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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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Legal case tests religious hospitals’ right to deny procedures

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 24, 2015

Rachel Miller, due to have her second child in late September, agreed with her husband that this would be her last pregnancy and decided she would be sterilized by tubal ligation after giving birth. But her hospital in Redding, owned by Dignity Health in San Francisco, refused to allow her doctor to perform the procedure, saying tubal ligation violates the ethical principles of Catholic health care facilities.

Read the whole story at SF Chronicle

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Chris Christie makes a Supreme Court promise

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 24, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday pledged that if elected president, his first Supreme Court nominee would not be a Harvard Law or Yale Law School graduate.

"I think you can be pretty sure of that fact," he promised radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

In an interview with Hewitt, Christie argued that Americans were tired of the "education establishment" and implied that success was not limited to those who hold an Ivy League education. Five of the current Supreme Court justices are Harvard Law graduates, while three are Yale graduates. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received her law degree from Columbia Law School.

Read the whole story at CBS News

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Judicial Council Calls Open Meetings a Success

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 24, 2015

California's Judicial Council on Thursday bid farewell to several longtime members and revisited a contentious rule that opened many of its advisory groups and subcommittee meetings to the public.
The council approved the open meetings rule last year under legislative mandate, despite some members' reluctance. Press groups criticized the rule for its list of exemptions, which allow committee chairs to close meetings for discussions about security, personnel, legislative strategy, agenda setting and attorney-client privilege.
 Justice Douglas Miller, whose Executive and Planning Committee drafted the rule, told the council Thursday that just over half of the 293 meetings held during the rule's first year were open. He said 64 percent of the 149 open meetings had been attended by the public, by phone or in person.
The council must report the numbers to the Legislature. Miller recommended that the council accept the rule's one-year progress report without any changes.
"The headline or takeaway from this is the rule is working as designed," Miller said. "It is making a complete and welcome addition to the more transparent approach this council has taken in the last four years.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News

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Ashley Madison Owner Taps Am Law Firms Amid Massive Hack

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 20, 2015

While worried spouses continue to sift through the sea of identifying data posted online this week by hackers that targeted AshleyMadison.com, a dating and social networking service that markets itself to would-be cheaters, the controversial company has wasted no time getting lawyered up.

Avid Life Media, the Toronto-based parent company of Ashley Madison, is turning to a trio of high-powered firms to pick up the pieces following the purported disclosure of information about more than 32 million users, a hack so devastating that it has everyone from divorce lawyers to cybersecurity experts and others pondering the potential ramifications of a somewhat unprecedented data dump. (The information posted online, which some well-credentialed cybsecurity experts have said appears legitimate, includes the names, addresses and phone numbers of those who signed up for the service.)

Avid Life’s vice president and general counsel, Avi Weisman, confirmed in an email to The Am Law Daily that the company is currently working with DLA Piper and Barnes & Thornburg in the U.S. and leading Canadian firm Stikeman Elliott north of the border.

Weisman, who has spent the past two years handling Avid Life’s legal affairs, noted that DLA Piper is assisting in the practice areas of cybersecurity, data protection and privacy, while Barnes & Thornburg is providing technology and IP counsel, as well as corporate representation. The team from Stikeman is focused on communications and privacy law, including cross-border legal matters.

Read the whole story at The American Lawyer

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Court asked to decide if Modesto attorney charged with murder can represent clients in murder cases

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 20, 2015

A legal fight continued Wednesday over whether a Modesto defense attorney can continue to represent his clients while facing a charge of murder in the death of Turlock resident Korey Kauffman.

Attorney Frank Carson remains in custody at the Stanislaus County jail. He is being held without bail and is scheduled to return to court Tuesday for a possible bail review hearing. Carson wants to return to work and defend his clients while on bail.

Prosecutors are asking the court to keep Carson and some of his co-defendants in custody without bail. They’re also seeking to remove Carson from some of his clients’ cases, arguing that Carson would have a conflict of interest if he were to represent clients facing their own murder charges.

On Wednesday, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office filed motions in two murder cases unrelated to Kauffman’s death. The prosecutors are asking the court to hold a hearing to determine whether there is a conflict of interest for Carson, who represents the defendants in these cases.

Read the whole story at The Modesto Bee

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San Francisco District Attorney Expands Uber Lawsuit

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 20, 2015

The San Francisco district attorney announced Wednesday the expansion of a consumer-protection lawsuit aimed at Uber's claims about driver background checks.

District Attorney George Gascon said Wednesday that the growing ride-hailing company continues to unfairly claim it is rigorously checking the background of its drivers. Gascon saidUber can't make that claim unless it puts it drivers through the same fingerprinting process required of taxi drivers in California.

Gascon made his comments a day after his office filed an expanded lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court accusing Uber of false advertising. The expanded lawsuit claims Uber failed to uncover the criminal records of 25 California drivers, including several registered sex offenders and a convicted murderer.

"This is really only scratching the surface," Gascon said at a news conference.

Gascon and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey filed the original lawsuit in December. The lawsuit doesn't object to Uber's background checks, but it objects to the company's claim that it uses an industry-leading process to vet its drivers. Anything short of fingerprinting can't make that claim, Gascon said.

Read the whole story at ABC News

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New book asks if lawsuits and lawyers are taking the fun out of Disneyland

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 20, 2015

Has some of the fun disappeared from Disneyland? Author David Koenig thinks it has, and he blames park visitors and lawyers in his latest book, “The People v. Disneyland: How Lawsuits & Lawyers Transformed the Magic.”

“The vast majority of operational changes at Disneyland in the last 10 years have been the result of lawsuits past, or in anticipation of lawsuits in the future,” he said.

Koenig first showed up on the Disney book scene with “Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland” in 1994. That book was more about some of the quirky and funny stories about things that happened at Disneyland. For that book he conducted interviews with former Disneyland cast members and visitors to the park. He followed the success of that book with two more, a sequel called “More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland” and one about Disney’s Florida operation, “Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World.”

With this book, Koenig has taken a harder tone than the other three, saying that people filing lawsuits for their own ineptitude, coupled with management that is no longer willing to spend the money to fight them, are just as much to blame as the lawyers involved in the cases.

Read the whole story at the OC Register

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Judge who freed man from jail gets censured but keeps his job

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 20, 2015

A veteran judge from Fresno is sighing with relief after a rebuke from a state disciplinary commission for illegally getting an acquaintance released from jail after an arrest for domestic violence.

Superior Court Judge James Petrucelli is relieved because he kept his job.

Although Petrucelli’s actions damaged public confidence in “the objectivity and impartiality of the judiciary,” and he had three previous disciplinary violations, he has a good overall record as a judge and apparently didn’t intend to break the law or abuse his authority, the Commission on Judicial Performance said Tuesday.

While his misconduct might have been legal grounds for removal in other circumstances, the commission said, it was “an isolated incident” that can be adequately addressed by a “severe censure,” the strongest public reprimand available.

“Judge Petrucelli accepts the censure,” said his lawyer, Kathleen Ewins. “”The commission’s decision is in large part what we argued. …He looks forward to working hard for the people of Fresno County.”

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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California moves to provide interpreters in all court cases

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Going through a divorce has been difficult for Sepideh Saeedi. Not understanding what's happening in court because she isn't proficient in English has made the process even harder.

"When you don't understand what the judge is saying, what the other side's attorney is saying, it's very stressful," Saeedi, 33, who speaks Farsi, said after a recent court hearing in Redwood City, Calif.

Legal advocates say throughout the state, litigants in divorce, child custody, eviction and other civil cases who have difficulty with English are going into court without qualified interpreters. Instead, many are forced to turn to friends or family members -- or worse yet, the opposing party -- for translation.

That's because California only guarantees access to an interpreter in criminal cases, not civil cases.

But the state is looking to change that. Under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice, California's Judicial Council this year approved a plan to extend free interpretation services to all cases by 2017.

Read the whole story at Fox News

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Attorney, CHP Officer Charged With Old Murder

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A prominent Stanislaus County defense attorney and three California Highway Patrol officers were among nine people arrested Friday in connection with the 2012 murder of a Turlock man.
Frank Carson - who made an unsuccessful run for Stanislaus County district attorney last year - faces charges of first degree murder, conspiracy, false imprisonment and solicitation of a crime. The murder charge includes a firearm enhancement and a special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait.
Carson's wife Georgia Defilippo faces the same charges, as does former California Highway Patrol officer Walter Wells.
In a 326-page affidavit, investigators with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department allege Carson acted as the ringleader in the conspiracy to murder 26-year-old Korey Kauffman in 2012. Kauffman's body was found a year and a half later in a remote area of Mariposa County.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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