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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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City of San Jose Civil Service Commission Vacancy

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 21, 2014

Editor's Note: The City is looking for an attorney to fill one of the positions

Application Deadline: 5:00 p.m.,  Monday, December 1, 2014 

The San José City Council is accepting applications until Monday, December 1, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. for appointments to fill two (2) seats on the Civil Service Commission. The Civil Service Commission makes recommendations to the City Council and the City Manager and conducts investigations concerning the administration of personnel in the Classified Service. The Commission acts as an appellate body for personnel decisions affecting City employees and applicants, reviews and recommends changes to Civil Service regulations and appoints members to the City Council Salary Setting Commission. 

There are two positions available on the Commission with terms ending November 30, 2018. Pursuant to the City’s Charter, one member must be an attorney-at-law licensed to practice in the State of California and been so for at least five years. The Attorney-at-law serves as the Hearing Presiding Officer. Furthermore, no more than four members may be of the same gender. Currently there are two males and one female on the Commission. Men and Women are encouraged to apply. Civil Service 
Commissioners must be both residents and registered voters of the City of San Jose and must remain so throughout their term in office. Applicants meeting all the criteria will be considered for appointment. 

Appointment Process: All applications received by the deadline will be submitted to the Mayor and Council Members who, in turn, will notify the City Clerk as to whom they would like to interview. Applicants receiving four or more such indications of interest will be asked to appear and be interviewed by the Mayor and Council during a Special Meeting of the City Council to be held at a date to be determined in December 2014. Applicants receiving six or more votes, or the highest number of votes over six, will be appointed to serve on the Civil Service Commission. In order to be considered for appointment, you must attend the City Council interview.

Applications may be obtained from the Office of the City Clerk, City Hall, 200 East Santa Clara Street, Wing Building, 2nd Floor, San Jose, CA 95113, or you may apply online at: http://sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=330

For questions, please call the Office of the City Clerk at (408) 535-1260 or e-mail at commissions@sanjoseca.gov

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Journal indicates FSU shooter suspected government

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 21, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida State University alumnus and attorney who shot three people at the school's library early Thursday believed the government was targeting him for persecution, detailing his thoughts in a journal and in videos detectives obtained, authorities said.

Officers fatally shot Myron May, 31, during an exchange outside the library about 12:30 a.m. May reloaded at least once and tried to enter the library, where about 450 students were studying for midterm exams, but was blocked by lobby security barriers that permit only students and staff inside, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said.

"Based on our initial review of the documents and his videos and his postings, it's clear that Mr. May's sense of being and place in our community was not what most people would refer to as a normal," DeLeo said. "He had a sense of crisis and he was searching for something."

The shooting sent students scrambling for cover in the book aisles and barricading themselves in with desks amid screams from classmates.

Read the whole story from AP

 

 

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S.F. attorney moves toward confirmation for federal judgeship

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 21, 2014

President Obama’s nomination of San Francisco attorney Haywood Gilliam to a federal judgeship won unanimous approval Thursday from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Gilliam, a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School, was a federal prosecutor in San Francisco from 1999 to 2006, the last two years as chief of its securities fraud section.

He now practices business law and has been a partner since 2009 at Covington & Burling in San Francisco, where he is vice chairman of the firm’s white-collar defense and investigations group. He received a civil rights award from the NAACP’s San Francisco office in 1998, when he was with another law firm.

Read the whole story at SFGate

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Lessons from a lawsuit

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 20, 2014

Well, here’s something you don't see every day: A high-level executive of a high-profile agency gets fired, retains a celebrity attorney and then files a tell-all lawsuit alleging he was whacked for whistleblowing.

Former state Sen. Joe Dunn’s acrimonious departure as the California State Bar’s executive director has lawyers everywhere talking, since the quasi-public organization administers the gateway exam into their profession and then disciplines them for illegal or unethical practices.

So far, we’ve heard mostly from Dunn, who alleges that a bar executive falsified investigation reports to enhance her evaluation and pay, that the same person made an unspecified complaint about him, that the board of trustees’ president was out to get Dunn and that he was fired, he says, for reporting the corruption.

The board countered with a news release calling Dunn’s lawsuit “baseless.” Without getting into the gory details, the bar said that staff complaints prompted Dunn’s termination after considerable investigation and deliberation.

“It’s bewildering to hear Mr. Dunn claim that he is a whistleblower,” the bar’s statement says, since he was the guy just below the board on State Bar org chart.

Read the whole story at Sacramento Bee

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Why Did So Many People Flunk the Bar Exam This Year?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The most recent bar exam test results are in, and they are ugly. In several states, people who took the bar in July were more likely to fail than those who took it last year, and scores on one portion of the test dropped to their lowest point in 10 years.

Are America’s law graduates really getting dumber? The people who put together the bar exam seem to think so.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners, a nonprofit that prepares one of the state-specific multiple-choice sections in which scores dropped dramatically, sent a curt message to law school deans in October. “The results are correct,” wrote Erica Moeser, the group’s president, in an Oct. 23 memo. “The group that sat in July 2014 was less able than the group that sat in July 2013,”

Read the whole story at Bloomberg Businessweek

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State employment board sides with prosecutor against Santa Clara County DA

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

State officials responsible for enforcing labor laws have issued a complaint against Santa Clara County, alleging that county District Attorney Jeff Rosen unfairly retaliated against a prosecutor and union activist after the man criticized one of his policies.

The complaint by the Public Employment Relations Board regarding the Rosen administration's treatment of Deputy District Attorney Jim Sibley would normally be heard by one of its administrative judges. But the matter is first being decided in binding arbitration.

The flap began last year after Sibley claimed that Rosen retaliated against him for openly criticizing his controversial administrative-leave policy. Sibley, who was on the board of the Government Attorneys Association at the time, lost his position as a supervising attorney on Rosen's executive team, as well as the 5-percent pay bonus that went with it. Rosen also transferred him to an outlying office in Palo Alto, adding as much as two extra hours or so to his daily round-trip commute from Scotts Valley.

Read the whole story at Inside Bay Area

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Sylvia Perez-MacDonald Appointed Director of the Independent Defense Counsel Office

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Editor's Note: Sylvia Perez-MacDonald is a trustee for the SCCBA, the immediate past-Treasurer and will serve on the 2015 Executive Committee of the SCCBA.

Veteran Santa Clara County Trial Attorney to Lead Office

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. - Sylvia Perez-MacDonald has been selected to serve as the Director of the Independent Defense Counsel Office (IDO), succeeding James Gleason, who is retiring after a 30-year career with the County of Santa Clara. Mr. Gleason was the first IDO Director, and successfully implemented and managed the IDO as a separate division of the County Counsel’s Office since 2008.

Since her admission to the State Bar in 1995, Sylvia Perez-MacDonald has devoted her entire legal career to the defense of indigent persons accused of having committed serious crimes. Perez-MacDonald served as a Trial Attorney in the Solano County Office of the Public Defender, as a Trial Attorney in the office of Biggam, Christensen & Minsloff in Santa Cruz County, and since 1997, in a succession of assignments of increasing responsibility in the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender. 

During her 17 years with the Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office, Perez-MacDonald served as a Trial Attorney in the Felony Team Unit handling serious felony cases, as a Trial Attorney in the Special Trials Unit where she tried several complex homicide cases, as the Supervising Attorney for both the South County satellite office of the Public Defender and the Juvenile Delinquency Unit.  Most recently, Perez-MacDonald held the position of Lead Attorney in the Misdemeanor Division. 

“Perez-MacDonald is a highly accomplished professional who has earned an excellent reputation with her peers, her supervisors, and the judges whom she has appeared before,” said County of Santa Clara County Counsel Orry Korb. “Both her extensive experience as a supervising attorney and her compelling personal story will serve her well in her new position.”

Perez-MacDonald, who is the child of migrant agricultural workers was raised and educated both in the United States and Mexico, has demonstrated a high degree of sensitivity to the needs of the communities served. 

“I look forward to maintaining and enhancing this County’s reputation for excellence in providing effective, consistent and reliable legal representation to this county’s indigent community,” said Perez-MacDonald, who said that she is humbled and honored to be appointed. “I also look forward to working in collaboration with our justice system partners to continuously improve our county’s criminal justice system.” The IDO provides qualified attorneys to represent indigent persons who face criminal prosecution, but cannot be represented by either the Public Defender’s Office or the Alternate Defender’s Office because of conflicts of interest.  The IDO Director selects and maintains under contract a panel of criminal defense attorneys who are highly qualified to defend cases involving a full range of criminal charges. 

The IDO is a division of the County Counsel’s Office that is both managed and operated separately from the remainder of the Office in order to avoid any possible conflicts between persons represented by IDO and the other departmental clients of the Office. 

Perez-MacDonald graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law in 1995 earning a Juris Doctor degree.  In 1992, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of California at Davis, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish.  She is happily married to Scott MacDonald and has two step children, Leo and Jessica.  The IDO Director is paid up to $236,826 annually. Perez-MacDonald will assume her new position on December 8, 2014.

source: sccgov

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Area Women Lawyers Discuss Leaning In at Recent Seminar

Posted By Linda MacLeod, Esq., Monday, November 17, 2014

On October 29, 2014, the Women’s Lawyer Section of the Santa Clara County Bar Association — led by co-chairs Lori Costanzo and Linda MacLeod — held its “2nd Annual From Having It All to Leaning In: Career Advancement, Work-Life Balance, and the Realities of Being a Lawyer in the 21st Century" Seminar. This year's event, held at Cooley LLP in Palo Alto, was well attended with approximately 75 dynamic female lawyers — including judges (sitting and retired), mediators, corporate advisors, in-house counsel, professors, equity and non-equity partners, sole practitioners, authors, and associates—present. We started off with a cocktail hour where attendees were able to mingle and network in a relaxed setting. Pat Gillette, a well-known leader in the area of the advancement of female lawyers, was our keynote speaker. She sang the old Virginia Slims tune to introduce her speech about what she considers to be the “New Feminism.” She urged attendees to affirmatively engage men in the conversation — and the movement — to get women lawyers into more leadership positions at their law firms, companies and universities. She was simply “mahvelous.” You can see some of her keynote below. 

Seminar participants then broke out into one of four groups lead by female experts where timely articles, materials and books on women’s issues authored by Ida Abbott, Jean Williams, Barbara Bryant, Judge Erica Yew, Lori Andrus, and Dr. Michelle Rhyu were provided and discussed. The groups were: (1) Sponsorship/Mentorship and Equal Pay Issues; (2) Obstacles to Leadership and How to Overcome them; (3) Rainmaking—Regardless of Firm Size; and (3) Work/Life Balance.

Each breakout session generated spirited and personal discussion in a small group setting. All participants then gathered together again and reported back what they learned regarding their specific topics. The event provided much-needed discussion and education for female lawyers of all ages and backgrounds.

Look for this annual event again in 2015. 

 

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National News Media Join 9th Cir. Case on Public Access in CA Courts

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

National newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, have joined in a pending Ninth Circuit case challenging press access delays in California courts.

The underlying case was brought by Courthouse News against Ventura's court clerk over delays in access to new complaints that ran up to a month. The delay sapped the news out of important legal battles, for example, over water rights and wind farms.

"Having access to complaints is an important component of reporting on the legal system and the judicial branch," said the brief by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 25 media organizations, including The Associated Press, Dow Jones & Company, Bloomberg L.P., The New Yorker, News Corporation and The Seattle Times Company.

"Civil complaints are most newsworthy the day they are filed, and, accordingly, the media is most likely to report on lawsuits of public interest and concern at that time," said the signatories, also including The E.W. Scripps Company, Gannett Company, Hearst Corporation and the McClatchy Company.

The journey of the case began three years ago when it was filed in federal court in Los Angeles. Judge Manuel Real dismissed on abstention grounds, saying the matter was for state courts to decide.

The Ninth Circuit reversed.

"Open government has been a hallmark of our democracy since our nation's founding," said the opinion by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw joined by Mary Murguia and John Noonan.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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Gov. Jerry Brown lets state Supreme Court vacancy linger

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 17, 2014

The California Supreme Court, which is supposed to have seven justices, has had only six for more than seven months, an interval that may be unprecedented and is at least the longest in a half century. The reason is inaction by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Justice Joyce Kennard, the court’s longest-serving member, retired April 5, a decision she had announced nearly two months earlier. The vacancy gave Brown a chance to shift the composition of a court that has had only one Democratic appointee for more than two decades.

The governor moved quickly when another seat opened up with the announcement in June by Justice Marvin Baxter, the court’s leading conservative, that he would not seek another 12-year term. Five weeks later, Brown nominated Stanford law Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, who was confirmed by a state commission and approved by the state’s voters Nov. 4 to take office in January.

But Brown — who at times in the past has questioned the need to fill vacant judgeships — hasn’t nominated Kennard’s successor or said why he hasn’t. 

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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