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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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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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Appeals Court Favors Transgender Student in Virginia Restroom Case

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Weeks after a new North Carolina law put transgender bathroom access at the heart of the nation’s culture wars, a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in favor of a transgender student who was born female and wishes to use the boys’ restroom at his rural Virginia high school.

Advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people note that the ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit applies to North Carolina, where the controversial law approved last month limits transgender people to bathrooms in government buildings, including public schools, that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Read the whole story at NY Times

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DoorDash Brings On First GC

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Food delivery startup DoorDash Inc. has hired Keith Yandell as its first general counsel. Yandell comes from Uber Technologies Inc., where he was recently promoted to director of litigation.

Yandell will have some familiarity in his move from on-demand rides to on-demand meals. Last month, Uber rolled out a stand-alone app for UberEats, a service in 13 cities that lets customers make delivery orders from nearby restaurants.

"Keith's diverse background and extensive experience makes him a strong fit for DoorDash," said Tony Xu, the company's co-founder and CEO in a prepared statement. "As DoorDash continues to grow, we're proud to be building out our management team with experienced managers and leaders in their fields."

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Judge in PG&E criminal trial limits evidence jury can hear

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Jurors in the criminal trial of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. can hear evidence about the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion — clearly relevant to the charges that PG&E violated pipeline-safety standards and obstructed justice — but won’t hear some of the most graphic details, like the death and devastation it caused to a neighborhood, or view the wrecked pipe itself, a federal judge has ruled.

“Avoiding accidents like the San Bruno explosion is the very purpose of the Pipeline Safety Act” that PG&E is charged with violating, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said in a decision late Monday over evidence at the upcoming trial. He said the blast also provides “necessary context” for the National Transportation Safety Board’s subsequent investigation of the utility “and PG&E’s potential motives for obstructing it.” 

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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How O.C. parents laid the groundwork for school desegregation in the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

As a child, Sylvia Mendez thought her parents' court case was all about a playground.

That's because in 1944, the bus would drop her off at the white school with the "beautiful playground." But she would have to keep walking down the street to the Mexican school — two wooden shacks on a dirt lot next to a cow pasture.

"We went to court every day. I listened to what they were saying, but really I was dreaming about going back to that beautiful school," Mendez said.

What Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez were fighting for was racial equality.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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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
Steven B. Haley2017 Professional Lawyer of the Year
Golnesa MonazamfarBarrister of the Year 2017

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