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.

New Lawyers Reception

February 2, 2016 at the Bank of Stockton Headquarters The Bank of Stockton hosted a reception on February 2 honoring the newest members of the San Joaquin County legal profession. Attorneys who passed the 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 San Joaquin County Superior Court Supervising Probate Attorney Jayne Lee. Zoey Merrill ...

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2015 Outstanding New Lawyer, Zoey Merrill

​If 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 Award ...

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New Courthouse Progress

As 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 deci...

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W-INN-ing!: SJC Callahan Inn of Court Celebrates
its Tenth Anniversary

In 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 y...

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New Laws and Rules for 2016

Numerous 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 each...

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Andy Pinasco Joins Neumiller & Beardslee

The Stockton law firm of Neumiller & Beardslee is pleased to announce the addition of Andy J. Pinasco as an associate attorney of the firm. Mr. Pinasco's areas of practice will concentrate in public works construction, employment, labor, and public agency law. Mr. Pinasco joined the firm in 2016 upon earning his Juris Doctor with Distinction from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. While at McGeorge, Mr. Pinasco wrote for the McGeorge Law Review and was an editor for ...

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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 Septembe...

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SJCBA Membership and Guests Gather on Law Day 2016 to Honor John Harris

The membership of the San Joaquin County Bar Association convened at noon on April 26, 2016 at the annual Law Day Luncheon to bestow the 2016 Law Day Award upon John Harris. A near-capacity crowd, including many of Mr. Harris' friends and family, enjoyed the beautiful spring sunshine that flooded into the large banquet room at the Stockton Golf and Country Club. San Joaquin County Bar Association President James Morris served as Master of Ceremonies for the event and opened with a brief wel...

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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 mak...

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Title Review Basics for Litigators

For most real property transactions, at least one party will care about the status of the title to be conveyed or affected and will want a detailed review of the title's current status and advice about what title insurance policy will be appropriate to protect their interests. Attorneys assist with this work by examining recorded liens and easements, resolving issues with insuring title, determining which title risks are acceptable to the client, and advising on what types of affirmative co...

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We’re All Going to Die (and Other Happy Thoughts of an Estate Planner Turning 50)

​Used with permission from the April 2016 Tennessee Bar Journal, a publication of the Tennessee Bar Association First you forget names; then you forget faces; then you forget to zip up your fly; and then you forget to unzip your fly. — Attributed to Branch Rickey Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. — Ecclesiastes 7:2 No one here gets out alive. — The Doors An Uncomfortable Truth I think the paradigm shift started the time I realized that my teenage son le...

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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 towar...

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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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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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Under Oath: Cathy Huston

Cathy and I met in her office on a busy Friday afternoon. Amongst flying files and ringing phones we sat in her office to enjoy our lunch. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "Honestly, its going home from work after a good day where I won all my cases, the kids' homework is done and I had time to work out. Just knowing that we are on the status quo. As long as all my loved ones are doing well and we are all healthy… that is happiness." Q. What is your greatest fear? A. "Right now it's...

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A Child Divided: Healing the Psychological Wound of Divorce

The King's Judgment Two women stood before the king, both stating their claim to a child they believed to be their own. Both had their child only three days apart, and after falling asleep one had awakened to the unfortunate sight of her baby lying dead next to her in bed. Having wept over the loss of her son, she soon realized that the child who lay next to her was not her own.She then brought charges against the other mother for switching the infants during their sleep; the trial was...

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Warnings, Hope for the Future at Law Day Luncheon 2015

At the 2015 Law Day Luncheon, presented by the San Joaquin County Bar Association and Bar Foundation, Dr. Bennet Omalu warned of the hidden dangers to the health and lives of professional football players, and Law Day Award recipient Hellen Ellis praised the efforts of those involved in the collaborative courts. Instituted in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower, Law Day celebrates the role of law in American Society. At this year’s luncheon, San Joaquin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Bennet O...

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Under Oath: Moses Zapien

Moses and I met at a Starbucks coffee shop where he is a regular. The baristas all know him well. We settled in and the questions began. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. “What comes to mind is: having dinner with my family; a nice evening out with friends; relaxing on a patio, having a good conversation and watching a beautiful sunset; and doing work that I am passionate about that makes a difference in people’s lives. Q. What is your greatest fear? A. “I think, not living up to my ...

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Newly Formed Veterans Court Seeks Mentors

February 2, 2015 marked the commencement of San Joaquin County's first Veterans Treatment Court. For about five years, Judges Barbara Kronlund and Richard Vlavianos pondered how a veterans' court could be added to the list of collaborative courts that are presently being operated in San Joaquin County. There was always a basic problem—where to hold court? There was simply no room within the criminal departments to add another calendar. After about a year of meetings with the court's collaborativ...

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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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Historian Barbara W. Tuchman on the
“Art of Writing”

In October of 1962, the world stood on the brink of war as the United States demanded dismantling of offensive medium-range nuclear missile sites that the Soviet Union was constructing in Cuba, potentially within striking range of American cities. From behind-the-scenes accounts, we know that a new book by historian Barbara W. Tuchman, a private citizen who held no government position, contributed directly to the negotiated outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis as the world watched and waited. Aft...

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China’s FOIA: The Regulation on Open Government Information

The People’s Republic of China’s (“PRC”) Regulation on Open Government Information (“OGIR”) was enacted in January 2007 by the State Council. As the first national administrative regulation, it was a milestone in enhancing government transparency and safeguarding citizens’ right of access to government-held information. 1 After 13 long months of preparation, the regulation was implemented on May 1, 2008. Since then, the government, the public and the people’s courts have engaged in the practice ...

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Family Law Attorney’s Real Property Liens:
Should You or Shouldn’t You?

The client must be given a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of an independent lawyer and, thereafter, the client must consent in writing to the terms of the real property lien. In a recent appellate case, the husband that was awarded the community real property residence in the judgment successfully moved to expunge the wife’s first attorney’s FLARPL from the property without joining the attorneys who filed the FLARPL. (In re Marriage of Turkanis and Price (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 332, 34...

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Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Is “Proportionality” the Cure for Discovery Abuse?

Since before 1980, the drafters of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have been trying to devise procedures and standards that would reduce discovery abuse in federal civil litigation. Yet, despite amendments in 1980, 1983, 1993, 2000, and 2006, surveys and studies continue to show pervasive concern about discovery abuse. Although the Rules have long empowered and encouraged the courts to limit excessive discovery and to impose sanctions for discovery abuse, lawyers have been reluctant to ask ...

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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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