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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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...

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

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).

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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...

Continue reading

Connect With Us
Bar Association
(209) 948-0125
Lawyer Referral Service
(209) 948-4620

343 East Main Street
Suite 408
Stockton, CA 95202

Website Contents © San Joaquin County Bar Association
Unauthorized duplication or reposting of the contents of this site in any form is strictly prohibited.

Legal Website Design by Brentwood Visual