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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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Civil War Heats Up in California State Bar

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The California State Bar fired a public information officer who had close ties to ousted Bar leader Joseph Dunn, the fired press officer claims in court.

Thomas Layton claims that current chief trial counsel Jayne Kim tried to drag him into her "high-profile war against Joseph Dunn," arising out of Dunn's report that Kim had removed 269 backlogged cases from internal records to make her office appear more productive.

Dunn subsequently sued the Bar and its President Craig Holden in a whistleblower action, and that case is now in arbitration.

"Someone is off the rails at the State Bar," Layton's attorney Robert Baker told Courthouse News. "I don't know who it is, but I'm going to find out."

Layton sued the California State Bar, Kim and 20 "board defendants"on Monday in Superior Court.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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Diversity Committee News: Thank You 2016 BAMSCP Employers

Posted By Ram Fletcher, Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This entry is cross-posted from the Diversity Committee Blog.


We want to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge and thank each of the firms and organizations (below) that are participating in the Bay Area Minority Summer Clerkship Program this year.  Once again we have a tremendous group of employers who are "walking the walk," not just "talking that talk," when it comes to increasing diversity in the legal profession.  One of the main reasons BAMSCP continues to be a highly sought after summer clerkship program is our participating employers' genuine commitment to supporting the development of minority law students not just by hiring them, but also by offering mentoring, networking and invaluable practical experience early in their legal careers.  More often than not, our students report they forged meaningful relationships, developed professionally, and also had fun during their placement.  This is a credit to the dedication of our participating employers who continue, year after year, to make it a worthwhile experience.  We look forward to many more years of successful partnership and are deeply grateful for what all of our participating organizations have done to make BAMSCP something we should all be proud of.


Below is a list of our 2016 BAMSCP employers:


Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP

East Bay Municipal Utility District 

Fenwick & West

Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel 

Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood

Mlnarik Law Group, Inc.

Nixon Peabody LLP

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

County Counsel’s Office (Santa Clara)

District Attorney’s Office (Santa Clara County)

Public Defender’s Office (Santa Clara County)

Wells Fargo Legal Department

Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean


Thanks to all! 


Ram Fletcher/Jennifer Leung (2016 BAMSCP Co-Chairs)

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Federal Appeals Court Ruling Could Accelerate Death-Row Executions

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A contentious Justice Department policy that could speed up death-row executions is closer to taking effect, following a recent federal appeals court ruling.

Read the whole story at Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

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Quin Denvir to Gov. Jerry Brown: Commute all death row sentences

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quin Denvir, long an opponent of the death penalty and one of the lawyers who steered Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski around probable execution, has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to commute the sentences of California’s death row prisoners.

In a letter to the governor dated March 17, Denvir said he has “been haunted by the death penalty” since 1977, when it was reinstated in California and Denvir was appointed state public defender by Brown during his first term as governor.

“I have represented several death row inmates who were able to avoid execution, and I lost one, Tom Thompson,” Denvir said in the letter. “He was very likely innocent of capital murder, and his case has been chronicled by (9th U.S. Circuit) Judge (Stephen) Reinhardt as a miscarriage of justice.

Read the whole story at SacBee

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Gov. Brown grants pardons to 59 felons

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown, who has handed out more pardons than any California governor in modern times, added to his record Friday by granting official forgiveness to 59 people, most of them for drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses many years ago.

Pardons are issued to those who have completed their sentences, including parole, at least a decade ago and, “have demonstrated exemplary behavior and have lived productive and law-abiding lives” ever since, Brown’s office said. Most have obtained certificates of rehabilitation from their county Superior Court.

“These pardons recognize — and even affirm — that people can turn their lives around after making mistakes and become solid members of their community,” the governor, a one time Jesuit seminarian, said in a statement.

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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The most terrifying part of my drug addiction? That my law firm would find out.

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 25, 2016

The morning before I got sober, my breakfast consisted of nearly a bottle of red wine and a few thick lines of cocaine. I got dressed, checked my teeth for lipstick and my nose for stray coke, put my laptop in its case and picked up the paper on the way out to work at my law firm. I felt sick, afraid and completely alone. I know now that I was wrong about the alone part.

A newly released study conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs reports an alarming statistic: Up to 21 percent of licensed, employed lawyers qualify as problem drinkers; for lawyers under age 30, it’s 31.9 percent. By comparison, only 6.8 percent of all Americans have a drinking problem. In addition to questions related to alcohol, participants were asked about their use of licit and illicit drugs, including sedatives, marijuana, stimulants and opioids: Seventy-four percent of those who used stimulants took them weekly.

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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 under “Civil Grand Jury.” Questions about the informational events or about the Grand Jury may be directed to 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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more Calendar

How to Draft a Custody Order

Diversity Happy Hour

Fourth Annual Law Day Mixer

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

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