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In an article at Law.Com this past week, undocumented immigrant, Sergio Garcia, is challenging the California Supreme Court for his right to become an attorney.  Garcia’s application for a green card has been pending for 18 years, when his father applied for him when he was 17.  Seems a mighty long time to wait for a green card.

Garcia enrolled in community college and later transferred to California State University, Chico, where he had to pay out-of-state tuition rates because of his undocumented status.  After taking four years of night classes, Garcia received his J.D. from Cal Northern School of Law in Chico in May 2009. He passed the bar exam on his first try two months later.

Garcia said he never worried that his immigration status would stop him from becoming a lawyer. Prior to 2008 the bar didn’t ask applicants about their residency, a spokeswoman confirmed.  But when Garcia applied for his moral character review in late 2009 he got the question. He wrote in the answer “pending.” Months went by with no response.

“Everybody told me, ‘Sergio, you sound like a nice guy, but it’s nothing we want to get involved in. It’s a personal struggle,'” he said. “At that point I started googling State Bar law firms.”  That’s when he found the husband-and-wife legal team of Jerome Fishkin and Lindsay Slatter, whose three-attorney Walnut Creek firm specializes in cases involving applications and disciplinary cases pending before the State Bar.

Last fall, the Committee on Bar Examiners forwarded its recommendation that Garcia be admitted to the bar to the state Supreme Court. Fishkin said he and Slatter figured the case would be settled one way or the other, in private, with a minute order. But then in May, the court publicly asked for briefing in the case.

The Committee of Bar Examiners, as well as attorney general Kamala Harris, has argued that Garcia should be admitted to the bar because law licensure is the purview of the state Supreme Court, not the federal government.

Even though the Obama administration has opposed his bid to join the State Bar, Garcia has spent recent days helping young adults apply for so-called deferred action, the new federal program that will protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, at least temporarily. Garcia is four years too old to qualify for the deferral. He said he’s not bitter.

Garcia is keenly aware that his story reads like a made-for-the-big-screen tale. That’s why the ambitious 35-year-old is writing his autobiography. Publishers and producers are already calling, he said.

“It’s on hold for now,” Garcia said in a recent interview. “I’m waiting for the happy ending.”

Another California case worth watching.  What are your thoughts on Mr. Garcia’s case?

 

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The California Courts YouTubeChannel will offer news and information covering areas from self-help and local court news to courthouse construction projects and actions and news from the Judicial Council of California – the policy making body of California’s courts.

The Twitter feed will receive tweets on announcements of opinions from the Supreme Court, news releases and updates on new content and resources on the California Court’s Website

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Elena Kagan as Dean of Harvard Law School
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I don’t know about you, but I am excited about another woman possibly sitting on the Supreme Court!  I have been crazy busy and unable to watch the hearing, but I have been trying to read what is going on and found some of the opening comments made last week by Senator Klobuchar quite informative.

One such comment was “Solicitor General Kagan, there are always a lot of critics on the sidelines, but you have actually been in the arena . . . as a manager, as a teacher, as an advisor, as a consensus-builder and as a lawyer.  In every job you’ve had, you’ve worked very hard and done very well.  That is why you are before us today, being considered – in the words of Teddy Roosevelt – for this “high achievement.” ”

She further went on to say “It strikes me that it takes a pretty extraordinary person who, after working in the Clinton Administration, can still get a standing ovation from the Federalist Society… who inspires a group of 600 law school students to show up for a rally wearing “I love Elena” t-shirts… who is widely credited with calming the factionalism that had previously roiled your law school.  In several different jobs now, you have successfully managed lawyers, and worse yet, law professors – a group that can certainly be described as “fearless in the face of supervision”! In sum, you’ve had a lot of practical experience reaching out to people who hold very different beliefs, and that’s increasingly important on a very divided Supreme Court.  That must be, by the way, why you have all the previous Solicitors General from the past 25 years – under both Democratic and Republican administrations – supporting you for this job.  In the course of more than two centuries, 111 justices have served on the Supreme Court.  Only three have been women.   If you are confirmed, you will be the fourth, and for the first time in its history, three women would take their places on the bench when arguments are heard in the fall.”

I think it’s time we had someone on the bench who thinks about the consequences of how the decisions that are made affect the “real people” and their lives.  There are so many decisions handed down that just make no sense to many of us and have consequences on people’s lives that are not always for the better.  Having someone with the ability to state what those impacts could or would be, sitting on the bench might make a big difference.  It sure couldn’t hurt!

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California Supreme Court on  Prop 8 Day of Dec...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

In an article appearing in JDSupra, written by Larry Bodine,  the California Supreme Court ruled in Simpson Strong-Tie Co. v. Gore on May 17, 2010 that a plaintiff lawyer who was seeking clients for a possible class action lawsuit had a right to publish an advertisement regarding defective decks on homes. The maker of screws for decks sued Gore for libel, false advertising and unfair business practices. Gore won at trial and on appeal. The state Supreme Court ruled that the lawyer was entitled to invoke the state anti-SLAPP statute to protect his free speech rights in publishing the ad.

This case originated in Santa Clara County and is good news for attorneys with regards to advertising.  If you would like to read the entire Supreme Court ruling, click here.

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John Paul Stevens, U.S. Supreme Court justice.
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Just heard that Justice Stevens will be retiring when the court finishes its work for the summer.  Justice Stevens is the court’s oldest
member and leader of its liberal bloc.

This announcement comes 11 days before his 90th birthday.

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All California attorneys must provide an e-mail address to the State Bar beginning Feb. 1, 2010, under a new rule of court approved by the Supreme Court. Inactive lawyers over 70 are exempt from the new requirement.

Under Rule 9.7, all members of the State Bar must create an online profile through the bar’s secure membership system. Currently, 150,000 lawyers already have done so and they need do nothing further.

But on Feb. 1, attorneys who move will be able to change their address and phone number only through My State Bar Profile. Online address change capability has been available for several years and is widely used. In 2008, 58,000 address changes were processed, 40,000 online.

Lawyers are statutorily required to keep their addresses updated within 30 days of a move.

The private e-mails will be recorded in the bar’s database and will be used only for official communications, such as courtesy reminders related to deadlines and updates of new regulations that affect members. Attorneys also will have the option to provide a public e-mail address, which will be available to the public on the bar’s Web site.

Notification of disciplinary or regulatory proceedings that may lead to a loss of license will continue to be sent through regular mail.

In addition to the 150,000 private e-mails the bar now has, another 30,000 lawyers have provided a public address. About 40,000 lawyers have not provided an e-mail address.

Although not required by the rule, the bar’s administrative policy will provide an exemption to inactive lawyers over 70. In addition, lawyers who do not have an e-mail address may apply for an exemption by completing a form provided by the bar.

The above article was posted in the California Bar Journal and is provided here as a reminder to all California attorneys, which means you the Paralegal will need to stay on top of this for your attorneys. After all, isn’t that part of your job? To stay on top of any and all information that affects the attorney you work for?

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As a reminder, The Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and all superior courts in California will be closed on the third Wednesday of every month through June 2010. The next closure is Wednesday, October 21, 2009. Click Administrative Office of the Courts to see the announcement.

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The Senate has confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court in a historic vote that will make her the nation’s first Hispanic justice and the third woman appointed to the Court.

Sotomayor, born in New York City to parents who moved there from Puerto Rico, won over nine Republican senators to go with the 59 members of the Democratic caucus who were present. The final margin of 68-31 was larger than the 58-42 vote three years ago for Justice Samuel Alito Jr., but it was still a smaller margin than other justices have received.

This is great news for women and Hispanic’s as well.  Hopefully this will be a great change for country too.

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