SACRAMENTO – Kim Stone, president and CEO of the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), will be departing the firm after six years at the helm.
John Doherty, vice president of Politics and Policy and general counsel of TechNet, will replace her.
CJAC works in the state legislature and the courts to reduce excessive and unwarranted litigation that creates increased expenses in business and government, ultimately escalating the cost of goods and services for consumers. Among its many successes is Proposition 64, which stopped “shakedown” lawsuits from being filed against businesses by private lawyers.
Founded in 1979, Stone became just the third person to serve as the president of CJAC in 2011.
Stone served as a lobbyist for five years with CJAC Legislation before joining Blue Shield of California as its director of Government Affairs in August 2010. She then returned as CJAC’s president and CEO.
"In my 12 years at CJAC, we have had an overall kill rate, which is stopping trial lawyer-sponsored bad bills, of 95 percent, including five years with 100 percent kill rate," Stone told the Northern California Record. "We have stopped over 300 bills that would have led to increased unjustified litigation in California. We have stopped over a dozen anti-arbitration bills. We’ve also stopped a number of bills that would have given lawyers more time to sue that would have allowed for end-runs around Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), (which) would have led to increased product liability claims, created more lawsuits leading to higher insurance costs for all of us. We’ve also gotten important affirmative wins; we’ve supported six ADA access lawsuit fixes and a number of good Samaritan liability protection bills. We’ve sponsored successful legislation to allow judges to sanction lawyers for bad behavior, and we’ve sponsored successful legislation to facilitate settlements.”
Stone said although the trial lawyers outspent her team as much as 10-to-1 and out lobbied them with two to four times as many lobbyists, CJAC played strong defense and kept California’s civil justice system from becoming even more unfair and unbalanced.
“This has been in part due to our innovative California Project program, which allows us to meet candidates early in the process," Stone said. "Additionally, our appellate program reviews every civil appeal in the state, and we decide which cases have the greatest potential to influence the development of the law. Our separate and independently funded Political Action Committee has supported and helped elect dozens of fair-minded candidates.”
Stone said CJAC has become a trusted source for the media, and is a frequent source of quotes and information on civil justice issues.
As a graduate of Stanford University’s School of Law, Stone previously served as a deputy district attorney for San Mateo County and as special assistant to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.
Before joining CJAC, Stone quit her job as a prosecutor, moved to Honduras and co-founded The Adelante Foundation with her husband. The foundation is a nonprofit micro credit organization designed to loan impoverished women money so they can start and grow small businesses.
Stone said she and her husband were inspired by Nobel Peace prize winner Mohammad Yunus for originating the idea that an organization can lend money to poor people to help them get out of poverty. She said microcredit centers on the idea that rich people don’t get rich on their own money. They borrow from the bank until they are successful. Poor people don’t have that same opportunity, however, because they lack access to capital to work their way out of poverty.
“Our organization does that,” Stone said. “We help poor women by giving them loans to get out of poverty and build small businesses. They borrow and sometimes buy and resell items, or buy their children clothes and send them to school; and as they repay, they can loan more. It’s a great thing, and it absolutely works. It keeps me grounded, too. It is a nice break from arguing about arbitration agreements. No matter what happens in the civil justice system, I’ve got a house with hot running water, and my children go to school and have clothes. That makes me extremely fortunate.”
Stone said that same passion she found with Adelante for doing right is also what drove her to become a prosecutor and later to work for CJAC. She said she loves pursuing justice, no matter the circumstances.
“Whether helping the impoverished, reducing unjustified lawsuits or representing the state or federal government as a prosecutor, my job has been to fight for justice and fairness," Stone said. "It has always been my passion, and I will continue to work for noble and just causes.”
Stone says she plans to continue her endeavors as she launches her own lobbying firm in Sacramento, Stone Advocacy, which is slated to open in January.
“I will be sad to leave the great friends and righteous fights we have had at CJAC,” Stone said, “I am pleased to report that CJAC has hired John Doherty to be our next president. John is presently vice president of Politics and Policy and general counsel of TechNet, an influential tech trade association. He has also worked as vice president, State Government Affairs, for UnitedHealth Group. He served as chief of staff to Democratic Assembly member Alberto Torrico; and prior to that, ran Torrico’s campaign. He also ran Torrico’s campaign for attorney general. CJAC is lucky to have him as our next president.”