Highlights of the July 2013 Contra Costa Lawyer edition include articles about criminal court budget cuts, side effects of the Realignment Legislation, defense counsel ethics and more.
The economic downturn has affected the criminal justice system in Contra Costa County. The deep budget cuts, furloughs, realignment and court closures have had a profound impact in our county on the way the law is meted out, prosecuted and defended on a macro and micro level. The accused have less money to hire counsel and, once hired, less money to do the things necessary for us to effectively represent them, raising additional ethical dilemmas.
Ninety-four discovery disputes have been assigned to discovery facilitators. A number of discovery disputes have been resolved through that process. Very few discovery motions have shown up on the court’s calendars. Our civil fast track judges are very appreciative of your help.
With the Walnut Creek courthouse no longer hearing criminal cases, we have had to absorb their very heavy misdemeanor caseload into Martinez. The Martinez criminal trial departments must now try all of the Walnut Creek misdemeanor trials as well as the bulk of the felony trials from throughout the county.
When the Realignment Legislation went into effect in October 2011, the shift of responsibilities from the state level to the county to alleviate prison over-crowding was hailed as one of the single most significant changes in the history of California’s criminal justice system. In reality, realignment could just as fairly been described as a “grand experiment” whose unintended consequences are only now coming to light.
Ethically, the budget slashing at public defenders offices all over the country has huge implications. Many offices have cut a lot of attorneys, while the caseloads coming into the offices are not decreasing. How can these lawyers meet their ethical duty to provide competent representation?
The plaintiff’s attorney Frank McCauley was like King, a no-holds brawler, in the twilight of his career, looking for one last victory. McCauley knew from his 47 years as a lawyer that the most difficult case for a plaintiff to win was a medical negligence trial. The defense won nearly 90 percent of the time, especially before Contra Costa juries. And this time, he was a 9 to 1 underdog facing the best lawyer from the top medical malpractice firm in the East Bay, ranked No. 1 in the heavyweight division and 30 years his junior.
Top Reasons for Membership: (1) To be part of the local legal community; (2) Provides information on my practice area/keeps me current; (3) Provides networking opportunities.
The Contra Costa County Bar Association has partnered with insurance brokers Myers-Stevens-Mello & Co. Inc. (MSM) to assist its members in navigating the upcoming changes in the insurance marketplace.
If you have a hankering for excellent food at tablecloth prices with the atmosphere of a barbeque or pizza joint, search no further.
The evening was an expansive discussion on many aspects of elder law, including both the estate planning, probate issues and criminal options. With the silver tsunami (i.e. the graying boomers) about to hit America, elder law issues are going to be more important than ever in the coming years.
This year marks the 22nd Annual Food From the Bar drive benefiting the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. For our annual Res Ipsa Jokuitor Comedy Night in April, we invited comedian Will Durst to headline, plus the Irish Newsboys. We are proud to announce that this year, we broke the $1 million mark in cumulative FFTB donations!
The Criminal Law Section held an MCLE luncheon on May 9th. The topic was: What Lawyers Need to Know Today About Realignment. The speaker was Garrick Byers, Statue Decoder, CCC Public Defender’s Office.
On May 10th, the Employment Law Section held an MCLE breakfast on the topic of: Violence in the Workplace: Employer Obligations, Legal Issues and Threat Assessments.
“The privacy and dignity of our citizens [are] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen—a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [person’s] life.” – Former Justice William O. Douglas