Bar Soap: August 2011

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Bar Soap - a column by Matt Guichard

Feeling a bit confused and confounded with this new column? So, let’s see: It’s a bit gossip, some facts about people on the move, some jury verdicts, some court verdicts, some interesting settlements and perhaps some not so interesting comments from me. Do I have that right? And when I have enough jury verdict reports, I will get one of those columns to you.

Not sure if you saw the mention in our local newspaper of two local Bar Association members; Nadia Costa and Joshua Safran. Though the Habeas Project, they took on representation of a wrongfully incarcerated women. Their work, documented in the film “Crime After Crime”, was presented at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Happy to see another one of our own, Mark Ericsson was named a Super Lawyer. For those of you who have been nominated as a Super Lawyer in your field, please let me know. It is a very nice honor and I am always happy to mention it. Congratulations, Mark! And now that we mentioned Mark and his firm Youngman & Ericsson, Chastity A. Schults has become a partner at that firm. Congratulations, Chastity!

Speaking of people on the move, Hallert & Hallert have relocated to 1331 North California Boulevard, Suite 200, in Walnut Creek. Lots of moves in the works. Wonder if it has anything to do with the commercial real estate market?

Steve Hallert reported that, during the move, he discovered some old fee schedules for filings in both Alameda County and Contra Costa County Courts. I plan to look at them and write about them in my next column. Sounds like the equivalent of 25 cent gas and 15 cents for a loaf of bread. The schedules are at the Bar Association –  Ask to see them the next time you are there for a visit.

News of those striking out on their own include Dirk Manoukian. Dirk started his own shop and will be practicing out of the same space he has been in for some time. Pamela Marraccini has started her own practice. She has moved into the same space occupied by some other guy named Marraccini. Craig Nevin has opened the Law Office of Craig S. Nevin. He too has relocated to 1331 N. California Boulevard, Suite 200, in Walnut Creek. William Diffenderfer has relocated his practice to 2415 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Suite 4337, in San Ramon.

Paul Mulligan, a senior inspector in the District Attorney’s Office and a licensed California Lawyer has been named Chief of Inspectors in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office. Now we just have to get him to join our local Bar Association. Speaking of the District Attorney’s Office, Lisa Reep, Erika Portillo and I recently made a presentation at Mark Peterson’s invitation to the attorneys in that office to join the organization. I have heard there have been a number of applications.

Although we are on our summer break from the Robert G. McGrath American Inn of Court, the new membership year starts in September. Get those applications in to the Inn. Again, several members of the District Attorney’s Office have requested applications. The DA’s office is, after all, the largest group of lawyers in our County, and we need to get Deputy District Attorneys into all our local legal organizations.

Jay Chafetz reported he obtained a verdict in a Contra Costa County Superior Court (Yea, a local verdict actually reported to me!). Pryor vs. Saadzoi, Case No C10-00387, was heard before the Honorable Judith Craddick in Department 9. Jay represented the Plaintiff and Christopher Patton of Oakland represented the Defendant. The matter involved a motor vehicle accident. Negligence was admitted. Causation and damages were contested as the Plaintiff waited three and a half months before seeking treatment, and he then went for extensive chiropractic treatment and some pain management. The last defense offer was $2500. Plaintiff served a CCP 998 offer to settle in the amount of $35,000. The verdict was $40,000.

Joe Morrill of Danville reported on his verdict in Contra Costa Court. The case was entitled “In the Matter of The Lawton Trust, dated August 25, 1989.” The Honorable Joyce Cram presided. Case no.MSP09-00397. Plaintiff’s attorney was William Salzwedel of Thousand Oaks. Defense attorneys were Joseph Morrill, and Thomas R. Hayes of Monterey Park.

The matter was filed in Los Angeles County, but transferred by motion to Contra Costa County. In a nutshell the case involved the attempt by a daughter to invalidate an amendment to her mother’s trust which disinherited the daughter on the grounds of undue influence and fraud/deceit. Respondents contended the mother had the requisite testamentary capacity at all relevant times, the 2006 amendment was not the product of undue influence, and the respondent did not breach any duties owed.

After the evidence was submitted, the Court found the daughter failed to meet her burden of proof on any of her claims against the respondents. Respondents were awarded costs.

Speaking of failing to meet a burden; please give the editors of the Contra Costa Lawyer a break. The “Coffee Talk” topics are meant to be provocative and to elict responses on all sides of an issue. Am I in trouble for that comment?


Matthew P. Guichard is a principal in Guichard, Teng & Portello, APC. Please send case information to: 1800 Sutter Street, Suite 730, Concord, CA 94520 or contact him at 925.459.8440 or mguichard@gtplawyers.com

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