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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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How California law school job placement rates compare

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 26, 2015

Though the economy is improving, job placement rates for California law schools dipped in the latest figures.

Look through the slideshow to see California's 21 American Bar Association-approved law schools, ranked by the percentage of 2013 graduates holding full-time, long-term jobs that require a juris doctor degree.

The median rate was 43 percent, down about a point from 2012.

Read the whole story at Sacramento Business Journal


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Mercury News editorial: Another flawed judge raises question

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's time California considered appointing rather than electing judges.

The latest example of conduct more likely to surface when judges are picked by popular election is that of newly elected Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Stuart Scott, who is accused of violating the code of ethics on judicial conduct.

Through no fault of their own, voters have little basis upon which to identify the best candidate in a judicial campaign.

Scott's conduct reportedly ranged from eye-rolling in court to dissing the defense attorney in a private conversation with Deputy District Attorney Kelly Meeker. Mercury News staff writer Tracey Kaplan reported that Meeker told her supervisor about Scott's conduct, and District Attorney Jeff Rosen's office promptly followed its ethical obligation to report it to the Public Defender's Office and the presiding judge.

The Commission on Judicial Performance may review Scott's conduct.

It may be possible for Scott to recover and adopt appropriate courtroom behavior. He is intelligent and knows the law.

This was not the case with former Judge Diane Ritchie, who was elected in 2008 and unseated last fall by former prosecutor Matt Harris after this newspaper exposed Ritchie's general incompetence. The courts had struggled for six years to help her learn the job, and ultimately the county bar association declared her unqualified for re-election.

From the perspective of defendants, plaintiffs and attorneys, it's hard to say which of these cases is worse: an apparently clueless judge or a smart one who telegraphs bias.

Read the whole story at Mercury News


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2015 State of the Judiciary Address by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 25, 2015
A Message from Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

Yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering my annual State of the Judiciary address, which was followed by a reception attended by Governor Jerry Brown, members of the Legislature, and others at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building. I would like to thank members of the Judicial Council, the Bench Bar Coalition, theCalifornia Judges Association, and the Open Courts Coalition for their ongoing support, as well as their legislative advocacy visits that preceded the address.

 | Audio 

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Bar Exam, the Standard to Become a Lawyer, Comes Under Fire

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 23, 2015

For decades, law school graduates have endured a stressful rite of passage, spending the first 10 weeks after classes end taking cram courses in the arcane details of the law before sitting down for the grueling, days-long bar exam. Those who do not pass cannot practice law, at least in nearly all the states and the District of Columbia that consider the exam the professional standard.

But that standard, so long unquestioned, is facing a new round of scrutiny — not just from the test takers but from law school deans and some state legal establishments. Some states, including Arizona, Iowa and New Hampshire, are exploring or have adopted other options, questioning the wisdom of relying on a single written test as the gateway to legal practice.

The debate over the exam is not new, but it broke out in the open after the results of last summer’s exam were released in the fall, showing that the 51,005 test takers had the poorest results in nearly a decade.

Read the whole story at NY Times

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State Bar recommends 30-day suspension, probation for attorney Genis

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 19, 2015

The State Bar of California has recommended a 30-day suspension and two-year probation for Santa Barbara attorney Darryl Wayne Genis for misconduct.

Hearing Judge Richard Honn found in February 2014 that Genis was an "effective but confrontational criminal defense attorney" and that he violated court orders in two superior courts. Honn recommended a 90-day suspension, which Genis appealed. 

Honn, who presided over Genis’ disciplinary trial, made the recommendation based on criteria including that the attorney made a false and malicious State Bar complaint, committed an act of moral turpitude and failed to obey court orders.

Genis specializes in DUI cases and is representing Santa Ynez resident Benjamin Bettencourt in a fatal DUI case.

Read the whole story at Lompoc Record

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The Barristers' Committee seeks your nomination for the Barrister of the Year Award.

Posted By Paula Collis, Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2015

Each year the Barristers’ Committee recognizes a stand out SCCBA Barrister with the Barrister of the Year Award. The award recognizes a new lawyer who has contributed to the legal profession through their professional and community activities.  The criteria for the award are as follows:

  • Age 35 or younger or practiced law for fewer than 5 years;

  • Active member of the CA Bar;

  • Member of the SCCBA whose primary practice is in Santa Clara County;

  • Actively participates for at least one year, making significant contributions, in at least one of the following:

    • SCCBA or State Bar Committee

    • Pro bono activities, including serving on the board of directors of a legal agency or legal services fund raising committee; and/or

    • Other community activities that benefit the legal profession and/or practice of law

  • Demonstrated professional skill and judgment significantly beyond that expected for a lawyer with his or her experience level.




If you know of an individual who should be considered for this honor, please submit their name and a brief written statement in support of your nomination online. You may also fax or email your nomination letter to Attn: Sara Brylowski at; Fax (408) 850-1506.

Nominations will be accepted until Friday, April 10, 2015 and the award will be presented at a luncheon in May. Your thoughtful participation and support in helping us present this award is greatly appreciated.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Barristers' Committee Chair: Nicole Adams-Hess.

Adam Davis, Davis & Young, APLC
Eric Hutchins, Oracle Corporation
Andrew Cain, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
Julie Saffren, past Editor of the State Bar Family Law News
Shannon Stein, Past President of the SCCBA
David Tsai, Perkins Coie, LLP
Jenn Protas, Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel Inc
Kate Wilson,  Extreme Networks & current SCCBA Officer

Tags:  Barrister of the Year  Barristers  Recognition 

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California Judges Meet to Do Damage Control in Bureaucracy

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 13, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - After a stern rebuke from legislators over the California State Auditor's conclusion that the Judicial Council failed to properly oversee its staff bureaucracy, judges on the council's top committee met Thursday to confront the auditor's conclusion that significant changes still hadn't been made.

The Judicial Council is the rulemaking body that oversees the bureaucracy of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Judges on the Judicial Council's top committee met to address the auditor's conclusion that significant changes still have not been made.

In an audit stemming from strong criticism from judges and legislators over the AOC's spendthrift ways during a period of severe cuts to the courts, state Auditor Elaine Howle found the Administrative Office of the Courts wasted of hundreds of millions of dollars that should have gone to keeping courts running, and were not held accountable by their bosses at the Judicial Council.

In testimony to legislators Wednesday , Howle quoted from an internal investigation of the AOC by a committee of judges appointed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. In 2012, this Strategic Evaluation Committee unleashed a scathing chronicle of mismanagement and waste, calling the bureaucracy top-heavy in management, with an oversized and overpaid staff.

Read the whole story at Courthouse News Service

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State bar considers requiring all law students to do free legal work

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 12, 2015

Two fresh-faced UCLA law students met Carlis Pegues with a smile, eagerly leading the frail, 64-year-old woman into a cramped office to hear her troubles.

Pegues, they learned, is locked in a dispute with her landlord, who she says is attempting to evict her.

She was lost in a sea of legal paperwork with no money for an attorney and fearful of ending up back in a homeless shelter.

So nearly every Wednesday, Pegues has been riding the bus from her home in the Baldwin Village area of South L.A. to a free legal clinic in skid row. There, a staff of attorneys and law student volunteers provides free legal advice once a week to anyone who seeks it.

"It's a traumatic, mind-boggling experience trying to get out of this situation when everything is closing in on me," Pegues said. "If I have a problem, they don't look down on me here. They just step up and help."

The State Bar of California is hoping to get more help to people like Pegues by requiring that law students complete 50 hours of legal work for free or substantially reduced rates within one year of obtaining their license to practice law.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Judge tosses defamation lawsuit filed by Contra Costa prosecutor accused of rape

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 12, 2015

MARTINEZ -- A controversial Contra Costa County prosecutor's effort to clear his name of suspected rape backfired in spectacular fashion this week, as a judge dismissed his lawsuit against the county by citing previously unreported evidence against the attorney.

In his order dismissing the malicious prosecution and defamation suit brought by Contra Costa County prosecutor Michael Gressett, federal Judge Edward Chen outlined new details regarding Gressett's alleged 2008 rape of a junior sex crimes prosecutor, including testimony that Gressett may have been re-enacting a violent rape case he had been assigned to prosecute. The judge's order also revealed for the first time that after Gressett's rape indictment was thrown out in 2011, the only reason state prosecutors did not refile charges was because his alleged victim backed out of testifying.

In fact, state officials said if she changed her mind, they would consider refiling charges.

Seven years after rape allegations stunned the county's courthouses and split the District Attorney's Office during a contentious political campaign, Tuesday's ruling likely will end the Gressett soap opera.

However, Gressett's future with the office is not clear.

Read the whole story at Inside Bay Area News 

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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE:Accelerate: What’s Your Strategy?

Posted By John L. Mlnarik, Tuesday, March 10, 2015

John L. Mlnarik
The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc.
2015 SCCBA President

Some folks accelerate particles. Others accelerate learning. We at the Santa Clara County Bar Association have been accelerating the legal careers of attorneys for nearly 100 years.  But it isn’t an exact science.  And you cannot just pay your dues, sit back and expect results.

The framers of our constitution put in place a framework to allow individuals and businesses to thrive, but mere presence within the territory of the forum does not guarantee results.  Though, I think we can all agree, it does increase your chances.  Similarly, members of the SCCBA have a greater chance of success. A guarantee of success is not included.

Membership in our county bar association is a commitment to our legal community and should not be taken for granted.  Each of us became lawyers because of our determination and hard work but none of it would have been possible if it weren’t for those who came before us. Volunteering, taking a leadership role and giving back are all ways we can ensure that it is here for generations to come and that we leave this place better than we found it.

So if you are a member and haven’t been involved in what is going on, what are you waiting for? In the words of your parents I say “What is it? Do you want me to draw you a picture? Here’s one that hangs next to my desk from my daughter Paulina (all rights reserved :) ). 

Do you need an invitation?

I hereby cordially invite you to get involved in the Santa Clara County Bar Association and use your talents for the betterment of yourself and your legal community.

We need you. We need your passion. We need your excitement. We need your enthusiasm. And dare I say you need us. For our commitment to professionalism. For our insight into the practice. For our unending dedication to the success of our members.

Involvement in the SCCBA and the surrounding community is the single most important reason attorneys become a huge success. And they do it together. Not all alone by themselves in their office, but as a community. Committed to one another and taking responsibility for what they need more than anything else in the world, a strong, vibrant and growing community.  Without one who is going to need all of these lawyers?

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more Latest News
more Calendar

Barristers' Annual Judges Luncheon

Disability and ERISA Issue Spotting for Labor Law Attorneys

2018 Annual Judges' Night Dinner

Recent Recognitions
Hon. Julie A. Emede2017 Outstanding Jurist of the Year
Susana Inda2018 Barrister of the Year

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