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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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Does Apple win even if it loses?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It is a battle for public opinion almost as much as it is for the law. And in Apple Inc., the government faces a formidable corporate foe — an iconic American brand that merely has to stand up for privacy to keep the reputation of its products intact.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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ABA committee recommends tougher, simpler bar passage accreditation standard

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 23, 2016

An ABA committee has voted to recommend the adoption of a tougher but simpler bar passage requirement in the law school accreditation standards.

Under the proposed new standard (PDF), approved Friday by the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar’s Standards Review Committee, a law school would have to show that at least 75 percent of its graduates who took a bar exam within two years of their graduation passed.

The proposal would eliminate altogether the first-time bar passage test contained in the current standard, which a law school can meet by showing that its first-time bar passage rate is no more than 15 points below the average bar-pass rate for ABA-approved schools in states where its graduates took the exam. 

Read the whole story at ABA Journal

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Santa Clara County High School Mock Trial Tournament Semi-Finalists Face Off February 23

Posted By Paula Collis, Monday, February 22, 2016
Willow Glen and Sobrato High Schools Battle in High School Mock Trial Championship Round

San Jose, CA (February 22, 2016) - Santa Clara County continues its venerable high school mock trial tradition with 25 high schools and more than 400 students competing in this year’s tournament.  The seven-round, four-week tournament is presided over by dozens of sitting superior court and appellate judges and is scored by hundreds of Bay Area attorneys.  The program, which gives students an authentic litigation experience, is sponsored by the Santa Clara County Bar Association, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Each team must fulfill 18 distinct roles.  Students must be prepared to either defend or prosecute the case depending on the night, and serve as pre trial attorneys, prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses and court staff.  This year’s participating schools -  which is the highest number seen in recent history -  are BASIS, Castilleja, Cupertino, Downtown College Prep Alum Rock and El Primero, Gunderson, Homestead, Leigh, Leland, Lincoln, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Lynbrook, Mitty, Monta Vista, Mountain View, Pioneer, Prospect, Saratoga, Sobrato, St. Francis, Silver Creek, Valley Christian, West Valley, and Willow Glen.

On February 18, 2016,  Willow Glen defeated Gunderson and Sobrato defeated Lynbrook to advance to the finals, which will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23rd at the Old Courthouse located at 161 North 1st Street in San Jose.  The round will take place in the Opa, Authentic Greek Cuisine Courtroom (Dept. 17), which is named after the tournament’s top sponsor.  The Honorable Judge Sharon Chatman, a former Deputy District Attorney and long-time Superior Court judge will preside.  As in prior years, the final round scoring panel is comprised of top legal luminaries from the community, including District Attorney Jeff Rosen,  Santa Clara County Bar Association President-Elect Nicole Isger, City Attorney Richard Dole and County Counsel Orry Korb.

In this year’s case, the defendant, Jamie Hayes, a college student, is charged with second degree murder after inflicting a fatal blow to Lee Valdez, a campus security guard.  The prosecution will argue that Jamie Hayes seized an opportunity to act on his anti-police politics and that Jamie Hayes was among a number of campus trouble-makers who had multiple run-ins with campus security.  The defense will argue that Jamie Hayes was merely protecting his teammate from Lee Valdez’s over-zealous policing and excessive use of force and that Lee Valdez had a history of aggressive behavior.  The defense has sought to exclude incriminating statements made by Jamie Hayes following a long interrogation by the police as an involuntary confession in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Founded in 1917, the Santa Clara County Bar Association is a non-profit, non-regulatory professional organization working to provide training and support to member attorneys, improve and streamline local administration of justice, and serve the public by fostering improved public understanding of and access to the legal system. The Bar Association currently has over 2,400 member attorneys in the County.

 


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Fired Calif. Bar Worker Opens Can of Worms

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 22, 2016

A former administrative assistant sued the California State Bar for $15 million this week, claiming it fired her for turning up its incompetence and falsification of disciplinary cases.

Sonja Oehler sued the State Bar, its former chief prosecutor Jayne Kim, and what Oehler calls its "self-acclaimed 'co-CEO'" Robert Hawley, on Wednesday in Superior Court.

Oehler's attorney Thomas Girardi told Courthouse News: "Sonja is a spectacular woman who devoted her life over there and was loved by all the people, but got thrown out because they thought she was too much like Dunn," referring to ousted Bar leader Joe Dunn.

"She had a great job somewhere else, but was lured to the Bar by the importance of ensuring we have good, ethical lawyers," Girardi said in an interview.
According to Oehler's LinkedIn profile, she worked as an executive assistant with the California Medical Association from January 2006 to December 2010.
All attorneys who practice law in California must answer to the State Bar. Judges must answer to the state Judicial Council. But the State Bar answers to no one, Girardi said.

"She's not the only one," he said. "There are other lawsuits, and the facts have been verified, so it's not a fluke.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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Supreme Court resumes oral arguments without Justice Scalia

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 22, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia, who Chief Justice John Robertsmourned as "our man for all seasons."

It was an emotional affair, with Scalia's eight colleagues seated on either side of his empty place on the bench, covered with black memorial drapery. The seat will remain that way until the court's next sitting begins in late March.

"We remember his incisive intellect, his agile wit, and his captivating prose," Roberts said. "But we cannot forget his irrepressible spirit. He was our man for all seasons, and we shall miss him beyond measure."

Read the whole story at USA Today

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How California’s U.S. Senate candidates would handle a Supreme Court nominee

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 22, 2016

President Barack Obama has successfully seated two nominees on the U.S. Supreme Court: Justice Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed 68 to 31, and Justice Elena Kagan by a vote of 63 to 37.

Now, as Obama weighs a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, among the considerations is whether they could clear the 60-vote threshold generally needed in the U.S. Senate for the high court. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate should not confirm a new justice until Obama leaves office.

The question of how to move forward has divided the U.S. Senate, as well as candidates running for the upper chamber. Following are responses to three questions The Sacramento Bee posed to the four major candidates running for Senate in California, listed in alphabetical order...

Read the whole story at Sac Bee

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Apple vs. the FBI: The Justice Department Fires Back

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 22, 2016

The Justice Department has filed a motion to force Apple to comply with a judge’s order to help the FBI unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino attackers.  

The motion comes just days after Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, in a letter to customers, described the government’s request as overreach, and called its effect “chilling.” In essence, Cook said: The “U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

The Justice Department, in its motion filed Friday before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, accused Apple of “repudiating” the order ofMagistrate Judge Sheri Pym.

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The Women Lawyers' Section is co-sponsoring the NAWL Mid-Year Meeting with special rate for members

Posted By Paula Collis, Friday, February 19, 2016
The SCCBA Women Lawyers' Section will be co-sponsors of the National Association of Women Lawyers' Mid-Year Meeting & Awards Luncheon in March in San Francisco, which qualifies SCCBA Members for a 10% discount.

If you wish to take advantage, please click to register, and use registration code MYMWLS2016.
National Association of Women Lawyers' Mid-Year Meeting & Awards Luncheon - Special Rate for Our Members
The Santa Clara County Bar Association Women Lawyers' Section is pleased to be a partnering organization with NAWL’s Mid-Year Meeting & Awards Luncheon March 11-12, 2016 at the JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square. We have arranged a special 10% discount for our members. To register, please go to www.nawl.org/2016midyear and use the code MYMWLS2016 to get the discount.
The theme this year is“Women at the Forefront: Leveraging Innovation in the Legal Profession.”This comprehensive and rich program is relevant to women in all fields of legal practice. The program includes a mix of professional development and substantive sessions, as well as plenty of networking time. Don’t miss the Power Panel, a signature session designed to put an end to the myth that striving for power isn't something "good girls" should do. Our panel will share their experiences and wisdom from their different paths to leadership.
Registration is open to NAWL members and non-members; please share this email with others who might be interested. For additional information about NAWL and the Mid-Year Meeting, visit www.nawl.org.

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Panel Revokes Habeas Relief Based on Removal of Black Jurors

Posted By Administration, Friday, February 19, 2016

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday flipped a habeas decision from an Oakland federal judge who granted a petition for a new trial in a 1998 felony murder case based on state prosecutors' decision to strike black jurors.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton granted habeas relief to Miguel Sifuentes in 2013, finding that the trial judge in state court had incorrectly determined that prosecutors' reasons for striking two black jurors weren't racially motivated.

But in Thursday's decision, Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote that Hamilton gave too little deference to the state court judge and the California Court of Appeal, which had previously found that the lead prosecutor offered acceptable, race-neutral reasons for the strikes.

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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How Tim Cook, in iPhone Battle, Became a Bulwark for Digital Privacy

Posted By Administration, Friday, February 19, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — Letters from around the globe began pouring into the inbox of Timothy D. Cook not long after the publication of the first revelations from Edward J. Snowden about mass government surveillance.

Do you know how much privacy means to us? they asked Apple’s chief executive. Do you understand?

Mr. Cook did. He was proud that Apple sold physical products — phones, tablets and laptops — and did not traffic in the intimate, digital details of its customers’ lives.

That stance crystallized on Tuesday when Mr. Cook huddled for hours with lawyers and others at Apple’s headquarters to figure out how to respond to a federal court order requiring the company to let the United States government break into the iPhone of one of the gunmen in a San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting. Late Tuesday, Mr. Cook took the fight public with a letter to customers that he personally signed.

Read the whole story at NY Times

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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. Edward J. Davila2017 Diversity of the Year
Susana Inda2018 Barrister of the Year

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