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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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California: First illegal immigrant with law license makes a go of his profession

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 10, 2014

CHICO -- Sergio Garcia is a civil litigation lawyer in California who represents clients in car accidents. He doesn't practice immigration law, which Garcia says surprises many people because of his high-profile battle to become the first known immigrant in the country without legal permission to become a licensed attorney.

"No way, man," Garcia said. "Not after what I've been through."

Garcia, 37, a native of Mexico, won his license after a bruising five-year legal and political battle that included a ruling in January from the California Supreme Court. It came after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a specially crafted bill passed by the Legislature to let Garcia practice law.

 

Soon after, Garcia rented an office in the rural Northern California college town of Chico, hired a secretary, hung his law degree on the wall, dressed in natty suits appropriate for an attorney, and began airing commercials on Spanish-language television and radio.

 

Read the whole story at Inside Bay Area

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Judiciary Committee applications now being accepted

Posted By Sara Brylowski, Friday, November 7, 2014

Applications for the Santa Clara County Bar Association 2015 Judiciary Committee are now being accepted.  To be considered for appointment to the 2015 Judiciary Committee, completed applications must be submitted by December 15, 2013, at 4:45 pm to SCCBA CEO & General Counsel, Chris Burdick, preferably through the online application or by email at chrisb@sccba.com.


The criteria to be eligible for consideration for appointment to the SCCBA Judiciary Committee include but are not necessarily limited to current membership in the SCCBA and the following:

  1. Prior activity on one or more committees of the SCCBA and/or a showing of involvement in the SCCBA beyond mere payment of membership dues;
  2. Adequate practice experience;
  3. Practice area diversity to be determined by considering the composition of the Judiciary Committee and the applicant pool as a whole at the time any appointment/s are being made;
  4. Lack of any conflict of interest with respect to the substantive work of the Judiciary Committee. 

Appointments are made solely within the discretion of the 2015 SCCBA President as provided by SCCBA by-laws.  The SCCBA President is not obligated to make any appointments or to make any appointments from the pool of applicants.  In addition, the size of the 2015 Judiciary Committee is within the sole discretion of the 2015 SCCBA President.  The SCCBA strongly encourages attorneys of diverse racial, ethnic, religious, gender and sexual orientation backgrounds as well as attorneys with disabilities to apply.  Candidates must complete the SCCBA 2015 Judiciary Committee application to be considered. 

 

CONTINUE TO APPLICATION →

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Futures Commission Seeks Input on California Court System

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 7, 2014

Deadline to complete survey: December 5

 

SAN FRANCISCO—The Commission on the Future of California’s Court System created an online survey to seek broad input on recommendations to improve the California court system. The Commission is soliciting suggestions from the public, attorneys, judicial officers, court staff, law enforcement and all branch stakeholders on ways to make the California judicial branch more efficient and effective.

“The commission is particularly interested in identifying outdated laws, systems, or practices and proposals for new approaches, such as the use of technology, that will improve court services and save time and resources in the long term,” said Justice Carol A. Corrigan, an associate justice of the California Supreme Court and chair of the commission. “The goal of the survey is to ensure that we’re focused on today’s most pressing priorities. All ideas are welcome.”

The deadline to complete the online survey is Friday, December 5. Please refer any questions to FuturesCommission@jud.ca.gov.

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye created the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System to study and make recommendations to improve the state’s court operations and accessibility. In the next two years, the commission will examine ways to increase the efficiency of adjudicating cases in civil, criminal, traffic, juvenile, and family law matters, as well as ways to enhance the underfunded court system’s fiscal stability.

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Mercury News editorial: Court's integrity was at stake in Ritchie race

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 7, 2014

Every now and then, voters have to judiciously correct a mistake. This is what happened Tuesday in the Santa Clara County Superior Court race between Judge Diane Ritchie, who is finishing her first six-year term, and her challenger Matthew Harris, a respected prosecutor. Harris unseated Ritchie, winning the judgeship with 54 percent of the vote.

Since Ritchie's performance became an issue last winter, she and some supporters have portrayed the case against her as a personal vendetta. We'd like to be clear, before putting this sad case behind us, why reporting on judges' performance is critical -- and why elections for judge are among the most important for voters, even though rules for judicial campaigning limit what they're likely to learn about the candidates. This is why we always try to evaluate judicial candidates and help voters figure out who's who, even if they don't agree with our recommendation.

This rare instance of challenging a sitting judge came about largely because reporter Tracey Kaplan began writing about Ritchie's performance last winter. Over a five-year period, Kaplan had observed and been told by court staff about the judge's blunders and the court's repeated attempts to train and mentor her. Kaplan held off writing, giving her time to learn and improve. But Ritchie never caught on, and her re-election was approaching.

Read the whole story at The Mercury News

 

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November President's Message: Bench and Bar Leaders Meet to Further Professionalism in Santa Clara County

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 6, 2014

October was an extraordinary month for the Bar.  Judges’ Night 2014 was a tremendous success, and it was a great honor to have Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye as our keynote speaker.  I also have to again congratulate the members who received our 2014 honors Allen Ruby (Professionalism), Suchitra Nayaren (Diversity) and Mark Shem and Jim Scharf (Pro Bono) as well as Presiding Judge Brian Walsh who received our Outstanding Jurist of the Year award.  Each of the awardees are role models in our community and reflect the Bar’s long-standing commitments to continuing to raise the standards of the legal practice in this County and ensuring that our legal community is inclusive and diverse and provides access to justice for every community member.

The Professional Committee and I also had the pleasure of conducting the 2014 Professionalism Summit with members of the bench from the civil, criminal, and family divisions,  including Presiding Judge Brian Walsh, incoming Presiding Judge Rise Pichon as well as incoming Assistant Presiding Judge Patricia Lucas. 

 

Read more... 

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FTC Slaps Texas Firm And Its Lawyers In First Action Against Patent Trolls

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 6, 2014

In a stark warning to patent assertion entities and their lawyers, the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday settled charges against a Texas company and its outside counsel for using phony legal threats to pressure small businesses into buying licenses.

 

Read the whole story at The National Law Journal (subscription required)

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Prop. 47 jolts landscape of California justice system

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 6, 2014

Los Angeles County Public Defender Ron Brown walked into a Pomona court Wednesday and saw first-hand the impact of Proposition 47 — the voter-approved initiative that reduces penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes.

His office had deliberately postponed sentencing for a defendant facing more than a year behind bars for possessing heroin and methamphetamine to the day after Tuesday's election, waiting to see what voters would do.

The gambit worked. The man was sentenced and released from custody with no further jail time.

"They were felonies yesterday. They're misdemeanors today," Brown said. "This is the law now."

The day after California voted to reduce punishments, police agencies, defense attorneys, prosecutors and even some advocates were scrambling to figure out exactly how it was going to work.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Judge Sanctioned for Rude Remarks to Litigants

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 6, 2014

SACRAMENTO — There's a fine line between being blunt and being rude, and one Solano County judge crossed it too many times, according to the state's judicial watchdog.

The Commission on Judicial Performance on Wednesday announced that it has publicly admonished Superior Court Judge Daniel Healy for repeatedly making "undignified and discourteous" remarks over two years while he handled a family law calendar. Healy, who took the bench in 2011, oversaw a number of messy custody cases, and he didn't mince words with litigants he thought were copping attitudes.

"Why don't you prove to me that you recognize what a train wreck you are, and then maybe we'll be somewhere?" he told one mother he accused of lying.

Healy called a father in another case "stupid and thuggish" and asked if the man spoke to others with the same foul language that he directed toward his child's mother.

"Do you call your neighbors['] wives bitches and hoes, all that?" Healy said, according to a transcript provided by the CJP. "Is [that] just how you roll in your neighborhood?"


Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Santa Clara County Judge Ritchie loses seat to prosecutor Matt Harris

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beleaguered Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Diane Ritchie lost a bid to retain her seat for a second term as Prosecutor Matt Harris won by a comfortable margin.

The last time a Santa Clara County judge faced a re-election challenger was 16 years ago in a 1998 race so tame the incumbent won in a landslide.

With all precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Harris had 54.12 percent of the vote.

We're kind of having a victory party now (at the Silver Creek Sportsplex) in anticipation," Harris said Tuesday night as results were being reported.

Ritchie, who won an open seat for the Office 24 judicial seat in 2008, drew two challengers this winter after a February report in this newspaper highlighted her rough adjustment to becoming a judge.

In the June primary, Ritchie trailed Harris by nearly 4 points, though she beat back a bid by another candidate, defense attorney Annrae Angel.

 

Read the whole story at San Jose Mercury News

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Bay Area legal legend retires

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 5, 2014

With a hand in events spanning everything from the Berkeley Free Speech movement and the Patty Hearst kidnapping to the evolution of federal sentencing laws, it is fair to say U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen has etched his name in Bay Area history.

On Friday, the 86-year-old legal legend hung up his black robe for good, retiring from the federal bench after nearly three decades -- and ending a law career that stretches back to his early days as a young deputy district attorney in Alameda County during the Eisenhower administration.

"I just feel the time has come," Jensen, who also spent 12 years as Alameda County's powerful district attorney, told this newspaper. "One does slow down."

The legal community celebrated Jensen's retirement Thursday, when colleagues and supporters gathered in the San Jose federal courthouse shortly after he ended his last calendar of criminal sentencings. Some of the Bay Area's newest federal judges were in high school or college when Jensen first joined the court.

Read the whole story at San Jose Mercury News

 

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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
Hon. Edward J. Davila2017 Diversity of the Year
Steven B. Haley2017 Professional Lawyer of the Year

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