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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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Lawyer’s home now a farm animal sanctuary

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Just over a year ago, John Fiske believed he was doing right by cows and the planet by eating only grass-fed beef.

Then the 32-year-old attorney had a “light bulb moment” and decided the toll that animal agriculture takes on animals and the environment is too high. Since then, he has been putting his money where his heart is.

Over the past year, the now-vegetarian rancher has transformed his 2.5-acre Elfin Forest property into a sanctuary for rescued animals, including four horses, a crippled pig, two hens, a German shepherd and, soon, a few goats. On May 15, Fiske will host the grand opening of his San Diego Farm Animal Rescue.

Read the whole story at San Diego Union-Tribune

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Fresno Ducks Lawyer's Excessive Force Claim

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fresno County dodged excessive force and unlawful arrest liability in a case where an officer on courthouse detail arrested an attorney who refused to hand over a child's toy wrench that was found in the purse of his client's family member.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stanley Boone on Monday ruled in favor of Fresno County on attorney Richard Berman's municipal liability claims for excessive force and unlawful arrest, finding that Berman did not show that the county failed to properly train or supervise its deputies.
The case stems from an incident between Berman, who was 65 years old at the time, and Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Tracy Sink in March 2012 at the Fresno County Criminal Courthouse.
According to Berman, he and a client were going through a security checkpoint at the courthouse when Sink detected a child's plastic wrench in the purse of a family member of Berman's client.
Sink said that the toy was not allowed in the courthouse and told the woman to throw it out, Berman says.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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State Bar Says Complaint Backlog at Seven-Year Low

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The backlog of disciplinary complaints against California attorneys is at its lowest level since 2009, the State Bar reported Friday.

The State Bar’s “Annual Discipline Report,” released Friday, shows that the number of complaints that had been pending for more than six months was 1,500 as of the end of last year. The comparable figure at the end of 2014 was 1,988.

In a transmittal letter accompanying the report, which is mandated by the State Bar Act, Executive Director Elizabeth R. Parker said the organization has been working diligently to whittle down the backlog and to implement reforms proposed in a state audit. Auditors said last year that in its effort to shorten the backlog, the State Bar rushed disciplinary cases, was soft on offending attorneys and spent $50 million over-budget to renovate its building in Los Angeles.

Parker said the number of attorneys suspended or disbarred has increased, even though complaints are down overall, and said the State Bar’s “new leadership” is committed to “transparency, accountability, and excellence.”

 

Read the whole story at Metnews

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Bill to ease California's prostitution penalties passes Senate

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

California senators passed a bill Monday to repeal mandatory jail times and driver's license restrictions on people arrested for prostitution. 

"Mandatory minimum jail terms for prostitution are an expensive and highly-flawed policy, and should not be forced upon the victims of human trafficking," Sen. Bill Monning, a Carmel Democrat, said on the Senate Floor Monday before his colleagues voted to approve hisSB 1129.

Read the whole story at ABC 10

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Board panel hears pros and cons of dividing State Bar roles

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Discussions about the future of the State Bar ramped up last month, with a bar task force receiving input from dozens of witnesses, including a proposal to separate the bar into two organizations – one to handle regulatory matters and one to house “trade association” functions.

Meanwhile, members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee indicated they want to see significant reforms of the agency this year as part of their oversight of the State Bar.

However, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye cautioned against any hurried decisions for the organization, which is an arm of the California Supreme Court.

 

Read the whole story at California Bar Journal

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Federal Judge Orders Woman to Unlock iPhone Using Her Fingerprint

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The case of a California woman who was ordered to unlock an iPhone using her fingerprint is raising questions about whether compelling a person to unlock their smartphone could infringe on their right against self-incrimination.

A warrant was issued in February ordering Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan to unlock an iPhone seized from a Glendale, California, residence. She later pleaded no contest to a felony count of identity theft, according to the Los Angeles Times.

While much of the public discussion over encryption has focused on four to six digit passcodes, the California case is raising the question of whether a person's biometric markers -- such as a fingerprint or iris -- could be used to help authorities crack into a device.

Read the whole story at ABC News

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Supreme Court Justice Breyer: California embodies the death penalty’s ‘fundamental defects’

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, May 4, 2016

California is not the first state that springs to mind when considering the country’s death penalty, perhaps owing to how infrequently inmates there are executed. The last execution in California took place in 2006, when the state executed 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen for three counts of first-degree murder. Even before the current decade-long hiatus — prompted by concerns over lethal injection protocols — it was still rare for the state to put someone to death. Since 1976, the year the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, California has executed 13 of its death row inmates; Texas, far and away the country’s most active death-penalty state, executed 13 inmates last year alone.

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Stricter Rules for Voter IDs Reshape Races

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In a state where everything is big, the 23rd Congressional District that hugs the border with Mexico is a monster: eight and a half hours by car across a stretch of land bigger than any state east of the Mississippi. In 2014, Representative Pete Gallego logged more than 70,000 miles there in his white Chevy Tahoe, campaigning for re-election to the House — and lost by a bare 2,422 votes.

So in his bid this year to retake the seat, Mr. Gallego, a Democrat, has made a crucial adjustment to his strategy. “We’re asking people if they have a driver’s license,” he said. “We’re having those basic conversations about IDs at the front end, right at our first meeting with voters.”

Since their inception a decade ago, voter identification laws have been the focus of fierce political and social debate. Proponents, largely Republican, argue that the regulations are essential tools to combat election fraud, while critics contend that they are mainly intended to suppress turnout of Democratic-leaning constituencies like minorities and students.

Read the whole story at NY Times

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LA Superior Unveils Traffic-Ticket Kiosks

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Los Angeles County Superior Court has opened outdoor kiosks that will allow visitors to take care of traffic tickets outside five courthouses.

In an April 25 announcement, the court said that it was offering the service at the Beverly Hills, Chatsworth, Van Nuys West, Metropolitan, and West Covina courthouses. The kiosks are available seven days a week, the court said in a news release.

Court spokeswoman Mary Eckhardt Hearn said in a phone interview that along with online and automated phone services and walk-up windows, the kiosks mark another expansion of court services that will cut into wait times and lines.

Sherri Carter addressed those issues after she was appointed as executive officer and clerk in 2013, Hearn said, touring courthouses and talking personally with people waiting in line.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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Judge slams gay sex stings by Long Beach police, calling them discriminatory

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Los Angeles County judge on Friday strongly criticized the Long Beach Police Department's practice of conducting sting operations against gay men cruising for companionship, saying the department’s tactics were tantamount to discrimination.

Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina made the remarks in Long Beach while invalidating the 2014 arrest of Rory Moroney for lewd conduct and indecent exposure.

Moroney was ensnared by an undercover vice team that had set up a sting operation in a men’s bathroom at Recreation Park in October 2014. After receiving what he believed to be flirtatious signals from an undercover detective, Moroney was arrested for exposing himself, said Bruce Nickerson, his attorney.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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more Latest News
more Calendar

8/7/2018
Barristers' Annual Judges Luncheon

8/23/2018
Disability and ERISA Issue Spotting for Labor Law Attorneys

10/10/2018
2018 Annual Judges' Night Dinner

Recent Recognitions
Steven B. Haley2017 Professional Lawyer of the Year
Hon. Julie A. Emede2017 Outstanding Jurist of the Year

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