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NewsLinks is a collection of recent news items relating primarily to the California judicial branch. NewsLinks does not verify nor endorse the accuracy or fairness of the news items, and the views expressed in opinions, editorials, and commentaries are those of the writers only.

Sep 1 A Shifting Balance at the California Supreme Court?
California Lawyer Magazine
In 2014, for the second time in Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic four-term career, he was presented with the chance to reshape the California Supreme Court.
Related: California Supreme Court
Sep 1 California to drastically reduce use of solitary confinement
San Francisco Chronicle
After decades of holding thousands of inmates in concrete, sometimes windowless isolation cells, where some stayed for 20 years or more, California prison officials are about to drastically reduce their use of solitary confinement.
Related: Daily Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Associated Press, Sacramento Bee, Gulf News USA
Sep 1 Supervisors continue emergency declarations, approve veterans treatment court agreement
Lake County News
On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors continued emergency proclamations due to the drought and wildfire conditions, and approved an agreement for the establishment of a veterans treatment court.
Sep 2 Judicial Profile: Gregory S. Gaul
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) In his six years on the Shasta County Superior Court bench, Presiding Judge Gregory S. Gaul has become known for his hyper-organized notes and near-total recall of case details.
Related: Superior Court of Shasta County
Sep 1 Courts Launch Amnesty Program for Overdue Traffic Tickets
San Jose Inside
Under an amnesty program that starts Oct. 1, California drivers struggling to pay off mounting traffic fines will have a chance to settle for a fraction of what they owe.
Related: Traffic Tickets / Infractions Amnesty Program, Daily Breeze
Sep 1 Editorial: Doesn't the 1st Amendment apply outside the Supreme Court?
Los Angeles Times
From race relations to abortion to gay marriage, the Supreme Court plays a crucial role in American life. So it's understandable that activists want to demonstrate on the grand plaza in front of the court's building. Such a majestic backdrop lends force to a protest and increases the possibility that it will attract public attention.
Sep 1 Judicial Profile: Enrique Camarena
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) San Diego Superior Court Judge Enrique Camarena's father is the model for his life and work.
Related: Superior Court of San Diego County
Aug 31 A few trials for Yolo Court’s opening day
Daily Democrat
In one of the first hearings during the new Courthouse’s first day of full operation, Judge Paul Richardson presided over a sentencing of West Sacramento man Michael Reyes, convicted of attempted murder.
Related: New Woodland Courthouse
Aug 31 Federal judges hint they’ll bow out of challenge to death penalty
San Francisco Chronicle
A challenge to California’s delay-plagued death penalty ran into trouble Monday in a federal appeals court, as judges suggested that federal law bars them from even reviewing the issue.
Related: Los Angeles Times, The Recorder, Daily Journal, New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register, Associated Press, Los Angeles Daily News, KQED, Huffington Post
Aug 31 Editorial: State Bar proves it needs a little sunshine
Sacramento Bee
Annual legislation authorizing the State Bar Association to collect dues from attorneys wouldn’t ordinarily warrant much attention beyond the legal profession.
Aug 31 Justices embrace the impulse to instruct
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) In her rulings, State Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar has tried to educate lawyers that state statutes frown on litigants who waste judicial resources. Such schooling has become a common refrain in appellate courts.
Aug 31 California's death penalty hangs in the balance
Los Angeles Times
When a federal appeals court hears arguments Monday on the constitutionality of California's death penalty system, the judges' questions are likely to be more about legal procedure than the "dysfunction" in the way the state handles capital punishment.
Related: New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, National Law Journal, San Jose Mercury News, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, KQED
Aug 31 Judicial Profile: Christopher B. Harmon
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Running a family law court room is "like a verbal or emotional jujutsu," said Christopher B. Harmon, a family law judge in Riverside County Superior Court since August 2014.
Related: Superior Court of Riverside County
Aug 30 Overdue bail refund sends Fresno businessman on quest to be paid
Fresno Bee
Carl Pederson’s interaction with traffic court should have ended five months ago when a Fresno County judge dismissed a ticket he got on a drive from his home in Fresno to his business in Sanger.
Aug 28 Falasco name to be transferred to new courthouse
Los Banos Enterprise
The new courthouse being constructed in Los Banos will retain its name, according to Merced County Superior Court CEO Linda Romero-Soles.
Related: New Los Banos Courthouse
Aug 28 California chief justice discusses her rise to high court
Record Searchlight
Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye championed community as she spoke at an event in Redding where she detailed her rise to the state’s highest judicial office and a short stint as a blackjack dealer after law school.
Related: Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye
Aug 28 How Yolo County built a better courthouse (slideshow)
Sacramento Business Journal
After more than a decade in the planning, the new Yolo County courthouse will open next week. And the 160,000-square-foot building at 1000 Main St. in Woodland will mean a big step up in functionality and security, said Shawn Landry, the court’s executive officer.
Related: New Woodland Courthouse
Aug 28 New ethics rules allow judges to accept scholarships and prizes
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The California Supreme Court unanimously adopted revisions to state judicial ethics standards Wednesday, softening its rules about receiving gifts to permit the acceptance of scholarships, fellowships, rewards and prizes.
Related: News Release
Aug 28 Divided state high court sides with defendant in gang sentence enhancement
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) In an opinion that appeared to solidify the bench's emerging liberal bloc, the justices voted 4-3 that prosecutors did not prove enough in a gang case to warrant a sentence enhancement under a street terrorism statute.
Aug 28 State Supreme Court upholds brothers' death sentences
Press Enterprise
A California Supreme Court decision affirmed the 1996 death sentences for two convicted Mead Valley triple murderers, reversed a robbery conviction for one of them and addressed technical issues in a ruling announced Thursday, Aug. 27.
Aug 28 Judicial Profile: Therese M. Stewart
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Her involvement as the chief deputy city attorney in California's trio of major same-sex marriage cases over the last decade ended when Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her as the first out lesbian on the state appellate bench.
Related: Associate Justice Therese M. Stewart
Aug 27 Child-Comforting Dogs Sworn in at California Courthouse
Care2 Causes
During an official ceremony Aug. 21, two black Labs named Dozer and Lupe placed their paws on a state penal code book as they were sworn in as Southern California’s first courthouse dogs.
Related: Superior Court of San Bernardino County
Aug 27 Los Angeles city attorney's office kicks off new homeless initiative
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The initiative - managed by the Los Angeles' city attorney's office and funded by a $810,000 grant from the county over the period of three years with a leftover grant of $65,000 - has replaced the county's homeless court to assist the homeless in erasing minor infractions in exchange for community service or completion of a mental health or substance abuse program.
Related: Superior Court of Los Angeles County
Aug 27 California Supreme Court won’t hear Fresno Unified leaseback case
Fresno Bee
The California Supreme Court has denied Fresno Unified School District’s request to review an appellate court decision that criticizes the district’s use of a no-bid contract.
Related: San Mateo Daily Journal
Aug 27 Judicial Profile: David J. Cowan
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Although Judge David J. Cowan has been on the probate bench of Los Angeles County Superior Court for only two years, attorneys who appear before him say one would hardly know it, as his hard work, intelligence, and insightful questions have more than made up for limited experience.
Related: Superior Court of Los Angeles County
Aug 26 After Ferguson, States Struggle To Crack Down On Court Debt
Pew Stateline
For years, state and local governments have attached additional fees and costs to everything from speeding tickets to parole supervision. The extra assessments are supposed to pay for court operations and associated justice system programs, such as DNA testing. According to a growing body of research, however, they also can trap poor people in debt, and corrupt law enforcement and the courts.
Aug 26 Supreme Court Names SEC Attorney, Former JNE Chair Jason Lee to State Bar Board of Trustees
Met News
The state Supreme Court has named former State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation Chair Jason P. Lee to the State Bar Board of Trustees.
Aug 26 Local attorneys seek greater judicial diversity
The Daily Transcript
(Subscription required) Some members of the local legal community are calling for greater diversity among the ranks of judges both in San Diego and statewide.
Aug 26 Judicial Profile: Michael A. Tynan
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) LA County Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan tends to favor rehabilitation over punishment.
Related: Superior Court of Los Angeles County
Aug 25 Event re-enacts historic school desegregation case
Press Enterprise
Oral arguments in a historic school desegregation case that preceded the better-known Brown vs. Board of Education case will be reenacted Thursday, Aug. 27, at the Fourth District Court of Appeal building in Riverside to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the case and the 50th anniversary of the local state appellate court divisions.
Related: Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District
Aug 25 Death Penalty Delays Not Violative of Eighth Amendment, Unanimous California Supreme Court Holds
Met News
The lawyer for a Death Row inmate failed to demonstrate that systematic delays in the resolution of capital cases result in an arbitrary process that violates the Eighth Amendment, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday.
Related: San Francisco Chronicle
Aug 25 High Court Says Firefighter Cannot See Supervisor's Log Book
Met News
A law requiring that a firefighter be given notice and a chance to respond before adverse comments are entered into his or her personnel files does not apply to a supervisor’s handwritten and computerized notes that were kept separate from official personnel files, the California Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
Related: City News Service, Orange County Register
Aug 25 Sutter County Courthouse celebrated with ceremony
Appeal-Democrat
A major project's ceremony was nearly cut short by a faulty pair of ribbon-cutting scissors, but a quick-thinking Judge Brian Aronson used a deputy's knife to save the day.
Related: New Sutter County Courthouse
Aug 24 Removing Language Barriers to Justice in the Nation’s Courts
Legal Talk Network
Legal Talk Network producer Laurence Colletti interviews Judge James Jordan, Judge Christopher P. Yates, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and Justice Edward L. Chavez about language barriers in the United States courts at the 2015 American Bar Association (ABA) Annual Meeting.
Related: Language Access
Aug 24 Opinion: Unreasonable traffic fines violate constitutional rights
Fresno Bee
A California Judicial Council decision to stop charging fees and fines to drivers contesting tickets was right thing to do.
Related: Traffic Amnesty
Aug 24 Practical-Skills Plan Divides Law School Association
National Law Journal
(Subscription required) Whether the State Bar of California’s plan to require new attorneys to complete at least 15-credits of practical skills courses in law school is unduly restrictive or a needed step to ensure they have some real-world competencies depends on whom you ask—even within the same organization.
Aug 24 3 judges appointed by Democrats will hear California death penalty appeal
Los Angeles Times
The constitutionality of California’s death penalty system will be reviewed next week by a panel of three Democratic appointees on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Aug 24 Judicial Profile: Linda Sloven
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven likes people to feel at ease in her courtroom.
Related: Superior Court of Nevada County
Aug 22 Courthouse employees already beginning transition
Daily Democrat
The move from the old courthouse to the new one went much quicker than expected and now employees are focused on learning the new systems that have been put in place before opening Monday.
Related: New Woodland Courthouse, Sacramento Bee
Aug 21 Lawsuit over license plate scanners heading to California Supreme Court
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Two advocacy groups suing the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for access to data from automated license plate readers have won a chance to argue before the California Supreme Court.
Aug 21 High Court Justices Overrule Earlier Case, Lift Barrier To Assignment of Liability Insurance Policies
Met News
An insured has a statutory right to transfer its rights to coverage of prior losses under a liability policy to a successor company, and any contrary provision in the policy is unenforceable, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday.
Related: Daily Journal, National Law Review
Aug 21 S.C. Rules on Time Limit to Sue for Return of Unearned Fees
Met News
The one-year statute of limitations for suits over the “performance of professional services” by an attorney does not necessarily apply to an action for failure to return unearned fees, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
Related: The Recorder, Daily Journal, San Diego Source
Aug 21 State appellate court rules for Judicial Council in $18M battle with contractor
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Top state court administrators gained a partial win Thursday in their suit to regain $18 million they paid an unlicensed contractor to fix courthouses.
Related: First Appellate District Opinion, The Recorder
Aug 21 Judicial Profile: Stephen P. Acquisto
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) For Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto, handling family law matters is not just about making legal decisions, but providing direction to couples that are struggling to raise children together.
Related: Superior Court of Sacramento County
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