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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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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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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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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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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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

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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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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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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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Homeless Court in San Joaquin County

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

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The Outstanding Jamie Bossuat

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

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The First Impressions Program Expands

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

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California Supreme Court Clarifies "One Day's Rest in Seven"

In Mendoza v. Nordstrom1, the California Supreme Court recently provided some guidance on what it means to have a "Seventh Day Violation."2 Former employees at the retail chain Nordstrom, Inc. alleged that on several occasions during their employment, supervisors asked them to fill in for other employees, which caused them to work more than six consecutive days. During each of these working periods some, but not all, of the employees' shifts lasted six hours or less. The employees sued their for...

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Public Service Opportunities for Criminal Lawyers

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

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Stockton's New Courthouse: It's Really Happening!

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

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Law Day Award Recipient Dr. Cynthia Ostberg and the Genesis of the Pacific Legal Scholars Program

I was sitting at my desk in the District Attorney's Office in 2006 when my phone rang. It was the front desk informing me there was a Dr. Cynthia Ostberg on the phone from the University of the Pacific and she wanted to speak with me. Sometimes in life there are times you wish you did not answer the phone. This was not one of those times. Dr. Ostberg introduced herself and explained she was beginning a program at UOP for undergraduate students to prepare them for law school. She said she wanted ...

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Flood Control Matters: Court of Appeal Applies Rule of Interpretation to Protect Funding for San Joaquin Levies

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

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Why I Mentor

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

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San Joaquin County's Veterans Treatment Court

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

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Civil Judges' Panel Brown Bag

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

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Apply Now: The Invaluable Benefits of the Bar's Mentorship Program

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

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Summary of 76th Annual SJCBA Meeting

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

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