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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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ACLU Attorneys Say Dive Bar Bounced Them for Being Black

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 25, 2016

A dive bar had no idea it was dealing with two accomplished civil-rights attorneys when it kicked them out for what the women say was racism.

Abre’ Conner claims Fresno, California dive bar, The Brig, booted her and fellow ACLU of Northern California attorney Novella Coleman because they refused to buy more drinks as they waited to sing karaoke.

The Brig’s mandatory drinks rule, they say, seemed to apply only to them: the lone black patrons in the mullet-loaded pool hall.

Read the whole story at The Daily Beast

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California Jury Rejects Graduate's Suit Against Law School

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 25, 2016

A jury found Thursday that a San Diego law school did not mislead a graduate who sued on the grounds she was lured to the school by false promises that her degree would land her a job after graduating.

The San Diego Superior Court jury rejected Anna Alaburda's claim against the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on a 9-3 vote that was reached after about four hours of deliberations over two days.

While more than a dozen similar lawsuits have been filed in courts across the country, the case is believed to be the first of its kind to go to trial.

Alaburda, who filed her lawsuit in 2011, argued that Thomas Jefferson used inflated data to bolster the success rate of its job-seeking graduates. The 37-year-old woman graduated near the top of her class in 2008 and says she has been unable to find a full-time job as a lawyer. Meanwhile, she said has been saddled with $170,000 in student debt. She sought $125,000 in damages.

Read the whole story at ABC News 

 

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Court Seeks Candidates for Public Watchdog Agency

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 25, 2016

Recruitment begins for 2016-17 Civil Grand Jury panel

SAN JOSE, Calif. (January 12, 2016): Presiding Judge, Hon. Risë Jones Pichon, has announced that the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara is seeking volunteers to serve on the 2016-17 Civil Grand Jury.

The Civil Grand Jury, an arm of the Superior Court, is a part of the Judicial Branch of government.  It serves as the County’s civil watchdog agency and may examine all aspects of the County and city governments, special districts, and school districts.  It is authorized to inspect and audit books, records, and financial expenditures to ensure accountability of public funds.   The Grand Jury may also inspect jails and juvenile detention facilities

Grand Jury service affords citizens the unique opportunity to contribute to the efficiency of local government and to play an integral part in ensuring that government officials are accountable to residents.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older, United States citizens, and residents of Santa Clara County. Service on the Civil Grand Jury does require a significant time commitment—a minimum of 20-25 hours per week, or as determined by the Grand Jury. Candidates must be willing to dedicate this year of service to keep careful watch over various aspects of County government, and the one-year term of the 2016-17 panel will begin on June 23, 2016.

“It’s vital that those who are charged with this incredible responsibility reflect the tremendous diversity of Santa Clara County,” said Presiding Judge Pichon. “First and foremost we’re looking for civic mindedness, strong ethics, and courage, but we also need a mixed set of skills and abilities in our jurors so that we can assemble the deep reservoir of knowledge necessary in this broad oversight role.”

Persons interested in applying may obtain an application online at www.scscourt.org under “Civil Grand Jury.” Questions about the informational events or about the Grand Jury may be directed to CGJ@scscourt.org or by contacting Tamara Davis, deputy manager of Jury Services, at 408-882-2721.

The deadline to submit applications is Friday, April 1, 2016.

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Justices Seem Split in Case on Birth Control Mandate

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 24, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court weighed moral theology and parsed insurance terminology on Wednesday in an extended and animated argument that seemed to leave the justices sharply divided over what the government may do to require employers to provide free insurance coverage for contraception to female workers.

A 4-to-4 tie appeared to be a real possibility, which would automatically affirm the four appeals court decisions under review.

All four ruled that religious groups seeking to opt out of the requirement that they pay for the coverage must sign forms and provide information that would shift the cost to insurance companies and the government. A tie vote in the Supreme Court would not set a national precedent, and religious groups in different parts of the country would have conflicting obligations if they object to covering contraception.

Read the whole story at NY Times

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Corinthian Colleges must pay nearly $1.2 billion for false advertising and lending practices

Posted By Bernard S. Greenfield, Thursday, March 24, 2016
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Justice Dept. power to fast-track death penalty cases restored

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 24, 2016

A federal appeals court on Wednesday restored the Justice Department’s authority to let states put death penalty cases on a “fast track” once they reach federal court, overturning a Bay Area judge’s nationwide ruling.

A 2005 federal law, which has yet to take effect, authorized the Justice Department to approve fast-track authority for any state that appoints competent, adequately paid lawyers to represent condemned prisoners. Once an inmate’s death sentence is upheld in state court, a fast track would shorten the deadline for filing a federal appeal from a year to six months. A federal judge would then have 15 months to rule on the appeal, and a federal appeals court would have a four-month deadline after receiving all written arguments.

Life-tenured federal judges have been more likely to overturn state capital cases than state judges, who are elected in most states. The fast-track process is intended to substantially shorten federal court review of state capital cases, which sometimes takes a decade or more.

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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LA Judge Sanctioned for Dogging Defense Lawyer

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 24, 2016

Judicial disciplinarians on Wednesday publicly admonished a Los Angeles County judge for becoming embroiled in proceedings involving a defense attorney who won a case in his courtroom.

The Commission on Judicial Performance said Superior Court Judge Patrick Connolly took on the role of an investigator pursuing attorney Freddie Fletcher, who suggested during a sidebar conference that the prosecutor may have improperly signaled to a testifying witness. Connolly set six hearings on the matter over six months, sought transcripts from an unrelated case that Fletcher was also involved in, and conducted an improper ex parte evidentiary hearing, the commission concluded.

"These actions gave the appearance that Judge Connolly was not acting as an impartial factfinder, but was conducting an independent investigation into Mr. Fletcher's conduct, and was embroiled in the matter and biased against Mr. Fletcher," the commission said in its order.


Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Sarah Palin wants to be the next Judge Judy — despite not having a law degree

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sarah Palin is no stranger to reality TV, and now she has her sights set on something even more potentially lucrative: a daytime court show.

The former GOP vice presidential contender recently signed a deal with Warm Springs Productions, a Montana-based company, to star in a new courtroom reality show (think “Judge Judy,” “Cristina’s Court”) where people bring her cases. According to People magazine, which first reported the news, the production team will include Larry Lyttle, an executive behind “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown.”

Read the whole story at The Washington Post

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2012 Judicial Candidate Admits Source of Funds Was Concealed

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Judge J.D. Lord Arranged for $50,000 Donation to Candidate Hughey, Who Listed Money as Coming From Personal Funds

An unsuccessful 2012 challenger to an incumbent judge has been fined after admitting that he failed to disclose the actual source of a campaign donation, and it has emerged that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J.D. Lord played a central role in the transaction.

The Fair Political Practices Commission on Thursday approved a stipulation under which Manhattan Beach attorney Kenneth Hughey, 83, and his committee, Hughey 4 Judge 2012, are fined $4,500 for failing to report the true source of a campaign contribution. The donor of $50,000, Harbor Financial Services, Inc. (“HFS”), a Wyoming real estate investment company—over which Lord has at least partial control—is fined $2,000 for failing to file a major donor campaign statement.

Read the whole story at Metropolitan News-Enterprise

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Minister carrying sign before Giants game settles suit

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A traveling minister who carried his “John 3:16” sign to Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park before a Giants game, and said he was told to leave or face arrest, has settled his lawsuit for $10,000.

Gino Emmerich sued the city of San Francisco, but the settlement funds — $2,500 to Emmerich and $7,500 to his lawyer — will come from ESPN, which was filming the pregame activities and hired city police to keep order, City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office said Tuesday. As part of the settlement, the city agreed to review the status of the plaza and the extent of the public’s right to carry signs or express opinions there.

“This is at least a very fuzzy area, who owns this Willie Mays Plaza and who has the right to decide who can or can’t be there,” said attorney Michael Millen, who represented Emmerich along with the Rutherford Institute.

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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