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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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Scalia addresses Constitution, same-sex marriage in speech

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 24, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday criticized judges who believe the Constitution is a “living” document, saying they amount to policy makers who are rewriting it and making moral decisions for the entire country about same-sex marriage and other issues. He also referred to this summer’s same-sex marriage ruling as “extreme.”

Scalia spoke to about 500 people at Rhodes College, where he was invited to deliver the school’s annual Constitution Day lecture. He is the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Reagan in 1986.

In his speech, Scalia distinguished “originalism,” which calls for adherence to the original text and meaning of the Constitution when interpreting it, from the theory of a “living” Constitution, which views the document as one that evolves and changes over time without being amended.

“They’re not adhering to the text, they’re operating as policy makers,” Scalia, an “originalist,” said of believers in a “living” Constitution. “They’re not interpreting the constitution. They’re writing one, they’re revising one.”

Read the whole story at Seattle Times

 

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This New Website Promises to Handle Your Entire Divorce And Filing Costs Just $99

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 24, 2015

A new website aims to take much of the heartache and cost out of getting a divorce by conducting the whole process online.

Presented at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Tuesday,Separate.us, founded by Sandro Tuzzo and Larry Maloney, aims to distill legal jargon into plain language and reduce legal fees from tens of thousands of dollars to base price of around $1,500. Initial filing costs just $99.

“Today, connecting is easy. There’s tons of software applications out there for that,” Tuzzo said onstage at the event. “But what if you need to end a relationship, where are the tools for that?”

Read the whole story at Time

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California’s Right-to-Die Bill

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gov. Jerry Brown of California is hearing plenty from opponentsand supporters of a bill state lawmakers passed earlier this month that would allow some terminally ill patients to hasten their death. Modeled after the pioneering right-to-die bill Oregon put into effect in 1997, California’s End of Life Option Act would allow people in the advanced stages of a terminal illness to obtain a lethal dose of painkillers from a physician.

Mr. Brown should sign the bill into law.

The bill includes robust safeguards. Patients would have to make two oral requests for the prescription, two weeks apart, and one in writing. Two doctors would have to certify that the patient is likely to die within six months. The written request must be made in front of witnesses who are asked to certify that the patient is of sound mind and is not being coerced.

Read the whole story at New York Times

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Squatter, housing activist takes on state bar

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 24, 2015
A self-described squatter who first made national headlines for successfully using an obscure California law to become the rightful owner of a house without buying or inheriting it, is now waging a new legal fight with the State of California to become an attorney.
 
While Steven DeCaprio, 43, of Oakland recently passed the bar exam, the State Bar of California refused to admit him based on what it called a "lack of candor" and a ten year-old misdemeanor trespassing conviction.
 
Good Moral Character?
 
KTVU first met DeCaprio at a home in West Oakland in 2013.  More than ten years earlier, DeCaprio admits he was homeless when he cut a chain on a gate to the previously abandoned property and moved in.
 
DeCaprio also began paying the property taxes and, after five years without any contact from the previous owner of record, legal experts told 2 Investigates DeCaprio had achieved title to the property through a law known as adverse possession.
 
While also serving as the CEO of a housing rights group, called Land Action, DeCaprio went through the Law Office Study Program and began preparing to take the State Bar Exam in California.
 
"It's a three day exam. It's grueling. It's emotionally exhausting and to prepare for it, you pretty much have to give up your life," said DeCaprio.  "I studied very hard and really put in all the time I needed to and I passed it."

Read the whole story at KTVU

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PETA suit claims monkey holds copyright to famous selfie

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 24, 2015

 

One is an endangered monkey with a cheesy grin. The other is a wildlife photographer who had just stepped away from his camera.

The two are at the center of a federal lawsuit filed by PETA, which wants the crested black macaque to win the copyright of a selfie he snapped with the photographer's unattended camera.

But before we get to how an Indonesian monkey became the focus of a court case, let's recap:

Photographer David J. Slater was taking pictures of endangered crested macaques in Indonesia when he temporarily left his camera on his tripod.

Sure enough, the curious simians grabbed the camera and played with their new toy -- pushing the button and capturing hilarious selfies, including a now-famous one dubbed "Monkey Selfie" taken by a macaque named Naturo.

Read the whole story at CNN

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All the 'Happy Birthday' song copyright claims are invalid, federal judge rules

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 24, 2015

None of the companies that have collected royalties on the "Happy Birthday" song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to one of the most popular songs in history, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled on Tuesday.

In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the "Happy Birthday To You" song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.

Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Hon. Risë Jones Pichon to Receive 2015 Gideon Award

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 24, 2015
On September 18, 2015, the Santa Clara County Black Lawyers Association will be presenting the 2015 Gideon Award to the Honorable Risë Jones Pichon.  This
award, named after the 1963 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court determined that every state was
required pursuant to the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to provide legal counsel to indigent criminal defendants, is given each year to individuals
that tirelessly pursue the cause of justice.
 
Judge Pichon has been a judge in Santa Clara County since 1984 - and the Santa Clara County Black Lawyers Association is proud to recognize her longstanding
service to our community.  Not only is Judge Pichon one of the first African-American judges in Santa Clara County, she is also the current
Presiding Judge for the county.  
 
The firm of Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley has joined the Santa Clara County Black Lawyers Association in honoring Judge Pichon and will be hosting this
event in their San Jose office located at 50 W. San Fernando St., San Jose CA, beginning at 6:30 pm on September 18, 2015. Registration for this event is
online at http://gideon2015.brownpapertickets.com

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Have you considered becoming a Special Master?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Have you considered becoming a Special Master? A neutral Special Master may be appointed by the Court to help police serve a search warrant on an attorney, physician, psychotherapist or member of the clergy who is not a suspect but may possess documentary evidence believed to be relevant to a criminal case. The Special Master is appointed to protect the privilege that exists between the professional and his/her client, patient or congregant. The Special Master accompanies police officers and is the person who actually conducts the search. The Special Master is empowered to seize any items listed in the warrant. The duties of a Special Master are listed under Penal Code sections 1524(c)-(k).

 

The State Bar maintains a list of attorneys who are authorized to be designated as Special Masters.  Special Masters serve without compensation. In order to be a Special Master, the attorney must:

(A) submit a Special Master Application to the State Bar;

            (B) at the time of application

        (1) have been an active member of the State Bar for the preceding five years;  (2) not have been disciplined in any court or jurisdiction during the preceding ten years;  (3) not have devoted more than twenty-five percent of his or her practice of law to criminal matters during the preceding year;  (4) not be subject to disciplinary investigation or prosecution; and

            (C) during the period when listed as qualified for appointment

        (1) be an active member of the State Bar;  (2) not be employed by a public defender, district attorney, attorney general, or a law enforcement agency;  (3) not be a certified criminal law specialist; and  (4) devote less than five percent of law practice time to criminal law issues.

There is an informational meeting about how to become a Special Master, the workload and responsibilities of being a Special Master on October 19, 2015 from 12:15 to 1 pm  in Department 46, Hall of Justice.  You are welcome to bring your lunch.  The Moderators will be:

                James Gibbons-Shapiro, Assistant Deputy District Attorney for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office

                Special Master Joseph Dworak, Berliner Cohen

                Honorable Cynthia A. Sevely, Superior Court Judge

We will answer all your questions and give you an overview of the program. While each firm may have different guidelines regarding pro bono hours, we cannot represent if this program will meet the requirements of your firm.  Consider speaking with your firm to determine whether you can receive credit for pro bono hours as a Special Master.  If you have in general questions prior to the meeting, you may contact Judge Sevely at 408 808-7288 or CSevely@scscourt.org.

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SCCBA Members named 2015 Women Leaders in Tech Law

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 21, 2015

Congratulations to SCCBA members Allison Leopold Tilley and Sally Abel, recently named in The Recorder's 2015 Women Leaders in Tech Law. 

 

The Recorder has named 60 California lawyers as its 2015 Women Leaders in Tech Law. Honorees are selected by Recorder editors based on their recent achievements as litigators, dealmakers, advisors and strategists in the tech industry, as well as in leadership roles at their organizations or in the legal community.

From data security and IP strategy to mega-mergers and workplace policies, these lawyers are handling—and often solving—the most crucial problems tech companies face. They include 20 women from in-house legal teams, 37 women at law firms, as well as an academic and two federal prosecutors who focus on computer crime.

Recorder editors for the first time designated 10 "Power Players"—lawyers who stand out as trailblazers, mentors and advocates for women in tech.

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Ninth Circuit Sifts Through Facebook Privacy Settlement

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 18, 2015

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit appeared skeptical Thursday of arguments that a $20 million settlement with Facebook Inc. over its "sponsored stories" feature would chill future attempts to protect children's online privacy.

The controversial settlement, approved in 2013 by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California, is under attack on multiple fronts. Critics say the settlement doesn't provide enough benefit to class members whose Facebook activity appeared in other users' streams as part of the since-discontinued advertising program. The court did not tip its hand on whether it's inclined to revoke the deal. But it did not appear to buy the argument that the settlement terms would hinder future enforcement actions.

Scott Michelman, an attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, said "ineffective" settlement provisions still allow Facebook to use kids' names and likenesses in advertising without their parents' consent. If the deal is upheld, Michelman argued, Facebook will counter future challenges to the practice—including possible criminal prosecutions in some states—by saying, "Well, we're just relying on what the court told us we could do."

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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