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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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Judges Press Utah About Polygamy Ban in 'Sister Wives' Case

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

An effort to decriminalize polygamy by the family from the TV show "Sister Wives" reached its highest level of the legal system so far Thursday as federal appeals judges questioned a lawyer for Utah about whether the state needs to ban plural marriages.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver put some of its most pointed questions to Utah's attorney as it heard arguments on the state's appeal of a ruling that struck down key parts of a law banning polygamy.

But they also asked how the law hurt Kody Brown and his four wives in a state with a longstanding policy against prosecuting otherwise law-abiding adults in polygamous marriages.

Judge Nancy Moritz asked state lawyer Parker Douglas why the law is used so rarely if Utah claims it is needed to curb abuses such as underage unions.

 

Read the whole story at AP

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California debates resuming executions with 1 drug

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Californians face a watershed year as they prepare to decide whether to resume executions that stopped a decade ago or end them entirely.

While advocates jockey to put both choices before voters this fall, officials overseeing the 746 condemned inmates on the nation's largest death row are pushing ahead with plans to use a single lethal drug to meet legal requirements amid a nationwide shortage of execution drugs.

They will hold a public hearing Friday on their proposal to let corrections officials choose from four types of powerful barbiturates to execute prisoners. About 12,000 people have submitted written comments ahead of the hearing.

A choice would be made for each execution, depending on which drug is available. The single drug would replace the series of three drugs that were last used in 2006, when 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen was executed for ordering a triple murder.

Read the whole story at KCRA

 

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Sacramento lawyer to serve prison time for tax evasion

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sacramento attorney James Stewart Richards was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison for evading income taxes.

He pleaded guilty in May to one count of evasion. At that time, Richards, 69, owed back taxes for the years 1994 through 2003, plus penalties and interest, totaling $519,438, according to a written plea agreement.

He admitted lying to the Internal Revenue Service in 2001 in order to hide his ownership of six rental properties and two bank accounts. He also admitted utilizing an account in a nominee’s name that held his own assets, from which he withdrew $100,000 in June 2004. The following year, when alerted by the bank that the IRS was making inquiries about the nominee account, he instructed the bank not to give the agency any records and then withdrew another $100,000, Richards acknowledged.

He further admitted that six months later he purchased a yacht for $92,000 and titled it in someone else’s name to conceal it as an asset.

Read the whole story at SacBee

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Conference of Delegates News: Become an SCCBA Delegate

Posted By Shivadev S. Shastri, Thursday, January 21, 2016

This blog post has been cross posted from the Conference of Delegates Committee Blog.

Upcoming Organizational Meeting on February 4, 2016  

The Santa Clara County Bar Association is organizing its delegation
to the 2016 Conference of California Bar Associations [otherwise known as
the Conference of Delegates (www.calconference.org) which will be held this year in San Diego September 30 through October 2 (Friday afternoon through Sunday mid-day), at the same time as the Annual Meeting of the State Bar.  The Conference of Delegates is an annual meeting of delegations from local and specialty bar associations intended to help refine and improve California laws, including laws dealing with family, corporate, real estate, criminal, labor and probate matters, civil procedure, courts and attorneys.  Proposed changes are debated, and changes approved by the Conference are submitted to the legislature and lobbied by the Conference's lobbyist.  The resolutions of SCCBA delegates have been enacted into law in the recent past.

We expect to have between 10 and 15 delegates this year.  Historically, including in 2015, SCCBA’s delegation has been an active, influential group during the Conference’s deliberations.  Joining the delegation is a great way to serve the profession and the people of California while expanding your legal knowledge and getting to know other attorneys from Santa Clara County and other parts of California.

Our delegation’s work is multi-phased, involving approximately 3-4 meetings during the year prior to the Conference.  Among our activities are preparation of our own resolutions, and review of and response to other delegations’ resolutions.  We plan to have meetings in February, April/May and September.

There are no specific pre-requisites for becoming a delegate.  If you wish to join the SCCBA delegation, please contact Shiv Shastri (ph.: (650)428-1768; e-mail:shivadevshastri@att.net; or Tiffany Taubodo at the Bar Offices (tiffanyt@sccba.com).

Our first meeting of the year will occur at the Bar Offices on February 4, 2016, at noon.  Lunch will not be provided.  We look forward to seeing all interested Bar Association members at that meeting.

 

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Ban on wearing unearned military medals ruled unconstitutional

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 15, 2016
Updated: Thursday, January 21, 2016

A federal law that prohibited people from wearing military medals they didn’t earn is unconstitutional for the same reason as a law that made it a crime to lie about earning a medal, a federal appeals court ruled Monday: It’s a falsehood that is protected by freedom of speech.

In an 8-3 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the now-repealed law against wearing unearned military decorations was a ban on a type of “symbolic speech.”

Although the government can forbid falsehoods that cause tangible harm, like fraud or perjury, the Constitution restricts government regulation of expression based solely on its content, the court said.

“Suppressing a symbolic communication threatens the same First Amendment harm as suppressing a written communication,” Judge Sandra Ikuta said in the majority opinion. “Wearing a medal has no purpose other than to communicate a message.”

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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Top Prosecutor Returns to Orrick as Global Litigation Head

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 14, 2016

Melinda Haag, the former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, is rejoining Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, the firm where she previously helped build the white-collar defense practice. Haag, who is set to return to the firm on March 1, will serve as the leader of Orrick's 330-lawyer global litigation group.

Haag, who wrapped up her five-year tenure as the Northern District's top cop in September and oversaw the work of 130 federal prosecutors, said she has missed practicing law. "I missed being in court myself. I missed advising clients. And I certainly missed being in trial," said Haag, 54.

The move reunites Haag with Orrick's white-collar chief, Walter Brown Jr., a friend since they both worked as assistant U.S. attorneys in Los Angeles more than 25 years ago. Brown originally recruited Haag to Orrick in 2003, to help build the firm's white-collar defense practice. He said Tuesday afternoon that Haag's re-recruitment became his "single most important focus" outside of client work as soon as she announced in July that she planned to leave office.

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Same-sex benefits suit against FedEx can proceed, judge rules

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stacey Schuett and Lesly Taboada-Hall had been partners for nearly 30 years, registered domestic partners since 2000, and the parents of two children when they got married in their Sebastopol home in June 2013. The next day, Taboada-Hall died of lung cancer at age 56.

Three months later, a Sonoma County judge issued Schuett a certificate that validated their marriage, even though it had taken place a week before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that ended California’s ban on same-sex marriages. That didn’t stop FedEx Corp., Toboada-Hall’s longtime employer, from denying widow’s pension benefits to Schuett.

Now, Schuett has gained a legal victory that may be significant to other same-sex couples: A federal judge has ruled that she can sue FedEx for the benefits.

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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More Money for Judicial Branch, Strings Attached

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday offered California's judiciary a fiscal year of financial goodwill, submitting a $122.6 billion state budget proposal that provides more than $200 million in additional money to the branch.

The governor's 2016-17 spending plan includes $60 million for deferred courthouse maintenance, an ongoing $20 million boost for trial court operations and $21 million to handle the increased workload created by Proposition 47, the voter-approved initiative that allows those convicted of certain drug and property crimes to seek reduced sentences. There's also more money for interpreters, a financial tracking system, statutorily mandated salary increases for judges, a $10-per-hour rate increase for appellate panel counsel, and higher trial court and state-level employee costs.

The governor is also proposing that five vacant judgeships—he didn't say where—be moved to other locations in the state "where the workload is the highest." And he's allocating $30 million for a grant program rewarding courts that develop "programs and practices that save money and better serve the public."

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Thomas Jefferson School Of Law To Stand Trial For Allegedly Inflating Employment Statistics

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 7, 2016

In May 2011, Anna Alaburda, a 2008 honors graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, filed a class-action lawsuit against her alma mater, alleging that thelaw school had committed fraud by publishing deceptive post-graduation employment statistics and salary data in order to bait new students into enrolling. When her complaint was first filed, she claimed that despite graduating at the top of her class and passing the California bar exam, she was unable to find suitable legal employment, and had racked up more than $150,000 in student loan debt.

Almost five years later, after acquiring three additional class plaintiffs, inspiring dozens of other class-action lawsuits against law schools, and surviving several motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment, it seems that judgment day has finally come for Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Plaintiffs Anna Alaburda, Jill Ballard, Daniela Loomis, and Nikki Nguyen prevailed on all issues in the latest the law school’s latest motion for summary judgment, and the case has been set for trial in March.

Read the whole story at Above the Law

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Monkey Can't Own Copyright To His Selfie, Federal Judge Says

Posted By Paula Collis, Thursday, January 7, 2016

The legal saga of the monkey selfie continues: On Wednesday, a federal judge said the macaque who famously snapped a picture of himself cannot be declared the owner of the image's copyright.

At least, until Congress says otherwise.

There's "no indication" that the Copyright Act extends to animals, U.S. District Judge William Orrick wrote in a tentative opinion issued Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco.

"I'm not the person to weigh into this. This is an issue for Congress and the president," Orrick said from the bench, according to Ars Technica. "If they think animals should have the right of copyright they're free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that."

Read the whole story at npr.org

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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
Hon. Julie A. Emede2017 Outstanding Jurist of the Year
Hon. Edward J. Davila2017 Diversity of the Year

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