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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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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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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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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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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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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Looking Back & Moving Forward


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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2018 Outstanding New Lawyer Michael K. Lay

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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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.

Veterans Treatment Court: Mentors Needed

February 2, 2015 marked the commencement of San Joaquin County’s first Veterans Treatment Court. Now in operation more than three-and-a-half years, we have had six graduations with 36 graduates. We expect to graduate 10 more at the next graduation in April of 2019, which will be our largest graduating class to date.

Veterans Treatment Court is held on the first Monday of each month, from 9:30 a.m.-noon in Department 10-D. There are usually about 25 veteran defendants in “Vet Court” at any given time.

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New Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2.1 and the Cannabis Lawyer: A Dilemma Unresolved?

How do California’s revised Rules of Professional Conduct affect the ethical dilemma of a lawyer who is asked to provide legal services to a cannabis enterprise?

The revised rules include a new Rule 1.2.1, which essentially follows the language of American Bar Association (“ABA”) Model Rule 1.2 (d) and makes it unethical for a lawyer to “assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal, fraudulent or a violation of any law...” Although the laws of California and many other states have become more lenient with respect to cannabis—including by the passage of Proposition 64, which allowed the recreational use of cannabis beginning on January 1, 2018—new Rule 1.2.1 may make the lawyer’s ethical position more difficult.

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Under Oath: Christopher Eley

Chris and I met at a coffee shop on a beautiful morning. We spent a moment catching up and then dove into to the questions.

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A. “Hummm…. Can it include chocolate?” He joked. Staring across the room he pondered over the question as I sipped my tea. “I believe it requires balance. That tends to be a problem with lawyers today; to be useful in the law and still trying to have a full life outside of the office. I think most of us struggle with that, and the struggle is always changing.”

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Executive Director's Message

There is a whiteboard on my office wall that lists the areas I am focusing on as I begin serving as the executive director of your Bar Association.

First is fiscal responsibility and sustainability. Your Bar can’t do anything if it doesn’t have resources. Members should feel confident that the Bar is working as efficiently and effectively as possible. The Board of Governors and members are entitled clear information about revenue, expenses, reserves, and other needed information.

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President's Message: 4th Quarter 2018

“I feel a very unusual sensation—if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.” —Benjamin Disraeli

As my year as president comes to a close, I am reflecting back on a year that brought us tremendous change and impressive improvement to the operations of the San Joaquin County Bar Association and the San Joaquin County Bar Foundation. I am extremely proud of what we have wrought. And I have great hope for continuing improvement in our operations, in our service to the community, and in our benefit to membership.

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Annual Meeting Recap

On November 14, 2018, several members of the legal community ventured out into the smoke-filled air and gathered at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel for the San Joaquin County Bar Association’s (“SJBCA”) 78th Annual Meeting and Luncheon.

Outgoing SJCBA President Michael Norton welcomed everyone to the event and, as they ate lunch, the audience got to enjoy a slideshow memorializing many of the events the Bar Association sponsored during the year.

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Yes, You Do Have to Get Fingerprinted - Again

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 th...

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Under Oath: Jason Chong

​Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "I was actually thinking about this one as I was driving here! I had to be prepared," he joked. "But, I guess I don't set the standard too high. Just being alive with no major worries about finances, health, family. That's happiness. I look at people around the world in much worse situations and it's hard to wish for more than I have. I have enough." Q. What is your greatest fear? A. "My greatest fear?" He sat back and pondered a litt...

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President's Message: 3rd Quarter 2018

Like it or not, our society is shifting toward more and more politicization of our courts. From the gyrations and machinations of our senators' Supreme Court confirmation hearings to the voter recall of California Superior Court trial judges, no judicial officer can assume that she or he is immune from the swirling winds of politics and the hot wind of politicians. One decision that offends, bewilders or confuses the body politic can be enough to cause a jurist to be sucked into a vortex of name...

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Employment Law Roundup

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 Court1, 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 minimum...

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Time Flies as Things are Getting Done

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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Under Oath: John Soldati

John Soldati is a commissioner of the Superior Court of California, San Joaquin County. As of press time, Commissioner Soldati is awaiting certification of the results of the June 5, 2018 election in which he is the apparent victor of the race to become the newest judge of that court. John and I met for coffee near the courthouse following his morning calendar. He was punctual, cheerful and ready for the questions! Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "Do I have to answer these really q...

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Civility in Your Law Practice

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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2018 Law Day Award Recipient, The Honorable Robin Appel

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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ABLE Accounts: Five Things You Need to Know

President Obama signed the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act into law on December 19, 2014, yet ABLE accounts remain unknown and underutilized. An ABLE account is a tax-advantaged savings account for individuals with disabilities under Internal Revenue Code section 529A. Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care, and food and housing assistance. Eligibility for these public benefits (e.g., SSI, Med...

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Flying Solo

I opened my private practice after graduating law school and passing the California bar exam. I made a conscious decision to go solo at the time, and I was going to make it work no matter what. With support of my husband and family, I plunged into the world of a solo practitioner. I learned and grew a lot since that time and would like to provide some advice about choosing to go and remain solo. The Practice of Law As a solo practitioner, you do not have a senior partner or a colleague next door...

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People v. Sanchez and Family Court

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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Under Oath: Jayne Lee

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A. "Spending time with family and appreciating what I have as opposed to longing for that 'thing' in the future. Tomorrow is elusive, appreciate today." Q. What is your greatest fear?  A. "Well, I have two fears," she admitted. "The first is if something terrible happened to my family." "And the second?" I inquired. "I'm also afraid of the zombie apocalypse. So my greatest fear would be something terrible happening to my family during the zom...

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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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2017 Outstanding New Lawyer Heather Rubino

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

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

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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A Much-Appreciated Opportunity

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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