Few people in contemporary public life have risen so high on their own
talent from such humble beginnings as James Rogan, a former judge and
gangland murder prosecutor who served in the mid-1990s in the state
Assembly, then went to Congress and gained nationwide attention when he
played a major role in the eye of a political hurricane–as House manager in
the impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton.
Rogan, 47, the straight-arrow Republican who outraged liberals during the
Clinton impeachment, is an attorney at the Irvine office of the
international Preston Gates Ellis law firm, specializing in intellectual
property litigation and in government relations. He doesn’t miss the
political fray: He lost a bruising election in 2000 against Democrat Adam
Schiff in the 27th Congressional District, and he speedily rebuffed recent
suggestions that he run to replace departing Rep. Christopher Cox. “I
thought of it for all of two seconds,” notes Rogan, who devotes much of his
time to his wife Christine and their twin, 13-year-old daughters.
Rogan also is an author. His newly penned Rough Edges: My Unlikely Road from
Welfare to Washington was well received, detailing his turbulent youth as
the illegitimate child of a felon through the painful travails of welfare to
his life as a tavern bouncer to law school to law enforcement to politics in
Sacramento and Washington.
Rogan served as Undersecretary of Commerce, then did a stint at the
Washington, D.C., office of Preston Gates, then moved to California to be
closer to his own and his wife’s Glendale roots. They live halfway between
Irvine and Glendale. “I’m home now most evenings for dinner,” he notes.
“I’m back practicing law, which I’ve always enjoyed. I think the greatest
job I’ve had was being on the bench (as a judge), but I’ve liked being a
lawyer and a prosecutor. I guess what I’ve really enjoyed is getting back in
touch with friends and family.”
The image many have of Rogan stems from the failed impeachment of Clinton,
in which prosecutor Rogan presented the House’s case – a high honor for
little-experienced GOP Congressman. To Democrats, Rogan seemed to be a pit
bull nipping after Clinton’s heels.
When a reporter said that Rogan appeared to move to the right after he went
to Washington, Rogan disagreed.
“When you’re in the middle of something as emotionally charged as that, when
the battle lines are drawn in the extreme, it’s easy to start pegging
participants as being in one camp or another.”
“But,” he added, “I’ve always viewed myself as a conservative Republican.”