September Cultural Awareness Brief

September marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month which is observed from September 15 to October 15 and corresponds with Mexican Independence Day which is celebrated on September 16 and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship in Mexico.

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August Cultural Awareness Brief

August 1 is Lughnasadh, a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season; and Fast in Honor of Holy Mother of Jesus, beginning the fourteen-day period of preparation for Orthodox Christians leading up to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. August 5 to 6 is Tisha B’Av, a fast in commemoration of the two holy and sacred temples of Judaism destroyed by the Babylonians (in 586 BCE) and Romans (in 70 CE). August 6 is Transfiguration of the Lord (Feast of the Transfiguration); celebrated by various Christian denominations, the feast day is dedicated to the transfiguration of Jesus. August 7 to 8 (sundown to sundown) is Ashura, an Islamic holiday marked by Muslims with a voluntary day of fasting which commemorates the day Noah left the Ark and the day that Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God; for Shia Muslims, specifically, this day honors the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali who was the beloved grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). August 11 is Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu holiday commemorating the loving kinship between a brother and sister; “Raksha” means “protection” in Hindi. August 12 is Hungry Ghost Festival, a Chinese holiday in which street, market, and temple ceremonies take place to honor dead ancestors and appease other spirits. August 13 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, whose aim is to raise awareness about the wider-than-average pay gap between Black women and White men; Black women are paid 62 cents for every dollar paid to...
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July Cultural Awareness Brief

July 1 is Canada Day or Fête du Canada, a Canadian federal holiday that celebrates the 1867 enactment of the Constitution Act which established the three former British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick as a united nation called Canada.

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Small Claims Clinics – Third Thursdays of Each Month

SJCBA Small Claims Clinics are back, starting Thursday, June 23, 2022, at VFW in the Stockton Civic Auditorium (513 N. Center St, Stockton, CA). Clinics will be held every third Thursday of each month.

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We’ve Officially Moved to Our New Location

We are excited to welcome you to our new office at 343 E. Main Street, Suite 408! Our phones and computers are back up, and we are unpacking our last boxes. If you reached out to us in the last few weeks and have not heard back, we thank you for your patience. Feel free to contact us again via phone at (209) 948-0125, or email at so that we can assist you.
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When the Phone Rings in the Middle of the Night: Basic Emergency Help in Criminal Matters

Once we get our bar cards, people think we know everything about everything, and pepper us with questions on all aspects and arenas of law.

So, what do you do when you get a call from a friend in jail, Court is tomorrow, and there’s no time to consult with another attorney? Can you help?

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Homeless Court in San Joaquin County

Homeless Court was started in San Joaquin County in January 2006. Since its inception as a truly collaborative court, I have had the honor of being the judge presiding. The Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, City Attorney’s Office, Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, and St. Mary’s Dining Room together worked cooperatively with me to set forth criteria for cases to be heard in the specialty Court.

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Opting Out of Marriage? Watch out for Marvin!

I am a millennial family law attorney. I married late in life, and I have a lot of friends who are either taking their time getting to the altar or opting out of marriage altogether. I hear it often: the community property laws are oppressive, divorce is expensive, prenups aren’t romantic, and why does my love need a label? Conventional wisdom says that you are saving yourself stress, money, and potentially an emotional court case by opting out of marriage. We’ll just stay together as long as it feels right and then, if it ends, we will peacefully go our separate ways.

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Did you know the LexisNexis Digital Library is available at the San Joaquin County Law Library?

San Joaquin County Law Library Director, Jack Schroeder, gives us answers to some commonly asked questions about the exciting new research tool available from the San Joaquin County Law Library.

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Dynamic New Section of the San Joaquin County Bar Association Was Launched May 18th, 2021 – The Justice William J. Murray Jr. Unity Bar Section

In response to what seems to be increased intolerance exhibited in our current society to anyone or anything that is not in line with the “majority”, including the recent significant rise of anti-Asian violence seen throughout the country, our Justice William J. Murray Jr. Unity Bar (Unity Bar) was born.

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Meet the Commissioners of the SJ Superior Court

Meet the Commissioners

Jonathan Fattarsi    Tameem Mardini     Cheryl McCann    Michael J. Rasmussen

What/Who are (were) the major influences in your life, why?

My mom was a writer. She worked very hard on her books and I remember being told that it was nearly impossible to get one published. Her first book was published when I was in high school. It was the first time I came to believe that if you worked really hard on something, you could accomplish just about anything. I think about that any time I am about to take on something hard. She went on to publish 13 books, in several different languages.

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Becky Diel, 2021 Outstanding New Lawyer

"When Becky Diel included ‘I married a dude’ as a line in her Outstanding New Lawyer acceptance speech, I knew everything would be ok"

*Author’s Note: Before you (the reader) start, I feel compelled to address one housekeeping item. All apologies, for this minor grumble. I’m not complaining because I was asked to write this article. That was a delight and has been an honor. I am complaining because I was only given 750 or so words to profile Becky. Wholly inadequate. It’s like trying to research what the word “Liberty” means in the U.S. Constitution for some important case you may be working on, but you only get to read BuzzFeed listicles. Please forgive me. I am happy to share (Read: leak) the 13,000(+/-) word first draft, if you dare to tread through all those footnotes.

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Message from the Executive Director: Summer 2022

It has been an exciting and exhausting six months for me. My team and I started the year with assisting in the preparation of our MCLE Masters Series. The MCLE Committee of Shellie Lott, Thomas Keeling, Gregory Meath, Megan Hall and Cristal Ruiz truly outdid themselves. Eleven programs were presented in a variety of areas including credit for legal ethics, bias and competency. Our members and sections continue to provide MCLE programs throughout the year. Keep an eye out for these upcoming MCLE programs: Unlawful Detainers by Judge Erin Guy CastilloDiscovery Lab by Retired Judge Les HollandFinding Work Life Balance by Dr. Tom MaplesFall Diversity Series by the Unity Bar Section Thank you to everyone who attended our New Lawyers' Reception hosted by the Bank of Stockton. We had 100 members and guests attend including eight new lawyers. Congratulations to Becky Diel, recipient of the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. (Read the article by Josh Hunsucker here.) In April, I had the pleasure of attending the SacLegal Judicial Appointments Celebration for the elevation of Justice Laurie M. Earl to California's Third District Court of Appeal, and the appointment of Judge Andi Mudryk to the Sacramento Superior Court. The Bar Association hosted its annual Law Day Luncheon at the Stockton Golf and Country Club on May 3, 2022. We had 330 guests in attendance to honor Judge Xapuri Villapudua as our Law Day Award recipient. Please join me in welcoming the Bar Association's newest staff members: Chloe Welch, Mediation Program AdministratorMonique Vasquez, LRS...
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Message from the President: Summer 2022

Thanks to everyone for making Law Day 2022 a very special day and congratulations again to Judge Xapuri Villapudua this year’s Law Day Award Recipient, and to Carlos V. Soto and Stephen Baker recipients of the Vittoria Bossi Scholarship.

Baseball season is here! Make sure to mark your calendars and join us for the SJCBA Member Appreciation Night with the Stockton Ports v. the San Jose Giants on Friday, June 24, 2022. Tickets are limited so make sure you order yours right away.

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June Cultural Awareness Brief

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month, established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on the world. LGBTQ+ groups acknowledge the month with Pride parades, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings.

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SJCBA is Moving to a New Location

We are moving a few blocks to 343 E. Main Street, Suite 408, effective June 6, 2022.

Our offices will be closed during the moving process starting Friday, June 3, through Monday, June 6, 2022. We will reopen for business at the new location on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

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Messages from President and Executive Director

Message from the President

Dear Members of the San Joaquin County Bar Association,

I welcome you to the San Joaquin County Bar Association and Foundation of 2022.

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Q&A with Ed Walters, CEO Fastcase, Law Professor, and Robotics Geek

Susan: In 1999, you left a perfectly good job as a big firm lawyer in Washington to start Fastcase, a legal research startup in a market dominated by bigger companies. What was it about the legal industry that made you wake up one morning and say, I’m going to take on the world of legal tech?

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2021 Law Day Recipient: Honorable Linda L. Lofthus

We celebrated another dedicated jurist at the 2021 Law Day Luncheon on September 28, 2021. Surrounded by family, friends, mentors and colleagues, the Honorable Linda L. Lofthus was awarded the 2021 Law Day Award.

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In Memoriam: Vittoria Bossi

Vittoria Bossi | Aug. 3, 1966 – March 17, 2021

Vittoria was a brilliant storyteller who had a keen grasp of the law and human nature. She was renowned throughout the San Joaquin Valley for her ferocity in the courtroom. We will long remember Vittoria’s charm and indomitable willpower.

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Rebecca H. Sem named a Shareholder at Kroloff

Rebecca Sem returned to her hometown of Stockton to join Kroloff, Belcher, Smart, Perry & Christopherson as an Associate in September 2013. Mrs. Sem’s legal practice is focused on trust and estate litigation. In addition, she handles probate and trust administration, business litigation, and medical malpractice matters.

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Eleven Myths about Social Security Disability

Disability impacts all of us. More than one in four adults in the United States have some type of disability.1 With so many affected by disability, you are bound to receive questions from your clients such as whether they should apply for benefits, when they should apply, or whether income affects benefits. Knowing these common myths about social security disability will help you avoid perpetuating misconceptions when advising your clients.

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SJCBAR Spotlight

The Children’s Waiting Room

The Children’s Waiting Room is a free service for parents and guardians who have court business at the Stockton Courthouse. Located in Room 104 and operated by Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC), free childcare is available for children 0 - 12 years for those conducting business at the Stockton Courthouse.

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2021 Outstanding New Lawyer Joshua Hunsucker

Joshua Hunsucker is many things to many people. To Neumiller & Beardslee—its attorneys and clients—Josh is a talented litigator who never backs away from a challenge.

To the members of the Consuelo M. Callahan American Inns of Court, Josh and his Neumiller colleague, Richie Aranda, are a dynamic duo known for their introductory video skits reminding Inns members to follow the rules and clean up after themselves played at each Inns meeting during the 2019-2020 season.

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Prop 19: The End of the Parent-Child Exclusion as We Know It

On November 3, 2020, California’s Proposition 19 (Prop 19) passed by a slim majority. This constitutional amendment makes two major changes to California’s property tax system:

  1. Allows homeowners who are over 55, severely disabled, or victims of natural disasters or hazardous waste contamination to purchase a new home anywhere in California and retain their prior home’s assessment three times during their lifetime, and
  2. Limits the applicability of the parent-child and grandparent-grandchild exclusions to properties that will be used as the recipient’s primary residence and to transfers of family farms.
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Director's Message

2020 proves the old adage: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Following is a brief summary of the SJCBA’s activities for 2020.

Budget & Finances
The SJCBA started with a budget that projected revenue over $726,000 and expenses over $652,000, for a net annual revenue of $74,000. COVID-19’s ascension forced staff to work from home starting in late March, and the Court substantially curtailed its activities.

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President's Notes

2020! What a year it has been! Our personal and professional lives got disturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic. All plans/goals/ resolutions were cancelled, then re-written, and then re-written again. Many of us lost family and friends to this deadly disease, and definitely all of us were affected by it in too many ways to list. Not to mention that social and political climate left people confused, angry, and more importantly hopeless.

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Under Oath: Ellen Schwarzenberg

Ellen Schwarzenberg is an attorney with the Office of the Public Defender.

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A. Oh my! Being in a state of serenity. A quiet place with a good book.

Q. What is your greatest fear?
A. Loneliness; not being vital or engaged.

Q. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A. I’m restless, but I guess it can be good or bad.

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First Impressions Mock Trial Program Approaches its Twentieth Year!

By now, most of you have either participated in the First Impressions Mock Trial Program or at least have heard of it. It is a civics education program brought to fifth graders to teach them about the three branches of government, focusing on the judicial branch, and culminating with a mock trial in the courtroom where the students play the judge, attorneys, jurors, witnesses, courtroom clerk, and bailiff.

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AB 5 - California Legislature Weighs in on the Dynamex Decision Regarding California Independent Contractors

On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 5 (AB 5) into law. The law provides clarification as to when California workers can by classified independent contractors rather than employees of the hiring company.

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Judicial Fairness Coalition Engages to Educate

The Judicial Fairness Coalition (JFC) was established by the California Judges Association in 2018 to respond to false and unfair criticism against judges and the judiciary. The JFC’s over 75 members include judges, attorneys, law professors, and major Bar Associations like the California Lawyers Association (CLA), whose membership exceeds 100,000. The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), with national membership, also participates in the JFC.

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Saving Lives and Saving Money: Collaborative Courts Make A Difference

LaFonda was referred to San Joaquin County Superior Court’s Parole Reentry Collaborative Court because of her parole violations and her high treatment needs. She was referred to several residential treatment programs and had run away from all of them. As she was in custody for her latest violation, her frustrated case manager opined that she was “unamenable” and her participation in this collaborative court should be terminated. The case manager had no new ideas, except to suggest that LaFonda spend three weeks in jail before trying a fourth program.

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Director's Message

The SJCBA is finishing up 2019 in a strong position. Revenue exceeded projections and expenses were under budget. The New Lawyers Reception in February was a great opportunity for members to mix and mingle, hear an inspiring speech from Judge Vlavianos about Collaborative Courts (there’s more on that topic in this ATB issue), meet San Joaquin County’s newly sworn-in attorneys, and fete Outstanding New Lawyer awardee, Michael Lay.

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Editor's Notes

It has been my pleasure for more than a decade to serve as a member of the Across the Bar Committee and, since 2011, as the editor of Across the Bar. After nearly eight years at the helm of the San Joaquin County Bar Association’s official magazine, I am following in George Washington’s footsteps and bringing my term to a close.

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Under Oath: Anthony Gutierrez

Anthony Gutierrez has been an SJCBA Member since 1980. Now retired from practice, he is a former member of the San Joaquin County Board of Education.

Q. Definition of perfect happiness?
A. On the Santa Cruz beach with family and friends.

Q. Greatest fear?
A. For me, any harm to my grandchildren. For the world, people failing to live together in peace.

Q. Trait you dislike in yourself?
A. I worry too much about things. My family calls me a worry wart!

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Drivon School of Law Offering Course in Law and Public Policy for Lawyers and Students

Today’s law practice requires understanding the connections between law, public policy, and legislation. This summer, the Drivon School of Law at Humphreys is offering a course entitled The Law & Public Policy, which is being taught by former State Assemblymember Greg Aghazarian and Dr. Lawrence Giventer.

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Federal Overtime Regulations to be Updated in 2020

Employers across the country were preparing for a big change to Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) regulations regarding employee exemption in December 2016. The new rule would have increased the minimum salary employers must pay to exempt employees—those who perform primary duties that classify them as “executive,” “administrative,” “professional,” “outside sales,” or “computer”—from $455 per week ($23,660 per year for full-time employees) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year for full-time employees).

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Introducing the New Supervising Probate Court Attorney

A few months into her new job in Department 11A, Across the Bar reviews Sabrina Schneweis-Coe’s path to her new role as Supervising Probate Attorney in the Superior Court of San Joaquin County’s Probate Department.

Sabrina was a Dean’s List graduate from CSU- Sacramento in 1996 before enrolling at McGeorge School of Law, where she tutored first-year students and represented clients as a certified law student in family law, probate, estate planning, bankruptcy, and landlord-tenant law. After graduating with distinction, she began her career at a small boutique firm in Sacramento before opening her own Lodi practice in 2002.

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Young Lawyers Section Awards $5,000 in Hon. Franklin Stephenson Scholarships

Each year, the Young Lawyers Section of the SJCBA raises money to provide scholarships to students who plan to become lawyers. The funds are given in the name of the Honorable Franklin Stephenson, who had a passion for law and education.

This year, the Young Lawyers sponsored a Stockton Ports baseball game at Banner Island to raise scholarship funds for this year’s scholarship recipients. Judge Stephenson’s son, Jordan, threw out the first pitch. The successful event was sponsored by Speed Dry Carpet Cleaning and the following law offices and lawyers: Carillo-Davalos Attorneys at Law; the Law Offices of Armando Villapudua; Smith & Johnson Law; the Bogan Law Firm; the Law Offices of Charles L. Hastings; attorney Natali Ron; and the law firm of Hakeem, Ellis, and Marengo.

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Respecting Gender Identity in the Workplace

Each of us has a gender identity—deeply held internal sense of being male, female, or something in between. A transgender person is someone whose sex assigned to them at birth is different from their gender identity.1 Today, transgender people may undergo a “transition” process whereby they align their sex and gender identity through a series of social, legal, and medical steps. Medical professionals and associations like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) widely agree that a person’s gender status is innate and biological, and that transitioning is often medically necessary to achieve healthy outcomes.

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Thomas Keeling Receives the 2019 Law Day Award

Law Day is a day set aside nationally each year to celebrate the rule of law. It provides an opportunity to understand how law and the legal process protect our liberty, strive to achieve justice, and contribute to the freedoms that all Americans share. Each year, the SJCBA selects a community member who represents the ideals that Law Day celebrates.

The 2019 Law Day Award was presented to Tom Keeling at a lunch on April 30 at the Stockton Golf and Country Club. Tom is a partner at The Freeman Firm and a California State Bar Certified Appellate Law Specialist.

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Looking Back & Moving Forward

MEMBER SURVEY AND CONTEST

Current members of the SJCBA received a brief survey earlier this month. Please take a few minutes to complete it and provide the SJCBA with your opinions. This association belongs to you. The survey is anonymous and won’t take long to complete. After you complete it, you can enter a drawing to win your next year’s SJCBA membership for free!

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The Only Constant Is Change

Your San Joaquin County Bar Association engaged in needed house cleaning over the past eighteen months. Having re-established a strong foundation on which to build, it is time to focus on maximizing member value and long-term stability. Over the next few months, some of the goals and activities it is pursuing include:

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2019 New Lawyers Reception

February 5th at the Bank of Stockton Headquarters

The Bank of Stockton hosted a reception on February 5 to recognize the newest members of the legal profession in San Joaquin County. Attorneys who passed the 2018 California State Bar Exam gathered with more than 125 lawyers, judges, elected officials, Bank of Stockton leaders and family at the Bank of Stockton headquarters on Miner Avenue.

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Under Oath: Judge Richard Vlavianos

Q. What is your idea of happiness?
A. The key is being happy with what you have and not wanting anything more. If I won the lottery, I wouldn’t quit my job. I love what I do. Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid for this.

Q. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A. I could be less spontaneous.

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Interspousal Deeds: Are They Effective Transmutations?

Does execution of a quitclaim deed or interspousal transfer grant deed constitute a valid transmutation of property from community property into separate property of one spouse?

It is widely understood by family law attorneys that under Family Code section 760, except as otherwise provided by statute, any property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property. What if spouses purchase property together, but then one party executes a quitclaim or interspousal transfer grant deed during the marriage, waiving his or her interest in that property and thereby granting it to the other spouse?

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New Laws Every Civil Lawyer Needs to Know

With the beginning of a new year, a number of new laws affecting civil procedure have taken effect.1 Some of the most important are summarized below2 :

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2018 Outstanding New Lawyer Michael K. Lay

Prologue
Sing, O Muse, the striving heroes humble
Who spend themselves for others to protect
Like Gideon’s small force, or Leonidas’,
With weaker force the stronger force oppose,
But strive as Portia, armed with law and wit;
Who take on hard quests unsung and many
And who persevere in the face of scorn;
Who cast not stones but justice seek for those
Accused, as did Daniel for Susana.

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President's Message: 1st Quarter 2019

I am excited to usher in 2019 with our first issue of Across the Bar. This new year brings new laws, and within this edition of ATB your San Joaquin County Bar Association has done its best to provide information you need to stay up to date in your practice. Past board member Gregory Meath’s article on the new Rules of Professional Responsibility provides comprehensive updates to the rules, and includes the option of gaining MCLE self-study credit. The New Laws Every Lawyer Needs to Know by our editor Michael Tener gives our members a quick and useful read.

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SJCBA Year-in-Review

New Lawyers Reception February 13, 2018 at the Bank of Stockton Headquarters The Bank of Stockton hosted a reception on February 13 honoring the newest members of the legal profession in San Joaquin County. Attorneys who passed the 2017 California State Bar Exam gathered with more than 125 family members, veteran lawyers, and judges at the Bank of Stockton headquarters on Miner Avenue in Stockton. The keynote speaker for the evening was the Honorable Consuelo Maria Callahan, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Heather Rubino, the San Joaquin County Bar Association's president-elect, was presented the 2017 Outstanding New Lawyers Award by 2016 recipient Jamie Bossuat. Law Day Luncheon May 1, 2018 at the Stockton Golf & Country Club The 2018 Law Day Luncheon was held on May 1 at the Stockton Golf and Country Club. The 2018 Law Day Award recipient was the Honorable Robin Appel, San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge.
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