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May 2014 Archives

Election Circus Continues With Drunk and Disorderly D.A. Candidate

On Tuesday, we talked about a campaign spending record and a gang-related slate in two very different judicial races. Today? How about a candidate for the San Joaquin District Attorney's seat who was recently arrested twice in 24 hours, both in alcohol-related incidents.

The prosecutor turned defense attorney has a lot of experience to fall back on if elected: not only is he a long-time attorney, but he has recent arrests for hit-and-run, DUI, beating a man with a shoe (dislodging the man's hip in the process), and two more arrests over the weekend: one after he was reported to be driving a rented U-Haul while drunk (he was apprehended at home and sent to the drunk tank) and a day later, for suspicion of misdemeanor assault of a female at his home, reports Voactiv.

Ladies and gentlemen: Gary Hickey 2014.

Primary in 1 Week: Judicial Spending Record, 'Gang' Lawyers

With one week left until the primaries, the race for Superior Court judgeships is getting expensive, and heated. In one race, a candidate is on the verge of setting a spending record. Despite the hundreds of thousands expended, however, the race is expected to be close.

Meanwhile, a prosecutor, a city attorney, and a defense attorney all enter a race for a judicial seat. What do they all have in common? They've all labeled themselves "gang" attorneys, a designation that all three argue is a bit of a stretch.

Catching Up With the California Courts' Budget Crisis

The California Court system has been in crisis for quite some time. Years after years of budget cuts have shuttered courthouses, created hours-long lines, and delayed, if not outright denied, access to justice for many.

In January, Gov. Jerry Brown released a proposed budget that would have added $100 million in funding system-wide (most of which would've gone to pension obligations) -- a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $1 billion in cuts over the last six years, or $544 million in cuts in 2012 alone. Later that month, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye released a report that outlined the carnage to the courts, noting that there is a $874.9 million budget shortfall and that an additional $260 million would be needed just to "tread water."

What's the current state of the courts? And is there help on the way?

Cal. Bar Results Come Out Today: What Now?

6:00 p.m.

In twelve hours, you'll know. Until then, you wait.

But no big deal, right? It's only a test ... a big, expensive, three-day-long nightmare of a test with a just-over-half passage rate. Like we said, no big deal.

Here's what you need to know, once the results go live tonight on the California Bar's website.

California Senate Passes Cell 'Kill Switch' Bill: Good Idea?

Last month, we mentioned on our Technologist blog that a great debate was erupting in California over a proposed smartphone "kill switch" bill, one that would mandate that manufacturers include an on-by-default security feature that remotely disables and wipes stolen cell phones. Manufacturers and carriers were not happy, to say the least, and proposed an alternative -- an opt-in model.

The bill quickly died, making this entire debate much ado about nothing, until a tweak to the bill satisfied a couple of Silicon Valley tech firms and the resurrected legislation passed the state Senate, with an Assembly debate guaranteed, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

A "kill switch" seems like an obvious feature to include, so what is the debate all about?

Taking a Vacation: The Myth of the Tenderloin Notice

A few weeks ago, when we were brainstorming topic ideas, someone mentioned the idea of writing a post on what to do if you are planning a vacation -- Memorial Day weekend and summertime are approaching, after all. One of our editors mentioned Tenderloin notices as a "must do" before leaving.

We Googled.

Lies. All lies. It turns out that there is no support for the oft-used "Notice of Availability" in the text of Tenderloin Housing Clinic v. Sparks, and according to an appeals court in Carl v. Superior Court, the urban legend notices were "simply made up."

'Modest Means' Incubators a Good Start, But Are They Enough?

It's not a secret that this nation, and this state, has an access to justice problem. For many Americans, legal help is simply too expensive to afford. The problem is even worse in rural areas, where even if you could afford a lawyer, there might not be one within a hundred miles.

How bad is the problem here in California? California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu summed up the crisis in a speech last month:

"If you were to fill AT&T Park up with indigent people who qualify for legal aid, there would be just five people in the park who are legal aid lawyers to serve the entire ballpark," he stated. "Even for people at the median income, most people cannot afford a lawyer."

It's a pretty huge issue, but is there a solution?

Cal Bar Wants to Crush the Souls of Unlicensed Lawyers

Souls? Just kidding. Lawyers don't have those.

Or do they? After all, unlicensed lawyers, a.k.a. random dudes who are engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, aren't exactly lawyers. Their conduct isn't what one might consider legal, but that's not the issue for the State Bar. Like most lawyers, they want power and money, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The faux-lawyers' money.