Archive for » December, 2010 «

It could become easier for California businesses to resolve civil disputes next year under a state law that streamlines trial procedures. The law by Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, allows one-day jury trials with 8 instead of 12 jurors The catch? Both sides must agree.

California starts the year by downgrading possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction.

Though the fine remains $100, there’s no jail time or notation on your criminal record.  Good news for those that use this herb.

Also in a cost-cutting move, the state will be releasing severely sick or dying inmates through medical parole. That’s causing public safety concerns among Republicans who call the guidelines too dangerous.  Not sure about this one, I am sure we will here more about it.

The paparazzi, known to surround or block celebrities while driving, just to take their picture, may be liable for damages under false imprisonment.  Yes, we must protect our celebrities, where would Cali be without them?

You also might see a Blue Alert on those highway signs telling you an officer is down and the suspect is still on the loose.  This is similar to our Amber alert and will be on the same signs from what I understand.

If you have one of those yellow hybrid stickers, you’ll still be able to use the carpool lane as a solo driver six more months.  The way our freeways are, I don’t think there are that many hybrid drivers using the lane.

Another new law creates a state commission to help beekeepers fight Colony Collapse Disorder, a disease that has devastated honey bee colonies in recent years. The cause isn’t known, but the commission will recommend ways to control it.  A world without honey just can’t happen!

California nursing homes will be required to post federal ratings of their facilities starting Jan. 1. The federal program gives ratings from one to five stars, depending on quality of care, making it easier for residents and their families to choose the right facility, according to supporters.

Nursing homes that fail to post the ratings can be fined.  Well, now I will be able to choose  a five star home that my grandkids keep telling me they will come visit me in, lol.

Lawmakers even went after some Internet users. It’ll be a misdemeanor to impersonate someone if the intention is to deceive or injure another person.

The real estate lending business will be affected by a change. Starting Saturday, the law protects homeowners who are “underwater” on their loans, preventing first deed lenders from obtaining deficiency judgments against the sellers in short sales.

A lender who approves a sale for less than what is owed must accept the sales proceeds as full payment.  This will certainly be good news to many who need to sell their homes.

California businesses with 15 or more employees must provide 30 days’ paid leave for workers who donate organs and five days for those who give bone marrow.

Parents of children (kindergarten through eighth grade) are charged with a misdemeanor if the child misses 10-percent or more of the school year without an excuse.  The new California law can punish offending parents with up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,000.  Who doesn’t send their children to school?  Apparently enough parents to warrant this law.

In cases where a caregiver causes serious injury (such as a coma or paralysis) they will now be prosecuted for punishment which can now include life in prison.  The new California law includes relatives and non-relatives.

‘Chelsea’s Law’ ups the penalties for forcible sex acts against minors and creates a penalty of ‘life without the possibility of parole’ for specific acts and imposes lifetime parole for certain sex offenses.  The new California law also punishes such acts committed within public parks more severely.

It is a crime to conduct a “malicious, credible impersonation” through a social media site, email or website. The new California law punishes the harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding of another person online with up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

California businesses with 15 or more employees must provide 30 days’ paid leave for workers who donate organs and five days for those who give bone marrow.

Bakeries must stop using artery-clogging trans fat oil in 2011. California passed the law in 2008, but it didn’t affect bakers until now. Restaurants, fast-food outlets and cafeterias came under the prohibition a year ago.  Wonder if I will still enjoy the occasional donut without all that fat?

This is just a smidgen of the 700 new laws, yes 700, that go into effect on January 1, 2011.

Here’s a great video, with some wonderful “adult” signs to enjoy.  Happy New Year to all my fellow paralegals.  Stay safe, stay happy and see you all next year!

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McDivitt Law Firm of Colorado has done this for four years, and given away about 4,000 cab rides.  New Year’s Eve revelers will again have the option of a safe and free cab ride home, thanks to the McDivitt law office.

The Safe and Sober program is for adults who have been drinking or who don’t have a safe way home. Rides will be available in Colorado Springs (inside the city limits) from 10 p.m. on Friday, December 31, through 4 a.m., Saturday, January 1.

And just to be clear, the rides are provided to the rider’s residence, not to another drinking establishment.  So, if you are in Colorado Springs and need a safe and free ride home, call Yellow Cab of Colorado Springs and say thank you to the McDivitt Law Firm.

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Who says lawyers don’t have hearts?  In the Florida Times Union yesterday there was an article about a law firm who will give away 750 gallons of gasoline on Wednesday afternoon as members of the law firm and community leaders pump up to 10 gallons per vehicle.

The Chestnut Firm, based in Gainesville and with an office in Jacksonville, will sponsor the giveaway beginning at 4:30 at the Shell station at 2197 Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville.

The law firm, headed by Chris Chestnut, said in a release that the second annual gas giveaway is a way to give back to the community, especially in a time when many people are struggling.

I have no affiliation with this firm and I don’t know anyone who works for them but I think this is a great community spirited thing to do.  So, I would like to say thank you to the Chestnut Firm and Merry Christmas too!

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Let’s not forget our troops at this time of the year.  I came across a great website, www.letsaythanks.com today and thought I would pass it on to all of you.  Please feel free to pass it on to all of your friends and family as well.  Xerox is offering a free card for a service person.  All you need to do is pick a card and Xerox will send it for you.  You don’t get to pick who to sent it to, but I think this is a great way to let our men and women serving our country that we are thinking of them and appreciate them.  Thank you Xerox, what a wonderful thing to do!

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Category: Family Law  Comments off

The 50-year-old attorney from Las Vegas is at the center of a lengthy federal investigation into possible corruption involving local construction defect litigations and homeowner associations.  Nancy Quon began her career in Las Vegas as law office runner. She became a secretary, then a paralegal.  After earning an undergraduate degree at UNLV, she took out a government loan and attended California Western School of Law in San Diego, in part because it had a fast-track trimester system that would enable her to finish her studies more quickly.

Quon’s 15 year attorney life quickly went from 60-70 hour work weeks winning litigation battles against formidable opponents to being held on a Legal 2000 (we in California call this a 5050) meaning that she was held for a psychiatric hold for a possible suicide pact with her then boyfriend former Metro cop William Ronald Webb.  He has since been arrested on charges of conspiring to kill Quon.  Turns out that Webb had set her home on fire with the intent of killing her.

From what I read about Quon, she is a single mother, now a grandmother and is the caretaker of her 49 year old brother who has battled B-cell leukemia since age 15 and who is currently undergoing chemotherapy.  She sounds like one tough woman who has gone through quite a bit and it looks like she continues to do so.  It looks imminent that she will be indicted by the feds for her alleged involvement in homeowner association and construction defect litigations in Las Vegas.  Hopefully getting through the tough times in the past can help her get through whatever comes her way in the future.

For more of this story, you can read it here.

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According to the VV Daily Press, Erin Brockovich, the legal assistant who exposed the water contamination scandal that was later turned into a film, returned to the small desert town of Hinkley to gather information for a community meeting she wants to hold at the beginning of January.

PG&E has put together a feasibility study that outlines five different proposals for the chromium 6 cleanup of Hinkley’s drinking water supply. The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board will be deciding which proposal is best suited for the cleanup efforts after they receive public input on an environmental impact report. The report will define any negative impact the project would have on concerns about aesthetics, water quality, air quality and noise.

Seems the chromium cleanup is not done, but Erin is on it again!  I don’t know about any of you, but I loved that movie, you know the one I am talking about!  Erin Brockovich of course.  I would love to have the memory Erin does. Mine is pretty good, but if the movie showed anything close to what hers really is, I feel very inadequate in the memory department.  I will be paying close attention to this story and hoping that Hinkley can finally get the clean-up that PG&E has promised.

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I came across  “Avoid a Claim” blog today, which gives notice of a Family Law collection scam email from a Kathy Cheung.  Since I work primarily in Family Law, this of course drew my attention.  It starts out with:

“Greeting Counsel, Great day to you, my purpose for contacting your firm is to inquire for representation. I have a premium settlement case that needs to be addressed and finalized as soon as possible. The need to gain your representation is to enforce the settlement agreed upon by my ex-spouse and I. This agreement has been adjudicated but so far, it has not been formally adhered to properly, by my ex-husband. I say this because, as of today he still owes me a gross amount in settlement funds.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I am pretty particular about the e-mails I receive and this one would concern me from the get-go.  That being said, I personally know an attorney who has received other “interesting” e-mails offering money, (you know the ones, you deposit the check and get to keep one-half of the funds), and has found these e-mails believable.

These emails currently being sent are separately addressed to individual lawyers (in many cases these fraud blasts are BCCs and appear as addressed to “undisclosed recipients”).   It is also noted that the From email address is different than the email address listed in the body of the email.  Oh big red flag!!

If you or your attorney/firm have been targeted by this fraud, please forward any of the emails you have received to fraudinfo@lawpro.ca.

If you have been or know someone who has successfully been duped, please immediately notify LAWPRO (instructions on how are here), as there may be a claim against you.

Further fraud prevention information and resources are available on the practicePRO Fraud page (www.practicepro.ca/fraud), including the Fraud Fact Sheet, a handy reference for lawyers and law firm staff that describes the common frauds and the red flags that can help identify them.

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Category: Family Law  12 Comments

As reported by The State Bar of California in the December Bar Journal, 54.8 percent of those who took the bar exam in July passed, down from the 56.4 percent passage rate for July 2009. If the 4,690 successful test takers satisfy other requirements for admission, they will become members of the State Bar, bringing the number of California lawyers to more than 232,000.

The pass rate for the July exam had been steadily rising since July 2004, when it hit a low point of 48.2 percent, until 2008, when it peaked at 61.7 percent. The pass rate was 48.8 percent in 2005, 51.8 in 2006 and 56.1 percent in 2007. But it dipped last year and again this year.

The results also showed that students who attended an ABA-accredited law school in California and took the exam the first time had the best chance of passing — 75 percent — followed by out-of-state ABA-accredited schools (68 percent). Students who attended California-accredited schools had a pass rate of 40 percent, a significant jump from last year’s 32 percent pass rate.

The number of applicants also declined, from 8,667 in 2009 to 8,562 last July. Seventy-one percent — 6,084 — were first-time test takers and they scored a pass rate of 68 percent. The pass rate for the 2,478 repeaters was 22 percent.

The results also showed that students who attended an ABA-accredited law school in California and took the exam the first time had the best chance of passing — 75 percent — followed by out-of-state ABA-accredited schools (68 percent). Students who attended California-accredited schools had a pass rate of 40 percent, a significant jump from last year’s 32 percent pass rate.

Successful applicants who have satisfied other requirements for admission — those who have not been reported by local district attorneys for being in arrears with family or child support payments, who have received a positive moral character determination and who have passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination — may either take the attorney’s oath individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held throughout the state during December.

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Category: Legal News  7 Comments