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.

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 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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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 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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Managing a Data Intensive Case: How to Find a
Needle Without Drowning in a Haystack

Introduction The practice of law continues to change, albeit slowly. Nowhere does this change impact the legal field more profoundly than the volume of data created by clients, lawyers, courts, and the public. Society has gone well beyond being "data rich" to being "data swamped." Computers, phones, cars, even household appliances generate enormous amounts of data every day. The practice of law requires attorneys to account for much of this data.They must understand not only ...

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U.S. v. Texas - The future of President Obama's
Immigration Executive Orders after Justice
Scalia's Passing

United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia passed away on February 13, 2016. Responsible for the rebirth of originalism, Justice Scalia was highly intellectual, fiercely conservative, and sometimes combative in the language of his dissenting opinions. His passing leaves a large void on the "conservative side" of the Court that will undoubtedly affect many pending cases, including this term's most significant immigration case, United States v. Texas. Perhaps more than an...

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Does the First Amendment Guarantee the Right
to Register Disparaging Trademarks?

Can the government refuse to grant its blessing—and the economic benefits that go along with it—to trademarks that disparage individuals or groups? By overruling its own long-standing precedents, the Federal Circuit may have made this issue ripe for determination by the Supreme Court and may have indirectly saved the trademarks of the Washington Redskins from cancellation. At stake is the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act1, which allows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office...

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California's New Estate Planning Tool:
The Revocable Transfer on Death (TOD) Deed

Estate planning attorneys likely have encountered the following scenario: a single client contacts you to set up an estate plan. He wants to ensure that his main asset—his personal residence—will pass to his children upon death without the need for a costly and time-consuming probate proceeding, but he does not want to spend a lot of money. As his attorney, you run through the potential nonprobate transfer devices that might be available to him. One option you consider is creating a revocable li...

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New Requirements for Demurrers
Effective January 1, 2016

Beginning January 1, 2016, parties will be required to meet and confer prior to filing a demurrer due to the recent passing of Senate Bill 383. The bill enacts a new section of the Code of Civil Procedure, section 430.41, and amends section 472. The main feature of the new law is a requirement that, at least five (5) days before a responsive pleading is due, the parties meet and confer to see if an agreement can be reached that would avoid the need for a demurrer. During the meet-and-confer proc...

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2015 Law Day Award Recipient Helen Ellis

Helen Ellis is the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Law Day Award. She has worked for San Joaquin County, providing services for those who struggle with substance abuse, for over forty years and is the first and current manager of the San Joaquin County Collaborative Courts, established in 2006. When Helen came to work for the courts, there was only one collaborative court—the Felony Drug Court. Under her leadership, what began as a few basement offices and one program evolved into a program wi...

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Under Oath: Armando Villapudua

Armando and I decided to meet at Casa Flores following his afternoon hearing. After he mistook an innocent bystander as his afternoon host, I introduced myself and we dove into the interview. Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A. "A day with my wife and kids on the beach. We LOVE the beach. We went to Biarritz [France] this summer, but we typically go to Santa Cruz… a lot!" Q. What is your greatest fear? A. "My greatest fear is losing one of my kids. That's a fear I have." Q. What is the...

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Three Things Every Attorney Needs to be
Doing Online

Once upon a time, if you wanted to market your law firm, you put an ad in the yellow pages, maybe bought a few billboards, and waited for the phone to ring. Things are different today; consumers find their information online and unless you're running a well-established firm with no need for new clients (or keeping your existing ones), you need to make sure you're visible on the web. In our experience with helping hundreds of businesses from small one-person law firms to large statewide and natio...

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SJC Court Reporters to Provide All Attorney Transcripts Electronically -
Email Addresses Needed

San Joaquin County's official court reporters have partnered with YesLaw Online http://www.yeslaw.net/ to upload their transcripts to YesLaw Online's secure transcript depository. Beginning February 1, 2016, attorneys will be notified by the reporter via email that their transcripts have been uploaded and are available for download. The attorney, or his or her staff, can then log onto the site, using his or her credentials, which will be provided the first time the attorney is notified of an upl...

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Civility in Lawyers' Writing

A few years ago, American Bar Association President Stephen N. Zack decried the legal profession's "continuing slide into the gutter of incivility."1 An ABA resolution "affirm[ed] the principle of civility as a foundation for democracy and the rule of law, and urge[d] lawyers to set a high standard for civil discourse."2 The ABA initiative echoes federal and state courts that call civility "a linchpin of our legal system,"3 a "bedrock principle,"4 and "a hallmark of professionalism."5 Justice An...

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The Uber-Important Question: Independent
Contractor or Employee?

The California State Labor Commissioner's Office recently issued a ruling that is likely to be an Uber-headache for the industry's employers (while possibly providing a *Lyft* to the industry's drivers). What industry is that? It depends whom you ask. On the one hand, companies like Uber say they are a software company—the developer of a popular app that matches people who need transportation with drivers who are available to give rides. But if you ask some of the drivers, like Barbara Ann Berwi...

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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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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: 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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