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Attorney-Client Privilege Is Sacred, Even When Used for Abuse

The attorney-client privilege is one of the most closely guarded layman-professional relationships, but California takes it to a whole new level. It even has codified the attorney-client privilege (unlike other states which rely on rules derived from the ABA rules) in Cal. Evid. Code section 900 et seq.

It turns out that even when privilege has been used for abuse, California jurisdiction is highly unwilling to question the practice. In the case of Dp Pham, LLC v. Cheadle, a prima facie showing of privilege turned out to be one heck of a shield against disclosure.

SEC Filing Is Not a Public Disclosure, California Court Rules

A California Court of Appeals has ruled rather controversially that federal filings with the SEC do not amount to "public disclosure" for purposes of qui tam relator suits under California's False Claims Act ("CFCA"). This is the case of State ex rel. Bartlett v. Miller, decided on January 19th.

How could this possibly be the ruling? CFCA cases based on public information, said the three judge panel for California's Second Appellate District, are triggered only when such disclosure is through channels explicitly accounted for in the state statute, a mechanism known as the "public disclosure bar."

The California State Bar Board of Trustees announced in December that it would be appointing Jayne Kim to a second four-year term as chief trial counsel, the state bar's top prosecutor position. The chief trial counsel is responsible for investigating and prosecuting attorneys for professional misconduct, overseeing more than 200 employees and a $40 million budget.

But Kim is a contentious choice for reappointment, after employees in the Office of Chief Trial Counsel overwhelmingly voted "no confidence" in her leadership in October. Here's some background on Kim and the controversy behind her.

Right-To-Die Lawsuit Rejected by California Appeals Court

The Associated Press reported yesterday that a California appeals court rejected a lawsuit brought by Christy O'Donnell and two other terminally ill patients who sought to legalize the procedure for doctors to prescribe them fatal medication.

The court ruled that current law would criminalize physicians who helped patients commit suicide. The news comes as a blow to the patients in light of this month's signing of the California's physician-assisted suicide law. This is ironic because O'Donnell's face has become synonymous with California's freshly legalized right to drug-assisted suicide.

Ex-State Bar Exec Sues, Claiming Whistleblower Retaliation

November might not be the best month for the State Bar of California. If bar exam results go the same as every other state, we'll find out later this month that the July administration had the fewest passers in at least 10 years.

The good news for Joseph Dunn is that won't be his problem anymore. Dunn was abruptly fired from his job as executive director of the State Bar on November 7. Last week, we found out why, and the allegations are juicy and salacious.

2 Calif. Judges Censured for Intimate Relations in Chambers

Yes, judges behave badly, too. But when they behave badly, it makes lawyers and courts look bad.

This week, the Commission on Judicial Performance issued a pair of sanctions to two different superior court judges who both engaged in some inappropriate conduct in camera.

Santa Clara Sheriff's Deputies Caught On Tape Planting Evidence

What do you think when a defendant claims that the cops planted evidence, that he or she was framed.

Bull crap, right? We know, like Shawshank, everyone's innocent. And seriously, why would cops risk their careers and livelihood to put some low-level junkie in jail on an "under the influence" charge. Except they did, according to Allison Ross in her civil suit. And they were caught on tape.

The worst part is, even with the transcripts from the tape, her story still seems incredible.

Every lawyer at some point or another is going to have a client that can't pay. If it hasn't happened to you yet, then consider yourself lucky.

It may happen that they come to you and there is just no way they can afford a private attorney. Or, they may have engaged you, and then discovered that they can't make the bill. Either way, we have resources you can turn to and a few ideas that might help.

Private Communications Not Subject to Cal. Public Records Act

A mayor sends an email to a state senator through his official government email account. The California Public Records Act applies, and this email is subject to public disclosure.

A mayor sends an email via a free webmail service, such as Gmail, to that same senator, and per this court decision, it is not subject to public disclosure.

Note to Leland Yee: sign up for Gmail.

Something is Rotten in the Orange County D.A.'s Office

Brady violations. Massiah mishaps. Perjury. And snitches. Nobody likes snitches.

Except the Orange County District Attorney's Office. Actually, we'd venture a guess that all D.A.'s offices like snitches, since they make prosecutors' jobs easier. But the utility of a snitch is limited by Massiah, which prohibits the government from eliciting incriminating statements from a defendant after the right to counsel attaches.

And if the Orange County Public Defender's Office's motions are to be believed, that's exactly what the D.A's office was doing -- sending snitches to buddy-up to post-arraignment defendants who were in custody awaiting trial.