Contra Costa Lawyer November 2013

Page 1

Contra Costa

LAWYER Volume 26, Number 6 | November 2013

In The Face of Adversity




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Contra Costa  2013 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jay Chafetz President Stephen Steinberg President-Elect Candice Stoddard Secretary Nick Casper Treasurer Audrey Gee Ex Officio Richard Alexander Philip Andersen Dean Barbieri Amanda Bevins Oliver Bray Denae Hildebrand Budde

Mary Carey Alison Chandler Elva Harding Peter Hass Reneé Livingston James Wu

LAWYER Volume 26 Number 6 | November 2013

The official publication of the

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


CCCBA   EXECUTIVE   DIRECTOR Lisa Reep | 925.288.2555 |


by Hon. Judith Craddick, Supervising Judge

CCCBA main office 925.686.6900 |


Jennifer Comages Theresa Hurley

by Hon. John Kennedy, Supervising Judge

Membership Coordinator Associate Executive Director

Emily Day Barbara Arsedo


Systems Administrator and LRIS Coordinator Fee Arbitration Coordinator

by Hon. Jill Fannin, Supervising Judge

Dawnell Blaylock


Communications Coordinator

by Hon. Lois Haight, Supervising Judge


by Hon. John H. Sugiyama, Supervising Judge


925.258.9300 925.930.6000 Nicole Mills Matthew  Guichard 925.351.3171 925.459.8440 Harding BOARD LIAISON Elva 925.215.4577 Candice Stoddard 925.942.5100 Patricia Kelly 925.258.9300 COURT LIAISON Craig Nevin INTERIM 925.930.6016 Ken Torre 925.957.5600 David Pearson 925.287.0051 PRINTING Stephen Steinberg Steven’s Printing 925.385.0644 925.681.1774 Marlene Weinstein PHOTOGRAPHER 925.942.5100 Moya Fotografx James Wu 510.847.8523 925.658.0300

The Contra Costa Lawyer (ISSN 1063-4444) is published 12 times a year - 6 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 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.

Shown on the cover (left to right): David Pearson, Dawn Ceizler, Hon. Christopher Bowen, Marie Quashnock and Philip Simpkins


by Hon. Brian F. Haynes, Supervising Judge


by Hon. Leslie G. Landau, Supervising Judge

8 10 12 14 15 16 18 24







by David Glab, Senior Information Technology Manager by Joey Carruesco, Human Resources Manager

by Ken Torre, Acting Court Executive Officer



INSIDE | by Ken Torre





21 CENTER | Bench/Bar BBQ and Softball Game MCLE Spectacular Registration 30

INNS OF COURT | by Matthew Talbot


CIVIL JURY VERDICTS | by Matt Guichard

34 COFFEE TALK What suggestions do you have for improvements and/or changes at the Contra Costa Superior Court? 35 CALENDAR/CLASSIFIEDS





pervised areas, but you will also “feel” what is going on in our court. These articles represent both the strength and compassion of our judges during these challenging times. There are also two administrative articles on technology and HR. Our court is strategically planning on tech responses enhancing access to justice and a mentoring initiative where the court is focused on staff development and succession planning.

ear Contra Costa Bar Members:

Our court is enthusiastic about participating in the annual Bench/Bar edition of this magazine. As the temporarily “unretired” CEO of the court, I would like to share parts of a message I wrote which was published in our Court Matters newsletter. I do so to parallel the reports of the Presiding and Supervising judges to the Bar.

I wrote in our Court Matters, “I am thrilled You all are sharing in the impacts of the to be back helping out during these chalKen Torre Great Recession and the considerable budget lenging and devastating times. When I left cuts our court and the judicial branch has sufActing Court in 2008, the budget was well funded and the fered over the past 5-6 years. That being said, Executive Officer staffing level was around 450. Today it is a it is with your assistance, support and undermuch different story.” Seeing first hand the standing that the court is able provide both impacts of the budget cuts was shocking to me. From the judicial and clerk support for the services that you and Bar’s perspective, assuredly you too have felt the pain of your clients need. reductions over the past few years. What I did see upon One key statement by Judge Goode regarding the time returning was “… an incredibly resilient staff … serving he spends on budgetary matters may be quite a surprise the public to the best of their ability.” to you. In the other judicial articles, our judges will inI can see that the same attitude and fortitude resides form you of what is going on within their respective suwith the Bench too. Through closed courthouses, departments and reduction of court hours, our Bench remains strong in the face of adversity. The Bar stands with the court during these times, which displays our commitment to each other.

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Throughout this edition, you will find references to our long-term collaborative legal culture. The Bar is also participating in the effort to restore funding to the branch. The focus on Sacramento must be unrelenting so that the court can restore the level of public access and the Bar can serve their clients in an appropriately funded judicial system. So, as I wrote to “… all of the clerks, supervisors, managers, professionals, administrators and bench officers of Contra Costa Superior Court, I am proud to serve with you.” I will add at this time—to all Contra Costa Bar members, executive office and law office staff, I am proud to be a member of our legal community! s

president’s message

There Oughta Be a Law


ow many times have you read a statute, scratched your head and said, “What? What does that mean?” or said, “It can’t mean that, it just can’t!” How many times have you looked for a statute, assuming there had to be one on a particular point, and discovered that there was none and that there was an obvious gap in the law?

There, it will be studied, dissected and debated at length by attorneys from all over the state. If it receives the approval of a majority of the attorneys participating in the Conference of California Bar Associations, it will then be sent to the Conference’s paid lobbyist in Sacramento to see if he can find a legislator to sponsor it as a bill in the California Legislature.

Unlike much of politics, where one feels one cannot make much of a difference, here, individuals can and do make a difference.

If you are so inclined, you may also become a member of the CCCBA’s delegation to the Conference of California Bar Associations. Currently, 11 members of the Contra Costa County Bar Association serve on this delegation and make the yearly journey to the conference for a break from their normal practices, to debate laws for a weekend and make new friends from around the state.

The Conference of California Bar Associations exists for the purpose of making just such changes to the law: Correcting ambiguities, changing the nonsensical and creating whole new laws. The process looks like this: Anyone—and yes, this means you, you are “anyone”—may propose a change or addition to the law by drafting a proposed law change in a pre-set format. Your legislative proposal must be submitted no later than March 3, 2014, in order to be considered at the 2014 meeting of the Conference of California Bar Associations on September 12-14, 2014.

CCCBA and its members have been successful in recent years in effecting a number of legislative changes. It can be exciting to feel that you are a part of the process of making a law or to be known as its author. (Hopefully gaining fame instead of infamy!) Some years ago, I proposed a change regarding the deadline and

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Jay Chafetz CCCBA Board President order of submission of opposition papers and evidence on motions for summary judgment. While my proposal got changed along the way, ultimately, I believe it did prompt a change in the Rules of Court to correct the problem I had identified. A year or two ago, retired Commissioner Don Green proposed a change in the law to overturn a California Court of Appeal decision that had given primary rights in a joint bank account to the first person who ran to the bank and withdrew the money. His change was eventually put into law. My successor come January, President-elect Stephen Steinberg, proposed a new law last year to extend the attorney-client privilege to communications between a potential client and a lawyer referral service, like our own Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS). Steve traveled to Sacramento to testify in favor of his proposal and it, too, was enacted into law. If you want to propose a law or go further and become a member of the Conference of California Bar Associations, contact Steve Steinberg at So the next the time that you contemplate some oddity or injustice in the rules that govern a case or dispute, don’t just say, “There oughta be a law!” Make one. s



2014: Looking Forward Hon. Barry Goode Presiding Judge


ang on—it’s going to be another tough year.

Fiscal year 2013-14 started three months ago. The Governor’s budget had proposed cutting the courts by another $261 million. Then the Legislature reduced the cut to $201 million. That’s better, but it is still very far from what we need to provide proper access to justice in our county. Fortunately, we have already reduced costs by our share of that $201 million statewide cut. (It’s complicated. In simplest terms, the $261 million cut was really made last year, but in the fiscal year that just ended, the Administrative Office of the Courts gave trial courts $261 million out of a different statewide fund so the courts would have time to cope with the cut. We coped.) Thus, it will not worsen our position immediately. For the next nine months, our court will function pretty much as it has during the last year: Only 2.8 commissioners, Civil and Family down a department each, less self-help, fewer clerks at the windows, only traffic trials in Walnut Creek, no juvenile cases heard in Richmond and Pittsburg, no family law cases heard in Pittsburg, and so (wretchedly) on. We must wait until January 2014 to see what the Governor proposes for the next fiscal year’s budget. We are hopeful that if the state’s economy continues to improve, we might



begin to receive significant restoration of funding. However, there is another threat looming. We may not be able to keep any appreciable amount of reserves beginning July 1, 2014.

then starting July 1, 2014, we will be unable to continue supplementing our permanent staff with those approximately 30 limited term employees. That will cause further cuts in the court’s operations.

Reserves are the court’s savings account; money we have painstakingly saved over many years by being prudent with the funds allocated to us. We need reserves for three reasons:

The Judicial Branch will seek to explain this to the Legislative and Executive Branches, and will seek a change in the law so that trial courts may again keep reserves—as was the law since the time of the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act in the late 1990s. Those who have taken the time to advocate for the courts should familiarize themselves with this issue. It is a critical one for the trial courts.

1. Our reserves are our working capital. For example, we have to make payroll every two weeks; but we do not get our monthly allotment from the state in time to pay our employees. We use reserves to make payroll. 2. We use reserves for capital investment. For example, when we have to replace or upgrade our phone system or computers, we use the money we have saved for that purpose. 3. We use reserves as our “rainy day” fund. We use them to keep a steadier level of operations than the state’s boomand-bust economy would otherwise permit. Since it has been pouring, we have been using our reserves to hire “limited term employees” to keep our operations functioning at a level higher than our annual allocation would permit. If the state strips us of our reserves (and does not give us additional budget authority),

In other news … You will see a few changes in assignments this year. After so many years of service, Judges Flinn and Kolin will be joining Judge Cram in retirement. We thank all three for their many contributions and for their long dedication to providing justice at such a high level of professionalism. We will miss them greatly—not only professionally, but personally. Here are some of the changes that will be made starting January 21, 2014: Calendar departments: Judge Maier is moving out of the Criminal Calendar department in the Bray Annex. She will be going upstairs to a trial department. Judge Mockler will move into Judge Maier’s chair. Judge Laettner is going to the Juvenile Division after shepherding

our specialty courts. Judge Baskin will assume responsibility for those calendars. Judge Bruce Mills will fill the hole left by Judge Kolin’s departure, taking over the latter’s calendars in the Bray Annex. Criminal Trial departments: In Martinez, (in addition to Judge Maier) Judges Scanlon and Davis will be moving into Bray to take on criminal trial work. Judges White and Cheryl Mills will start hearing cases in Richmond. Juvenile: In addition to Judge Laettner, Judge Maddock will be joining the Juvenile Division. Civil: Judge Spanos will take over Judge Flinn’s caseload in the Civil Division. Family/Probate: Judge Fenstermacher will fill the seat being vacated by Judge White, who has been carrying a family law caseload as well as hearing various other matters. Vacancies: The court now has one vacancy (Judge Cram’s seat) and will soon have two more (Judges Kolin and Flinn). We are fortunate that so many of our retired judges have been willing to work part time to sit in our county. Thanks to Judges Allen, Berger, Caskey, Cram, Grant and Minney. We appreciate all you do for us. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank the Bar for the enormous support it has given our court and community during these tough times. So many of you volunteer in so many ways—as settlement mediators, discovery facilitators, temporary judges, court tour docents and in other important capacities. We simply could not function as well as we do without you. We hope to recognize you all publicly shortly. Stay tuned for an announcement. In the meantime, THANK YOU ALL. This is a great legal community, and it is a privilege to be part of it. s



year in review

Hon. Judith Craddick

Civil Law Perspective

Supervising Judge


ou have undoubtedly heard this many times before from members of our Bench, but it cannot be overstated—we are so grateful to members of the Bar who give generously of your time when called upon. You had previously (and still do) assisted the civil judges in our ADR program by acting as mediators, arbitrators and settlement mentors. 2013 was a year when we called very loudly; you heard our call and answered. Our needs had become overwhelming because of the budget crisis. We had lost our discovery commissioner, one civil judge and commissioners who heard Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer cases in Walnut Creek, Concord, Pittsburg and Richmond. Four civil judges were left with the daunting prospect of dividing the caseload (limited and unlimited) with one less judge, and taking on the discovery motions and other matters that Commissioner Judith Sanders had previously handled, e.g., ex partes, TROs, etc., together with handling Small Claims trials and appeals and Unlawful Detainer trials and appeals. Then, thankfully, members of the Bar came to the rescue!

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Committees were organized, guidelines were formulated and volunteers were solicited, resulting in a panel of more than 60 temporary judges who hear Small Claims and Unlawful Detainer cases every Tuesday and Thursday and a panel of 80 discovery facilitators who handle discovery disputes. Since January 2013, temporary judges have contributed 64 days of service and heard approximately 2,000 Small Claims and UD cases. (If you are interested in being a temporary judge, please contact the ADR office for information.) The Discovery Facilitator program was up and running in February 2013, with 220 cases assigned through August. Litigants with discovery disputes from all civil departments are required to participate in the Discovery Facilitator program as a prerequisite to filing a motion, unless the judge to whom the case is assigned orders otherwise. The goal of the program is obviously to avoid protracted, costly and unnecessary discovery disputes and to take those matters off already overburdened calendars of the four civil judges. (Details about the program are on the court’s website at; click on the link on the left for “ADR/ Settling Before Trial,” then select “Discovery Facilitator Program” from the drop-down menu.)

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You can imagine where we might be without your help, because even with the programs “manned and womanned” by members of the Bar, trials are being set by some departments as far out as December 2014 and Law & Motion matters set in late December 2013 and January 2014. Limited civil filings have remained steady over the past 12 months, but


backlogs in processing those cases continue to be problematic. We have about 865 new complaints dating back to December 2012. Our diligent staff, though significantly decreased, has been able to reduce the number of default judgments from a high of 2,138 to 1,086 as of August, a decrease of almost 50 percent.

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Unlimited civil filings are up, with an 11 percent increase over the past 12 months. Attention: Lawyers with professional liability coverage through the State Bar of California-sponsored program…

Our colleague, David Flinn, is retiring at the end of the year. He is a fair-minded, intelligent, hardworking, conscientious and considerate jurist, who be sorely missed. We welcome George Spanos to the Civil Division, joining Laurel Brady, Steven Austin and me. I will continue to be the Supervising Civil Judge and am open to any suggestions, recommendations, criticisms, etc., any of you may have, to ensure we provide the best service possible.

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year in review

Hon. John Kennedy Supervising Judge

Criminal Law Perspective


e expected 2013 to be a challenging year, and it has lived up to our expectations.

ever one department needs coverage or help, we usually have multiple judges volunteering to pitch in.

The most significant changes resulted from the ongoing budget cuts that we, as well as all of our justice partners, have suffered for the last six years. As you know, we closed the Walnut Creek Courthouse to all but traffic cases, so we have moved all of the Walnut Creek criminal cases to Martinez. We are trying felony cases in the Richmond and Pittsburg branch courts.

We could not survive without an extraordinarily competent and dedicated support staff. Our courtroom clerks, court reporters and bailiffs have helped us shoulder the added burdens without complaint. Despite crippling cuts in personnel, our court managers, Clerk’s Office personnel and countless other support staff have stepped up to take on extra duties, increased efficiency and simply worked harder to keep us afloat. We very much appreciate their hard work and look forward to a day when we can return to a more reasonable staffing level.

We have revised our jury summoning procedures so that all jury panels in the county are now drawn from the entire county. The court as a whole has absorbed all of the work formerly done by five veteran commissioners. As a result of Realignment, we are now handling all of the revocation hearings for those on parole, post-release community supervision and mandatory supervision, as well as probation. The net result of all of these changes is that every branch of the court has a heavier load, just as budget cuts have reduced our staff by one-third. It is only due to the hard work and extraordinary dedication of our judges, commissioners and staff that we have (for the most part) kept our heads above water. Our Criminal Trial departments in Martinez are now trying a heavy mix of felony and misdemeanor trials, plus a series of added calendars formerly handled in Walnut Creek. We have the good fortune of having a strong and experienced Bench capable of carrying this substantial load. Our felony trial departments in Martinez include Judges Barbara Zúñiga, Mary Ann O’Malley, Diana Becton, Thomas Maddock, Theresa Canepa, Susanne Fenstermacher and Ben Burch. These talented and seasoned trial judges are able to keep on top of the ever-increasing caseload by working as a team; when-



During the recently completed fiscal year (July 1, 2012 –June 30, 2013), the District Attorney filed 3,985 felony cases and 7,354 misdemeanors. We tried 111 felony jury trials, including 18 homicides and 27 sexual assault

“This year has been a challenge, and we have addressed the challenge by reorganizing our court to optimize the effectiveness of our dwindling resources.” cases. So far this year, we appear to be handling a slight increase in felony jury trials, but a very significant increase in misdemeanor trials in Martinez. The District Attorney’s Office recently cleaned up its backlog of misdemeanor complaints, resulting in an additional 1,200 cases being filed in a matter of weeks. We are working with our justice partners to design a plan for addressing this added workload. Our Criminal Calendar departments handle the staggering workload of all of the pretrial matters between indictment or information and trial. Judge Clare Maier presides over our felony pretrial hearings, plus an in-

finite number of other pre- and post-trial matters. She keeps up a dizzying pace every day—whether taking 100 pleas or hearing 100 motions—and she does it all with enthusiasm and diligence. Her impressive settlement skills contribute to a large measure of our ability to keep on top of the caseload. Judge Maier works well with the Deputy District Attorneys, Deputy Public Defenders and attorneys from the Alternate Defender’s Office, conflicts panel and the private bar to resolve cases fairly. Judge John Laettner presides over our ever-expanding collaborative courts, including our domestic violence, Prop. 36 and FADS (Felony Alternative Drug Sentencing) courts, our Behavioral Health Court, Elder Court, Probation revocations and revocations of post-release com-

munity service. In his spare time, he also adjudicates many of the pretrial motions in our felony cases. These calendars are extraordinarily well-served by Judge Laettner’s innate sense of justice, fairness and common sense. Judge William Kolin has taken on what used to be two complete calendars—the Mount Diablo calendar and the Walnut Creek master calendar. He conducts the bulk of our Central County arraignments, preliminary hearings, misdemeanor probation violation hearings, restitution hearings and private counsel pretrials, not to mention handling every defendant who voluntarily appears or is picked up on a bench warrant. He combines his vast wealth of experience with his solid work ethic to address all of these matters efficiently. Judge Ko-

lin has announced his retirement next month, and we will miss his extensive and valued contributions to our Bench. Judge Bruce Mills started the year as a Family Law settlement judge, who would be available for the occasional overflow criminal matters. The overflow soon became a deluge. Judge Mills handles all of our Public Defender pretrial hearings, overflow preliminary hearings and most of our misdemeanor jury trials. His years of experience enable him to complete these hearings and trials in record time, leaving him always willing to take on more if needed. We are fortunate to have retired Commissioner Stephen Houghton back as a parole revocation hearing officer. We were able to use funding from AB 109 (the Realignment Legislation) to bring Steve back every Tuesday to handle these revocation hearings. We are also assisted mightily by a core group of retired alumni sitting as assigned judges to help when needed. We thank retired Judges John Minney, Garrett Grant, Mike Coleman, John Allen, Joyce Cram, Peter Berger, Peter Spinetta and Greg Caskey for all of their help. This year has been a challenge, and we have addressed the challenge by reorganizing our court to optimize the effectiveness of our dwindling resources. We hope we are seeing the lowest point in California’s budget woes. We appreciate the cooperation and collegiality of our justice partners. We will continue to work with the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the Alternate Defender, conflicts counsel and the private bar to address the criminal cases fairly and efficiently. s



year in review

Hon. Jill Fannin

Family Law Perspective

Supervising Judge


he Family Law Division has continued to adjust to the major changes imposed in 2012.

We began the year with five new bench officers joining me and Judge Trevor White. We welcomed Judges Christopher Bowen, Barbara Hinton and Ed Weil, as well as AB 1058 Commissioner Anita Santos. I think everyone would agree that our new bench officers hit the ground running. They have all shown enthusiasm and dedication to their new assignments. We also welcomed Judge Bruce Mills in what we hoped would be a department handling family law contempts and settlements as well as some criminal matters. Unfortunately, the Criminal Division devoured almost all of Judge Mills’ time. While Judge Mills has been able to handle the contempt matters (being the only family law judge with a reporter), we have not been able to take full advantage of his exceptional settlement skills. The lobby of the Spinetta Courthouse saw a number of changes. The facilitators were able to move from combat-like conditions standing at the front desk into the relative quiet of the “fishbowl.” Now facilitators and parties can discuss matters as they sit privately at tables.

the reduction in hours at the Clerk’s office from 3 p.m. to 1 p.m. and the reduced staffing for our division. Unacceptably long lines will continue to be the norm until we can secure funding to hire additional staff. Our wait time for custody counseling appointments decreased to an all-time low of two and a half weeks when we were fully staffed with eight custody counselors. Alas, we suffered some turnover in the ranks of custody counselors and, with one position still unfilled, our wait time is back up to six weeks. The good news is that we do not expect the wait to grow beyond the six-week interval, barring unforeseen circumstances. Our staff is doing a stellar job keeping the division afloat with a fraction of the help we had in the past. They are all to be commended. Next year, we will say goodbye to the hard-working Judge Trevor White and welcome back the very experienced Judge Susanne Fenstermacher. The rest of the Bench will remain unchanged— probably a first for the Family Law Division!


We also added seating and installed QMatic, an automated system for calling numbers to different windows. The modifications have allowed stressed parties to sit comfortably as they wait their turn to be helped. These improvements were more important than ever this year, given



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We extend our gratitude for the Bar’s impressive volunteer services which are invaluable to the public and the Bench. We are also grateful for your patience as we attempt to do our best with less. And finally, we want to thank the family law practitioners for their unprecedented spirit of collaboration and hospitality. s

year in review

Juvenile Law Perspective

Hon. Lois Haight Supervising Judge


am writing the Juvenile Court report for the Year 2013. I wonder if there is something about the year ending in “13” that makes this so much more difficult for all our courts, not just Juvenile Court.

In Juvenile, the budget impact has hit hard in every area from reimbursements for services, staffing cuts, shorter staffing hours and fewer attorneys concomitant with reduction in salaries, but not a lesser caseload.

and Judges Rebecca Hardie, Barry Baskin and George Spanos sitting as trial judges in both dependency and delinquency cases. Next year we will have some changes with Judge Jack Laettner replacing Judge Davis at Juvenile Hall, Judge Thomas Maddock replacing Judge Baskin on the

“The goal remains the same in Juvenile Court: To reunite children with

It has been quite a year thus far parents when possible, to find new permanent or adoptive families when and the attorneys (county counsel, dependency attorneys, public de- not possible, and to rehabilitate young delinquents and help them find fenders, district attorneys and con- a wonderful future—drug and crime free.” flict attorneys) who have stuck with it in Juvenile deserve significant appreciation for work well done and trial team and Judge Hardie and I rounding out the trial their commitment to making life better for children and team. We will be replacing Judge Spanos, who is also their families. These attorneys may not be on the front leaving for another position, but his current position pages of newspapers extolling their “wins,” but they are has yet to be filled. emblazoned in the hearts of families they have helped heal and youngsters they have helped turn onto a path Fortunately, we have also had the great support of for a successful adulthood. dedicated clerks and staff, many of whom choose to work in the juvenile arena even with the knowledge I am reminded of that wonderful saying on the obeof the horrendous caseloads and time constraints. That lisk at the Marine Corp. Museum in Washington, D.C., is also true of the excellent social workers and proba“Some people wonder all their lives if they have made tion officers and court appointed advocates (CASA) who a difference; Marines do not have that problem.” I think serve our court so faithfully. we could add that attorneys in Juvenile Court also do not have that problem. The goal remains the same in Juvenile Court: To reunite children with parents when possible, to find new permanent or adoptive families when not possible, and to rehabilitate young delinquents and help them find a wonderful future—drug and crime free. We have had the assistance of devoted Bench Officers for this year with Judge Lewis Davis at Juvenile Hall

We have many excellent resources for our youth, although some have disappeared or diminished in capacity due to funding issues. All in all it is a tough time for our community, but none of us is giving up and I believe, almost to a person, each of us feels privileged to work on behalf of children and families. s



year in review

Probate Perspective

Hon. John H. Sugiyama Supervising Judge


espite the ongoing financial constraints and burdens imposed on the court system, Presiding Judge Barry Goode, Court Executive Officer Kiri Torre and Acting Court Executive Officer Ken Torre have continued to provide strong support to the Probate Division. The division experienced no structural changes during the past year. The same level of resources should be available for the division in the coming year.

Name Change Calendar, which I recently began handling through the Probate Division. Those who appear regularly before me may have noticed that early during most calendars, I rule on several name change requests. You may not be aware, however, of the myriad reasons submitted in support of these requests.

Judge Trevor White will leave the Probate Division to return to the criminal courts. He is a superb jurist, and will be sorely missed. Although losing one All Star, the division will receive another in Judge Susanne Fenstermacher. Like her predecessor, she will be available principally to handle long cause probate, guardianship, conservatorship and mental health (LPS) trials. As Judge Fenstermacher has demonstrated in each of her prior judicial assignments, she carries out her responsibilities firmly and expeditiously, with grace and good humor.

The standard reasons seem to follow along these lines:

The strength of the Probate Division will continue to center in the capable hands of Courtroom Clerk Shannon Perry, Probate Examiners Linda Suppanich and Erica Gillies, Research Attorney Janet Li and principal bailiff Deputy Sheriff Melissa O’Reilley. They form a remarkably capable team. They are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. If you don’t have the answer for a pending issue, they will help you find it. They well serve the distinguished Contra Costa Probate Bar. As I have in the past, I will again present updates on newly enacted legislation and recent appellate decisions at the Annual Probate Section Luncheon early in the calendar year. I will also discuss recent practice developments that I think may be of interest to a broad range of the Probate Section. For now, given the approaching holiday season, I thought I’d share some anecdotal information about the



I thought I’d share some edited versions of those reasons because they provide interesting glimpses of everyday life for the residents of our county. “I’m divorced. I don’t want my spouse’s name anymore.” “I want a fresh start.” “I never liked the name my parents chose.” “I want to use my mother’s family name. She raised me, not my father.” “I want to use my stepfather’s name. My own father has never been a part of my life.” Other reasons reflect the ever present pursuit of the American dream. “The hospital put down the wrong name.” “The hospital wrote the name in the wrong order.” “My name is too difficult to pronounce.” “My friends have always known me by the name I want to make official.” “I want a simpler name to use in my business.” “I want an American-sounding name.” This is just a glimpse of one of the many ways the Probate Court serves Contra Costa residents. s



year in review

Pittsburg Court

The Arnason Justice Center Hon. Brian F. Haynes Supervising Judge


he Arneson Justice Center’s current bench officers include Judge Brian Haynes, Judge Judy Johnson, Judge Cheryl Mills, Judge Nancy Stark, Judge Charles (Steve) Treat and Commissioner Lowell Richards (AM hours only). Court Administrator Barbara Richmond leads a dedicated staff that has impressed me with their efficiency and flexibility. Cases heard in the Pittsburg court include: Misdemeanor and Felony criminal cases from Arraignment through Jury Trial stage, Domestic Violence and Civil Harassment Restraining Order hearings, Small Claims cases, Traffic cases and Unlawful Detainer cases. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, the Pittsburg court no longer hears Family Law cases or Juvenile cases. These matters, even though the litigation may arise from facts in eastern Contra Costa County, are now heard in Martinez. Two major changes implemented this year significantly affect jurors assigned to the Pittsburg court. First, the Pittsburg court now conducts felony jury trials, so the time obligation of jurors may be greater than in years past. Second, since we are conducting felony trials, our jury panels are now countywide panels, meaning some of our jurors may be traveling from as far away as Richmond or San Ramon. As of mid-September, the Pittsburg court has conducted 84 jury trials in 2013, including 11 felony trials. As of July 1, 2013, the following cases were pending in the Pittsburg court: Misdemeanor 1,473 Felony


Traffic 4,583 Small Claims


Unlawful Detainer


Domestic Violence Restraining Orders 278



A summary of the current calendar assignment matrix is as follows: MONDAY AM: PM:

Misdemeanor and Felony Jury Trial Assignment In-Custody Pretrial Conferences Misdemeanor Arraignments Special-Set Long Cause Preliminary Hearing Criminal Law and Motion Misdemeanor Arraignments


Continuing Jury Trials Preliminary Hearings


Continuing Jury Trials Preliminary Hearings


Misdemeanor and Felony Jury Trial Assignment Preliminary Hearings


Continuing Jury Trials Preliminary Hearings Public Defender Misdemeanor Pretrial Conferences


Continuing Jury Trials In-Custody Pretrial Conferences Private Attorney Misdemeanor Pretrial Conferences Special-Set Long Cause Preliminary Hearing

PM: Continuing Jury Trials Criminal Law and Motion Domestic Violence/Civil Harassment Retraining Order Hearings

Tax & Estate Attorneys Individual & Business Tax Issues Tax Preparation • Tax Planning • Tax Controversy Sophisticated Estate Planning • Estate Administration Trust & Estate Litigation • Probate

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Superior Court of Contra Costa County

2014 JUDICIAL ASSIGNMENTS Barry P. Goode Presiding Judge

Steven K. Austin

Assistant Presiding Judge

MARTINEZ Family Law Criminal Trials (Martinez)

Supervising Judge: John W. Kennedy

Supervising Judge: Jill Fannin

Judge Diana Becton Judge Charles “Ben” Burch Judge Theresa J. Canepa Judge Lewis A. Davis Judge John W. Kennedy Judge Clare Maier Judge Mary Ann O’Malley Judge Patricia Scanlon Judge Barbara Zúñiga

Judge Christopher R. Bowen Judge Jill Fannin Judge Susanne Fenstermacher (60%) Judge Barbara C. Hinton Commissioner Anita Santos (DCSS) Judge Edward G. Weil

Criminal Calendars (Martinez)

Judge Bruce C. Mills (Calendar) Judge Terri Mockler (Calendar) Judge Barry Baskin (Specialty Courts)





Supervising Judge: Brian Haynes Judge Judy Johnson Judge Brian Haynes Judge Nancy Davis Stark Judge Charles “Steve” Treat Vacant

RICHMOND Supervising Judge: Leslie G. Landau

Juvenile (Martinez)

Judge Joni T. Hiramoto Judge Leslie G. Landau Judge Cheryl Mills Judge Trevor White Vacant

Supervising Judge: Lois Haight Judge Lois Haight Judge Rebecca Hardie Judge John Laettner Thomas M. Maddock Vacant


Traffic Supervising Judge: Thomas M. Maddock Commissioner Ronald Creighton (Walnut Creek) Commissioner Lowell Richards (Pittsburg/Richmond)


Supervising Judge: Judith Craddick

Supervising Judge: John H. Sugiyama

Judge Steven K. Austin Judge Laurel S. Brady Judge Judith Craddick (Complex Lit.) Judge George V. Spanos

Judge John H. Sugiyama Judge Susanne Fenstermacher (40%)



Parole Violations Stephen Houghton, Hearing Officer

Bench/Bar BBQ and Softball Game Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lisa Reep, Kevin and Lucy Fogarty Mary Grace Guzman, Judge Flier (Ret.) and Warren Siegel

Jay Chafetz Judge Diana Becton Casey Gee and Ken Torre

Alan Ramos, Judge Flier (Ret.) and Judge Brady

Steve Steinberg



MCLE Spectacular



9:45 am – 11:45 am | Registration 8 am – 9:45 am

1:45 am – 3:45 pm | Registration 8 am – 1:45 pm


2 hours General MCLE Credit


2 Hours Appellate Specialization MCLE Credit


2 hours General MCLE Credit


1 hour Ethics and 1 hour General MCLE Credit


1 hour Ethics and 1 hour General MCLE Credit


2 hours General MCLE Credit


Bruises & Decubitus, Oh the Stories They Tell co-sponsored by the CCCBA and its ADR and Criminal Sections Speaker: Tara M. Godoy, BSN, RN, LNC, Certified Forensic Nurse

Expert Witnesses and Summary Judgment: Sargonauts and the Golden Fleece co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Appellate Section Speakers: Hon. Mark B. Simons, Justice, 1st District Court of Appeal Gary A. Watt Esq., Partner, Archer Norris, LLC Don Willenburg Esq., Partner, Gordon & Rees, LLP

Immigration Reform: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t, and What You Should Be Aware of co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Pro Bono Section Speakers: Erika Portillo Esq., Guichard, Teng & Portello Michael Epstein Esq., Law Office Of Michael Epstein Jake Lipman Esq., Lipman & Wolf James Wolf Esq., Lipman & Wolf Peggy Bristol-Wright Esq. (Moderator)

Running a Law Firm: Tips and Tricks for Solos and Small Firms co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Solo Section  Speakers: Heidi Coad-Hermelin Esq. Ann M. Dalsin Esq. William A. Hickey Esq. David S. Pearson Esq.

What Might the State Bar Think About the Meaning of BYOD, ESI, the Cloud, Clawbacks and Other Hot Technology Topics? sponsored by CCCBA and its ADR Section  Speakers: Hon. Laurel Brady, Contra Costa Superior Court Roger Brothers Esq., Buchman Provine Brothers Smith, LLP Gregory Iskander Esq., Littler Mendelson, PC Samuel Bellicini Peter Mankin Esq., Sheldon & Mankin (Moderator)

Workplace Violence: Employer Obligations, Employee Rights and Threat Assessments co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Employment Section Speakers: James S. Cawood CPP, PCI, PSP, Factor One® Thomas P. Klein Esq., Tklein Associates Inc. Beth W. Mora, Mora Employment Law (Moderator)


Consider the Ethics: Real World Dilemmas in Mediation sponsored by JAMS, The Resolution Experts  Speakers: Hon. Patrick Mahoney (Ret.), JAMS, The Resolution Experts Michael Ranahan Esq., JAMS, The Resolution Experts Michael Ornstil Esq., JAMS, The Resolution Experts

Dealing with Clients and Others (Attorneys) with Mental illness and/or Personality Disorders co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Family Law Section Speaker: John E. Kincaid Ph.D.

Diversity’s Positive Impact on Your Law Firm’s Bottom Line co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Diversity Section Speaker: Prof. Margalynne Armstrong, Associate Professor of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law

Lawsuit Possessed: Coping with Bankruptcy’s Spell on State Court Litigation sponsored by CCCBA and its Bankruptcy and Litigation Sections | Speakers: Hon. Roger L. Efremsky, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of California Hon. Steve Austin, Contra Costa Superior Court Hon. Randall J. Newsome (Ret.), JAMS David I. Katzen Esq., Katzen & Schuricht Geoffrey Wm. Steele Esq., Steele George Schofield & Ramos

Practices, Problems and Strategies: Negotiating a Land Use Project’s Conditions of Approval - Developer and Public Agency Perspectives


2 hours Ethics MCLE Credit



2 hours Family Law Specialization MCLE Credit SEMINAR #9

1.5 Hours Elimination of Bias and 0.5 Hours General MCLE Credit SEMINAR #10

1.5 hours General and 0.5 hour Ethics MCLE Credit


2 hours General MCLE Credit

co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Real Estate Section Speakers: John D. Bakker, Attorney at Law, MEYERS NAVE Michael Patrick Durkee, McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP

Recent Developments in Estate Planning & Probate (The Oracle Speaks) co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Estate Planning & Probate Section Speaker: Hon. Don Green (Ret.), CCC Probate Commissioner

Women in the Workplace - Developing Legal Issues for the New Female Professional co-sponsored by CCCBA and its Women’s Section Speakers: Beth W. Mora, Mora Employment Law Lisa C. Hamasaki, Miller Law Group


2 Hours Estate Planning & Probate Specialization MCLE Credit SEMINAR #13

2 hours General MCLE Credit


Visit the event calendar on our website,, and download the interactive pdf registration form. You can email the completed form to

Fax Mail

Complete the form below (one for each attendee) and fax to (925) 686-9867. Complete the form below (one for each attendee) and mail to CCCBA, 2300 Clayton Rd., Ste. 520, Concord, CA 94520

To enjoy special pricing, Register before November 8 For Day of Event registrations, please add $25 for each full-day package, or $10 per seminar

Full-Day Package


after 11/8

Includes breakfast, lunch, choice of one morning & one afternoon seminar, afternoon plenary session, plus all workshop materials on a take-home flash drive.

$185 CCCBA & ACBA Members


$100 CCCBA Student Members


Your morning seminar choice:


$285 Non-Members


Your afternoon seminar choice:



After 11/8

Your Lunch Choice:

NY Strip Steak


Total $ Credits


Individual Seminars & Rates AM Seminars (9:45 - 11:45 am) - Choose One #1 Bruises & Decubitus


#2 Expert Witnesses and Summary Judgment


#3 Immigration Reform


#4 Running a Law Firm


#5 What Might the State Bar Think...


#6 Workplace Violence


PM Seminars (1:45 - 3:45 pm) - Choose One #7 Consider the Ethics #8 Dealing with Clients...

Each Seminar: $65 for CCCBA & ACBA Members $20 for CCCBA Student Members $85 for Non-Members

Each Seminar: $75 $30 $95

2 2

#9 Diversity's Positive Impact...


#10 Lawsuit Possessed


#11 Practices, Problems and Strategies


#12 Recent Developments in Estate Planning...


#13 Women in the Workplace


Breakfast Buffet Kickoff Only Luncheon Only

NY Strip Steak



Afternoon Plenary Session Only

$40 members | $50 non-members

$50 | $60


$50 members | $75 non-members

$60 | $85


$35 members | $40 non-members

$45 | $50


PLEASE PRINT (Each attendee must submit a registration form): Name & Firm/Org.:

Total ACBA Member

Email: Phone: You will receive an email confirmation. Please note: Event materials will be available online, not at the event. State Bar #: How did you hear about this event? Please charge to my


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Check Enclosed Cancellations must be received by November 15 or registrants will be subject to full charge. Substitutions permitted at any time. For further information, contact Theresa Hurley at 925.370.2548 | | fax 925.686.9867 The Contra Costa County Bar Association is a State Bar of California MCLE approved provider. (Provider #393)



year in review

Richmond Court

The George D. Carroll Courthouse Hon. Leslie G. Landau Supervising Judge


his year, the George D. Carroll Courthouse in Richmond has seen significant changes. Longtime Commissioner Robert Broughton retired, after more than 25 years of great service to the court. He was conscientious in everything he did, and was the picture of patience with the many self-represented litigants who appeared before him. We miss him.

Cram, sitting in her own (now open) seat. Judge Hiramoto has handled the arraignment department, as well as domestic violence and civil harassment restraining order calendars. With representatives from the Public Defender’s and District Attorney’s offices now appearing at arraignments, we have been able to reach more early dispositions in lower-level felony cases than ever before and reduce the time defendants remain in custody before pleas are entered.

Throughout the county, budget cuts required the court to do more with less. Richmond was no exception. Commissioner Lowell Richards now rides the circuit This year ushered in significant changes to how cases handling traffic, small claims and unlawful detainer are tried in Contra Costa County. The court began trymatters—sitting in the mornings in Pittsburg and in the afternoons in Richmond. He has done a masterful job handling an extraordinary volume of cases with calm judgment oungman ricsson and efficiency. We appreciate the assistance of Tom Cain and all the great is pleased to announce that volunteer mediators from the Congress of Neutrals, who have helped so Christina P. Ortega many parties to resolve small claims, Attorney at Law unlawful detainer and civil harassLL.M. in Taxation ment restraining order matters. We has joined the firm as an associate. also are grateful to the many attorTax, Business, Civil Litigation, ney volunteers, who have taken time Estate Litigation and Estate Planning out of their practices to participate in training and sit pro tem when ComSeptember 2013 missioner Richards is out.


Four judges sit in Richmond: Joni T. Hiramoto, Patricia Scanlon, Terri Mocker and Leslie G. Landau. A fifth bench officer seat has been open since the beginning of the year, after the retirement of Judge Joyce Cram. We have been lucky to have excellent retired judicial officers sitting as assigned judges, including some veterans of our own Bench: Judges Peter Berger, Garrett Grant and even Joyce





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ing felonies in the branch courts, which means that jurors now are summoned countywide for all trials, a mix of felony and misdemeanor cases appears on the Richmond Master Trial Calendar, and some significant felonies have been tried in Richmond. Even with some lengthy felony trials, Richmond judges tried a large number of cases: 73 as of mid-September, compared with 57 in all of 2012. Jurors have been remarkably cooperative with the changes, enduring long drives from East County and occasional overflow parking to sit on our Richmond trials. To accommodate the expanded trial calendar, we transitioned this year from setting preliminary hearings and motions off the Master Calendar to a designated Preliminary Hearing and Motion department. Judge Scanlon did a wonderful job of handling that calendar. Richmond is staffed with consummate professionals, who have worked hard this year to minimize the effect of the court’s budget on the public. Every member of the court staff has taken on more responsibility, and has been flexible and creative in finding ways to get things done. Our staff epitomized Albert Einstein’s Three Rules of Work: “Out of clutter find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” We all owe the Richmond court staff kudos and gratitude. After the first of the year, Judges Scanlon and Mockler will be leaving Richmond for new assignments in Martinez. We will miss their diligence, intelligence, wisdom and good cheer. We are lucky, however, to have two great judges joining us—Cheryl Mills and Trevor White—who bring us breadth and depth of experience and talent. We hope that we will soon have an appointment to the open seat, so that we have a full and regular team of judges to handle all the work in Richmond. s

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The Future of Court Technology


E-Court technologies, such as electronic documents, citations and filings will improve collaboration with the Bar Association and key agencies to ensure continued access to justice for the public.

Technology, Leadership, Planning and Standards

Electronic Filing

The five-year Information Technology Strategic Plan is designed to align with core operational needs of the court and leverage technologies to mitigate the continuing economic strain on court resources. Court IT will work closely with operations, executives and judiciary at a strategic level to create tactical plans to address operational challenges.

One of the first projects the Superior Court will implement is upgrading the current electronic filing system that supports complex litigation cases, and expand this ability to all civil cases. By expanding the ability to use electronic filing to additional case types, the court will be able to save resources and time in adjudication. This technology will also allow the court to leverage current collaborative technologies in Office 2013, Windows 8 and virtual desktops. It will aid in better collaboration with justice partners and reduce the need for printed documents. s

Court IT will collaborate with other statewide Superior Court IT Departments to find synergies, shared services and governance standards to help share the financial load and move to a shared vision of an electronic court.


David Glab

he Superior Court has approved and implemented a five-year Information Technology Strategic Plan to update and improve technologies focusing on people, processes and technologies. Core technologies that will be focused on include: Document Management Systems, Case Management Systems, Critical Infrastructure and Electronic filing.


Senior IT Manager

Mentoring in the Court


n late 2010, the Superior Court of Contra Costa was selected to participate in a Pilot Mentoring program for the California courts, under the auspices of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Access and Fairness Committee. Alameda, San Francisco and Solano courts joined us with the goal of developing a mentoring program for its employees to be instituted statewide after the conclusion of the pilot program. The mentoring program is voluntary, and intended to assist with the participant’s professional development, increase diversity in all levels of the court, improve morale and increase the retention of our valued employees.

sues a mentee may have. A mentee can explain why their goal is important to them. The mentor then offers suggestions and methods to conquer the goal, but at a pace the mentee can handle. A mentor does not judge, but offers insight that a mentee may not see or have. The program offers a mentee a chance to see things in a different light and/or offers them a chance to experience work outside their regular scope. “ Vicki Leung

“It was an honor for me to participate in the pilot mentorship program. The mentorship program has given me a deeper understanding of my career on a local as well as a statewide level. On a local level I In March 2012, the Pilot Mentoring prowas able to spend time with our financial gram was announced to all court employservices learning about the complex disees. Following the announcement, a comtribution of our collected court fines and mittee consisting of senior management fees. While on the state level I was able was convened and given the difficult task attend a judicial council meeting, tour Joey Carruesco to of selecting the participants from among the Court of Appeals as well as tour the HR Manager many qualified applicants to participate in Administrative Offices of the Court. The the pilot program. The following mentor/ unexpected gift the program provided mentee pairings were made in Contra Costa: was an actual mentor; a person that you could speak with confidentially and candidly about your thoughts, Mentor: Lucy Fogarty, Assistant Executive Officer, and fears, and aspirations regarding working at the court. Mentee: Jocelyn Wallace-Lewis, Courtroom Clerk The mentorship program was all that I had hoped for Mentor: Mimi Lyster, Director of Court Planning and and so much more.” Special Projects, and Jocelyn Wallace-Lewis Mentee: Benna Young, Courtroom Clerk “Overall, I think this mentor project was really posiMentor: Judy Walker, Court Manager, and tive. In my view, any time we can show our commitMentee: Vicki Leung, Information Systems Technician II ment to our staff, their enthusiasm will be shared and The three mentees were tasked with completing a passed around, which will benefit the court. We can do special “project” or assignment that they would be preso much mentoring informally through our everyday senting to the court’s Judicial Executive Committee. The encounters! The fact that this program is continuing mentors worked closely with the mentees to prepare helps me to be very encouraged about our future, bethem for their presentations. cause judges, administrators, and participants are so dedicated to its success.” In February 2013, all three of our mentees gave their Benna Young presentations to the leadership judges at their monthly Executive Committee meeting. While this endeavor was The mentors and mentees averaged between six and undoubtedly intimidating, all three did a wonderful job 14 face-to-face meetings over the pilot program period, in presenting their individual mentoring assignments. and between five and 25 email/telephone sessions. ConOne of the participants spoke about succession plantra Costa will now begin another phase of new mentorning; another spoke about overcoming her fear of public ing relationships. Based on the overwhelming success speaking, while another of our mentees described the of our pilot program, we have also recommended that complex matrix of how fees and fines are distributed. the Judicial Council consider implementing a statewide Below are quotes from our mentees: Mentorship program for all 58 courts. This item is currently on their December agenda. Stay tuned! s “Overall the program has been beneficial. The program offers mentees a safe space to work on goals/is-



Getting to Know Presiding Judge Barry Goode by Ken Torre Acting Court Executive Officer

Would you introduce us to your family? My wife, Erica (a semi-retired physician), and I have been married for 39 years. We have two grown children. I grew up in a close-knit family with two younger brothers, both of whom are now married with children. My parents are still alive as are an aunt and uncle, and a large collection of cousins with whom I remain close.

What was your college major and why? Political science. There were wonderful professors in the political science department, who focused on political philosophy (from Plato to John Dewey) in addition to the usual political science curriculum. I found the subject challenging and stimulating. I wanted more, so I chose that as my major.

What motivated you to become a lawyer and why? I recall being interested in government since at least junior high school. It is a little like asking why I like vanilla ice cream. I can’t really say. Anyhow, I figured that since governments made laws, it would probably be good to study law.



Did you have a mentor in college, law school or in your early professional life? I have been lucky enough to have had several; at least one in each position I have held.

Have you had any interesting positions before becoming a judge? Yes. My first job after law school was working for Adlai E. Stevenson, III, in the U.S. Senate. My last job before becoming a judge was working as the Governor’s Legal Affairs Secretary. (That’s like being White House counsel, but in the State Capitol.) In between, I had a very enjoyable private practice and found time to teach for a couple of semesters as an adjunct at USF Law School. All were interesting.

Do you have a legal figure that has influenced you? Many. I always observed others to see what I thought was good (or not so good) about their style, their work and their approach to the craft. I would then try to figure out whether and how I could integrate those lessons into my style and practice. When I was a young law-

yer, I also read many biographies of great lawyers—particularly those with transcripts of cross-examinations set out at length—to see how they did it.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area and how did you become a resident? Since 1974. My wife was accepted into medical school at U.C. San Francisco, so we moved here. For me it was a major change—not so for her. She grew up here. In fact, we live in the house where she grew up. Until a few years ago, we had neighbors who remembered her as an infant.

How do you balance work life and family? Better now. I did not do that so well when I was in practice. As a judge, my life is a bit more sane.

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As Governor Grey Davis’ Legal Affairs Secretary, what was your litigation philosophy? I’m not sure I had anything that rose to a “philosophy.” I took each case on its merits, tried to figure out its strengths and weaknesses and what was right and practical. Then I would bring as good an analysis as I could to my client.

Describe a typical work day or week of a Presiding Judge. There is nothing typical. You are constantly fielding things out of left field. I spend about 40 percent of my time on budget, maybe 30 percent on personnel issues, and then deal with a flow of paperwork, emails, calls and meetings. The only thing typical is the diversity of the issues I get.

documents. How did you acquire the mathematical and analytical skills to navigate within the state funding labyrinth? In school, I was always been good at math—at least until I hit calculus. When I was a kid, either my parents or an uncle showed me a book called “The Trachtenberg Speed System of Mathematics” and I enjoyed learning its arithmetical shortcuts. So I am pretty good at doing many calculations in my head. In addition, I have always thought that a key skill for a lawyer is to reduce a complicated question to its essential issue(s) and focus on them. That helps me deal with difficult issues.

You were appointed to the Trial Court Budget Working group by the Chief Justice. Why did you apply for that committee?

Besides being Presiding Judge, which court assignment has been the most difficult for you? I couldn’t say—I have enjoyed the challenge of learning new things. Both criminal law and family law were essentially new for me, but each assignment has had its own particular challenges. For example, in family law, the volume of the work is daunting. In complex civil, the legal issues present wonderful challenges.

What has been your biggest challenge leading our court during this Great Recession? Having to reduce staff and limit access to justice. I did not become a judge because I wanted to reduce access to justice. We have had only bad options available to us as our budget has been slashed. On the other hand, it has been heartening to see how the entire legal community—our court family and the Contra Costa Bar—has worked so hard to keep justice flowing to the maximum extent possible.

You have a substantial ability to understand complex financial

In good times, I always thought budgets were boring, but in these times, there is nothing more important. Our ability to provide access to justice is terribly dependent on the amount of money allocated to our court. That’s why I spend so much time on these issues.

What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you? I’ll never tell.

You have an annual vacation trip to the great outdoors. What do you do on this trip? Every year, we go to a dude ranch in the Eastern Sierras, just outside Bridgeport. I ride and sometimes help move cattle. Other days, my wife and I love to hike in the canyons up there. It’s beautiful country. Plus, we have a number of friends who go the same week we do, so we get to spend time with them as well as with the people who run the ranch, who have become good friends too. s



inns of court


nd they say that the law is an uncreative field. At the September 11, 2013, Inns of Court meeting, Judge Christopher Bowen and his pupilage group (starring Angela Habibi, Philip Simpkins, Dawn Ceizler, Konstantine Demiris, Bonnie Johnson, David Pearson, Tod Ratfield and Marie Quashnock) showed that one can bring an original approach to the law.

Superhero Justice

by Matthew Talbot

They staged a series of vignettes based on the characters from “The Avengers.” Judge Bowen was Iron Man, Marie Quashnock was Thor, David Pearson was Captain America, Dawn Ceizler was Black Widow and Phil Simpkins was the Incredible Hulk. First, we started with an eight-minute clip of “The Avengers” movie. Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen “The Avengers” yet, stop reading this article and return to the president’s message by Jay Chafetz instead. I doubt it will reveal any plot points about the movie. OK, last chance and ... in the clip, a giant fight between the forces of good and evil destroy New York City (made LA for the purpose of this presentation, since none of us know New York law). Now, the forces of good are being sued for all of the damages associated with the destruction. The first issue related to conflicts of interest. Dawn Ceizler, as Black Widow, was both a defendant and the attorney offering to represent all parties. You don’t have to study for the MPRE to realize there is a problem here. Kosta Demiris spurred the Inns group in a discussion of what needs to be done to avoid problems with conflicts of interest, including obtaining written consent after proper disclosure. The next issue was that of service of process. How can one serve Thor, a god? Can one personally serve a nonhuman? And where does he reside? Can you do a nail and mail to Valhalla? Bonnie Johnson provided info on service and how one might serve a living god.



Another issue that was discussed was whether the Incredible Hulk had the capacity to commit the crimes in question. When Bruce Banner explodes into the Hulk, does he go insane? Does he lack the capacity to understand what he is doing, acting solely on hatred and rage? The Inns group discussed the varying standards for capacity and whether the Hulk’s “unique” mental state would apply under them. The next defense related to Captain America. Does he have immunity as a member of the armed forces? There are limited powers for the federal government to enforce state laws (i.e., police action). However, here, the U.S. president did not order Captain America to take any action, likely defeating a government immunity defense for Captain America. But what about the superheroes acting as Good Samaritans? That may be exactly what our fair heroes need to

escape the long arm of the law. It turns out you can get a Good Samaritan defense if you are acting in good faith and not for money. Score! But wait! What if somebody brings an action against Iron Man for his (SPOILER ALERT!) building malfunctioning and bringing in the portal that let the aliens here to destroy Earth? Not 100 percent certain if the science of that is accurate, but it is what happens in the movie. The Inns group discussed potential liability for Iron Man, including the effects of Prop 51, which passed in 1986, and limited joint and several liability for defendants. It was intended to organize liability in better proportion to people’s actual fault instead of requiring one defendant to pay the entire amount of damages, even if they were merely 1 percent at fault. It was an extremely creative approach to teaching a variety of different subjects. The next event will be held on November 14, 2013. If you are interested in adding your name to the wait list for RGMAIOC membership, please contact Scott Reep at s

Candice E. Stoddard Personal Injury Real Estate Litigation Trust and Estate Disputes Mediation


Law Offices of Candice E. Stoddard 1350 Treat Blvd., Suite 420 Walnut Creek, CA 94597

925.942.5100   •   fax 925.933.3801 Practicing law in the East Bay for over 25 years



civil jury verdicts

by Matt Guichard

Falls, Leaks and Eminent Domain


e finally have some cases to report in our Civil Jury Verdicts column. I certainly remember when I first started writing our column—it was a regular monthly event. Several things have contributed to the dearth of reporting: Fewer cases are being filed; fewer cases are going to trial; due to budget cuts, we no longer get the monthly reporting statistics from the court; ADR is working as planned; and many attorneys are just too busy to report their verdicts. Having said that, trials are taking place on a regular basis in Contra Costa County and we would like to hear about them.

Factually, the case involved a fall into a quarry as Plaintiff was fleeing from UC Santa Cruz Police. Apparently a number of students informally gathered at the Upper Quarry Amphitheater on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Around midnight, UCSC police officers arrived due to an illegal campfire.

Nick Casper of Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook has become a regular contributor to our Civil Jury Verdicts column, and provided a report as follows: David H. Dines v. The Regents of the University of California, Case No. RG10502000, was tried before the Honorable Lawrence J. Appel in the Alameda County Superior Court. Nick Casper and Donald Tenconi represented the Plaintiff. Michael A. Laurenson and Marie Trimble Holvick of San Francisco represented the Defendant University.

Plaintiff contended the area from which he exited constituted a dangerous condition of public property, as there were no protective barriers or signage indicating the large drop from the quarry ledge.

Plaintiff went up some stairs, exited through a large gap in a fence, traveled a few paces in the dark and fell 25 feet into the quarry. Plaintiff suffered multiple left ankle and foot fractures, a closed head injury, facial bone fractures, rib fractures and a collapsed lung. Plaintiff was air lifted to Stanford Hospital.

The jury found the Plaintiff was harmed by the dangerous condition and found Defendant 67 percent liable. The jury awarded Plaintiff $317,510 and reduced that to $212,731 due to 33 percent comparative fault.

JAY CHAFETZ Personal Injury Trust & Estate Disputes Medical Malpractice Mediation (PI and Med Mal) Law Offices of Jay Chafetz 2033 N. Main Street Suite750 Walnut Creek, CA 94596



Here for you when you need a trial attorney

925.933.5890 fax 925.933.5620

Kelly v. Contra Costa Water District, Case No. C10-01388, was tried before the Honorable Laurel Brady in the Contra Costa Superior Court. Plaintiff was represented by Don Odell of Pleasanton. Defendant District was represented by Craig J. Judson and Sharon Nagle of Walnut Creek. The Kellys constructed a mini-storage facility in Pittsburg, California, in the early 1990s. There was a dispute as to when the Kellys noticed cracking in the foundations of the property. CCWD was first called to the site

in December 2004 because water was pooling near the entrance to the property. CCWD monitored the property for the presence of water over the next several years, and investigated the condition of a water pipeline nearby. CCWD determined there was a water leak, and repaired that leak in April 2008. Plaintiffs alleged the leak caused the damage to their property and they could only repair their property by evicting all tenants and replacing the foundation throughout the entire site. CCWD admitted its pipeline caused the leak, but contended the leak was small and caused minimal damage. Before trial, Plaintiffs demanded $3,200,000. Defendant offered $600,000 by CCP 998, then offered $1,000,000 before trial. The jury returned a verdict of $414,000 in favor of Plaintiffs; however that was reduced to $331,200 due to comparative fault. Additionally, Defendant filed a cost bill seeking a set off of $113,118, effectively reducing the judgment to $218,082: A good example of the effectiveness of the CCP 998 offer strategy. Franks v. Contra Costa ARC was tried before the Honorable Laurel Brady. Clyde Butts of Walnut Creek represented the Plaintiff. Judy Anderson of Walnut Creek represented the Defendant. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was reportedly five years old. He suffered a fracture of his left elbow at a preschool that specialized in treating special needs kids with behavioral disorders, such as severe aggression and

disruptive behavior disorder. Plaintiff was pushed off an elevated playground structure by another five-year-old child. Plaintiff alleged negligent supervision by a teacher who was directing the Plaintiff to climb down a pole on the play structure. Defendant made a $10,000 offer two weeks before trial. Plaintiff made a CCP 998 offer to settle in the sum of $250,000. The Jury returned a verdict of $282,885.85 after a three-week trial. Our own Scott Jenny reported on an interesting eminent domain case he was involved with in Sonoma County. The Press Democrat reported it as follows: “Sonoma County officials have agreed to pay $815,000 for a family’s property next to the Charles M. Schultz Airport for a runway extension project, settling the contentious case on the eve of trial.” Scott Jenny represented the Ritter family. Apparently, County Counsel represented Sonoma County. The county agreed to the settlement sum, together with the relocation expenses for the family. Interestingly, the County of Sonoma had offered $135,000 for the approximately 6.5 acres, despite the county assessor valuing the property at $408,000. Did the left hand know what the right hand was doing? At any rate, sounds like Scott got the right result and justice was done. Please keep those civil verdict/settlement emails coming to me at s

Morrill Law Firm 1333 N. California Blvd., Ste 620 • Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Phone 925.322.8615 • Fax 925.357.3151

Will & Trust Litigation Financial Elder Abuse Conservatorships General Civil Litigation Probate & Civil Appeals Mediation Joseph Morrill Andrew R. Verriere

Nicole Morrill Paralegal




What suggestions do you have for improvements and/or changes at the Contra Costa Superior Court?

Add an attorney window for limited jurisdiction matters or have a dedicated attorney only window for all matters.

Have a simple video in the civil clerk’s office for the public to see, explaining the benefits of mediation and ADR.

David Hermelin

Tom Cain

Hermelin Law Firm

There should be online availability of documents like in San Francisco and Alameda counties.

Jordan J. “Jody” Yudien Yudien Law Firm

Understood that we don’t have the funding for efiling. What about doing it on a limited basis by allowing submission of Case Management Statements by email to one email box at the clerk’s office? (Another local county that normally follows our lead has taken the lead by implementing this practice.)

Harvey Sohnen When an original Will is lodged after a person’s death, the clerk’s office should include a cover sheet stamped with the pertinent information: i.e., the Court and County name, “Received” or “Lodged,” the date, any reference number and the receipt for the lodge fee. Currently they just send back a generic receipt with no identifying information. The $50 fee should at least get clients a proper lodged receipt!

Dess Benedetto

Family Trust Law Center

Law Office of Sohnen & Kelly

Court should scan documents into website and allow litigants to access said documents. Minute orders should be posted online and be accessible online. Using a “fax & file” system: allowing litigants to pay about 50 cents a page. This would generate income for our court and save litigants money also. (Alameda County has this system in place.)

Howard R. Melamed




November 7 | Women’s Section

Rainmaking for Women more details on page 36 November 22 | CCCBA

December 5 | Barristers Section

Barristers Holiday Party more details on page 36 December 19 | CCCBA

19th Annual MCLE Spectacular

CCCBA Holiday Party

more details on page 22

more details on page 36

December 5 | Intellectual Property Section

January 17 | Alternative Dispute Resolution Section

IP Year in Review Summary and Practice Roundtable

Top Five Reason Mediations Fail and How To Avoid Them

more details on page 36

Elder Law is

more details on page 36

The average survival rate is eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s — some live as few as three years after diagnosis, while others live as long as 20. Most people with Alzheimer’s don’t die from the disease itself, but from pneumonia, a urinary tract infection or complications from a fall. Until there’s a cure, people with the disease will need caregiving and legal advice. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately one in ten families has a relative with this disease. Of the four million people living in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s disease, the majority live at home — often receiving care from family members.

If the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s, call elder law attorney

Michael J. Young

Estate Planning, Disability, Medi-Cal, Long-term Care & VA Planning

CLASSIFIEDS ACUNA CONSULTING EXPERTISE Attorney & Fiduciary Support Services Conservator, Probate, Estate Accounting. Practice management, system implementation and strategic business planning. Expert witness, professional; timely excellence. Loren R. Acuña, MBA, CPFL #534 | (925) 906-1882

PROBATE PARALEGAL TO ATTORNEYS Joanne C. McCarthy. 2204 Concord Blvd. Concord, CA 94520. Call (925) 689-9244.

Protect your loved ones, home and independence.

Alzheimer’s Planning


925.256.0298 1931 San Miguel Drive, Suite 220 Walnut Creek, California 94596



November 7 | Women’s Section

December 5 | Intellectual Property Section

Rainmaking for Women

IP Year in Review - Summary and Practice Roundtable

What makes successful rainmakers? Is the ability to be a rainmaker impacted by gender? Can rainmaking be taught? These are just some of the issues that will be discussed in the context of a nationwide study identifying the characteristics of successful rainmakers. Join this controversial and energizing conversation to see how the information from this study can change your approach to increasing your book of business. Speaker: Patricia Gillette, Partner, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Speaker: Stuart J. West, Esq. Time: 6 pm – 7:30 pm Location: Pyramid Alehouse 1410 Locust Street, Walnut Creek MCLE: 1 hour general credit

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm Location: Scott’s Garden Restaurant 1333 N. California Blvd., Walnut Creek

Registration: Online at

Cost: $35 for section members and law student members, $40 for CCCBA members, $45 for non-members

More Info: Contact Theresa Hurley at (925) 370-2548

Registration: Online at More Info: Contact Theresa Hurley at (925) 370-2548 December 5 | Barristers Section

December 19 | CCCBA

Barristers Holiday Party

CCCBA Holiday Party

Save the date! More information to come.

To gain admittance to our Holiday Party, please bring a non-perishable food item (or more) for donation to the Contra Costa Food Bank and/or toy(s) for donation to the 21st Annual Toy Drive for homeless children, sponsored by the CCCBA’s Juvenile Section.

Location: TBD More Info: Contact Theresa Hurley at (925) 370-2548


Free for IP Section Members! Includes one drink (house beer or wine) and hors d’oeuvres.

Cost: Free for section members and law student members, $10 for CCCBA members, $15 for non-members

Time: 6 pm – 9 pm


Time: 4:30 pm – 7 pm Location: CCCBA Office 2300 Clayton Rd., Suite 520, Concord More Info: Contact Theresa Hurley at (925) 370-2548


1333 N. California Blvd., Ste. 620 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Phone: (925) 937-1517 Fax: (925) 891-9929 January 17 | Alternative Dispute Resolution Section

Top Five Reason Mediations Fail and How To Avoid Them What’s most likely to kill your success in mediation? What should you be looking out for most keenly and how can you equip yourself to handle each of the most likely traps? Based on their collective centuries of experience and tens of thousands of cases, this workshop brings you their most useful insights. Come interview Judge James and Ron Kelly on how you can avoid the most common causes of failed mediations. Speaker: Hon. Ellen James (Ret.) and Ron Kelly Time: 8:30 am – 1 pm Location: CCCBA Office, 5th Fl. Conference Rm. 2300 Clayton Road, Concord MCLE: 3 hours general credit Cost: $90 for section members and law student members, $95 for CCCBA members, $100 for non-members Registration: Online at



Thank you to our 2013

Section Leaders!

Our Section Leaders are very hard-working volunteers. In addition to their busy practices, they plan and organize MCLE and social programs, act as an information conduit and promote networking opportunities for their members. It is thanks to these dedicated leaders that CCCBA is able to provide such a wide array of events to our members. ADR: Kenneth Strongman APPELLATE: Gary A. Watt BANKRUPTCY: Marlene Weinstein BARRISTERS: Kristen Bargmeyer BLCC: D. Benjamin Borson ESTATE PLANNING & PROBATE: Mark Frisbie CRIMINAL: Mary Carey DIVERSITY: Mary Grace Guzman and Silky Sahnan ELDER: Joseph Morrill EMPLOYMENT: Beth Mora FAMILY LAW: Karen Johnson INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Stuart J. West JUVENILE: Rhonda Wilson-Rice LITIGATION: Joshua Cohen and Geoffrey Steele PRO BONO: Samantha Sepehr and Peggy Bristol-Wright REAL ESTATE: Mike Durkee SOLO/SMALL FIRM: Heidi Coad-Hermelin LAW STUDENT: Miriam Munguia, James Kim and Becky Harris TAXATION: Mark Ericsson WEST COUNTY: Doris Mitchell WOMENS: Ericka Ackeret and Marta Vanegas






* Adjunct Professor Taxation Golden Gate University Law School, LL.M. Taxation Program


212 1615 Bonanza Street, Suite 204 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 T (925) 280 7788

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YOUR MEMBERSHIP HELPED US ACCOMPLISH SO MUCH THIS YEAR! zz In collaboration with our 21 sections, we offered more than 100 MCLE events. This year’s events included the Law Practice Management Series, our annual Mexico MCLE trip, the new Women’s Section Power Lunches and the Barristers new attorney programs. Along with numerous networking mixers and other social events, we brought back the Get to Know Your Judges events. In addition, we offered self-study opportunities to earn legal education credits and worked with our partner organizations to offer member discounts to outside MCLE events. Our annual MCLE Spectacular on November 22 once again features top-notch speakers and presenters, including the UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. zz We focused on providing you with tools to grow your practice in these difficult economic times. Our expanded Law Practice Management Series explored important skill sets such as creating a modern law practice, and the impact of issues like the new healthcare legislation. zz Our Lawyer Referral & Information Service (LRIS) exceeded our mark of generating more than $2 million in attorney fees last year, with nearly 5,000 calls resulting in client consultations. zz With your help, we offered unmatched support to our community with hundreds of free legal clinics and workshops. In addition, we hit our goal of raising $1 million for the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano through our annual Food from the Bar competition. With the help of our generous donors, we also supported Contra Costa Senior Legal Services with our annual Bar Fund Gala, raising more than $50,000 in support of seniors in need of legal assistance. We are proud of what we have been able to do and we could not have done it without you.

RENEW YOUR CCCBA MEMBERSHIP TODAY. With your support, we can offer even more opportunities for personal and professional development to members like you, and give back to the community in meaningful and rewarding ways.


Renew your membership online at

Renew early and you could win!


Click the “Renew” link in the top right corner.


Log in to your personal membership profile.

If you renew online and pay by December 31, you’ll be entered into a drawing to WIN A FREE 2014


Review your current membership information and make any necessary changes.


Complete the secure payment section using a major credit card, click “Submit Form” and you are renewed!

CCCBA MEMBERSHIP PACKAGE! Don’t miss this chance to get a refund of your membership dues—up to a $270 value!




Serving the entire Bay Area • Deposition Reporting • Experienced Professional Reporters • Computerized Transcription • Deposition Suites Available • Expeditious Delivery • BART Accessible

2121 N. California Blvd.  Suite 210 Walnut Creek, CA 94596

925.930.7388 fax




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