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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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August 31 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bill requiring 50 hours unpaid work from new lawyers vetoed

Legislation to require incoming lawyers in California to spend at least 50 hours in unpaid legal service to the poor has been vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who said it would add to the burdens of today’s debt-saddled law school graduates. Brown also vetoed a bill Monday that was intended to protect the privacy of prospective jurors in criminal cases by prohibiting judges and lawyers from using the jurors’ full names in open court.
 -- San Francisco Chronicle


SF files suit against Bernal Heights immigration consultant alleging fraud

The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office has filed suit against a Bernal Heights firm alleged to have misled clients into thinking they had hired an immigration attorney and collecting fees for work they had not performed, city officials said today. The lawsuit filed Aug. 15 against Lacayo Associates and its principals, Leonard and Ada Lacayo, alleges that the tax preparation and immigration consulting firm defrauded clients by falsely presenting Leonard Lacayo, a notary public, as an attorney and immigration consultant.
Bay City News


Court costs entrap nonwhite, poor juvenile offenders

When Dequan Jackson had his only brush with the law, at 13, he tried to do everything right. Charged with battery for barging into a teacher while horsing around in a hallway, he pleaded guilty with the promise that after one year of successful probation, the conviction would be reduced to a misdemeanor.
 -- The New York Times

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August 30 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 30, 2016

California closes legal loophole after Stanford assault

Legislators in California have closed a loophole in sexual assault cases, whereby more lenient sentences could be issued if the victim did not resist. The change follows a high-profile sexual assault case in Stanford earlier this year.
BBC News
See also: Reuters


 San Gabriel might take its police officers to the Supreme Court over benefits

A 2013 lawsuit against the city regarding overtime pay for police officers could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the 15 current and former San Gabriel Police Department officers who sued the city over the way their benefits program was factored into overtime wages.
 -- Pasadena Star-News


California judges and court workers blast standardized pay proposal

Judges and court officials throughout California have united against a proposal to standardize salaries for the state's trial court employees, saying it's likely to be incredibly costly and won't do much to improve service. The idea to study uniform classification and compensation levels was suggested by the Commission on the Future of the California Court System, set up last year by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to plot the course of California's trial courts for the next 10 years.
 -- Courthouse News Service


Tech law school getting more attractive

Genna Hilgenbrink has several reasons for choosing Indiana Tech Law School. First, there was the “really awesome visit” and then, the staff who “just blew me away,” she said. The scholarship “was exactly where it needed to be,” she added.
-- The Journal Gazette

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August 29 Digest

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 29, 2016

Judge declines to halt California's End of Life law

A judge refused Friday to temporarily halt a new California law that allows doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of drugs to terminally ill people in pain who wish to end their lives. Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia in Riverside denied a request to issue a temporary injunction by those seeking to thwart the measure signed into law earlier this year by California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.
 -- USA Today


Jewelry, wine, clothing and sports tickets: D.A. collects more than $10,000 worth of gifts

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has accepted more than $10,000 worth of gifts over the last four years from criminal defense attorneys, police unions, business owners, prosecutors in her office and others who could have an interest in influencing her decisions as one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in the county, according to state records. The gifts include necklaces and a pearl box, sporting event tickets, bottles of wine, clothing and a glass rose dipped in 24-carat gold, the records show.
 -- Los Angeles Times


Out of money, Judicial Council delays courthouse plans

The Judicial Council on Friday delayed plans for 17 future courthouses around the state as branch leaders acknowledged that revenues feeding the construction program have plummeted. The delay order was issued for one project each in El Dorado, Glenn, Imperial, Inyo, Lake, Mendocino, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.
 -- The Recorder


Feds oppose plan to protect California court reporters' jobs

Federal antitrust officials on Friday warned against a California bill in the making that would limit California courts' ability to outsource court reporting, saying the plan could increase court costs and jeopardize judicial integrity. Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, had asked for the Department of Justice Antitrust Division's views on a bill that would restrict state courts ability to hire nonunion, private contractors.
 -- Courthouse News Service


Unscrupulous attorneys prey upon immigrants held in federal detention, advocates say

It was only too easy for legal assistant Hector Alfonso Sanchez to pose as an immigration lawyer and solicit clients locked up in federal detention. Sanchez traveled from his office in San Antonio to detention centers across the country to interview immigrants and accept payment, according to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, which earlier this year secured an injunction barring him from advertising, performing or accepting money for immigration consulting services.
 -- Los Angeles Times

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August 26 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 26, 2016
Updated: Monday, August 29, 2016

Judge in Stanford rape case asks for move to civil cases

The Santa Clara judge who has faced widespread criticism and a recall effort after sentencing a former Stanford University swimmer to six months in jail for sexual assault has voluntarily moved to civil court. The Santa Clara Superior Court released a statement Thursday saying Judge Aaron Persky will move to the civil court in San Jose.
 -- Los Angeles Times

Former DA Zellerbach may be disbarred for conviction

The State Bar of California has launched disciplinary proceedings against former Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, who could be disbarred or suspended from practicing law because he vandalized campaign signs of a political rival two years ago. Zellerbach was caught on camera taking down signs for Mike Hestrin, who ultimately unseated Zellerbach as the county’s top prosecutor, in April 2014.
 -- The Desert Sun


Los Angeles entertainment lawyer pleads not guilty to molesting 14-year-old boy

An entertainment lawyer from Los Angeles was accused Thursday of using his title to seduce and molest a 14-year-old boy last year, prosecutors said. Benjamin Lawson Adams, 31, pleaded not guilty to three counts each of lewd acts upon a child and oral copulation of a person under 16, two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object and one count of sodomy on a person under 16.
 -- Los Angeles Times


State attorneys reach tentative deal for 14 percent pay bump

A tentative agreement has been reached between state government’s legal corps and Gov. Jerry Brown. “This (Memorandum of Understanding) reflects an agreement designed to benefit all members of Bargaining Unit 2, address the structural pay concerns our unit has faced for years, and fix classification issues that have restricted promotional opportunities,” the union’s board wrote in the email to members and obtained by The Sacramento Bee.
 -- The Sacramento Bee

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August 25 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tossed death penalty may signal shift on California Supreme Court

In a ruling that could signal tougher scrutiny of capital cases by California’s highest court, Gov. Jerry Brown’s three appointees have joined a fourth justice to overturn a death sentence that a previous majority had voted to uphold. Monday’s 4-3 vote by the state Supreme Court granted a new penalty trial to Gary Grimes, to determine whether he should be resentenced to death or to life in prison without parole for his role in the murder of a 98-year-old Shasta County woman.
 -- San Francisco Chronicle


Judging the judges: Recalls may become easier, but is that better for California?

The reaction has been swift, viral and unrelenting. Shortly after Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky sentenced an ex-Stanford University swimmer to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, the victim’s emotional 12-page court statement appeared online, where it was read by 13 million people — including Vice President Joe Biden, Silicon Valley influencers and Hollywood stars.
 -- KQED


San Diego immigration attorney Christopher Macaraeg loses law license

San Diego immigration attorney Christopher Macaraeg has been disbarred after being accused of repeatedly missing court deadlines, prompting judges to dismiss his clients' cases, according to the State Bar of California. Macaraeg has an office in San Diego’s Gaslamp District.
 -- NBC 7 San Diego


After losing two trials, Santa Clara County DA drops assault charges against black motorist

After failing to win a conviction in two separate trials, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday took the uncommon step of dropping felony charges against a black motorist accused of assaulting a white sheriff's deputy by driving toward him on a narrow mountain road. It was a case that embodied both the safety concerns of law enforcement that suspects are increasingly prone to attack them, and of minority residents who feel cops disproportionately subject them to deadly force.
 -- Bay Area News Group


Should California require pro bono work for law students?

California could soon follow in New York's footsteps and become the second state to require law students to complete 50 hours of pro bono work before becoming lawyers. Sen. Marty Block of San Diego introduced the bill, which landed on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk after it passed in the state Assembly and Senate this month.
 -- KPBS

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Bay Area Minority Summer Clerkship Program (BAMSCP) seeks 2017 participating students & firms

Posted By Paula Collis, Thursday, August 25, 2016

Both student participants and mentoring firms are sought for the 2017 session of the Bay Area Minority Summer Clerkship Program (BAMSCP). BAMSCP is sponsored by the Santa Clara County Bar Association (SCCBA), Alameda County Bar Association (ACBA), and the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA).

Since its founding in 1990, BAMSCP has helped law firms and other organizations recruit over 300 minority law students into their summer clerkship programs.

The purpose of BAMSCP is to introduce talented minority first year law students who might not have been selected for a traditional summer program to the firm or corporate experience, while at the same time furthering the desire of many firms in today's marketplace to  further diversity goals and provide opportunities to young  lawyers.

First-year minority students from Boalt Hall, Hastings, Golden Gate, Santa Clara, Stanford, University of San Francisco, McGeorge, and UCDavis are invited to participate.

To find out how your organization can benefit from BAMSCP, contact Irene Cortez, BAMSCP Coordinator of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, at (408) 975-2114 or email at Complete program information and applications can be found at

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August 24 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 25, 2016

Court again upholds California's 'gay aversion' therapy ban

A federal appeals court has for the second time upheld California's first-in-the nation ban on so-called gay aversion therapy. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday tossed out a San Diego pastor's legal challenge to the counseling ban Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in late 2012.
The Associated Press


SF court casts doubt on cockfighting as a deportable crime

Cockfighting is a crime in all 50 states, but it may not be the type of gravely immoral offense that requires deportation of any noncitizen who commits it, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Tuesday. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2013 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, the nation’s top immigration court, that classified cockfighting as a crime of “moral turpitude.”
 -- San Francisco Chronicle


Illegal drugs are flowing into California's most guarded prisons — and killing death row inmates

Condemned murderer Michael Jones was acting strangely and profusely sweating when guards escorted him in chains to the San Quentin medical unit that doubles as the psych ward on death row. “Doggone, I don’t think you’re ever going to see me again,” he told a fellow inmate, Clifton Perry.
 -- Los Angeles Times


Warrant for former DA Paul Zellerbach in wiretap case

A judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for former Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach after he failed to appear at a court hearing to answer questions about an eavesdropping operation so vast it once accounted for nearly a fifth of all U.S. wiretaps. The warrant, however, will not be sent to law enforcement for Zellerbach to be arrested unless he does not show up for another hearing on wiretaps, now scheduled for Sept. 30.
 -- The Desert Sun and USA TODAY

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August 19 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 19, 2016
Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gun advocates sue California over open-carry restrictions

In response to a federal appeals court’s decision to uphold California’s restrictions on carrying concealed handguns, firearms advocates are suing the state for the right to carry their weapons openly in public. In California, law-abiding adults “are completely barred from exercising their right to bear arms — in any manner,” the California Rifle & Pistol Association, joined by four individual gun owners, said in a suit filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles.
-- San Francisco Chronicle


California lawmakers advance bill to decriminalize prostitution for minors

A controversial bill that would decriminalize prostitution for minors squeezed out of the California Assembly on Thursday and is now headed back to the Senate for a final vote. SB 1322, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), would make the crimes of solicitation and loitering with intent to commit prostitution misdemeanors inapplicable to children younger than 18.
 -- Los Angeles Times


Legalizing marijuana in California: Proposition 64 is complicated, but highly likely to pass

I know you’ve been distracted/disgusted/gobsmacked by the presidential campaign all summer. But history, polling and common sense tell us that California’s electoral votes already belong to Hillary Clinton (sorry, Donald Trump fans). So stop wasting time worrying about that, Golden State types, and turn your attention to the doorstop of a ballot that you’ll be facing when you vote Nov. 8.
 -- Los Angeles Times


Sacramento debating felony status for prosecutorial misconduct

California lawmakers are getting closer to passing a bill that would throw the book at prosecutors who withhold evidence in criminal trials. Assembly Bill 1909 (Lopez) would make prosecutorial misconduct a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three years in jail.
 -- 89.3 KPCC

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August 18 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 18, 2016

Court sets California gun-carry case on path to Supreme Court

A federal appeals court rejected a challenge by gun groups Monday to California’s requirement of a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home, clearing the way for a final test in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the law in June, ruling 7-4 that there is no constitutional right to carry concealed weapons in public. By Bob Egelko — San Francisco Chronicle

On the offense: Transgender Californians aim to pre-empt ballot struggle

One after another they stepped to the podium telling stories of liberation through transformation. There was the man, in suit and bow tie, who once played college basketball on a women’s team. By Laurel Rosenhall— KQED News

Transgender bathroom policy comes under fire at Clovis schools meeting

The Clovis Unified school board Wednesday night revisited requests for alternative physical education coursework and bathroom facilities in response to parents concerned about a state law allowing transgender students to use the bathroom consistent with their identity. “You’ve had three years to do something about this,” Josh Fulfer said, referring to the amount of time since Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1266, which extended gender discrimination protections to transgender and gender-nonconforming students. By Razi Syed — The Fresno Bee


2015 law school graduates got fewer jobs in private practice

Last year’s law school graduates landed fewer jobs in private practice than any class in the last two decades, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which tracks developments in the legal profession. “You have to go back to 1996 to find a comparably small number of private practice jobs,” said James G. Leipold, the association’s executive director. By Elizabeth Olson — The New York Times

The ABA overrules the First Amendment

The American Bar Association represents about a third of the country’s 1.2 million lawyers. But it is more than a trade association. It also has some governmental power, which makes its latest foray into political correctness of more than passing interest. By Ron Rotunda — The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)


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August 17 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 18, 2016

9th Circuit court bars feds from prosecuting medical marijuana cases

A federal appeals court has banned the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana cases that comply with state laws. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered the DOJ to show that 10 pending cases in California and Washington violated medical marijuana laws in those states before continuing with federal criminal prosecutions. — The Associated Press


Bill to allow more felons to vote heads to Jerry Brown

California could soon restore voting rights for tens of thousands of felons who are not serving their sentences in the state prison system. The state Senate on Tuesday passed Assembly Bill 2466 by a vote of 23-13, sending it to governor’s desk for consideration. By Alexei Koseff — The Sacramento Bee

California court helps kids by healing parents' addictions

At 10 a.m. on a recent Wednesday morning, a line of parents pushing strollers filed into a conference room at the Sacramento County Courthouse in California. They sat at rows of narrow plastic tables, shushing their babies and looking up at a man in a black robe. By Jenny Gold — NPR

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