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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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Suit against State Bar of California spurs calls for new lawyer discipline model

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 12, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO >> The former executive director of the California organization charged with rooting out lawyers who cheat clients or botch cases says he was fired after reporting that disciplinary files were deliberately being removed to make its case backlog appear smaller.

The State Bar of California counters that Joseph Dunn, who is also a former state senator, was terminated after it received “serious, wide-ranging allegations” against him.

The internal warfare at the nation’s largest state bar is reviving criticism that its disciplinary system is weak and lets bad attorneys off the hook. 

Some say the episode shows a broken, dysfunctional institution that needs restructuring to properly police its more than 249,000 members.

“The state bar for the last generation has been a completely dysfunctional organization,” said Peter Keane, a former state bar vice president who teaches at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. “It seems to survive somehow, but ... it gets worse with each iteration.”

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Daily News

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County Watchdog Recruitment Gets into Full Swing

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 9, 2015

Recruitment begins for 2015-16 Civil Grand Jury.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (January 9, 2015): the Hon. Risë Pichon, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, has ordered the recruitment period open for 2015-16 Civil Grand Jury. As part of this effort, the Office of the Grand Jury will be holding five informational sessions throughout the County for prospective watchdogs (see schedule below).
 
“It’s vital that those who are charged with this incredible responsibility reflect the tremendous diversity that makes up Santa Clara County,” said Presiding Judge Pichon. “First and foremost we’re looking for civic mindedness, strong ethics, and courage, but we also need a mixed set of skills and abilities in our jurors so that we can assemble the deep reservoir of knowledge necessary in this broad oversight role.”
 
Service on the Grand Jury affords citizens a unique opportunity to make a significant contribution to the efficiency and integrity of local government. As the county’s top investigatory authority, the Civil Grand Jury has the authority to examine all aspects of county and city government, school districts, and special districts, including inspection of all adult and juvenile detention facilities. The one-year term will begin on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
 
Persons interested in applying may obtain an application online at www.scscourt.org (under Civil Grand Jury). Questions about the informational events or about the Grand Jury may be directed to CGJ@scscourt.org or by contacting Tamara Davis, Deputy Manager of Jury Services, at (408) 882-2721.

 
Information Sessions
1/29 (12 – 1 p.m.):  Board of Supervisors Chambers
70 W. Hedding Street in San Jose 
2/3 (6 – 7 p.m.): Milpitas Public Library
160 N. Main Street in Milpitas
2/11 (6 – 7 p.m.): Morgan Hill Public Library
660 West Main Avenue in Morgan Hill 
2/18 (6 – 7 p.m.): Campbell Public Library
77 Harrison Avenue in Campbell
2/24 (6 – 7 p.m.):  Los Altos Public Library
13 S. San Antonio Road in Los Altos
 
The deadline to submit applications is Friday, March 27, 2015.

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Chuck Reed, former Mayor of San Jose, to join Hopkins & Carley Real Estate Department

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hopkins & Carley announces the arrival of Chuck Reed, former Mayor of San Jose, to its Real Estate Department in its San Jose office. 

Chuck Reed was Mayor of San Jose from 2007 to 2014, a member of the City Council from 2000 to 2006, and a city and county Planning Commissioner for 14 years before being elected to office.  Before taking office as Mayor of the tenth largest city in the country, Chuck Reed was a lawyer in private practice in San Jose.  He has extensive experience in real estate, environmental law, construction, litigation, and advising C-level executives of private and public companies on their personal investments and transactions. 

Hopkins & Carley’s Real Estate Department represents commercial property users, owners, developers, contractors and lenders.  

 

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Audit finds $30 million in 'questionable' court spending and salaries

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 8, 2015

California's court leaders spent $30 million over four years on "questionable" expenses and salaries, leaving less money for cash-strapped trial courts, a state audit said Wednesday.

The audit, ordered by the Legislature, called on the court's statewide leadership to more closely supervise the hundreds of employees that administer the court system. The Judicial Council, the policymaking arm of the courts, oversees what until this year was called the Administrative Office of the Courts, or the AOC.

"This report concludes that questionable fiscal and operational decisions by the Judicial Council and the AOC have limited funds available to the courts," State Auditor Elaine M. Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers who requested the review.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who heads the Judicial Council and appoints most of its members, established a group Wednesday to study the audit and make recommendations to the council.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Robert Hawn Appointed Chair of the Business Law Section of the California State Bar

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Robert Hawn, a founding partner of Strategy Law, LLP in San Jose has been appointed Chair of the Business Law Section of the California State Bar.

San Jose, California (PRWEB) January 07, 2015

Robert Hawn was recently appointed Chair of the Business Law Section of the California State Bar for the 2014-2015 bar year. As Chair, he is responsible for managing and leading the Section.

The Business Law Section is devoted to increasing the effectiveness of business lawyers in California through education and legislative initiatives. It has approximately 8,500 members. Its efforts are led by 15 Standing Committees, which cover substantive areas ranging from Agribusiness, to Cyberspace Law. It is also the publisher of the Business Law News, which provides learned analysis of cutting edge legal issues. “It is an honor and privilege to Chair the Section. I am delighted to be joined by the extraordinary leadership team of April Frisby, Vice-Chair Programs and Publications, Isabelle Ord, Vice-Chair Legislation, Robert Harris, Vice-Chair Member Services, and Chris Passarelli, Vice-Chair Marketing and Outreach”.

Mr. Hawn is an AV rated* lawyer and a founding partner of Strategy Law, LLP, a comprehensive business and real estate law firm located in downtown San Jose. His practice focuses on Mergers and AcquisitionsTechnology Transfer and Corporate matters. He is a frequent speaker at seminars on internet-related legal issues. He is a past co-chair of the State Bar of California Cyberspace Law Committee and a member of the Executive Committee of the Business Law Section. He has also served as Chair of the Santa Clara County Bar Association High Technology Law Committee and the Advisory Committee for Innovation Center Denmark.

Read the whole story at Virtual Strategy

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California Supreme Court nominee confirmed

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 23, 2014

 — A state panel on Monday confirmed another California Supreme Court appointment by Gov. Jerry Brown — a move that likely tilts the conservative-leaning court further to the left.

Leondra Kruger, 38, a deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, won unanimous approval by the three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments.

The confirmation of Kruger, who is black, brings down the court's average age and will give California one black, one Hispanic and three Asian justices. Four women will be on the panel.

Kruger is a Yale University law school graduate who appears to be a rising star in the legal profession. Critics, however, have pointed out that she has never served as a judge and has spent most of her legal career outside California, although she is a native of Los Angeles area.

Kruger responded to the criticism at her appointment hearing, saying her career had exposed her to a wide variety of legal issues, and she hoped to draw on the expertise of her colleagues on the court regarding any questions about California law.

"It is both a personal and professional delight to come back home," she said.

Read the whole story at The Fresno Bee

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California Supreme Court nominee wins high praise from key panel

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 19, 2014

A State Bar panel gave Leondra Kruger, Gov. Jerry Brown’s nominee to the state Supreme Court, its highest rating Thursday, saying the U.S. Justice Department attorney was “exceptionally well qualified” and would bring “a unique and valuable perspective” to the court despite her lack of judicial experience.

The assessment by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, based on confidential surveys of Kruger’s record and character, virtually guarantees her confirmation by the state’s three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments, which meets Monday in San Francisco.

Kruger, 38, has worked for the Justice Department since 2007, serving in the solicitor general’s office in both the Bush and Obama administrations and arguing 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. A Pasadena native, she taught at the University of Chicago law school and worked at private law firms in Washington, D.C., but has never practiced law in California.

Read the whole story at SFGate

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Governor Brown Appoints Three to Santa Clara County Superior Court

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 15, 2014

Editor's Note: Roberta S. Hayashi served as 1996 President of the SCCBA.

Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the appointment of Eric S. Geffon, Roberta S. Hayashi and Cynthia C. Lie to judgeships in the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Geffon, 44, of Los Altos, has been an owner at Geffon and Isger since 2001. He served as a deputy public defender at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office from 1996 to 2001. Geffon earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Sacramento. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Thomas W. Cain. Geffon is a Democrat.

Hayashi, 56, of Los Gatos, has been head of the employment law practice and a litigation partner at Berliner Cohen Attorneys at Law since 2006, where she was a partner from 1990 to 2000 and an associate from 1982 to 1989. Hayashi was a partner at Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman LLP from 2003 to 2005 and head of the employment law practice at Skjerven Morrill LLP from 2001 to 2003. She was president of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley in 2001 and of the Santa Clara County Bar Association in 1996. Hayashi earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Rene Navarro. Hayashi is a Democrat.

Read the whole story at Imperial Valley News

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Thank you for an extraordinary year as SCCBA President

Posted By Dianne L. Sweeney, 2014 SCCBA President, Thursday, December 11, 2014

by Dianne L. Sweeney
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
2014 SCCBA President

While it seems to me that 2014 passed in a matter of weeks and I am eager to continue the work that still must be done, I wanted to take this moment to thank each of you for an extraordinary year.  I have been profoundly honored and grateful to serve as your President this year.  One of the many benefits I have enjoyed as president is having the vantage point to see the accomplishments of our organization as a whole.  To see member, after member, working to better our legal community.  While I list some of the specific achievements below, what the SCCBA has more broadly accomplished is a renewed and more focused commitment to those principles that bind us as an organization—professionalism, diversity/inclusion, commitment to pro bono service and a desire to see our members develop thriving law practices.  These principles emanate through the daily actions of the SCCBA and guide our leadership and our members down parallel paths to ensure that our day-to-day work mirrors our mission.  

Working to maintain and improve the legal system is one of the most important contributions we can make as lawyers and I thank each of you for your ongoing support of the SCCBA in its mission to improve the legal system here in Santa Clara County.  It takes only a short read of the daily news around the world to appreciate again the vital role of lawyers, judges and courts in free societies.  One critical benefit that we enjoy in Santa Clara County is that we have a bench and a community that enthusiastically shares our values.  

I am confident that our successes will continue under the incoming leadership of the bar.  The leaders for 2015, John Mlnarik (president), Matt Poppe (president-elect), Kate Wilson (secretary) and Nicole Isger (treasurer), have each been actively involved in our leadership and are each committed to the mission of the SCCBA.  I wish them all the best in 2015 and thank them for their dedication and continued service.  

While the Board and I have had the pleasure of leading the volunteer component of the SCCBA, our achievements could not have been possible without the daily support and guidance of our CEO and General Counsel, Christine Burdick and her staff.  Through countless events, meetings and requests, whether long in planning or at a moment’s notice, the staff has worked diligently to deliver excellence on each occasion.  Sara Brylowski, our new marketing director, both developed and implemented an entirely new marketing look and feel across our entire platform, including launching a new website.  Angie Loyola, Irene Cortez, Tiffany Taubodo, Delores Hernandez, Veronica Chavez, Alisa D’Angelo, Smita  Joshi and Craig Melton have, in various ways, ensured that our volunteer members are able to deliver excellent content to our members (through traditional MCLE events, webcasts, blogs, social mixers and community service), connect potential clients and counsel through our lawyer referral service program, resolve fee disputes through the fee arbitration process and, all the while, ensuring that our budget is balanced, our bills are paid, our phones are answered and our technology platform is up and running.  It takes a village to accomplish our work so please join me in thanking each one of them for their service, support and good sense of humor.

I also want to thank the 2014 volunteer leadership team that has provided countless hours to advance all the activities and programs sponsored by the SCCBA.  First, I want to give special recognition and thanks to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees who are on the front line to provide input to me, our CEO, Chris Burdick and the Board.  They are:  the 2014 SCCBA Officers (John Mlnarik, Nicole Isger and Matt Poppe) as well as members Kate Wilson, Jill Fox, Carlos Orellana, Gabriel Gregg and Elisa Tolentino.  The 2014 Executive Committee provided thoughtful input and invaluable support to me throughout this year.

Last but not least, I want to think the 2014 Board of Trustees comprised of both elected trustees and representatives of our minority bar associations and SCCBA Diversity, Barristers and Women Lawyers.  They have given the SCCBA a new foundation for the Board’s ongoing comprehensive strategic planning that will continue into 2015.  These fine leaders include our Executive Committee members, former presidents Steven B. Haley and Mindy Morton, and trustees Adam J. Davis, Aileen F. Casanave, Carmen Rosas, Christopher W. Dull, Dana Brody-Brown, Elisa T. Tolentino, Kevin M. Hammon, Lauren E. Jones, Laurie M. Charrington, Megan E. Ottoboni, Ram Fletcher, Robert B. Wong and Sylvia Perez-MacDonald.  I would also like to thank Bob Weeks for his long-term service as our ABA Delegate as well as our former-president Mark Shem, who just completed his term as the State Bar Trustee for our District. 

Some of our accomplishments in 2014 include:

  • New Website designed to better showcase the work and resources available to SCCBA members including streamlining the process to join SCCBA committees and sections, opening new channels to connect with other members so that new ideas and opportunities can be readily shared.
  • Formation and Launch of The Center for Ethics & Professionalism.  The Center showcases our extensive work and commitment in this area and provides a host of centralized resources to members.
  • Creation and release of our new logo which balances a modern look and feel with our deep ties to our nearly 100 year history.
  • Completion of our First Phase of Strategic Planning at a Board level to ensure, among other things, that our long-term plans account for the demands of our newer and future members as well as the retirement of some of our baby-boomer members. 
  • Continued commitment to the community through our Lawyers in the Community as well as the Courtroom Program.  This year we held another Second Harvest Food Bank Service event and began a collaborative process with the San Jose Mayor’s Office to ensure that our members are more aware of City commission and board volunteer opportunities
  • Held the 2014 Bench/Bar Leadership Professionalism Summit as one of the various steps we took to keep the Code embedded in our day-to-day practice and experience with the courts.
  • The Northern District of California adopted its first civility code based on the SCCBA Code of Professionalism. We are now asking other counties to join in that effort so we can further share the benefits that the Code has long provided to our local legal community.  
  • Launched the new Judicial Assessment Committee, implementing the Judicial Assessment Procedure for the first time and created a new survey that will be distributed in first quarter 2015.

For nearly 100 years, the SCCBA has been a leader in our community and, as we approach our century-mark, I am proud to report that the SCCBA is a vibrant and critical leader in the local and statewide legal community and, I am proud to have been given the opportunity to serve as your President.  I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season and look forward to seeing you in 2015.

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Bar Board Missing Public Members

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SACRAMENTO — Personnel and legal drama may be plentiful at California's State Bar these days. But the number of nonlawyers overseeing those travails by serving on the bar's board of trustees is not.

The board, comprised of up to 20 members, currently has four vacancies. All four are so-called public-member slots that must be filled by the governor. And he appears to be in no rush. The last two gubernatorial appointees left when their terms expired in 2012, according to a bar spokeswoman.

That leaves the governing body dominated by attorneys, a situation that, based on sentiments expressed by lawmakers in 2011 legislation overhauling the board's leadership, is not ideal.

"We're aware of the vacancies and have interviewed a number of candidates," said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown. "As is the case with every appointment we make, our focus is selecting the best possible candidate—or candidates—from a deep and diverse pool of applicants."

That pool may not run very deep. Public service sentiments aside, it's hard to imagine many nonlawyers eager to serve on a board, flush with attorneys, that seems to be smacked with turmoil and scandals on a regular basis.

And from the governor's point of view, there are hundreds of appointments to make annually—judges, commissioners, fair board members and agency executives, just to name a few. Occasionally, some of those agencies lack operating quorums. Filling those vacancies, and those on more prominent governing boards, are surely higher priorities.

And no one's saying that having an additional four public members on the bar's board would have prevented the current Joe Dunn saga. But their absence seems to fly in the face of 2011 legislation that shrunk the size of the board, giving more weight to appointed members, and stated adamantly that "protection of the public shall be the highest priority for the State Bar."

Westrup offered no timeline for the governor filling those vacancies.

"As soon as these appointments are made," he said, "we'll let you know."

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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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
Hon. Edward J. Davila2017 Diversity of the Year

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