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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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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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Harry Sondheim Professional Responsibility Award goes to staunch ethics advocates

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Don’t ask Brian C. Walsh whether he worries that lawyers get a bad rap.

Just think of the T-rex that feasted on the attorney in Steven Spielberg’s film “Jurassic Park” – as movie audiences cheered – and you get a sense of how far the legal profession’s image has plummeted, said Walsh, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge.

Pasternak Goodman Walsh
Pasternak Goodman Walsh

It was difficult enough to overcome the stain that Watergate left on the shiny image of American legal advocates (think Atticus Finch). But by the 1990s, “nasty lawyer jokes were all the rage,” Walsh said. Then when an ABA study indicated that regard for lawyers had sunk to its lowest point ever, Walsh realized he needed to start rebuilding the profession from the inside. As then president of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, Walsh introduced and succeeded in getting the association to adopt its first Code of Professionalism in 1992.

As the code’s chief architect, he believed that formalizing a policy of ethics and professionalism would encourage lawyers to be more civil in their practices – and ultimately “the way to regain respect is start showing respect for each other … and to everyone we encountered,” he said.

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Dan Walters: State Bar of California’s dirty linen gets airing

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 29, 2016

Joe Dunn’s ears must have been burning Tuesday.

At 10:31 a.m., the former Orange County state senator, who is now running for a seat in Congress, dispatched a campaign news release touting his support by a school union.

At that very moment, 416 miles to the north, the Assembly Judiciary Committee was delving into dysfunction in the State Bar leading up to Dunn’s dismissal as its executive director in 2014.

The State Bar is a unique entity – a quasi-public agency that simultaneously acts as regulator of the state’s 200,000-plus attorneys and as a trade association that protects lawyers’ financial interests.

Read the whole story at SacBee

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Cruz would be a ‘great replacement’ for Scalia on Supreme Court, says GOP leader

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If Senator Ted Cruz doesn’t win the Republican nomination, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has a consolation prize for him: Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat.

"If he's not our nominee, I think he would be a great replacement for Scalia," Scalise said in a Fox Business interview, referencing the late Supreme Court justice who died in February.

Scalise suggested that regardless of their roles, Donald Trump and Cruz should “come together for the good of the country,” on a unity ticket or other arrangement.

"There's a role for him either way, whether he's the nominee,” Scalise said of Cruz.

Read the whole story at Miami Herald

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Prince died without a will, sister says

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Carver County, Minn., where the beloved pop icon died suddenly last week at his Paisley Park compound.

"The Decedent died intestate," Nelson said in her petition for the appointment of a special administrator to deal with Prince's estate, which has been widely reported to be valued at $300 million.

Nelson said her brother left no surviving spouse, no children and no parents.  Besides Nelson, his full sister, he is survived by half-brothers and half-sisters, whom Nelson names in her petition as "interested parties" to the Prince estate to her knowledge thus far.

Read the whole story at USA Today

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New $65M courthouse to open by end of 2019

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 27, 2016

State officials are working with architectural consultants on final designs for a new, $65 million courthouse in Tuolumne County that’s slated for completion in late-2019.

Donald Segerstrom, presiding judge for Tuolumne County Superior Court, has met with state officials and architects multiple times over the past year to provide input on preliminary plans that were approved by the state Public Works Board in January.

“They have consultants, architects and will ultimately have a construction contractor, but the state involves the local court in all levels of construction,” he said. “We meet regularly with them.”

The 61,000-square-foot building will be built on a 4.3 acre parcel at the county’s future Law and Justice Center off Old Wards Ferry Road in Sonora, which is also set to include the new jail and a juvenile hall that’s already under construction and expected to open by the end of this year.

As all trial courts in California are under state jurisdiction, funding for the project comes from a 2008 law that set aside up to $5 billion in lease-revenue bonds to finance new courthouse construction and renovation projects throughout the state. 

Read the whole story at The Union Democrat

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more Calendar

8/7/2018
Barristers' Annual Judges Luncheon

8/14/2018
Knowing When To Accept A Case and When It's Time To Say Goodbye.

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

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

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