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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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DoorDash Brings On First GC

Posted By Paula Collis, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Food delivery startup DoorDash Inc. has hired Keith Yandell as its first general counsel. Yandell comes from Uber Technologies Inc., where he was recently promoted to director of litigation.

Yandell will have some familiarity in his move from on-demand rides to on-demand meals. Last month, Uber rolled out a stand-alone app for UberEats, a service in 13 cities that lets customers make delivery orders from nearby restaurants.

"Keith's diverse background and extensive experience makes him a strong fit for DoorDash," said Tony Xu, the company's co-founder and CEO in a prepared statement. "As DoorDash continues to grow, we're proud to be building out our management team with experienced managers and leaders in their fields."

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Judge in PG&E criminal trial limits evidence jury can hear

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Jurors in the criminal trial of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. can hear evidence about the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion — clearly relevant to the charges that PG&E violated pipeline-safety standards and obstructed justice — but won’t hear some of the most graphic details, like the death and devastation it caused to a neighborhood, or view the wrecked pipe itself, a federal judge has ruled.

“Avoiding accidents like the San Bruno explosion is the very purpose of the Pipeline Safety Act” that PG&E is charged with violating, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson said in a decision late Monday over evidence at the upcoming trial. He said the blast also provides “necessary context” for the National Transportation Safety Board’s subsequent investigation of the utility “and PG&E’s potential motives for obstructing it.” 

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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How O.C. parents laid the groundwork for school desegregation in the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

As a child, Sylvia Mendez thought her parents' court case was all about a playground.

That's because in 1944, the bus would drop her off at the white school with the "beautiful playground." But she would have to keep walking down the street to the Mexican school — two wooden shacks on a dirt lot next to a cow pasture.

"We went to court every day. I listened to what they were saying, but really I was dreaming about going back to that beautiful school," Mendez said.

What Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez were fighting for was racial equality.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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California gets split verdict on tax case before U.S. Supreme Court

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

California’s tax collectors got a split verdict Tuesday from the U.S. Supreme Court in a multimillion-dollar fight with a wealthy computer-chip inventor from Southern California that’s been brewing for a quarter century.

The court, on a 4-4 vote, upheld Las Vegas entrepreneur Gilbert Hyatt’s right to sue the California Franchise Tax Board in Nevada state court over the way tax collectors have treated him. Hyatt claims the California investigators dug through his trash and violated his privacy in their effort to prove he was still a Californian when he came into millions.

The California agency did win a significant point, however. The Supreme Court ruled that under Nevada law Hyatt’s damage claim against California would be limited to a maximum of $50,000. A Nevada jury in 2008 awarded Hyatt around $490 million, although the Nevada Supreme Court later reduced the ruling to $1 million.

The U.S. court’s 4-4 vote is a result of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, which has left a vacancy on the court. Because the court was evenly divided, the ruling of a lower court stands. It was the second time the Supreme Court had weighed in on Hyatt’s tax dispute; in 2003 it ruled for the first time that he had the right to go to court in Nevada.

Read the whole story at SacBee

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New State Bar trustee is a PR expert

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 18, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed San Diego public relations professional Stacie Spector to the State Bar's Board of Trustees at a time when the oft-embattled agency is seeking to improve its PR efforts. Spector is a principal at Spector Strategies, which provides strategic planning, crisis management and project management advice to clients.

 

By Lyle Moran — Daily Journal (sub. req.)

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Lawyer Off Hook for Improperly Charged Fees

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 18, 2016

A suspended, bankrupt California lawyer need not pay the nearly $6,000 she improperly charged a client for residential mortgage modification services, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

When a client identified in court documents only as "Clark" retained Irvine, Calif.-based attorney Marilyn Scheer to help modify his home mortgage loan in 2010, he paid her $5,500 before any change occurred.

But Clark soon fired Scheer and tried to get his money back under California's mandatory attorney fee arbitration program.

The arbitrator found in 2011 that although Scheer had good intentions, she violated state law by receiving advanced fees for residential mortgage modification services, so she must return the improperly collected fees, plus the $275 arbitration filing fee, for a total of $5,775.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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California courts step up oversight of psychotropic medication use in foster care

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 18, 2016

California's judicial leaders on Friday took a major step toward reversing the foster care system's rampant use of psychiatric drugs, approving a slate of new safeguards to make juvenile courts here the country's most careful and inquisitive monitors of psychiatric care for abused and neglected children.

Beginning as soon as July, doctors will have to make a more convincing case to receive court approval to prescribe the powerful drugs too often used to control difficult behaviors in traumatized children. And for the first time, foster children will be offered greater opportunity to speak for themselves about how the medications make them feel.

"Why do these children need medication? Is there something else we can do?" Judge Jerilyn Borack of Sacramento's juvenile court, who helped craft the new rules, told the state's Judicial Council, which approved them Friday. "That's what we've tried to address."

Read the whole story at Mercury News

 

 

 

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Following legal malpractice trends helps to manage risk

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 18, 2016

Reviewing rules of professional conduct and advisory opinions is a good way for attorneys to ensure that they maintain an ethical practice. There are also steps that attorneys can take or best practices to follow to reduce their risk of legal malpractice claims. One factor that influences best practices for claim avoidance or risk reduction comes from the data surrounding legal malpractice claims filed in court. The most recent data from the ABA covers years 2008 through 2011, and was released by the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers' Professional Liability. The committee has expressed its intent to issue its next study of legal malpractice claims in fall 2016, covering the years 2012 through 2015.

While awaiting the new results for 2012 through 2015, it behooves attorneys to look back at the trends from the prior report, covering the worst years of the economic crisis. This helps prepare attorneys for potential malpractice claims and identify more ways to avoid them altogether.

 

Read the whole story at Daily Journal

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House candidate Dunn dealt setback in bar lawsuit, but battle continues

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 18, 2016

It’s probably not going to help Joe Dunn’s congressional bid that he was fired from his last big job, executive director of the State Bar of California. But it would neutralize the issue if a lawsuit proves he was let go in retaliation for blowing the whistle on fellow bar officials for alleged improprieties.

So far, not so good on that front, as Dunn was dealt a setback in his wrongful termination suit earlier this month.

But the fight isn’t over.

An arbitrator, retired U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Edward Infante, dismissed Dunn’s five claims – but said he could resubmit three if he provided more information to support the allegations. Dunn attorneyMark Geragos said he plans to file the amended claims by the May 1 deadline and expects a previously scheduled Aug. 10 arbitration hearing to proceed as planned.

Read the whole story at OC Register

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Panel recommends parole for ex-Manson follower Van Houten

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 18, 2016

Leslie Van Houten sat before the California panel that would soon recommend her parole as a slight woman with shoulder-length gray hair, a wrinkled face and glasses, a far cry to from the rebellious teen she was when she joined the cult of Charles Manson more than 40 years ago and helped kill a wealthy grocer and his wife.

At a five-hour hearing she described in detail how she descended from an idyllic childhood into psychedelic drug use and eventually found Manson, whom she described as a "Christ-like man that had all the answers" for a young woman whose parents' divorce had left her feeling abandoned and angry.

On Thursday she convinced the state panel that the murderous young woman she had been was a long-distant memory and that she was now fit to be paroled. She has completed college degrees and been a model inmate.

Read the whole story at News Channel 10

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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
Steven B. Haley2017 Professional Lawyer of the Year
Susana Inda2018 Barrister of the Year

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