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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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New $65M courthouse to open by end of 2019

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

State officials are working with architectural consultants on final designs for a new, $65 million courthouse in Tuolumne County that’s slated for completion in late-2019.

Donald Segerstrom, presiding judge for Tuolumne County Superior Court, has met with state officials and architects multiple times over the past year to provide input on preliminary plans that were approved by the state Public Works Board in January.

“They have consultants, architects and will ultimately have a construction contractor, but the state involves the local court in all levels of construction,” he said. “We meet regularly with them.”

The 61,000-square-foot building will be built on a 4.3 acre parcel at the county’s future Law and Justice Center off Old Wards Ferry Road in Sonora, which is also set to include the new jail and a juvenile hall that’s already under construction and expected to open by the end of this year.

As all trial courts in California are under state jurisdiction, funding for the project comes from a 2008 law that set aside up to $5 billion in lease-revenue bonds to finance new courthouse construction and renovation projects throughout the state. 

Read the whole story at The Union Democrat

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Lawsuit claims divorce court is a racket

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A long-shot federal lawsuit that accuses judges, lawyers and other professionals in San Diego County family court of engaging in a wide-ranging racketeering scheme to run up legal fees and court charges was dismissed but will get a review by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case was filed three years ago by the California Coalition for Families and Children, a San Diego group that accused family court participants of conspiring to delay cases and impose orders that drive up costs in divorce and custody fights.

“The divorce industry nationwide has been taking advantage of families and children for decades through encouraging harmful conflict and needless over-lawyering, fraudulent psychology and conflict-inducing ‘appointed counsel,’” coalition executive director Colbern Stuart said in a news release.

Read the whole story at San Diego Union-Tribune

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Lawmakers Bring Pitchforks to Bar Hearing

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lawmakers on Tuesday took aim at the State Bar of California, comparing the agency to a sinking ship and equating bar leaders' repeated promises of change to the cartoon character Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown once again.

"I'm convinced this year that the state bar is the Titanic," Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, told colleagues on the Judiciary Committee. Chiu, a former civil rights attorney, called the bar's new roster of executives "well-meaning" but said the "organization is too far gone at this point" to avoid significant changes by the Legislature.

The committee was discussing the annual bar dues bill, which, in its current draft, keeps dues at their current levels for active and inactive members. But the discussion quickly turned to a debate currently engulfing the bar—whether the agency should be split into two new organizations, one focusing primarily on admissions and lawyer discipline and the other dealing with advocacy for the profession. Tuesday's conversation was fueled by a 19-page committee analysis detailing the bar's recent history of missteps, from securing a San Francisco building loan with members' future dues—without the Legislature's knowledge—to failing to act on hundreds of consumer complaints about the unauthorized practice of law.


Read the whole story at The Recorder

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In Trump University Case, Donald Trump’s Attorneys Argue No Trial is Needed

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

There is no need for a trial now; that’s what Donald Trump’s California-based legal teams have told the U.S. District Court in San Diego, hearing a federal class-action lawsuit against Trump University.

Two different lawsuits allege Trump’s school engaged in deceptive practices and scammed thousands of students who enrolled in response to claims the school would make them rich in the real estate market.

Click here to read more about the Trump University lawsuits.

According to the newly-filed court documents, Trump’s attorney claims enough “undisputed facts” have been submitted so the “causes of action” in the case can be decided. In the documents, they are asking for either a full or partial summary judgment.

Read the whole story at NBC San Diego

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Supreme Court strengthens free-speech rights of public employees

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Just in time for the election season, the Supreme Court has strengthened the rights of the nation’s 22 million public employees to protect them against being demoted or fired for supporting the wrong political candidate in the eyes of their supervisors.

“The Constitution prohibits a government employer from discharging or demoting an employee because the employee supports a particular political candidate,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said Tuesday.

This applies, he said, even if a supervisor mistakenly assumes an employee is supporting a particular candidate. What counts is “the employer’s motive,” Breyer said.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Former Berkeley law school dean blasts new sexual misconduct review against him

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A former UC Berkeley law school dean who was disciplined for violating the university’s sexual harassment policies has lashed out at a new review of his behavior, calling it an unjust attack on his legal and academic rights.

Sujit Choudhry, who resigned as dean last month but remains on the faculty, has asked the disciplinary committee of Berkeley’s Academic Senate to drop the second review, according to documents released by his attorneys Monday. Depending on the findings, Choudhry’s tenure and continued employment at Berkeley could be in jeopardy.

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Top Prosecutor to Leave Sacramento Post

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 26, 2016

After 6-1/2 years as the top prosecutor in California's Eastern District, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner will resign at the end of the month, his office announced this week. Wagner didn't announce his next career stop other than to say he'll seek work at a law firm somewhere in Northern California.

"Serving as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California has been the most fulfilling and exciting experience of my professional career," Wagner said in a written statement. "I have the greatest respect for the women and men in this office who seek to do justice each day, and I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together."

Some of the best-known cases of the Obama appointee's tenure were tied to the national financial crisis occurring when Wagner took office. Eastern District prosecutors helped secure multi-billion dollar settlements with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase for the securitization and sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities. His office also secured the conviction of nearly 300 defendants in mortgage fraud cases.

 

Read the whole story at The Recorder


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State court rules prisoners can’t be punished for hunger strike

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A state appeals court says a California prisoner who took part in a mass hunger strike protesting long-term solitary confinement should not have been punished for disorderly behavior because he did not disrupt prison operations or endanger anyone.

Although the 2013 hunger strike, which involved as many as 30,000 inmates across the state, may have affected the workload of prison staff members, there was no evidence of “a breakdown of order” or any threat of violence, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said in the case of a former inmate at Pelican Bay State Prison.

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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CALIFORNIA JURORS MISUSING THE INTERNET COULD FACE FINES

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 26, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Jurors who threaten to derail trials by researching them on Google or posting comments about them on Twitter are often dismissed with nothing more than a tongue-lashing from a judge.

But that may soon change in California. Legislation supported by state court officials would authorize judges in some counties to fine jurors up to $1,500 for social media and Internet use violations, which have led to mistrials and overturned convictions around the country.

 

Read the whole story at AP

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'Failed Us All': 3 Officials Hit With Charges in Flint Water Crisis

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The man who ran the city treatment plant and two state environmental officials were hit with felony charges Wednesday for allegedly misleading regulators about the poisoned water supply — and prosecutors promised more charges are coming.

Mike Glasgow was charged with tampering with evidence and willful neglect of duty for allegedly filing false reports to the state about water quality. Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby were charged with misconduct, evidence tampering, conspiracy and violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act for allegedly altering water test results.

Read the whole story at NBC News

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more Latest News
more Calendar

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Meet and Greet the Family Law Bench for 2018

3/22/2018
View From the Bench 2018

5/10/2018
WLS Roundtable Series, Session III: Reinvent & Thrive Through Transition

Recent Recognitions
Nora V. Frimann2016 Professional Lawyer of the Year
Mariel BlockBarrister of the Year 2016

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