Contra Costa Lawyer - November Bench Bar Issue

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Contra Costa

Lawyer Volume 30, Number 6 | November 2017

Bench Bar Issue



Ericka McKenna Nicole Mills Craig Nevin Dorian Peters Laura Ramsey Summer Selleck

CCCBA   EXECUTIVE   DIRECTOR Theresa Hurley | 925.370.2548 | CCCBA main office 925.686.6900 |

Volume 30, Number 6 | November 2017





Mary Carey Steven Derby Mika Domingo Oliver Greenwood Renée Welze Livingston David Marchiano



2017 BOARD of DIRECTORS Philip Andersen President James Wu President-Elect Michelle Ferber Secretary Wendy McGuire Coats Treasurer Elva K. Harding Past President


Contra Costa



in R ub egular P

B   A   R        A   S   S   O   C   I   A   T   I   O   N

features Exciting Times, by Hon. Jill Fannin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Keeping the Court Safe and Orderly, by Lt. Craig Brooks. . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Civil Division Update, by Hon. Judith Craddick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Criminal Courts 2017, by Hon. Theresa Canepa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Family Law Perspective, by Hon. Christopher Bowen . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 A Year of Changes in Juvenile, by Hon. Rebecca Hardie. . . . . . . . . . . . 18 2017 Review - Probate Division by Hon. John Sugiyama. . . . . . . . . . . 20

Jennifer Comages Anne K. Wolf

Pittsburg Court 2017, by Hon. Mary Ann O’Malley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Membership Coordinator Education and Programs Coordinator

Emily Day

Systems Administrator and Fee Arbitration Coordinator

CO-EDITORS EDITORIAL BOARD David Pearson David Arietta 925.287.0051 925.472.8000

Suzanne Boucher Marcus Brown 925.933.1500 925.482.8950

BOARD LIAISON Inga Miller Nicole Mills 925.402.2192 925.351.3171 Beth Mora


COURT LIAISON Stephen Nash Perry Novak 925.746.0245

Samantha Sepehr DESIGN/ADVERTISING 925.287.3540 Carole Lucido Christina Weed 925.370.2542 PRINTING Modern Litho

Richmond Court Update, by Hon. Joni Hiramoto. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Traffic Division 2017, by Hon. Ed Weil and Kate Bieker. . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Contra Costa Lawyer



The official publication of the

Barbara Arsedo Carole Lucido

LRIS Coordinator Communications Coordinator




The Contra Costa Lawyer (ISSN 1063-4444) is published 12 times a year – six times online-only – by the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA), 2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520, Concord, CA 94520. Annual subscription of $25 is included in the membership dues. Periodical postage paid at Concord, CA. POSTMASTER: send address change to the Contra Costa Lawyer, 2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520, Concord, CA 94520. The Lawyer welcomes and encourages articles and letters from readers. Please send them to contracostalawyer@ The CCCBA reserves the right to edit articles and letters sent in for publication. All editorial material, including editorial comment, appearing herein represents the views of the respective authors and does not necessarily carry the endorsement of the CCCBA or the Board of Directors. Likewise, the publication of any advertisement is not to be construed as an endorsement of the product or service offered unless it is specifically stated in the ad that there is such approval or endorsement.

The Call to Service, Interview with Hon. Benjamin T. Reyes II, by Magda Lopez. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 An Officer and a Gentleman: An Interview with Hon. Wade Rhyne, by Shannon Stone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Specializing in Our Veterans, by Hon. Laurel Brady . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Practicing Law as a Court Employee, by Magda Lopez. . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 With a Little Help from Our Community, by Shannon Stone and Magda Lopez. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38


INSIDE: Due to the Efforts of So Many…, by Stephen Nash, Guest Editor

10 From the President: Volunteering with the Court, by Philip Andersen 33

Did You Know? - Lawyers in the Library

NEWS & UPDATES 14-15 PHOTOS: Bar Fund Benefit Sept 28 21

2018 Judicial Assignments


PHOTOS: Hastings Alum of the Year Oct 4: Hon. Jill Fannin


PHOTOS: Women’s Scholarship Awards Dinner

44-45 Calendar 44 Classifieds 46-47 mcle sPECTACULAR 2017 On the Cover: Judge Mary Ann O’Malley, Chair of the Court Security Committee of Contra Costa Superior Court, and Lieutenant Craig Brooks, who manages the Court Security Services Unit, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff. In the background is Justice Wakefield Taylor Courthouse, Martinez, California. Photo by Alan Frenklach CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER



by Stephen Nash, Court Executive Officer & Guest Editor

Due to the Efforts of So Many… Welcome to the Bench/Bar edition of the Contra Costa Lawyer for 2017. Consistent with tradition, included are updates from our court’s supervising judges regarding developments in the areas of court that they manage. Also, as in prior editions, we feature conversations introducing the court’s two newest judges. Beyond these typical articles, in this edition we take a look at important operational areas of the court that typically don’t get much attention—court security and court legal staff, both of which provide critical support for Judges and the public. Sheriff’s staff and court legal staff are just two examples of the effort and involvement required by so many in order to run as large and complicated a court as we have in Contra Costa County. I recently had an opportunity to meet with another group of inspiring individuals that also supports the operations of the court. These folks work for a non-profit firm, Futures Explored, which provides training, support, and employment for adults with mild to moderate developmental disabilities. There are two “job coaches” who directly supervise seven staff, while also providing job skills, safety, and life-skills training. The workers perform various tasks at the court including pulling files, opening mail, copying, sorting, and delivery of paper, among a variety of other ongoing and special tasks. The people who are assigned to work with the court rarely turn over; one of the staff has worked with the court for 24 years, and another 18 years. Also, one of the job coaches indicated that the participants are proud to work at a place that they believe is so important. When asked about how he feels working at the court, one of the workers smiled and said, “It makes me feel so good!” Their work habits, commitment, and attitude are extraordinary. Most of the participants take public transportation, which can be a challenge, with one worker having up to a two-hour bus commute, including connections, each way. And they often come to work even when they don’t feel well. “We send them home when we know that they are sick, to let them rest and in order not to spread the illness. But, they 4


just don’t like to miss work,” Heather Prince, one of the job coaches, reported. Also, no matter what happens and how much work comes in on a given day, their workers rarely complain. “They just dig in and do it,” said Prince. I watched several of them pulling files from a list generated that morning. They moved quickly, and were focused and organized. Our court’s lead records clerk, Antwana Fortenberry, told me, “They are always serious about their job, they can be relied on, and they are a big help. We really appreciate them!” Futures Explored staff, Sheriff’s Court Security staff, court legal research attorneys and family law facilitators, are just some of the amazing people who work hard to make court work. Our court’s chronic resource limitations and challenges have been documented elsewhere. So far, though, we have found ways to continue to serve the public without making the lines, delays, or backlogs too long. That accomplishment has only been possible through the determination and hard work of many people, not only those identified in this edition, but the entire bench, our court staff, and with the voluntary support that many of you have provided and continue to provide. It is humbling to work with so many great people. Thank you!

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Exciting Times By Hon. Jill Fannin, Presiding Judge

What a difference a year makes. Last year my only aspirations were to oversee sweetening the paychecks of the Court’s hard working employees and to improve services, including moving towards a new case management system. We made progress on those goals and saw many other developments as well. One of the most gratifying events was our ability to provide ongoing raises to employees for the first time in seven and a half years. We did this by cutting into our operational budget, something that is generally not considered a smart business decision. But the bench was determined to offer salary increases even if it meant going into the red. We had a plan for making up the deficit and were fortunate in the current fiscal year to receive a small bump in our anticipated allocation from the state. Happily, we have managed to deliver the raises and balance the budget once again. Another achievement has been the monumental move of the Juvenile Division from Martinez to Walnut Creek. Judge Rebecca Hardie’s article discusses the many ways this transition improves services for juvenile justice in our county. We also took the opportunity to completely revamp the Walnut Creek traffic courtroom and waiting area. Our IT and Facilities staff did a tremendous job completing the

move in a very compressed timeframe. This year brought the bittersweet news of retirement of four wonderful bench officers: Judges Thomas Maddock, Trevor White, George Spanos and Diana Becton. We aren’t too gloomy about their retirements though because Judges Maddock, White and Spanos are part of the Assigned Judges Program and Judge Becton will be around town as the District Attorney. The departures allowed us to welcome Judge Benjamin Reyes II, now sitting in Richmond, and Judge Wade Rhyne, who has been assigned to Pittsburg. The new judges are off to an outstanding start. We are so lucky to have them and look forward to the Governor filling our other two vacancies with equally talented and personable bench officers. Trying to best allocate judicial resources among divisions is always a challenge. This year we successfully shifted a judge from the Pittsburg Criminal Division to the Family Division. Judge Brian Haynes’ new family law courtroom is providing long needed relief to a high volume case type. Late last year and early this year, we were so inundated with criminal trials that judges in juvenile, probate and civil had to help shoulder the

load. Supervising Criminal Judge Terri Canepa has done amazing work whittling down the backlog of criminal trials and preliminary hearings. At the same time, the inventory of mental health cases arising from criminal matters has nearly doubled. To address these new realities, next year we will convert a Martinez trial department to a mental health department. Judge Laurel Brady has graciously agreed to take on the newly-created position. As part of her new role, she will assume responsibility for the Behavioral Health Court. Cases under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) and Laura’s Law will stay with Judges Ed Weil and Steven Austin, respectively. Earlier this year, our court was the proud recipient of three grants from the Judicial Council’s Court Innovations Grant Program. One of these grants funds Veterans Court, which is described later in the magazine. The other two are equally exciting. Magda Lopez, our Director of Family Law and Professional Services, is overseeing a grant to purchase and install multilingual signage in our courthouses to improve access to the court system for non-English speaking customers. The new signs will be in universal symbols when possible. If written words are required, signs will be available in at least six addiContinued on page 6



Exciting Times

Continued from page 5 tional languages. Our goal is to have the new signs in place by the end of June of 2019. Heather Pettit, our Chief Information Officer, is overseeing the grant for improving our Virtual Self-Help site. The grant contemplates adding three new features to our website: automated fillable forms, an artificial intelligence chatbot, and a “track my case” module. The initial technical work is being completed with the help of student interns who are working collaboratively and remotely from locations throughout the country. After just three months, the interns have already made remarkable strides in fulfilling the objectives of the grant.

Trustcare Fiduciary & Care Management Services • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Estates Trusts Conservatorships Special Needs Trusts Decedent’s Estate Administration Agent Under Power of Attorney Prudent Investor Accountings Money Management Elder Financial Abuse Investigations Bill Paying Applying for Public Benefits Care Management Assessment

And, we have finally completed the process of selecting a vendor for a case management system. Our goal is to implement a new case management system in traffic by the end of this fiscal year. Once the launch is successful, we hope to roll out the case management system in other divisions of the court. Stay tuned for more exciting changes . . . .


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Keeping the Court

Safe and Orderly

By Lt. Craig Brooks

Maintaining public safety is a challenge that faces every court. In Contra Costa County, Sheriff David Livingston provides professional law enforcement services and onsite security for the Superior Courts and the Sheriff’s Office has done so since 1988. The Court Security Services Unit has approximately 95 dedicated sworn and non-sworn staff members who work hard each day to provide prompt, efficient, and professional service to the Court, its judges, staff, legal community, and the public. As the Lieutenant in charge of Court Security Services, I work in close collaboration with the Court Security Advisory Committee Chairperson Judge Mary Ann O’Malley, Presiding Judge Jill Fannin and the Court Executive Officer Stephen Nash. We work collectively to find safe, innovative, and cost-effective ways to enhance the level of security at the courthouses. We are also focused on forecasting future security needs, from routine daily activities to preparing for the potential of catastrophic events that could impact the Court. Contra Costa County Bar Association members regularly interact with court security staff at the various courthouses in Contra Costa County. Accordingly, I would like to share some information about the duties and responsibilities of our security staff and hopefully provide some insight into the ways you can

also assist in keeping the courts safe and secure. Court Security staff are responsible for the safety and protection of the judges, attorneys, court employees, and the public. Security staff works in a variety of assignments that range from weapons screening, courtroom bailiffs, court attendants, inmate supervision, and escort duties. Additionally, a select number of deputies are assigned to the Judicial Protection Unit (JPU). The JPU provides enhanced security and investigative services for crimes or threats against Judicial Officers. Deputies assigned to the JPU also receive specialized training in conducting risk assessments and executive protection. Most of one’s interaction with court security occurs at the screening areas of the courthouse. The security staff assigned to these locations are tasked with critical job responsibilities directly associated with ensuring the safety of every person who enters the courthouse. The security staff conducts an airport-style screening process of all individuals, with the focus being on the detection of weapons and contraband. Our staff is not just looking for

traditional weapons, such as knives or guns, but any item that could be manipulated or used as a weapon. Court Administration makes provision for an expedited facility entry for certain individuals, including attorneys and peace officers, subject to specific conditions. These conditions include the requirement to present a valid form of identification upon entering the courthouse that was either issued or previously approved by Court Administration. (If there is ever a question about the approved forms of identification, Continued on page 8

Confiscated items



Keeping the Court Safe Continued from page 7

you can always speak with a security staff member or inquire with Court Administration.) Periodically, security staff conducts random attorney screening, where all attorneys are required to participate in the weapons screening process. When this occurs, we bring in additional staff to assist in expediting the screening process. Though this screening process may seem like an inconvenience, it is essential to gauge if prohibited items and weapons are inadvertently being brought into the courthouse. As a result, always be sure to double check your personal property, briefcase, and computer bag, and remove items that are non-work related, contraband, or could potentially be used as weapons. Courtroom bailiffs, whose roles are essential in preserving courtroom order and decorum, are also a vital component of Sheriff’s security staff. Bailiffs provide protection and care for the judges, attorneys, staff, jurors, members of the public, and prisoners in the courtroom. Bailiffs perform multiple job functions daily and must be ready to react at a moment’s notice. In fact,



earlier this year a bailiff was assisting the Court during the voir dire process and saw a prospective juror who was slumped over and not breathing. The bailiff immediately requested assistance and provided medical care for the juror. Due to his efforts, the juror began breathing on his own, was transported to the hospital, and ultimately made a full recovery. This is just one example of the attention and dedication to duty that the bailiffs and security staff show daily. We all share the common goal of ensuring that courthouses throughout Contra Costa County remain safe and secure. Members of the Court Security Services Unit will remain diligent in continuing to provide the highest level of law enforcement services and security for the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Craig Brooks is an 18-year veteran of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff. He was selected as the Court Security Services Manager in April 2016. Prior to his selection, he served as the Facility Commander for the Martinez Detention Facility.

Civil Division Update by Hon. Judith Craddick, Supervising Judge

As most of you probably know, one of our Civil Division judges, Hon. George Spanos, retired earlier this year, and we were fortunate to have Hon. Charles “Steve” Treat join us. Before his appointment to the Bench, Judge Treat clerked on the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice William Brennan. He, thereafter, practiced exclusively appellate litigation with international firms in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. After joining our court, he has served in Family Law and Criminal assignments. Hon. Jill Fannin, our Court Presiding Judge, recently announced judicial assignments for 2018. Judge Treat will remain in Civil, joining Hon. Steven Austin, Hon. Judith Craddick, Hon. Barry Goode, who handles complex litigation, and Hon. Ed Weil, who divides his time between Civil and Probate. Judge Weil will also be the Civil Supervising Judge commencing in January 2018. Our primary goal as civil trial judges has been to improve services and shorten time delays. New limited and unlimited civil filings have remained stable for the past few years. We have made efforts to set law and motion hearings within 30 days of filing, and to set mediations and trials as early as the litigants desire and to actually have the trials go forward when they are set. With the invaluable assistance of members of the Bar who volunteer many hours serving as Discovery Facilitators, judges pro tem, mediators, arbitrators, neutral

case evaluators and particularly “day of trial” settlement mentors, we are closer to achieving that goal. We are grateful to the Contra Costa County Bar Association and those attorneys who generously give their time and talents to our efforts. Your hard work, diligence and concern is a demonstration of your dedication to your clients, profession and the Court. A few reminders: Demurrers are not heard without “meet and confer declarations” filed with the court (CCP 430.41). Please remember to tab exhibits to motions. Hole punch originals to be filed (Cal. Rules of Court 2.115). Law & Motion tentative rulings are available no later than 1:30 pm the day before the scheduled hearing, and opposing tentative ruling notification must be made to the department and parties by 4:00 pm. Expedited trials are mandatory in limited jurisdiction cases (CCP 630.01) – a good way to get these

cases tried sooner and more quickly completed. Looking forward, we hope for increased funding to: (1) allow implementation of e-filing on all civil cases; (2) purchase media carts with projector and ELMO, including viewing screens, for each general Civil Department; (3) fund additional staff in the Clerk’s Office to handle the many tasks they perform with significantly reduced hands to do the work; (4) appoint a full-time Discovery Commissioner; and (5) the appointment of another civil judge.

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from the

President by Philip Andersen CCCBA President

Volunteering with the Court It’s a “Win-Win” Have you ever noticed that helping others can have the added benefit of helping ourselves? It’s true. Sometimes what benefits others, also benefits us – it’s the ultimate “winwin.”1


Working with our courts and volunteering my time is one area that I have found to be a true “win-win.” Not only have I been able to help the courts in ways that have reduced their trial load and allowed judges to have much-needed time to recharge, but it has come back to benefit both me and my practice. It is something that can work to help build a new practice or solidify an established practice.

of the temporary judges, cases would be continued and litigants throughout the county would experience delay and inconvenience.” She went on to point out that serving as a temporary judge “offers practical experience to attorneys interested in pursuing a career as a judicial officer.”2 In other words… it’s a “win-win.” The nice part is that it is not difficult to qualify and there are many options for service to choose from.3 Presiding Judge Fannin concluded her article by stating: “to the attorneys who have and continue to serve as temporary judges in this county… thank you! Your commitment and hard work is greatly valued by the court and the parties who appear before you.”

One way I have done this is by serving as a temporary judge (also referred to as a pro tem judge). Over the past 20 years I have done so over 200 times; at least half of those have been for the Contra Costa County Superior Court. I highly recommend it. Last November our current Presiding Judge, Jill Fannin, wrote an article for this magazine on being a temporary judge, and she highlighted the benefits not just to the courts and the litigants, but to the volunteers as well: “the attorneys who volunteer their time to serve as temporary judges help to cover calendars when our bench officers are unavailable… Without the service

Serving as a pro tem judge is not the only way to help the courts (and yourself). There are many other opportunities available, depending on your training and availability. For example, being a Small Claims or Traffic Court judge is also interesting and fulfilling. The best part for me is helping people get over their fears. I do this by speaking softly and kindly to them. When they get the chance to tell their story I can see and feel the burden of their dispute being lifted. When someone is able to show that the traffic ticket was not properly issued it makes their day and helps them feel that the justice system works for them.


Helping youth understand the need to drive safely also feels right. To serve as a Small Claims or Traffic Court judge, you need to be in practice ten years and you are required to take 12 hours of training every three years.4 Another opportunity is serving as a discovery facilitator. Almost everyone can see the need for the discovery facilitator and it is easy and rewarding. You get to hear each side explain their position in a discovery dispute during a conference call that you set up. You then listen as they soften up and reach a compromise. As with many of the other opportunities, it does require that you be in practice at least ten years, but otherwise, it takes minimal training. Here are the requirements.5 Each assignment only takes about one or two hours and you can do it as often or as little as you like. My favorite opportunity is being a mediator. There is nothing better, in my view, than seeing both sides reach an agreement, especially when it looked hopeless in the beginning. Letting the two sides sit across a table and respectfully share their stories has a magical effect. Knowing each side trusts you – and then honoring that trust – is very satisfying.

One of the main drawbacks for most attorneys in serving as a mediator is that you need 40 hours of mediation training and there are ongoing MCLE requirements, but if you have this training, serving as a panel mediator can be a great way to build your business and help people in the process. On a side note, although taking this training is a big time commitment, it is invaluable to understanding the mediation process and it only makes you a better advocate for your own clients when you take them into mediation.6 Unlike the 40 hour training requirements to be a mediator, to be a Settlement Mentor at the court house you only need to demonstrate that you are an experienced trial attorney in that field of practice.7 Although you are not conducting a formal mediation, you do get to help people negotiate to avoid trial – sometimes literally minutes before

their trial is called. It is rewarding to get to know the Superior Court judges you are helping and they appreciate your efforts in freeing up their dockets for other cases. There is a real partnership in Contra Costa County between our courts and our bar, and it is only strengthened when we offer our time, our expertise and our skills to the courts. The icing on the cake is that it strengthens us as well. Philip M. Andersen is the Managing Attorney of the State Farm Insurance Company In-House Litigation Department in Pleasanton. (Philip M. Andersen & Associates). He has extensive litigation and trial experience defending policy holders in personal injury lawsuits. He has been managing in-house insurance litigation offices since 1994. Contact Phil at (925) 225-6838 or philip.andersen.

The views expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer State Farm.

1 temporary-judges/ 2 3 temporary-judge.aspx

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Criminal Courts 2 0 1 7 By Hon. Theresa Canepa, Supervising Judge “Nothing is permanent but change.” – Heraclitus

Truer words were never spoken, especially this year, in the wake of two retirements, added calendars, and a temporary reassignment in the Martinez Criminal Court of Contra Costa County. Our trial departments have been running at full capacity. During calendar year 2016, the District Attorney filed 2,610 felony cases and 7,773 misdemeanor cases, down slightly from last year’s count of 2,732 felonies and up from 1,021 misdemeanors. We tried 130 felony cases, which include charges under Penal Code sections 187, 23152, 459/460, and 288, to list just a few. We tried 184 misdemeanor cases and we had 1.13% more dispositions than in the last calendar year. We are working hard to reduce the number of misdemeanor trials, as the statistics show that we, along with San Francisco Superior Court, have the highest number of misdemeanors taken to trial compared to all other courts in the state of California. I am proud to acknowledge our skilled and hard-working trial judges: Judges Brady, Becton (now retired), Baskin, Burch, Kennedy, Stark, Maier, Cheryl Mills and Bruce Mills. Each of them has run trials back to back for the greater part of this year, including all felonies, and central county misdemeanors. When they have a spare hour or two, they complete a preliminary hearing as 12


well. We will certainly miss Judge Becton as she has decided to pursue her passions away from the judiciary with her retirement. Judge White also retired and we wish them both well. Judge Kennedy’s absence while he is temporarily assigned to the Court of Appeal will also be strongly felt but we are happy for him in his new assignment. Judge Patricia Scanlon runs our Felony Criminal Calendar Department, which is perpetually busy. She not only handles felony plea bargaining but presides over arraignments, readiness conferences, restitution hearings, pro per calendar, and the ever-burgeoning mental health calendar, and she does so deftly and with dispatch. Judge John Laettner presides over the companion misdemeanor Criminal Calendar Department, where the volume is extremely high. He hears arraignments, Pittsburg in-custody warrants, pretrial bail matters, plea bargains, pretrial conferences with the attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office, felony evidentiary motions, and misdemeanor motions both evidentiary and nonevidentiary. Judge Laettner runs this department with ease and ensures that all receive a fair shake. Judge Bruce Mills, a trial judge, maintains a misdemeanor calendar one day per week. He handles misdemeanor motions, probation matters, diversion hearings, and private counsel pretrial hearings on misdemeanor cases. He often finishes this

calendar and starts a jury trial on the same day. His efficiency is second to none.

hearings, and occasionally, misdemeanor motions to suppress. There is no longer a Drug Court due to funding issues. The Domestic Violence ISP program was wound down at the end of its grant funding period and has been replaced by a new, high-intensity mandatory domestic violence court, which monitors both felony and misdemeanor defendants based upon particularized criteria.

Judge Laurel Brady, a trial judge, is now piloting our very own Veterans Court one Friday per month. She has been working tirelessly behind the scenes for months to ensure that this program gets off to a good start. With a grant in place and program criteria defined with the support of our justice partners, Judge Brady held the first calendar on August 11, 2017. She is passionate about the program and believes it will be strongly received in the veterans’ community.

Our Parole/Mandatory Supervised Release Calendar is now handled in-house by a trial judge if one is available or by our very talented and dedicated retired judges including Judges John Minney, Peter Berger, John Allen and David Flinn. We so appreciate their help in this department and the other departments where they provide coverage for judges who are unavailable due to other commitments, including teaching at the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER).

As for Master Calendar, we now call, in addition to the felony and misdemeanor trials, the preliminary hearing calendar as well. This transition has resulted in an efficient distribution of the preliminary hearings to the trial departments in advance of a trial being sent. We have thus shifted from a situation where the preliminary hearings were either trailed or given different dates entirely, to one where they are heard as expeditiously as possible. Our Master Calendar also functions as a “utility department,” and hears felony probation violations, Behavioral Health Court, Mandatory Domestic Violence Court, felony non-evidentiary motions, special-set preliminary

Finally, our Criminal Court must acknowledge our stellar Administrative Management team and staff, our incredible courtroom clerks, our dedicated court reporters, and our stalwart bailiffs, not to mention the attorneys and probation officers who work together to ensure fairness and justice for those involved in the criminal process. You have our profound thanks.


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proudly presents:

Bar Fund Benefit

in support of

Social Justice Collaborative

Thanks to the participants and sponsors, together we raised in excess of $40,000 for the Social Justice Collaborative! The SJC assists non-citizens who are unaccompanied minors, refugees, seeking asylum or victims of crime. CCCBA established its Bar Fund in 1988 to help improve the conditions for those in need in Contra Costa County by setting up a permanent and ongoing source of income. The goals of the Bar Fund are to: • Promote and support Pro Bono legal advice, counsel and representation to the County’s poor and needy • Maintain equal access to justice • Support and improve administration of justice • Contribute to wider understanding of the law and legal reform • Preserve American heritage of rule by law • Encourage elevated standards of legal education and performance

Thank you to our sponsors Platinum

Archer Norris CCCBA Estate Planning & Probate Section GOLD Acuña Regli Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP Casper Meadows Schwartz & Cook CEB

silver Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser LLP Ferber Law Kathleen Hunt, Unique Law JAMS Littler Mendelson PC McNamara, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Borges & Ambacher

Miller Starr Regalia The Mullin Law Firm Robert Half Legal The Law Office of Alexander G. van Broek Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel LLP

In Kind Sponsors

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Steven’s Printing Auction Item Donors

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Michelle Griego, KPIX

Tesla of Walnut Creek

Thank you for your support! Above, Hon. Rick Flier (ret.) with Lisa Roberts. Right, Justine and David Erb.

Above, Gautam Jagannath and Emily Abraham, Founders of the Social Justice Collaborative were in the driver’s seat accompanied by KPIX News anchor Michelle Griego, MC for the evening, in the back seat of the Tesla. An overnight test drive of the car was auctioned off at the event. Below, Christina Lopez, Shari Kumin and Clara Arroyo.

Ericka McKenna, Matt Talbot and Sean Culligan.

Above, thank you to Archer Norris for being a Platinum Sponsor of this event and for the great attendance! Left, Anthony Ashe, Jon Lucchese, and Araceli Ramirez Meg Cohen, Kathleen Hunt and Kristen Thall Peters



Family Law Perspective By Hon. Christopher R. Bowen, Supervising Judge

With six of our seven bench officers having served in the Family Law Division in prior consecutive years, 2017 has been a year of continuity. We welcomed one additional Family Law judge in January, the Honorable Brian Haynes, whose courtroom is in Pittsburg. Judge Haynes plunged right in and quickly became adept at managing short-cause calendars efficiently and settling cases whenever possible. Given his considerable experience with criminal jury trials, it is hardly surprising that he has found himself in “familiar” territory conducting family law bench trials and long-cause hearings.

Judge Leslie Landau is finishing her third and final year in Family Law in Martinez. Among her many contributions to the good functioning of the Division this year were the revival of regular meetings between judicial officers and the Contra Costa County Bar Association’s (CCCBA) Family Law Section leadership, and her help drafting revisions to the Local Rules of Court. Beginning in January, Judge Landau will transfer to the Juvenile Division to preside in

contempt matters with attorney Barbara Suskind from the Congress of Neutrals, who works with parties to resolve a significant number of cases without a contested hearing. Beginning next January, Judge Mockler will be the Supervising Judge of the Family Law Division. Commissioner Kathleen Murphy continues presiding in Department 52 handling all support cases involving the Contra Costa County Department of Child Support Services, including contempt matters involving child support.

In 2018, the Division will welcome three judges to Family Law. Each of them has specifically requested the assignment and they all bring enthusiasm and experience to the Division.

Judge Anita Santos also served in Pittsburg again this year. As one of our most experienced Family Law judges, Judge Santos continues to impress all with her encyclopedic knowledge of Family Law and her infinite patience with attorneys and litigants alike. Having completed her third year in the Family Law rotation, Judge Santos will begin a criminal trial assignment in Martinez next January. Family Law’s loss is Criminal Division’s gain.

Here in Martinez, Judge John Cope is completing his second year with the Division, and has already become an expert on family law issues, including international jurisdiction in custody matters. Next year, Judge Cope’s department will relocate to Pittsburg, where he and Judge Haynes will constitute the Family Law Division’s eastern outpost. 16


delinquency proceedings at Juvenile Hall. It is as yet unknown whether she will incorporate the legendary “stipulations” candy jar that she keeps in her Family Law Courtroom into her new Juvenile Court assignment. Judge Terri Mockler graciously took on the bulk of the Family Law contempt calendar, which returned to the Division this year. Judge Mockler handles most Family Law contempt proceedings from first appearance and referral to counsel, through arraignment, pretrial, and trial assignment. Judge Mockler successfully implemented a mediation program in Family Law

On the “front end” there is now a dedicated clerk’s window in Martinez for all DCSS cases. Our statistics show that the number of filings at the Family Law window in Pittsburg has increased, but that average wait times in Pittsburg and Martinez are about the same. As I reported in last year’s review, the online process of applying for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders continues to be available through the court’s public website. This enhanced service allows parties seeking or opposing Domestic Violence Restraining Orders to begin completing their paperwork online and receives uniformly positive reviews. Family Court Services provides invaluable assistance to parents in child custody and visitation cases. There are now just over eight fulltime Child Custody Recommending Counselor positions filled, which means that wait times generally range between three to four weeks in most cases. However, there has also

been a significant decrease in the “no show” rate, with a parent or parents not appearing for custody counseling appointments in only about 11% of cases. Moreover, in a trend that has been noticed statewide, the “agreement rate” has dropped appreciably. The numbers in our county reflect that the percentage of custody counseling cases resulting in agreements has gone from over 55% in 2009 to just over 40% through the end of August 2017. Needless to say, fewer missed appointments and fewer parental agreements places significant pressure on the custody counselors, who work extremely hard to write reports and make recommendations for the judges’ consideration.

gants attend a clinic at the John F. Kennedy School of Law to identify issues for settlement and make sure they have any necessary documents. When the parties arrive at the pro per settlement conference, a volunteer attorney meets with them in a confidential mediation to help them reach agreements. Many of these mediations result in agreements that are submitted to the court and later incorporated into a judgment. All of us in the Family Law Division appreciate the attorneys who provide this pro bono service. It is common to hear self-represented parties express their gratitude directly to the volunteer attorney mediators at the end of a successful settlement conference.

The CCCBA’s Family Law Section continues to provide an invaluable service to the court and community through the newly-renamed and reconfigured “Family Court Volunteer Mediator Settlement Program.” Self-represented liti-

In 2018, the Division will welcome three judges to Family Law. Each of them has specifically requested the assignment, and they all bring enthusiasm and experience to the Division.

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Judge Joni Hiramoto will take over Judge Santos’s cases, and will be assigned to Martinez. Judge Hiramoto is an experienced judge who has presided over criminal and juvenile cases. She frequently participates in panel presentations on Domestic Violence issues, and handled the misdemeanor domestic violence probation calendar in Martinez for many years. Judge Danielle Douglas will take over Judge Landau’s cases. Judge Douglas has most recently been assigned to the Richmond branch court presiding over criminal hearings and trials. Prior to her appointment to the bench she served as a Deputy District Attorney in both Contra Costa and San Francisco Counties. Judge John Laettner has also had assignments in both the Criminal and Juvenile Divisions of our court. Judge Laettner will take over the cases that are currently assigned to my department, and he brings his many years of experience with criminal and juvenile trials and settlement proceedings to his new Family Law assignment. As I round out my fifth year in Family Law, I am preparing to transition to a criminal calendar assignment in Martinez starting in January. I am always amazed by the work everyone in the Family Law Division does in service to the public. The courtroom, records, and filing clerks and legal technicians continue to process filings efficiently and accurately, and the Family Law Facilitators work tirelessly to assist our selfrepresented litigants. While 2018 will see a number of changes in Family Law, I am certain that the long-standing productive and cooperative rapport between the Family Law bench and bar will continue uninterrupted.



A Year of Change in


by Hon. Rebecca Hardie, Supervising Judge The big news for the juvenile bench and its justice partners in 2017 is the move from the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez to the Walnut Creek Courthouse. On August 14, 2017, the juvenile bench (other than Judge Fenstermacher) was officially relocated. Now, all child welfare cases brought under Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC), Section 300 (“dependency cases”) and various proceedings brought under WIC 602 (“delinquency cases”) are heard in the Walnut Creek Courthouse where Judge Haight, Judge Hinton and I preside. Judge Fenstermacher remains assigned to the courtroom at juvenile hall. The decision to move the Juvenile Court to Walnut Creek was made for several reasons, primarily to better serve children and their families. The courthouse is located approximately three blocks from the BART station, making it much more accessible for those who utilize public transportation, especially those families who have to travel from the west county area. The Walnut Creek Courthouse has a large, free parking lot unlike the challenge for limited meter parking in Martinez. For minors who are in-custody and transported to court by Probation or the Sheriff’s Department, they no longer have to walk



in public view while handcuffed or shackled. Also, families no longer have to share courthouse hallways with adult criminal defendants, the defendants’ families, or jurors as they did in Martinez. Almost all of the justice partners (Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Probation, Contra Costa Juvenile Advocates) have taken advantage of available office space in the countyowned building located adjacent to the courthouse, at 2020 Broadway. Although there are some minor issues we are working through, so far the reaction and feedback is overwhelmingly positive. In preparation for the move, the Court’s Information Technology and Facilities staff worked under tremendous pressure and time constraint to make the physical relocation of an entire court function a success. New technology was added to each courtroom, updated equipment was provided and repairs were made to existing hardware in the Walnut Creek Courthouse. Facilities did a tremendous job not only reworking and repairing the courtrooms that were left idle for several years, but they handcrafted a new bench and remodeled the traffic courtroom (the sole courtroom located on the first floor of the building) after a vendor

backed out of an agreement to perform the work at the last minute. In addition, due to the Court’s outdated and somewhat obsolete case management system, the courtroom clerks and juvenile clerks from the clerk’s office had to generate by hand individual notices of the Juvenile Court’s relocation for parties in juvenile cases, which was an extraordinary undertaking. In the end, the actual move was a success due to the efforts of staff. The Juvenile Court underwent another significant change in terms of its justice partners. After contracting with a vendor for legal services in dependency proceedings for almost 10 years, and as the contract was due for extension, the Court opened the process and put out a Request for Information to provide legal representation for parties in dependency proceedings. Numerous vendors were interested and submitted proposals. The Court chose a new service provider, Contra Costa Juvenile Advocates (CCJA), and awarded a contract to provide legal representation services to represent all children, parents and other parties in juvenile dependency proceedings. The majority of CCJA attorneys had existing caseloads in Contra Costa County as contract attorneys and

employees of the last contractor. The group formed their own non-profit entity and the attorneys are all subcontractors under the CCJA/Contra Costa Superior Court contract. They are all very experienced in the area of dependency and the Juvenile Court is very pleased with their legal representation and advocacy on behalf of their clients. On a more somber note, the Juvenile Court suffered the unfortunate loss of one bench officer position at the beginning of 2017, reducing the number of juvenile judges from five to four. This reduction was based in large part on metrics designed by the Judicial Council for staffing allocation, coupled with the need for additional resources in family and a decline in the number of filings under Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 602. Consistent with a statewide trend, the number of minors brought before the Juvenile Court under a 602 petition has been steadily declining. However, the recorded numbers of matters handled by our juvenile bench are somewhat inaccurate. The Juvenile Court has committed significant resources to address chronic absenteeism by adding both a weekly parent and teen truancy calendar in two separate departments. These truancy cases are not measured in any way in terms of accounting for court resources yet these filings have steadily increased, commensurate with the increased participation by the various school districts in our county and continued dedication of resources by the District Attorney’s Office. Further, unlike the 602 proceedings, filings involving child welfare cases have remained consistent, with some increase over the last four years, and comprise the majority of cases in Juvenile Court. In other juvenile-related initiatives, I handle the weekly parent truancy calendar in which parents are charged with infractions based on their failure to ensure their child’s daily school attendance. These cases typically involve children between the first and

seventh grade. On a typical calendar, there are representatives from a county substance abuse treatment provider (REACH), C.O.P.E. Family Support Services, Lincoln Child Center, and Contra Costa Mental Health present who offer free or low-cost services to parents to assist in removing the barriers to getting children to school. These cases are usually stayed in order for parents to show improved engagement in school attendance. Teen truancy cases are heard by Judge Fenstermacher at Juvenile Hall. Similar services are offered to the teen minors and their families. In addition to hearing teen truancy cases and 602 cases, Judge Fenstermacher is spearheading the effort to create a county protocol to handle competency issues in 602 proceedings including evaluation, treatment and education. She is working with the Public Defender’s Office and Probation. Sadly, Judge Fenstermacher will be reassigned to adult criminal proceedings in January 2018. We are pleased, however, to welcome Judge Landau who will fill the upcoming vacancy at Juvenile Hall where she will assume Judge Fenstermacher’s current responsibilities in 2018.

Above Hon. Lois Haight and Hon. Barbara C. Hinton The IT and Facilities staff made the transformation possible. Front left: Heather Pettit and La Shawn Lawson Back left: Robert Nati, Taroyl Keeton, John Meglio, Jason Piper, and Marouane Ouziz



2017 Review - Probate Division by Hon. John H. Sugiyama, Supervising Judge

If it were staffed by mere mortals, the Probate Department would have collapsed 2,271 days ago. Fortunately for us all, Courtroom Clerk Shannon Perry, Probate Examiners Linda Suppanich and Erica Gillies, Bailiff Melissa O’Reilley, Probate Facilitator Nicholas Vaca, and former Research Attorney Janet Li are not constrained by the kinds of limitations that the rest of us must accept. The probate staff support the administration of a caseload that in volume defies easy description or categorization. In 2011, 1,571 new cases were opened. By the end of 2017, based on a mid-year projection, 1,918 new

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cases will have been opened. In unfiltered statistical terms, the Probate Department by the end of this year will have seen a 22% increase since the beginning of the decade in the number of new cases filed annually. Concurrently with that rise, the Probate Department will have benefitted from a robust 0% increase in its staffing level. The number of new case numbers entered annually, however, offers only a glimpse of the work being done by the probate staff. Of course, some cases carry over from one year to the next. That adds substantially to the pending caseload. More critically, within each case number, multiple petitions and motions often

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are at issue. That adds dramatically to the pending caseload. Thus, although it is not possible to tally the precise number of pending petitions and motions, the total on any given day probably exceeds 3,000. Furthermore, the latter number offers only a still constricted view of the endeavors of the probate staff. Since filing fees have risen, as have the costs associated with general petition and motion preparation, a considerable additional burden has been imposed on staff in the form of ex parte applications. For this calendar year, the probate examiners have been reviewing, on average, 543 such matters each month. The probate examiners carry over, if at all, only a minimal inventory of these matters from day to day. Consequently, the probate examiners process the matters in such a way that decisions and answers are given to you usually on the same day as their submission. It would not be fair to the staff of probate departments situated elsewhere to compare them to our probate staff. Unlike the proverbial others, our probate staff continue to answer your telephone calls. They respond to all of your inquiries. They process your ex parte applications efficiently. They accommodate your scheduling conflicts easily. The same cannot be said of the probate staff that you must on occasion encounter in other not-so-faraway places. The plan for the Probate Department for next year must be to maintain the status quo. Perhaps sometime later the Probate Department will change.

Jill Fannin

Presiding Judge

Barry Baskin

Assistant Presiding Judge

MARTINEZ Criminal Trials

Pittsburg Civil

Supervising Judge: Theresa Canepa

Supervising Judge: Edward G. Weil

Judge Barry Baskin Judge Charles “Ben” Burch Judge Susanne Fenstermacher Judge John W. Kennedy Judge Bruce Mills Judge Cheryl Mills Judge Anita Santos Judge Nancy Davis Stark Vacancy

Judge Steven Austin Judge Judith Craddick Judge Barry P. Goode (Complex Litigation) Judge Charles “Steve” Treat Judge Edward G. Weil (50%)

Criminal Calendars Judge Christopher Bowen (Calendar) Judge Patricia “Penny” Scanlon (Calendar)

Specialty Courts

Family Law

Judge Lewis A. Davis Judge Judy Johnson Judge Wade Maxwell Rhyne

Family Law Judge John Cope Judge Brian Haynes


Supervising Judge: Terri Mockler

Supervising Judge: Clare Maier

Judge Danielle Douglas Judge Joni Hiramoto Judge John Laettner Commissioner Kathleen Murphy (DCSS)

Judge David E. Goldstein Judge Benjamin T. Reyes II Vacancy


Judge Theresa Canepa Supervising Judge: Rebecca Hardie

Mental Health

Supervising Judge: Mary Ann O’Malley

Judge Lois Haight Judge Barbara Hinton Judge Leslie Landau (Juvenile Hall)

Traffic Supervising Judge: John W. Kennedy Commissioner Terrye Davis (Walnut Creek / Richmond) Commissioner Lowell Richards (Pittsburg / Martinez)

Judge Laurel Brady

Probate Supervising Judge: John H. Sugiyama Judge Edward G. Weil (50%)



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Pittsburg Court 2017 By Hon. Mary Ann O’Malley, Supervising Judge and thoroughly enjoy working with each of these judges.

Borrowing a phrase from my favorite Irish blessing, “May there always be work for your hands to do” doesn’t seem to be a problem in the Richard E. Arnason Justice Center. As usual, our filings have increased and we are adding yet another daily calendar to our already heavy workload. Starting in January, the in-custody Pittsburg warrants usually heard in Martinez will be coming back home to Pittsburg. These calendars will be heard each weekday morning. As change seems to be constant with our court system, our Pittsburg Court is no exception. In August, we welcomed our newest judge to the bench, Judge Wade Rhyne, Dept. 37. Judge Rhyne has hit the ground running and is doing a fabulous job. He is a quick study and a hard worker and we are thankful that he will be with us next year. Judge Anita Santos will sadly be leaving us. She is headed to Martinez to preside over felony trials. I have no doubt she will handle those jury trials as efficiently and wonderfully as she has handled our Family Court calendar. Replacing her in Family Court will be Judge John Cope, who is no stranger to Pittsburg Court. We are elated to have him back as part of our team next year. As for the rest of the judicial assignments, we are fortunate that Judges Lew Davis, Judy Johnson and Brian Haynes will be staying put for now. Finally, Commissioner Lowell Richards will be staying to preside over the many high volume calendars he handles so well each day. I admire, respect

We have experienced some changes in our court administration and security as well. Suzi Dailey, our Court Operations Manager, has taken on the responsibilities for running the Clerk’s Office as Lisa Swafford has moved to take on new and challenging duties in Martinez. Sergeant Michael Parrish has assumed the duties of head of Pittsburg Court security replacing Sergeant Garibay who is now supervising patrol officers. Thanks to Ms. Swafford and Sergeant Garibay, the transition in these roles was smooth. For our court probation officer we are status quo and thankful for that. Dave LeDee continues to supervise too many individuals to count. This next year, he will also be overseeing the many changes regarding referrals for drug and alcohol programs as well as developing a specialized calendar for repeat DUI offenders. One of the busiest professionals in our court is our designated court interpreter, Ms. Elizabeth Dantes. Not only is she extremely proficient in translating the proceedings for our non-English speaking court users but also she is an absolute pleasure to work with. We are blessed to have her in Pittsburg. I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the hard work of those individuals who literally listen to every word we say—our court reporters. Our calendars are often over 60 matters in one session and on occasion we have reached 90. Our reporters are fast and accurate. Did I mention they are fast? Thank

goodness for them or else we would never be able to get through the day’s work. Our clerks in the courtrooms and Clerk’s Office ROCK! They handle our voluminous caseload with ease and grace. They are consummate professionals when helping the attorneys who frequent our court, their clients, other court users, as well as all of our jurors. They also know a little something about throwing a barbecue. Our last barbecue to celebrate the end of summer (as good a reason as any to have a barbecue) was held on the hottest, record-breaking day of the year. Yes, it was hotter than hot, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Normally at this point of the article I would recite the numbers of filings for each of our different caseloads. Suffice it to say they are “HUUUGE” numbers, but those of you who frequent the Pittsburg Court already know that. We are very proud of the work that we do and hope it lives up to the reputation of the judge whose name is on our courthouse. See you in court.

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Richmond Court


By Hon. Joni Hiramoto, Supervising Judge

Cases are moving smoothly through the George D. Carroll Courthouse, where we are honored to serve in a building named for a man who was the first African American Mayor of Richmond, the first African American lawyer and the first African American judge in Contra Costa County. Judge Benjamin T. Reyes, II, was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and took the bench in July. We are extremely pleased to have Judge Reyes serving in Richmond. He has handled seven criminal jury trials in seven weeks, in addition to a steady stream of preliminary hearings with wisdom, patience, dignity and grace. Judge Reyes sits in Department 16, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Thomas Maddock. Thanks to Judge Reyes’ appointment, we are now operating in Richmond with a full complement of four judges: Judge David Goldstein in Department 6, Judge Danielle Douglas in Department 18 and me in Department 32. In addition, we are fortunate to have Commissioner Terrye Davis presiding over traffic, small claims and unlawful detainer matters in Department 54 every day starting at 1:00 pm. Her patience with litigants, command of the law and attention to detail have won her kudos from our bench. Your judges in Richmond have done 47 jury trials (four of them felony trials) and over 170 preliminary hearings this year as of September. 24


This year we were pleased to begin participation in the Public Defender’s Misdemeanor Early Representation Program (“MERP”). Funded by a grant from U.S. Department of Justice, the program aims to reduce failures to appear, provide early legal representation to defendants, and link individuals with social service resources. The Public Defender’s Office works in conjunction with the Richmond Police Department and the Richmond Court in administering this program. In September we welcomed Shelly Hasson to Richmond as our Court Operations Manager. Ms. Hasson covers Criminal. Carla Sankey is the Lead in Traffic and Bonnie Stubbs is the Clerk V for Civil and Jury. Ms. Stubbs is also in charge of the ICMS for the entire Court. We bid a fond farewell to Karen Cardinale and wish her well in her position in the new Juvenile Court in Walnut Creek as their Senior Operations Manager. We also look forward to implementing the new Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (“DMCODS”) in cases involving substance abuse issues (alcohol and/or drug related), with or without co-occurring mental health issues. Participants must be county residents and Medi-Cal eligible. The DMC-ODS is administered by Alcohol and Other Drugs Services branch of Contra Costa Health Services. No longer may individuals enroll themselves into “30-day outpatient” or “90-day residential treatment” programs at county facilities. The new program does away with fixed lengths of stay. Instead, clients

must be assessed by a Licensed Practitioner of the Healing Arts (“LPHA”) and be recommended only for “medically necessary” treatment. The protocol dictates that clients with a medical necessity be placed in the least restrictive environment. Clients are reassessed during their programs and they may be discharged or recommended for additional treatment at any time depending on their progress. The treatment recommendation may involve more or less intensive treatment or recommend that the client complete a longer or shorter period of treatment. Individuals seeking help with substance abuse issues may call the access line at 1-800-846-1652 to set-up an appointment with an LPHA, and in addition, we anticipate having an LPHA in Richmond on Thursdays during the misdemeanor pretrial conferences. Defense counsel should note that the DMC-ODS has an agreement in place with the Sheriff’s Office for individuals in custody to call the access line. I am transferring to the Family Law Division next year, and I wish to thank Presiding Judge Jill Fannin for the opportunity to serve as Supervising Judge in Richmond where I started my judicial career 19 years ago. I wish to express my deepest appreciation to my dear colleagues, Judge Danielle Douglas, Judge David Goldstein, Judge Ben Reyes and Commissioner Terrye Davis. Each is an outstanding jurist and I have enjoyed our collegiality and teamwork. It has been my honor to serve with them.

Traffic Division 2017

Throughout 2016 and into 2017, there was a spotlight on the processing of traffic citations in all courts across the state. The state’s Amnesty Program for traffic citations, which began in 2015 and ended in March 2017, resulted in many hundreds of defendants using the program. Our court’s financial and collections programs continue working approved amnesty cases with still-pending issues and amounts owed. In the 18-month program, there was approximately $8 million in debt forgiveness on traffic matters for Contra Costa. The program also resulted in removal of 22,430 license suspensions. Throughout 2016, many statelevel Rules of Court concerning traffic case processing were revised and various other new ones were adopted, including the following: 1. Rule 4.105 was amended to require that trial court websites include a link to the statewide

by Hon. Ed Weil, Acting Supervising Judge and Kate Bieker, Deputy Executive Officer

traffic self-help information posted on the California courts website; 2. Rule 4.106 requires establishment of uniform procedures in infraction cases for which the defendant has received a written notice to appear and has failed to appear or failed to pay; 3. Rule 4.107 requires that trial courts send reminder notices to traffic defendants before their initial appearance and specify what information must be provided in those notices; and 4. Rule 4.335 provides for standardized court procedures and notices to infraction defendants related to ability-to-pay determinations.

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Staff from the Court’s Traffic Unit has worked diligently with Judge John Kennedy and Commissioner Lowell Richards and Commissioner Terrye Davis to implement the requirements of those new rules. There were many changes to case management programming and local financial procedures as well as training of management and court staff. We are pleased to report that Contra Costa is in compliance with all of these new rules. With the movement of Juvenile Court to the Walnut Creek Courthouse, the traffic courtroom was relocated to a vacant downstairs courtroom, which was reconfigured to provide more space for parties’ tables and additional seating. State-of-the-art technology was added, including a large screen TV and audio system. Commissioner Davis presided over her first traffic calendar in her new courtroom on July 24, 2017. The Centralized Traffic Unit staff continues to work hard to stay current on traffic citations received from police agencies. The number of citations has declined from 82,475 to in fiscal year 2015-16 to 73,745 in 2016-2017. Looking toward 2018, we expect more state-level reviews of court processes, such as the imposition of motor vehicle license holds related to traffic cases. Kate Bieker serves as the Deputy Executive Officer of the Superior Court of Contra Costa County. Prior to her current appointment, she served as the Director of Criminal, Traffic and Finance. She has been with the court since 2006.



The Call to Service, an Interview with

Hon. Benjamin T. Reyes II

by Magda Lopez, Director of Family Law Programs and Professional Services Judge Reyes is one of the newest additions to our bench. In a recent conversation, he discussed some of the factors and events that preceded his joining the bench in Contra Costa.

Early Life I was born at the United States Naval Station Subic Bay, Olongapo City in the Philippines. My family emigrated to the United States when I was very young. My dad is a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and my mom a retired school teacher. As the son of a career sailor, I felt a strong call to military service very early in life. I played a little intramural volleyball in school, but my biggest commitment was to the varsity JROTC cadet battalion drill team. I was not only the battalion commander of the 165 cadet corps, but also the captain of the drill team. The team choreographed its own routines, based on military drill sequences. We would march in Veterans’ Day parades and other events where we executed precision drills with M1903 rifles. We won a competition in my sophomore year 26


Judge Reyes takes the oath of office with Presiding Judge Jill Fannin. of high school. I joined the United States Army Reserves after high school and enrolled in the Army ROTC program while attending college. As a Filipino American, my parents had emphasized respect for elders, the value of hard work and a sense of community service. These values instilled a sense of humility in me that I have tried to inculcate in my kids. I am also fortunate that both my parents are living. One of the perks being that they frequently invite us over so the whole family can enjoy a traditional Filipino meal. I like to state that my body was made in the Philippines, but my mind was formed in Berkeley and that my being transcends all cultural boundaries.

College and Law School I attended UC Berkeley as a Political Science major. I also took courses in Military Science and business. I was a member of the U.S. Army ROTC program while attending CalBerkeley and also worked part time at the University of California Police Department as a community service officer. In the summers between my academic sessions, I attended

Army training at various locations, including Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri; Ft. Benning, Georgia and Ft. Lewis, Washington. Upon graduation from college, I was offered a regular army commission as a Second Lieutenant. I was unable to complete my term of service because I was injured in a parachuting accident, so I decided to build on my interest in community service and service to others by going to law school.

After Law School I worked in a wide variety of settings for two decades before coming to work for the court. I spent many years as a city attorney – a job that was great preparation for my work as a judge because city attorneys handle everything that comes into the city, including litigation. In my case, this meant handling cases that varied from code enforcement, to First Amendment issues, premises liability, excessive use of force allegations, land use, and competitive bidding cases. As chief legal officer for the cities I served, I also directly advised the mayor, council members and the city management team on a wide variety of municipal law issues, ranging from compliance

with open meeting laws, to ethics, elections and ballot measures. I was an Equity Principal (partner) at Meyers Nave in Oakland right before my appointment to the bench. Among other things, the firm expanded my base of legal knowledge to include environmental issues. One memorable case involved Northern California Power Agency (NCPA). NCPA owns geothermal generators at the Geysers field near Calistoga. NCPA pumps waste water into the steam field; the water increases steam in a geothermal bed, generating electricity. One of my projects was to help build a solar project that powered the pump station that transmitted the wastewater up the hill into the steam field. Here’s a more practical way to think of it: when you flush the toilet in Clear Lake, you generate electricity in Alameda, Palo Alto and in the Silicon Valley.

Outside of Work My wife, Susan San Juan Reyes, and I have two college age children. My kids have been taking karate lessons since they were 5 and 6 years old. At some point, I somehow convinced myself that it would motivate my children if I would join them. The end result is that I have been taking karate lessons with them. They are both much better than me, but I did earn my green belt. I’d like to earn the black belt - but at my current rate of progress, that might be 20 years away! Fortunately, we also participate in less strenuous activities. My son and I are very active in Boy Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout and he earned his Eagle badge in 2015. I like scouting because it instills a sense of citizenship and service. My son’s Eagle Scout project was to build a solarpowered fountain for his elementary school’s garden.

My family and I love to travel when we can. I particularly enjoy Italy, especially Venice. One of my favorite experiences was getting lost in Venice. There aren’t any maps – and when you get lucky enough to find one, it’s usually wrong, or in Italian, which I don’t speak very well! We wandered through all sorts of alleys and came upon a store selling Venetian home-made licorice. We liked it so much we ended up buying 3 – 4 pounds of the stuff! On a more serious note, I am a student of history and political systems, and there is plenty of that everywhere in Italy.

Community Involvement I’m a longtime resident of Alameda. Many years ago, the Carnegie Foundation donated a library building to the City of Alameda. After the Loma Prieta earthquake, the building was rendered unsafe. The City received a state grant to build a new library and the Library Foundation was formed. Under my tenure as President of the Alameda Free Library Foundation, we raised more than half a million dollars for the ABC Campaign. This campaign raised money to fund A (art), B (books) and C (children’s reading room). We curated art for the library, expanded the book collection by 30%, created a new digital library with 20 computers, launched an internet café and created the children’s reading room. The library recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Francisco School of Law. I think it’s important to teach law students the importance of enforcing and upholding the law and to develop good habits and formidable skills early in their careers.

Professional Achievement My proudest professional moment was when I was appointed as a judge. It’s an honor to be selected by Governor Jerry Brown, particularly for someone like me who does not have the traditional criminal law background. After 24 years of public agency work – working towards the improvement of neighborhoods, cities and special districts, I am very much looking forward to continuing my service full-time as a judicial officer.

Two Swearing In Ceremonies? Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was unable to attend my investiture ceremony in Martinez, so she was kind enough to hold a private ceremony for my family and me in the Supreme Court one week before the ceremony in Contra Costa. My wife, my kids and my parents were there, along with other family members and members of my old law firm. I Continued on page 32

I also teach trial skills courses at Stanford Law School and at the University of San Judge Reyes accepts the gavel from CCCBA President Philip Andersen. CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


An Officer and a Gentleman:

Hon. Wade Rhyne

An Interview with

By Shannon Stone, Human Resources Director I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with one of Contra Costa Superior Court’s newest judges, Hon. Wade Maxwell Rhyne. I hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as I did.

Q. I understand you grew up near your family’s ranch in Paso Robles, California. Did you work on the ranch? The ranch was leased for cattle grazing and for growing barley and safflower. Although I spent a lot of time out there, I can’t say that I was much of a ranch hand or a cowboy. My father did, however, teach my sisters and me how to ride and rope, but we were always more interested in activities other than rodeo. My father was the cowboy in our family.

Q. What did you do in your free time growing up? I was very involved in sports, primarily basketball. I played baseball too, but not very well.

Q. Your first career was as an officer with the Air Force. What drew you to the military? When I first enrolled at UC Davis as an undergrad, I tried out for the men’s basketball team but did not make it. I just wasn’t good enough. However, I knew I wanted to be involved in an extracurricular activity so I decided to enroll as an officer candidate in the U.S. Air Force ROTC program. My family history includes a great uncle who was the commander of a B-29 bomber crew that was shot down and lost in World War II. While growing up, I always saw his pictures and I was inspired to serve. I wanted to be a pilot just like him.

Q. When did you know you wanted to pursue a legal career? 28


When I graduated from UC Davis, I earned my ROTC officer commission in the U.S. Air Force as a Second Lieutenant. I had hoped to compete for a pilot slot, but a minor case of color blindness disqualified me. I was pretty devastated. At that point, I applied for a position with the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General (“JAG”) Corps and deferred my active duty service to complete three years of law school. After graduating from UC Hastings College of Law, I entered active duty as an officer in the JAG Corps shortly after 9/11.

Q. What was it like serving in the JAG Corps? The Air Force sent me to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas for my first assignment. During our base orientation, my wife and I learned all about tornado preparedness, which was the first time we missed California’s earthquakes. We ended up loving our time in Texas. I had the opportunity to work on both sides of criminal cases, which was a great experience. I tried courts-martial trials for offenses including murder, sexual assault, and narcotics. Later in my military career as a reservist, I had an opportunity to work as a defense counsel as well. I hope those differing perspectives will assist me in my current job. However, not all that work was courtroom related. JAGs have extra duties, including providing free walk-in legal assistance services to military members and retirees. It was rewarding to help people who needed advice on things like family law, landlord-tenant, and their rights pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Q. Are you still involved with the Air Force?

Yes, I’m currently a reservist Lieutenant Colonel. Since leaving active duty in 2004, I have served at the 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View. The 129th Rescue Wing provides search and rescue in both combat and civil support roles. Prior to my judicial appointment, I served as the 129th’s Staff Judge Advocate, where I prosecuted and defended military members charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Now I serve in the Office of the Inspector General.

Q. Where did your legal career take you after your active duty military assignment ended? My wife and I returned from Texas to the Bay Area and I began working as a litigation associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP (MoFo). I wanted to get a taste of the civil practice of law and MoFo was a great place to do it. I worked with some great people there. While at MoFo, I was lucky to get a chance to serve as a law clerk to the Hon. Martin J. Jenkins at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. So I left MoFo for a one-year clerkship. I had previously worked as a judicial extern for Judge Jenkins while in law school and was honored to have the opportunity to work for him again.

Q. Where did your practice take you after clerking for Judge Jenkins? I was fortunate on the timing—near the end of the clerkship I was hired as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. I then spent almost nine years working in the Oakland Branch Office prosecuting cases from Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. It was a great place to be— interesting cases and outstanding colleagues. I handled a broad range of federal cases, including mail and wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, firearms, narcotics, bank

robbery, and online child exploitation.

time even more when we are fly fishing, snow skiing, or golfing.

My next challenge was working briefly as a trial attorney in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission where I litigated and tried alleged violations of federal securities laws. I enjoyed the insider trading cases.

Q. What is one thing most people do not know about you?

Q. When did you know you wanted to be a judge? I can’t really pinpoint a precise time. However, as I was wrapping up my time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office I decided that I was going to give it a shot. A judicial mentor advised me that no one can plan a career around a judicial application. I had absolutely no expectation going into the process.

Q. What is the best advice you received from Justice Jenkins? I’ve been fortunate to be the beneficiary of much professional and personal advice from him. I’ll keep most of that between us. But one thing that I always remember is his advice to young lawyers that an attorney’s most valuable asset is an earned reputation as an honest, ethical, and reasonable advocate.

Q. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

More family history—my great-great uncle, Harold “Hal” Rhyne, was a professional baseball player in the 1920s. He played second base for the Pittsburg Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and San Francisco Seals. I obviously never met him, but I try to pick-up his memorabilia when I see it online. I have a few great photos and baseball cards.

Q. What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Definitely has to be Game of Thrones. Wade Maxwell Rhyne was appointed to the Superior Court of California, County of Contra Costa on May 22, 2017 and began his first assignment in Pittsburg after having taken his oath of office on July 31, 2017. Shannon Stone is the Human Resources Director of the Superior Court. She originally joined the court in 2012 as a legal research attorney. She previously worked as an attorney practicing general civil litigation and family law.

I enjoy spending family time with my wife and daughters. I enjoy that

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Congratulations to Presiding Judge Jill Fannin Named UC Hastings Contra Costa Alum of the Year

Presiding Judge Jill Fannin with her father Hon. Coley Fannin, (ret.). Judge Fannin with her husband, father, sister and son. David Pearson with Judge Fannin and Judge Fannin with Hon. Steve Austin.

Save the Date! CCCBA

Installation Lunch

Please join the leadership of the Contra Costa County Bar Association and many local current and retired judges for this annual luncheon which celebrates all CCCBA members! Contra Costa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jill Fannin will give a State of the Court address before swearing in the 2018 CCCBA Board of Directors and Section Leaders.


We will be presenting the first Annual CCCBA Diversity Awards to qualifying law firms. This award is open to all CCCBA firms, large or small. There is still time to qualify. Complete the Diversity Checklist and return it by December 15. More information is available online at or call Theresa Hurley at (925) 686-9867. 30


Friday, January 26, 2018 11:30 am - 1:30 pm Contra Costa Country Club 801 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill

Board Members to be Installed:

James Wu, President | Wendy McGuire Coats, President Elect | Philip Andersen, Past President


Gina Boer | Steven Derby | Mika Domingo David Erb | Oliver Greenwood Renee Welze Livingston | David Marchiano Ericka McKenna | Nicole Mills | Craig Nevin Dorian Peters | Laura Ramsey | Summer Selleck Quiana Washington

Women’s Section Scholarship Dinner

On Thursday October 11, the Women’s Section of the CCCBA honored the 2017 recipients of the Honorable Patricia Herron and the Honorable Ellen James Scholarship, pictured top right. The Women’s Section also hosted Suzanne Wertheim who spoke on the topic, “The American Bias Towards Explicit “No.”

Pictured top left: The 2018 Women’s Section Board of Directors Top right: Congratulations to Scholarship Winners Kate Mignani, Chelsea Davis and Emily Lahl. Above left: Janell Alberto, with JAMS Practice Development Team Jessica de Leon and Erica Ploetz Middle: Bonnie Messina and Nicole Mills Right: Suzanne Boucher, Judge Leslie Landau, Theresa Hurley and Christina Weed Right: Beth Mora and Sterling Elmore



Interview with Hon. Benjamin T. Reyes II

Continued from page 27 am humbled that the Chief Justice took the time to do this for my family. I was also sworn in by Presiding Judge Jill Fannin and joined this legendary bench in July. Everyone has made my family and me feel welcome. I am looking forward to sharing this new phase of my life with the kind and hardworking people of Contra Costa County.

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Magda Lopez joined the Contra Costa Superior Court after 20+ years in civil practice. As the Director of Family Law Programs and Professional Services, her responsibilities include supervision of all aspects of family law, the legal research attorneys, alternative dispute resolution programs and the interpreters.

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in Our Veterans

By Hon. Laurel Brady

In June 2017, Contra Costa Superior Court was awarded a three-year grant of $368,000 through the Judicial Council’s Innovations Grant Program to implement a specialty Veterans Treatment Court in Contra Costa County.

probation supervision, employment and housing assistance, treatment and medication monitoring, counseling and mentoring. A Veterans Treatment Court can help veterans involved in the criminal justice system reclaim their lives and repair the collateral damage to their families caused by their service connected sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or other mental health problems.

Eight veterans were on calendar in Department 31 for the first court session on August 12th of this year. On September 7th, the number of veteran’s cases on calendar had grown to 23. Prior to the calendar being called, there is a meeting to discuss a veteran’s suitability for the program, their entry into, and progress, in the program. One unique feature of this program is that each veteran who is accepted into the program, is assigned a veteran mentor. The mentor provides outside support for a struggling veteran and helps to make sure he or she attends the required court sessions, job interviews, probation meetings, and other requirements of the program. In addition, the veteran mentor makes himself or herself available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, as support for the veteran.

A Veterans Treatment Court is a collaborative court intended to serve veterans who are involved with the justice system and whose court cases are affected by issues such as sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems relating to service in the United States military. The goal of this specialty court is to help participants avoid recidivism by addressing the root causes of their behaviors and reintegrating them into their communities with support.

In various jurisdictions throughout the country, Veterans Treatment Courts have been shown to:

These courts promote treatment, sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response involving cooperation and collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office, Criminal Defense, the Probation Department, the county Veterans Service Office, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CDVA), health-care networks, employment and housing agencies, community based organizations, volunteer mentors who are also veterans, and family support organizations.

The Court, in partnership with our court’s justice partners, the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Contra Costa County Veterans Services Office, and the County Behavioral Health Division, joined to form a Veterans Treatment Advisory Committee. Working together, program conditions, program referral guidelines, program We assist Trustees – Probate Executors – Fiduciaries policies and Leasing • Rentals • Management procedures, and Residential • Commercial • Sales a participant handbook were 925-254-5636 created in less than 45 days. Serving the East Bay

Services provided in the Veterans Treatment Court include one-onone judicial supervision, group evaluation by the collaborative team,

• Reduce recidivism • Increase participant sobriety • Increase compliance with court-ordered treatment and other conditions • Improve access to VA benefits and services • Foster improved family relationships and social support connections for veterans • Improve life stability

The Court will be keeping data on how Contra Costa’s participants progress through the program, which is a minimum of 18 months in duration, working closely with the Judicial Council to meet the goals of this program. This type of specialty court has already demonstrated great success in other Superior Courts in California, such as Sacramento, Santa Clara, Solano, San Mateo and Orange.




Practicing Law

as a Court Employee

By Magda Lopez, Director of Family Law Programs and Professional Services For those of you who may have wondered what it would be like to work for the courts, we thought we’d give you some insights from legal research attorneys, who work exclusively behind the scenes, and facilitators, who work in the courtroom and at public service points in various courthouses. We asked each of them some general questions. Here’s what they had to say:

Howrey, and subsequently moved to Arent Fox. My practice touched a wide array of litigation matters, but focused primarily on insurance coverage litigation and white collar criminal defense.

Why did you want to work for the Court?

be able to have an in-depth discussion with such a thoughtful, capable group. The funding situation for the superior courts in California need not be rehashed here, other than to say that it certainly presents a challenge.

My criminal defense practice often left me wishing for better facts to serve as the foundation of my advocacy. I was intrigued by the idea of no longer having to worry about being stuck with bad facts. And the appeal of non-“big law” working hours is undeniable.

Describe your job duties. Civil research attorneys analyze opposed law and motion matters and advise the Court on their disposition. In addition to advising the bench on particular matters, my role as Lead Civil Research Attorney requires me to manage the workflow of the Civil Research Unit.

Matt Kitson, Lead Civil Research Attorney

What challenges and rewards have you encountered working for the Court?

Briefly summarize your academic and professional background.

The rewards have been innumerable. Being able to carefully analyze complex legal issues without the pressure of having a stake in the outcome has been tremendously stimulating and rewarding. Both my colleagues in the Civil Research Unit and the bench officers we serve are a joy to work with and are incredibly bright. When a difficult issue arises, it’s truly a pleasure to

I graduated with honors from DePaul University in Chicago with a political science degree. I then graduated cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law. Following law school, I worked for a number of years at large, international law firms. I started at 34


Deirdre Murphy, Lead Criminal Research Attorney Briefly summarize your academic and professional background. I graduated from law school in Canada in 1994 and then did a twoyear clerkship with the Canadian Court of Appeal. Thereafter, I practiced at a civil law firm only to realize my passion was for criminal law. I left to work as a District Attorney and then as a private criminal defense attorney until I moved to California in 2001. I have been working as a criminal research attorney for Contra Costa Superior Court since 2002.

Why did you want to work for the Court?

Working at the Superior Court felony trial division is like working in the emergency room at a large hospital. The cases are high volume and high intensity with people’s lives being impacted by the decisions of the Court. I knew that I belonged in that environment where my legal analytical skills and professional training would be harnessed for the betterment of our community. I also knew that working at the Court, I would have to rise to the intellectual challenge arising from working with such talented jurists, as well as having to adapt to the law as it dynamically changed in response to differing circumstances.

We now transition from attorneys who function solely behind the scenes, to those attorneys in highly visible public roles.

Why did you want to work for the Court?

Courtney O’Hagan, Senior Assistant Family Law Facilitator

At WFRA, I worked with wonderful people, gained valuable experience, and found family law intellectually engaging from a legal standpoint. I had pretty good instincts in family law matters and developing case strategy – I love that family law is all different shades of gray and you can exercise a lot of creativity. Private litigation work simply wasn’t the best fit for me. Assisting families experiencing a stressful, trying time in a neutral capacity fits me much better.

Briefly summarize your academic and professional background.

Describe your job duties.

Describe your job duties. My job duties as the Lead Criminal Research Attorney focus on providing legal analysis and research for the judges of our Criminal Trial Division. The work includes pretrial motions, trial motions, as well as all writs. This also includes drafting orders, judgments and legal memoranda.

What challenges and rewards have you encountered working for the Court? The challenges presented in my work are varied. First, there is the great responsibility I feel I bear to ensure that the legal analysis and recommendations I provide to our jurists are legally correct and that they will withstand appellate scrutiny. Secondly, working with the judges requires the discipline of being an active listener in order to understand the individual jurists’ concerns. Working with such experienced legal minds is also one of the greatest rewards of my job. The collaborative aspect of reasoning through a difficult area of law and finding the just result continues to be the greatest privilege and inspiration.

acquisitions lawyer to wanting to work with individual clients. I graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 2006. I was an associate with Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP (WFRA) for 6 and a half years before joining the Court in 2013.

I graduated from Colorado State University with a BA in economics, and a minor in history. I graduated from the honors program cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and I was a Division 1 swimmer. I served in AmeriCorps – Colorado Literacy Corps between undergrad and law school. I include this because my AmeriCorps experience shifted me away from wanting a JD/MBA and a career as a big firm mergers and

Anything and everything needed to move a case toward resolution. I say that only partially in jest. I work in a variety of roles in any given week, including working with litigants and judges in the courtroom on dedicated double pro per calendars, quick triage and referral at the selfhelp desk, holding drop-in hours, as well as running workshops to help litigants properly complete their Continued on page 36

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Practicing Law as a Court Employee

Continued from page 35

court forms, researching issues, and providing input to court procedure and local rules. At the end of the day, I think our job in the Facilitator’s Office is to educate people, set and adjust their expectations about what they can achieve in court, and help them identify and use the tools they need to navigate their current issues to move forward in their lives.

What challenges and rewards have you encountered working for the Court?

Were you surprised by any aspects of your job? I use each and every skill I honed in private practice, plus other skills I’ve developed while working here, every day.

Are there any experiences related to your assignment that other lawyers might find interesting? The upside and the downside is that I do not have ongoing relationships with the people I assist. Also – I get to leave at 4:30 pm on Friday and not think about work until Monday morning!

Another challenge is the enormous disparity between the volume of people who need assistance, the variety and complexity of their issues, combined with our limited resources. We help as many people as we can with as many issues as we can. But we can’t do it all. Talking to someone who is desperate for help, without means to pay for private assistance, and telling them I cannot help is incredibly difficult. I always try to provide some resource referral but some people are just in a tough spot.



Why did you want to work for the Court? I came to work for the court system because the position, Senior SelfHelp Facilitator, allowed me to assist individuals in the court system who could not afford an attorney. I believed that my litigation experience provided me with the type of background that could assist individuals as they worked their way through the type of cases with which I was familiar.

Describe your job duties.

At the Court, I am in a position to see a direct impact of how my work helps the people who come through our doors, which is incredibly rewarding. One of my bigger challenges is making sure I avoid advocacy on behalf of any individual pro per; however, I love that I am a voice for the collective pro per group, ensuring the experience of the pro per litigant is considered and weighed in developing local rules and court procedures.

representing municipalities, school districts, and other institutional clients in a variety of business, tort and employment matters.

Nicolás Vaca, Senior SelfHelp Attorney Briefly summarize your academic and professional background. I received my B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. I received my J.D. from Harvard Law School. I was in private practice for over 25 years. My practice includes immigration law and civil litigation. I represented clients in immigration bond hearings, cancellation of removal hearings, asylum, withholding of removal hearings, and relief under Convention Against Torture hearings as well as numerous appeals. My civil case experience includes

Currently I have two responsibilities. As a Small Claims Advisor I answer e-mail inquiries regarding the procedural aspects of the small claims process. Additionally, I hold monthly small claims presentations in the Martinez, Pittsburg and Richmond Courthouses. The presentations cover all aspects of filing and serving a small claims action. As the court’s Probate Facilitator, I assist individuals with filing petitions for guardianship of a person only. This assistance is provided in several ways. First, I respond to telephone inquiries regarding guardianship. Second, I hold guardianship workshops where I assist individuals in completing their petitions for guardianship. Finally, I sit in Department 14 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the guardianship calendar. In that capacity, based on the judge’s instructions, I assist petitioners with completing their petitions and/or correcting any defects identified by the probate examiners.

Challenges and rewards encountered working for the Court. The greatest challenge presented by my position is organizing and

prioritizing my duties. On any given month, I receive in excess of 150 telephone calls for guardianship, and over 150 e-mails for small claims matters, am in attendance in Dept. 14 and conduct small claims presentations and guardianship workshops. I have found that I have to be extremely organized. The greatest reward is, without a doubt, the enthusiastic expressions of thanks and appreciations that I receive from the individuals that I assist. The expressions are genuine and deeply heartfelt.

Were you surprised by any aspects of your job? I have been surprised by the complexity of some of the questions that I receive as the Small Claims Advisor; small claims does

not equate to easy questions. I was also surprised by the number of pro per litigants that utilize the court system. As a private attorney, I had no understanding of the tremendous services provided by the court to pro per litigants.

Are there any experiences related to your assignment that other lawyers might find interesting? It is said that an army marches on its stomach. I have no doubt that the court functions because of the clerks. Working in the court system has made me realize that the justice meted out in the courtroom, which is noble and reassuring, could not happen without the work and hard effort of the clerks.

So now you know – and we hope you will consider working with us here at the Court at some point during your legal career. It’s always interesting to peek behind the curtain at how justice is made. Magda Lopez joined the Contra Costa Superior Court after 20+ years in civil practice. As the Director of Family Law Programs and Professional Services, her responsibilities include supervision of all aspects of family law, the legal research attorneys, alternative dispute resolution programs and the interpreters.

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With a Little Help from Our Community

By Shannon Stone, Human Resources Director and Magda Lopez, Director of Family Law Programs and Professional Services The Contra Costa Superior Court has been fortunate to have supportive community members, especially local bar members, who participate in programs that provide important services to local residents. One key program we highlighted in an article in the November 2016 issue of Contra Costa Lawyer is our Temporary Judge Program.

In this issue, we identify some of the other great programs that are provided at the Court. We are grateful for your continued support of and participation in these programs as they each have such a positive impact on our community. We look forward to your continued participation in years to come!

Court Programs


Program Name

What would you be doing?

Settlement Mentor

Assist civil judges by working Attorneys with a background in with parties on the day of trial issues of the case (or earlier in the case) to work on reaching a settlement

ADR Panel Member

Assist parties in civil cases in resolving cases before trial

Requirements vary; generally Complete and submit the applicamust be an attorney with relevant tion (Local Form ADR-202) on experience the Court’s website: http://www. Panel_Application_Form.pdf

See Local Rule 3.200 - 3.206 for more information about the types of ADR programs and when/how fees may be charged for services. Services provided at location of panel member’s choice

Discovery Facilitator

Assist parties in civil and probate cases to resolve discovery disputes. If no amicable resolution, provide the judge with written recommendations

Attorneys with more than 10 years of experience

Complete and submit the application (Local Form ADR-601) on the Court’s website: http://www. DiscoFacil%20App_FILLABLE.pdf

See Local Rule 3.300 for more information about the pogrom requirements and services offered. Services provided at location of Facilitator’s choice or over the telephone

Volunteer Greeter

Assist members of the public to find court departments and answer common questions

Must be at least 18 years of age and pass criminal background check

Submit electronic application through the Court’s website at: opportunities/volunteer.aspx

Services provided in Pittsburg, Richmond and Martinez (at the Bray and Taylor Courthouses). Services soon to be offered in Walnut Creek

Day of Court Mediations

Be part of a team that conducts “Day of Court” mediations in small claims, unlawful detainer, civil harassment and family law contempt cases

Requirements set by the Congress Contact Congress of Neutrals: of Neutrals http://www.congressofneutrals. com or (925) 937-3008

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinics

Assist individuals with completing Attorneys and law students; forms to obtain a Domestic contact Bay Area Legal Aid for Violence Temporary Restraining more details Order and to understand the process


Who is eligible?

How do I sign up?

Additional Information

Complete and submit the application (Local Form ADR-202) on the Court’s website: http://www. Panel_Application_Form.pdf

See Local Rule 3.203 for more information about the program requirements and services offered. Services typically provided in Martinez

Please complete a volunteer application and submit your application with a copy of your resume to: probono@baylegal. org. Applications can be found at:

Services provided in Martinez, Pittsburg and Richmond courthouses. Volunteers benefit from mediation training provided by Congress of Neutrals Services provided at the Richmond and Pittsburg courthouses

Senior Self Help Clinic

Meet with Contra Costa County Requirements set by Contra Costa residents over age 60 and assist Senior Legal Services them with elder abuse restraining orders, conservatorships of the person, landlord/tenant cases, as well as with small claims matters

Contact Contra Costa Senior Legal Tuesdays from 9 am to Noon in Services at (925) 609-7900 or the Peter L. Spinetta Family Law visit their website at: http://ccsls. Center in Martinez org/Home.html

Guardianship Mediation

Assist families in guardianship cases; address issues such as visitation

Requirements set by Center for Human Development

Contact Center for Human Devel- Services provided in Martinez opment: http://chd-prevention. org/our-work/resolving-disputestogether/guardianship-mediation/ or call Steven Cross at (925) 349-7344

Elder Mediation

Assist families in making decisions made on behalf of senior citizen family members that affect their quality of life

Requirements set by Center for Human Development

Contact Center for Human Devel- Services provided in Martinez or opment: http://chd-prevention. in the elder’s home org/our-work/resolving-disputestogether/elder-mediation/ or call Steven Cross at (925) 349-7344

Thank you for being a member of the Contra Costa County Bar Association

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a Happy New Year CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER


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Did you know? by Nicole Mills, Esq.

Did you know that 4.3 million people in California come to court without an attorney each year. Seventyfive percent of people in civil cases are unrepresented. In 90% of family law cases, at least one party does not have a lawyer and in 90% of eviction cases, the tenants have no counsel. (Source: Bonnie Hough, Managing Attorney for the California Judicial Council’s Access to Justice Programs). That is a lot of people navigating the legal system without any legal training or help.

JUDICATE WEST IS PROUD TO OFFER THE SERVICES OF THESE RESPECTED NEUTRALS Alan R. Berkowitz, Esq. Sarah F. Burke, Esq. Douglas deVries, Esq. Rachel K. Ehrlich, Esq. Susan G. Feder, Esq. Jeffrey A. Harper, Esq. Hon. Hurl William Johnson, Ret. Mark LeHocky, Esq. David J. Meadows, Esq. Herman D. Papa, Esq. David L. Perrault, Esq. Mark D. Petersen, Esq. Robert Slattery, Esq. Peter Thompson, Esq. Hon. Michael G. Virga, Ret. Buzz Wiesenfeld, Esq.



Want to help? One afternoon per month, at the Richmond and Martinez Public Law Libraries, you have a chance to help self represented litigants. “Lawyers in the Library” is a program that puts attorneys in the public law libraries to provide legal information to those who need it. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and you are not giving specific legal advice. A common use of the clinic is a request that the attorney check paperwork that the attendee has completed. Sometimes it becomes clear that the case is much too complicated to navigate without an attorney and the attendee is directed to the CCCBA’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service, legal workshops or the Moderate Means Program.

“Lawyers in the Library” is a great way to help people navigate the legal system and is a great way to give back. It helps the participants to be more prepared and confident, and in doing so, it helps our courts. If you are interested in helping, please email Carey Rowan at Carey. or call her at the CCC Public Law Library at (925) 646-2783.



Thank you Section Leaders Thank you 2017 Section Leaders for taking time out from your busy practices to keep your colleagues and the CCCBA vibrant, current and fabulous! ADR: Joscelyn Jones Torru APPELLATE: Gary A. Watt BANKRUPTCY: Jen Grondahl Lee BARRISTERS/YOUNG LAWYERS: Jeremy Seymour BUSINESS LAW: Kent Parr CRIMINAL: Mary Carey ELDER: Kosta Demiris


LITIGATION: Leonard Marquez and Justin Schnitzler

FAMILY LAW: David C. Erb

REAL ESTATE: Marie G. Quashnock

IMMIGRATION: Flavio Carvalho

SOLO/SMALL FIRM: Chris Schneider

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Stuart J. West and Joseph R. Snyder

TAXATION: Christina Weed

JUVENILE: Rhonda Wilson-Rice LAW STUDENT: Lisa Antoine and Kate Mignani

WEST COUNTY: Daniel Butt and Karen Juster Hecht WOMEN’S: Janell Alberto


Good things come to those who belong!

2018 Membership Drive Begins Now

1 Go to 2 Click the “Renew” link in the top right corner.

Questions, or Need Help? Contact Jenny Comages at (925) 370-2543 or

3 Log in to your personal membership profile. 4 Review your current membership information and make any necessary changes.

5 Complete the secure payment section using a major

credit card, click “Submit Form” and you are renewed!

The October Issue of Contra Costa Lawyer

– Here’s What You Missed in the Litigation Issue

Thank you to Leonard Marquez, Guest Editor Features: • Show Me The Money: When Can Trustees Use Trust Funds to Litigate? by Kevin M. Rodriguez • Efficient Use of Paralegals in Litigation, by Juliet R. Jonas, Lisa Hutton, John F. Kennedy University, College of Law • Frivolous Lawsuits and Motions: What do we do with Them and What Should we do with Them?, by David Harris • Echoes of History - From the Incarceration of Japanese Americans to the Travel Ban, by Dale Minami • Spotlight: Civil Litigation Pro Per Clinic, by Leonard Marquez

Find it online at 2017

• MCLE Self Study: CCP § 998 Offers Revisited, by Nick Casper

News & Events: • Did You Know? by Nicole Mills, Esq. • Registration is Open for the MCLE Spectacular

ns en


• Ethics: The Courtroom as Casino: Alternative Financing for Legal Fees, by Carol Langford


• Inside: Money and Litigation by Leonard Marquez


• President’s Column: An Insurance Defense Attorney’s Perspective On Best Practices In Working With Insurance Claims Adjusters, by Phil Andersen




in R ub egular P



Advertise in the award-winning Contra Costa Lawyer magazine For rates and a media kit, contact Communications Coordinator Carole Lucido at or (925) 370-2542,or visit cclawyer/index.php




Upcoming Events | Overview November 14 | CCCBA Women’s Section Happy Hour more details on page 45

November 17 | CCCBA 23rd Annual MCLE Spectacular

December 14 | CCCBA CCCBA Annual Holiday Party more details on page 45

January 19 | Estate Planning & Probate Section Annual Probate Luncheon

more details on pages 45 - 47

more details on page 45

December 7 | Barristers Section

January 26 | CCCBA

Barristers’ End of Year Holiday Party more details on page 45

Annual CCCBA Officer Installation Luncheon 2018 more details on pages 30 and 45

The Contra Costa County Bar Association certifies that the MCLE activities listed on page 45 have been approved for the specific MCLE credit indicated, by the State Bar of California, Provider #393.


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BEAUTIFUL WALNUT CREEK OFFICE SPACE AVAILABLE Beautiful offices w/ 7 solos. Networking poss. Single story converted house w/ pillars, built in’s, FP, molding, kit., conf rm, lg treed rear deck, etc. Corner w/ skylight & built-ins. Perfect for working hard and relaxing at end of long day! Very congenial. No smoking. Call Paul at (925) 938-8990.

Barr & Young Attorneys . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Diablo Valley Reporting Services . . . 48 Robert B. Jacobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

CONFERENCE ROOM AVAILABLE CCCBA members receive a discount on renting the conference room at the CCCBA office in Concord. Rent by the hour or by the day for client meetings, negotiations or other small group sessions. Convenient location near Concord BART. For information contact Barbara Arsedo at the Contra Costa County Bar Association at (925) 370-2544 or

notary service CCCBA members are eligible for free notary service at the CCCBA office in Concord. Contact Carole Lucido at (925) 370-2542 or for an appointment.

JAMS ADR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Judicate West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Landmark Valuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Lenczowski Law Offices . . . . . . . . . . 25 Mitchell & Mitchell Insurance . . . . . . 37 Morrill Law Firm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Novak Wealth Management . . . . . . . . 2 David B. Pastor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Pedder, Hesseltine, Walker & Toth, LLP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6, 23 Professional Property Management . 33 Candice Stoddard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Trustcare Fiduciary Services . . . . . . . . 6 Lisa M. West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Michael J. Young . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Youngman Ericsson Scott . . . . . . . . . 29 Zandonella Reporting Service . . . . . 13



Nov. 14 | Women’s Section

Nov. 17 | CCCBA

Dec. 7 | Barristers Section

Women’s Section Happy Hour

23rd Annual MCLE Spectacular

Barristers’ End of Year Holiday Party

What is a Women’s Section Happy Hour? Think LinkedIn but over drinks. The Women’s Section Happy Hour is an opportunity to meet and build professional relationships.

Earn up to 8 MCLE credits at this year’s MCLE Spectacular. Choose from 13 sessions with MCLE credits in Legal Ethics, Elimination of Bias, Competence and General.

Save the date!

Featured Speakers:

Time: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Breakfast Kickoff: CYNTHIA McGUINN, President Elect, ABOTA

Details: Online at calendar

Location: Stanford’s Restaurant and Bar, 1300 S. Main Street, Walnut Creek Register: Please email Ariel Lee at Ariel@ BrownellLegal,com More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf at (925) 370-2540 or

Luncheon Keynote: REP. ERIC SWALLWELL, U.S. Representative from California’s 15th Congressional District

Time: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm Location: TBA

More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf at (925) 370-2540 or

Afternoon Plenary: JEENA CHO, Author of The Anxious Lawyer

Time: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm Location: Walnut Creek Marriott Hotel 2355 N. Main St., Walnut Creek, CA MCLE: Up to 8 credits Registration form available now at More info: See page 46.

Dec. 14 | CCCBA CCCBA Annual Holiday Party Join us in celebrating the holiday season. Delicious hors d’oeuvres will be provided with wine, bee, soda and sparkling water. Please bring a non-perishable food item (or more) for donation to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and/or toy(s) for donation to the 25th Annual Toy Drive for homeless children, sponsored by the Juvenile Section of the CCCBA. We look forward to seeing everyone there! Time: 5:00 – 7:30 pm Location: CCCBA Conference Room, 2300 Clayton Rd., Ste. 510, Concord RSVP: Online at calendar

Jan. 19 | Estate Planning & Probate Section

Annual Probate Luncheon Speaker: Hon. Judge John H. Sugiyama Time: 12:15 pm – 1:30 pm Location: Contra Costa Country Club, 801 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill MCLE: 1 hour Estate Planning & Trust MCLE credit Cost: $40 for Estate Planning & Probate Section members, $50 CCCBA members, $30 law students, $55 non-members Registration: Online at More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf at (925) 370-2540 or

Jan. 26 | CCCBA Annual CCCBA Officer Installation Luncheon 2018 Speaker: Presiding Judge Jill Fannin New this Year! Presentation of the first annual CCCBA Diversity Awards Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm Location: Contra Costa Country Club, 801 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill Cost: $45 CCCBA members, $55 non-members, $40 Barristers Section members, $30 law students Registration: Online at More Info: Contact Anne Wolf at (925) 370-2540 or

More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf at (925) 370-2540 or




23rd Annual

MCLE Spectacular! Friday, November 17, 2017 Walnut Creek Marriott | 2355 N. Main Street

Breakfast Kickoff Speaker

Cynthia McGuinn Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & McGuinn President-Elect, American Board of Trial Advocates

Rep. Eric Swalwell

ADR Services, Inc.

Certified Reporting Services Clio

Afternoon Plenary Speaker

Jeena Cho

Author of The Anxious Lawyer, An 8-week Guide to a Satisfying Law Practice through Mindfulness and Meditation




Event Patrons

Event Partners

U.S. Representative from California's 15th Congressional District

hosted by

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP

nu pt o8 MC LE Cr Register by October 31, 2017 edi to take advantage of special pricing! ts! 46 NOVEMBER 2017


Judicate West

Luncheon Keynote Speaker


Event Benefactor


CCCBA's Employment Law Section

The Furstner Group John F. Kennedy University College of Law Mitchell & Mitchell Insurance Agency Thomson Reuters Yajnik Group


Please complete the registration form below, or visit to download an interactive PDF which you will need to print after completing. Complete one form for each attendee. Return this completed form via Email, fax, or uS Mail to: Anne K. Wolf, CCCBA | | Fax: (925) 686-9867 | 2300 Clayton Road, Suite 520, Concord, CA 94520

To enjoy special pricing, Register by October 31

Day of Event Registration – full-Day Package: $350 members • $450 non-members

full-Day Package – 8 Credits


Includes breakfast, lunch, and plenary sessions along with a choice of one morning and one afternoon seminar PLUS a free legal ethics self-study MCLE article, all seminar materials on a flash drive, and a copy of "The Anxious Lawyer."

full-Day Package:

Your Morning Seminar choice:


Your Afternoon Seminar choice:


Your Lunch Choice:



after Oct 31

CCCBA & ACBA Members $275 | Non-Members $375


CCCBA & ACBA Members $325 | Non-Members $425


Individual Seminars & Sessions Choose One - AM Seminars 9:45 - 11:45 am – 2 Credits #1 Litigating with Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors


after Oct 31

CCCBA & ACBA Members $80 | Non-Members $100

Members $90 | Non-Members $110

Individual Seminars:


#2 Trials 101: Civil Pretrial Case Management #3 Hearsay: Heresies & How-Tos #4 Developments In California Cannabis Law #5 Representing Children in Family & Juvenile Cases #6 Settling Disputes with the Behavioral Sciences

Choose One - PM Seminars 1:45 - 3:45 pm – 2 Credits #7 Your Duties Under the New Rules of Professional Conduct #8 Unique Provisions in Estate Planning: Drafting & Applications #9 Ferris Bueller's 12 Weeks Off – Leave Law from Every Angle #10 Current Immigration Law and Its Local Implementation #11 Going Solo: A Guide to Opening Your Own Firm #12 Ways To Protect Your New Product – IP Strategies #13 Solve Before You Sue Breakfast Kickoff Only (1 General Credit) Luncheon Keynote Only (1 General Credit)


Steak c Salmon c Vegetarian

Afternoon Plenary Only (1 Competence Credit) Includes Book! NEW COCKTAIL RECEPTION


For Sure




Sorry, No

Members $60 | Non-Members $70

Members $65 | Non-Members $75

Members $70 | Non-Members $95

Members $75 | Non-Members $100

Members $55 | Non-Members $65

Members $65 | Non-Members $75

No Charge

Please Complete One form for Each attendee: Name:



ACBA Member



You will receive an email confirmation. Please note: Event materials will be not available at the event. Materials will only be available online and on the flash drive.

State Bar #: Please charge to my: Signature:

Do you have special needs?: VISA



Discover #

Exp. Date: Check #

Check Enclosed

Cancellations must be received by November 10 or registrants will be subject to full charge. Substitutions of attendees permitted at any time. for further information, contact Anne K. Wolf at (925) 370-2540 | | fax (925) 686-9867 The Contra Costa County Bar Association certifies that the activities listed herein have been approved for the hours of MCLE credit, as indicated, by the State Bar of California MCLE Provider #393.

Deposition Reporting in Contra Costa County since 1986

Trusted with the Bay Area’s most complex cases, Diablo Valley Reporting Services has been part of the legal landscape for more than 30 years. Contra Costa County attorneys have come to rely on DVRS as a firm that is large enough to handle the most challenging cases, but small enough to provide the utmost in personal and professional service. • • • • • •

Proud to Partner with Some of the Area’s Best Certified Shorthand Reporters Leading Technology Personal Service and Delivery Deposition Suites and Conference Rooms Available Centrally Located in Downtown Walnut Creek, near BART A Loyal Supporter of the Contra Costa County Bar Association for Three Decades

2121 N. California Blvd., Suite 290, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 •





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