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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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No oath needed for child witness

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A child who is called to testify in court must show she understands the difference between truth and lies, and must promise to tell the truth. But, unlike adult witnesses, a child under 10 doesn’t have to take an oath, says a state appeals court.

In a ruling last week, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco upheld a South Bay teenager’s molestation conviction based on the testimony of a girl who was 4 at the time of the incident in 2009 and was 7 when she testified the Juvenile Court trial.

The girl told her mother that a 14-year-old boy, Jerry, a member of her extended family who lived in Fremont, had touched her between her legs after locking the doors at a home in Milpitas where they were visiting. When the case went to trial in 2013, rather than swearing the girl in as a witness, a Santa Clara County prosecutor asked the girl a series of questions.

First he asked her what color shirt he was wearing, and the girl correctly said it was “kind of bluish and purplish.” If he said it was white, the prosecutor said, would that be the truth or a lie? A lie, she responded. And is it good or bad to tell a lie? Bad, the girl said, and in response to the next question, she promised to tell the truth. After a little more Q&A, the prosecutor, without objection from Jerry’s lawyer, submitted the issue to Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Lee, who found the girl competent to testify. 

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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Experienced Trial Lawyer Becomes State Bar Leader During Challenging Times

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 24, 2014

The Editor Interviews Craig Holden, President of the State Bar of California and a partner in the Los Angeles office of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith LLP, where he chairs the firm’s National Commercial Litigation Practice.

Editor: First, congratulations on becoming the 90th president of the State Bar of California. Describe for our readers your path to becoming president.

Holden: When I started practicing law some 20 years ago, I had mentors who encouraged me to become active in the State Bar, which I did by participating as a speaker in the State Bar’s educational programming and taking on various leadership roles. My leadership roles started by serving on the Executive Committee for the Law Practice Management and Technology Section and I then went on to serve on the Intellectual Property Section Executive Committee. Soon after I formed and chaired the IP Litigation Committee, which was a good opportunity to get involved in cutting-edge IP and complex litigation issues. We took trips to Washington, DC and met with the Registrar of Copyrights, the chief judge of the Federal Circuit and the head of the Patent and Trademark Office, which gave me enormous exposure to policy-making opportunities, and fueled my desire to stay involved in bar leadership.

I was also active in efforts to diversify the profession and leadership of the bar by encouraging bar leadership to engage in more outreach to recruit from specialty and minority bar organizations. This effort resulted in my founding, along with another lawyer, what was then called the State Bar Diversity Coalition, which helped coordinate efforts between various sections, committees, councils and other organizations of the State Bar that were attempting to diversify their membership and encourage members to get involved with the leadership of the State Bar. I also served on the State Bar Diversity Pipeline Task Force, and I went on to chair the State Bar’s Council on Access & Fairness, which is a diversity think tank for the profession. In this role I worked with corporate counsel, law schools, law departments and firms to develop diversity initiatives that could be replicated by other organizations. Friends and colleagues asked me to continue serving, so I went on to serve on the State Bar Board, which was then called the Board of Governors and is now called the Board of Trustees. After serving for a year I was elected vice president and am now the 90th President as of this past September.


Read the whole story at The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel

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S.F. court clerks union accused of breaking law with 1-day strike

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 24, 2014

A state labor board says the union representing San Francisco Superior Court clerks must answer charges that it violated state law in last week’s one-day strike that disrupted court operations.

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 walked out Oct. 14 in protest of court officials’ refusal to agree to a pay raise. The court’s executive officer, T. Michael Yuen, called the strike illegal and said it violated a no-strike provision in the union’s contract.

The court filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Board, whose general counsel on Tuesday issued allegations against the union.

By calling the strike without advance notice, and by disregarding the no-strike pledge, the union “failed and refused to meet and confer in good faith” with court officials, in violation of state law, the board’s attorney said.

The board’s lawyer also said the strike “included employees whose absence created a substantial and imminent threat to public health or safety.” The complaint did not identify the employees, but said the union had acted illegally by authorizing or encouraging essential employees to withdraw their services. 

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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In 1938, L.A. woman went to jail for wearing slacks in courtroom

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 23, 2014



California Retrospective

Kindergarten teacher Helen Hulick made Los Angeles court history — and struck a blow for women's fashion — in 1938.


Hulick arrived in downtown L.A. court to testify against two burglary suspects. But the courtroom drama immediately shifted to the slacks she was wearing. Judge Arthur S. Guerin rescheduled her testimony and ordered her to wear a dress next time.


Hulick was quoted in the Nov. 10, 1938, Los Angeles Times saying, "You tell the judge I will stand on my rights. If he orders me to change into a dress I won't do it. I like slacks. They're comfortable."


She returned to court five days later — in slacks — infuriating the judge. The Times reported:


In a scathing denunciation of slacks — which he prosaically termed pants — as courtroom attire for women, Guerin yesterday again forbade Helen Hulick, 28, kindergarten teacher, to testify as a witness while dressed in a green and orange leisure attire.


Read the whole story at LA Times


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Lawyers versus doctors in costly Prop. 46 campaign wars

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A ballot initiative that pits lawyers against doctors has set off one of this year's fiercest campaign wars, a costly clash over increasing state limits on malpractice damages and imposing drug testing on physicians.


Proposition 46 would raise the cap on pain-and-suffering awards in malpractice lawsuits and require that hospitals randomly test their doctors for drug and alcohol use. Backers say the measure would rein in negligent doctors; opponents charge that it's a money grab by the lawyers who helped put it on the ballot.


Supporters have raised only a fraction of the money that opponents have collected for their side of the battle. But the "yes" side is hoping that the attention-grabbing issue of drug testing can help surmount the cash disadvantage.


Read the whole story at LA Times

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Chief Justice of California, Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, to Address Local Attorneys and Judges at SCCBA Annual Judges’ Night

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Outstanding Jurist Awarded to the Honorable Brian C. Walsh, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara

San Jose, CA (October 16, 2013)  The Santa Clara County Bar Association, Silicon Valley’s largest lawyers’ association, will hold its annual Judges’ Night Dinner on October 22, 2014, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. This annual event hosted by the Association honors both the state and federal judges in Santa Clara County and highlights the cooperative, close working relationships of attorneys and judges in advancing the administration of justice for the county’s citizens. More information and ticketing can be found at SCCBA 2014 President, Dianne Sweeney, a partner with the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop, will preside as Master of Ceremonies for the dinner.


The Keynote Speaker addressing the judges and guests will be Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California.  Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye is the 28th chief justice of the State of California. She was sworn into office on January 3, 2011, and is the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye chairs the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye served for more than 20 years on California appellate and trial courts before her appointment to the California Supreme Court. She received her B.A., with honors, from the University of California at Davis, in 1980 and her J.D. from U.C. Davis, School of Law, in 1984.


The Outstanding Jurist Award will be awarded to the Honorable Brian C. Walsh, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara.  Judge Walsh recently completed his terms as Chair of the Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee (TCPJAC) and member of the State Judicial Council.  As Chair of TCPJAC, he led the Presiding Judges of California’s 58 trial courts in an enhanced effort to advocate for adequate funding for the trial courts and equal access to justice for all Californians. During his time as president of the Santa Clara County Bar Association in 1992 before being appointed to the bench, Judge Walsh served as architect of its Code of Professionalism adopted that same year, which later became the model for the Guideline for Civility and Professionalism adopted by the California State Bar and this year adopted as the Civility Guidelines for the U.S. District Court for Northern California.


The Diversity Award will be presented to Suchitra V. Narayen, Associate General Counsel, Oracle Corporation. This award was established to highlight the critical importance of a diverse and representative legal profession in securing vigorous advocacy for clients and credibility to the justice system. The recipient of the Diversity Award demonstrates long-term commitment to promoting diversity in the legal profession.


The Pro Bono Award will be presented to both James A Scharf, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Mark W. Schem, Parner, Borton Petrini LLP. The Pro Bono Award each year recognizes a person or group who shows a sustained and extraordinary commitment to pro bono services to the indigent in Santa Clara County.


The Professional Lawyer of the Year Award will be presented to Allen J. Ruby, Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP. The recipients of this honor are an active, respected practitioners of the law who are chosen by their peers as an example of unimpeachable character and who serves as an embodiment of the standards set forth in the SCCBA Code of Professionalism and as a role model for other attorneys  practicing in Santa Clara County.

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SF Superior Court: No Pay Raises For Clerks Who Already Earn the Highest Pay of Any Clerical Court Employees in California

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SEIU Violating No-Strike Clause in Current Agreement; Court to File PERB Charge


SAN FRANCISCO -- Clerical court employees are engaging in an unlawful strike under a current contract that already awarded them a $3,500 one-time payment in early 2013 and a 3 percent salary increase on July 1, 2013, Court Executive T. Michael Yuen announced today.


Members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1021, went on strike today in violation of their 3-year contract, which contains a no-strike provision. The Court will seek an injunction to enjoin the strike and file a charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) because the SEIU contract – which took effect December 5, 2012 and expires on June 30, 2015 – contains a no-strike provision (Section IX A).

The unlawful strike is causing delays in Civil, Criminal and Family law cases; but the Court did not close its doors. Instead Court management shifted its resources to criminal and other cases with statutory deadlines. Drop boxes were placed in all clerks’ offices for filings that will be stamped with today’s date.


“The Court values its employees and rewarded them last year for their expertise and dedicated service during the Recession-related budget crisis,” Yuen said. “We recognize that the past six years have been difficult after staff layoffs, furloughs and a Court-wide reorganization. However, the Court does not currently have the resources to further increase the salaries of the highest-paid Court employees in California.”

Courtroom clerks in the San Francisco Superior Court earn $7,386 monthly, which is 27 percent higher than San Mateo employees and 28 percent higher than Los Angeles employees.


Public sector salaries in San Francisco tend to be higher than similar jobs elsewhere in California due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area. However, incremental state budget restorations are not enough to overcome the cumulative yearly decreases to the Court’s allocation of state funding as a result of a new Judicial Branch funding formula. The Court will lose $7.8 million by FY 2017-18, which is the last year of the 5-year phase-in period of the new formula.


Another factor that has adversely impacted the Court’s ability to manage deficits related to state budget cuts and the decreases from the funding formula is the new prohibition that prevents a Court from saving more than 1 percent of its operating budget. Through deft fiscal management and cost-cutting, the Court had managed to save $15.78 million to cover expenses and annual deficits. However the Court had to use this one-time money by June 30, 2014 in lieu of forfeiting it to state coffers. Under this new state law, the Court may save only $800,000 a year, which is not enough to cover a single, bi-weekly employee payroll.


The Court made a sizeable investment in its workforce by devoting about one-third of its $15.78 million savings to pay for the future cost of employee healthcare. The Court has created a special trust account devoted solely to fund future employee retiree healthcare, which is allowed under state law.


“What SEIU fails to acknowledge is that the Court already has devoted $5.2 million of our savings to them,” Mr. Yuen said. “This is a significant commitment to employees to assure the Court is able to cover its commitment to retirees even in the face of escalating cuts to our bottom line. We can’t afford to use one-time money to pay for ongoing wage increases.”


The majority of the remaining savings is being used to improve court facilities for jurors, litigants, attorneys and staff. Projects include:


  • Install security upgrades to protect staff;
  • Replacement of worn and unsafe carpets, which are a trip and fall hazard to the public and staff;
  • Paint public areas in two courthouses;
  • Reupholster chairs for jurors;
  • Purchase of a new case management system for the entire Court to replace three antiquated case management systems that do not have the ability to interface with each other; and
  • Install new signs to better direct visitors to their destinations.


Lastly, the Court has bargained in good faith with SEIU and all of its labor unions under existing contracts that called for meetings to discuss wages during the life of the contracts. The Court met with SEIU six times since May 2014. During the most recent session on September 24, the Court made its most recent offer, which included two additional floating holidays and a buy-back provision for three floating holidays before the end of the fiscal year.


“No union leadership team is pleased at the table when we have to tell them we are unable to provide any additional, ongoing pay increases,” Mr. Yuen said. “Most labor teams were disappointed, but they understand the math. SEIU refuses to accept that the Court remains on fragile financial footing from multiple years of state budget cuts, a funding formula that cuts our bottom line more every year, and a new requirement that limits our flexibility by capping our savings at $800,000.”


The Court’s other labor unions are the Municipal Executives Association; International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), Local 21; and the San Francisco Court Reporters Association/IFPTE, Local 21.

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.LAWYER and .ATTORNEY Domain Names are Now Available. What You Need to Know.

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 9, 2014

On October 8th, .LAWYER and .ATTORNEY domain names will be made available to the general public.

This means that domain names like, and www.IP.laywer will be offered for the very first time at

In response to a number of questions regarding this process, we have put together the following information…

Q1. What are these names and why is this important?

A. October 8 is the first date that domain names like and become available for purchase. With 1.2 million lawyers and law students in the United States alone, it’s possible that your individual name or preferred term of art may have several potential purchasers which means that if you don’t act immediately, you may be in danger of losing your preferred name.

Q2. What restrictions are there on purchase?

A. None. Other than trademark restrictions, you are free to choose the name that best suits you.

Q3. Why should I obtain a .ATTORNEY or .LAWYER Domain?

A. A host of good reasons:

  • It is a powerful marketing tool that will allow you to get your message to market quicker and simpler,

  • It signals your profession to the world in a way that .com doesn’t,

  • It enables you to control the intellectual property associated with your name.

  • It ensures that even if you change firms or go solo, your clients can always find you.

  • It may assist with Google and other search engine rankings.

Read the whole story at Above the Law.

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California Justices Tell State Bar to Redo Proposals for Updating Lawyer Conduct Rules

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oct. 2 — The California Supreme Court has told the state bar to go a different direction in coming up with proposals to update California's lawyer conduct rules.


It took the state bar more than a decade to develop suggestions that were sent to the high court four years ago, and which went nowhere.


In August the bar abruptly changed course and quietly stopped trying to gain the justices' approval of the comprehensive rule revisions.


Now, the bar is going back to the drawing board to develop a new set of proposals under specific marching orders from the supreme court.


In a Sept. 19 letter, the court instructed the bar to try again. It directed the bar to put together a second “Commission to Revise the Rules of Professional Conduct” by Thanksgiving, and to submit its new proposals for the court's final consideration no later than March 31, 2017.


The letter makes plain that the court wants to have plenty of input along the way.


Read the whole story at Bloomberg BNA.

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Los Angeles’ historic - and infamous - Hall of Justice reopens after 20 years

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 9, 2014

LOS ANGELES — County officials gathered today to mark the reopening of the long-shuttered downtown Hall of Justice.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey and county Supervisors Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe, Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky joined Interim Sheriff John Scott to dedicate the new home of the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office.

Built in 1925, the iconic beaux arts structure sits across the street from the criminal courthouse and on a diagonal from City Hall. The exterior granite of the 14-story building has been cleaned from gray to gleaming ivory and the marble grand lobby and multistory loggia have also been restored.

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Daily News.

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more Calendar

7th Annual Don Sagatun Edwards Child Services Fundraising Event

6th Annual From Having it All to Leaning In Seminar

Using Insurance and Indemnity to Mitigate Risks in Real Estate Transactions

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

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