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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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April 21 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 21, 2017

Faced with dwindling admissions, some law schools seek out overachieving 1Ls

Law school transfers are increasingly common, say higher education consultants, and it’s become a seller’s market for first-year students at the top of their class: They can easily move to a higher-ranked school, or stay put and get bigger tuition discounts.

Law schools have a few incentives to keep or attract 1Ls with good grades—people who do well their first year generally pass bar exams on their first attempt, and transfer students traditionally pay full tuition.
Read the full story at ABA Journal


Law Firm Security Step 2: Strengthen Your Passwords

Your network, PC, email, and many applications have one critical element in common: they are only as secure as the passwords you created for them. Security researchers have consistently found (and data dumps from breaches have documented) that a majority of people re-use the same password for many, if not most, applications. A single insecure website that exposes your password in a data breach could be all an attacker needs to gain access to many accounts critical to your practice and/or your personal life.
Read the full story at ABA Journal 


Ask Daliah: It's OK to start as a generalist, then choose a practice

Dear Daliah: How did you choose your practice area? Is it better to start out a generalist or a specialist?
(Culled from online questions)

Dear Questioners: There are two philosophies when it comes to hanging your own shingle: Take anything that walks in the door, or focus on a specific area or areas.
Read the full story at ABA Journal

 

California Judges Are Told to Stay Away from Pot Businesses

SACRAMENTO—California judges and their spouses should not hold a financial interest in marijuana enterprises, even though medical and recreational cannabis use is legal in California, a state Supreme Court ethics committee said in a formal opinion Wednesday.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the opinion said, and a judge who has a stake in a related business or nonprofit risks violating canons that require compliance with all laws and avoidance of the appearance of impropriety. Financial ties to marijuana, even indirect ones, may also cast doubt on a judge’s ability to act impartially, the committee said.
Read the full story at The Recorder

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April 20 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Supreme Court First-Timer Scores on the Money

Stuart Banner is a legal historian who has written books on the history of baseball’s antitrust exemption, the struggle to control airspace and how American Indians lost their land. On Wednesday, Banner achieved a new distinction: He won his first U.S. Supreme Court argument.

Banner, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a former clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, won in the high court in Nelson v. Colorado. The justices, in a 7-1 opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, held that Colorado’s Exoneration Act—the exclusive scheme for refunds of costs, fees and restitution paid by exonerated defendants—violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal 


Law Profs Say Gun Makers Should Be Liable for Sandy Hook Shooting

Thirteen law professors who specialize in common-law torts have thrown their weight behind a negligent entrustment appeal lodged against the makers of the AR-15 rifle used in the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Their 35-page amicus brief filed with the Connecticut Supreme Court Monday focuses on how negligent entrustment should apply to Remington and Bushmaster Firearms, the makers of the AR-15 rifle used in the massacre. The brief was submitted in an appeal to the state Supreme Court filed by attorneys representing some of the families of students and educators killed.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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April 19 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trump Business Competitors Allege Unfair Impact in Emoluments Suit

Restaurants and hotels in which President Donald Trump has financial interests are unfairly siphoning business away from competitors in New York and Washington, D.C., the new plaintiffs in a watchdog group's emoluments suit against Trump allege.

The new plaintiffs may help Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which filed an amended complaint on Tuesday adding Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and a woman who books embassy events for two Washington hotels, bolster its case for standing in the suit.
Read the full story at The National Law  Journal

 

Will Law Schools' LL.M Programs Suffer from Trump's 'America First' Stance?

Law school administrators say concerns are growing from foreign students about how the myriad immigration and travel policies emerging from Washington could impact their plans to obtain LL.M degrees in the United States.

The advanced law degree programs bring in about $350 million annually to the more than 100 U.S. law schools that offer them, with around 10,000 foreign students coming here each year to pursue an LL.M.
Read the full story at The National Law  Journal


Supreme Court May Clip SEC's Enforcement Power

A key U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement tool may soon be reined in by the U.S. Supreme Court, or so it seemed after the justices heard arguments Tuesday in the case of a New Mexico investment adviser convicted of fraud over more than two decades.

Before the court was Kokesh v. SEC, which zeroes in on the SEC's use of "disgorgement"—ordering fraudsters to cough up their ill-gotten gains. The government has raked in billions of dollars through disgorgement—$2.8 billion in 2016 alone—with a portion going to the victims.
Read the full story at The National Law  Journal

 

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Berkeley Law, Ex-Dean Settle Suits Over Alleged Sexual Harassment

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 18, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — UC Berkeley has reached a settlement with ousted law school dean Sujit Choudhry, ending a tumultuous saga that erupted last year after his former executive assistant sued him for sexual harassment.

The settlement terminates the university’s ongoing disciplinary action against Choudhry, and resolves the civil lawsuit brought by his former assistant, Tyann Sorrell.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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April 14 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 14, 2017

Multistate bar exam scores drop to lowest point ever; is there a link to low-end LSAT scores?

The average score on the multistate bar exam in February 2017 dropped by another point, reaching the lowest level since the exam was first administered in 1972.

Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, confirms that the average score was 134.1, compared to an average score of 135 in February 2016.
Read the full story at ABA  Journal

 

Justice Kennedy is said to be mulling retirement; will Roberts be the swing vote?

The U.S. Supreme Court’s swing voter, 80-year-old Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, is reportedly mulling retirement.

According to CNN, former law clerks and others close to Kennedy say he is privately vowing to step down in the next few years. “The centrist conservative is the court’s most vacillating, agonizing, justice,” CNN reports, “and he is likely balancing his oft-voiced sense of judicial mission with the realities of age.”
Read the full story at ABA Journal 

 

NY Judge's Suspected Suicide Shines Light on Silent Struggle

Austin lawyer Seana Willing remembers looking forward to her meeting with Mack Kidd, a well-regarded Texas appellate court judge who had arranged to meet with her on a Monday morning in 2005.

But Willing, the former head of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct who often met with judges who wanted to discuss ethical dilemmas, would never find out why Kidd wanted to meet. He took his own life the previous day.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal 

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April 13 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 13, 2017

Melania Trump Nets Millions, Apology in Daily Mail Settlement

Melania Trump will take home millions of dollars in damages, an apology and a retraction from Britain's Daily Mail in a settlement that ends a pair of libel lawsuits she brought against the tabloid on both sides of the Atlantic.

"The first lady Melania Trump is very pleased that she has resolved this matter favorably with the Daily Mail, which has issued a full and complete retraction and apology for its false statements about her," said Los Angeles litigator Charles Harder in a statement Wednesday.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

Appeals Court Reverses SUNY Student's Expulsion in Sex Case

ALBANY - The expulsion of a male student from a State University of New York campus after he had a sexual encounter with a female student that may have been consensual was too harsh, a divided state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 3-2 majority of the Appellate Division, Third Department, panel said in Haug v. State University of New York at Potsdam, 522632, that many aspects of the disciplinary process at SUNY-Potsdam as it was applied to Benjamin Haug "give us pause," beginning with the fact that the female student's account of the encounter as presented at campus disciplinary proceedings was hearsay.
Read the full story at The New York Journal

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April 12 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Partisan Confirmation Battles Do Disservice to U.S. Supreme Court Nominees, Roberts Says

TROY, N.Y. - With Neil Gorsuch sworn-in this week after a difficult U.S. Supreme Court confirmation, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said Tuesday the now common political conflict accompanying the process unfairly taints nominees who survive to join the court.

Roberts told students and faculty at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) that the public likely gets the wrong idea about the political stances of new judges because of the partisan warfare that has accompanied recent nominations to the high court.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

Diplomatic Breakdown Rattles Western Law Firms in Russia

Jonathan Nelms, a Baker McKenzie partner in Washington, D.C., who spent nearly three years toiling in the firm's Moscow branch, chooses his words carefully when describing the current state of relations between this country and Russia.

"I don't want to call it a new Cold War," said Nelms, whose firm has 120 lawyers in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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The Superior Court of California is seeking volunteers

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara is seeking additional volunteers for the Temporary Judge program.  Under California Rules of Court, qualified and experienced attorneys may volunteer their time to serve as part of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara's Temporary Judges' Program. Temporary judges are appointed and serve at the discretion of the Court. Attorneys must have been members of the California State Bar for at least ten years, must be a member of the State Bar in good standing, must not have pled guilty or no contest to a felony, and must satisfy the education and training requirements

Go to  the Temporary Judge Web Page for more information; http://www.scscourt.org/general_info/jo/temp_judges.shtml

To contact the Temporary Judge Administrator with questions or for general information, please email TJP@scscourt.org

RULE 4

The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara is seeking additional volunteers for the Local Civil Rule 4 Early Settlement Conference program.  Qualified and experienced attorneys may volunteer their time to serve as settlement neutrals for general civil and limited civil cases. Rule 4 neutrals are either selected by parties or appointed by staff, and serve at the discretion of the Court. Attorneys must have been members of the California State Bar for at least ten years, must be a member of the State Bar in good standing.

Go to the Local Civil Rules Page for more information: http://www.scscourt.org/court_divisions/civil/civil_rules/civil_rule4.shtml

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March 29 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lawyers Using Social Media Lack Framework for What's Allowed

In late January, a Google lawyer posted to her personal Twitter account a photo of herself and several colleagues outside the office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California, asking the senator to vote against Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General. The Google employees arrived in person, the attorney wrote on her Twitter, because Feinstein's office phones were down, and the team was "not taking any chances."

Shortly after, the tweet—which had a clear political slant—was gone. The Google lawyer, Priya Sanger, works on the products and payments team, according to her LinkedIn account. She did not return calls seeking confirmation and comment.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal


185 Corporate Counsel Urge Congress to Fund LSC

President Donald Trump routinely has sought corporate America’s voice on a range of issues, but will he and members of Congress listen to the 185 in-house counsel who are opposed to his zero budget for the Legal Services Corp.?

Leaders of corporate legal departments—representing technology, pharmaceutical, media, entertainment, retail and manufacturing, among other industries—urged Congress in a letter on Tuesday to preserve the LSC at a funding level of $450 million, essentially the same amount it received in fiscal year 2010 adjusted for inflation. The LSC’s fiscal 2017 budget request was $502 million.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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California's Chief Justice Assails Trump Administration

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SACRAMENTO—Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, doubling down on her recent criticism of the Trump administration, on Monday told state lawmakers in an annual address that “the rule of law is being threatened.”

Cantil-Sakauye, who did not name President Donald Trump, used her State of the Judiciary remarks to raise concern about “eroding trust in our institutions” and civil rights "unrest."
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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1/22/2018
IP Year in Review

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

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