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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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Bar makes fee request to Supreme Court

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The State Bar of California has submitted a request to the California Supreme Court asking the court to grant the authority to collect fees. This submission follows a letter from the court requesting this action, and is informed by the Supreme Court’s 1998 In re Attorney Discipline System decision.

As authorized by the Board of Trustees, the State Bar’s request provides several options the court can consider. The submission asks the court to rule by the end of November in order to allow the bar to issue fee statements beginning in early December, on the usual schedule.

“I’m confident that the request we submitted will provide the court with the information it needs to act on our request and look forward to its early positive response,” State Bar President David J. Pasternak said. “In the meantime, we are in the process of continuing important reforms to ensure the State Bar is doing the best possible job at public protection for all Californians.”

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October 5 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hollywood lawyer who fought Gawker goes to bat for Melania Trump

Charles Harder is in a combative mood. Hollywood’s top entertainment lawyer, fresh from a $140m lawsuit against Gawker on behalf of Hulk Hogan, is representing Melania Trump, potential first lady of the United States, in a $150m lawsuit against the UK’s Daily Mail, just months before the presidential election. By Nadia Khomami — The Guardian

 

A rape lawsuit against NBA star Derrick Rose raises key question: Should an accuser be allowed to stay anonymous?

Her lawsuit alleging she was raped by NBA star Derrick Rose has made national headlines. The New York Knicks point guard has been dogged by questions about her claim during preseason appearances. By Joel Rubin — Los Angeles Times

 

Governor vetoes bill to grant collective bargaining to Judicial Council workers

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill sponsored by the major state employee union that would have granted collective bargaining to Judicial Council workers. In a veto message, Brown said AB 874 "isn't ready to become law" due to unanswered questions about how the bill would be funded and how agreements would be ratified. By Malcolm Maclachlan — Daily Journal (sub. req.)


 

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Lauded Local Court Executive to Head Orange County Court’s Operations

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 29, 2016

David H. Yamasaki to step down from Santa Clara County Superior Court December 1, 2016.

 

SAN JOSÉ, California (September 29, 2016): The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara announces the upcoming departure of its Chief Executive Officer, David H. Yamasaki. Mr. Yamasaki has been tapped to lead Orange County Superior Court’s administration – the State’s third largest trial court system.

“Saying goodbye to an exceptional leader is never easy, but we are so incredibly proud of David’s accomplishments here at our Court and are grateful for all he has done for the residents of Santa Clara County,” said Presiding Judge Risë Jones Pichon.

During his tenure, Mr. Yamasaki oversaw the courts implementation of a modern case management system (Odyssey), the construction and opening of the New Family Justice Center Courthouse, the opening of the South County Courthouse and the transition to e-filing. In 2015, Mr. Yamasaki received the Branch’s highest recognition for his work on statewide policies and strategic initiatives and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Chief Justice.

Mr. Yamasaki’s last day with the Court will be December 1, 2016. The Court has begun its recruitment efforts to fill the vacancy in the Chief Executive Officer role.

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September 27 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Prostitution decriminalized in California for minors

California Gov. Jerry Brown is approving legislation decriminalizing prostitution for minors and taking other steps to make life after human trafficking easier for those forced into it. The Democratic governor announced Monday he signed SB1322 to ban police from charging people under the age of 18 with prostitution. — The Associated Press


Court overturns curfew sentence for Bay Area adult

Youngsters who are convicted of crimes can be ordered to stay home at night as part of their probation. But the law is different for adults, even if they’re caught at 2:15 a.m. while driving under the influence of drugs, an appellate court said Monday. By Bob Egelko — San Francisco Chronicle


New California IMDb age law probably unconstitutional, experts say

A new California law that will require IMDb to omit or remove age and birth date from an actor’s profile upon request is likely unconstitutional, a half-dozen lawyers and law professors have told The Hollywood Reporter in the two days since its enactment, citing First Amendment concerns. A seventh lawyer and former law professor, an expert in discrimination law, was equivocal but thought on balance that the law, known as AB 1687, would survive a constitutional challenge, while SAG-AFTRA’s general counsel and the bill’s sponsor were confident that the statute could withstand litigation. By Jonathan Handel — The Hollywood Reporter


Brown signs bill to limit employers' choice-of-law discretion

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation that voids any part of an agreement between a company and a California employee that requires complaints to be litigated under the laws of another state. Proponents say the measure, SB 1241, will prevent companies from doing an end-run around California's relatively stronger labor laws through agreements with their workers.By Ben Hancock — The Recorder


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New Leadership Named by Santa Clara County Judges

Posted By Paula Collis, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Assistant Presiding Judge Patricia Lucas to become Presiding Judge; Criminal Supervising Judge Deborah Ryan named new Assistant Presiding Judge.

 

SAN JOSE, Calif. (September 26, 2016): the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara (Court) has elected its new leadership for the 2017-18 term, with Assistant Presiding Judge Patricia Lucas elevated to Presiding Judge and Judge Deborah Ryan named new Assistant Presiding Judge.

“I am pleased to announce the selection of two exceptional individuals to lead our Court,” said Presiding Risë Pichon. “Presiding Judge-Elect Patricia Lucas is well known and respected for her superior intellect, warmth and pragmatism, and will serve this Court well as we advance our efforts to create a more efficient and accessible justice system here in Santa Clara County.”

The Court’s leadership transition will become effective on January 1, 2017.

ABOUT PRESIDING JUDGE-ELECT PATRICIA LUCAS

Judge Patricia Lucas was first appointed to the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara County in 2002 and is currently the Assistant Presiding Judge. Judge Lucas was admitted to the Bar in 1979 and earned her Bachelor of Arts from Rice University and her Juris Doctor from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall).

Judge Lucas is the current Chair of the Court’s Budget and Finance Committee and has served as Supervising Judge for both the Civil and Family divisions, in addition to her extensive experience in the Criminal division. Before being appointed to the Bench, Assistant Presiding Judge Lucas was in private practice and served as the Litigation Practice Leader for Fenwick and West. 

Born and raised in San Francisco, Assistant Presiding Judge Lucas currently serves as Dean of the B.E. Witkin California Judicial College, and promotes education of the Bench and the Bar through leadership in the William A. Ingram American Inn of Court and as a long-term instructor for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

ABOUT ASSISTANT PRESIDING JUDGE-ELECT DEBORAH RYAN

Judge Deborah Ryan was first appointed to Santa Clara County Superior Court as a commissioner in 1999 and elevated to Superior Court Judge by the Governor in 2010. Currently, Judge Ryan is the Supervising Judge for the Criminal Division. Admitted to the Bar in 1977, Judge Ryan earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Davis and her Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University.

Before joining the Court, Judge Ryan was an attorney with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency, Office of the Public Defender and the Office of the County Counsel.

A resident of Santa Clara County since 1974, Judge Ryan has been involved in many community activities with an emphasis on legal education, including California Center for Judicial Education and Research, California Judges Association Executive Board and Ethics Committee – as well as taught extensively on California’s traffic laws and legal ethics.


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September 26 Digest

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 26, 2016

‘Right to Yelp’: New laws would protect reviewers from lawsuits

Your stylist botched your haircut; your mechanic missed a leak in your radiator; your hotel room was freezing; your boss piles on the work. You vent your grievances online in a forum like Yelp, TripAdvisor or Glassdoor. Then comes a knock on the door. By Carolyn Said — San Francisco Chronicle


This Democrat's legal past both helps and haunts him in California's most competitive congressional race

When first-time candidate Bryan Caforio explains how he got into politics, he points out that it was his experience as a lawyer that fueled his decision last winter to jump into a heated Los Angeles County congressional race. Caforio, 33, whom Democrats have identified as their best chance to oust one of the state’s Republicans, says that as a trial lawyer he “saw a system in which far too many people in our community were taken advantage of on an almost daily basis” because “corporate politicians” were “looking out for the biggest banks and the wealthiest corporations instead of the people back here at home.” By Javier Panzar — Los Angeles Times


Ex-grid star to lose law license Monday

According to the State Bar Court of California, Ronald Jack Mix, former star Chargers lineman, will lose his law license Monday. Bar records state that as of September 26, Mix, a Hall of Famer, goes on "interim suspension after conviction." By Don Bauder — San Diego Reader


Death penalty is dying across America. Will California save it?

The last inmate executed in California was 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen, legally blind and suffering from diabetes, who had his heart stopped with a lethal chemical cocktail as punishment for a triple homicide in Fresno he’d ordered from a Folsom Prison cell a quarter century earlier. It was more than a decade ago when Allen spoke his last words – “Hoka Hey, it’s a good day to die” – and the poisons flowed into his veins at San Quentin State Prison. By Sean Cockerham— The Sacramento Bee


High-profile defense attorney attempts to represent Monterey County woman accused of killing 2 children

An attempt by a high-profile defense attorney to represent a woman accused of killing two children was quickly squashed by a Monterey County judge in denying her request for a new trial date. Santa Monica defense attorney Marcia Morrissey, who’s represented Snoop Dogg and the Menendez Brothers, made an appearance in court Friday with Tami Huntsman in an attempt to be appointed as her second attorney. By Claudia Melendez — San Jose Mercury News


Houston shooter who injured nine at a strip mall was a lawyer angry at his law firm

Nine people were shot and wounded, one critically, in a Houston neighborhood Monday morning by a lawyer who had issues with his law firm, authorities said. The first report of the shootings began at about 6:30 a.m., Police Chief Martha Montalvo said at a news conference, and when officers arrived, the suspect began firing at them. — The Associated Press


Court leader or leading dissenter? Chief justice’s fate tied to election

In Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s 11 years on the Supreme Court, his unfolding legacy has been marked by a debate over whether his very occasional liberal votes in major cases were the acts of a statesman devoted to his institution, a traitor to his principles or the legal umpire he said he aspired to be at his confirmation hearings. This election could settle that debate. By Adam Liptak — The New York Times


Bridgegate trial: Christie taking heat from defense, prosecution

At nearly every turn last week, lawyers in the George Washington Bridge criminal trial turned jurors’ attention to someone who wasn’t in the courtroom, someone who isn’t charged with a crime in the case or even named in the indictment as a co-conspirator. They worked to shine a spotlight on Chris Christie, the governor at the center of the scandal who has repeatedly said he only learned of the actual defendants’ By Dustin Racioppi — The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record

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September 23 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 23, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2016

Bay Area shareholder sues Wells Fargo over unauthorized accounts

A Wells Fargo shareholder sued executives of the reeling San Francisco bank Thursday, accusing them of unethical conduct and seeking to make them cover the costs — $185 million in government penalties, and uncounted harm to the bank’s reputation — of setting up nearly 2 million unauthorized customer accounts. A federal investigation that culminated Sept. 8 “exposed a far-reaching, systemic breakdown in corporate governance,” lawyers for shareholder William Sarsfield of San Carlos said in the San Francisco Superior Court lawsuit. By Bob Egelko — San Francisco Chronicle

 

Heated debate over tougher punishment for sex crimes as some worry it could unfairly affect California's minorities

Outside the Santa Clara County Jail this month, U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez joined other political leaders in calling for the ouster of Santa Clara County District Judge Aaron Persky, who attracted widespread criticism over the lenient sentence he handed down to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. She also made another appeal — that Gov. Jerry Brown sign Assembly Bill 2888, which would impose mandatory minimum sentences for offenders like Turner, who have been convicted of sexually assaulting someone who is unconscious or intoxicated. By Jazmine Ulloa — Los Angeles Times


Cory Briggs’ conduct ‘unethical and possibly criminal,’ appellate court says

The state court of appeal has denied local attorney Cory Briggs more than $258,000 in fees he sought against the city of San Diego, citing “unethical, unprofessional, or even illegal conduct…” In a published opinion Thursday, three justices of the 4th District Court of Appeal said Briggs knowingly represented a suspended corporation in a lawsuit challenging a new San Diego tax to finance an expansion of the downtown convention center, but didn’t acknowledge it and then didn’t give a reason for his actions. By Brad Racino — KPBS

 

Oracle lawyer chastised for telling Google secrets

A federal judge on Thursday scolded an Oracle attorney for revealing Google's secrets in open court earlier this year. Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said during a Jan. 14 discovery hearing that Google made $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profit since launching its Android mobile platform in 2008. By Nicholas Iovino — Courthouse News Service


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September 21 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 22, 2016

LA Superior Court agrees with feds to expand interpreters

The Los Angeles County Superior Court system will expand its free interpretation services for people with limited English skills under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The agreement announced Tuesday brings and end to a complaint filed by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which had said the court failed to provide free interpreters in civil cases and court operations. — The Associated Press

Fresno police lawyer suspended for mishandling friend’s estate

Larry Donaldson, the longtime lawyer for the Fresno Police Department, has been suspended from practicing law for 30 days and placed on three years of probation for mismanaging the estate of former Fresno City Attorney Harvey Wallace, according to State Bar of California documents. Donaldson, 75, said Tuesday that he’s embarrassed by his punishment, but said the allegations do not include misappropriation of any funds. By Pablo Lopez — The Fresno Bee

Are allegations of discrimination delaying cases at O.C. Superior Court system?

The state agency that oversees fair employment has launched an investigation into alleged job discrimination in the Orange County Superior Court system that union leaders say is delaying trials. Officials with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said the investigation was triggered by complaints by nearly half of the court system’s 90 court reporters alleging age and gender discrimination. By Tony Saavedra — The Orange County Register

Longtime federal appeals court judge to be honored

Veteran federal appeals court Judge J. Clifford Wallace will receive an award recognizing his work on behalf of a national legal organization at a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court in November. The award recognizes someone who has contributed “distinguished, significant and exceptional leadership” to the efforts of the American Inns of Court. By Greg Moran — San Diego Union-Tribune

Court rejects class-action over lawyers for immigrant kids

A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday rejected a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of children who go without lawyers in deportation proceedings, despite saying that having kids represent themselves in such complex matters is "an extremely difficult situation." The lawsuit was filed two years ago in Seattle by immigrant rights advocates, following a flood of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S. border. — The Associated Press

Florida AG defends decision to take money from Trump

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday defended her decision three years ago to solicit $25,000 from Donald Trump at the same time questions were arising about Trump University. The Republican and former prosecutor said she had no regrets about asking Trump for money and no regrets about keeping the donation even after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had filed a lawsuit against Trump University. By Gary Fineout and Michael Biesecker — The Associated Press

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September 20 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 20, 2016

State court rejects SF bid to limit Ellis Act evictions

A state appeals court on Monday rejected San Francisco’s latest attempt to restrict tenant evictions under the state’s Ellis Act, an ordinance requiring landlords to wait 10 years before merging rental units into one residence that they could sell as a single-family home. The Ellis Act, backed by the real estate industry and passed in 1985, allows property owners who decide to go out of the rental business to evict their tenants. Cities intent on preserving their supply of rental housing have tried to set conditions on landlords — a previous San Francisco ordinance, struck down by the courts in 2004, would have required the owner of a residential hotel to provide replacement housing, or pay a fee to the city, before evicting all tenants. By Bob Egelko — San Francisco Chronicle


San Jose lawyer faces disbarment for misconduct

A San Jose attorney who used to host a local radio show about conspiracy theories and the paranormal is facing disbarment for harming Southeast Asian clients who spoke limited English. Sterling Voss Harwood, 58, admitted his misconduct, including “misappropriating” thousands of dollars from clients who were injured in a car accident and in a slip and fall case, according to documents from the State Bar. By Tracey Kaplan — San Jose Mercury News

 

Coalition seeks relief for deported military veterans

A coalition called Honorably Discharged, Dishonorably Deported launched Monday with a goal of stopping non-citizen military veterans from being deported and helping those who already have been. The coalition, chaired by Nathan Fletcher, a military veteran who previously served in the California State Assembly, will base its reform efforts on a report released in June from the American Civil Liberties Union of California. By Kate Morrissey — San Diego Union-Tribune

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September 19 Digest

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2016

FBI sued over hack into San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone

The Associated Press and two other news organizations sued the FBI on Friday to learn who the government paid and how much it spent to hack into an iPhone in its investigation into last year’s San Bernardino, California, massacre. The lawsuit seeks records about the FBI’s contract with an unidentified vendor who provided a tool to unlock the phone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people at a holiday gathering of county workers in December 2015. — The Associated Press


Lawsuit seeks millions in fines from 5 coastal commissioners, alleging 590 transparency violations

A lawsuit served this month against five California Coastal Commissioners could cost them millions of dollars in civil fines if the courts confirm hundreds of alleged transparency rule violations. Spotlight on Coastal Corruption, a small nonprofit organization formed solely to pursue the allegations, filed the lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court in mid-August against Commissioners Erik Howell, Martha McClure, Wendy Mitchell, Mark Vargas and Steve Kinsey, the chairman. By Dan Weikel — Los Angeles Times


Yelp warns California lawsuit could scrub critical reviews

Yelp.com is warning that a California lawsuit targeting critical posts about a law firm could lead to the removal of negative reviews and leave consumers with a skewed assessment of restaurants and other businesses. Lawyer Dawn Hassell said the business review website is exaggerating the stakes of her legal effort, which aims only to remove from Yelp lies, not just negative statements, that damaged the reputation of her law firm. By Sudhin Thanawala — The Associated Press


State Bar urges suspension of former Merced County judge

A former Merced County Superior Court judge who stepped down last year amid allegations of ethical violations may have his law license suspended for two years for failing to disclose financial payments he received while on the bench. The State Bar Court of California recommended a two-year suspension for Marc A. Garcia. By Rob Parsons — Merced Sun-Star


California voters oppose ending state's death penalty

More than half of voters oppose a November ballot measure that would abolish the California death penalty, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll conducted by SurveyMonkey. Proposition 62, which would replace capital punishment with life without parole, had 40% support among the 1,909 registered voters polled in September across the state. By Jazmine Ulloa — Los Angeles Times

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Richard KondaProfessional Lawyer of the Year 2015

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