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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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Federal appeals court upholds California's death penalty

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned a fed­er­al judge’s rul­ing that found the state death penalty system unconstitutional. 

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument on a technicality that it did not address the question of whether life on death row in California constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

Lawyers who argued on both sides of the case said the appellate ruling was decided on largely technical grounds and leaves unanswered the larger question of whether lengthy delays are unconstitutional.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Apply to serve on the Judiciary Committee in 2016

Posted By Paula Collis, Tuesday, November 17, 2015

 

Applications for the Santa Clara County Bar Association 2016 Judiciary Committee are now being accepted.To be considered for appointment to the 2016 Judiciary Committee, completed applications must be submitted by January 2, 2016, at 4:45 pm either by online form or by email to SCCBA CEO & General Counsel, Chris Burdick, at chrisb@sccba.com.

The criteria to be eligible for consideration for appointment to the SCCBA Judiciary Committee include but are not necessarily limited to current membership in the SCCBA and the following: 

  1. Prior activity on one or more committees of the SCCBA and/or a showing of involvement in the SCCBA beyond mere payment of membership dues; 
  2. Adequate practice experience; 
  3. Practice area diversity to be determined by considering the composition of the Judiciary Committee and the applicant pool as a whole at the time any appointment/s are being made; 
  4. Lack of any conflict of interest with respect to the substantive work of the Judiciary Committee. 

Appointments are made solely within the discretion of the 2016 SCCBA President as provided by SCCBA by-laws. The SCCBA President is not obligated to make any appointments or make appointments from the pool of applicants. The composition, including number of members, of the 2016 Judiciary Committee is within the sole discretion of the 2016 SCCBA President.

The SCCBA strongly encourages attorneys of diverse racial, ethnic, religious, gender and sexual orientation backgrounds as well as attorneys with disabilities to apply.  Attorneys, including current Judiciary Committee members, must complete the SCCBA 2016 Judiciary Committee application to be considered for appointment or reappointment for the new year.

 

 APPLY HERE →

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Judge says Sacramento federal court facing 'crisis'

Posted By Paula Collis, Friday, November 13, 2015

The top federal judge in Sacramento has begun speaking out about what he says is a crisis.

Chief U.S. District Judge Morrison England said a lack of judges in the Eastern District of California has slowed the wheels of justice.

"I think there's some frustration that's starting to get to the judges," England said during a recent interview.

The Eastern District of California stretches from the Oregon border to Bakersfield. Even though the region's population has grown dramatically, the number of full-time judges has remained at six since 1978.

According to statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, federal judges handle an average of 554 cases per year.

Read the whole story at KCRA

 

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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE: 'Tis the Season

Posted By John L. Mlnarik, Friday, November 13, 2015

by John L. Mlnarik
The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc.
2015 SCCBA President 

This time of year we are celebrating at many dinners and events. It is a time to honor those who have served us well and a time to give thanks for all we have.

For most of us it is also a time to close out the year and perhaps collect from clients who have not paid. As unappealing as collections may be, they are a reality all of us in private practice must face. Thankfully, the Santa Clara County Bar Association administers a Fee Arbitration Program and maintains a panel of experienced arbitrators.

For several decades, the SCCBA has been providing resources to attorneys and clients to help guide them through the process of resolving their fee disputes no matter how big or how small. The parties may decide to go to mediation before proceeding to arbitration and once at arbitration the parties can agree to make the arbitrator’s decision final.

As most attorneys are aware, notice to the client of arbitration of a fee dispute is statutorily mandated before the attorney can proceed to collect fees through litigation.  If the client seeks fee arbitration, the attorney is required to participate.  The attorney may initiate fee arbitration as well although the client is under no obligation to agree to the arbitration.  In that situation, the attorney may then proceed to file a complaint against the client seeking his/her outstanding attorney fees.  The SCCBA Fee Arbitration Program is easy for the client to navigate without the assistance of an attorney.  The filing fees for initiating an arbitration are reasonable and often lower than other private arbitration programs.

The process takes about three months and may be the quickest way to resolve a fee dispute. The matter could even settle before getting to arbitration as the parties take a better look at the positions they have been taking before submitting their disagreement to fee arbitration.

A list of frequently asked questions is available on the SCCBA  website atwww.sccba.com along with links to forms and other useful documents.

As you celebrate this year be thankful for all the many wonderful blessings we have received. And if collections have you worried, have no fear, fee arbitration is here! 

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California proposes new single-drug method for executions

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 10, 2015

California unveiled a new method for executing prisoners Friday, proposing a “humane and dignified” single-drug injection protocol that could restart capital punishment after a nearly 10-year hiatus.

The regimen would replace a three-chemical method the state used in the past. That mixture was struck down in 2006 by a judge who said it could cause inhumane suffering if one of the drugs failed to work.

The new proposal stems from a lawsuit filed against the state by crime victims' families who favored the death penalty and wished to see it enforced. A settlement of the suit, brought by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, required the state to devise a new lethal injection method by this month.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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State’s Amnesty Program for Unpaid Traffic Tickets Has Big First Month

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 10, 2015

California’s amnesty program for unpaid traffic tickets is just over a month old, but already courts have been swamped with applications from residents eager to get fines forgiven or reduced.

Los Angeles County, which has the largest court system in the state, processed 18,000 participation forms in the past 30 days, bringing in $1.3 million in fees and revenue.

But there is still a significant backlog in many courts across the state.

Read the whole story at KQED

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San Jose's new independent police auditor is L.A. County watchdog

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 5, 2015

Walter Katz, a Los Angeles attorney whose work as a police watchdog has gained him a foothold in the national police accountability movement, is San Jose's new independent police auditor.

Katz, currently the Los Angeles County deputy inspector general overseeing reforms in that county's beleaguered Sheriff's Department, aims to modernize and widen the reach of the police complaint process while engendering the trust of the very officers who will be subject to those grievances. If it sounds like an arduous tightrope walk, Katz knows it.

"When people trust that the process is fair, the legitimacy of law enforcement is enhanced," said Katz, who begins work in San Jose on Jan. 5. "I am deeply honored and privileged to lead the office of the Independent Police Auditor. I'm ready to get to work."

Read the whole story at Mercury News

 

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Rocket Lawyer Partners With Bay Area Legal Aid

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 5, 2015

Low-income clients of Bay Area Legal Aid will get free access to some basic legal forms and tools through a partnership with online legal services provider Rocket Lawyer.

Rocket Lawyer has agreed to make landlord-tenant and family law forms available to Bay Area Legal Aid clients and to train Bay Area Legal Aid lawyers to use the online portal so its staff attorneys can efficiently steer clients to online help. These are the first steps in a partnership that Bay Area Legal Aid Executive Director Alex Gulotta hopes will lead to even more do-it-yourself legal help for low-income consumers.

Rocket Lawyer is aimed at consumers and businesses with simple legal needs that can be handled through online forms or by a lawyer in its network.

For Rocket Lawyer, the partnership may provide insight into low-income legal needs.

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Noted lawyer gets time, fine for client fraud

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Rancho Santa Fe lawyer who admitted forging personal injury clients’ signatures in a scheme to persuade investors to advance him millions of dollars was ordered Monday to spend five months in federal custody and pay a $100,000 fine.

A prosecutor argued at the sentencing hearing that Todd Macaluso, 53, should spend more time behind bars — at least 10 months — for defrauding his clients and investors.

But the judge said he believed imposing a large fine would be more of a deterrent in a case like this. In addition to the fine, the judge ordered Macaluso to pay $150,000 restitution to LGL Funding, an investors’ group.

“I think I’d rather hit Mr. Macaluso in the pocketbook,” said U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez.

Read the whole story at The San Diego Union Tribune

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Supreme Court may limit class-action lawsuits against tech industry

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 5, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments in a closely watched tech industry case, sounded poised Monday to limit mass lawsuits from people who sued after seeing false information about themselves online.

Led by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court's conservatives said lawsuits should be limited to people who can show they were hurt in some way by inaccurate online data.

If the court ultimately rules that way, it would block or greatly shrink class-action claims, filed on behalf of millions of people, that have sent a scare through the tech industry.

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

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