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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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One-stop justice center close to reality

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A person assembling a new wardrobe can visit the mall and easily buy everything she needs, all under one roof.

A grocery shopper can purchase eggs, meat, vegetables and pancake mix at a single supermarket.

“But when you’ve got somebody just trying to survive violence, they’ve got to go all over,” Suzanne Schultz of the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office says. “It’s ridiculous.”

That sad reality, however, may not be the case much longer. For more than a year, Schultz has been leading an effort to establish a one-stop Family Justice Center in San Joaquin County, and the work appears as if it will bear fruit as soon as 2016.

The center would give victims access in one place, to a prosecutor, counselor and social worker; assistance in filling out a restraining order; help from the Sheriff’s Office in serving a restraining order; and aid in securing emergency housing.

Read the whole story at RecordNet.com

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Plan to require unaccredited law schools in California to disclose dropout rates OKd

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

 A panel of the State Bar of California approved a plan on Friday to require unaccredited law schools to disclose their dropout rates, in an effort to improve transparency for prospective students.

The unanimous decision comes about a month after a Times investigation found that about 90% of students drop out before their final year.

The move is considered to be part of a larger push to elevate the academic standards of unaccredited law schools where low tuition and few entrance requirements attract those who typically find themselves struggling with the coursework or unable to finish for other reasons.

Prospective students have the right to know dropout rates, which could help them assess their potential success before enrolling, said Karen Goodman, a member of the bar's committee that oversees unaccredited law schools.

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times

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Court considers challenge to California death penalty

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A federal appeals court considering whether California's death penalty is unconstitutional because of excessive delays focused Monday on procedural issues over whether a novel legal theory had been addressed by the state Supreme Court.

In the case of a Los Angeles rapist and murderer on death row for more than two decades, three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wanted to know if all appeals were exhausted in state court before a federal judge ruled last year that the death penalty was dysfunctional because of unpredictable delays that seldom lead to executions.

Few would argue that California's death penalty provides swift justice.

More prisoners have died of natural causes on death row than have perished in the death chamber. More than 900 killers have been sentenced to death since 1978, but only 13 have been executed.

Read the whole story at The Sacramento Bee

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California chief justice discusses her rise to high court

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 31, 2015

Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye championed community as she spoke at an event in Redding where she detailed her rise to the state’s highest judicial office and a short stint as a blackjack dealer after law school.

Amid the sound of clinking silverware, Cantil-Sakauye took to the podium at a luncheon hosted by The Women’s Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. About 200 guests, mostly women, attended.

As a Filipino-American who grew up in Sacramento, Cantil-Sakauye models her work ethic after other Filipino women whom she describes as “beautiful house orchids with titanium spines.” During her childhood she picked produce with her family in the fields of Northern California.

Read the whole story at Record Searchlight

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Mississippi: Judge Halts Executions

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 27, 2015

A federal judge on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order blocking Mississippi from using two drugs in executions, shutting down the death penalty in the state for now. The judge, Henry T. Wingate of United States District Court, said the state could not use pentobarbital or midazolam, two drugs used to render prisoners unconscious. State law requires a three-drug process, with a sedative followed by a paralyzing agent and a drug that stops the heart. Grace Simmons Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, wrote in an email that the order bans the state from using any drug to execute a condemned inmate. The state quickly filed notice that it would ask the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to overturn Judge Wingate’s order. Mississippi is one of several states facing legal challenges to lethal injections.

 

Source: The New York Times

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Los Angeles man files class-action lawsuit against Ashley Madison site

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Los Angeles man has filed a class-action lawsuit against the AshleyMadison.com online dating site for married people after his account information was leaked along with that of 37 million other users this month.

The man, who goes by John Doe, joined the dating site in March 2012 in the belief that his “email would never be shown or shared,” according to his lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

But then a group of hackers, known as the Impact Team, last week released emails, full names, street addresses and some credit card information for their tens of millions of users. The leak revealed dozens of government email addresses were used to access the site.

The breach also exposed the vulnerability of Toronto-based Avid Life Media, owner of AshleyMadison.com. Hackers warned of such a leak in July if the site continued to operate, but Avid Life Media ignored the threat, the lawsuit alleges.

Read the whole story at LA Times

 

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Ninth Circuit Cracks Down on Routine Shackling in San Diego Federal Court

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cutting costs doesn't justify the Southern District of California's policy of shackling pretrial detainees for most court appearances, the Ninth Circuit ruled Tuesday.
In March 2013, the U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of California wrote to the district's chief judge, requesting that the court adopt a policy of producing defendants in full restraints for most nonjury proceedings. Full restraints include handcuffs and leg shackles connected to a belly band by a chain.
The judge responded later that year, stating that the district's judges would defer to the request with the exception of guilty pleas, sentencing hearings, and if a judge asks the marshals to remove the restraints.
The Federal Defenders of San Diego filed a challenge to the policy on behalf of three defendants, but the judge denied the challenge.

Read the whole story at The Courthouse News Service

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Crowdfunding can be a great way to finance your case--or destroy it

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hollywood directors use it to bankroll movies. Musicians do it to finance records. A man named Zack Danger Brown raised $55,000 this way to make potato salad.

We’re talking about crowdfunding. The concept of crowdfunding is thought to have been invented in 2006, but has quickly become a popular way for people to raise money for a cause or to finance a project or business.

And those projects now include litigation. A litigation crowdfunding website or application lets anyone in need of backing for a legal matter raise money from anywhere in the world. And typically, when people invest in a matter, they are given a stake in the claim they have funded.

“I looked at litigation financing and couldn’t understand why more people weren’t investing,” says Jay Greenberg, CEO and co-founder of LexShares, a legal crowdfunding company. “I think the biggest gap is education or understanding the process. The crowdfunding mechanism makes investing more transparent and accessible to more people.”

Read the whole story at ABA Journal

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Texas Sends Thousands Of Kids To Court And Fines Them For Missing School. That's About To Change.

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In a state proud of its reputation for "hang 'em high" Texas justice, closing the school-to-prison pipeline has long seemed next to impossible.

For years, Texas prosecuted more kids for missing school than all other states combined. In 2013, prosecutors charged more than 115,000 kids with truancy in adult criminal courts, where the minors were denied access to lawyers, fined thousands of dollars, and saddled with criminal records, despite evidence that such punitive measures didn't incentivize kids to come to school.

But now Texas is changing course.

As students in Texas return to school this month, a sweeping reform of the state's truancy laws will go into effect, eliminating the use of adult courts for truancy cases and requiring schools to operate truancy prevention programs. Instead of automatically handing off truant kids to the criminal justice system, schools will be forced to deal directly with minors who skip school, and to delve further than ever before into the reasons that individual students miss school.

Read the whole story at Huffington Post

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The Con Man, Wood Chipper And Plot To Assassinate A Federal Judge In California

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Even before he allegedly plotted to kidnap, torture and murder U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford with a wood chipper machine, Orange County's John Arthur Walthall personified the type of twisted villain Hollywood scriptwriters crave for crime fictions.

Audacious beyond belief, Walthall is a gifted con artist, who in 2007-2008 tricked wealthy investors out of $5.5 million to supposedly extract gold from old, abandoned mines in Nevada, Imperial Valley and Brazil.

He instead diverted funds into more than 30 bank accounts to mask his financial crimes, which included using investor's money to send a son to the New York Film Academy, make child support to an ex-wife, secure a premium personal ad on eHarmony, buy gifts for a girlfriend, pay off credit card debts and loans for three Ford pickup trucks, and purchase a Fortius 420 Hyperbaric Chamber.

Read the whole story at The OC Weekly

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more Calendar

4/24/2018
How to Draft a Custody Order

4/26/2018
Diversity Happy Hour

5/2/2018
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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