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Chief Justice of California, Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, to Address Local Attorneys and Judges at SCCBA Annual Judges’ Night

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Outstanding Jurist Awarded to the Honorable Brian C. Walsh, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara

San Jose, CA (October 16, 2013)  The Santa Clara County Bar Association, Silicon Valley’s largest lawyers’ association, will hold its annual Judges’ Night Dinner on October 22, 2014, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. This annual event hosted by the Association honors both the state and federal judges in Santa Clara County and highlights the cooperative, close working relationships of attorneys and judges in advancing the administration of justice for the county’s citizens. More information and ticketing can be found at SCCBA 2014 President, Dianne Sweeney, a partner with the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop, will preside as Master of Ceremonies for the dinner.


The Keynote Speaker addressing the judges and guests will be Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California.  Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye is the 28th chief justice of the State of California. She was sworn into office on January 3, 2011, and is the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye chairs the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye served for more than 20 years on California appellate and trial courts before her appointment to the California Supreme Court. She received her B.A., with honors, from the University of California at Davis, in 1980 and her J.D. from U.C. Davis, School of Law, in 1984.


The Outstanding Jurist Award will be awarded to the Honorable Brian C. Walsh, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara.  Judge Walsh recently completed his terms as Chair of the Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee (TCPJAC) and member of the State Judicial Council.  As Chair of TCPJAC, he led the Presiding Judges of California’s 58 trial courts in an enhanced effort to advocate for adequate funding for the trial courts and equal access to justice for all Californians. During his time as president of the Santa Clara County Bar Association in 1992 before being appointed to the bench, Judge Walsh served as architect of its Code of Professionalism adopted that same year, which later became the model for the Guideline for Civility and Professionalism adopted by the California State Bar and this year adopted as the Civility Guidelines for the U.S. District Court for Northern California.


The Diversity Award will be presented to Suchitra V. Narayen, Associate General Counsel, Oracle Corporation. This award was established to highlight the critical importance of a diverse and representative legal profession in securing vigorous advocacy for clients and credibility to the justice system. The recipient of the Diversity Award demonstrates long-term commitment to promoting diversity in the legal profession.


The Pro Bono Award will be presented to both James A Scharf, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Mark W. Schem, Parner, Borton Petrini LLP. The Pro Bono Award each year recognizes a person or group who shows a sustained and extraordinary commitment to pro bono services to the indigent in Santa Clara County.


The Professional Lawyer of the Year Award will be presented to Allen J. Ruby, Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP. The recipients of this honor are an active, respected practitioners of the law who are chosen by their peers as an example of unimpeachable character and who serves as an embodiment of the standards set forth in the SCCBA Code of Professionalism and as a role model for other attorneys  practicing in Santa Clara County.

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SF Superior Court: No Pay Raises For Clerks Who Already Earn the Highest Pay of Any Clerical Court Employees in California

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SEIU Violating No-Strike Clause in Current Agreement; Court to File PERB Charge


SAN FRANCISCO -- Clerical court employees are engaging in an unlawful strike under a current contract that already awarded them a $3,500 one-time payment in early 2013 and a 3 percent salary increase on July 1, 2013, Court Executive T. Michael Yuen announced today.


Members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1021, went on strike today in violation of their 3-year contract, which contains a no-strike provision. The Court will seek an injunction to enjoin the strike and file a charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) because the SEIU contract – which took effect December 5, 2012 and expires on June 30, 2015 – contains a no-strike provision (Section IX A).

The unlawful strike is causing delays in Civil, Criminal and Family law cases; but the Court did not close its doors. Instead Court management shifted its resources to criminal and other cases with statutory deadlines. Drop boxes were placed in all clerks’ offices for filings that will be stamped with today’s date.


“The Court values its employees and rewarded them last year for their expertise and dedicated service during the Recession-related budget crisis,” Yuen said. “We recognize that the past six years have been difficult after staff layoffs, furloughs and a Court-wide reorganization. However, the Court does not currently have the resources to further increase the salaries of the highest-paid Court employees in California.”

Courtroom clerks in the San Francisco Superior Court earn $7,386 monthly, which is 27 percent higher than San Mateo employees and 28 percent higher than Los Angeles employees.


Public sector salaries in San Francisco tend to be higher than similar jobs elsewhere in California due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area. However, incremental state budget restorations are not enough to overcome the cumulative yearly decreases to the Court’s allocation of state funding as a result of a new Judicial Branch funding formula. The Court will lose $7.8 million by FY 2017-18, which is the last year of the 5-year phase-in period of the new formula.


Another factor that has adversely impacted the Court’s ability to manage deficits related to state budget cuts and the decreases from the funding formula is the new prohibition that prevents a Court from saving more than 1 percent of its operating budget. Through deft fiscal management and cost-cutting, the Court had managed to save $15.78 million to cover expenses and annual deficits. However the Court had to use this one-time money by June 30, 2014 in lieu of forfeiting it to state coffers. Under this new state law, the Court may save only $800,000 a year, which is not enough to cover a single, bi-weekly employee payroll.


The Court made a sizeable investment in its workforce by devoting about one-third of its $15.78 million savings to pay for the future cost of employee healthcare. The Court has created a special trust account devoted solely to fund future employee retiree healthcare, which is allowed under state law.


“What SEIU fails to acknowledge is that the Court already has devoted $5.2 million of our savings to them,” Mr. Yuen said. “This is a significant commitment to employees to assure the Court is able to cover its commitment to retirees even in the face of escalating cuts to our bottom line. We can’t afford to use one-time money to pay for ongoing wage increases.”


The majority of the remaining savings is being used to improve court facilities for jurors, litigants, attorneys and staff. Projects include:


  • Install security upgrades to protect staff;
  • Replacement of worn and unsafe carpets, which are a trip and fall hazard to the public and staff;
  • Paint public areas in two courthouses;
  • Reupholster chairs for jurors;
  • Purchase of a new case management system for the entire Court to replace three antiquated case management systems that do not have the ability to interface with each other; and
  • Install new signs to better direct visitors to their destinations.


Lastly, the Court has bargained in good faith with SEIU and all of its labor unions under existing contracts that called for meetings to discuss wages during the life of the contracts. The Court met with SEIU six times since May 2014. During the most recent session on September 24, the Court made its most recent offer, which included two additional floating holidays and a buy-back provision for three floating holidays before the end of the fiscal year.


“No union leadership team is pleased at the table when we have to tell them we are unable to provide any additional, ongoing pay increases,” Mr. Yuen said. “Most labor teams were disappointed, but they understand the math. SEIU refuses to accept that the Court remains on fragile financial footing from multiple years of state budget cuts, a funding formula that cuts our bottom line more every year, and a new requirement that limits our flexibility by capping our savings at $800,000.”


The Court’s other labor unions are the Municipal Executives Association; International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), Local 21; and the San Francisco Court Reporters Association/IFPTE, Local 21.

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.LAWYER and .ATTORNEY Domain Names are Now Available. What You Need to Know.

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 9, 2014

On October 8th, .LAWYER and .ATTORNEY domain names will be made available to the general public.

This means that domain names like, and www.IP.laywer will be offered for the very first time at

In response to a number of questions regarding this process, we have put together the following information…

Q1. What are these names and why is this important?

A. October 8 is the first date that domain names like and become available for purchase. With 1.2 million lawyers and law students in the United States alone, it’s possible that your individual name or preferred term of art may have several potential purchasers which means that if you don’t act immediately, you may be in danger of losing your preferred name.

Q2. What restrictions are there on purchase?

A. None. Other than trademark restrictions, you are free to choose the name that best suits you.

Q3. Why should I obtain a .ATTORNEY or .LAWYER Domain?

A. A host of good reasons:

  • It is a powerful marketing tool that will allow you to get your message to market quicker and simpler,

  • It signals your profession to the world in a way that .com doesn’t,

  • It enables you to control the intellectual property associated with your name.

  • It ensures that even if you change firms or go solo, your clients can always find you.

  • It may assist with Google and other search engine rankings.

Read the whole story at Above the Law.

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California Justices Tell State Bar to Redo Proposals for Updating Lawyer Conduct Rules

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oct. 2 — The California Supreme Court has told the state bar to go a different direction in coming up with proposals to update California's lawyer conduct rules.


It took the state bar more than a decade to develop suggestions that were sent to the high court four years ago, and which went nowhere.


In August the bar abruptly changed course and quietly stopped trying to gain the justices' approval of the comprehensive rule revisions.


Now, the bar is going back to the drawing board to develop a new set of proposals under specific marching orders from the supreme court.


In a Sept. 19 letter, the court instructed the bar to try again. It directed the bar to put together a second “Commission to Revise the Rules of Professional Conduct” by Thanksgiving, and to submit its new proposals for the court's final consideration no later than March 31, 2017.


The letter makes plain that the court wants to have plenty of input along the way.


Read the whole story at Bloomberg BNA.

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Los Angeles’ historic - and infamous - Hall of Justice reopens after 20 years

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 9, 2014

LOS ANGELES — County officials gathered today to mark the reopening of the long-shuttered downtown Hall of Justice.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey and county Supervisors Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe, Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky joined Interim Sheriff John Scott to dedicate the new home of the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office.

Built in 1925, the iconic beaux arts structure sits across the street from the criminal courthouse and on a diagonal from City Hall. The exterior granite of the 14-story building has been cleaned from gray to gleaming ivory and the marble grand lobby and multistory loggia have also been restored.

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Daily News.

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California State Bar Honors UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky for Body of Work

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 6, 2014



The State Bar of California has bestowed its 2014 Bernard E. Witkin Medal--which is given to individuals who have helped shape the legal landscape through an extraordinary body of work--to UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Erwin Chemerinsky, UCI Law School Dean, Argues Free-Speech Case Before Supreme Court

"Dean Chemerinsky's intellectual IQ is off the charts, but he's also a great humanitarian," said State Bar President Craig Holden in presenting the medal to Chemerinsky at the State Bar's recent annual meeting in San Diego.

"I am deeply honored to have received the Witkin Medal, named for one of the true giants in the history of California's legal system: Bernard Witkin," Chemerinsky said. "As I look at those who have received this award before me, I am truly humbled to see my name with theirs."

Read more via OCWeekly

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President has a short list of potential attorney general candidates

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 3, 2014



A week after Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced plans to step down, three administration insiders lead the president's short list to replace him, according to sources inside and outside the White House.


Solicitor Gen. Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who successfully argued the administration's case for the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court, is mentioned more frequently than the other top candidates: Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, a progressive considered by the White House to be a Cabinet standout, and former White House Counsel Kathryn H. Ruemmler.


Perez was a lightening rod for Republican criticism when he headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and barely squeezed through his confirmation last year. His nomination as America's top law enforcement official would provoke a major battle in the Senate.


Read more from LATimes:

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Beleaguered Santa Clara County judge stops campaigning

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 3, 2014

After sinking more than $190,000 of her own money into her re-election campaign, Judge Diane Ritchie announced Thursday that she will no longer actively participate in a bruising race that has focused on her struggles to learn the job during a first term marked by gaffes.

Ritchie's name will still appear on the November ballot for her Santa Clara County Superior Court seat. But she said in a note to supporters on her campaign website that she will not spend any more of her own money in her re-election bid against prosecutor Matt Harris or answer questions from the press.

"I will not engage in this antagonistic campaign process, which I believe is damaging to our democracy and our courts," she said in her statement, adding that the campaign has been "challenging" and has taken a toll on her personal and professional life. "It is unseemly for a judge to engage in this type of politics."

However, she still hopes to win. "But I can and do ask for your support and your vote," she said.

The announcement comes as Ritchie finds herself increasingly ostracized by area lawyers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, many of whom refuse to endorse her or have actively boycotted her court. A report in this newspaper early this year highlighted her rough adjustment to becoming a judge and inspired critics and re-election challengers to come forward. She also faces new criticism about her unorthodox request to Campbell city councilman and lawyer Jason Baker for help with her campaign while his client's case was still pending before her.


Read more from Bay Area News:

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Supreme Court Committee Provides Guidance on Appearing at Public Hearings

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 3, 2014

Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions advises judges on commenting at 
public hearings and consulting with the Legislature


SAN FRANCISCO—The California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO) has issued an advisory opinion providing guidance to judges about appearing at public hearings and consulting with the other branches of government. The opinion clarifies what comments the California Code of Judicial Ethics authorizes judges to make concerning the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice. The opinion cautions, however, that even when making permitted statements, judges still must take care not to violate any other provisions of the Code of Judicial Ethics, for example, by commenting on pending or future proceedings in any court, or by taking a position with respect to the outcome of cases. 

Judges are prohibited from appearing at public hearings as a general matter, but an exception permits them to appear and consult on “matters concerning the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.” (Cal. Code Jud. Ethics, canon 4C(1).) The opinion:

  • examines this exception and points out how robust participation by judges benefits the public and the members of executive and legislative branches of government;
  • advises that the exception broadly permits judges to comment and consult on the court system or matters of judicial administration, which are inherently within judicial experience and perspective; and
  • concludes that the exception also permits judges to speak about legal matters when their experience and perspective as judges uniquely qualifies them to assist the other branches of the government in fulfilling their responsibilities to the public.


The committee previously invited the public to comment on this advisory opinion in draft form. Those comments submitted with a waiver of confidentiality are posted for public view on the CJEO website. All of the comments the committee received were carefully considered by the CJEO members when finalizing and approving CJEO Formal Opinion No. 2014-006.

CJEO is an independent committee appointed by the Supreme Court to help inform the judiciary and the public concerning judicial ethics topics. CJEO was established as part of the court’s constitutional responsibility to guide the conduct of judges and judicial candidates (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 18, subd. (m)). In making appointments to serve on CJEO, the court selects members of the bench with a strong background in judicial ethics and diverse courtroom experience. The current twelve CJEO members are justices, judges, a commissioner, and a retired bench officer who have served in courts of various sizes throughout the state.

CJEO publishes formal opinions, issues confidential informal opinions, and provides oral advice on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(e)(1)). CJEO acts independently of the Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Judicial Council, and all other entities (rule 9.80(b)).

For more information about CJEO, visit the CJEO website and view the members’ page, call toll-free at 1-855-854-5366, or email

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Board seeks input on plan for new bar admissions requirements

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 2, 2014

By Laura Ernde
California Bar Journal Staff Writer

The Board of Trustees is seeking public comment on a draft plan to implement new competency skills training requirements aimed at better preparing lawyers for the profession.

The proposal calls for:

  • 15 units of practice-based experiential training during law school/apprenticeship option
  • 50 hours of pro bono/reduced fee legal services
  • 10 hours of additional competency training MCLE (minimum continuing legal education) in the first year of admission

The plan was developed by the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform Phase II, a 30-member panel chaired by former State Bar President Jon B. Streeter and comprised of attorneys, judges, academics and pro bono directors. Since December, the group has held eight public hearings and sought input from interested parties.

“This is a major milestone for this task force,” State Bar President Craig Holden said after the board’s executive committee authorized the public comment Sept. 29. “I look forward to getting the public’s input on this.”

Comments are due Nov. 3 and may be submitted via email or mailed to Teri Greenman, Executive Offices, The State Bar of California, 845 S. Figueroa St., 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

The board is expected to take up the issue at its next meeting, Nov. 6-7 in San Francisco.

The bar first began moving toward requiring more practical skills training for admission to the bar in February 2012, when the board created the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform Phase I, also chaired by Streeter.  

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more Calendar

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Fourth Annual Law Day Mixer

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Steven B. Haley2017 Professional Lawyer of the Year
Golnesa MonazamfarBarrister of the Year 2017

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