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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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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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Obama's best chance to influence the judiciary may be passing

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 3, 2014

When 41-year-old gay rights lawyer Michelle Friedland was confirmed by the Senate in April to the federal bench in San Francisco, Democrats cheered that a liberal woman would become the youngest federal appeals court judge in the nation.

 

But when a restrictive Wisconsin voter-identification requirement was allowed to go into effect in September after the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago deadlocked 5 to 5, Democrats winced. The law — later blocked by the Supreme Court — would presumably have been invalidated at the appellate court if President Obama had succeeded in filling a vacancy there now nearly five years old.

 

With Republicans striving to seize control of the Senate in Tuesday's election, Obama's first six years in office may mark the peak of his influence on the judiciary, including the appointment of two Supreme Court justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

 

Legal experts say it's a record of unprecedented achievements in judicial diversity. Women make up 42% of his confirmed nominees, more than double the average of his five predecessors combined, while African Americans make up 18% and Latinos 6%. Eleven openly gay judges now serve where there was only one.

 

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Santa Clara County Bar Association Announces Election Results for 2015 Officers and Trustees

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 29, 2014

San Jose, CA (October 29, 2014) - The Santa Clara County Bar Association (“SCCBA”) is pleased to announce the results of its 2014/15 election. Those elected will serve with 2015 President, JOHN L. MLNARIK. Before founding the Mlnarik Law Group, John, was the valedictorian of his graduating class at the Lincoln Law School of San Jose. While in law school, John received numerous awards and scholarships and was editor-in-chief of the Lincoln Law Review. Prior to attending law school he obtained bachelor degrees in Economics and English from Santa Clara University and worked in the legal field as a paralegal for Walkers Global in the Cayman Islands and Ericksen Arbuthnot in San Jose. John is a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, the William A. Ingram Inns of Court, as well as the Santa Clara County Bar Association. John has served as the SCCBA on its Executive Committee, as a trustee on its Board of Trustees, as its Treasurer and as a member of the Finance and Strategic Planning Committees.

 

MATTHEW POPPE was elected as the Association’s President-Elect for 2015 and will automatically assume the office of President in 2016. He began serving on the SCCBA’s Board of Trustees and Executive Committee, and looks forward to increasing his participation next year in the position of President-Elect. Mr. Poppe is a litigator with a practice that focuses on patent cases but also includes a variety of other types of IP and commercial litigation. He has spent his entire career at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he has been in the Menlo Park office since 1996. He volunteers as a temporary judge in Santa Clara County Small Claims Court, and attends meetings of the Small Claims Court Committee of the Santa Clara County Superior Court. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Silicon Valley Campaign for Legal Services. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago.

Mr. Poppe has been an active member of the SCCBA since 2004. He has served as Chair of the Civil Practice Committee, and served as a regular member of the committee for several years prior. He has also served on the Judiciary Committee for five years, including two years as Co-Chair in 2009-2010. He is currently a member of the High Tech Executive Committee and Federal Courts Committee as well, and has occasionally served on ad hoc committees by request. He has been a speaker at several CLE presentations in past years hosted by the Civil Practice Committee and the High Tech Executive Committee.

KATE WILSON was elected as the Association’s Secretary for 2015. She is a sole practitioner attorney in San Jose; her practice concentrates on labor and employment law. Kate is serving her second two year term as an elected member of the Board of Trustees, having previously served as the Barristers’ Committee representative on the Board. She served on the Executive Committee in 2011 and 2012. Kate served on the Professional Rules Revision Task Force, the Finance Committee and chaired the Barristers’ Committee in 2010. Kate received the Barristers’ Barrister of the Year Award in 2012. She is currently serving as chair of the Civil Practice Committee. She is a graduate of Santa Clara University Law School.

NICOLE ISGER was elected as the Association’s Treasurer for 2015. She is a partner in the criminal defense firm of Geffon & Isger. She has been a public defender with both the Contra Costa and Santa Clara County Public Defender Offices. Nicole has been active in the SCCBA for a number of years, having served on the Professionalism, Finance and Executive Committees. She currently also serves on the SCCBA Judicial Assessment Committee. She has also been involved with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley providing pro bono services for its health services program. Nicole graduated from UCLA Law School in 1998. 

JOSHUA BORGER was elected as a trustee to the SCCBA Board of Trustee. He joins Adam Davis, Jill Fox, Kevin Hammon, and Sylvia Perez McDonald.

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Early Court Hours Bring Criticism for Bad Planning and Bad Policy

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 29, 2014

(CN) - As California's economy spiraled down four years ago, the governor began lopping huge chunks of money off the $4 billion court budget. Year after year, he kept cutting until it was left an emaciated version of its former self, at roughly $3 billion.

In January with signs of an economic rebound, California's chief justice stood on her office steps in Sacramento, flanked by legislators and judges, with a crowd of reporters in attendance, to announce a "blueprint" that would restore $1.2 billion to the court budget over three years. The powerful speaker of the state Senate was at her side and endorsed her goal.

The campaign brought reliance from many local courts that were counting on the new money, burning through their reserves as they hoped and waited. Others saw the writing on the governor's wall.

Then in June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a budget that allocated a modest $160 million increase for the courts, far short of the goals in the blueprint from Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. Within weeks, a group of courts began announcing cuts in public hours starting in November.

They said the budget made them do it.

But locking out the public after two or three o'clock in the afternoon does not save money, a point widely conceded, because the staff continues to work until the end of the day.

It does, however, have a heavy impact on the public, those who must go to the courthouse in the middle of the day and stand in long lines to pay fines, file papers and, as one judge put it, "do their business."

And the public's pain is felt by legislators.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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No oath needed for child witness

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A child who is called to testify in court must show she understands the difference between truth and lies, and must promise to tell the truth. But, unlike adult witnesses, a child under 10 doesn’t have to take an oath, says a state appeals court.

In a ruling last week, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco upheld a South Bay teenager’s molestation conviction based on the testimony of a girl who was 4 at the time of the incident in 2009 and was 7 when she testified the Juvenile Court trial.

The girl told her mother that a 14-year-old boy, Jerry, a member of her extended family who lived in Fremont, had touched her between her legs after locking the doors at a home in Milpitas where they were visiting. When the case went to trial in 2013, rather than swearing the girl in as a witness, a Santa Clara County prosecutor asked the girl a series of questions.

First he asked her what color shirt he was wearing, and the girl correctly said it was “kind of bluish and purplish.” If he said it was white, the prosecutor said, would that be the truth or a lie? A lie, she responded. And is it good or bad to tell a lie? Bad, the girl said, and in response to the next question, she promised to tell the truth. After a little more Q&A, the prosecutor, without objection from Jerry’s lawyer, submitted the issue to Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Lee, who found the girl competent to testify. 

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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Experienced Trial Lawyer Becomes State Bar Leader During Challenging Times

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 24, 2014

The Editor Interviews Craig Holden, President of the State Bar of California and a partner in the Los Angeles office of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith LLP, where he chairs the firm’s National Commercial Litigation Practice.

Editor: First, congratulations on becoming the 90th president of the State Bar of California. Describe for our readers your path to becoming president.

Holden: When I started practicing law some 20 years ago, I had mentors who encouraged me to become active in the State Bar, which I did by participating as a speaker in the State Bar’s educational programming and taking on various leadership roles. My leadership roles started by serving on the Executive Committee for the Law Practice Management and Technology Section and I then went on to serve on the Intellectual Property Section Executive Committee. Soon after I formed and chaired the IP Litigation Committee, which was a good opportunity to get involved in cutting-edge IP and complex litigation issues. We took trips to Washington, DC and met with the Registrar of Copyrights, the chief judge of the Federal Circuit and the head of the Patent and Trademark Office, which gave me enormous exposure to policy-making opportunities, and fueled my desire to stay involved in bar leadership.

I was also active in efforts to diversify the profession and leadership of the bar by encouraging bar leadership to engage in more outreach to recruit from specialty and minority bar organizations. This effort resulted in my founding, along with another lawyer, what was then called the State Bar Diversity Coalition, which helped coordinate efforts between various sections, committees, councils and other organizations of the State Bar that were attempting to diversify their membership and encourage members to get involved with the leadership of the State Bar. I also served on the State Bar Diversity Pipeline Task Force, and I went on to chair the State Bar’s Council on Access & Fairness, which is a diversity think tank for the profession. In this role I worked with corporate counsel, law schools, law departments and firms to develop diversity initiatives that could be replicated by other organizations. Friends and colleagues asked me to continue serving, so I went on to serve on the State Bar Board, which was then called the Board of Governors and is now called the Board of Trustees. After serving for a year I was elected vice president and am now the 90th President as of this past September.

 

Read the whole story at The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel

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S.F. court clerks union accused of breaking law with 1-day strike

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 24, 2014

A state labor board says the union representing San Francisco Superior Court clerks must answer charges that it violated state law in last week’s one-day strike that disrupted court operations.

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 walked out Oct. 14 in protest of court officials’ refusal to agree to a pay raise. The court’s executive officer, T. Michael Yuen, called the strike illegal and said it violated a no-strike provision in the union’s contract.

The court filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Board, whose general counsel on Tuesday issued allegations against the union.

By calling the strike without advance notice, and by disregarding the no-strike pledge, the union “failed and refused to meet and confer in good faith” with court officials, in violation of state law, the board’s attorney said.

The board’s lawyer also said the strike “included employees whose absence created a substantial and imminent threat to public health or safety.” The complaint did not identify the employees, but said the union had acted illegally by authorizing or encouraging essential employees to withdraw their services. 

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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In 1938, L.A. woman went to jail for wearing slacks in courtroom

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 23, 2014

  

 

California Retrospective

Kindergarten teacher Helen Hulick made Los Angeles court history — and struck a blow for women's fashion — in 1938.

 

Hulick arrived in downtown L.A. court to testify against two burglary suspects. But the courtroom drama immediately shifted to the slacks she was wearing. Judge Arthur S. Guerin rescheduled her testimony and ordered her to wear a dress next time.

 

Hulick was quoted in the Nov. 10, 1938, Los Angeles Times saying, "You tell the judge I will stand on my rights. If he orders me to change into a dress I won't do it. I like slacks. They're comfortable."

 

She returned to court five days later — in slacks — infuriating the judge. The Times reported:

 

In a scathing denunciation of slacks — which he prosaically termed pants — as courtroom attire for women, Guerin yesterday again forbade Helen Hulick, 28, kindergarten teacher, to testify as a witness while dressed in a green and orange leisure attire.

 

Read the whole story at LA Times


 

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Lawyers versus doctors in costly Prop. 46 campaign wars

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A ballot initiative that pits lawyers against doctors has set off one of this year's fiercest campaign wars, a costly clash over increasing state limits on malpractice damages and imposing drug testing on physicians.

 

Proposition 46 would raise the cap on pain-and-suffering awards in malpractice lawsuits and require that hospitals randomly test their doctors for drug and alcohol use. Backers say the measure would rein in negligent doctors; opponents charge that it's a money grab by the lawyers who helped put it on the ballot.

 

Supporters have raised only a fraction of the money that opponents have collected for their side of the battle. But the "yes" side is hoping that the attention-grabbing issue of drug testing can help surmount the cash disadvantage.

 

Read the whole story at LA Times

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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. Julie A. Emede2017 Outstanding Jurist of the Year

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