Across the Bar

Across the Bar is a publication of the San Joaquin County Bar Association, providing local legal news, educational content, and information about Bar Association events.

Employment Law Roundup

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Much like the Hollywood movie season, this summer saw a number of "blockbuster" employment law decisions that you may have missed while on vacation. The summer kicked off with two big decisions from the Supreme Courts of California and the United States. First, in Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior Court 1 , the California Supreme Court set forth a new set of rules for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor for the purposes of wage and hour claims (e.g. unpaid minim...
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Yes, You Do Have to Get Fingerprinted - Again

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When you applied to be admitted as a member of the California State Bar, you were required to be fingerprinted and to have those fingerprints forwarded to the State Bar. Business and Professions Code section 6054 requires the Bar to maintain those prints in a law enforcement database, so that the State Bar disciplinary unit can be notified  of members' arrests. That did not happen. Past "administrative failures" are blamed for the fact that the State Bar did not ensure t...
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Time Flies as Things are Getting Done

Flying Clock
It's amazing to me to think that I have now been with the San Joaquin County Bar Association as interim executive director for over six months! Originally, we talked about it taking perhaps 90-120 days to evaluate processes, fill some openings, and help the Board of Governors with their selection of a permanent director. However, what has occurred since, and the challenges we have faced and overcome , are also things to really reflect upon and appreciate. We also need to recognize and appreciate...
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2018 Law Day Award Recipient, The Honorable Robin Appel

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Were I limited to a single word to describe Robin, it would be "remarkable." It represents the essence of what defines her and is based on the comments received from her colleagues, attorneys, children, mother, siblings, and friends. The most difficult aspect of writing this article was reducing it to a manageable size, considering the accolades bestowed on Robin upon her receipt of the 2018 Law Day Award. As a single mother for most of her daughters' lives, Robin was a chauffer, nurse, teacher,...
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People v. Sanchez and Family Court

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One of the most landmark cases related to evidence to come down in years, People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665 established new limits on an expert's ability to testify as to hearsay statements relied on in forming his opinion. How does this affect a family law case? Many family law cases involve the use of experts, such as financial experts, pension experts, etc. This article will focus primarily, however, on how Sanchez could affect the manner in which testimony is received from a Child Cust...
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Civility in Your Law Practice

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Many staff and some attorneys may not be aware of the California Bar Association's Guidelines of Civility and Professionalism, which were adopted in 2009. The Guidelines are intended "to protect the public and promote respect and confidence in the legal profession." While they are directed to attorneys, it is good practice for office staff to be mindful of these standas as well. The Guidelines' goal is to foster a level of civility and professionalism that exceeds the minimum requirements of the...
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2017 Outstanding New Lawyer Heather Rubino

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When Heather Rubino was 14 years old, she was featured in an article with accompanying photos in the Stockton Record sports page. She had bowled a perfect 300 game, for which she was honored with a special ring and a patch. Fast forward to 2018 and Heather is again being honored, but this time as the San Joaquin County Bar Association Outstanding New Lawyer. There is a common thread between these two events. Both honors are the result of Heather's skill, strength and focus. And it is those attri...
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Transfer on Death Deeds in California

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The most common means of transferring real property upon death of the owner are three well-known methods: (1) holding property in joint tenancy or as community property with right of survivorship, (2) a living trust, or (3) a will. However, in 2016, a lesser-known alternative to keep a decedent's home out of probate became available to Californians: the revocable transfer on death or "TOD" deed, a simple and inexpensive way to transfer real property to a beneficiary in California. Including Cali...
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New Employment Laws for 2018

employment-law
A new year brings new legislation. Below are some of the new employment laws in California that attorneys, employers, and employees may find particularly interesting. All of the laws described below went into effect January 1, 2018. S.B. 63 – California New Parent Leave Act Employers that have at least 20 employees within 75 miles of a worksite must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave in order to bond with a new child within one year of the child's birt...
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New Laws Affecting Civil Procedure in San Joaquin County

The Legislature and the courts introduced numerous statutes and rules affecting civil practice that went into effect at the beginning of this year. While the volume of changes is much too large to cover comprehensively in a single article, the following are eight of the most significant ones governing civil procedure in this county. 1. Scheduling ex parte hearings Civil ex parte hearings are again being scheduled through the clerk for the department in which the matter will be heard, rather than...
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A Much-Appreciated Opportunity

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I have been accused by family and friends of not being serious every time I tell them I am going to retire. Since I have retired several times, perhaps they are right. I've been very fortunate in my lifetime to do a wide variety of positive and exciting things. However, I say sincerely that being asked to head the San Joaquin County Bar Association and Foundation as interim director ranks way up there on top of that list. I'm thankful and humbled for the opportunity. I had been retired the most ...
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Homeless Court in San Joaquin County

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Since its inception in January 2006, Judge Barbara Kronlund has had the honor of presiding over San Joaquin County's Homeless Court. Homeless Court is truly a collaborative court, as the offices of San Joaquin County's Public Defender, District Attorney, and SJCBA attorneys together with Stockton's City Attorney's Office, the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, and St. Mary's Dining Room have worked together cooperatively to set forth criteria for cases to be heard in the specialty court. The rea...
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The Outstanding Jamie Bossuat

Bossuat-Jamie
Among the highlights of 2017 was the opportunity to recognize an outstanding local attorney, Jamie Bossuat, who received the San Joaquin County Bar Association's 2016 Outstanding New Lawyer Award at the New Lawyers' Reception in February. Ms. Bossuat is the fourth recipient of the annual award, which honors an attorney who has actively practiced for seven years or less at the time of nomination and has a distinguished record of service to the legal profession, the SJCBA, and the greater communit...
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California Supreme Court Clarifies "One Day's Rest in Seven"

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In Mendoza v. Nordstrom 1 , the California Supreme Court recently provided some guidance on what it means to have a "Seventh Day Violation." 2 Former employees at the retail chain Nordstrom, Inc. alleged that on several occasions during their employment, supervisors asked them to fill in for other employees, which caused them to work more than six consecutive days. During each of these working periods some, but not all, of the employees' shifts lasted six hours or less. The employees sued their ...
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The First Impressions Program Expands

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The First Impressions program is not only the most unique service opportunity available to legal professionals in San Joaquin County, but perhaps its most rewarding. Spearheaded until this year by Judge Barbara Kronlund, the First Impressions has brought judges, lawyers, and court staff into fifth-grade classrooms at San Joaquin County elementary schools for several years. The professionals identify who's who in the courtroom, explain how the jury system works, distinguish the differences betwee...
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Law Day Award Recipient Dr. Cynthia Ostberg and the Genesis of the Pacific Legal Scholars Program

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Daniella Green, Amy Burns, Dr. Cynthia Ostberg, Anastaysa Uskov, and Kelly Volkar I was sitting at my desk in the District Attorney's Office in 2006 when my phone rang. It was the front desk informing me there was a Dr. Cynthia Ostberg on the phone from the University of the Pacific and she wanted to speak with me. Sometimes in life there are times you wish you did not answer the phone. This was not one of those times. Dr. Ostberg introduced herself and explained she was beginning a program at U...
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Public Service Opportunities for Criminal Lawyers

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There are many ways that an attorney can volunteer to both grow in his or her career and enhance the profession as well. Within the profession, there is no shortage of opportunities for service and self-improvement. Among them are service on local bar boards, task forces, and committees, which help to foster good methods and ethical practices within the profession, deepen relationship with colleagues, and give valuable MCLE training. The local Inns of Court is another opportunity for bonding and...
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Stockton's New Courthouse: It's Really Happening!

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Monday, July 31, 2017, will mark the culmination of more than ten years' work conceptualizing, planning, and building the first new courthouse in Stockton since the early 1960s. Most everything will be new, with the exception of Lady Justice, who stands above and to the right of the main entrance. Here are some of the things you can expect to see: First Floor A traffic counter inside the building, positioned so that people paying fines do not have to go through weapons screening in order to pay ...
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Flood Control Matters: Court of Appeal Applies Rule of Interpretation to Protect Funding for San Joaquin Levies

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Much of San Joaquin County lies at or below sea level. The hundreds of miles of levees maintained by reclamation districts throughout the region provide the protection from flooding that is essential to the continuing health of the local economy and the safety of the citizenry. The levee systems are funded largely by assessments against private and public lands. Private landowners have long subsidized school district property traditionally exempt from such assessments. Are school districts that ...
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New Laws Affecting Civil Litigation Practice

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Changes to the laws affecting civil litigation practice or procedure going into effect in 2017 appear in general to be less sweeping and of less significance than in recent years. The most significant changes for most local civil litigators may be the recent changes to local policy concerning the civil clerk's drop box and the hearing of discovery motions. This article summarizes many, but by no means all, of the recent changes likely to affect civil litigation practice in San Joaquin County. Ch...
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California Bar Proposes to Ban Sex with Clients

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Lawyers in California may face disciplinary measures for having sex with their clients if a new revision to the State Bar's ethics rules passes. California lawyers are split over these proposed revisions. Those supporting the blanket ban said that any sexual contact between an attorney and a client is potentially coercive due to the inherently unequal nature of relations between the two. However, opponents of the initiative say it is uncalled-for and an unconstitutional invasion of their privacy...
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The Honorable Judge Franklin Stephenson Scholarship 2016 Recipient, Penni McConnell

The Honorable Judge Franklin Stephenson Scholarship 2016 Recipient, Penni McConnell
In 2016, the Young Lawyers Section of the San Joaquin County Bar Association created The Honorable Judge Franklin Stephenson Scholarship to honor the late Judge Franklin Stevenson, a longtime San Joaquin Superior Court judge and popular adjunct professor at Humphreys College Laurence Drivon School of Law. In creating this scholarship, the goal was to honor Judge Stephenson's good work by providing a scholarship to an ambitious local college student who strives to study law and use his or her leg...
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Proposition 64: What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About the Adult Use of Marijuana Act

Proposition 64: What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About the Adult Use of Marijuana Act
The passage of California's Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act or "AUMA," legalizing the adult recreational use of marijuana under California law makes this state the most populous state in the nation to do so. It comes six years after California voters narrowly rejected a similar measure, and it expands on Proposition 215, the law that twenty years ago made California the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use. Proposition 64 sets up a broad range of marijuan...
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President-Elect’s Message

President-Elect’s Message
"Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing in them. Words alone are worthless. Relationships take time and effort, and the best way ...
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Stockton’s Measure “P” Medical Marijuana Dispensaries & Cultivation Ordinance

Stockton’s Measure “P” Medical Marijuana Dispensaries & Cultivation Ordinance
Measure P, Stockton's newly enacted cannabis ordinance, was borne out of a privately-funded local ballot initiative supported by a signature gathering campaign which garnered the signatures of 12,000 Stocktonians open to the prospect of two additional cannabis dispensary storefronts and four legally-permitted indoor cultivation facilities in the City of Stockton. Before its passage, two dispensaries were operating and a total of three were allowed within the city, while commercial cannabis culti...
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California Criminal Law after the 2016 Election

California Criminal Law after the 2016 Election
Among other items of interest in the dramatic 2016 election, three ballot measures passed that will significantly affect the way we do business in California criminal courts. Proposition 57 made significant changes to parole eligibility and juvenile cases handled in adult court. Proposition 64 significantly changes the way marijuana is treated in the criminal law. Proposition 66 changes many post-trial procedures in death-penalty cases with an aim to speeding up executions. These changes follow ...
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Erin Guy Castillo Awarded the 2016 Athena Young Professional Leadership Award

Erin Guy Castillo Awarded the 2016 Athena Young Professional Leadership Award
On November 17, 2016 the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce presented its annual Athena awards at a luncheon held at the Stockton Golf and Country Club. This was the Chamber's thirtieth year handing out the awards, which recognize and honor outstanding business and professional women for their excellence. This year's honorees were Carol J. Ornelas, the CEO of Visionary Home Builders of California, and Erin Guy Castillo, partner at Parish Guy Castillo, PLC. Ms. Guy Castillo received the Athena ...
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Summary of 76th Annual SJCBA Meeting

Summary of 76th Annual SJCBA Meeting
The 2017 Board of Governors Executive Committee: James M. Morris, past president; Michael R. Norton, president-elect; Erin Guy Castillo, president; Heather Rubino,  secretary;  and Nelson Bahler, treasurer. The San Joaquin County Bar Association met on November 2 at the Stockton Hilton for its 76th annual meeting. James M. Morris, the 2016 president of the Association, delivered the State of the Bar Address. Mr. Morris recounted highlights of the Association's activities through this y...
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Five Graduate from Veterans Treatment Court

Five Graduate from Veterans Treatment Court
On a usual Monday, the calendar of the Honorable Barbara A. Kronlund will be smattered with the settlement conferences and status hearings typical of a civil judge. October 3, 2016, however, was different. That morning, a small crowd of gathered in her courtroom to await her rulings in five proceedings falling under section 1170.9 of the Penal Code. This hearing was unusual from the start, beginning as it did with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, a moment of silence for a fallen c...
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Civil Judges' Panel Brown Bag

Civil Judges' Panel Brown Bag
​Those who missed the Civil Litigation Civil Judges' Panel Brown Bag in Department 13, on June 28, 2016 should mark their calendars to attend the next one. The title of the event might sound boring, but perhaps it should have read, "everything you wanted to know about judges' decisions but were afraid to ask." The Civil Litigation Section and the civil judges of the San Joaquin County Superior Court are working together to host a panel approximately every four months, and attendees stand to be r...
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San Joaquin County's Veterans Treatment Court

San Joaquin County's Veterans Treatment Court
San Joaquin County opened its doors to its newly-minted Veterans Treatment Court on February 2, 2015, becoming one of approximately 200 such courts across the United States. Since that time, the Court has had three veterans graduate, one of whom is now a successful law student, and another who is now a valued, salaried employee of the Veterans Administration in Palo Alto. The program presently has five veterans on track to graduate on October 3, 2016.  Veterans are treated a little differen...
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Why I Mentor

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." – Winston Churchill Why don't more experienced lawyers volunteer to mentor young attorneys? The San Joaquin County Bar Association has an excellent program, as does the Consuelo M. Callahan American Inn of Court. You don't need a formal organization if the mentor and protégé have found one another. But those organizations can help you find people willing to mentor in your particular field of practice and find new lawyers looking ...
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Be Mentored

Be Mentored
It's hard out there for a new lawyer. It takes approximately one day to realize that, while law school taught you to pass the Bar Exam, you know nothing about how to actually practice law, how to work with a secretary, how to dress for Court, how to interact with clients, how to…. Nope, let's not go down the rabbit hole. We all know what I'm talking about.  Although my experience in the legal field is limited, I feel comfortable making the following observation: this profession is hard. The...
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Apply Now: The Invaluable Benefits of the Bar's Mentorship Program

Apply Now: The Invaluable Benefits of the Bar's Mentorship Program
In 2012, the San Joaquin County Bar Association established a mentorship program. The program's purpose is to elevate the competence, professionalism, and success of the local Bar through engagement with each other. Mentoring is a two-way street: it allows the experienced attorney to provide professional guidance and share practical knowledge, and it provides the newer attorney with someone to ask questions of and learn from during a particularly vulnerable time in his or her career.  The w...
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President's Message

President's Message
"Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way?" --Bye Bye Birdie (1960) Lawyers should write like Ernest Hemingway.  Pick up one of his books; open to a page at random; choose any paragraph; read it. See for yourself:  "We packed the lunch and two bottles of wine in  the rucksack, and Bill put it on. I carried the rodcase and the landing nets slung over my back. We  started up the road and then went across a meadow and found a path that crossed the fields and went tow...
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President’s Message

President’s Message
Relevance.  A word that Merriam-Webster defines as "relation to the matter at hand; practical and especially social applicability; pertinence; the ability (as of an information retrieval system) to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user." What are we to make of the word? How shall we apply it in the context of the San Joaquin County Bar Association? More specifically, does "relevance" apply? Are we relevant? As I began my tenure as president I set as a goal ma...
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San Joaquin County Homeless Veteran Resource Faire: 2016 “Stand Down”

San Joaquin County Homeless Veteran Resource Faire: 2016 “Stand Down”
​ San Joaquin County's Homeless Veteran Stand Down—a biannual "benefit faire" for homeless veterans—was last held on September 26, 2014. The military term "Stand Down" stands for a grass-roots, community-based intervention program designed to help homeless veterans "combat" life on the streets. Like the first four events before it, the last Stand Down was a one-day event held in Stockton. The sixth, however, will be a three-day event beginning September 16, 2016 and ending Septemb...
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New Laws and Rules for 2016

New Laws and Rules for 2016
N umerous changes in California statutes, statewide rules of court, and local court rules have recently gone into effect or soon will. This article summarizes several (but by no means all) of the changes likely to affect civil practitioners in San Joaquin County. Statewide Laws and Rules 1.  Demurrers .  Prior to filing a demurrer, the demurring party must meet and confer with the plaintiff in person or by telephone. As part of that process, the demurring party must identify ...
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W-INN-ing!: SJC Callahan Inn of Court Celebrates its Tenth Anniversary

W-INN-ing!: SJC Callahan Inn of Court Celebrates
its Tenth Anniversary
I n September 2015, the Consuelo M. Callahan Inn of Court kicked off its tenth year as it traditionally does: by bringing in a respected member of the legal community to Humphreys College Drivon School of Law to share his or her insights with the group. That night's guest, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, captivated the approximately 90-member crowd of local judges, attorneys, and law students with stories of his career and professional advice. Throughout the ...
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New Courthouse Progress

New Courthouse Progress
A s you can see, work continues on our new Stockton Courthouse. The exterior is nearly complete. In fact, the building is now approximately 72% complete. The project continues to be on schedule with substantial completion expected by mid-November 2016. Judge Appel and I continue meeting with our architects and furniture vendor, UCF. Decisions about the various pieces of furniture for the entire building have and continue to be made. We have made literally hundreds of dec...
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2015 Outstanding New Lawyer, Zoey Merrill

2015 Outstanding New Lawyer, Zoey Merrill
​ I f Zoey Merrill one day runs for elected office, she will have a difficult choice to make: what title should she use to describe herself? Enterpreneur? Law professor? Local celebrity? World-traveling adventurer? Former vegetarian?Perhaps she will choose the title recently bestowed upon her by the San Joaquin County Bar Association: SJCBA 2015 Outstanding New Lawyer. Zayante "Zoey" Merrill was announced as the latest recipient of the SJCBA's Outstanding New Lawyer Awar...
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California's New Estate Planning Tool: The Revocable Transfer on Death (TOD) Deed

California's New Estate Planning Tool: 
The Revocable Transfer on Death (TOD) Deed
Estate planning attorneys likely have encountered the following scenario: a single client contacts you to set up an estate plan. He wants to ensure that his main asset—his personal residence—will pass to his children upon death without the need for a costly and time-consuming probate proceeding, but he does not want to spend a lot of money. As his attorney, you run through the potential nonprobate transfer devices that might be available to him. One option you consider is creating a revocable li...
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New Requirements for Demurrers Effective January 1, 2016

Beginning January 1, 2016, parties will be required to meet and confer prior to filing a demurrer due to the recent passing of Senate Bill 383. The bill enacts a new section of the Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.41, and amends section 472. The main feature of the new law is a requirement that, at least five (5) days before a responsive pleading is due, the parties meet and confer to see if an agreement can be reached that would avoid the need for a demurrer. During the meet-and-confer proc...
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SJC Court Reporters to Provide All Attorney Transcripts Electronically - Email Addresses Needed

San Joaquin County's official court reporters have partnered with YesLaw Online http://www.yeslaw.net/ to upload their transcripts to YesLaw Online's secure transcript depository. Beginning February 1, 2016, attorneys will be notified by the reporter via email that their transcripts have been uploaded and are available for download. The attorney, or his or her staff, can then log onto the site, using his or her credentials, which will be provided the first time the attorney is notified of an upl...
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Recap: MCLE on Damages in Personal Injury Cases

About 50 attorneys attended a presentation on August 19, 2015, by Robert Buccola of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP on general damages in personal injury cases. Mr. Buccola has been recognized with numerous awards and has won some of the largest jury awards in the state. His presentation illustrated his skill at communicating with juries. Mr. Buccola began his presentation with advice on developing a "theme" of the case, keeping in mind that all members of the jury are judgmental. An adv...
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Civility in Lawyers' Writing

Civility in Lawyers' Writing
A few years ago, American Bar Association President Stephen N. Zack decried the legal profession's "continuing slide into the gutter of incivility."1 An ABA resolution "affirm[ed] the principle of civility as a foundation for democracy and the rule of law, and urge[d] lawyers to set a high standard for civil discourse."2 The ABA initiative echoes federal and state courts that call civility "a linchpin of our legal system,"3 a "bedrock principle,"4 and "a hallmark of professionalism."5 Justice An...
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The Uber-Important Question: Independent Contractor or Employee?

The Uber-Important Question: Independent 
Contractor or Employee?
The California State Labor Commissioner's Office recently issued a ruling that is likely to be an Uber-headache for the industry's employers (while possibly providing a *Lyft* to the industry's drivers). What industry is that? It depends whom you ask. On the one hand, companies like Uber say they are a software company—the developer of a popular app that matches people who need transportation with drivers who are available to give rides. But if you ask some of the drivers, like Barbara Ann Berwi...
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New Courthouse Progress

New Courthouse Progress
If you have driven on I-5 or the Crosstown Freeway, you have certainly seen the new Stockton Courthouse. To date, the building is approximately 60% complete. The "skin" or exterior was completed in October 2015 when the building was made water tight for the winter. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by November or December 2016. Judge Appel and I have been busy every week meeting with the various furniture vendors. We hope to finalize all the decisions regarding furnishings by the e...
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The Fledgling Practitioner

The Fledgling Practitioner
I lie in bed, eyes wide open staring at the ceiling like a twelve-year-old the night before summer camp. I had so diligently planned for eight hours of sleep, and now I am rolled on my side, staring into my hand at the blue glow of my cell phone staring back at me: 1:21 a.m. I select the clock icon and scroll another 10 minutes on the alarm wake-up time. I fall back into my pillow. I close my eyes. It feels like as soon as I set my phone down, I am picking it back up and turning off the alarm. I...
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Recent Changes Expand Availability of Sheriff’s Alternative Work Program for “Low-Risk” Defendants

Recent Changes Expand Availability of Sheriff’s Alternative Work Program for “Low-Risk” Defendants
As many readers of Across the Bar know, the Sheriff’s Alternative Work Project has undergone changes in the past year. As part of an effort to reduce jail overcrowding in response to the so-called “realignment” that occurred in 2010-11, the Sheriff has expanded the programs and options available to those defendants who are deemed “low risk” and are not precluded by the Court from applying. Overall, the Sheriff still offers the same three alternatives to traditional jail sentences: (1) the Altern...
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