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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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October 10 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Circuit Court Nominee Chad Readler Quizzed on DOJ's Defense of Trump Policies

Ex-Big Law Associate Launches International Boutique in DC

Federal Circuit Judge Wants to Rethink 'Natural Phenomena' Case Law

In Arpaio Case, Deeply Divided Ninth Circuit Stands By Decision to Appoint Special Prosecutor

Marcia Coyle: Kavanaugh's Partisanship Doesn't Just Vanish Now

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October 9 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Feinstein's Chief Counsel Joins Wiley Rein Following Kavanaugh Confirmation Fight

Will the State's New Bot-Outing Law Be More Than Just Tough Talk?

Can New Leave Policies Help Big Law Escape the Parent Trap?

Is California Gender-Balance on Boards Law Set to Collide With Delaware Legal Doctrine?

The Justices Have Three Chances This Term to Bolster Arbitration

Women-Owned Law Firms Surge Amid Gender Disparity in the Profession

In the Wake of Facebook Breach Suit, Familiar Plaintiffs Tandem Takes Aim at Google+

Courts Upholds $335K Award Against Manatt in Recruiter Suit

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September 28 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 28, 2018

9th Circuit En Banc Panel Reviews Class Action Settlement Approval in 'Hyundai'

Apple to Take Its First Shots at Narrowing Suits Over Throttled iPhones

Supreme Court Takes Oracle Copyright Case, but Not the One You Think

Tesla's Musk Facing SEC Charges Over Tweets About Taking Company Private

Class Cert Reversed in Uber Drivers' Suit Over Tip Sharing, Classification

Ex-Cushman & Wakefield Executive Sues Firm Over Race, Gender Claims

Awaiting a Ninth Justice, Supreme Court Tinkers With Its Docket

Jeff Sessions' Rules for Immigration Courts ‘Unprecedented,’ Union Head Says

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September 27 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 27, 2018

IP at the Supreme Court: A Quiet—but Possibly Busy—Year

Feds Lose Out on Bid to Boot Orrick From Defense in Fitbit Trade Secrets Case

 

Uber Agrees to Pay $148 Million to States Over Major 2016 Data Breach

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Santa Clara County Judges Elect New Leadership

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 27, 2018

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Meet Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona Prosecutor Who Will Question Kavanaugh, Blasey Ford

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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Learn the Revised (New) Rules of Professional Conduct: Your Practice Depends On It

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
When: October 25, 2018
12:00PM -2:30PM
Where: Map this event »
SCCBA Conference Center
31 N. 2nd Street
Ste. 400
San Jose,California95113
United States

Register In-Person

Attend Online 

 

With Changes to California Ethics Rule Approaching, More States Reject ABA Anti-Bias Rule

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A Continuing Trend: Lawyers Ditching Big Law for Small Firm Freedom

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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September 21 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 21, 2018

In Major TCPA Win for Plaintiffs, Ninth Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of Autodialer

#MeToo Takes Aim at Secret Settlements

Diving In: Inside the Evolution of Law Firm Cybersecurity Practices

Does Risk of Racial Bias Make a Death Sentence Unconstitutional?

Proposed legislation would eliminate PACER fees

A new bill before the U.S House of Representatives would prohibit the federal courts from charging for public documents.
Read the full story at ABA Journal 

 

'Outrageously excessive' requests for attorney fees can be altogether denied, 3rd Circuit says

A federal appeals court has upheld a federal judge’s decision to deny as “grossly excessive” a request for more than $900,000 in attorney fees based on a $100,000 punitive award.
Read the full story at ABA Journal 

 

Some immigrants picked up by ICE given 'fake dates' to appear in court

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has failed to coordinate or clear appearance dates with federal courts in six cities, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Read the full story at ABA Journal

 

Conservative Activist Ed Whelan Apologizes for Tweets About Kavanaugh Accuser

 
 

Shutterstock.com.

 

A federal appeals court has upheld a federal judge’s decision to deny as “grossly excessive” a request for more than $900,000 in attorney fees based on a $100,000 punitive award.

When a request under a fee-shifting statute is “outrageously excessive,” a judge may deny the award altogether if the statute gives the judge discretion in awarding fees, the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

The Legal Intelligencer has coverage of the Sept. 12 decision, written by Judge Joseph Greenaway Jr.

Lawyers seeking the fees had admittedly tasked one lawyer with recreating time records that included vague descriptions and excessive hours, the appeals court said. Sixty-four hours were billed for “transcripts/clips” and 562 hours were billed to prepare for a week-long trial. There were only five witnesses for both sides.

The appeals court ruled in the case of Bernie and Nicole Clemens, who had sued New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Co. in Pennsylvania state court for bad faith handling of an uninsured motorist claim. The case was removed to federal court, where the uninsured motorist claim was settled for $25,000.

After trial on the bad faith claim, jurors awarded $100,000 in punitive damages. The plaintiffs’ lawyers at the Pisanchyn Law Firm in Scranton, Pennsylvania, sought more than $900,000 in attorney fees under a fee-shifting statute.

U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion of Scranton denied the request in August 2017, calling it “astounding” and “exorbitant.” Mannion had examined the fee request, reduced it by 87 percent, then awarded no fee because it was excessive.

Bernie Clemens appealed.

The 3rd Circuit said Mannion’s decision “was entirely appropriate under the circumstances of this case.”

The 3rd Circuit said lawyers for Clemens didn’t maintain contemporaneous time records for most of the litigation, instead recreating the records for the fee petition. ”Even worse,” Greenaway wrote, “the responsibility of reconstructing the time records was left to a single attorney, who retrospectively estimated not only the length of time she herself had spent on each individual task, but also the amount of time others had spent on particular tasks, including colleagues who could not be consulted because they had left the firm by the time the fee petition was filed.”

“Astonishingly,” the appeals court said in a footnote, “counsel then attempted to recover attorney’s fees in the amount of $27,090 for the 64.5 hours it supposedly took to reconstruct the time records.”

The appeals court said reconstructed time records don’t necessarily justify complete disallowance of a fee award, but require more exacting scrutiny. Exacting scrutiny isn’t even required, however, to uncover further problems with the fee record, the court said.

“Even worse, the responsibility of reconstructing the time records was left to a single attorney, who retrospectively estimated not only the length of time she herself had spent on each individual task, but also the amount of time others had spent on particular tasks, including colleagues who could not be consulted because they had left the firm by the time the fee petition was filed.”
Judge Joseph Greenaway Jr., 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Time entries with descriptions such as “other” and “communicate” were vague, and descriptions such as “attorney review” didn’t indicate the nature of the subject being reviewed, Greenaway said. Other entries were “unnecessary and excessive.”

Greenaway described as “staggering” the hundreds of hours billed for trial preparation, which would have meant counsel prepared for trial for about 70 days. “Counsel certainly have an obligation to be prepared,” the court said, “but we simply cannot fathom how they could have reasonably spent such an astronomical amount of time preparing for trial in this case.”

Lawyer Mike Pisanchyn told the Legal Intelligencer that the fee request was not excessive and his clients “are extremely happy with the representation.” He said his firm had litigated the case for eight to nine years, and the firm had obtained “a $100,000 award on a zero written offer.”

Hat tip to Law360.

 
 

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September 20 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 20, 2018

What Pushes Undergrads to Law School? It Ain't the Money.

Judicial Discipline Records Face First-Ever Audit After Deal Ends Dustup

Character and Fitness and the Supreme Court

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more Calendar

1/23/2019
Balancing the Ethical Obligation, Risk Management and Client Retention Strategies.

1/30/2019
2019 SCCBA Installation Ceremony & Reception

1/31/2019
Seeing The Forest Within The Trees - Uncovering Bias In Mediation

Recent Recognitions
Daniel S. Gonzales2018 Professional Lawyer of the Year
Jenn M. Protas2018 Diversity Award

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