Lise Pearlman

Author and Co-Producer


Lise Pearlman was an undergraduate at Yale University in its first class to include women. Pearlman moved to the Bay Area in 1971 for law school at U. C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall where she was a member of the Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif. She has spent most of her adult life in Oakland where the 1968 murder trial of Huey Newton took place. Pearlman later clerked for California Chief Justice Donald Wright and taught for a year at Stanford Law School before a 13-year career in Oakland as a business litigator. In 1984 she won recognition as the first woman managing partner of an established California law firm. In 1989, the California Supreme Court selected Pearlman as the first Presiding Judge of its new State Bar Court. Since 1995, she has been a private arbitrator and mediator with Alternative Resolution Centers ( In 1998, she chaired the Oakland Public Ethics Commission. A past President of Women Lawyers of Alameda County, Pearlman was also elected to a three-year term on the statewide Board of California Women Lawyers. 


Pearlman has previously served as an executive producer of two films by videographer Abby Ginzberg on pioneering minority women judges. In 2006, she was honored for her work in the community by the Bay Area Minority Bar Coalition and Oakland Sunrise Rotary. In 2014, she received an award for her many years of community service from Women Lawyers of Alameda County.


She is currently co-producing the documentary project “American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton." 

The Sky’s The Limit

People v. Newton, The Real Trial of the 20th Century? 


The Sky’s The Limit: People v. Newton, The Real Trial of the 20th Century? [Regent Press 2012], winner of the 2013 USA Book News International Book Award for Law, Finalist for U.S. History and 2012 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Silver Medal Award for Multiculturalism. An early morning shootout between Black Panther leader Huey Newton and two Oakland policemen put Newton on trial for his life in the volatile summer of 1968. The accused revolutionary put America itself on trial for 400 years of racism. The defense focused international attention on a superpower rocked by two political assassinations and bitterly divided over the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.


At the time, the FBI considered the Panthers the greatest internal threat to America’s security. So did Party spokesman Eldridge Cleaver, who predicted warfare in the nation’s streets if Newton were condemned to die. The author contends the diverse jury’s surprising verdict still reverberates today—had it turned out otherwise Barack Obama would likely not be President.