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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 shutting courthouses

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cutbacks in state funding for trial courts are about to have an impact in Santa Clara County, which is shutting down courthouses in Palo Alto and Morgan Hill that handle civil and small-claims cases and traffic tickets.

Civil suits and small-claims cases, in which individuals represent themselves without lawyers, will be transferred to the county courthouse in downtown San Jose, and traffic cases will be heard in Santa Clara. The shutdown is scheduled to take effect Oct. 6.

"This is awful," Brian Walsh, the Superior Court's presiding judge, said Wednesday. "Judges and staff are dedicated to serving the public, and this disserves the public. But we have no other choice."

Read more via SFGate

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Public Notice Regarding Courthouse Closures

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara operates courthouses in Morgan Hill and Palo Alto. This is to inform the public of the Superior Court’s decision to close the Civil, Small Claims and Traffic courts in Morgan Hill and Palo Alto until further notice. The closure will go into effect October 6, 2014. 

Civil, Small Claims and Traffic cases scheduled to be heard in Morgan Hill and Palo Alto Courthouses will be scheduled for court appearances in the following new locations: 
 
Morgan Hill Courthouse New Locations
Civil and Small Claims  → Downtown Courthouse 
191 North First Street 
San Jose, California 

 Traffic → Santa Clara Courthouse 
1095 Homestead Road 
Santa Clara, California 

Palo Alto Courthouse
Small ClaimsDowntown Courthouse
191 North First Street
San Jose, California

Traffic → Santa Clara Courthouse
1095 Homestead Road
Santa Clara, California


The Court finds the above actions are necessary due to the significant and continuing cuts to the State Judicial Branch Budget. Since 2009, state funding for the judicial branch has been significantly reduced, with those reductions impacting the budgets of individual superior courts. The limited amount of funding restored in FY 2014-15 does not make it fiscally feasible to keep these courts open. 

We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause. If you would like to submit comments about the proposed reductions, please send them to: 
David H. Yamasaki, Court Executive Officer, 191 North First Street, San Jose, California 95113 by October 6, 2014. 

For further information, please check the Superior Court website at www.scscourt.org

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President's Message: Informed Voters & An Independent Judiciary

Posted By Dianne L. Sweeney, Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, August 7, 2014
Dianne L. Sweeney
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
2014 SCCBA President

As judicial elections heat up again, efforts are being made throughout the country to educate the electorate about the judicial branch—the only non-political branch of government—and how to best preserve fair and impartial elections.

The National Association of Women Judges has asked for our support of their informed voter project aimed at ensuring that our judicial system is free from special interest groups.  Unlike the upcoming gubernatorial and mayoral elections, judicial elections are not a popularity contest.  Good judging is about fair and diligent application of law.  If a litigant believes the judge made an error, the recourse is not to wait until to the next election but to file an appeal.  NAWJ suggests that voters seek information and evaluate judges based on the following areas: 

•    Integrity – A judge should be honest, upright and committed to the rule of law
•    Professional Competence – A judge should have a keen intellect, extensive legal knowledge and strong writing skills
•    Judicial Temperament  – A judge must be neutral, decisive, respectful and composed
•    Experience – A judge should have a strong record of professional excellence in the law
•    Service  –  A judge should be committed to public service and the administration of justice

As lawyers in this County, we have a special interest in ensuring that the candidates to our bench meet these criteria and are dedicated to the impartial and fair administration of justice for all.  We also have a responsibility to educate the community about the special nature of judicial elections and to support elections that are not based on the outcome of any specific case or special interest.  

SCCBA has a long and unique history in supporting fair elections and our local Bench.  As discussed a few months back, our Fair Elections Practices Commission provides candidates with ethical guidelines and works to confidentially resolve any campaign disputes.  Additionally, new this year to the SCCBA is our Judicial Assessment Committee (“JAC “) that allows lawyers to confidentially raise issues about a particular judicial officer and seek advice from well-established practitioners.  The JAC will also raise the issue with the Court if the lawyer so desires.  Later this year, we will also conduct our first assessment poll to see how the Courts are functioning and to gather information about your day-to-day experiences.  If you would like more information about the JAC you can find it on the SCCBA website at get involved >>> judicial assessment.

Lawyers in the Community
In other activities at the bar, we are sponsoring an event as part of our “Lawyers in the Community as well as the Courtroom” initiative.  As service to the community is a critical and rewarding part of our practice, I hope that you will join me, our Executive Committee and Board of Trustees at the Second Harvest Food Bank for an evening of service.  The feedback from our last event was overwhelmingly positive and helped us refocus on the basic needs of our community.  I hope to see you on August 13, 2014.

Budget Woes Trigger Consolidation in our Superior Court
We may also have new volunteer opportunities to support our Court in the months to come.  As many of you have now read, the Court announced that it has been forced to consolidate courtrooms by discontinuing civil, small claims and traffic calendars that are currently being heard in the Morgan Hill and Palo Alto courthouses and moving those appearances to the Downtown San Jose or Santa Clara courthouses.  Judge Walsh called me last week to apprise the Bar of the consolidation and to discuss the devastating impacts of the ongoing budget shortfalls.  Judge Walsh and our dedicated judiciary members and staff are doing all they can to keep current services in place, but you should expect to see longer lines and additional delays as the Court struggles to maintain its operations with insufficient resources.  Going forward, further changes may be required by the Court and we may be called upon to support the Court in new ways.  In the interim Judge Walsh wanted to convey to the Bar that he and his team are doing all they can to continue to provide services in all areas.   

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California Judges Fight Mass Layoff

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 30, 2014
SACRAMENTO (CN) - The California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board will illegally lay off 50 administrative law judges on Sept. 1, unless a superior court judge stops them, the judges claim in court.

California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment sued the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and its Chairman Robert Dresser on Monday, in Superior Court.


The California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB) voted on April 28 to lay off 50 full-time administrative law judges, effective Sept. 1, the judges say in the lawsuit.


Read more via Courthouse News

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Brown appoints legal affairs aide to CA appeals court

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 29, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown has named a senior aide to become an associate justice on the Sacramento-based Third District Court of Appeal.

Brown announced the appointment of Jonathan Renner on Friday.

The 44-year-old Democrat from Sacramento has been Brown's legal affairs secretary since 2011.

He was senior assistant attorney general at the California Department of Justice from 2009 to 2010, when Brown was the state's attorney general. Renner previously held other high-ranking positions within the attorney general's office.

The appointment requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. It includes the current attorney general, Kamala Harris, and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

If confirmed, Renner will begin his term Jan. 5. He would fill the vacancy created when Cantil-Sakauye moved to the California Supreme Court.

The post pays $211,260.

Read more: http://www.kcra.com/politics/brown-appoints-legal-affairs-aide-to-ca-appeals-court/27155076#ixzz38sIcQdzc

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Costa Mesa lawyer faces prison for defrauding immigrants, real estate fraud

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 25, 2014

A Costa Mesa lawyer faces federal prison time after pleading guilty to defrauding immigrants about to be deported and separately to helping a former client perpetrate a real estate fraud. According to court pleadings, Gino Paul Pietro began in 2010 to assist a client with a scheme to purchase two gas stations by defrauding lenders. The client, Donald Keith Goff, had engaged in a similar deal a few years earlier. 

Read more via Daily Journal (subscription required)

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California Recommends Against Disbarment of Ex-Prosecutor

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 25, 2014

Disgraced former federal prosecutor G. Paul Howes skirted disbarment this week in California after the state’s bar recommended suspending him from practicing law for at least three years.

Howes, who prosecuted drug-related murder and gang cases for the U.S. attorney’s office in the District of Columbia during the 1980s, was disbarred there for giving out $42,000 in improper federal vouchers. In 1995, he moved to California, where he worked for what was then Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach in San Diego.

California’s bar launched its own probe of Howes following his disbarment in Washington. On Monday, a state bar court concluded that Howes didn’t deserve so harsh a punishment in California.

“Although this court finds no basis for recommending that respondent be disbarred in this state as a result of his misconduct two decades ago in the District of Columbia, the court does conclude that significant discipline is nonetheless required to make clear to all the impropriety of that conduct and to protect the public’s faith in the criminal justice system, both here and throughout the country,” State Bar Court Judge Donald Miles wrote.



Read more: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202664484536/California-Recommends-Against-Disbarment-of-ExProsecutor#ixzz38VPK2Gei

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California attorney general asks lawyers to help immigrant children

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 25, 2014

(Reuters) - California's attorney general has personally asked several major law firms to provide pro bono services to unaccompanied immigrant children flooding the U.S. border with Mexico, a signal that California views the growing crisis as a humanitarian issue.

The move comes amid escalating political tension in the United States over how to deal with the thousands of children fleeing violence in their Central American homelands.

"We've convened a group of law firms to make sure these children, some of them as young as 8 years old, have access to due process," California Attorney General Kamala Harris said on Thursday.

Read more via Reuters

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Deadline Approaching. Nominate an Unsung Hero

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 24, 2014

SCCBA Unsung Heroes AwardEach year the Diversity Committee of the Santa Clara County Bar Association presents the Unsung Heroes Awards.

The Diversity Committee invites interested individuals to submit nominations for individuals or organizations deserving this recognition. If you know of an individual or organization who should be considered for such an honor, please review the criteria and submit an online nomination on or before Friday, August 15, 2014.

The 2014 Unsung Heroes Awards will be presented at the Annual Reception on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 5:30 p.m., at the Fallon House Gardens, 175 W. St. John Street, San Jose, CA. Last year’s reception was a huge success, as over 50 judges and attorneys came together to honor Christopher J. Arriola and Jennifer M. Protas.

 

If you have any questions, please contact Irene Cortez, at (408) 975-2114 or email irenec@sccba.com.

SUBMIT A NOMINATION HERE

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Lawyers in the Community: Food Bank Service Event

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 24, 2014

Please join the SCCBA Executive Committee for a food sorting event at Second Harvest Food Bank on August 13 at 6pm. This is part of our initiative “Lawyers in the Community as well as the Courtroom.”   Participate in an evening providing service to our community as well as an opportunity to get to know the SCCBA leadership and fellow attorneys better.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014 • 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM


Second Harvest Food Bank, Cypress Center

4001 North First Street, San Jose, CA 95134


Space is limited to the first 15 members who register to participate. Please reserve space here, or by calling Angelina Loyola at 408.975.2110. The deadline to register is August 6, 2014.


Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is the trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger. If you’re able to join us, please consider bringing donations of non-perishable food items. One can or one case does make a difference!


See you at the Food Bank.


Register to Attend

Tags:  ExCom  Lawyers in the Community 

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