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Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner and Kern County Superior Court Judge Cory Woodward exhibited the “height of irresponsible and improper behavior” with their “intimate relationship[s],” the Commission on Judicial Performance said.

“It reflects an utter disrespect for the dignity and decorum of the court and is seriously at odds with a judge’s duty to avoid conduct that tarnishes the esteem of the judicial office in the public’s eye,” the order imposing censure on Steiner said.

Read more: http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202668718176/Two-Judges-Draw-Censures-for-Courthouse-Sexual-Affairs#ixzz3CScEeON0

According to the article, neither judge was removed from the bench, because they admitted having sex in chambers and showed remorse.  This goes to show that even judges make wrong decisions.

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Paralegals and attorneys beware!  According to a recent article in The Recorder, sending that email to the wrong person can be a possible legal malpractice claim in the future.

“Emails sent in certain practices, such as commercial or residential real estate and other commercial transactions, are at a higher risk of being forwarded to third parties without the attorney’s consent. Clients in these areas believe a title opinion or a corporate authority opinion that is good for one purpose is good for all purposes, but forwarding emails and opinions creates risks.

For the attorney, there is the risk that opinions, which were transmitted for a single purpose in a unique context, may be transmitted for use in connection with unintended purposes or unrelated contexts. For the client, there is the risk of the waiver of the attorney-client privilege. And for the recipient, there is the risk of detrimental reliance on an opinion that does not apply to facts and circumstances for which the email was forwarded.”

There are things the legal staff and attorney can do to protect itself in the event this occurs, such as adding content to the email footer that can be automatically attached by the system to every outgoing email. The footer can be used, among other things, to include an attorney-client privilege notice or to address the risks of forwarded emails by putting recipients on notice of the boundaries for acceptable and permissible use of the content of the email.

There are however, no magic words approved by the Court for this purpose.  Also, “Courts have generally held that such a label attached by an attorney means little in deciding whether a communication is entitled to protection under either the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine.”

The opinions of the American Bar Association, the Courts and the many state bar associations have varied on the effectiveness of such a footer. However, it appears there is some increased protection in the liability context if attorneys adopt language in their emails that parallels the inadvertent disclosure language applicable in the discovery context.

In California, generally, where it is evident the client had not made the disclosure, the lawyer did not intend to disclose confidential information and the inadvertently disclosed document was clearly marked as confidential, no waiver will be found. See State Compensation Insurance Fund v. WPS, 70 Cal.App.4th 644 (1999).

In California, once an attorney realizes privileged information has been received, the attorney must immediately notify the sender and attempt to resolve the issue. See Rico v. Mitsubishi Motors, 42 Cal.4th 807 (2007); State Comp. Ins. Fund v. WPS, 70 Cal.App.4th 644 (1999).

“While never sufficient to “un-ring the bell” once the privileged email has been read, inadvertent disclosure instructions can increase an attorney’s ability to potentially obtain some relief after discovery of the problem.”

As stated in this article, “as applied to a footer, the language addressing both the risk of forwarded emails or inadvertent emails might contain the following:

 

NOTICE: This email and all attachments are CONFIDENTIAL and intended SOLELY for the recipients as identified in the “To,” “Cc” and “Bcc” lines of this email. If you are not an intended recipient, your receipt of this email and its attachments is the result of an inadvertent disclosure or unauthorized transmittal. Sender reserves and asserts all rights to confidentiality, including all privileges that may apply. Pursuant to those rights and privileges, immediately DELETE and DESTROY all copies of the email and its attachments, in whatever form, and immediately NOTIFY the sender of your receipt of this email. DO NOT review, copy, forward, or rely on the email and its attachments in any way. NOTICE: NO DUTIES ARE ASSUMED, INTENDED, OR CREATED BY THIS COMMUNICATION. If you have not executed a fee contract or an engagement letter, this firm does NOT represent you as your attorney. You are encouraged to retain counsel of your choice if you desire to do so. All rights of the sender for violations of the confidentiality and privileges applicable to this email and any attachments are expressly reserved.”

The inclusion of the above description serves three purposes.

1) it highlights the communications as protected so an unintended recipient cannot claim he was unaware of the privilege issue until after the email was read; 2) it reinforces the intent to preserve and protect the privileged nature of the communication and makes clear no waiver was intended; and 3),perhaps the most significant, it distinguishes the email from other emails that may not be privileged.

Of course, emails still get read, even where they are unintentionally sent. These two steps—changing the footer and the subject line—at least provide some additional protections from those situations.

The above information can also be found in the book, California Legal Malpractice Law.  I have nothing to do with the writing, editing or distribution of this book.

I think I will be editing my footer immediately.  Hopefully, knock on wood, I will never have to worry about this but I would rather be safe than sorry.

 

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According to the ABA Journal, a Connecticut lawyer has been suspended for four months and barred from representing female clients for the rest of his career after he was accused of representing women in family law and domestic-violence cases in violation of a 2010 court order.

The disciplinary counsel had initially sought disbarment for lawyer Ira Mayo, alleging he had violated the court order at least 11 times, the Connecticut Law Tribune reports. Mayo agreed to the suspension and ban on representing women to resolve the disciplinary complaint.

Mayo was accused in two prior ethics cases, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. In the first he was suspended for 15 months after he was accused of making unwanted advances to female clients referred to him by a group for abused women, the story says. In the second, he was banned from representing women in family law or domestic violence cases after he was accused of offering to waive attorney fees in exchange for a massage.

The short suspension for lawyer Ira Mayo outraged a woman who filed a recent grievance against Mayo after he represented her on assault charges in a domestic-violence case, the Connecticut Law Tribune says. Leah Castro called the short suspension “a slap on the wrist” and told Connecticut Law Tribune she believed he should be disbarred.

Some of the comments on this ruling are below:

“As an attorney, it is clear to me this man should be disbarred.  As a woman, the actions of the Connecticutt Discipline system indicates a problem with their valuation of these issues.  Consider if the discipline would be the same if this man repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances and actions against males.  I think not.  As a retired prosecutor, it is clear this man is a sexual predator.  Another reason to disbar.”

As a young solo practitioner in a small town I took over the office lease from a downsizing sole practitioner who specialized in small divorce actions – great location right across the street from the courthouse. Ground floor storefront + a great brick loft style mezzanine with a skylight.

He said that I could buy as much of the office furniture as I wished except for one piece and he pointed to a cheep looking 3’x3’x3’ laminated cube on which he had placed a coffee maker and cups. Puzzled, I asked “what is it”. He then pulled out a tab and out flopped … a spring loaded single bed. He then looked at me with a mischievous grin and quickly added “I have negotiated many a fee on this bed! It has too much sentimental value for me to part with.

He was not an attractive man; 60; fleshy, paunchy, and red cheeked from 5,000 too many liquid lunches. I was literally speechless.

Apparently this kind of thing used to go on 30 years ago, a lot. Until then I had never heard of the practice.”

“I’m sitting here trying to imagine how a guy like this will fit his predatory predilection into a “men’s rights” style divorce practice, and I fear that the state bar in Connecticut may have created the practitioner’s version of Frankenstein.”

“I’m sure the next time the judge calls for order in the court, every response will end with “. . .and hold the Mayo.””

“Can he represent transgendered clients?”

“Household name divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, who made a name suing actor Lee Marvin for “palimony” (and breaking new ground with the California Supreme Court) was then flooded with palimony cases and leased a upmarket office in Century City office complete with a Jacuzzi soaking tub in an anti-room off of his office. He was later accused by two clients of rape and reputedly had a habit of meeting with clients naked in his hot tub. he was never prosecuted for sexual impropriety.  (He was later sentenced in 1993 to 4 years in prison for tax fraud.)”

I don’t know about any of you, but this “suspension” seems a bit odd and clearly raises some interesting questions about who Mr. Mayo can represent.  I would be interested to know what any of you think of this suspension.

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In an article in the ABA Journal, it is reported that a former law student at the Massachusetts School of Law claims in a lawsuit that he received an unfair D grade in contracts.

The suit by Martin Odemena says the D grade resulted in a suspension and made it impossible for him to transfer to another law school, the National Law Journal reports. He is seeking more than $100,000 in damages for the lost legal career. The suit, filed Friday in Massachusetts federal court, claims violations of state consumer protection laws.D grade

Martin Odemena claims that he earned a D in his contracts class because professor Joseph Devlin counted the results of several quizzes—initially presented as optional—into his final grade.

Odemena filed a pro se suit on Friday in U.S. District Court for Massachusetts naming both Devlin and the law school as defendants. He seeks upwards of $100,000 in compensatory damages for not currently having a legal career, plus attorney fees and a declaration that the quiz results do not count toward his grade.

After receiving his low grade, Odemena was suspended and given a letter declaring that he was not in good standing with the law school. That letter, in turn, made it impossible for Odemena to transfer to another law school, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff has tried all possible means to resolve this matter with the defendants without success, and the plaintiff has spent a lot of money retaining counsel in numerous attempts to resolve this matter with defendants,” the complaint reads. “Furthermore, since the defendants gave the plaintiff a not-good-standing letter because of the D grade in the contracts class, the plaintiff has suffered actual harm. Plaintiff could not get into any other law school with a not-good-standing letter, and his legal career is for all practical purposes over.”

This could be interesting, but I highly doubt it will survive the Motion to Dismiss that Peter Malaguti, who acts as the school’s general counsel, intends to file.  

In a case in Pennsylvania in 2013, student Megan Thode wasn’t happy about the C-plus she received for one class, saying the mediocre grade kept her from getting her desired degree and becoming a licensed therapist — and, as a result, cost her $1.3 million in lost earnings.

A Northampton County judge rejected the claims of Ms. Thode, the former Lehigh University graduate, a verdict that upheld the school’s insistence that she earned the mark she got.

After four days of testimony in a civil trial last year, Judge Emil Giordano decided that the Bethlehem university neither breached a contract with nor sexually discriminated against Megan Thode.

Seems it might be tough to prove that you did not get the grade you feel you deserve, so I guess we will stay tuned to see what happens with Mr. Odemena’s case.

 

 

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A longtime secretary, paralegal and office manager for a since-disbarred California lawyer has been sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison for embezzling $327,000 from the firm and its clients.

The attorney she worked for, Brian Ching, was disbarred in 2012 for his failure to supervise Reyes adequately and other violations of legal ethics rules. An  ABA Journal article provides further details.

This case is a reminder to attorneys that they need to supervise their staff, no matter how much they trust them and a reminder to paralegals that they are not above the law.

 

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Category: Family Law  Comments off

I am sure there are times that attorneys and judges want to go at each other physically, but I never thought we would see it on camera.

Warning, there is profanity in the video.

http://Judge, attorney fight after argument in court

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In an article I posted at my Family Law blog, California Family Law Paralegal, I discussed violence against attorneys, not only by their own clients, but by an opposing party.

The American Bar Association did a poll of attorneys in the mid-90’s and posted the results in an article titled “Lawyers in Harm’s Way.”  This poll revealed that that 60 percent of family lawyers had been threatened by opposing parties, and 17 percent had been threatened by their own clients.

As violence has continued to increase in our nation, I find it interesting that the American Bar Association has not updated this poll of attorneys regarding threats or actual violence towards them.  I am conducting my own poll and ask that you take a moment and answer it, so we as legal professionals can see for ourselves if threats of or actual violence towards attorneys (including paralegals and other staff members) is increasing.

 

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The following post was written by Vicki Voisin, also known as The Paralegal Mentor, who publishes the bi-weekly ezine ’Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence’ where she offers tips for paralegals and others who want to create lasting success in their personal and professional lives. Get tips and information at no cost at www.paralegalmentor.com .

I could not have said this better myself, so why re-invent the wheel?  Vicki Voisin offers awesome advice for paralegals, so be sure to check out her website and sign up for her weekly ezine.

Change is in the air! Whether it’s the advent of Spring or the current political campaign, it seems like everyone is talking about change. Change is always good, any time of the year. In fact, I believe that once you stop changing you’re just done…there will be no more personal growth in your life. Now, I’m not necessarily talking about drastic changes like a quitting your job, leaving your spouse, or moving to Peru. I am talking about making small changes that will keep you fresh and content with your current job and your career.

Do you feel like you’ve painted yourself into a corner? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Well, nothing happens to the rut you’re stuck in unless you make the changes necessary to get out. If you continue to do the same thing in the same way, you’ll get the same results. It’s time to make a few small changes that will get you out of that rut. Here are some tips:

Clear the decks! Or, rather, clear your desk! Piles of papers and gobs of Post-It notes keep you from doing your best work. With all the clutter on your desk, you waste time looking for files and memos. Throw away what you can and then file the rest. Working in a clear, organized space will make you feel better instantly.

Set goals! Decide what you want to do and where you want to go. Then figure out the steps you need to take to get there. You would never eat a 12″ sub sandwich in one gulp, but bite by bite that sandwich will disappear. Setting short term goals to reach your long term goal is the only way to make sure you keep yourself on track. Put those goals on your calendar so that you will make time to do them. I have another example. Say you want to see ‘Wicked’ this coming August 2nd. But you say to yourself, “I don’t know if I can do that.What if something else comes up?” So you do nothing. Guess what…August 2nd will come and go and you will not have seen ‘Wicked.’ If you had put that event on your calendar, purchased your tickets and made travel plans, you would be in for a terrific experience on August 2nd. If not, you’ll be at home watching ‘I Love Lucy’ re-runs.

Challenge yourself! Think of something challenging that you want to do before you wake up on the wrong side of the grass. This should be something that is out of your normal routine…something that is a stretch for you. Would that be sky diving? A trip to Morocco? Learning Italian? Once you’ve chosen your challenge, plan the steps you must take to make it happen. You simply cannot learn Italian overnight. Also, forget the excuses. Never say, “I can’t do that. It will take too long and I’ll be (you insert the number that’s holding you back) years old before I’m finished!” I have news for you, you will (hopefully!) be 30…40…50…60…or whatever number you’re thinking. You might as well reach the age and have completed your challenge as get there and have regrets because you didn’t. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and plan the steps you must take to climb your mountain.
Ask for what you want! I’ll let you in on a little secret…I didn’t have a reserved seat for the Richlin v Chertoff oral arguments. It would have been very easy to just wring my hands and decide to stay home because I wasn’t even sure I would get in the building. Instead, I stood in line for two hours on a chilly March morning and slowly inched toward the door. The oral arguments were to begin at 10:00 a.m. As that time approached, I could see I wasn’t going to get in. Instead, I was given the opportunity to move to the line of people who could watch for just five minutes. That was better than nothing (even though I was calculating that for five minutes in the court room, the trip would cost me about $300 per minute!) so I moved and was with the first group inside. When I sat down, I was totally awed by the Court and the voices of the Justices, but I couldn’t see them very well. Then I noticed one empty seat just across from me. The Marshalls were patrolling the room and looked like they’d throw me out if I even crossed my eyes. But when one walked by me I asked (very quietly!) if I could move to the empty seat. His response? ”If you move to that seat, you have to stay for the whole hour!” Yes! I asked for what I wanted and I got it.Never hesitate to ask for what you want. What do you have to lose? You’ll be surprised how often it works.
Look for the good in people! It’s very easy to see other’s faults, but it’s healthier to see the good things. Every person has a story. Every person has something interesting to offer. Acknowledge at least one positive quality in everyone you meet during a day. The negatives will slip away and you will find more joy in your day.
Exercise! Golly, how many times have you heard that? But it’s true! You need to exercise not only to keep your body strong, but also to keep your mind healthy. You will do your best thinking and problem solving while you take a brisk walk. Try to make exercise a priority.
Have you noticed a recurring theme here? Each of these changes requires that you work on yourself and your way of thinking. It is so important that you maintain your sense of humor, that you have fun, and that you always be learning something new. Taking a risk once in a while is mandatory. Work on those goals, make some long-term plans, smile at your neighbor, and I’ll bet you will find you’re no longer stuck in your rut. That said, I have one more point to make.
Evaluate your situation! In the beginning, I said I was not advocating any drastic changes. But think about this: You probably have an idea where you want your career to go. Think where you were five years ago and then where you want to be in five years. Are things going as you had hoped? Are you on a path that will get you to where you want to be in five years? Are you earning what you deserve? Hopefully your answers will be ‘Yes.’ If not, you may need to make more than a few small changes.
Your Assignment: Take ten minutes to assess that rut you think you may be stuck in and make a list of five things you would like to do by the end of the year. Then determine what steps you have to take to reach those goals, to make those things a reality. Next, schedule the steps on your calendar. By the end of the year, you’ll not only be out of your rut, but you’ll be marching down the road singing a happy tune.
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English: New Year's Day postcard mailed in 190...

English: New Year’s Day postcard mailed in 1909. It reads: “A New Year’s Resolution / Jan. 1st / Good Resolution / Each resolution that I make / My conscience surely troubles / Because I find they always break / As easy as Soap bubbles” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2013 flew by so fast and I was so busy that I didn’t post anything for months.  Shame on me!  My New Year’s Resolution (I never make them, by the way) is to post more often and to post more articles for paralegals.  That is my goal, we will see if I can do it.

Perhaps someone will have to remind me to post or maybe as a paralegal I should calendar it and stop finding excuses for not posting!

Happy New Year and let’s make this year a better one than last year!

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Category: Family Law  Comments off

Happy Mother’s Day to all!  I hope you all have a wonderful day!

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Category: Personal  Tags:  Comments off