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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.

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 COURT: 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
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 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 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 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 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 20 California Supreme Court to hear lawsuit over plans to develop Banning Ranch
Los Angeles Times
The California Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments in a lawsuit between Newport Beach and a preservation group fighting to prevent Banning Ranch from being developed.
Related: Orange County Register
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
Aug 20 Farmworkers-growers battle reaches California Supreme Court
San Francisco Chronicle
The California Supreme Court took up a battle between growers and unions Wednesday, agreeing to decide whether the state can appoint a mediator to impose a farm labor contract when negotiations break down.
Related: Fresno Bee
Aug 20 Ruling Against Barriers Between Lawyers and Inmates Left Standing by California Supreme Court
Met News
A Court of Appeal ruling affirming the right of criminal defense lawyers to meet with jailed clients in rooms without glass partitions between them, absent individualized security concerns, remains citable as precedent.
Aug 20 California, Nevada and 38 Other States Have These, But Delaware Doesn’t - Intermediate Courts of Appeal
The National Law Review
According to the National Center for State Courts, forty states, including California and Nevada, have established intermediate courts of appeal.
Aug 20 Judicial Profile: Mickie Reed
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) During Mickie Reed's 17 years as a criminal defense attorney in Riverside County's desert cities, she wanted less evidence to come before the court. Now that she is a Superior Court commissioner, deciding family law cases, she wants to see much more.
Related: Superior Court of Riverside County
Aug 19 Justice Dept. Presses Civil Rights Agenda in Local Courts
New York Times
In dozens of lawsuits around the country involving local disputes, the federal government has filed so-called statements of interest, throwing its weight behind private lawsuits and, in many cases, pushing the boundaries of civil rights law.
Aug 19 Retired judge to appeal loss in suit over retirement account
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) An appeal over state pension officials' refusal to pay a superior court judge half a million dollars from his retirement account is headed for the state Supreme Court.
Aug 19 Judicial Profile: Charlene Padovani Kiesselbach
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) San Francisco County Judge Charlene Kiesselbach is known for advocating for women lawyers.
Related: Superior Court of San Francisco
Aug 18 About that rarely used post-review publication power . . .
At the Lectern
A few weeks back, the Supreme Court released for public comment a rule proposal to keep review-granted Court of Appeal opinions from being automatically depublished, which is what happens now.
Related: News Release
Aug 18 New rule for mentally disordered
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The state Supreme Court, in companion cases Monday ruled that a trial judge must personally advise a mentally disordered offender of his or her right to a jury trial prior to extending the involuntary commitment of the offender.
Related: California Supreme Court Opinion
Aug 18 Retired Judge Not Entitled to Two Payouts Under JRS II—C.A
Met News
A qualifying member of the Judges Retirement System II may collect a monthly disability pension, or a lump sum for retirement based on service, but not both, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.
Related: Daily Journal, The Recorder
Aug 18 Mediator tapped to hear ex-director's suit against State Bar
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Attorneys for the State Bar and former chief executive Joseph L. Dunn announced Monday that John Kagel of the American Arbitration Association in Palo Alto will mediate the dispute over Dunn's termination last November.
Aug 18 Opinion: Bill will lighten load for trial courts
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Summary judgment is intended to be a quick way of weeding out unmeritorious claims and defenses without the time and expense of a full-fledged trial.
Aug 18 Retired Judge Robert A. Wenke Dies at 88
Met News
Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert A. Wenke, a former presiding judge of the court, has died.
Aug 18 Judicial Profile: Christina L. Hill
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) In the hallway of the Eastlake Juvenile Courthouse a defendant trying to fight with the probation officers had to be handcuffed and could not enter the courtroom. So, Judge Christina L. Hill came out, explaining that this was a non-adversarial place, where the goal was to get him help, not punish him.
Related: Superior Court of Los Angeles County
Aug 17 Completion of new Tehama County Courthouse on track for fall 2016
Action News Now
After more than 15 years of planning, construction on the new $56 million Tehama County Courthouse is well underway.
Related: New Red Bluff Courthouse
Aug 17 State Supreme Court will rehear excessive force suit
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) The state Supreme Court on Friday made the unusual move of granting review of a case brought by a San Quentin inmate who alleged prison officials used excessive force but whose suit was dismissed by a Fresno County Superior Court judge because it was "not logistically or economically feasible" to bring the case to a courtroom.
Aug 17 California moves to provide interpreters in all court cases
Associated Press
Going through a divorce has been difficult for Sepideh Saeedi. Not understanding what's happening in court because she isn't proficient in English has made the process even harder.
Related: Language Access
Aug 17 Opinion: Long-awaited answer on will reformation
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) In this week's decision in Estate of Duke, the California Supreme Court has expanded the rules regarding the admission of extrinsic evidence in matters relating to wills.
Aug 15 Construction crews say goodbye to new Yolo County Courthouse
Woodland Daily Democrat
As dozens of Yolo Superior Court employees packed their bags this week, preparing to move into their new home, construction workers said goodbye to a building that been a part of their lives for years.
Related: New Woodland Courthouse
Aug 15 Stepping toward full voting rights
Sacramento Bee
My brother Frank drove his car off the road coming home from work late one summer night in 1969 when he was a few months shy of 22. He suffered a serious brain injury.
Aug 14 S.C. Revives Claim Against Los Angeles Over Deadly Auto Crash
Met News
A plaintiff suing a public entity, on the theory that a dangerous condition of public property and the negligence of a third party were concurrent causes of injury, need not prove that the dangerous condition was a cause of the third party’s negligence, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
Related: Supreme Court Opinion, SFGateblog,  Daily Journal
Aug 14 Placerville courthouse project - boon or boondoggle?
Lake Tahoe News
Retaining a reverence for the city’s legendary past while accommodating the demands of an expressway future has proven to be an uncomfortable process, no more so than in the decades-long effort to upgrade Placerville’s courthouse facilities.
Related: New Placerville Courthouse
Aug 13 Supreme Court affirms death penalty, rejecting “judicial election” argument
At the Lectern
Rejecting a challenge to their impartiality based on California’s judicial elections system, the Supreme Court today affirms multiple convictions and the death penalty against an Orange County gang member.
Aug 13 Supreme Court chief justice Redding luncheon speaker
Redding Record Searchlight
From blackjack dealer to presiding over the California Supreme Court, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will share her life story and her path to the state’s highest judicial post during an Aug. 27 luncheon at the Red Lion Inn on Hilltop Drive in Redding.
Related: Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Aug 13 New law to streamline summary judgment
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Judges will no longer be required to rule on every single evidentiary objection before granting or denying summary judgment, according to a bill signed into law this week by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Aug 13 Opinion: Curb your Cumis counsel
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) In a decision that may strike fear into the hearts of lawyers representing policyholder clients as independent counsel, the California Supreme Court recently ruled in Hartford Casualty Insurance Company v. J.R. Marketing LLC, 2015 DJDAR 9111 (Aug. 10, 2015), that an insurance company can sue independent counsel directly for reimbursement of "unreasonable and unnecessary charges."
Aug 13 The Bail Trap
New York Times Magazine
On the morning of Nov. 20 last year, Tyrone Tomlin sat in the cage of one of the Brooklyn criminal courthouse’s interview rooms, a bare white cinder-block cell about the size of an office cubicle. Hardly visible through the heavy steel screen in front of him was Alison Stocking, the public defender who had just been assigned to his case.
Aug 13 Judicial Profile: Joshua Weinstein
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Joshua Weinstein enjoyed the intellectual challenges of being a lawyer, but says he is pleased to have a different role as a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge after joining the bench last year.
Related: Superior Court of Santa Clara County
Aug 12 New Tehama County Courthouse springing up as fall 2016 opening eyed
Record Searchlight
(Subscription required)  It’s been a long road, but the journey to build a new Tehama County Courthouse is getting closer to the finish line.
Related: New Red Bluff Courthouse
Aug 12 Prop. 47 blamed by some for rise in crime
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) After years of gradual decline, several sudden spikes in homicides, violent crimes and property crimes up and down the state have thrust last year's controversial ballot measure, Proposition 47, back under the microscope.
Aug 12 Opinion: Budget woes could be fixed with the '3 percent solution'
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) To become more familiar with the issues facing our court, I have sat in on many panel meetings of the Orange County Superior Court, including civil, probate and juvenile panels. The theme is always the same: The court can barely function because of the lack funding.
Related: InFocus: Judicial Branch Budget Crisis
Aug 12 Judicial Profile: Elizabeth Allen White
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) As a young French Literature major, Elizabeth Allen White imagined her foray into the law quite differently than most. "I thought I would go into international law to use my French ... I was very naïve," White said. "I had visions of arguing cases before The Hague and speaking French and being in café."
Related: Superior Court of Los Angeles County
Aug 11 Opinion: If Prop. 47 stalls, women of color will be hurt most
Sacramento Bee
Californians took a heroic leap forward when they voted overwhelmingly to adopt Proposition 47. It’s a long road, however, from enactment to implementation.
Aug 11 State ends secret hearings in police killings of civilians
San Francisco Chronicle
California will no longer allow secret grand jury hearings to determine whether an officer should be charged with a crime following the death of a suspect under a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.
Related: Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, Capital Public Radio
Aug 11 S.C. Says Insurer May Sue Cumis Counsel for Overbilling
Met News
An insurer who is compelled to pay the fees of its insured’s independent counsel may sue those lawyers directly in order to recover for excessive or fraudulent billing, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
Related: California Supreme Court Opinion, Daily Journal, The Recorder
Aug 11 Editorial: An opportunity to overhaul criminal justice in Los Angeles County
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles County has done a notoriously poor job of spending state money to curb criminal recidivism and divert nonviolent felons from jail.
Aug 11 Judicial Profile: Candace S. Heidelberger
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) While working as a legal secretary for her husband more than two decades ago, Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candace S. Heidelberger fell in love in more ways than one.
Related: Superior Court of Nevada County
Aug 10 Preservation of Old Solano Courthouse lands court officials award
The Reporter
Solano County court officials are set to be recognized by a state organization for the rehabilitation of the Old Solano Courthouse in Fairfield.
Related: Old Solano Courthouse Renovation
Aug 10 Judges Catch a Break on Summary Judgment
The Recorder
Judges should be able to dispose of summary judgment motions more quickly under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Related: Met News
Aug 10 The Collateral Consequences of the Crimes of Children
The Atlantic
The juvenile justice system was designed to “hide youthful errors from the full gaze of the public.” But the extra penalties attached to these sentences have ruined many lives.
Aug 10 New State Bar CEO is comfortable with crisis
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, most recently the dean of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, takes over as the bar’s executive director and chief executive officer on Sept. 1.
Aug 10 Bar Names Labor Lawyer to GC Post
The Recorder
The State Bar of California has chosen Vanessa Holton, an attorney with a long history in state labor and employment issues, as its new general counsel.
Related: Sacramento Business Journal, Daily Journal, Met News
Aug 10 Judicial Profile: Dean Benjamini
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Riverside County Judge Dean Benjamini avoids the behaviors that irked him as a defense attorney.
Related: Superior Court of Riverside County
Aug 8 Solano County judge with long history of public service recognized by state for increasing access to courts
The Reporter
A Solano County judge who for years has served his community both on and off the bench has again been recognized, this time for his ongoing efforts in improving access to justice.
Related: California Bar Journal
Aug 8 Opinion: Open police disciplinary records
The Sacramento Bee
Making the records public could help force bad officers off the streets.
Aug 7 California prison population drops under Proposition 47, but public safety impact still unclear
The Sacramento Bee
Only a spotty picture has emerged of the law’s early effects: Supporters celebrate that tens of thousands of current and former convicts have already had the felonies on their records changed to misdemeanors, opening up new opportunities for jobs, housing and public benefits. Police and prosecutors argue that it has made their jobs more difficult.
Aug 7 Uncovering Safety, Security Issues Inside Fresno Co. Superior Court
Eyewitness News Investigates the Fresno County Superior Courthouse; a structure that has been around since 1965 and that people who know it best say is outdated, unsecure and in need of major changes.
Related: Fresno Courthouse Renovation
Aug 7 Long-awaited county courthouse prepares for opening
Sierra Star
For more than 50 years, Madera County Superior Court has been housed in a condemned elementary school, where everything from murder trials to traffic tickets are dealt with inside rooms originally used for learning history or math.
Related: New Madera Courthouse
Aug 7 Improving State Court-Tribal Court Relations
National CASA
Two separate court systems operate in many states. One is the state court system which includes trial and appellate courts headed by the State Supreme Court. The other is a collection of tribal courts, operating in a number of tribal reservations within most states. These court systems are separate, yet they have a number of issues which cross over, one to the other.
Aug 7 Judicial Profile: Nancy E. Zeltzer
Daily Journal
(Subscription required) Nancy E. Zeltzer had been a civil litigator for more than 30 years when she applied for the bench. When people asked her how she'd feel about potentially being assigned to criminal cases, she gave the appropriate answer: "I would relish the challenge."
Related: Superior Court of Orange County
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