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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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May 15 Digest

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 15, 2017

SCOTUS to States: Keep Out of Arbitration Agreements

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday continued its streak of pro-arbitration rulings, reaffirming in a closely watched nursing home case that states may not impose rules that single out, overtly or otherwise, arbitration agreements for negative treatment.

The 7-1 ruling came in Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, a seemingly narrow case that could have broader ramifications for the nursing home industry in particular and businesses in general that look to the Federal Arbitration Act to protect arbitration agreements from invalidation under state laws.
Read the full story at Inside Counsel


What the 9th Circuit Is Saying About Trump's New Travel Ban

The lead lawyer for the Department of Justice defending President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries began his argument to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by focusing on standing.

But Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall was again called to defend Trump's motivation for the order and answer allegations that it discriminates against Muslims.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

Alice Fisher of Latham Considered for FBI Director—But Who Is She?

Washington corporate defense lawyer Alice Fisher interviewed on Saturday to be the next FBI Director, after the agency was shocked by the firing of James Comey last week. Fisher’s among the reported top contenders.

The National Law Journal has done comprehensive coverage of Fisher, the former Bush-era Criminal Division chief-turned law firm leader, over the years, since she’s been a major name in public service at the U.S. Justice Department and private practice at Latham & Watkins.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal 

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What's Next For Ex-FBI Director James Comey?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Citing his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey.

The decision marks only the second time an FBI director has been fired by the president in more than three decades. The sudden news, announced via a White House press release, shocked lawmakers, political pundits and the legal community.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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May 9 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Trump Set to Nominate 10 Federal Judges

President Donald Trump will announce a batch of conservative federal judicial nominees on Monday, the New York Times reported Sunday night.

The nominations, which begin a push to reshape the federal bench, are expected to include picks for five federal circuit court seats, four federal district court vacancies and an appointment to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

Law Schools Play Prominently in Trump’s Judicial Nominations

The legal academy is well represented in President Donald Trump’s initial slate of federal judicial nominees, unveiled Monday.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

Solicitor General Nominee Faces Scrutiny for Travel Ban Recusal

On the eve of his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Solicitor General-nominee Noel Francisco is the focus of a lawsuit seeking information about his participation in the legal battle over President Donald Trump's travel ban.

American Oversight, a transparency advocacy group, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Tuesday demanding documents that could shed light on Francisco's recusal, followed by his "unrecusal," in the case.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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Juror Appreciation Week

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 8, 2017

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May 1 Digest

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 1, 2017

Invigorated Justice Ginsburg Says 'I Love My Job'

An exuberant U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg exclaimed "I love my job" at a public appearance Thursday, sounding not at all like someone who is even beginning to consider retirement.

Nourished by a standing ovation from hundreds of Georgetown University students, Ginsburg emphasized the positive, recounting stories from her early years as a lawyer fighting for gender equality for the American Civil Liberties Union. Ginsburg has been a popular speaker at college campuses nationwide for years. 
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

United Settles With Passenger Forcibly Removed From Flight

Lawyers for the United Airlines passenger notoriously dragged off a plane April 9 announced they've reached a settlement that avoids a lawsuit they threatened to bring.

The terms of the settlement — which United Airlines called "an amicable resolution of the unfortunate incident" — are confidential, though the statements released Thursday said it's "for the injuries" Dr. David Dao suffered when forcibly removed from the flight. The settlement comes the same day United issued a report detailing the events leading up to the incident and promised changes going forward.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

Defense lawyer in rape case tells jurors that women are good at lying; defendant is acquitted

A defense lawyer in a Tennessee rape case is under fire for telling jurors during closing arguments that women are especially good at lying.

Lawyer Steve Farese made the statement during closing arguments on Thursday in the rape trial of wealthy Memphis-area businessman Mark Giannini, the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Local Memphis report.
Read the full story at ABA Journal

 

Work-at-home law firm attracts BigLaw refugees

A law firm that allows lawyers to work from home and keep 80 percent of their billings is attracting talent from larger law firms.

The virtual law firm, Culhane Meadows, has grown from four lawyers at its inception four years ago to more than 60, the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) reports.
Read the full story at ABA Journal

 

Conservatives seek to stop law school's civil rights center from filing lawsuits

The Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina’s law school will be barred from filing lawsuits if conservatives on the university’s policy-making board get their way.

Conservatives say lawsuits depart from the university’s educational mission, but former law dean Gene Nichol sees another motivation, The Associated Press reports. He tells the wire service in an email that the proposal is “strictly, certainly and undoubtedly ideological.”
Read the full story at ABA Journal

 

Sotomayor sees 'disturbing trend' of failing to intervene on behalf of victims of police shootings

Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday complained about a “disturbing trend” in which the U.S. Supreme Court appears more likely to intervene on behalf of police officers than the people they shoot.

Sotomayor lobbed her complaint in a dissent from a cert denial (PDF) in an excessive force case. The dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, included a footnote that read, “Some commentators have observed the increasing frequency of incidents in which unarmed men allegedly reach for empty waistbands when facing armed officers.”
Read the full story at ABA Journal

 

Supreme Court Says Cities Can Sue Banks Over Housing Discrimination

A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in a key Fair Housing Act case that Miami has standing to claim in court that it was harmed by the discriminatory lending practices of banks—but it must meet a high standard of proof to establish causation.

The 5-3 ruling found that Miami’s damages—including diminished property taxes and higher costs of city services—fell within the “zone of interest” of the housing law.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

DC Circuit Judge Warns Ruling Could 'Destabilize' Most Arbitration Awards

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invoked a rare exception in a ruling Friday that “threatens to destabilize” arbitration awards in future cases, a federal appeals judge said in her dissent.

The D.C. Circuit, divided, ruled for the National Railroad Passenger Corp.—Amtrak—in a dispute over the firing of an officer named Sarah Bryant. An arbitrator said Bryant, fired for misconduct in 2012, should receive reinstatement, with back pay and lost seniority. A Washington federal trial judge later vacated that award.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

 

Stay-at-Home-Rainmakers: A Growing Threat to Big Law

Work from your house. Set your own billable rate. And keep 80 percent of the money from every matter you originate and handle.

That’s the sales pitch Culhane Meadows, a firm with no office space that opened in 2013, has used to attract a horde of Big Law refugees. In less than four years, the cloud-based firm has grown from four lawyers in Texas to just under 60, working from their home offices in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C.
Read the full story at Legal Tech News

 

State Releases Results of February Bar Exam

Of the 4,162 who sat for the February exam, 1,822 passed the test, for a passage rate of about 44 percent, an increase of 4 percent from the February 2016 exam.

For first-time test takers who graduated from American Bar Association accredited law schools, the passage rate was 71 percent—an increase of 4 percent from last February, according to the Board of Law Examiners.
Read the full story at New York Law Journal

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Law Day 2017 Panel Discussion

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 27, 2017

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April 26 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In First, 4th Circuit to Livestream Travel Ban Hearing

 

Lawyers who cheered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s live broadcast of oral arguments in President Donald Trump’s first travel ban case now have another show to look forward to after the Fourth Circuit said it will live livestream oral arguments in its case next month.

In an order issued Wednesday, the court granted a request from CSPAN to broadcast the audio, acknowledging “heightened public interest” in the case. The Fourth Circuit will skip the usual three-judge panel and hear the case en banc.
Read the full story at Law.Com


Trump Tweets About Judges Become Fodder in 6th Circuit Confirmation

Hours after President Donald Trump criticized a California judge for blocking his executive order on sanctuary cities, the president's first nominee for a circuit court of appeals judgeship told senators those swipes, even coming from a president, wouldn't influence his decisions.

Amul Thapar, currently a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, was nominated to fill a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Democratic senators showed up to prod the nominee on his legal views and pressed Thapar to address the president's recent criticism of judges.
Read the full story at Law.Com


Rosenstein Pegged to Bring Experience, Stability to DOJ

Rod Rosenstein has his work cut out for him now that he’s officially U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ right-hand man.

Attorneys are looking to Rosenstein, a lifelong public servant, to bring a dose of stability to the U.S. Department of Justice after the U.S. Senate confirmed him 94-6 as the deputy attorney general Tuesday. President Donald Trump’s Justice Department has already hit a series of speed bumps during its first few months, including the sudden firing of 46 President Barack Obama-era U.S. attorneys, failed attempts to defend the president’s immigration executive orders and Sessions' recusal from an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal


Gorsuch's 'Burping Boy' Dissent Arrives at the Supreme Court

Justice Neil Gorsuch may face his first recusal when the justices in May take up a petition that involves—and features prominently—one of his most famous dissents: the case of the burping 13-year-old student.

Gorsuch, formerly a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in July wrote a dissent in A.M. v. Holmes. His colleagues in that case voted in support of immunity over the arrest of a student in New Mexico for allegedly disrupting a physical education class.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal


Federal Circuit Rejects 5th Amendment Plea in Driverless Car Feud

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has dissolved its stay of discovery in the Google-Uber autonomous car intellectual property case.

A three-judge panel ruled that U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California did not err by rejecting Uber Technologies Inc.'s and Anthony Levandowski's request to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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Trump Dining With the Justices? Not Yet

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On a relatively quiet Sunday morning, the news exploded across social media: The U.S. Supreme Court would be dining with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday, according to the White House weekly outlook.

By Monday morning, the dinner was off.
Read the full story at The National Law Journal

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Santa Clara County Forensic Psychologist Receives 2017 Distinguished Contribution to Psychology Award For The State of California

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The California Psychological Association (CPA) selected Dr. Michael Kerner, Ph.D. as the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Contribution to Psychology award.  This annual award honors a psychologist who has improved the image of psychology by increasing the public’s understanding of the discipline and the profession of psychology in a significant way.  The award was presented to Dr. Kerner at the 2017 CPA Convention at the San Francisco Airport Marriot Waterfront hotel on April 7, 2017.  Upon accepting the award, Dr. Kerner spoke to the crowd of approximately 500 California psychologists on the importance of serving the community.

Dr. Kerner has practiced as a psychologist in Santa Clara County for the past 31 years with a focus on custody evaluations, co-parent counseling, psychotherapy, and expert work for the court.  He serves on the Board of Directors for Palo Alto University and is the Educational Director and lead lecturer for the Association of Advanced Training in the Behavioral Sciences.  In the past, Dr. Kerner has served as an adjunct professor at both Santa Clara University and Palo Alto University. 

Dr. Kerner consults with the San Jose and Salinas police departments, screening officers involved in fatal shootings to assess their fitness for duty.  In his free time, Dr. Kerner volunteers as a sitting member on the Domestic Violence Death Review Team in Santa Clara County, consults with the Crisis Intervention Team with the San Jose Police Department and is on the Peer Support Team of the Morgan Hill Police Department. 

In addition to receiving the 2017 Distinguished Contribution to Psychology Award, Dr. Kerner has previously been awarded the Kantor Medal for Professional Community Service by Palo Alto University (2004), Distinguished Alumni of the Year by Palo Alto University (2013) and Forensic Psychologist of the Year for Santa Clara County by the Santa Clara County Psychological Association (2014).  

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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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more Calendar

4/26/2018
Diversity Happy Hour

5/2/2018
Fourth Annual Law Day Mixer

5/3/2018
How the DA Office's Real Estate Fraud Unit Prosecutes and Can Clear Title on Forged Instrument Cases

Recent Recognitions
Golnesa MonazamfarBarrister of the Year 2017
Hon. Edward J. Davila2017 Diversity of the Year

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