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All NACDA Members
Individual Responsibility
(Wednesday, June 16, 8:15 - 9:00 a.m.)


Jim Livengood:

Good morning. Welcome to our third and last day of our 34th annual Convention with a presentation by Judge Mills Lane on Individual Responsibility. Most of you, if not all of you, understand or you wouldn't be here on a Wednesday morning, after what I'm sure has been an exciting Tuesday night.

I'd like to make a couple of announcements. The exhibitors will get the gifts to you that you may or may not have won during the drawings. At this point, my indication is that almost everyone in here has won something. I say that, because it's amazing when we do that, how much better the evaluation rate is. You're all winners.

Please fill out the evaluation forms. From past experiences and people who have been here for a great number of years all know that we have great intentions to take those forms home, fill them out and send them back. Most of the time, that doesn't happen. That's the way we get better. That's the way our organization gets better so, please fill those out.

The buses for the golf outing will leave at 12:15 p.m. from the South entrance of the hotel. If you're involved in the Management Institute, the buses for Tahoe will depart at 1:00 p.m. at the same place.

Our speaker today is Mills Lane, president of Let's Get It On, Inc. Mills is one of the most recognized names in the boxing profession, before retiring in 1998. In 34 years, he refereed more than 100 world championship fights, sharing the ring with some of the world's greatest boxers. He is perhaps best known for disqualifying Mike Tyson in a fight against Evander Holyfield in which Tyson had part of Holyfield's ear. We won't go there.

For the past three decades, Mills has been an integral part of the Nevada criminal justice system. He began his legal career as a trial prosecutor for the Washoe County district attorney's office in Reno, Nevada, in 1971. After receiving his law degree at the University of Utah, he went on to be named the chief deputy for the investigative service bureau of the Washoe County sheriff's department, while at the same time, serving as a special prosecutor in Humboldt County, Nevada. Two years later, he was elected Washoe district attorney, a position he held for the next seven years. After leaving the district attorney's office, Mills was elected district judge for the second judicial court in Reno. Serving in that capacity until retiring last year, 1998. Mills is currently president of Let's Get It On, Inc. and a senior partner in a law firm. He has also authored a book entitled Let's Get It On, and hosts a national television show, "Judge Mills Lane, Justice You Can Trust," in which he oversees actual civil cases.

In recognition of his dedication in and out of the ring, Mills was given the Law Enforcement Commendation Medal. He was named the Law Enforcement Officer for Reno in 1989 and was given the Optimist Club Law Enforcement Award in 1990. He was voted the Best Reno Public Official in 1996 through 1998. In addition, he was inducted into the University of Reno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974, the Savannah, Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978 and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.

Ladies and gentlemen, let's give a great NACDA welcome to Judge Mills Lane.

Mills Lane:

Thanks a lot. It's a pleasure to be here with you for 30 minutes, or so. In Nevada, where I live, the local press has called me the most politically incorrect person in the state. I wear that as a badge of honor. It gives you a little bit of an edge when you speak to somebody because they say he's going to say what he wants to and I can get away with it. I might tone it down a bit, but I'm not going to tone it down a lot. I'll tell you that. I'm 62 years old and I'm too old to give a damn about whether people like it or not, so what you see and hear is what you'll get. That's the way life is.

I also want to talk about what I believe is a core problem in this country and that is the inability to accept responsibility, the inability to call it like it is and the inability to take the heat when you've got to take it. I also know there is nobody that knows everything about anything. Every now and again, you meet someone like that and it just drives you nuts. It reminds me of a story of a guy who was walking down the street and he was a know-it-all. He walked up to this fellow and said, "You know, you look to be in such great shape. You must be about 40 years old." The guy said, "Did I say I was 40? As a matter of fact, I'm 65." The guy said, "It's amazing you're 65. It must be in your father's genes. How did your father pass away?" "Did I say my Daddy was dead? Why, my Daddy is 85 years old. He's the picture of health, walks everyday, plays golf." The guy said, "That's amazing. It must be in your grandfather's genes. How old was your grandfather when he passed away?" "Did I say my Granddaddy was dead? He plays golf and plays bingo with the best. Tomorrow he's going to marry a 36-year old girl." "That's amazing that he'd want to do that." "Did I say that he wanted to marry a 36-year old girl?"

I always tell prosecutors you'd be surprised at what you'll learn if you'll keep your eyeballs open, your ears open, your mouth shut and pay attention to folks. I don't think we do enough of that around here.

I'd like to begin at the end and come back to the end at the end. The inability to accept responsibility in this country, in my view, is one of the core problems we have. We're all going to make mistakes. We know that. People who don't admit mistakes aren't trying very hard. I want people to make mistakes. I want them to learn from them, but I want them to get out there and try their best. It begins, unfortunately, in the District of Columbia. I don't care much about politics. I don't care whether your Republican or Democrat. I vote for the person. I have no use for the President of this country. When he got caught with his pants down, literally and figuratively, and then engaged that inane hair-splitting on television, well, what does that alone mean? It means, nobody else is there. I might not have respected what he did and I never will.

When I was a DA, a young deputy DA lost his job because he was running around on his wife. He knew I knew about it. He came in one day to talk about it. He said to me, "I understand you don't appreciate that." I told him I didn't. He said, "Well, everybody does it." I said, "Number one, everybody doesn't do it. Number two, as long as you work in this office, I'm entitled to two things from you and two things only, your loyalty and your diligence. Your political support, I have to earn. If you cheat on your wife, you cheat on me. I can't trust you. I can't expect you to make decisions for me. I can't expect you to make statements to the press because I can't trust you." That's how I feel about people who do that.

Now, when Clinton got caught with that gal, if he would have said, "I did it. I have to go home and get on my hands and knees to my wife. She may never forgive me." She won't. If he would have just said, "I did it and I'm not proud of it." I would never have respected what he did, but I would have respected the fact that he stood up and said okay, let's go on. But, when you get someone that engages in that hair-splitting, etc., bothers me. That's why I'm bothered by people who won't admit their mistakes and accept responsibility.

The worst word in the English language today, in my opinion, is the word addiction. It doesn't exist. It only exists in the mind. People have told me cigarettes are addictive. Well, cigarettes are habit forming, I'll admit that. But, nicotine is not addictive. The politicians want you to believe that, they like you to believe that. Once you buy into that and the concept that you're addicted, don't blame me, blame someone else, therein lies the problem.

One thing I know for sure is that nicotine in not addictive. In the Marine Corps, in 1957, I began my boxing career. One of the greatest coaches I had was a Black guy named Sgt. Williams. I loved him like an older brother. The Marine tournament was coming up in the Far East. Williams came up to me and said, "Mills, you have a chance to win this thing and you've got a chance to be successful." In 1956, smoking was a big deal. Everybody smoked. Of course, it's in disfavor now. I smoked in the Marine Corps. I enjoyed a smoke after a cup of coffee, after a meal. It tasted good. At least, I thought it did. Williams came to me and said, "You're going to have to knock that off if you're going to win this thing." I put the cigarettes down that day and I haven't picked them up again. I don't want to hear about addition. They want you to buy into that. Once you buy into it, you can always blame someone else or something else or, I'm addicted. You can't blame me. That's bull.

If the worst word in the English language is addiction, the best word is discipline. Discipline, discipline, discipline is everything. I once heard it said, "You live without discipline, you die without dignity." Discipline is everything. I'm a football fan. We've got a great athletics program at the University of Nevada. In my opinion, the reason for that is Chris Ault. He is a doer, he's got discipline, and he won't let you say no. That's what it's all about. You have to be able to do what you have to do.

I'm a football fan and I go to the games. I never went to one football game when I was in law school. As a matter of fact, the football stadium was about a quarter mile from the law library. On Saturday, I would close the windows so I wouldn't hear the music from the band. On my IQ test, I'm below. I blame my mom and dad for that. But, if I wanted to get through law school, I had to work. I lived in the law library. I lived there on Saturday and Sunday, at night and during the day. It was study, study, study. If that's what you've got to do, that's what you've got to do. I believe this. Everyday that you get up and you've got something to do and you cut a corner, you don't give it your best shot, you give up a little bit, you die a little bit. Everyday you drag yourself out of bed, do the best you can, you're reborn. I want to be reborn everyday. I want to give my best everyday no matter what I do. Nothing will take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common with successful people of talent. The world is full of educated derelicts. The slogan, "press on" has always solved all of our problems. How do you tell fighters, I don't care if you get knocked down, I want to know if you will get up. That's what I want to know. Those are the folks I want on my team.

Every now and then, in the athletics world, you're going to find folks that work as hard as you do. Then you're going to find out what you're made of. When I was fighting in the amateurs, most of the good amateurs were in good shape. When I found a guy was going to run three miles, I would run four miles. If I found that he spars six rounds, I'd spar eight rounds. It might not make me any better, but here. When I was fighting in the pros, after the Olympics, they took my eligibility from me for college, so I fought professionally for my last two years. When I got my degree, I wasn't good enough to be the world champion and I knew it. I had enough money to get through school and I got out.

When I was fighting in the prelims, most of the guys wouldn't get in good shape. So, you would get in close and hit him downstairs. I was fighting this Black kid out of LA. I should have known better because he was trained by a guy named Jake Shagrew. Jake was a White guy who had his gym in Watts. You know how tough he had to be. He didn't mess with you unless you were tough. I got in close with Smith and got him down low. I got up close to him and said, "Hey man, you're going to have to fight me all night." He stepped back and said, "Okay, White boy." That was a long night. I was glad when the night was over.

You also need to have a lot of guts. The worse thing you can call a fighter is a dog. That means he has no guts. I was referring a fight a long time ago here in Reno. This kid got hit with a left hook and went down. I said, "That doesn't look like much of a shot. Maybe he hit him just right." I got down and started counting. I got to four, five and looked at the guy. He was looking at me out of one eye as if to say, "Hurry up and count me out so we can get out of here." I waved the timekeeper off. I got down real close and told him to get up and fight or he wasn't going to get paid. He got up, but it wasn't much of a fight.

Now, I'm doing another fight. In absolute contrast, the kid was just getting shalacked, but it wasn't quite time to stop it. I went to the corner at the end of the fourth round and told them that I thought the kid was getting banged around pretty good, and did they want him to come out. The kid looked at me and said, "Come out? Damn right I'm coming out." He got beat, but those are the kinds of folks I want on my team. I don't want anybody that's going to quit.

As you go along, you've got to have a sense of the deal, a sense of what's going on around you. Have you ever met somebody that had no common sense at all? It reminds me of a story about these two guys who were going to this place to get work. They sat in the outer office. The boss who was going to interview them was born with a birth defect. He had only partial ears, but he made it to the top. The first young man is in for the interview. The boss said he wanted somebody to work for him that sees the big picture and makes observations and decisions. "What do you see around here that's different." The guy said, "Well, you don't have any ears." He said, "I'm not talking about that. That's my personal business." The guy knows he's blown the job so he tells the second guy, "I'm going to give you a break. If you want that job, do not talk about his ears." The second guy goes in for the interview. The boss man says, "I want somebody who sees the big picture, makes decisions and makes observations. What do you see around here that's different?" The kid looked around for a while and said, "Well, you wear contacts." He said, "How do you know that?" He said, "Well, you can't wear glasses, you've got no ears." Some people have no sense of the deal and of what's going on.

With sense of the deal, you've got to have a little common sense too. A guy had the flat tire in front of the insane asylum. The guy on the inside, looking over the barbed wire fence at him, says, "Hi, how are you doing?" The guy takes the hub cap off, the lug nuts off, puts the hub cab on the road and the lug nuts in the hubcap. He's getting ready to take the tire off. Another car comes by too close, hits the hubcap, knocks the lug nuts and the hubcap into the ditch. The guy says, "Gees, what am I going to do now?" The guy on the inside looks over the fence and says, "Look young man, why don't you take one lug nut off each of the other tires, put them on that fourth tire until you get to the gas station." The guy says, "What an idea. By the way, what are you in here for?" He said, "For being crazy, not stupid."

We've just got to sit back some times. You've also got to have a little bit of fear. I call it the butterflies, the anticipation. When I was fighting in the amateurs and in the pros, I lived in fear of two things and two things only. One of them was walking up to that ring and looking up and saying, "I don't want to go tonight and walking back." I always thought that one day I would get up to the ring and not get in. I was always nervous, but that little fear and being able to overcome that fear, separates the good ones from the not-so-good ones.

The second fear of mine was taking off my robe and not having any trunks on. I saw it happen to a guy. He got taped, put his cup on and his robe and just forgot his trunks. I was always scared to death of that. I don't know why. You've got to have that fear. You've got to always worry about things, always do the blackboard, always do work, always do the preparation. If you don't do that, somebody is going to whip you.

Another thing you've got to do is be willing to stand up and take the heat. Take the heat for what you do, good, bad or indifferent. When I was the DA , I never called the DA's office my office. I never called the courtroom I worked in, my courtroom. I never like anybody in public service to say, my this or my that. It belongs to the people, they only work there. So, I never called the DA's office my office. I hope you'll take this back to where you live. I know a lot of people in the administration of athletics have a lot of clout and, they should, in their communities, good and bad. Hopefully, it's more good than bad. I would not vote for somebody for public office that has an unlisted phone number. If they're going to work for me, if they're going to be my public servant, I want their phone numbers in the book. When somebody asks you to vote for them and to give them money, look to see if their phone numbers are in the phone book. See how many of them have their phone numbers in the book. They forget you when the election is over. Well, that's crap.

I did a fight with two guys and I had to stop the fight. One guy was from Detroit and one was from St. Louis. The fight was in Las Vegas. People asked me what I look for when I stop a fight. If a kid gets hit, bam, and rocks straight back and his neck is strong, he's probably okay. If a kid gets a good shot and he's still looking and his chin is tucked in, he's probably okay. If you see a guy lose control and his hands start to wobble around and his feet begin to go where they shouldn't, you know he's in trouble. When a guy goes down and gets up when I give him eight, I look in his eyes. I look to see where he looks. I don't care what he says, I wonder where he looks. If he focuses, it's okay. This kid from Detroit knocks the kid from St. Louis down. He gets up and wobbles some. I asked him if he was okay. He said, "Yes." I asked him where he was and he said, "St. Louis." These guys aren't rocket scientists, he just forgot. His eyes were clear as a bell; he looked right at me, so he was okay.

I call my boys, my darling sons. They are 16 and 12 years old. Yep, they're 16 and 12 and, yep, I'm 62 years old. My wife says I'm not as good as I once was. I'm as good as I ever was. Age is a relative thing. I always tell my boys when they make mistakes that everybody makes mistakes. When I was supervising the DA's office and in the court, I said, "Look, yesterday is yesterday. What I want to know is what can you call tomorrow." A mistake is something to learn from and to understand and move away from. If you dwell on the mistake, you dwell on failure. You shouldn't dwell on failure; you should dwell on success. Admit the mistake, deal with it and go on.

If I made a mistake, and I made some beauts, I used to call a press conference. I would say, "Okay, I have a kick in the ass coming. I know it and I want to get it. I want to get it at 5:00 tonight and in the headlines tomorrow." The edge that it gives you if you do that, not all of the press, but most of the press are just like you. They are professional people just doing their work. If you don't lie to them and if you don't run from them and you don't hide from them and you'll admit it, man, they'll cut you some slack down the road. There's a fine line. There's a whole lot of ways to report the facts, good and bad. I would rather have a reporter say, "Yeah, I might not agree with him, but he won't lie to me. If I ask him straight up, he'll tell me."

It's always important to be yourself. One of the things I hate about the television shows is wearing make-up. They make you put it on, but I don't like it. When I ran for district attorney, I said there were three things I would not do. I would not wear a three-piece suit, elevated shoes and a toupee. I said, "What you see is what you get." That's it. If you do make a mistake, don't worry about it. When I was on the bench, people would come up to the bench and say, "I got this bad drug problem." I would say, "Sonny, it's not because you weren't breast fed, it's not because Mom didn't change your diapers, or your daddy yelled at you. It's none of those things, man, it's you. Until you stand up and say, it is me, you're going to be spitting in your face for the rest of your life."

That's something that athletics can do and you should do. Stand on some principles. Every now and again, stand up and say, this is where I stand. Some of you folks today may disagree with me. Most of the folks east of the Mississippi will agree with me and most of the folk's west won't. I'll tell you right now and I don't mean to insult you, but if you're from California, you're not from the west. You're from someplace west of here, but that is not the west. The west is Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho. You know what I mean. California is the "twighlight zone a go go, man." We had a DA's convention in Coronado in San Diego and we call it granola beach.

I don't like what happened at Columbine. I don't like what's happening in this country today. I believe in gun control, you bet, with both hands. You can't disarm the law-abiding public. I've got a little house not far from here. If somebody comes to my house and hurts my family, they're going to have a tag on their toe before the sun is down. I don't apologize to anyone for that.

I'll give you two stories about why I believe in being able to protect yourself. First off, is owning a gun dangerous? Can be. You bet. That's the price we pay to be free, to own them. That's the problem with the NRA. I don't belong to the NRA. I want them to stand up and tell me the truth about it. Guns are dangerous, but I'd pay that price any day to be free to have them in my home to protect my family. Sparks, Nevada is about a mile and a half from here. It's right next to Reno and has its own government. In 1984, I was the district attorney. A guy wakes up and on his roof is a third-rate burglar trying to break in where his eight-year old daughter was sleeping. That homeowner got out a magnum. We had a trial of about a quarter of a second and we also had a verdict. The press asked me what I was going to do about it. I found out what the facts were and I told them I wasn't going to do anything about it. I'd kiss him on both cheeks and would give him a medal, if I could. Shooting a thief trying to break into your house is not illegal, even in California, believe it or not. Think about it. Why should a law-abiding homeowner in his or her home have to worry about his or her government prosecuting them for shooting thieves trying to break in.

My other story is a better one. I love this story because it focuses on what I believe so much. There was a recreational vehicle parking lot at Harrahs. You could park your RV, go in and gamble. The only law that's never been repealed is the law of averages. If they get you in those casinos, they've got you. This gentlemen in his 80s and his wife in her late 70s went into gamble. They came back and went to sleep in the RV they had. For that night, that RV was their home. They woke up in the early morning hours and a young hoodlum was inside the RV trying to steal his radio and his money. The guy got out a 22 pistol and shot the guy in his leg. He shot him twice. He didn't kill him, but he shot him. The police came down and arrested him. In those days, we had an on-call deputy district attorney who was supposed to handle these things. Well, this on-call deputy was not available that night, so they woke me up about 4:00 a.m. I went down to the police station. They had this gentleman in the interrogation room. He had blue uniforms on each side of him. A detective was getting ready to read him his rights. I asked the detective to come outside and tell me what happened. I told him to go back in and let the old man explain it. The old man explained it, just like the detective told me. Those were the facts that developed.

I looked over at the policeman and asked him if he believed that's what happened. He said, "Yes, that's what I believed happened." I said, "All right. Let him go and give him his gun back." He said, "You're going to let me go." I said, "Sure, you shot a thief in your house. That isn't illegal." He said, "I'm from California and I would have been prosecuted there." I said, "Man, you're in God's country now. The hell with California." He asked me if I was going to give him his gun back and I told him I was. He might have to shoot another one before he leaves town. I was hoping he wouldn't have to go that far because I wanted to go back to bed.

You've got a law-abiding citizen in his home, defending his family, age disadvantaged against thieves and hoodlums and he has to tell a district attorney that he is concerned about being prosecuted? If that ever happens in this country, I'll go somewhere else. I love this country more than anything else, but I guarantee you I don't want to live in a country where you've got to bow down to the thieves and the hoodlums.

We've got to protect ourselves. People in the business you're in have to stand up, maybe not on that issue, but on some other issue of principle. Stand up and be counted on that question.

I also think you've got to have a little love. It may sound corny, but you've got to have a little love. My boy Terry is 16 and Tommy is 12. I call them T and T. I never knew you could love another human being like that. You've got to love the people around you. You've got to respect the people around that are close to you and trying to help you do what you do. I'm very lucky. I have a television show, I make a good living. I'll tell you this. I don't give a damn where you get, if you don't remember the folks that helped you get there, you're nothing but an ingrate. I'll never forget where I came from. I'll never forget the folks that helped me. Ladies and gentlemen, I wouldn't give a hoot in hell to somebody who lost and laughed. I like to win. I want to win the right way. Joe Paterno from Penn State said, "Success without honor is like an unseasoned dish. It might satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good." That's pretty outstanding.

An old Chinese proverb goes like this, "To dwell on the past is to rob the present, but to forget the past is to rob the future." We've got to know where we've been, where we are and where we'd like to be tomorrow. I once heard it said, little by little the face of the land changes. It changes because of the things we believe in, things we stand up for and principles that we won't back down from if we think we're right. Think of where you, ladies and gentlemen, are. You have the opportunity and the obligation and the privilege to deal with young people that some may not know just where they want to be. Some may need a little kick in the butt every now and then or a pat on the back.

To think that you have that opportunity to get out there and get after it and make this country and the people in it what it could be and move away from where we have been, let's get back to where we ought to be. Things can change. Things can get better.

I want to end with a story. I was in Savannah, Georgia where I was born. One of my best friends in the world, who was Jewish, passed away. They asked me to give a speech at a memorial for him. Most of the folks in the room were Jewish. Kay and I might have been the only Gentiles there. The emcee was a kick in the butt. There were a lot of Rabbis and he was getting on them. I didn't know they could do that. So, he tells this story. The Rabbi and the Priest sat down for dinner. The Priest ordered ham. When it came out, the Rabbi looked at it. The Priest said, "My son, certainly in your lifetime you have taken pork?" The Rabbi said, "Yes, Father, I have. Certainly in your lifetime, you have partaken of the woman?" The Priest said, "Yes, I have and it's a lot better than the ham."

If you're willing to accept responsibility, admit your mistakes, don't make excuses, work your tail off, have that fear and anticipation and always be willing to get your ears back and get after it, you can't be beat. Nobody can beat you. If you don't have those things, somebody can beat you and somebody will beat you. Always remember hands up, chin down and keep going forward. Thank you very much.

Jim Livengood:

Judge Lane, Dr. Crowley and Chris Ault indicated there was a chance that this group could bring you out of the shy stage in your life. I think we've done that. What a wonderful way to open up a Wednesday morning. On behalf of NACDA, and we know how busy you are, we'd like to present this as a token of our appreciation. Thank you for sharing the podium with us today.