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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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Law school continues fight over minimum bar exam passage rate

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 9, 2015

When the State Bar of California began requiring some law schools to maintain a minimum bar passage rate to keep their good standing, one school pushed back.

The Southern California Institute of Law, which has campuses in Santa Barbara and Ventura, took the unusual step of suing the state bar to overturn the regulation.

A bar association committee in 2012 approved regulations requiring accredited law schools to maintain a 40% minimum passage rate over five years or risk losing their accreditation.

Administrators at the nearly 20 schools that were accredited by the California bar complied with little complaint; many had already made bar preparation a mandatory part of their curriculum or had agreements with test prep companies that would help their students cram for the state's legal licensing examination.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Joe Dunn Enters Race to Succeed Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Joe Dunn, a consumer protection lawyer, educator, and former state senator, launched his highly anticipated campaign for California’s 46th Congressional District today, announced the Dunn campaign.

“Washington politics are hurting opportunities for Orange County’s middle class to get ahead,” said Dunn. “I have the experience to cut through partisan gridlock and help build the consensus needed in Congress to bring in good-paying jobs, expand the middle class, and make the economy work better for working families.”

Read the whole story at Voice of OC

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Judge OKs Uber Driver Class Action

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ruling in a case with implications for the entire on-demand economy, a federal judge on Tuesday certified a class of Uber Technologies Inc. drivers seeking employee status and reimbursement for withheld tips.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California found the drivers' situations are similar enough that the threshold question—whether drivers are employees or independent contractors—can be answered on a classwide basis. He certified a class of California drivers who have worked for Uber since 2009, and will allow the class to proceed with claims that Uber illegally kept drivers' tips.

"Despite Uber's argument to the contrary, there are numerous legally significant questions in this litigation that will have answers common to each class member that are apt to drive the resolution of the litigation," Chen wrote in a 68-page order issued less than a month after hearing arguments.

Read the whole story at The Recorder

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Judge Allows Moral, Not Just Religious, Contraception Exemptions

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Employers do not need to provide insurance coverage for contraception even if their objections are moral rather than religious, a federal judge here ruled on Monday.

The case concerned a group called March for Life, which was formed after the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to abortion in 1973 inRoe v. Wade. The group, Monday’s decision said, “is a nonprofit, nonreligious pro-life organization.”

It opposes methods of contraception that it says can amount to abortion, including hormonal products, intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptives. Many scientists disagree that those methods of contraception are equivalent to abortion.

Read the whole story at The New York Times

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Legislature ready to change law that denied compensation to wrongly imprisoned man

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Legislature is apparently ready to fill a gap in California’s law to compensate people who are imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. The gap is that the law covers only those who suffered financial losses from their lockup, and apparently leaves out the down-and-outers who were unemployable in the view of the board that awards the payments.

The fix may come too late, however, for the daughter of a San Diego County man who spent nearly seven years in state prison, and found out only after his release that he shouldn’t have been charged in the first place.

On Monday, a state appeals court upheld the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board’s denial of funds to Charles Herbert Holmes III’s daughter, who took up his case after his death.

Holmes had a long criminal record, mostly for relatively minor offenses, but was convicted of second-degree child molestation in Rhode Island in 1992, when he was in his late 20s. After moving to California about 20 years later and serving time for burglary, he was ordered to register as a sex offender, failed to do so and was sentenced to prison in 2005.

Read the whole story at SF Gate

 

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Judges' procedural questions hint at skepticism on California death penalty ban

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

California’s death penalty system, plagued by delays and inadequate funding, may survive an appeals court’s scrutiny because of legal rules that limit federal oversight, a U.S. court panel indicated Monday.

During a hearing before a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, three judges focused on procedural land mines that could imperil last year’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney declaring California’s system of capital punishment unconstitutional. None of the 9th Circuit judges revealed any leanings, but all focused on legal rules that might require them to overturn Carney’s decision.

Judge Paul J. Watford, an Obama appointee, said he had “major problems” with the fact that Carney ruled on an issue not yet addressed by the California Supreme Court.

Carney determined that decades-long delays and dysfunction render California’s death penalty arbitrary and unconstitutional. Legal rules require death row inmates to litigate or “exhaust” all their claims in state court, except in rare cases, before federal judges may review them.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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One-stop justice center close to reality

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A person assembling a new wardrobe can visit the mall and easily buy everything she needs, all under one roof.

A grocery shopper can purchase eggs, meat, vegetables and pancake mix at a single supermarket.

“But when you’ve got somebody just trying to survive violence, they’ve got to go all over,” Suzanne Schultz of the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office says. “It’s ridiculous.”

That sad reality, however, may not be the case much longer. For more than a year, Schultz has been leading an effort to establish a one-stop Family Justice Center in San Joaquin County, and the work appears as if it will bear fruit as soon as 2016.

The center would give victims access in one place, to a prosecutor, counselor and social worker; assistance in filling out a restraining order; help from the Sheriff’s Office in serving a restraining order; and aid in securing emergency housing.

Read the whole story at RecordNet.com

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Plan to require unaccredited law schools in California to disclose dropout rates OKd

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

 A panel of the State Bar of California approved a plan on Friday to require unaccredited law schools to disclose their dropout rates, in an effort to improve transparency for prospective students.

The unanimous decision comes about a month after a Times investigation found that about 90% of students drop out before their final year.

The move is considered to be part of a larger push to elevate the academic standards of unaccredited law schools where low tuition and few entrance requirements attract those who typically find themselves struggling with the coursework or unable to finish for other reasons.

Prospective students have the right to know dropout rates, which could help them assess their potential success before enrolling, said Karen Goodman, a member of the bar's committee that oversees unaccredited law schools.

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times

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Court considers challenge to California death penalty

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A federal appeals court considering whether California's death penalty is unconstitutional because of excessive delays focused Monday on procedural issues over whether a novel legal theory had been addressed by the state Supreme Court.

In the case of a Los Angeles rapist and murderer on death row for more than two decades, three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wanted to know if all appeals were exhausted in state court before a federal judge ruled last year that the death penalty was dysfunctional because of unpredictable delays that seldom lead to executions.

Few would argue that California's death penalty provides swift justice.

More prisoners have died of natural causes on death row than have perished in the death chamber. More than 900 killers have been sentenced to death since 1978, but only 13 have been executed.

Read the whole story at The Sacramento Bee

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California chief justice discusses her rise to high court

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 31, 2015

Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye championed community as she spoke at an event in Redding where she detailed her rise to the state’s highest judicial office and a short stint as a blackjack dealer after law school.

Amid the sound of clinking silverware, Cantil-Sakauye took to the podium at a luncheon hosted by The Women’s Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. About 200 guests, mostly women, attended.

As a Filipino-American who grew up in Sacramento, Cantil-Sakauye models her work ethic after other Filipino women whom she describes as “beautiful house orchids with titanium spines.” During her childhood she picked produce with her family in the fields of Northern California.

Read the whole story at Record Searchlight

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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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