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News for, and by, our local legal community, curated and created by the Santa Clara County Bar. The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors' own and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, its members, its employees, or its governing board.

 

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Fox's Napolitano Could Face Ethics Trouble Over Wiretap Claims

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 24, 2017

Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, recently claimed on television that former President Barack Obama enlisted the British intelligence services to wiretap Donald Trump when Trump was running for president.

Attorneys say this unverified assertion could cause Napolitano to face ethics charges, though the burden of proof to show he violated ethics rules would likely be steep and the potential punishments relatively minor.

Lawyers who focus on attorney ethics say anyone wanting to pursue an ethics complaint against Napolitano would have to prove the former judge lied on purpose and would have to overcome his First Amendment free speech protections.

Napolitano quit the bench in 1995 after a dispute with the New Jersey Supreme Court over his right to earn outside income, but is still licensed to practice in New Jersey and New York.

Read the whole story at National Law Journal

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Supreme Court Ends Laches Defense in Patent Cases

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 22, 2017

To the surprise of no one, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled laches is not a defense to patent infringement suits that are brought within the Patent Act's limitations period.

The court followed the logic of its 2014 statute of limitations decision from copyright law, Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Because the Patent Act, like the Copyright Act, contains a limitations period, the window for filing suit cannot be further shortened by laches, a 7-1 majority concluded Tuesday in SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products.

Doing so "would give judges a 'legislation overriding' role that is beyond the judiciary's power," Justice Samuel Alito wrote.

Dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer was the only member of the court to defend the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's en banc decision in favor of maintaining the laches defense. Laches bars suits that are brought with unreasonable, prejudicial delay. Breyer wrote that Congress had intended to codify the laches doctrine when it drew up the 1952 Patent Act. Failing to recognize the defense now will allow patent holders to sit on their rights for years while manufacturers make big investments in infringing technology.

Read the whole story at National Law Journal

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Seeking Applications: Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference Lawyer Representatives

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The United States District Court, Central District of California, is currently accepting applications from qualified individuals interested in serving as Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference Lawyer Representatives.  The selected Lawyer Representatives will be representative of the entire district and reflect the diversity of lawyers practicing before the Court.

Interested persons should complete the application, which can be found on the Court’s website under the Lawyer Representatives section located in the “Attorneys” tab of the Court’s homepage.  Additional information about serving as a Lawyer Representative can be found on the 9th Circuit’s website at http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/lawyer_reps/. 

Please send completed applications no later than June 1, 2017, to LawyerReps_CACD@cacd.uscourts.gov

Kiry K. Gray
Clerk of Court

Read the whole story at US District Court Central District of California

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Joe Dunn loses arbitration over his firing by State Bar

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Capping a years-long conflict, an arbitrator Monday rejected former state Sen. Joseph Dunn’s allegation that he was fired as executive director of the State Bar for blowing the whistle on the licensing organization’s lapses.

Arbitrator Edward Infante had conducted a trial-like hearing into Dunn’s allegations last month in Los Angeles, and Monday’s 30-page ruling exonerated the State Bar, which had said it fired Dunn in 2014 for misleading the agency’s board about critical policy matters.

Dunn had initially filed a lawsuit against the State Bar, but his allegation was diverted into an arbitration proceeding under terms of his contract. Infante found that Dunn had, indeed, misled the board.

 

Dunn, a Democrat who represented Orange County in the Senate, had sought more than $4 million for his whistleblower claim and another $190,000 in severance pay. 

Read the whole story at The Sacramento Bee

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California chief justice to ICE: Stop ‘stalking’ immigrants at courthouses

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 17, 2017

California’s top judge criticized federal immigration agents for using courthouses as “bait” — a place for “stalking” immigrants who “pose no risk to public safety.”

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote a letter Thursday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly amid reports of federal agents going to courthouses and scouting for immigrants who are not in the country legally.

Such incidents have been reported in California, Texas, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona.

In the letter, Cantil-Sakauye requested that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stop arresting immigrants at courthouses.

“I am deeply concerned about reports from some of our trial courts that immigration agents appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests,” she wrote. “… Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws.”

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said immigration officers make arrests at courthouses only after exhausting other options.

Read the whole story at The Washington Post

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March 10 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 10, 2017

ABA rates Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch ‘well qualified’

The American Bar Association has rated Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, “well qualified.”

The rating (PDF) came Thursday from the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, whose purpose is to evaluate the qualifications of nominees to federal judgeships. The committee’s goal is to provide impartial, nonpartisan evaluations based on judicial temperament, competence and integrity, according to its own “backgrounder” document (PDF).

Harvard Law will accept GRE as entrance exam

Harvard Law School will accept the Graduate Record Examination in lieu of the Law School Admissions Test, starting this fall. The change is part of a strategy to expand law school access domestically and internationally.

“Harvard Law School is continually working to eliminate barriers as we search for the most talented candidates for law and leadership,” Martha Minow, dean of the law school, said in a statement. “For many students, preparing for and taking both the GRE and the LSAT is unaffordable. All students benefit when we can diversify our community in terms of academic background, country of origin, and financial circumstances.”

If racial comments are made in jury deliberations, courts should investigate, SCOTUS says

Racial comments in jury deliberations can violate a defendant’s right to a fair trial, and require review, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in the appeal of a Colorado man’s misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact and harassment convictions.

The appeal was brought on behalf of Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez, who was accused of groping teenage girls at his workplace, the Washington Post reports. He argued that he did not touch the girls, and it was a case of mistaken identity. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the felony charge against Pena-Rodriguez of attempted sexual assault on a child. Pena-Rodriguez was convicted of one misdemeanor count of unlawful sexual contact and two misdemeanor counts of harassment for his behavior toward the two teen girls.

Brock Turner case: Why recalling Judge Persky is wrong

You do not have to agree with Judge Aaron Persky’s sentence of ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to conclude that recalling the judge is a very bad idea.

Led by the formidable law school professor Michelle Dauber, Persky’s critics are aiming for a special recall election in November. As of the end of last year, Dauber had out raised the judge by five-fold.

 

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Honorable Elizabeth C. Peterson Sworn in as Judge of Santa Clara County

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 9, 2017

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Neil Gorsuch Recused in More Than 1,000 Cases as Tenth Circuit Judge

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

In his more than 10 years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was recused in more than 1,000 cases, according to documents submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee in advance of his March 20 confirmation hearing.

The high overall number of recusals appears to reflect the rigorous recusal procedures of his court, as well as Gorsuch’s stated desire to avoid even the perception of bias when it comes to cases involving a wide range of friends, former clients and colleagues. Only a sliver of the recusals were triggered by financial interests, according to his responses.

“I have sought to take seriously the admonition that a judge should ‘disqualify himself in any proceedings in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’” Gorsuch stated in his answers to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. (See page 39.) He quoted from the federal recusal statute, 28 U.S.C. 455. 

Read the whole story at National Law Journal

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March 7 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

San Jose's Lynbrook High Win Mock Trial Tournament

Capping seven rounds of courtroom argument, Lynbrook High School in San Jose won the Santa Clara County High School Mock Trial Tournament and will continue to state competition in Riverside. 

Lynbrook’s 18-student team defeated Prospect High of Saratoga in the final round of the tournament last month. Other top runners-up included Castilleja of Palo Alto and Los Gatos High.

In this year’s mock trial case, prosecutors sought to prove that a restaurant owner had engaged in human trafficking and false imprisonment by forcing a woman into a low-paying restaurant job and threatening her with deportation. In the finals, Lynbrook won an acquittal of the defendant. Justice Nathan Mihara of the Sixth District Court of Appeal presided over the championship round.

The 2017 Go-To Law Schools

New associate hiring ticked up slightly in 2016, with the country’s largest 100 law firms bringing on 3,521 new law school graduates. Among the 50 law schools most popular with those employers, 24 percent of last year’s graduates landed associate jobs—up one percent over the previous year.

We’ve ranked the top 50 law schools by percentage of 2016 juris doctors who took associate jobs at the largest 100 firms. The selection of those 100 law firms was based on lawyer count—as identified on the NLJ 350, The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s largest law firms. We also examined tuition at the schools that produced the most Big Law associates, and we ranked the schools with the most alumni promoted to partner in 2016. —Karen Sloan

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March 3 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 3, 2017

Legal aid funding at risk of federal budget cuts

The November election sent shock waves through the legal aid nonprofit community. Suddenly, advocates worried about the $77 million in federal funds that flow to California groups from the Legal Services Corporation, the Department of Education’s advocacy grant program and others.

This money goes to agencies that provide services to low-income residents, promote equal access to justice, curb violence against women, and boost senior citizen protections, advance disability rights and aid similar causes.

Loan scheme and cover-up results in disbarment of Pasadena attorney

A Southern California attorney who concocted a scheme to get loans based on phony settlements and proved relentless in his efforts to cover up his wrongdoing has been stripped of his law license.

JAMAUL DMITRI CANNON [#229047], 40, of Pasadena, was disbarred Jan. 19, 2017 and ordered to pay $15,075 plus interest in restitution related to that scheme and for failing to repay unearned fees to client.

Citing 'My Cousin Vinny,' DC Circuit Upholds SCOTUS Protest Ban

A federal appeals panel on Friday upheld the law barring anyone from making “a harangue or oration” at the U.S. Supreme Court—the latest in a series of rulings protecting the high court from protesters inside the building or on its grounds.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit stemmed from a coordinated protest that interrupted a public session of the Supreme Court on April 1, 2015. One after another, five demonstrators rose to object, through slogans and songs, to the court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling on campaign finance.

Open link to file-sharing site was like leaving legal file on a bench, judge says; privilege waived

An insurance company has waived any claim of privilege to materials uploaded to an unprotected file-sharing site, a federal magistrate judge in Virginia ruled earlier this month.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent said in a Feb. 9 decision that the Harleysville Insurance Co. waived its privilege in documents uploaded to a site where they were accessible to anyone who had the hyperlink, according to the ABA BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct.

SCOTUS clerk tells amici to caption case of transgender teen with masculine pronoun

U.S. Supreme Court clerk Scott Harris has informed three groups that the caption on their amicus briefs should refer to a transgender teen with a masculine pronoun.

Harris told the groups that their reference to Gavin Grimm on the cover of their briefs violated Rule 34 of the Rules of the Supreme Court, Slate reports in a story noted by Above the Law.

Free LSAT prep courses to be offered by Khan Academy: Could state bar exam help come later

Khan Academy, a nonprofit online platform known for its large library of interactive math courses, today announced it will offer free LSAT practice materials, working with the Law School Admissions Council.

Many LSAT prep courses now are offered by for-profit groups for a fee.

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more Calendar

3/28/2017
Employment Benefits in 2017

4/26/2017
Law and Motion 2017: A View From the Bench - Part II

4/28/2017
Attorney's Fees and Sanctions in 2017

Recent Recognitions
Mariel BlockBarrister of the Year 2016
Hon. Erica R. Yew2016 Jurist of the Year

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