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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 15 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Marijuana vote: Judge splits ruling on Prop. 64 lawsuits, both sides to change ballot arguments

Both advocates and opponents of California’s marijuana legalization measure are claiming victory after a judge determined Friday that they each made misleading statements in arguments to be included in official ballot pamphlets for the Nov. 8election. Pro- and anti- Proposition 64 groups sued each other last week in Sacramento County Superior Court, challenging comments submitted to the Secretary of State concerning how the initiative might affect pot advertising and minors, among other things. By Brooke Edwards Staggs — The Orange County Register


Race, class collide in prosecuting theft of Scott Wiener’s phone

When a thief snatched San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener’s cell phone in December, the towering, Harvard-educated former deputy city attorney responded quickly and coolly under pressure. He negotiated with the suspect to accompany him to a Wells Fargo ATM near the 16th Street Mission BART Station and participate in a swap of $200 for the return of his iPhone 6. By Karen de Sá — San Francisco Chronicle


Strike over: Court clerks in Santa Clara County vote to return to work

Normal court operations will resume Monday after employees Sunday voted to end Santa Clara County's first court strike in 14 years by approving the administration's latest contract offer. The walkout by more than 300 clerks, janitors, mediators and researchers lasted for eight work days, disrupting court operations and closing clerks' offices since it began Aug. 3. By Tracey Kaplan and Tracy Seipel — San Jose Mercury News


No ‘Queen for a Day’ among counties pleading for courthouse bucks

Back in the black-and-white days of television, a popular show called “Queen for a Day” pitted female contestants who moved audiences with their stories of financial and emotional hardships. The winner, determined by an audience applause meter, found herself draped in a robe, a tiara placed on her head, a bouquet of roses in her hand and lavished in prizes ranging from vacations to appliances, often a washer and a dryer set. By Jeff Jardine — The Modesto Bee

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Santa Clara County Court's Response to Tentative Agreement Ratification

Posted By Paula Collis, Monday, August 15, 2016

SAN JOSÉ, Calif. (August 14, 2016): The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara will resume standard operations on Monday, August 15, 2016, and issues the following statement in response to ratification of the Tentative Agreement:

 

"We are pleased that a mutually agreeable resolution has been achieved. The Court is eager to move forward together and welcomes the returning of employees tomorrow and the resuming of our regular operations."

Tags:  Santa Clara County Court 

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Santa Clara County Court: Labor Agreement Reached

Posted By Paula Collis, Monday, August 15, 2016

SAN JOSÉ, California (August 12, 2016): The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara issues the following statement:

 

“We are pleased to announce that the parties have come together to reach an agreement.  We understand that the SCPEA bargaining team is recommending ratification of this agreement to its membership, and it will be voted on over the weekend.  If ratified, we expect our employees will return to work on Monday and normal court operations will resume.”

Tags:  Santa Clara County Court 

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August 12 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 12, 2016
Updated: Monday, August 15, 2016

Courts overturn sentences for two California death row inmates and uphold another

Top courts weighed in Thursday on three long-running capital murder cases in California, throwing out two death sentences while affirming a third. All three inmates had been convicted of murders that took place 15 to 35 years ago. By Erica Evans — Los Angeles Times


California OKs percentage fees in class actions; when will judges question the percentage?

The California Supreme Court, in a closely watched decision, endorsed giving class-action lawyers a percentage of whatever they win in a case instead of forcing them to justify their fee based on hours expended. The decision in Lafitte v. Robert Half International ends long-running uncertainty in California over whether courts need to employ the so-called “lodestar crosscheck” method of calculating hours expended on litigation to make sure a fee is reasonable. By Daniel Fisher — Forbes

 

Public opinion pendulum swings as rape bills counter Gov. Brown’s criminal reform

In the wake of a Stanford student convicted of raping an unconscious woman only getting a six month sentence, two bills have been proposed in the California legislature. One bill, Assembly Bill 2888 would require mandatory minimum sentencing for anyone convicted of raping an unconscious and intoxicated person and removing probation as a sentencing option. — 89.3 KPCC


City of Los Angeles ordered to change parking ticket dispute process

The California Court of Appeal has ordered the City of Los Angeles to change the way it handles parking ticket disputes. A three-judge panel said the city can no longer outsource the handling of the initial reviews of parking tickets requested by motorists, but must do those reviews themselves. By Joel Grover and Matthew Glasser — NBC Los Angeles


Modesto, Sonora courthouse projects may inch forward

Projects to build new courthouses in Modesto and Sonora may be able to complete their current phases but not proceed to the next ones, as state courts officials work on solving a funding crisis for new courthouse construction. The Judicial Council of California’s Court Facilities Advisory Committee voted Thursday to have the 23 courthouse projects, including those in Modesto and Sonora, complete their current phases – but not proceed to the next stages. By Kevin Valine — The Modesto Bee


Helping rape victims after the Brock Turner case

What should we do with the anger inspired by Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who was sentenced to just six months in jail for sexual assault? A movement to recall the judge who ordered that sentence, Aaron Persky, continues to gain support, with a celebrity-studded fund-raiser this month. By Alexandra Brodsky and Claire Simoni — The New York Times


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August 11 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 11, 2016

Prosecutors who falsify or withhold evidence could become felons under proposed state legislation

Prosecutors who intentionally withhold or falsify evidence could be charged with a felony under a new bill winding through the state Legislature. The proposal by Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, D-San Fernando, comes as prosecutors in Orange County face accusations that they’ve routinely misused jailhouse informants and withheld information from defense attorneys. By Tony Saavedra — The Orange County Register


San Diego district attorney is subpoenaed to testify at the trial of a Mexican tycoon

Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis has been subpoenaed to testify at the trial of a Mexican tycoon charged with illegally contributing $600,000 in cash and services to San Diego mayoral campaigns in 2012 — including her own unsuccessful bid. Michael Wynne, the attorney for Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, said he wanted to call Dumanis to counter the contention from federal prosecutors that Azano was secretly scheming to funnel funds into her campaign. By Greg Moran — Los Angeles Times


As Santa Clara County Superior Court clerks and janitors continue to strike, the hope of reconciliation emerged Wednesday in the form of news that the sides have agreed to mediation. Long a sticking point for the administration, whose representatives claimed no progress could be made without a third party, the two sides are set to enter into mediation on Thursday in San Jose. By Matthew Renda — Courthouse News Service


Southern California man pleads guilty to owning fake law firms that promised to help struggling homeowners

The Department of Justice announced that an Orange County, California, man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, for his role as the owner and operator of a multi-million dollar fraudulent mortgage modification scheme that posed as a successful law firm to defraud struggling homeowners. Bryan D’Antonio, 50, of Brea, California, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter for the Central District of California to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for his role as owner and operator of Rodis Law Group (RLG) and America’s Law Group (ALG). — Imperial Valley News

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Santa Clara County Court's Limited Services Update for Thursday, August 11th

Posted By Paula Collis, Thursday, August 11, 2016

SAN JOSÉ, California (August 11, 2016): The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara provides the following advisories, which remain in effect for this week.

  • Jury selection is continuing for some Criminal departments. Individuals summoned for jury duty should continue to utilize existing practices prescribed on their summons to see if they are needed until they have been formally dismissed by the Court.
  • Those who have hearings scheduled should plan to come to Court. If a hearing cannot go forward due to staffing shortages, another date will be provided at that time.
  • Matters unable to be processed due to closure will not be treated as delinquent upon restoration of court operations.
  • The Self-Help Center remains open on a limited basis.
  • Those wishing to speak to Court personnel by phone should expect higher than usual wait/return call times.
  • The Family Clerk’s Office at Park Center Plaza is closed today, Thursday, 8/11 – however, requests for emergency orders will be processed at this location.
  • The Civil Clerk’s Office will close early at noon today, Thursday, 8/11.
  • Clerk’s Offices at the following locations are closed; however, filings or payments placed in the drop boxes at each of these locations will be processed: Sunnyvale (Family), Terraine (Drug/Mental Health), Morgan Hill (Criminal), Palo Alto (Criminal), Santa Clara (Traffic), Terraine (Juvenile Dependency), Guadalupe (Juvenile Justice), and Hall of Justice (Criminal).
  • All essential functions are being maintained and cases being are hearing on a limited basis, including:  1) Criminal Proceedings, 2) Family Law, 3) Juvenile Dependency, 4) Juvenile Justice, 5) Mental Health Competency, 6) Conservatorships/Guardianships, 7) Civil Harassment, 8) Unlawful Detainer, 9) Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions and 10) Traffic

*ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED ABOVE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE*

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August 10 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Santa Clara County courts at a standstill as clerks' strike heads toward day 6

The Santa Clara Superior Court in downtown San Jose is part ghost town, part anger management session as a court worker strike waged on into a fifth day. The court usually bustles with people filing small claims and grabbing cases from the records department, but was nearly empty as clerks and janitors entered their fifth day of strike. By Matthew Renda — Courthouse News Service

  

Perjury trial begins for Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania attorney general

The perjury trial of the state attorney general, Kathleen G. Kane, began Tuesday with prosecutors accusing her of illegally releasing details of a secret grand jury investigation to the news media, and her defense lawyer arguing that she would not have risked her career by doing such a thing. Ms. Kane, a Democrat who is Pennsylvania’s first elected female attorney general, faces several charges, including perjury and obstruction.By Jon Hurdle — The New York Times

See also: TribLiveCourthouse News Service


 

Federal probe finds Baltimore Police Dept. racially discriminated in practices that target blacks

The Baltimore Police Department has engaged in years of racially discriminatory policing that targeted black residents, illegally detaining and searching people and using excessive force, the Justice Department concludes in a report released Tuesday. In a scathing review that includes the historical backdrop of Baltimore’s racially divided past, civil rights investigators declare that a “legacy of zero tolerance enforcement” that started in 1999 and officially ended a decade ago “continues to drive” the policing strategy of the city. By Peter Hermann, Lynh Bui and Matt Zapotosky — The Washington Post


Oracle fights back against Google’s attempt to sanction a lawyer after trial

A copyright dispute between Oracle and Google was resolved in May by a federal jury, which found that Google's Android operating system didn't infringe copyrighted code owned by Oracle. A post-trial skirmish over once-confidential Google information is heating up, though, with Google asking for sanctions against one of Oracle's lead attorneys. By Joe Mullin — Ars Technica

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Santa Clara County Court's Response to SCPEA's Agreement to Mediation

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SAN JOSÉ, California (August 10, 2016): The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara issues the following statement in response to SCPEA’s agreement to participate in mediation (attribution -- Joe Macaluso):

 

“We are pleased SCPEA has agreed to mediation as we first suggested on July 25th. The Court remains hopeful that a mutually agreed upon resolution can be achieved.”

 

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Kate Wilson appointed to serve as 2016 President-Elect in Board of Trustees Special Session

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The SCCBA Board of Trustees met in a specially called Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, August 4, 2016 fill a vacancy in the 2016 President-Elect position for the remainder of 2016. The position became vacant when Nicole Isger, who was elected 2016 President-Elect resigned in July for personal reasons.. The Board gave notice to all SCCBA members who met the criteria to serve as 2016 President-Elect, and of those, three expressed interest to be considered by the Board.  At the Special Board meeting on August 4, the Board interviewed the three candidates and selected Kate Wilson, who has been serving as 2016 Treasurer to fill the remaining term of the 2016 President-Elect.  Kate assumed the President-Elect position immediately.  The Board will appoint an SCCBA member meeting the criteria to fill the remaining term of the 2016 Treasurer.

 

Per the SCCBA By-Laws, as an appointed President-Elect, Kate Wilson does not automatically assume the office of President in 2017.  The position of 2017 President will be on the election ballot for election of other 2017 officers and trustees.  Those ballots will be distributed the latter part of September 2016.

 

For more information about Kate, click here to view her candidate’s statement submitted to the Board for the appointment as 2016 President-Elect.

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Santa Clara County Court: Limited Services Update for Wednesday, August 10

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SAN JOSÉ, California (August 10, 2016): The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara provides the following advisories, which remain in effect for this week.

 

  • Jury selection is continuing for some Criminal departments. Individuals summoned for jury duty should continue to utilize existing practices prescribed on their summons to see if they are needed until they have been formally dismissed by the Court.
  • Those who have hearings scheduled should plan to come to Court. If a hearing cannot go forward due to staffing shortages, another date will be provided at that time.
  • Matters unable to be processed due to closure will not be treated as delinquent upon restoration of court operations.
  • The Self-Help Center remains reopen on a limited basis. It remains closed on Wednesdays as per regular schedule.
  • Those wishing to speak to Court personnel by phone should expect higher than usual wait/return call times.
  • Civil Clerk’s Office at the Downtown Courthouse and the Family Clerk’s Office at Park Center Plaza will both close at noon today, Wednesday, 8/10 and reopen, at 8:30 AM on Thursday, 8/11.
  • Clerk’s Offices at the following locations are closed; however, filings or payments placed in the drop boxes at each of these locations will be processed: Sunnyvale (Family), Terraine (Drug/Mental Health), Morgan Hill (Criminal), Palo Alto (Criminal), Santa Clara (Traffic), Terraine (Juvenile Dependency), Guadalupe (Juvenile Justice), and Hall of Justice (Criminal).
  • All essential functions are being maintained and cases being are hearing on a limited basis, including:  1) Criminal Proceedings, 2) Family Law, 3) Juvenile Dependency, 4) Juvenile Justice, 5) Mental Health Competency, 6) Conservatorships/Guardianships, 7) Civil Harassment, 8) Unlawful Detainer, 9) Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions and 10) Traffic

 

*ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED ABOVE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE*

 

MANDATED AND ESSENTIAL COURT SERVICES

 

Criminal Proceedings 

California Penal Code requires that individuals detained must be charged with a crime within forty-eight hours or be released into the community. In addition, the Penal Code compels the Court to dismiss criminal charges and release a defendant if strict timelines are not met, such as not starting trial when time has not been waived and trial does not commence within sixty (60) days for felony cases and thirty (30) days for misdemeanor cases.

The criminal division plays a critical role in processing and adjudicating all general felony, misdemeanor and domestic violence cases; the Court determines bail, presides over probable cause hearings resulting in criminal charges, holds arraignment proceedings for those individuals charged with crimes (many of whom are in custody), presides over criminal trials with a priority for time-not-waived cases and presides in sentencing and probation hearings. 

 

Family Law

Matters under the jurisdiction of the Court's family law division frequently arise on an emergency basis, are usually volatile in nature and must be handled in an efficient and expedited manner. The Court regularly issues temporary restraining orders in a variety of family law matters, most involving domestic violence situations, issues temporary support orders for spouses and children and adjudicates temporary custody matters involving children. 

 

Juvenile Dependency

When a petition alleging child abuse and neglect is filed and a child is removed from the custody of his or her parents, the Court is statutorily mandated to process the case within strict timelines to ensure the child's safety and physical and emotional well-being. Once the petition is filed, the Court must hold an initial hearing no later than the next court day, the jurisdictional hearing within fifteen (15) court days of the initial hearing and the dispositional hearing within ten (10) court days after the jurisdictional hearing.  Once the dispositional hearing is held, the law requires a review hearing at specific intervals to determine if the child should be returned to the parent and also to determine the permanent placement of the child including the termination of parental rights. 

 

Juvenile Justice

Once a petition is filed alleging that a juvenile has committed a crime, the law defines the timeline for processing the case when time has not been waived.  The timeline is similar to Juvenile Dependency, in that the Court must hold a detention hearing almost immediately after the petition is filed, a jurisdictional hearing within fifteen (15) court days of the detention hearing and the dispositional hearing within ten (10) court days after the jurisdictional hearing. 

 

Mental Health Competency

The law requires that if a person is certified to be held involuntarily in a mental health facility beyond seventy-two (72) hours, he or she can petition the Court to be released.  The law requires the Court to schedule a hearing within two (2) days of the filing of a petition.  Currently, the Court schedules these hearings several days a week. 


Conservatorships/Guardianships

In probate conservatorship proceedings, the Court appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances. When a conservatorship is needed immediately, the Court may appoint a temporary conservator until a general conservator can be appointed. The main duties of a temporary conservator are arranging for the temporary care, protection and support of the conservatee and protecting the conservatee’s finances and property. 

Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships are used to care for adults with serious mental health illnesses who need special care. These conservatorships are used for people who usually need very restrictive living arrangements (like living in locked facilities) and require extensive mental health treatment (like very powerful drugs to control behavior). Conservatees in LPS conservatorships cannot or will not agree to the special living arrangements or treatment on their own. 

A court investigator consults the proposed conservatee and others who may be familiar with the conservatee’s condition. 

In guardianship proceedings, the Court orders someone other than the child’s parent to have custody of the child and/or manage the child's property because the child's parents are not able to parent. A probate guardianship of the person is established because a child is living with an adult who is not the child’s parent, and the adult needs a court order to make decisions on behalf of the child. If guardianship is granted, the guardian has the same responsibilities to care for the child as a parent would. That means the guardian has full legal and physical custody of the child and can make all the decisions about the physical care of the child that a parent would make. The Court will look at what is in the best interest of the child to make sure the child is raised in a safe, stable, and loving environment.

 

Civil Harassment

When a person or employer believes a threat to safety exists, a petition can be filed to issue a temporary or permanent restraining or protective order barring contact. These cases may involve a neighbor, co-worker, former friend, disgruntled employee or member of the public.  For safety and security reasons, the public must have immediate access to the Court to seek civil harassment orders. 

 

Unlawful Detainer

An Unlawful Detainer action is a special court proceeding to evict someone from the place where he or she lives or works. The grounds for eviction include when a tenant stays after the lease has expired, the lease is canceled, or the landlord thinks the tenant hasn't paid rent. An Unlawful Detainer decides if the landlord can take the property back from the tenant. If the landlord prevails, he or she will get a “judgment for possession” which the sheriff can enforce to physically make the tenant leave. Unlawful Detainer proceedings are expedited; usually, the tenant has 5 days to file a response and trial can be held 20 days after the response is filed.

 

Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions 

The Court regularly issues temporary restraining orders and other injunctive relief in criminal, family, juvenile, civil, probate and other cases.  Adjudicating and issuing emergency restraining orders expeditiously is critical in order to preserve the status quo and prevent imminent and irreparable harm.  For safely and security reasons, the public must have immediate access to the Court for these emergency orders. 

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