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Family Law attorney Judith Soley, 65, and her client were gunned down at a Bass Lake restaurant Feb. 16 by the client’s husband, who later turned the gun on himself.  Ms. Soley and Sandra Williamson, 65, her client, were leaving a restaurant during a break in court proceedings when Williamson’s estranged husband, James, began beating Soley, who was in her van at that time, and then shot her in the head.  He chased his wife into the kitchen of the restaurant, where he shot her in the head, before fleeing in a pickup.  Officers later found Williamson in his home, where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ms. Soley was the first woman president of the Fresno County Bar Association, and was active in both legal and community circles and was one of the first women to be certified as a family law specialist by the State Bar.  Ms. Soley became a lawyer when women didn’t frequently join the profession and she built a successful practice and, as a single mother, raised her daughter, who became her law partner.

Judith Soley, Esq.

Ms. Soley used a wheelchair all her life, but traveled the world, including visits to the Great Wall of China, Russia, England and Hawaii, as well as stints in Italy and Mexico to perfect her language skills. She graduated from UCLA and received her law degree from Boalt Hall, beginning her practice in 1971.

Ms. Williamson was a labor and delivery coach for 15 years and Mr. Williamson was a retired Los Angeles firefighter.  Friends of the couple said that Mr. Williamson was manic depressive and refused to take his medication, per reports to them by Ms. Williamson several years ago.  The parties’ divorce was an on again, off again action for the last seven years.  The initial divorce was filed in 2004 and the couple reconciled only to separate in 2007 when Ms. Williamson obtained a restraining order for domestic violence.  In 2010, she tried to have the restraining order renewed but was unable to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Williamson and was unable to have it served.

Sandra Williamson

There was also a civil action between the parties in which Mr. Williamson obtained a loan after he forged his wife’s signature on a deed to gain sole possession of the family home.  Ms. Williamson later had the deed voided in court — but not before Williamson took out a $942,000 bank loan based on the forged deed and transferred the money to a joint account he had with a nephew.  The civil suit was still pending at the time of the divorce proceeding.  This was by no means a simple divorce.  You can read the trial brief here prepared by Ms. Soley, which details the many alleged actions of Mr. Williamson.

Family Law can sometimes become very volatile when dealing with very emotional issues and those of us in family law are aware of the dangers that sometimes occur in divorce and custody matters.  If you talk to a Family Law attorney, you will no doubt hear of some opposing party who has become angry with the soon to be ex’s attorney, and has made some threatening comment or threatened some action against that attorney.

Working in family law, I have witnessed many times when this has occurred and have had to call in police assistance to escort the opposing party out of the law office during heated moments.  One former attorney I worked for has had to be escorted along with the client, from the courthouse to their vehicles by the bailiff, after being threatened in the hallway during negotiations with the opposing party, his counsel and the client.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Soley’s family and staff and Ms. Williamson’s family and co-workers.

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Bengals Cheerleaders.
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Yes, you heard right, $11 million is the amount that an NFL cheerleader thought she had won in a defamation judgment against a gossip website.  The result may be nullified because her lawyers sued the wrong company, politico.com reported Thursday.

Sarah Jones, a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and Kentucky teacher, meant to sue TheDirty.com after comments on the site in December suggested she had an affair with a player and also contracted two venereal diseases. The site is run by Scottsdale-based Dirty World LLC.  But due to a clerical error, the lawsuit was filed against TheDirt.com.

On Wednesday U.S. District Court judge William O. Bertelsman ordered Los Angeles-based Dirty World Entertainment Recordings to pay $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages for failing to respond to the lawsuit filed in February.

This would be a paralegal’s nightmare, entering the wrong name and it not being caught until after the judgment is entered by default.  Ughhh, I will be sure to triple check every document that I prepare now.

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Paralegal spends $1.25M for Pacific Palisades 3BD | BlockShopper Los Angeles.  Wow, really?  I want to work where this paralegal works!  I don’t know about you, but I wonder how anyone can afford a home right now, let alone one at $1.25 million.   All kidding aside, congratulations from one paralegal to another!

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 15:  A sign at Los Ange...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I received an email today from OneSource regarding California Court news and would like to pass some of it along to you, my paralegal friends.

Steve Vann, the Director of California Fulfillment with OneLegal, LLC, sent this information on to Mark Schwartz of OneLegal, in which Mark thought highlights very well how the unfortunate trend in the California courts reduction of personnel is affecting OneLegal, we in the legal profession as well as the courts.

Oakland [Superior] is telling OneLegal they will be holding on to orders longer and will be requiring that they drop off more orders in the coming days. Oakland is not the only court as this is also what was heard from Nicole yesterday about LA [Superior].  Sonoma [Superior] is also another court where we are seeing caption pages [a.k.a. filed-endorsed copies] delayed.

This is a trend that he feels will continue into the foreseeable future. With the increased lay-offs and growing order volume the court clerks are simply not able to keep up with the volume.

These orders are all being stamped as accepted the same day they drop them off, but it is taking longer to get the caption pages back. This also means that OneLegal and we paralegals, will be delayed in getting news of rejected documents.

This is concerning to all of us especially when we all just learned as reported by the Daily News, the Los Angeles Superior Court is laying off 329 of their staff and closing 17 Los Angeles area court rooms.  Troy Anderson, Staff Writer for the Daily News, wrote, “Presiding Judge Charles W. “Tim: McCoy, Jr., said another 1800 layoffs are possible, 34 percent of the court work force, and 180 courtrooms and nine courthouses could be shuttered by 2013 if the system doesn’t get more state funding.” 

To read more, click here. You can also click here to read the court’s news release.

Chief Justice Ronald George recently said that CA court closures must not continue into the next fiscal year. Click here to read his comments.

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday announced the appointments of 7 to judgeships in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. One of those appointed is Karen Ackerson-Brazille who was formerly a paralegal.

Ms. Ackerson-Brazille, 45, of Los Angeles, has been a deputy attorney general for the California Attorney General’s Office since 2000. Previously, she was a sole practitioner from 1992 to 2000 and an associate for Albright, Yee and Schmit in 1992. Ackerson-Brazille was a law clerk for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office from 1989 to 1992, serving in the Department of Airports from 1990 to 1991. She was a paralegal for the U.S. Air Force Reserves from 1985 to 1991. Ackerson-Brazille earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Whittier School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego. She fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on March 31, 2009. Ms. Ackerson-Brazille is a Republican as reported in the governor’s press release.

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