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.
The Veterans Treatment Court of San Joaquin County is looking for veterans of the Armed Services to serve as volunteer mentors for veterans who are in Veterans Treatment Court. A major component of this treatment program is for veterans to be paired with their volunteer mentors, meet during the once-a-month court session, and have one or more contacts via telephone or e-mail during the week. The goal is for the mentor to help support the veteran in his or her treatment toward the goal of successful completion and graduation from the program at the end of the 12- to 18-month term.
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.
On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 5 (AB 5) into law. The law provides clarification as to when California workers can by classified independent contractors rather than employees of the hiring company.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Today’s law practice requires understanding the connections between law, public policy, and legislation. This summer, the Drivon School of Law at Humphreys is offering a course entitled The Law & Public Policy, which is being taught by former State Assemblymember Greg Aghazarian and Dr. Lawrence Giventer.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
With the beginning of a new year, a number of new laws affecting civil procedure have taken effect.1 Some of the most important are summarized below2 :
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.