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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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High court declines to hear Prop 47 DNA case

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 16, 2015

The state Supreme Court has denied a request to take up an appeal by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who was fighting to prevent DNA from being expunged from the state database as a result of Proposition 47.

The case in question relates only to juveniles who are seeking to have their low-level felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors under the new law, but precedent set in this case could affect a much larger population of adult offenders down the road.

The District Attorney’s Office appealed to the California Supreme Court after the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that Proposition 47 applies to juvenile offenders the same as adults. The court also held that if an offender has his felony reduced to a misdemeanor, then the DNA collected as a result of that felony should be expunged. DNA is not collected for misdemeanor crimes.

According to law, juveniles must give DNA only under a felony conviction, known as a “true finding,” while adults give DNA upon a felony arrest.

Proposition 47, passed by voters in November, doesn’t specifically address either juveniles or DNA in its language.

Read the whole story at The San Diego Union-Tribune

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California Lawyer Shuttering Stuns Legal Community

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 15, 2015
Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2015

The abrupt recent demise of longstanding legal magazine California Lawyer has shocked and raised suspicion of lawyers and legal reporters, who wonder why the Daily Journal would suddenly pull the plug on its sister publication.

"I was taken totally by surprise by the demise of California Lawyer, as was the staff. We had no warning whatsoever," said Santa Clara University Law School professor Jerry Uelmen, a member of the magazine's editorial advisory board.

 "It came as a real shock. Everybody in the legal community is pretty surprised," said longtime legal journalist Susan Kostal, a writer for the magazine whose last piece on the hidden cost of police body cameras was published online only.

 Kostal found out about it from a friend, who sent her a link to a Sept. 30 blog post by Jim Romenesko, the day the bombshell was dropped on the magazine's staff.

"California Lawyer was the first magazine where I was a staff editor and I learned a tremendous amount from the very talented people there. There were some real pros who worked there and I'll miss it," Kostal said.

 She still remembers her first cover story, written for the magazine back when she worked for the Daily Journal. It was an investigative piece on the murder of Dexter Jacobson, an attorney who was looking into fraud in the bankruptcy courts.

Kostal later confirmed the news that the magazine was folding with Daily Journal editor David Houston. Calls to Houston and the Daily Journal's San Francisco office were not returned.

 The memo posted on Romenesko's blog reads: "At 9:30 this morning a representative from the Daily Journal Corporation announced to staff that California Lawyer would cease publication in the print and digital editions, as of the October issue. Termination for all staff is immediate, as of Sept. 30, 2015. At the close of work today our dailyjournal.com email will no longer function."

But aside from Romenesko's posting and a item in the San Francisco Chronicle, the collapse of California Lawyer has gone largely unreported in the legal media, even by the magazine itself or its parent company, the Daily Journal.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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Judge to lawyer suing Uber: Stop filing in California

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 15, 2015

On-demand startups are angry with labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan for suing them, and they’re trying anything to stop her.

 

One of these startups, laundry service Washio, has argued to a court that while Liss-Riordan has filed several lawsuits in California, she’s not actually licensed to practice there (she’s based in Massachusetts). San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn told her on Friday that she wasn’t eligible for admission pro hac vice because she is “regularly engaged in substantial legal activities in California,” according to The Recorder. Admission pro hac vice is usually granted to an attorney who may not be licensed to practice in a particular state but requests for an exception to represent a client in that jurisdiction.

 

Read the whole story at Fortune

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Bar Trustee Says New President Playing Favorites

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SACRAMENTO — An annual meeting that was supposed to showcase new State Bar leadership and unity after a difficult year ended on a sour note Sunday when a trustee threatened to quit over what he called the organization's "trade association mentality and culture."

Dennis Mangers, the state Senate's appointee to the bar's board of trustees, said that he may resign next month to protest new president David Pasternak's first round of appointments. At the board's meeting on the last day of the bar gathering Sunday, Mangers accused Pasternak of only naming trustees who voted for his presidency to committee chairs and stacking the executive committee with members from the Los Angeles area. Mangers repeated his concerns Monday.

"It's kind of like that old-boy politics where the victor claims all the spoils," said Mangers, who did not receive a committee chair. "This behavior, quite frankly, is very typical of trade association leadership. … I'm beginning to think what [the board] needs is a new preponderance of nonelected members."

Pasternak said Mangers was wrong, that he appointed trustee Gwen Moore, who he said did not cast a vote for bar president in the July election, to a committee chair. Two other committees went to predesignated trustees—the executive committee is traditionally chaired by the president, Pasternak said. The remaining four panels were simply assigned to "the people who I thought would be the best chairs for the committees," he said.


Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Yoga Can't Be Copyrighted, Appeals Court Rules

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 9, 2015

Bikram yoga aficionados can stretch and sweat with impunity following a Ninth Circuit ruling that the practice's signature sequence of poses is not copyrightable.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday found that yogi Bikram Choudhury's series of 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises is an "unprotectable idea," and that Choudhury cannot restrict its use.

The panel's unanimous opinion reaffirms the "idea/expression dichotomy," a fundamental principle of copyright law that says the expression of ideas is copyrightable, but the ideas themselves are not. For example, the panel pointed out, a surgeon who copyrights a book describing how to perform a complicated surgery does not then have the exclusive right to perform the surgery.

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Jerry Brown signs electronic search warrant law

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 9, 2015

Gov. Jerry Brown has rebooted his thinking on protecting personal digital information from police searches.

After rejecting several similar proposals in years past, Brown on Thursday signed the sweeping Senate Bill 178, which will require law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants before accessing someone’s electronic devices or requesting the private communications stored on them, such as e-mails, text messages and geolocation data.

“Tell me how a letter in your mailbox should have more protection than an e-mail in the cloud,” said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the bill’s author. “It doesn't make sense.”

Read the whole story at Sac Bee

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New California Law Cracks Down On Cheating Prosecutors

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 8, 2015

California prosecutors who deliberately withhold evidence from defense attorneys may face harsher punishment under a new law passed after a wave of misconduct scandals.

The law, authored by state Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D) and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) over the weekend, bolsters a judge's ability to boot a prosecutor who withholds evidence from a case. Additionally, if other employees of the prosecuting attorney's office participated or sanctioned the suppression of evidence, the court is authorized to eject the entire office. The law requires the court to report violations to the state bar, which licenses attorneys.

"The bill seems like a step in the right direction," Alex Kozinski, former chief judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, told The Huffington Post. "It seems to give a great deal of discretion to trial judges, so its effectiveness will depend on the degree to which those judges are willing to exercise that authority."

Read the whole story at Huffington Post

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After struggling, Jerry Brown makes assisted suicide legal in California

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 8, 2015

Caught between conflicting moral arguments, Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminary student, signed a measure Monday allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths.

Brown appeared to struggle in deciding whether to approve the bill, whose opponents included the Catholic Church.

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” Brown wrote in a signing message. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

Read the whole story at LA Times

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State high court set to hear arguments on Citizens United advisory measure

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 8, 2015

California legislators decided last year to ask voters whether they supported overturning a landmark ruling that allowed unlimited corporate spending to support or denounce federal candidates.

A conservative taxpayers group balked, arguing that state legislators lack the power to put advisory measures on the ballot. The California Supreme Court agreed to remove Proposition 49 and to decide in a later ruling whether it could go forward in a future election.

The court will hear arguments on the case Tuesday, generally the last step before issuing a decision. If the Legislature wins, Californians will be able to cast an advisory vote next year on whether Citizens United, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned campaign spending laws, should be repealed by a federal constitutional amendment.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Supreme Court Plans to Highlight Revisions in Its Opinions

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would disclose after-the-fact changes to its opinions, a common practice that had garnered little attention until a law professor at Harvard wrote about it last year.

The court also took steps to address“link rot” in its decisions. A study last year found that nearly half of hyperlinks in Supreme Court opinions no longer work.

And the court said it would bar “line standers” who hold places for lawyers eager to see high profile arguments.

The move on editing is a major development. Though changes in the court’s opinions after they are issued are common, the court has only very seldom acknowledged them.

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. Julie A. Emede2017 Outstanding Jurist of the Year
Hon. Edward J. Davila2017 Diversity of the Year

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