition from the National Bar Association as one of its Most Outstanding Affiliates in 1977, 1986, 2002, and in 2004. 

In 2005, CHBA celebrated its 50th Anniversary. April 22nd of that year, the anniversary of Charles Hamilton Houston’s death, was declared “Charles Houston Bar Association Day” by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in honor of the association’s significance to the

“The most hopeful sign about our legal defense is the ever-increasing number of young Negro lawyers, competent, conscientious, and courageous, who are anxious to pit themselves (without fee) against the forces of reaction and injustice. . . The time is soon coming when the Negro will be able to rely on his own lawyers to give him every legal protection in every court.” – Charles Hamilton Houston

Charles Houston Bar Association

2024 Board Members

The Charles Houston Bar Association Board of Directors is comprised of elected officers and appointed chairpersons who come from diverse backgrounds and legal practices. Several board members have consistently been involved with CHBA over the years. Others will be new faces to you, eager to add their ideas and energy to the association.

2024 Executive Board

Courtney Burris

Vice President

2024 Committee Chairpersons

Marcus Grimes

Budget Chair

Tylyn Wells

Membership Chair

Mariah Cooks

Membership Chair

Whitnee Goins

Judicial Chair

Mecole Tate

Communications Chair

Haregu Gaime

Legal Services Chair

Wilson Hall

Young Lawyers Chair

Jenine A. Lindsey

Pipeline Chair

Ebony Onoh

Social Chair

Kiki Okpala

Young Lawyers Chair

Elias Ferran

Social Chair

Leah Abraham

Continuing Legal Education Chair

Social Media

Social Media

Joy Ricardo


Adrieannette Ciccone

Community Service Chair

Arvon J. Perteet

General Counsel

Jill Butler

Community Service Chair

Mindy M. Wong

Immediate Past President

Cathy Ongiri

Special Advisor

Deborah Moss-West

Special Advisor

J. Dominique Pinkney

Special Advisor

Terrance J. Evans

Special Advisor

Anjelica Houston

Executive Director

Charles Houston Bar Association

Past Presidents

Mindy M. Wong

Terrance J. Evans

The Honorable Nichelle N. Holmes
2020 / 2021

Catherine A. Ongiri

Eric S. Casher

Andrew W. Houston

Cometria C. Cooper

Melissa Brown Sladden

Venus D. Johnson

Kwixuan H. Maloof

Nedra A. Shawler
2009 / 2010

Kimberlei Evans
2007 / 2008

The Honorable Jennifer S. Madden
2005 / 2006

Vernon C. Goins, II
2003 / 2004

Terry O. Wiley

Darryl Stallworth

Rozenia Cummings
1999 / 2000

The Honorable Demetrius Shelton

Terrie Robinson

Bruce Soublet

Johnathan O. Mayes

Kaye Washington
1993 / 1994

Lloyd Johnson, Jr.

Felix Stuckey
1990 / 1991

The Honorable Gail B. Bereola

Emma Pendergrass
1987 / 1988

James O. Cole
1985 / 1986

Judy Johnson
(First Woman President of CHBA)
1983 / 1984

John L. Burris
1981 / 1982

Thomas J. Broome

George Holland
1978 / 1979

Robert L. Harris
1976 / 1977

The Honorable Benjamin Travis
1973 / 1974 / 1975

The Honorable Horace Wheatley

The Honorable James S. White

Robert L. Boags

The Honorable John F. Cruikshank

Hiawatha Roberts

The Honorable Clinton W. White

John George

The Honorable Wiley W. Manuel

The Honorable Donald P. McCullum

Charles Houston Bar Association

Life Members

Melissa Allain, Esq.

Marvin Anderson, Esq.

Hon. Gordon Baranco
(Retired – Alameda County Superior Court)

Hon. Diana Becton
(District Attorney of Contra Costa County)

Jennifer Bell, Esq.

Na’il Benjamin, Esq.

Hon. Gail Bereola
(Alameda County Superior Court)

Andrew D. Billingsley, Esq.

Mahal Montoya Billingsley, Esq.

Rosario B. Billingsley, Esq.

Wortham Briscoe, Esq.

Hon. Chinhayi Cadet
(San Mateo County Superior Court)

Joan Cartwright, Esq.

Eric Casher, Esq.

Shara Chang, Esq.

Peter Cohn, Esq.

Byron W. Cooper, Esq.

Jenn Crittondon, Esq.

Erica Dennings, Esq.

Preston DuFauchard, Esq.

Terrance J. Evans, Esq.

Simona Farrise, Esq.

Michael Foster, Esq.

Haregu Gaime, Esq.

Verleana Green, Esq.

Gordon Greenwood, Esq.

Breanne Grey, Esq.

Nadim Hegazi, Esq.

Eric M. Hairston, Esq.

Winter L. Hankins, Esq.

Hon. Brenda Harbin-Forte
(Alameda County Superior Court)

Robert L. Harris, Esq.

William Harris, Esq.

Joyce Hicks, Esq.

Hon. Tamiza Hockenhull
(Alameda County Superior Court)

Frederick J. James, Esq.

Jan K. Jemison, Esq.

Ayanna Jenkins-Toney, Esq.

Hon. Judy Johnson

Michael Johnson, Esq.

Rachel Johnson-Farias, Esq.

Lawrence Jones, Esq. (deceased)

Charles Jung, Esq.

Randall Knox, Esq.

Zachary Knox, Esq.

Valerie D. Lewis, Esq.

Keydon Levy, Esq.

L.D. Louis, Esq.

Pang Ly, Esq.

Kwixuan H. Maloof, Esq.

Denise Eaton May, Esq.

Cheree McAlpine, Esq.

Kelly Michelle Metters, Esq.

Arthur K. Mitchell, Esq.

Deborah Moss-West, Esq.

Jo-Anna Nieves, Esq.

Sally Noma, Esq.

Danielle Ochs, Esq.

John O’Grady, Esq.

Catherine A. Ongiri, Esq.

Ebony Onoh, Esq.

LaJoyce Porter, Esq.

Beryl Crumpton Potter, Esq.

Pamela Price, Esq.
(Alameda County District Attorney)

Hon. Henry Ramsey, Jr.

Ismail Ramsey, Esq.
(United States Attorney for the Northern District of California)

Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers
(United States District Court)

Jason Ross, Esq.

Darryl Stallworth, Esq.

Audrey Shields, Esq.

Timothy Alan Simon, Esq.

Melissa Brown Sladden, Esq.

April Smith, Esq.

Seth Steward, Esq.

Tiffany Thomas, Esq.

Hon. Trina Thompson
(U.S. District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California)

Algera M. Tucker, Esq.

Justin Ward, Esq.

Wilda White, Esq.

Hon. Monica F. Wiley
(San Francisco County Superior Court)

Mindy M. Wong, Esq.

Charles Houston Bar Association


President’s Awards

Saron W. Tesfai (2023)
Tylyn Wells (2023)
Anjelica Houston (2023)
Nadim Hegazi (2022)
Nathaniel Dunn (2022)
Catherine A. Ongiri (2022)
Andrew Houston (2022)
Vincent L. Brown (2022)
Brittany Armstrong (2021)
Nathaniel Dunn (2021)
Deborah Moss-West (2020)
Nedra A. Shawler (2020)
Joy Ricardo (2019)
Winter Hankins (2019)
Latisha McCray (2018)
Nathaniel Dunn (2018)
Vincent Brown (2017)
Terrance Evans (2017)
Hon. Nichelle Holmes (2017)
Cometria Cooper (2016)
Jasmine Braxton (2015)
Deborah Moss-West (2015)
Eric Casher (2014)
Neysa Fligor (2014)
Julian Dunn (2012)
Colin Bowen (2012)
Eugene Clark-Herrera (2011)
Jason Clay (2010)
Catherine Ongiri (2010)
Andrew Houston (2009)
Venus D. Johnson (2009)
Kamili W. Dawson (2008)
Sharron Willliams Gelobter (2008)
Hon. Monica F. Wiley (2007)
Nedra Shawler (2006)
Melissa Brown (2005)
Kimberlei D. Evans (2004)
Hon. Charles A. Smiley (2003)
Mark Jackson (2002)
Hon. Jennifer S. Madden (2002)
R. Manuel Fortes (2001)
Paris Coleman (2000)
Vernon C. Goins II (1999)
Simona Farisse (1998)
Darryl Stallworth (1998)
Terrie Robinson (1996)
Hon. Demetrius Shelton (1995)
Hon. Judge Brenda Harbin Forte (1994)
Otis McGee, Jr. (1994)
Phyllis A. Marshall (1993)
Rhonda T. Hjort (1993)
Kaye Washington (1992)
Patricia B. Miles (1991)
Dorothy D. Guillory (1990)
Milton Lathan (1990)
Adrionne (Kittye) Beasley (1989)
Marcheta Allen (1989)
Jayne Ware Williams (1988)
Gail Hardy (1987)
Hon. Judge Joan S. Cartwright (1983)
Judy Johnson (1982)

The Honorable Judge Benjamin Travis Community Service Awards (est. 1979)

Ryse Youth Center, Youth Justice Program (2023)
Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce (2022)
Kevin L. Nichols (2021)
Alameda County Community Food Bank (2020)
Bay Area Urban Debate League (2019)
Hidden Genius Project (2018)
Yolanda M. Jackson (2017)
Learn Your Rights in California (LYRIC) (2016)
East Bay Community Law Center (2015)
East Oakland Youth Development Center (2014)
Chanee Franklin Minor, Esq. (2013)
Rozenia Cummings (2012)
Mo’ Magic (2011)
Mural Music & Arts Project (2011)
Cinnamongirl, Inc. (2009)
Paul Henderson, ADA – San Francisco DA (2008)
Olis Simmons, Youth UpRising (2007)
Hon. Brenda Harbin-Forte (2006)
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (2005)
David E. Glover (2004)
Faith Fancher (2003)
J. Dominique Pinkney (2003)
Hon. Judge Gloria Rhynes (2002)
Coach Ken Carter (2001)
Ms. Oral Lee Brown (2000)
Hon. Judge Gordon Baranco (1999)
Hon. Elihu Harris (1998)
Rev. Cecil Williams (1996)
Harriet W. Clark (1995)
Ralph Francis (1994)
Eleanor M. Manuel (1993)
Chuck Andrews (1992)
Hon. Brenda Harbin Forte (1991)
Bernida Reagan (1990)
Kenneth Smith (1988, posthumously)
John George, Esq. (1987)
Hon. Lionel J. Wilson (1986)
Angela Blackwell (1984)
Robert L. Harris (1983)
Hon. Judge Benjamin Travis (1979)

The Hon. Justice Clinton W. White Advocacy Awards (est. 1979)

Paul Henderson (2023)
Hon. Diana Becton (2021)
Brendon D. Woods (2020)
Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center (2019)
California ChangeLawyers (2018)
Public Advocates (2017)
Black Lives Matter (2016)
East Bay Children’s Law Offices (2015)
Oakland NAACP (2014)
PolicyLink (2013)
McCullum Youth Court (2011)
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (2010)
Raymond C. Marshall (2009)
George Holland, President NAACP Oakland Branch (2008)
Hon. Demetrius Shelton (2006)
Terry O. Wiley (2005)
Vice President Kamala Harris (2004)
John L. Burris (2003)
Gary T. Lafayette (2002)
Pamela Price (2001)
Michelle Alexander (2000)
Jayne Williams (1999)
Anthony K “Van” Jones (1998)
Fania Davis, Ph.D (1997)
Eva Paterson (1996)
Hon. Judy Johson (1995)
James R. Bell (1994)
Pamela Price (1993)
Walter Jackson (1993)
Patricia Ector (1992)
William Hastie, Jr. (1991)
Melvin L. Kennedy (1990)
Otis McGee Jr. (1988)
Harry Bremond (1987)
John L. Burris (1986)
Judy Johnson (1985)

The Racial Justice Warrior Award (est. 2020)

Adante Pointer (2021)
Alameda County Bar Association (2020)

The Kamala Harris Woman of Excellence Award (est. 2020)

Lonita K. Baker (2022)
Dr. Shirley Weber (2021)
Venus D. Johnson (2020)

Charles Houston Bar Association HALL OF FAME (est. 1994)

George Holland Sr. (2023)
Hon. Demetrius Shelton (2022)
Yolanda M. Jackson (2022)
Raymond C. Marshall (2022)
Eleanor M. Manuel and Hon. Wiley W. Manuel (2022)
Otis McGee Jr. (2022)
Hon. Joan Cartwright (2018)
Deborah Broyles (2016)
John L. Burris (2015)
Hon. Gloria Rhynes (2014)
Hon. Gordon Baranco (2013)
Honorable Brenda Harbin-Forte (2012)
Eva Paterson (2007)
Hon. Thelton Henderson (2006)
Hon. Henry Ramsey (2006)
Judy Johnson (2005)
Daniel Johnson, Jr. (2004)
Harry Bremond (2003)
Thomas J. Broome (2000)
Hon. Martin Jenkins (1998)
Hon. Judge Wilmont Sweeney (1998)
Hon. Judge Horace Wheatley (1996)
Hon. Justice Cecil F. Poole (1996)
Hon. Justice Allen E. Broussard (1995)
Hon. John F. Cruikshank (1995)
Hon. Justice Clint W. White (1994)
Hon. Judge Benjamin Travis (1994)
Robert L. Harris (1994)
Emma Pendergrass (1994)

CHBA Judicial Excellence Awards

(awarded at the annual midyear Judicial Luncheon)

Hon. Jennifer Madden (2022)

Hon. Teri L. Jackson (2021)

Hon. Ursula Jones Dickson (2019)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Martin J. Jenkins (2018)
California Court of Appeals for the First District

Hon. Charles A. Smiley (2017)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Marla O. Anderson (2016)
Monterey County Superior Court

Hon. Leondra R. Kruger (2015)
Supreme Court of California

Hon. Judge Winifred Smith (2014)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Monica Wiley (2013)
San Francisco Superior Court

Chief Judge James Ware (2011)
United States District Court, Northern District of California

Hon. Gloria Rhynes (2010)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. John Dearman (2010)
San Francisco County Superior Court (retired)

Hon. Gail Bereola (2009)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Joan Cartwright (2009)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Brenda Harbin-Forte (2008)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Winifred Smith (2006)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Diane Becton-Smith (2006)
Contra Costa County Superior Court

Hon. Phyllis Hamilton (2005)
Federal District Court, Northern Dist. of Calif.

Hon. Phrasel Shelton (2005)
San Mateo County Superior Court (retired)

Hon. Perker L. Meeks, Jr. (2004)
San Francisco Superior Court

Hon. Carl Morris (2004)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Trina Thompson Stanley (2003)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Terri Jackson (2003)
San Francisco County Superior Court

Hon. Judith Ford (2002)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. Gordon Baranco (2002)
Alameda County Superior Court

Hon. John Dearman (2001)
San Francisco County Superior Court

Hon. Horace Wheatley (2001)
Alameda Count Superior Court

Hon. Martin J. Jenkins (2000)
Federal District Court, Northern Dist. of Calif.

Hon. Benjamin Travis (2000)
Alameda County Superior Court (retired)

Hon. Henry Ramsey, Jr. (1999)
Alameda County Superior Court (retired)

Hon. Saundra Brown Armstrong (1999)
Federal District Court, Northern Dist. of Calif.

Hon. Thelton Henderson (1999)
Federal District Court, Northern Dist. of Calif.

Special Recognition Awards

Carol Wilson (2023)
Venus D. Johnson (2022)
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (2020)
Tony West (2018)
Regina Maloof (2011)
William “Billy” Hunter (2002)
Charles Houston Law Club Founders (1999)
Hon. Wilmont Sweeney (1996)
Avon Kirkland (1993)
Jayne Ware Williams (1992)
Harriet Clark (1992)
Dorothy Guillory (1986)
Hon. Carl Morris (1990, Judicare Service)
Albertine Radford (1990, Judicare Service)

Minority Bar Coalition Unity Awards

Ismail Ramsey (2023)
Hon. Nichelle N. Holmes (2022)
Brittany Armstrong Whittington (2021)
Tiffany Alvoid (2019)
Terrance Evans (2018)
Deborah Moss-West (2017)
Eric Casher (2016)
Paul Henderson (2015)
Catherine Ongiri (2014)
Hon. Charles Smiley (2012)
Hon. Jason Clay (2011)
Ray Marshall (2009)
Yolanda Jackson (2008)
Kwixuan H. Maloof (2007)
Eugene Clark-Herrera (2006)
Rozenia Cummings (2005)
Edward Goines (2004)
Lindberg Porter (2004)
Hon. Joan Cartwright (2003)
Hon. Jennifer S. Madden (2001)
Yolanda Smith (1998)
Hon. Demetrius D. Shelton (1995)

Special Lifetime Achievement Award

Hon. Saundra Brown Armstrong (2023)
Walter P. Riley (2022)
Eva Paterson (2021)
Hon. Brenda Harbin-Forte (2019)
Hon. Gloria F. Rhynes (2018)
Hon. Thelton E. Henderson (2017)
Hon. Gordon S. Baranco (2016)
Robert L. Harris, Esq. (2005)
Congressman Ronald V. Dellums (1997)

CHBA Corporate Recognition Awards

Hanson Bridgett LLP (2022)
Vedder Price (2022)
Duane Morris LLP (2021)
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC (2019)
Golden State Warriors (2018)
Google (2017)
Kaiser Permanente (2016)
Meyers Nave (2015)
Chevron USA, Inc. (2014)
Kazan, McClain, Satterley, Lyons, Greenwood, and Oberman (2013)
AT&T Services, Inc. (2012)
GAP, Inc. (2011)
PG&E (2010)
Merrill Lynch (2009)
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Charles Houston Bar Association

By Laws



The name of the corporation shall be THE CHARLES HOUSTON BAR ASSOCIATION OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, hereinafter “Association”.



The mission of the Association is to improve access to justice; to promote equal protection under the law; to be proactive in increasing diversity within the legal community and to the bench; to bring services to the community; and to support the Association’s judges, attorneys and law students.



The Association will have six (6) classes of members as follows:

(1) Regular – Any person admitted to practice law in the State of California and acceptable to the membership, shall be eligible for regular membership in this Association, provided that the person resides in or practices law in Northern California. Only members who are active members of the California State Bar may hold elected office of this Association, and have the right to vote at any and all general membership meetings.

(2) Associate – Any person who is admitted to practice law in any state court, the District of Columbia or any Territory of the United States, shall be eligible for an associate membership in the Association, but shall not hold an elected position. Said person may, however, hold appointed office in the Association, and have the right to vote at any and all general membership meetings.

(3) Contributing – Any person who is a graduate of a law school may become a contributing member. Said person shall not be entitled to hold elected office in the Association, but may hold an appointed office, and shall have the right to vote at any and all general membership meetings.
(4) Student – Any person enrolled in a law school may become a student member of the Association. Students shall not be entitled to vote or hold office of any kind in the Association.

(5) Judicial – The Association may affiliate with an organization of judges (active and/or retired), where such affiliation may promote the interests and purposes of the Association. The Association may also admit to membership any such judge.

(6) Sustaining – Any person who meets the membership criteria set forth in the class of membership enumerated above, and/or any law firm, professional entity, or legal corporation engaged in the practice of law, with its headquarters office in Northern California that contributes $500.00 or more annually to the Association shall be classified as sustaining members. Said person or entity shall be entitled to the following benefits: A listing in the Association’s regular publications as a sustaining member, plus one free advertisement per year in the Association’s publication.

(7) Life Membership – Any Regular Member who pays the fee approved by the Board of Directors (“Board”) for Life Membership shall maintain this classification. The Board has the discretion to determine any benefits and limits to this classification.

A member in good standing is one whose current annual dues have been paid. A member not in good standing shall enjoy no rights or privileges of membership whatsoever in the Association.



Dues for all classes of members shall be established by the Board of Directors and shall become due and payable on January 1st of each calendar year. Dues shall be set by a majority vote of the Board of Directors at any regular or special meeting of the Board. Notice setting forth the date, time and place for setting dues or assessments shall be given to all Board members in good standing. Votes may be cast at said meeting by absent Board members provided their proxy is in writing and in the hands of the Secretary at the commencement of the meeting.



Except as otherwise provided by these bylaws, the authority of the Association shall reside in the Board of Directors. The Elected Officers of the Association shall be the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, all of whom shall serve as members of the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors shall consist of the following: Elected Officers, General Counsel, the Immediate Past President, special assistants appointed by the President and those Standing Committee Chairpersons appointed pursuant to Article VI of the these bylaws. Standing Committee Chairpersons shall not be deemed to be elected officers of the Association. They shall be deemed appointed officers.




Section A: President – The President shall plan and preside at all meetings of the membership and the Board of Directors. He or she shall have general charge of and control over the affairs of the Association subject to the control of the membership acting as a body and shall appoint all committees and members thereof subject to the limitations of Article VI of these bylaws. The President shall also appoint a General Counsel of the Association to serve as its chief legal officer, and may appoint special assistants to aid the President in carrying out the duties of the office of President. The President shall have such other powers as the Board of Directors may prescribe.

Section B: Vice President – The Vice President shall perform such duties as from time to time may be prescribed by the President or the Board of Directors. In the absence of the President, the Vice President shall perform and be vested with all of the duties and powers of the President. If the President becomes incapacitated or otherwise is unable to serve, the Vice President shall act as President until a successor is elected.

Section C: Secretary – The Secretary shall keep a record of the minutes of the proceedings of all meetings of the membership and the Board, and shall insure that notice is given as required by these bylaws of all such meetings. The Secretary shall have custody of all books, records, and papers of the Association, except such as shall be in the charge of the Treasurer or of some other person authorized to have custody and possession thereof by a resolution of the Board of Directors. The Secretary shall have such other powers and perform such other duties as from time to time may be prescribed by the President or the Board of Directors.

Section D: Treasurer – The Treasurer shall keep accounts of all moneys of the Association received or disbursed, and shall deposit all moneys and valuables in the name of and to the credit of the Association in such banks and depositories as the Association shall designate. All checks for the payment of money shall be countersigned by any two of the following officers: The President, Vice President, Treasurer or Secretary. The Treasurer shall be bonded. The Treasurer shall make a report at each meeting of the Board of Directors, or when called upon to do so by the President. The funds, books, and vouchers in the Treasurer’s possession, custody and control shall, at all times, be subject to verification and inspection by the elected officers of this Association. At the expiration of the term of office, the Treasurer shall deliver to the Treasurer’s successor all books, money, and other property of the Association. The Treasurer shall also serve on the Budget Committee.

Section E: Board – The Board of Directors shall perform all duties set forth in these Bylaws or that may be assigned by the President or the Association. Except as otherwise provided by these Bylaws, all business of the Association shall be conducted by the Board. If any person who is a member of the Board is absent from more than three (3) Board meetings in any calendar year without good reason, such person shall be deemed to have resigned from office or the Board. A request to be excused from a meeting shall be made to the President in advance of the meeting to be missed. The Secretary shall give a five-day notice of all Board meetings to the Board members. Board meetings shall be governed in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order, except to the extent that such rules are in conflict with these Bylaws.

Section F: Vacancies and Removal of Board Members – Notwithstanding any other provision of the Bylaws to the contrary, should a vacancy for whatever reason occur in any elected office of the Association, an election shall be held within sixty (60) days to fill said vacancy. The membership shall be notified of said vacancy and of the date and time of election which shall be at a duly called meeting of the Association. A vacancy shall exist upon the death, resignation, declaration by resolution of the Board of a vacancy in office of a Board member who has been declared of unsound mind by an order of Court, convicted of a felony, or found by final order of judgment of any court to have breached a duty under Article 3 of Chapter 2 of the California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law or removal of any Board member. An elected Board member may be removed from office only by a majority vote of the membership at an election called for the specific purpose of removing such officer. An appointed Board member may be removed from office by the President or by a majority vote of the Board.



Section A: The Standing Committees shall be: (1) Budget, (2) Communications, (3) Community Action, (4) Finance, (5) Legal Services, (6) Membership, (7) Social Activities, (8) Young Lawyers, (9) Judiciary, (10) Pipeline, and (11) Continuing Legal Education. The President, with the consent of the Elected Officers of the Association, shall appoint a chairperson for each Standing Committee. All other non-standing committees and the members of the Standing Committee shall also be appointed by the President. Each Chairperson of a Standing Committee shall be a member of the Association in good standing and shall serve as a member of the Board during his or her tenure as Chairperson and shall be entitled to vote on all matters coming before the Board. The term for each Standing Committee Chairperson shall be one year, or until a successor is appointed.

Section B: The duties of each Standing Committee shall be as follows:

(1) Budget – This Committee shall be responsible for developing and presenting the Association’s annual budget to the Board for adoption. It shall also be responsible for reporting to the Board on a monthly basis as to the Association’s expenditures per the adopted budget. When requested by the President or the Board, the Committee shall perform other duties related to budgetary matters.

(2) Communications – This Committee shall be responsible for the Association’s newsletter and for enhancing the Association’s ability to communicate with the legal profession and the community. It shall also be responsible for public relations, and for performing any other communications functions assigned by the President or the Board.

(3) Community Action – This Committee shall be responsible for ensuring that the Association is involved in matters that affect the community. It shall work with churches, schools and other organizations to ensure that the Association is actively involved in community affairs. It shall also perform such other duties as assigned by the President or the Board.

(4) Finance – This Committee shall be responsible for the fund-raising activities of the Association. It is responsible for the Association’s annual dinner/dance, and for all other major fund-raising activities of the Association. It shall perform all other tasks as assigned by the President or the Board.

(5) Legal Services – This Committee shall be responsible for encouraging Association members to participate in the provision of voluntary legal services to the public. Such participation may include but shall not be limited to participation in community service projects and organizations and volunteer projects. It shall perform all other tasks as assigned by the President or the Board.

(6) Membership – This Committee shall be responsible for recruiting and maintaining members, and shall solicit dues. It shall maintain an updated membership list and perform all other related tasks assigned by the President or the Board.

(7) Social Activities – This Committee shall be responsible for all social activities of the Association. Said committee shall perform all other socially related functions requested by the President or the Board.

(8) Young Lawyers – This Committee shall be responsible for creating and implementing programs that offer guidance and support to young lawyers and law students in Northern California. It shall perform all other tasks assigned by the President or the Board.

(9) Judiciary – This Committee shall be responsible for evaluating Judicial candidates and recommending whether the Association should endorse said candidacy, providing information for those interested in seeking judicial positions, encouraging qualified Association members to consider seeking judicial office, and further cultivating the Association’s relationship with the Judiciary through active participation in the Bench and Bar associated activities. It shall perform all other tasks as assigned by the President or the Board.

(10) Pipeline – This Committee shall be responsible for ensuring that there is an on-going Pipeline to Membership by the creation of programs garnered toward increasing awareness of the legal profession and the Association within and amongst our youth. This Committee is responsible for ensuring that the College Awareness Program provides at least two (2) workshops/seminars at two (2) Bay Area High Schools each academic year. This Committee is also responsible for ensuring that an instructive program is instituted in at least one elementary school each academic year.

(11) Continuing Legal Education – This Committee shall be responsible for creating and implementing programs that promote the continuing legal education of members of the State Bar of California. This Committee shall present programs consistent with the CLE requirements as set forth by the State Bar of California such that the Association maintains its status as a multi-activity provider.



Officers of the Association shall be in good standing. Elected Officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the membership present at the Election Meeting and in good standing at duly called meeting. Such officers shall be elected for a term of one year or until new officers are elected. Elections shall be held annually in the month of November. The term of office shall commence upon the elected officers swearing in, however, no later than January 1st of the next calendar year. Notices of the election meeting in November shall specifically state the purpose of the meeting and shall contain a list of the nominees for the various elected offices. Said notice shall be distributed to all members in good standing at least seven (7) days before the November meeting.



Section A: Membership Meetings of the Association shall be held at least bi-annually, and at a time and place determined by the Board. The President may call Special Membership Meetings; or in the President’s absence, the Vice-President may do so. A Special Membership Meeting may also be called by a two-thirds vote of the Board. The President shall call regular meetings of the Board.

Section B: The Secretary shall provide notice in writing of all meetings of the Association to all members in good standing.



Section A: Quorum of the Membership – Fifteen (15) members in good standing shall constitute a quorum of the membership for the transaction of business. Business may be continued after withdrawal of enough members to leave less than a quorum, provided any action taken (other than adjournment) is approved by at least a majority of the required quorum for that meeting.

Section B: Quorum of the Board – A majority of the voting members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for conducting a meeting of the Board. Every action taken or decision made by a majority of the directors present at a meeting duly held at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the Board. A meeting at which a quorum is initially present may continue to transact business, despite the withdrawal of directors, provided any action taken or decision made (other than adjournment) is approved by the majority of the remaining members. For purposes of this Section, a majority constitutes one more than half of the remaining members.



All Board members will maintain the personal addresses of any active members of the Association and will not distribute its membership list to third party entities with the exception of the Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) Commission. Allowing distribution of personal addresses of current and past members to JNE will provide the Governor and potential nominees the opportunity to elicit fair evaluations from peers within the Association.



These Bylaws may be amended by majority vote of the membership at any regular Membership Meeting or at any Special Meeting called for that purpose. A seven (7) day notice in writing shall be given to each member in good standing of any meeting where a vote is to be had on amending the Bylaws. The notice shall state the nature of the Bylaw amendment. A copy of the proposed amendment(s) shall be included with the Notice.
As Amended on June 24th, 2010

Originally adopted May 6, 1965
Amended June 19, 1987
Amended July 30, 1990
Amended 1999

Charles Houston Bar Association


Candidates seeking a Charles Houston Bar Association endorsement should download, review, and submit the application document found below. Please note that the evaluation process takes approximately two months from when the Evaluation Committee receives your completed application documents.

CHBA Endorsement Process & Application

Questions? Contact parliamentarian@charleshoustonbar.org.

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