Contra Costa Lawyer - November 2022 Dependency and Protective Proceedings Issue

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Contra Costa LAWYER

Dependency and Protective Proceedings

Volume 35, Number 6 | November 2022

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Contra Costa LAWYER

Volume 35, Number 6 – November 2022

The official publication of the Contra Costa County Bar Association


INSIDE: Probate Guardianships and Juvenile Dependency Law: Undervalued but Richly Rewarding, by Amanda Sherwood and Oliver Greenwood, Guest Editors

In re Caden C .: The Supreme Court Recognizes No Parent is Perfect, by Johanna Kwasniewski and Amanda Sherwood

Your Voice Can Change a Child’s Story, by Sarah Bradford . . .



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The Contra Costa Lawyer (ISSN 1063-4444) is published six times in 2022 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 and additional mailing offices. 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 con strued as an endorsement of the product or service offered unless it is specifically stated in the ad that there is such approval or endorsement.

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Representing Minors in Guardianships: Tips and Tricks of the Trade, by Lara Heisler

What Are Reasonable Efforts? When Do They Apply? by Pamela Gagliani

The Uneven Playing Field of Guardianship, by Nicolás C . Vaca . . . 22

Navigating the (e)States of Guardianship Panic, by Daniel Vaughan


The Inductions of The Honorable Glenn Kim and

Honorable Colleen Gleason

of Food From the Bar 2022

Bar Fund Benefit

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New Members

MCLE Trips Announced

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INSIDE: Probate Guardianships and Juvenile Dependency Law: Undervalued but Richly Rewarding

We are excited to bring you this unique and informative crossover issue related to the black sheep of the legal profession: protecting children. As a former child welfare attorney (Amanda) and practicing probate attorneys (both of us), we know first-hand that Probate Guard ianships and Juvenile Dependency are often overlooked and under valued in the legal profession - the pay is poor, the caseloads are high, and the work is hard. But these practices are rich, highly specialized fields that encompass a wide range of legal issues found not only in the Probate or Welfare and Institutions Codes: practitioners must also be familiar with education law, public benefits law, federal funding laws, “Indian” law, and constitutional rights. While at times these cases may feel as if they grind at an attor ney’s soul, there is a level of satis faction that comes from them that is not found in any other practice area.

Many attorneys enter the practice of law with the goal of finding meaning and a purpose in their work. They

want to make a difference in the world, yet come away each day knowing that they have only helped the hollow shell of a corporate void. Sure, corporate voids need atten tion, but that is the subject of for other issues of the magazine. Attor neys representing families in protec tive proceedings know that they are making a difference on a day-to-day basis as they are able to see the fruits of their labor.

In this issue, we will explore what it means to families, children, and practitioners to be involved in protective proceedings, the overlap of safety and money, what actions the government must take when it removes children from their homes, and what happens when the government seeks to permanently sever parental rights. We hope this crossover issue gives members the opportunity to look behind the curtain of protective proceedings, and find that while the work is hard, it is also intellectually stimulating and deeply meaningful.

As an idealistic new lawyer, Amanda Sherwood wanted to work in an area that made a difference in people’s lives. She practiced juvenile dependency for nearly 10 years, before seeking new challenges as a trusts and estate prac titioner with Hartog, Baer, and Hand in 2021 (now Hartog, Baer, Zabronsky & Verriere, APC). As a dependency attorney, Amanda represented children, parents, foster parents, and relatives involved with the foster care system, and developed an exceptionally dark sense of humor.

Oliver Greenwood . . .is a mammal, that practices probate law. He is a solo, but not lonely, practitioner at the Law Offices of Oliver Greenwood and is attempting to save the world one case at a time through Guardianships, Conser vatorships and a whole heap of other probate related matters. He is a former President of the CCCBA and a swell dancer.


In re Caden C.: The Supreme Court Recognizes No Parent is Perfect

“The dependency statutes were enacted to prevent harm to children. They prevent harm at the outset of the dependency process by removing children from situations where they are likely to suffer abuse or neglect. But they also prevent harm in the process of selecting permanent placement through the parentalbenefit exception, by allowing certain children to preserve emotionally important parental relation ships.” (In re Caden C. (2021) 11 Cal. 5th 614, 644 (“Caden C.”).)

At a hearing on termination of parental rights, the court is required to consider a “permanent plan” for a child in the following order of preference: adoption, legal guardianship, and long-term foster care. (Welf. & Inst. Code § 366.26, subd. (b)) The “parental-benefit exception” allows parents to prevent termination of their rights if, by a preponderance of the evidence, they can show: 1) “regular visitation and contact with the child, taking into account the extent of visitation permitted”; 2) “the child has a substantial, positive, emotional attachment to the parent — the kind of attachment implying that the child would benefit from continuing the relationship;” and 3) “termi nating that attachment would be detrimental to the child even when balanced against the countervailing benefit of a new adoptive home.” (Caden C., supra, 11 Cal. 5th at 636; See also In re Autumn H. (1994) 27 Cal. App.4th 567; Welf. & Inst. Code § 366.26, subd. (c)(1) (B)(i); Evid. Code, § 115.)

The California Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in Caden C. gives parents and children a small ray of hope when parental rights are at stake. It clari fies preexisting law, recognizing the humanity of parents in juvenile court and the importance of chil

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In Re. Caden C:

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dren’s relationship with them. It also clearly instructs judges to stop adding conditions to the parentalbenefit exception above and beyond those already required by statute.

Factual and Procedural Background

The Child Welfare Agency (“the Agency”) removed four-year-old Caden from his mother’s care due to her drug use, suicidal ideation, and homelessness. Caden was placed with a non-related extended family member (“NREFM”) before returning to his mother’s care in July, 2014. Mother received Family Maintenance services until June, 2016 when the Agency removed Caden again due to her relapse.

The court was prevented by statute from granting Mother additional services. It made an order placing seven-year-old Caden in long-term foster care, in part to give Mother time to regain stability and sobriety.

In January 2018, the court set a “Selec tion and Implementation Hearing” pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26 (“.26 hearing”).

After four days of trial, including dueling expert testimony, the court did not terminate Mother’s parental rights, finding that it would be detrimental to Caden to do so. Now about nine years old, Caden’s two remaining options were either legal guardianship or continued longterm foster care. Caden’s NREFM caregiver asked that Caden remain in her home under a plan of longterm foster care due to her concerns about Mother’s behavior if the court ordered legal guardianship. The court granted that request, and the Agency and Caden’s attorney appealed.

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The First District Court of Appeal reversed, holding Mother’s parental rights should have been terminated. It found that “no reasonable court could have concluded that a compel ling justification had been made for forgoing adoption.” (In re Caden C. (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 87, 115.) It opined that there was little chance Caden would ever return to his mother’s care and that Caden’s rela tionship with his mother was some times difficult, rocky, and had not been perfect for many, many years, which undercut the trial court’s findings. The appellate court argued that Mother’s failure to address the problems which led to the depen dency meant “no reasonable court would apply the beneficial relation ship exception …” (Id. at p. 112.) It remanded the case to the juvenile court, strongly suggesting termina tion of Mother’s parental rights. (Id. at p. 116.)

Supreme Court’s Ruling

On review, the Supreme Court reversed. Its opinion obliterates the idea that the parental-benefit exception should not apply due to a parent’s ongoing struggles with sobriety. The Supreme Court pointed out that “…when the court holds a section 366.26 hearing, it all but presupposes that the parent has not been successful in main taining the reunification plan meant to address the problems leading to dependency.” (Caden C., supra, 11 Cal. 5th at 637.) “[M]aking a parent’s continued struggles with the issues leading to dependency, standing alone, a bar to the exception would effectively write the exception out of the statute.” (Ibid.) “The parent’s continuing difficulty with mental health or substance abuse may not be used as a basis for determining the fate of the parental relationship by assigning blame, making moral judgments about the fitness of the parent, or rewarding or punishing a parent.” (Id. at p. 638.) Nor can trial courts use the implausibility

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In Re. Caden C: Continued from page 8

of future reunification to under mine the parental-benefit exception. “Even where it may never make sense to permit the child to live with the parent, termination may be detrimental.” (Id. at p. 634.)

The Supreme Court’s decision rebukes the idea floating around in lower courts that parents are not only required to meet the three elements of the parental-benefit exception but also must demonstrate a some addi tional “compelling reason . . . termi nation of parental rights would be detrimental to the child…” (Id. at p. 631.) Caden C. states proving the three statutory elements of the parental-benefit exception is compelling enough.


If you have a parent client who is facing termination of their parental

rights, you should always consider presenting expert testimony about the bond between the parent and child. Attorneys representing children need to seriously consider supporting legal guardianship to protect their clients’ rights to maintain beneficial relation ships with their parents.

Caden C. has given depen dency practitioners a great deal of hope and clarity. Gener ally, if social workers and minors’ counsel support termination of parental rights, it is nearly impossible to prevent the termina tion from happening. Caden C. clearly removes the additional requirement of showing a further “compelling reason” used by trial courts and the Court

of Appeal to justify termination of parental rights.

Johanna Kwasniewski has a contract with Contra Costa Juvenile Advo cates (CCJA) to repre sent children, parents, and legal guardians in juvenile dependency proceedings. She is also a board member of CCJA and is working towards her certification as a Child Welfare Specialist. Her last name is pronounced QUASHNEV-SKI.

Amanda Sherwood practiced juvenile dependency for nearly 10 years, before seeking new challenges as a trusts and estate practi tioner with Hartog, Baer, and Hand in 2021 (now Hartog, Baer, Zabronsky & Verriere, APC).


Foster Care in Contra Costa

Each year, through no fault of their own, hundreds of abused or neglected children in Contra Costa County come under the court’s care because they are unable to live safely at home. Shortly after, dozens of strangers are introduced into their lives, including law enforce ment officers, social workers, judges, lawyers, resource parents, therapists, visitation staff, and more. Even after they get settled, placement changes can happen frequently, and case workers and providers assigned to their case can change, leaving children and youth to feel anxious, vulnerable, and alone.

Because of the enormous number of cases filed in juvenile court and dwindling resources to adequately investigate them, judges are often compelled to make permanencyplanning decisions based on less than complete or objective informa tion. This is where Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volun teers can make a meaningful differ ence.

Court Appointed Special Advocates

CASA was started in Seattle, Wash ington in 1977 by Juvenile Court Judge David Soukup. Judge Soukup found he desperately needed more information about the children and youth that were appearing before him in court. He believed welltrained volunteers could ensure children’s voices were being heard and provide judges with the needed insight to make the best possible decisions. Our local program, the fourth in the nation, was founded in 1981 through the leadership of Judge Richard Patsey.

CASA of Contra Costa County is an independent, 501(c)(3) community-

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Your Voice Can Change a Child’s Story


benefit organization, but we operate under the authority of and according to guidelines established by the Judi cial Council, as outlined in California Welfare and Institutions Code §100 et seq., and California Rules of Court, rule 5.655. We are members of both the National CASA/GAL Association for Children and California CASA Association.

The Court Appointed Special Advo cates Program recruits, trains, and supports volunteer advocates as a powerful voice for the best interest of abused and neglected children during the court process, to help every child ultimately thrive in a safe, stable, and permanent home. While others in the child’s life may come and go, a CASA volunteer commits to meeting weekly with the child

or youth for a minimum of one full year, though many of our volunteers have been on their cases for years.

A Lasting Difference

CASA volunteers advocate one-onone for abused and neglected chil dren in foster care to make sure they do not get lost in the overburdened legal system or languish in an inap propriate placement. They are the child’s voice in court and speak up for the child’s best interests every step along the way. Volunteers help reduce delays and continuances and stay with each case until it is closed after the child or youth is placed in a safe and permanent home.

CASA volunteers are extensively trained through a trauma-informed lens and focus on all aspects of a child’s well-being and development. They spend time weekly with their youth, developing a relationship, building trust, and helping to spark joy and curiosity as they venture out

into the community, exploring parks, playing games or sports, enjoying a meal, visiting libraries, museums, farmers’ markets, and more. These weekly visits are opportunities for children and youth to enjoy time out of their resource or group home placement, to explore new interests, and to experience hope as they look towards their future.

CASA volunteers also maintain ongoing communication with all parties involved in the case, including school personnel, thera pists, social workers, caregivers, attorneys, and often the youth’s family members, to best serve their youth’s unique interests. They write reports for the court, attend Child and Family Team Meetings, and attend all court hearings for their child or youth.

CASA volunteers carefully monitor reading progress in younger chil dren, and secure Individualized

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Education Programs (IEPs) as needed. Our reproductive health program provides education and access to reproductive health care, and our mental health program, A Home Within-CASA Therapy Project, provides free teletherapy for foster youth who do not qualify for services under Medi-Cal.

In addition to our services for abused and neglected children and youth, the National CASA Association works to provide community education and awareness concerning the issues of child abuse, neglect, and child welfare policy. It is also committed to working towards public policies that promote child abuse prevention and address reforms in the juvenile dependency and foster care systems.

An Attorney’s Impact on Youth in Care

As an attorney, you bring a powerful voice to the table and can help change a child’s story in a multi tude of ways. If you are working in dependency, a referral for your child or youth to have a CASA volunteer can make a lasting difference. If you are not working in dependency, consider volunteering with CASA and working with a local child or youth in care. Additionally, share about CASA with your colleagues, in hopes of each child in foster care receiving a referral and having the benefit of a CASA volunteer on their case.

CASA of Contra Costa County provides a unique blend of evidencebased services and advocacy for youth in foster care, and the outcomes are both meaningful and measurable. Youth in foster care are often in the pipeline for homeless ness, prison, and poverty, but by working together we can interrupt this progression with programs that truly address their needs and prepare them to become successful adults.

When you volunteer or refer a child or youth to CASA, you are making a

difference for not only that child, but for their family and for generations to come. CASA’s programs address factors that often lead to poverty and help children and youth move forward to a more stable future.

In this past fiscal year, CASA of Contra Costa County has served 225 local children and youth. With your referrals and support, CASA can help even more children in care who would benefit from a CASA volun teer.

To learn more, or to volunteer, visit our website or email

Sarah Bradford is the Recruitment & Outreach Coordinator at CASA of Contra Costa County. She can be reached at (925) 256-7284

Recipients of the 2022 Hon. Patricia Herron and the Hon. Ellen James Scholarship Announced

The Contra Costa County Bar Asso ciation Women’s Section is pleased to announce the 2022 recipients of the Hon. Patricia Herron and the Hon. Ellen James Scholarship are Hayden Rain Craig and Jessica Ward. Both women are very deserving of the scholarship and the Women’s Section appreciates the continued support from CCCBA members.

Hayden Rain Craig is a student at Santa Clara University School of Law and is a 2023 juris doctor candidate. She grew up in Contra Costa County and worked in the Contra Costa County District Attor ney’s Office the last two summers. Hayden also volunteers with Community Violence Solutions.

She looks forward to continuing her career with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office after law school.

Jessica Ward is a student at John F. Kennedy College of Law, North central University and is a 2023 juris doctor candidate. She moved to Contra Costa County at a very young age and grew up here. Jessica plans to open her own law firm in Contra Costa County after gradu ation. Her firm will focus on estate planning and probate law. She also hopes to start a non-profit to provide resources to single parents.

Please join us in congratulating these two amazing women!


Representing Minors in Guardianships: Tips and Tricks of the Trade

When I boldly claim, “I love repre senting kids in guardianship cases, those are my absolute favorites!” other lawyers often shake their heads in disbelief or audibly gasp. For me, nothing is more gratifying, or makes me feel more like a “coun selor at law,” than working with a fractured family to help a child find a safe landing.

Guardianships are tough. Most people – including lawyers – think that Probate Court deals exclu sively with issues related to aging and death. While it is true that most issues before our probate judges involve disputes over generational wealth or conflicts involving elder abuse or conservatorships, guard ianship matters take up a growing percentage of probate court dockets.

In general, if a person who wishes to obtain legal custody of a minor is a non-biological parent, the case

begins as a guardianship proceeding in Probate Court. Probate Court was a logical origin for non-parent custody cases because long ago, when the Probate Court was deciding what to do with a deceased person’s assets, it made perfect sense for that same court to determine where an orphaned child should live. As our legal systems evolved, and custody disputes became more complex, involving issues of parental abuse/neglect, or conflict between the parents, Dependency Court and Family Court created more robust resources for tackling custody matters.

Different Courts, Different Services

As a rule of thumb, Family Court trumps Probate Court, and Juvenile Dependency Court (aka Dependency Court) trumps Family Court when it comes to jurisdictional issues in child


custody disputes. Probate Court is often the last chance for kids to settle in to a safe and stable home life.

Dependency Court handles custody cases when Child Protective Services has substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect. In Dependency Court, all parties (parents, children, social service agencies) are repre sented by attorneys. Moreover, in Dependency Court, services such as counseling, parenting classes, and drug testing are provided to the parties. Dependency Court has the authority to place children with rela tives or non-relatives (i.e., foster care, group homes).

Family Court handles cases when parents cannot agree on child custody, parentage, parental visita tion, and in limited circumstances, visitation for other relatives.1 In Family Court, parents may hire counsel and attorneys are sometimes appointed in contentious cases to represent minors to represent the child’s best interest.2 Family Court often oversees financial support orders, parental custody and visita tion orders that contemplate holi days, and of course, divorce proceed ings. When a party files a custody or visitation request with the court, the parties are required to attend media tion to help work through practical and legal obstacles that exist in diffi cult disputes.3

Probate Court handles custody cases when a relative or friend is willing to assume legal responsibility for the child when parental custody is problematic, as well as adoption cases. The person seeking guard ianship must be able to provide the court with evidence that parental custody would be harmful and that a guardianship would be in the minor’s best interest. Often, guard ianship proceedings are filed by pro per litigants who start the process feeling desperate. In every guard ianship case, a probate court investi gator meets with all parties, conducts extensive background checks, and

prepares a detailed report for the judge and parties. Unfortunately, while some probate courts offer mediation for parties, counsel is not appointed for parents, counsel is only sometimes appointed for minors, and no social services or parenting classes are offered. So unlike Family Court and Dependency Court, where there are various services available to the parties, in Probate Court, the insight provided by minor’s counsel and Probate Court investigators is hugely impactful, putting significant pressure on minor’s counsel.

It is rewarding to serve as minor’s counsel in guardianship matters because you are often the lone voice advocating for the best interests of the child. And even though trying to figure out “best interests” is always challenging and emotionally taxing for minor’s counsel, it is also the most soul satisfying work you can do as an attorney. As minor’s counsel, you can experience, in real time, how your work can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Nothing feels better than being able to a help a child obtain a safe, loving and happy home – either with parents or guardians.

Diving Into the Case –Collaborate with Court Investigators

Representing minors in guardian ships is a big responsibility. The court is going to rely heavily on your recommendations. The parents and guardians regale the court with wildly differing takes on what the child wants and what the child needs.

It is helpful for minor’s counsel to work collaboratively with the court investigator. As minor’s counsel, use the authority granted in your order of appointment to speak with your client’s therapists, doctors, schools and social contacts. The court inves tigator has the authority to obtain CFS records, conduct background checks, speak with law enforcement, and interview all parties. This infor mation helps refine your impressions of the parties.

Minor’s counsel should think of court investigators the way that criminal defense attorneys think of private investigators – a secret weapon of sorts. Court investigators are a huge resource for information and advice. It is always a good idea to reach out the investigator assigned to the matter and speak directly so that you can compare notes, ask questions and troubleshoot your concerns as a team. While you may not always agree with the investigator’s recom mendations, speaking directly with the investigator can prove very fruitful as you develop your theory of the case. Do not underestimate the value of the input of the investigator. If you and the investigator are flum moxed by a case, you can tag team strategies such as the following.

Bonding with the Minor

Serving as minor’s counsel requires a difficult balancing of interests. When your client is a child, you are often straddling the line between acting as an advocate for what the child claims to want while also acting as a guardian ad litem, acting as an advo cate for the child’s best interests. Certainly, the minor’s wishes must be considered, balanced with the minor’s level of maturity. Contrary to popular belief, the minor’s wishes do not suddenly become relevant when the minor reaches a particular age. To fulfil your role as minor’s counsel, you must be able to put yourself in the child’s shoes, even if those shoes are baby booties. While you can’t ask a toddler to articulate a prefer ence, you can – and must – observe the child in competing contexts. Visit the client during time with the guardian,with a parent, or other interested parties who may be a suit able alternative. It is so important to respect the bonds that the child has developed with the various parties, and it can take some very hands-on digging to figure out what the child wants and/or needs. Attorneys often balk at this notion, noting that they are not social workers or therapists.


Representing Minors

Continued from page 15

However, we are counselors, and our job as minor’s counsel is to understand all the dynamics at play, and do our best to do right by our clients while also being aware of the lifelong impacts guardianships have on generations within a family unit.

A common challenge for minor’s counsel is developing a bond with the minor, who is often traumatized by the tragedy or conflict that came before the guardianship petition. I find it incredibly helpful to take the minor out of the home where the minor is residing to conduct initial conversations and establish trust. Meeting minors at counsel’s office, in a private area at a restaurant, driving around minor’s neighbor hood, or even at the minor’s school often yields great rewards in estab lishing rapport between minor and minor’s counsel. Of course, privi leged communications about the minor’s guardian preference or discussion of allegations of parental abuse or neglect must be conducted in private. However, devoting an hour of time to meeting in a casual or relaxed atmosphere will establish long-term trust and rapport between minor and attorney. I have always had the best luck getting minors to talk when they are in the car with me. Something magical happens

when everyone is facing forward, and the car is moving. Kids tend to open up when they don’t have to make eye contact. Be creative when working with children, and trust your gut. If something feels off, or you can’t figure out how best to help the child, don’t give up. You may be the only person in the child’s life who doesn’t have a personal stake in where the child lands. Your service is invaluable.

Minor’s counsel often explain their role to the minor as follows: “I am your court-appointed counsel. Part of my job is to find out from you what it is that you want, and what you think is best. Another part of my job, because you are not yet an adult, is to make up my own mind about what I believe is going to be best for you. It is my duty to tell the judge both things: What you say you want and what I think is best. Then the judge will make a decision.” If the petitioner’s attorney can help a petitioner understand the role of minor’s counsel, it can ease tensions between the parties and take some of the focus off of the minor, who may be subjected to pressure from parents or petitioners to “tell your lawyer” various misleading state ments.

Dealing with Pro Pers Guardianships have become ubiq uitous because the social welfare departments are understaffed and underfunded. Consequently, when there are no hospital or police

records to support concerns of child abuse or neglect, CFS may encourage family members to peti tion for guardianship. CFS workers will hand guardianship paperwork to friends and relatives who are willing to take custody of a child who is alleged to be unsafe with their parents. This leads the selfrepresented potential guardians to believe that because CFS suggested they apply, they will “win” guard ianship. This misconception is very frustrating to potential guardians, who learn quickly that the process is lengthy and difficult.

It is important for minor’s counsel to consider how much time, money, and emotional capital that a poten tial guardian is investing in the child, and it is always a good idea to let the guardian know that you appreciate all that they are doing to try to improve the child’s life. Of course, a positive attitude toward the guardian must be balanced against a widespread, philosophical belief that children belong with their parents. The law tends to be defer ential to parents, and for many good reasons. Never forget that removing a child from the custody of even an objectively unstable parent can result in life-long trauma to the child.

If you believe parental custody is detrimental for your client, getting the parent to buy in to your point of view changes the dynamic of the case. It is helpful to explain to the parties that a guardianship is not a termination of parental rights but is merely a custody order that can be modified and can encompass parental visitation orders. Parents and prospective guardians alike have many misconceptions about what guardianship entails, but most laypeople understand custody orders, and are familiar with divorce custody disputes. When an attorney is able to contextualize a guardian ship as a custody order focused on the child’s best interests, it is much easier for the parties to understand

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 30 years n Candice E. Stoddard

and accept a guardianship as a reasonable solution to family prob lems. If a practitioner can make it clear to parties that guardianship custody orders may be modified in the way that divorce custody orders can be modified, it can mean the difference between a parent vigor ously objecting to or gracefully accepting a proposed guardianship.

Happy Endings? Ish.

Guardianships are complex, heart breaking, and heart-expanding cases. You witness the best and worst of human nature when repre senting minors in guardianships. I have been representing children in this context for over 15 years, so I have connected with some former clients who are now adults. I have had cases where I agonized over the recommendations that I made to the court, and worried I somehow contributed to family disharmony or chaos in my client’s life. However, every time I have had the plea

sure of checking in with those clients whose cases kept me up at night, they have confirmed that they ended up exactly where they were supposed to be. Moreover, a surprising number of families that I encountered during their most stressful times go on to recover and enjoy healthy, meaningful connec tions. Time and forgiveness lead to grace, and bearing witness to a child’s development leaves me feeling overpaid for the services I provide. Join us on the Contra Costa County Conflicts Guardianship Panel and make a difference in a child’s life.

1. California Family Code section 3100 et. seq.

2. Minor’s Counsel in family law cases are appointed pursuant to California Family Code section 3150, and their rights and responsibilities vary somewhat from those appointed in juvenile dependency and guardianship cases.

3. California Family Code section 3170(a)

Lara Heisler is a founding partner of Heisler Rosenfeld, LLP, a boutique trust and estate litigation firm in Walnut Creek. Her practice is focused on probate guardian ships, conservatorships and elder abuse litigation. Ms. Heisler frequently represents minors and proposed conservatees as court-appointed counsel or guardian ad litem. She received her B.A. in Litera ture/Writing in 1992 from the Univer sity of California, San Diego, and her J. D. in 1997 from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Ms. Heisler is passionate about providing quality legal representation for indigent, incompe tent and minor clients. To that end, she has been serving on the Committee for the Conflicts Panel of Contra Costa County since 2008 and as a board member of Independent Counsel, Inc. since its inception.


What Are Reasonable Efforts? When Do They Apply?

The term “Reasonable Efforts” is not defined by the federal statutes that created it nor by the State of Cali fornia. So how do attorneys argue and judges rule on whether or not a social services agency has made reasonable efforts to reunify a family?

The Child Welfare Informa tion Gateway Summary of State Laws (2019)1 refers to reasonable efforts as “acces sible, available and culturally appropriate services that are designed to improve the capacity of families to provide safe and stable homes for their children.”

The Child Welfare Policy Manual at §8.3C.4 Title IV-E2 states that deter mination of reasonable efforts be made on a case-by-case basis so that the individual circumstances of each child before the court are properly considered. As a result, judges retain a great deal of discretion in their reasonable efforts decisions.

A finding of whether reasonable efforts have been made must be made at each step in the dependency process, beginning at removal.

Barring exigency requiring removal, some of the efforts in Contra Costa County are referrals to Path II services and Intensive Family Services. Path II services offer home-based case


management and clinical services to strengthen families to keep chil dren in their homes. Intensive Family Services or “IFS” is an agree ment between Children and Family Services (“CFS”) and a family to voluntarily engage in services to support and maintain the family, offering crisis intervention, indi vidual and family therapy, and life skills education for families with minors under age 14 who are identi fied as at risk of placement outside the home.

The goals of these services are to prevent unnecessary out of home placement of children by equipping the family with the skills needed to prevent removal and more intensive intervention services. Removal or other more intensive intervention services include the filing of a peti tion and court oversight.

Reasonableness of Services

42 U.S.C. §§671(a6) and 675(B) require that a case plan be created for each child receiving foster care payments and that the plan include services to improve the conditions in the parents’ home and facilitate the safe return of the child to his own home. The case plan must include a description of the services offered and provided to prevent removal of the child from the home and to reunify the family.

CFS has the burden to show at each review hearing that reasonable efforts have been made, and services offered, to ameliorate the issues that brought the family before the juve nile court.

The court in In re Taylor J. (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 1446 found that “family reunification services are not ‘reasonable’ if they consist of nothing more than handing the parent a list of counseling agencies when the list contained the name

of only one domestic violence victim counseling agency in proximity to Mother’s the mother’s home. Further more, although the mother was ordered to participate in individual counseling, the list did not contain the names of individual counseling agencies.”

In In re K.C. (2012) 212 Cal.App.4th 323, 329-330, the social services agency’s only attempt to secure a psychotropic medication evaluation was to send the father to a public mental health clinic. The clinic said the father did not meet its criteria for treatment, and the agency made no attempt to secure the evaluation elsewhere or to demonstrate that no other avenues were reasonably avail able for securing the medication eval uation. The court found that “[g]iven these facts, we fail to see how the Department’s provision of services could be found reasonable under any standard of proof.” The agency “delegated the burden of finding and obtaining suitable services to Father himself--despite the high likelihood that the very issues necessitating treatment would interfere with his ability to obtain it.”


Adequate visitation is a frequently appealed issue with parents complaining that they did not have an opportunity to maintain a connec tion with their children because CFS did not facilitate visits.

In In re S.H. (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 310, 317-318, jurisdiction was based on physical and sexual abuse. The court ordered supervised visitation for the mother but did not specify frequency or length of visits. The court of appeal held that “visitation is a necessary and integral compo nent of any reunification plan.” The power to decide whether visitation occurs lies with the court alone. That power cannot be delegated to social

workers, therapists, or children. The court suggested that the way to solve the problem was to order a minimum number of visits or to order that if the child refuses a visit, a make-up visit must be scheduled.

The court, In re C.C. (2009) 172 Cal. App.4th 1481, 1491, granted the agency’s motion to terminate visita tion with the mother on the ground that it would be emotionally harmful to the child. The mother appealed the disposition order that denied her any visitation. The Court of Appeal reversed the visitation order. Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 362.1, “visitation with the parent is a mandatory element of the reunifica tion plan with the single exception that ‘[n]o visitation order shall jeop ardize the safety of the child.’ (Welf. & Inst. Code § 362.1,subd. (a)(1)(B).)

The Court of Appeal held, “[i]n other words, when reunification services have been ordered … some visita tion is mandatory unless the court specifically finds any visitation with the parent would pose a threat to the child’s safety.” In re C.C., supra, 172 Cal.App.4th at p. 1491.)

Other services frequently ordered are age-appropriate parenting classes, individual counseling/mental health treatment, family therapy, substance abuse treatment and testing, and domestic violence treatment.

It is important to remember that parental participation in the provided services plays a critical part in this decision (such that a lack of partici pation may result in finding reason able efforts when in a case with full parental cooperation) the services may be deemed inadequate. It is important for parents’ attorneys to ensure that all court-ordered services are provided in a timely manner and to encourage their client to engage in services as soon as possible so that


Judical Inductions: The Honorable Glenn Kim and The Honorable Colleen Gleason

Congratulations to new Contra Costa Superior Court judges, Hon. Glenn Kim and Hon. Colleen Gleason.

Judge Kim was inducted on September 9, and accepted the gavel from CCCBA President Elect David Erb.

Judge Gleason was inducted on October 14, and accepted the gavel from CCCBA Treasurer David Pearson. In the photo below right, Judge Gleason gets some help donning her robe from her family.

Reasonable Efforts

Continued from page 19

they may have the maximum time allowable to comply with the case plan and make the necessary changes to reunify with their children.

1. Available at: https://www. reunify.pdf

2. Available at https://www.acf.hhs. gov/cwpm/public_html/programs/cb/ laws_policies/laws/cwpm/policy_dsp. jsp?citID=59

Pamela M. Gagliani has over 20 years of juvenile dependency practice in Contra Costa County. She is the President of Contra Costa Juvenile Advocates providing attorneys to represent indigent parties in juve nile dependency proceed ings. She is on the Board of Directors for the Juvenile Law Section. Pam Gagliani enjoys juvenile

dependency law for two reasons. It gives her an opportunity to create innovative solutions that work for everyone. And she has been honored, humbled and priv ileged to see parents undergo tremen dous transformation, overcoming their own traumatic past, so that they can be the best parent they are capable of being.

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The Uneven Playing Field of Guardianship

A probate guardianship is one of two statutory procedures by which the court may remove a child from parental custody whenever doing so is “necessary or convenient.”1 If the parents object to the proceedings, the court must find (1) that custody with the parents would be detrimental to the minor, and (2) that it would be in the best interest of the minor to live with the proposed guardian before a petition for guardianship can be denied or terminated.2

Parents whose child is in the legal custody of a third-party pursuant to a probate guardianship, and who desire to regain custody, are at a distinct disadvantage in doing so. They are at a disadvantage brought on partially by their own actions which caused the guardianship to be granted in the first place and, unless they can afford legal counsel, because they must navigate the

proceedings to achieve this goal largely on their own. That parents are not provided with assistance runs directly counter to what is generally thought to be an impor tant interest. Courts have recog nized that “[t]he interests of a parent in the companionship, care, custody and management of his children is a compelling one, ranked among the most basic of civil rights.”3

The parents’ challenge to custody of their child starts with the filing of petition by “A relative or other person on behalf of the minor, or the minor if 12 years of age or older . . .” for appointment of a guardian.4 Generally, the petition is based on factors which the court believes are detrimental to the child. If the petitioner believes that the minor is exposed to imminent danger the petitioner can file for temporary guardianship on an ex parte basis.5


Notice to the parents is required if the parents can be located. However, even if they can be located and served, once served, the parents must digest what is served on them in a short period of time and respond to the petition. Often, the parent cannot be located or, if located and served, do not appear at the hearing to object to the proceedings.

If the temporary guardianship is granted, the parents’ rights over their child are suspended.6 The parents cannot visit or contact their child unless the guardian consents. If the relationship between the parents and the guardian was amicable prior to the granting of the guardianship, visits may occur. However, the guardian can impose restrictions on day, time, location, and number of visits. The guardian has supplanted the parents in very significant ways and now holds many of the rights over the minor’s life previously exer cised only by the parent.

At some point after the temporary guardianship is granted and the hearing on the general guardian ship occurs, the court may appoint legal counsel to represent the minor.7 The role of the appointed counsel is to represent the minor in the proceeding, and in doing so, looks out for the child’s best interest. To the extent that the counsel’s obliga tion places the counsel at odds with the parents, they must now take this additional actor’s role into consider ation.

If the parents appear at the hearing for the general guardianship and object, the court may order all parties to mediation. Once again, the parents may be confronted with a proceeding that is beyond their experience and for which they may not be able to properly prepare, even though it may provide the best alternative for the parents and a continued relation ship with their child.

If the mediation is not successful and the parents continue to object to the guardianship, the matter will be set for trial. The challenge for the parents just increased in difficulty and consequence. Preparing for trial and conducting a trial is challenging even for most attorneys; it is deathly difficult for parents.

If the general guardianship is granted, the parents now confront why it was granted and how to rectify it; in other words, “How do I get my child back?” While the answer may appear straight forward, achieving this goal is daunting. If the child was removed from the parents’ custody based on the parents’ drug or alcohol abuse, homelessness, neglect or abuse, the parent must now address these issues, demonstrate to the court that they have done so, and demon strate that they can provide a stable and supportive environment for the child. However, the parents must resolve these issues on their own.

Meanwhile, the child’s life marches on. If the guardian provides a stable home where the child’s physical and emotional needs are met, not only does this establish the required showing that nonparental custody is in the best interest of the child and parental custody would be detrimental, but it fosters bonding between the minor and the guardian. If the minor is left with the guardian for too long, the bonding increases and it can convert the guardian into a de facto parent. This scenario led one court to state, “As a practical matter, then, many guard ianship orders will forever deprive the parents of a parental role with respect to the affected child.”8

Also, the longer the child lives with the guardian, the harder it is for parents to succeed in terminating the guardianship. Termination of a guardianship is granted when “[i]t is no longer neces sary that the ward have a guardian or

that it is in the ward’s best interest to terminate the guardianship.”9 The difficulty that parents confront in meeting this criteria was articulated by a court when it stated, “Moreover, once the court has concluded that the child’s continuous residence with nonparents would make it detri mental to return custody to a parent, it is difficult to perceive how parent could even prove the guardianship was ‘no longer necessary.’”10

It is hard not to conclude that parents who have had their legal custody suspended through a probate guard ianship stand very little chance of regaining custody. The legal chal lenges to accomplishing such a feat are daunting and, with little to no help provided to the parents, this goal is largely out of reach.

1. Prob. Code §1514.

2. Fam. Code §3041 (c) (d).

3. In re James R. (2007) 153 Cal.App. 4th 413, 428.

4. Prob. Code §1510(a).

5. Prob. Code §2250(a)

6. Fam. Code, §7505 (a); Guardianship of Ann S., (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1110, 1124.

7. Prob. Code § 1470.

8. Guardianship of Stephen G. (1995) 40 Cal. App. 4th 1418, 1427.

9. Prob. Code §1601.

10. Stephen G., 40 Cal.App. 4th at 1426.

Nicolás C. Vaca is a Walnut Creek attorney prac ticing probate law emphasizing guardianship and conserva torships. Mr. Vaca was the Probate Facilitator for the Contra Costa County Superior Court from 2015 to 2019.


Navigating the (e)States of Guardianship Panic

Tom and Mary live in Contra Costa County and have taken in their nephew Johnny at age four. The father, Ricky, has been absent from Johnny’s life since shortly after his birth. Ricky now cannot be located but is believed to have moved out of the country. Renee, his mother, had been in and out of substance abuse facilities trying to address mental and physical health issues her entire life. Renee unfortunately passed away likely due to her life long addiction struggles.

Tom and Mary agreed to take in Johnny as they have two children ages six and ten who are his cousins. Tom and Mary realize if they did not take Johnny in there is a strong likelihood Johnny would have to be placed in a foster home. Tom and Mary are hoping to provide family life and stability for Johnny after the passing of his mother.

Tom and Mary were advised to file a Petition for Temporary Guardian ship, to become the legal guardians of Johnny under California Probate Code Sections 1510 and 2250. They initially filed In Pro Per with the assistance of the Contra Costa County Probate Examiners (whom they found to be very helpful and calming). Tom and Mary chose to petition for the “person” only as they were not aware of any other assets the mother had. The court signed an order naming Tom and Mary temporary guardians of Johnny. This will allow Tom and Mary to be able to assist Johnny with medical/ therapy appointments as well as school/childcare issues. They also received a court date in two months to obtain a “General Guardianship” which names the guardians until Johnny reaches age 18. They now are beginning a new life with little Johnny as a daily member of their household.

Emotional State of Panic

The first hurdle Tom and Mary face is navigating the emotional state of panic as the dynamics within their household change while they all adapt to the new person ality entering their household. Should they try to get counseling for Johnny, or for themselves and their biological children to provide some guidance on how to assimilate Johnny into their household? Tom and Mary are also researching coun seling and therapy opportunities that may be available to help Johnny transition into his new environment.

The Best Interest of the Child

Tom and Mary attended their first court hearing and were surprised to find out that Ricky, the father, has a brother Fred. Fred appeared at the hearing and informed the court he wishes to file a competing Peti


tion for Guardianship as he feels he will be a better option for Johnny. Fred also disclosed that Johnny’s grandparents left Johnny $500,000 in a trust account with a private fidu ciary. Fred assured the court that he only has Johnny’s best interest at heart and is not even thinking of the money.

The court informed the parties that it must take the best interest of the minor as its main consideration now that there are two parties seeking guardianship. An attorney was appointed by the court for Johnny and the Contra Costa County Probate Investigators Office was given the file to make a report. The court will rely heavily on these reports if it is forced to make a final decision on Johnny’s guardian. The hearing was continued by the court to allow time for completion of the reports while Tom and Mary remain temporary guardians.

Tom and Mary left the court in a daze and very wary of Fred’s motives. They formally entered the “The Best Interest of the Minor State of Panic” and decided to consult an attorney about their next steps.

The Estate of Panic

Tom and Mary met with guardian ship attorney Susan several weeks later. Susan said she felt relatively confident that they will prevail as guardians of little Johnny as it appears Fred has ulterior financial motives.

Susan recommended that they amend the petition to be appointed as guardians of both the person and the estate. If successful, the trust fund will be a huge benefit for Johnny. Susan explained that it will also likely require that Tom and Mary obtain a bond to insure against possible wrongful conduct of a party. An inventory, appraisal and yearly accounting of assets will also likely be necessary (Probate Code 2255 and 2256).

After this informative consultation with Susan, Tom and Mary were a little overwhelmed by this new onslaught of information. They were confident, however in Susan’s ability, so they retained her to repre sent them at the next hearing.


At the next hearing, the reports from the Probate investigator and from Johnny’s counsel recommended that Johnny stay with Tom and Mary. It turned out that Fred had no pre-existing relationship with Johnny. Also, reading between the lines, it appeared that Fred was struggling financially as he was attempting to build a career solely through winning karaoke contests. Tom and Mary clearly offer the best source of stability for Johnny so the court signed the papers for them to be named “General Guard ians” of little Johnny.

Tom and Mary and their attorney Susan met outside the courtroom to discuss follow-up details. Susan advised Tom and Mary that a party can always petition to terminate the guardianship in the future, but for now they can concentrate on parenting little Johnny without having any more court hearings and just deal with the regular everyday panic all parents have raising their children.

Dan Vaughan currently is prac ticing as a sole practitioner and has been in prac tice for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University Law School and practices in the Contra Costa County Probate Court as well as doing bankruptcy work. His office is in Pleasant Hill.



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Results of Food From the Bar 2022

Thank you to all who donated and all of the firms that participated in our virtual fund raiser in support of the Food Bank of Alameda and Contra Costa.

This year, Food from the Bar started on July 11 and ended August 31 with $35,887 raised! Nine teen law firms participated, including the top three contributors:

• Bramson Plutzik Mahler & Birkhaeuser

• Bowles & Verna

• McNamara Law Firm

All contributions, large and small, are very much appreciated. Thank you for your ongoing generosity over 31 amazing years.

September 13, 2022

Dear Hunger Fighters,

Over the last 31 years, YOU, the members of the Contra Costa BarAssociation, have stepped up in a major way to support your community.Over the last few decades, you’ve raised more than $1.45 million dollars for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano!

The Food Bank’s food purchasing power means every dollar donatedequals two meals we can buy – and we’re committed to using your funds as effectively as possible. That’s why 97 cents of every dollar donatedgoes directly back into our programs.

The number of people in need each month is now 1 in 6 of yourneighbors. The Bay Area’s high cost of living means a full-time job nolonger guarantees one’s ability to pay bills, buy gas or a BART ticket andgroceries. It’s very likely someone in your life is silently struggling to make ends meet.

That’s why your support this year has been so profound! We are gratefulto announce the 2022 Food From the Bar fundraiser generated $35,887 in funds – which will provide over 71,000 meals!

Thank you,

We look forward to another 30 years of partnering with the Contra CostaBar Association to end hunger in our community.

Joel SjostromPresident and CEOFood Bank of Contra Costa and Solano

Annual Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation



Flicker, Kerin, Kruger & Bissada

Hartog, Baer, Zabronsky & Verriere

CCCBA Estate Planning & Probate



Acuna Regli Brothers Smith Ferber Law Littler

CCCBA Real Estate Section


Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser Casper Meadows Schwartz & Cook

Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Mar kowitz & Fanucci

Greenan, Peffer, Sallander & Lally LLP Hanson Bridgett Horvitz & Levy


McNamara, Ambacher, Wheeler, Hirsig & Gray, LLP

Miller Starr Regalia Morrill Law

Robert Half Legal

CCCBA Litigation Section

CCCBA Alternative Dispute Resolution Section

CCCBA Women’s Section

Bronze Key Counsel, P.C. Giffen Fiduciary Services Leoni Law

Vanegas Law Group

Other Section Sponsors

Appellate Section Business Law Section Criminal Section Employment Section Family Law Section Intellectual Property Section Juvenile Section Senior Section Solo/Small Firm Section Tax Section

This year at the Bar Fund Benefit on September 29, our generous sections and law firm sponsors and donors brought in a total of $46K for the Richmond High School Law Academy which will be used to fund their Mock Trial program, study trips and internships.

Beth Mora was named the recipient of the annual Justice James J. Marchaino Distinguished Service Award for an amazing record of pro bono service. Also at this event, the winners of the Pro Bono Honor Roll were announced. See page 29.

Richmond High School Law Academy graduate, Angelica Flores did an outstanding job as emcee of the event.

Beth Mora won the Justice James J. Marchiano Distinguished Service Award. Ray Robinson, winner of the Justice James J. Marchiano Distinguished Service Award last year is pictured with Jody Iorns. Richmond High School Law Academy students and teachers sent this thank you poster they all signed.

It’s Time to Renew Your CCCBA Membership for

CCCBA members enjoy a variety of benefits:

• Fastcase is FREE for CCCBA members, a $695 value

• CCCBA PRO helps build your practice

• 19 bar sections

• Lawyer Referral Service

• Member only benefits and discounts

• MCLE opportunities

• Contra Costa Lawyer magazine

Renew Today at

Pro Bono Honor Roll Announced for


Thank you to our Pro Bono Honor Roll recipients for giving of your valuable time and expertise to benefit our community. Your efforts support our community in myriad ways.

As attorneys, we have the knowledge, training and skill set to improve the lives of others and make a difference. The Pro Bono Committee would like all members to consider the goal of contributing their many talents by touching the life of at least one person in need.

We know there are many more CCCBA members who help out in their communities in many ways. Start tracking your hours for next year’s Pro Bono Honor Roll!

50-99 hours 100-300 hours 300-500 hours 500+ hours Jonathan Babione Corrine Bielejeski Phil Andersen Beth
Michelle Ferber Marc Bouret Mika S . Domingo Victoria Robinson Smith Jaime B Herren Natasha Chee Gary B Sanders Kathleen Hunt Julie Ann Giammona Andrea Kelly Smethurst David Marchiano Cara E Lankford David Pearson Jonathan Lee Jeremy Perkins Terry Leoni Craig Nevin LoriAnn Owens Tamara Ribas Matthew S . Toth Andrew Verriere
2022 Learn more about Pro Bono opportunities and recognition at

Please join us as we welcome these new members who joined the CCCBA between mid June and mid October 2022.

Leslie Azcona

Mona Bauer

Stephen Bonkowski

Haley Brind

Zoe Brown

Rebecca Camacho

Jeremy Castro

Connie Cheung

Ivette Chow

Steve Coffin

Kyanna Dones

Kelli Fernandez-Medina

Kimberleigh Ferrando

James Giacchetti

Frederic Giersch

Geri Green

Marshall Hammons

Rachel Hoerger

Deborah Imbach

Andrei Jingan

Robert Jweinat

Ruth Koller Burke

Daniel Kubasak

Trincy Lekshmanan

Hanqiu Liu

Vincent Maher

Jessica Martinez Zepeda

Bruce McKleroy

Iustina Mignea

Karen Moore

MCLE Trips to Portugal and Scotland Announced

CCCBA is partnering with other Bay Area bar associations for trips to Portugal (May 10-18, 2023) and Scotland (June 11-17, 2023).

Open to members and friends of the CCCBA, ACBA, San Mateo County Bar Association, Santa Clara County Bar Association, Marin County Bar Association, Monterey County Bar Association and San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.

Space is limited! Visit for details.

Kimberly Moore

Patricia Ochoa

Dorukhan Oguz

Anthony Rodriguez

Jason Rosenberg

Haleh Shahmohammadi

James Stein

Justin Swierczek

Mitchell VanLandingham

Daniel Vaswani

Jose Vergara

Melanie Violan Derek Wagley Lana Weiss

Alison Wright


We gratefully acknowledge our 2022-23 SUSTAINING LAW FIRMS

Firms with 30+ attorneys: Miller Starr Regalia

Firms with 20-29 attorneys: Bowles & Verna, LLP Hanson Bridgett, LLP

Littler Mendelson, PC McNamara, Ambacher, Wheeler, Hirsig & Gray, LLP

Firms with 11-19 attorneys: Brothers Smith, LLP Brown, Gee & Wenger, LLP

Clapp Moroney Vucinich Beeman Scheley

Doyle Quane

Gagen, McCoy, McMahon, Koss, Markowitz & Fanucci

Greenan Peffer Sallander & Lally LLP

Hartog Baer Zabronsky & Verriere, APC

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton

Whiting, Ross, Abel & Campbell, LLP

Firms with 5-10 attorneys:

Acuna Regli

Barr & Young Attorneys

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Candelaria PC

Craddick, Candland & Conti Donahue Fitzgerald, LLP

Edrington, Schirmer & Murphy

Ferber Law, APC

Galloway, Lucchese, Everson & Picchi

Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen & Lucey

Horner Law Group, P.C.

Law Offices of Joseph H. Wolch

Livingston Law Firm, PC Morrill Law

Patton Sullivan Brodehl LLP

Temmerman Cilley & Kohlman LLP

Vanegas Law Group, APC



The Contra Costa County Bar Association certifies that the MCLE activities listed on pages 32-33 have been approved for the specific MCLE credit indicated, by the State Bar of California, Provider #393.

November 18 | CCCBA

28th Annual

2022 spectacular MCLE Building Our Future

Breakfast Keynote: Advancement in Technology, Science and the Law

December 1 | Elder & EPP Sections

Holiday Party

Join the Estate Planning & Probate Section and the Elder Law Section for a Holiday Party. All are welcome including significant others!

Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Location: TBA

December 2 | DEI Committee

Deadline: Diversity Award Checklist

CCCBA’s Diversity Award Checklist rec ognizes firms of all sizes in four key areas: Education, Training and Communications, Internal and External Diversity Efforts and Recruiting and Retention. Download the checklist today!

Speaker: Hon. Ming W. Chin (Ret.), Mediator, arbitrator, ADR Services, Inc.

Friday November 18 |

Early Bird Pricing until October 17 Members Non Members

Luncheon Keynote: Her Honor - My Life on the Bench: What Works, What’s Broken, How to Change it

Cost: TBA Register: Online at

More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf

More Info: Online at

Full Day $345 $445 Single Break-Out Session $80 $100 Breakfast Keynote $75 $100 Lunch Keynote $95 $115 Plenary $65 $80

Speaker: Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell (Ret.), Civil Rights Advocate, author

Afternoon Plenary: Trauma Informed Lawyering

Speaker: Natasha Prince, attorney Tahirih Justice Center Cost, Full Day: $395 CCCBA members $495

Pricing October 18 - November 11 Members Non Members Full Day $395 $495 Single Break-Out Session $90 $110 Breakfast Keynote $85 $110 Lunch Keynote $105 $125 Plenary $75 $90

Full Day attendees receive a free copy of Judge Cordell’s Book, Her Honor MCLE: Earn 6+ hours MCLE credit Location: Walnut Creek Marriott, 2355 N. Main St., Walnut Creek Register: Online at

OUR SPONSORS: Event Benefactor: JAMS ADR Services, Inc. | Clio

TheKey | Industrious Office | DLCCS Hanson Bridgett | Kurniardi Realty | Judicate West | Lucent Kilpatrick Townsend | LawPay CCCBA’s Intellectual Property Section

December 8 | Barristers Section

Barristers Holiday Party

Join the Barristers Section for their holiday bash at Masses Sports Bar & Grill in Walnut Creek. All are welcome including significant others and even those with more than 10 years of practice!

Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Location: Masses Sports Bar & Grill, 2721 N. Main St., Walnut Creek Sponsored by: Morrill Law Register: Online at More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf

December 15 | CCCBA

CCCBA Holiday Party

Join us to celebrate the holiday season! De licious hors d’oeuvres will be provided along with wine, beer, soda and sparkling water.

Please bring one non-perishable food item (or more) for donation to the Contra Costa Food Bank and/or toys for donation to the Annual Toy Drive for homeless children, sponsored by the CCCBA’s Juvenile Section. Arrive early to hear sounds of the season from our own Jody Iorns and her friends from WOMENSING.

Time: 4:30 pm –7:30 pm

Cost: Free for members, $20 non members

Location: CCCBA First Floor, Building Conference Room, 2300 Clayton Road, Concord Register: Online at

non members
Walnut Creek Marriott

January 19 | Estate Planning & Probate Section Estate Planning Probate Lunch

Speaker: Hon. Virginia GeorgeContra Costa County Superior Court

Please join the Estate Planning and Probate Section for its Annual Probate Luncheon.

The Honorable Virginia George will provide insights and practice pointers about the workings of the Contra Costa County Probate Court. Don’t miss this always exciting event!

Time: Noon – 1:30 pm

Location: TBA

MCLE: 1 hour Estate Planning & Probate Specialization credit

Cost: TBA

Register: Online at

More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf

January 27 | CCCBA

2023 Officer Installation and Diversity Awards Event

Speakers: Hon. Ed Weil | David Erb | Ericka McKenna

Please join the leadership of the CCCBA and many of our local current and retired judges for this annual event which celebrates all CCCBA members!

Hear from incoming CCCBA President David Erb about what is coming up in 2023. Contra Costa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Ed Weil will give a State of the Court address before swearing in the 2023 CCCBA Board of Directors and Section Leaders.

We will present the 6th Annual CCCBA Diversity Award to qualifying law firms. Don’t miss this very special annual event!

Time: 11:45 am - 1:15 pm

Location: TBA

Cost: TBA

Register: Online at

More Info: Contact Anne K. Wolf

The Estate Planning & Probate Section held a successful happy hour event at Five Suns Brewing in Martinez on August 25.

Looking for New Business? Join the Lawyer Referral & Information Service Grow your practice with the CCCBA’s LRIS. We schedule over 5,500 client consultations with paying clients every year. We have immediate need for attorneys: • Who specialize in Tenant Rights or Juvenile Dependency • Spanish Speaking Attorneys (all specialties) • Moderate Means Attorneys for Family Law cases Contact Barbara Arsedo, CCCBA LRIS Director at (925) 370-2544 • or visit


Joanne C. McCarthy, 3000F Danville Blvd., #257, Alamo, CA 94507. Call (925) 689-9244.



Beautiful offices w/ 11 solos. Networking. Single story building remodeled for lawyers. Built in’s, fireplace, molding, kit., conf rm, windows that open, etc. Very congenial. Rent varies. Paul 925/938-8990/


Where: 3445 Golden Gate Way, Lafayette Law firm since 1955.

Details: Creekside setting with ample free parking, excellent law library, easy access to intercity jogging trail. Reasonable rent.

Interested? Call Stan Pedder or MacKen zie Bush at (925) 283-6816.

Advertiser Index

ADR Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Barr & Young Attorneys . . . . . . . . 17

Bay Area File 3

The Bray Law Firm . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Casper SchwartzMeadows & Cook . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

First Republic Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

JAMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Judicate West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

LawPay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Lawyers Mutual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Morrill Law Firm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Candice Stoddard . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

The Law Offices of Michael J . Young Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

CCCBA Wins Two Awards from National Association of Bar Executives

On Friday September 23, at the meeting of the NABE Communications Section in Minneapolis, the Contra Costa County Bar Association was honored to win two Luminary Awards. CCCBA Communications Director Carole Lucido accepted the awards for best regular publication (small bar category) for Contra Costa Lawyer magazine; and one for special project, for the 2021 MCLE Spectacular in a virtual format.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION CONTRA COSTA LAWYER 35 Please join us for our 28th annual MCLE Spectacular with a full day of fabulous MCLE presentations, including: Breakfast Kick-off The Honorable Ming W. Chin (Ret.) ADR Services, Inc. Mediator, arbitrator and the first ChineseAmerican to serve on the California Supreme Court Advancements in Technology, Science and the Law Luncheon Keynote Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell (Ret.) Civil Rights Advocate, author and the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court of Northern California – Santa Clara County Her Honor—My Life on the Bench: What Works, What’s Broken, How to Change It Afternoon Plenary Natasha Prince Trauma-Informed Lawyering Friday, November 18 8:30 am - 5:00 pm Walnut Creek Marriott 2355 N. Main Street New and Improved for 2022! • More time for networking • Limited registration to ensure safe and comfortable spacing • Rock star slate of speakers! Register Online Now! Plus 5 morning and 5 afternoon breakout sessions – and a cocktail reception at the end of the day!

Clayton Road,

Suite 520 Concord, CA 94520
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