Tuesday, June 28, 2011

San Diego Public Law Library Offers Free MCLE

F-r-e-e MCLE

Integrating Technology into your Practice

Law Practice is changing fast and today's lawyer is mobile and more efficient, able to respond to clients 24/7. The use and understanding of technology allows solo and small firm attorneys the ability to compete with larger firms. But with unprecedented products and services available including mobile devices and web-based applications it is challenging to know what technologies would be best. Get an overview of some of the latest and most cost-effective equipment and services you can integrate into your law practice.

Integrating Technology into your Practice
by Jeff Allen and Tony Vittal

Friday, July 8th, 2011
10:15- 2 pm (check-in 10 am)
Esquire Solutions
Emerald Plaza Building
402 West Broadway
16th Floor
San Diego, CA 92101

This is an online streaming video class good for 3 hours MCLE general participatory credit, including 1 hour in Legal Ethics. Sign up by emailing refdesk@sdcpll.org or by calling (619) 531-3900.

There will be a half hour lunch break. Lunch generously provided by CEB.

This free community event is sponsored by the San Diego Law Library and CEB

Everything You Need to Know to be Ready for Trial
by William C. Acevedo, Esq., Jayson T. Javitz, Esq., Karen P. Kimmey, Esq.

This seminar will guide you through the steps you should take before you enter the courtroom to try your case. Expert trial attorneys will share their pretrial strategies and useful tips on how to proceed smoothly during the last days before your trial begins. They will emphasize how to organize your case for trial and offer helpful advice that you can immediately use in your practice

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
10:15 am - 2:00 pm (check-in 10 am)
San Diego Law Library- South Bay Branch
500 3rd Avenue, Suite 150
Chula Vista, CA 91910

This is an online streaming video class good for 3 hours MCLE general participatory credit. Sign up by emailing refdesk@sdcpll.org or by calling (619) 691-4929.

There will be a half hour lunch break. Lunch generously provided by CEB.

This free community event is sponsored by the San Diego Law Library and CEB

Using Lexis
by Eronda Taylor, Esq.

Get research assistance from a Lexis expert! Learn how to quickly uncover rich content related to your search. This one hour class will cover search techniques, finding databases, Shepardizing, emailing and printing, etc. Take advantage of a Lexis representative’s knowledge and become a more efficient and productive researcher.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
12:00 -1:00 pm
Esquire Solutions
402 West Broadway, 16th floor, San Diego, CA
1 hour MCLE credit, General Participatory

This class is free. Sign up by emailing refdesk@sdcpll.org or by calling (619) 531-3900.

The Law & Comics

We are celebrating the second year of our popular Law & Comics event!

Our Guest Panelists, attorney Stu Rees, artist Batton Lash, artist-developer Mark Irwin, and moderator George Brewster, will discuss how the digital revolution impacts the art, business, and law of comics. If you’re an artist, designer, author, or student, our panelists will inform you about legal issues important to you and your craft. Attorneys will gain valuable IP legal knowledge and earn MCLE credit.

Attendees will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of three prizes:
1) the collector’s edition book: Comic-Con, 40 Years of Artists, Writers, Fans and Friends, produced by Comic-Con and designed and published by Chronicle Books;
2) a Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation;
3) a Mophie Pulse.

Friend or Foe? The digital revolution and comics

Monday, July 18, 2011
1 - 2 pm
820 E Street
San Diego Public Library auditorium
San Diego, CA 92101
1 hour MCLE credit, General Participatory

RSVP to: (619) 531-3900 or Register Here to ensure your attendance.

These are free community events sponsored by the San Diego Law Library and the San Diego Public Library.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Success By the Book

Reposted by request:

As an LDA I employ my paralegal skills and experience and follow ALDAP's business practices model to remain in compliance while helping my clients.

I received a follow-up phone call today from a client who came to me several months ago with a desire to file an appeal of his Superior Court case. He had formerly been represented by counsel and that counsel failed to show up at a MSJ hearing and my client was sanctioned and the defendants prevailed.

This is a client I blogged about previously ("Bo") as he had, prior to meeting me, hired a rogue document preparer who held himself out as an unlicensed attorney, to prepare his appeal. After learning that his designation had been rejected three times and after a review of the San Diego Superior Court's file, my client realized that the rogue had forged his signature on legal documents filed with the court, and that the guy was basically taking him for a ride having charged him $1,200 for a notice of appeal and the designation documents.

Since his case concerned his home and his mortgage, I was uncertain if I could legitimately help him, at least to the extent he required. My first concern was whether or not he could withstand the pressure of preparation of an opening brief complete with case law, etc.

We discussed his level of competence and comprehension and we agreed that I would provide him with the procedural information which he would read and then we would see where to go from there. I did so and he was ready to commence preparation of his brief believing that he was able to adequately represent himself and write his own brief.

During the next few days my client realized that self representation was not as easy as it appeared on television and that the brief he was to create was not a simple task. He called and asked me questions like "Can you do the introduction, I don't know what to put?" He asked me to pull cases that match his particular situation. He called several times a day always asking for me to do the brief for him or start it for him or to help him write it. This, I explained, I cannot do.

Finally, I recommended that he pay an attorney to write the brief. He did not want to hire yet another attorney, but I admonished him that the writing of the brief was obviously not within his ability and it was definitely not within the scope of services I could or would provide. I explained that paying legal counsel to help now would be better than losing and then retaining counsel to figure out why or to help repair any damage self representation could bring. I referred him to legal counsel who was willing to assist him with the brief and not kill him with a $300 an hour rate.

A few weeks later I received a call from my client who had been instructed by the attorney to file a motion to augment the record. I once again provided him with the rules of court and procedural information so that he could reasonably fashion his motion. He fashioned; I typed, filed, and served the motion - he prevailed!

He was overjoyed and ready to take on the big guys. I warned him that this was merely a battle in the war and not to get too cocky about the win, "One must not tempt fate."

I received the rough draft of the brief from his "ghost writing" attorney and after edits, formatting and preparation of the TOC and TOA, we sent it off to all. OC filed its responsive brief some time later and we waited. My client decided, against counsel's advise, to request oral argument. He appeared, argued and we waited some more.

Today the email notification from the court dropped into my inbox. It stated that my client's case was remanded back to Superior Court and he shall receive another turn at bat. I called my "now former" client and we discussed the win. I told him how proud I was of him taking on the big law firm on principle and that his drive and determination were the main factors in his win. He thanked me yet again for all my help and said that he would not have won if he would not have met me; that I helped him find counsel to write the brief and that my support and the information I provided to him in the form of rules, procedures, samples, etc. allowed him to adequately and properly represent himself. He said that he knew he didn't have a chance at prevailing until he met me - the person who convinced him that the case involved his life savings and his home and that he needed more help than what I alone could provide.

This is a duty of a legal document assistant. We are not attorneys. We might have a grasp of legal issues and remedies, but ABSOLUTELY NOT to the extent that we should be advising our clients on how to proceed or write their materials for them. It is our obligation - and it is the law - that we advise potential clients of any need for legal counsel. It is morally proper and any non-attorney legal service provider who acts independently on behalf of a client lacks integrity and is flirting with loss of bonding which is a requirement of registration.

As I always tell any callers who are confused about what to do or where to go - get yourself the legal advice from a licensed attorney who is competent, then return to me when you can provide instruction. Front-load the legal advice - do not wait until after you file documents and appear at a hearing and then learn all your money, time and trouble were for naught. Do it first so that you are not spinning your wheels. I tell them, "I will take your money - heck anyone will take your money - but spend it wisely. Use forethought and prudence and talk to an attorney who will advise you properly before undertaking serious legal matters."

This I know to be true: An educated client is a successful litigant. A successful litigant/client is a perfect source of enthusiastic referrals.

San Diego County Public Law Library Offers Free MCLE Course on Socal Media

Social Media For Law Firms - Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Social media, an easily accessible, low-cost marketing vehicle for lawyers to market their practices, can be overwhelming. Learn how to put together a social media strategy to reach the right audience with the right message. Join the San Diego Law Library and Luce Forward to hear from law firm marketing experts about best practices as well as traps to avoid.

Heather Milne, Senior Marketing Manager, Cooley LLP
Ramona Cyr, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Luce Forward
Debra Baker, Law Firm Services Group Chair, Legal Vertical Strategies

Social Media for Law Firms: What firms of any size can learn from large firm experiences

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 12-1 pm (check-in 11:45)
Luce Forward
600 West Broadway
2nd Floor Conference Room
San Diego, CA 92101

1 hour MCLE general participatory credit

Lunch provided!!! Thank you Luce Forward!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sacramento County Public Law Library Expands Pro Bono Attorney Consultation Hours


Volunteer attorneys offer FREE 20-minute consultations to low-income patrons.

Arrive at 5:15 pm to participate in a lottery for an appointment between
5:30pm and 7:30pm.


813 Sixth Street, 1st Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 874-8541 or (916) 874-6012

Thursday, April 28, 2011

San Diego County Public Law Library Honors John Adam's Legacy With Free Legal Clinics During Law Week

In partnership with the San Diego County Bar Association, Foothills Bar Association, and North County Bar Association, volunteer attorneys will be available for free consultations at the San Diego Law Library. The free legal clinics will be held:

o May 2 (Monday), 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., South Bay branch
o May 6 (Friday), 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., East County branch
o May 6 (Friday), 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., North County

Free legal advice in specialty practice areas may include criminal law, family law, estate and probate, real estate and general civil law. Consultations will be on a first come, first served basis and will not include ongoing attorney representation.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Draft Model California LDA Legislative Changes

Tom Gordon, of Responsive Law, met with myself and Suzanne Bowlby to discuss changes to California's B&P 6400 - the LDA law. We provided our input as to the seeming "failures" in the existing code and Mr. Gordon later provided us with the following rough draft of proposed model legislation drafted using Arizona's existing statute and input from our meeting and from legal document preparers in other states. At this time, there is no set target date for introduction of proposed legislation, but we are hoping to have it (in some form) before the legislators in time for the 2012 session. We are asking for comments from anyone interested in legislation so that we may prepare a written and comprehensive response to Mr. Gordon's request for input from California LDAs and Paralegals.

We would like to know what you think. Should we make an effort to change the legislation? Is this playing with fire? Do you have any comments, modifications, additions or deletions you would like to see? What are your thoughts?


NOTE: This rough draft of model legal technician legislation is based largely on the Arizona Legal Document Preparer (LDP) statute, with input from the California statute and the proposed Washington state framework as well. We have chosen the term “legal technician” for ease in drafting, and because it may impute some additional respect to the profession.


The purpose of the legal technician program is to expand low-cost services in non-contested legal matters in which parties are unrepresented by providing opportunity and fair administration for legal technicians, while affording a high degree of consumer protection through accountability and quality of service.

Section 1: Legal Technician

A. Definitions. The following definitions shall apply:

“Board” means the Board of Legal Technicians.

“Designated principal” means the individual associated with a certified business entity, on file with the board, who is a certified legal technician and is responsible for supervising all certified legal technicians, trainees and staff working for the business.

“Legal technician” means an individual or business entity certified pursuant to this section to prepare or provide legal documents, without the supervision of an attorney, for an entity or a member of the public who is engaging in self-representation in any legal matter. An individual or business entity whose assistance consists merely of secretarial or receptionist services is not a legal technician.

“Trainee” means a person who would qualify for certification as a legal technician but for the lack of required experience, and who is seeking to gain the required experience to qualify as a certified legal technician by working under the supervision of a designated principal, on behalf of a certified business entity, to perform authorized services, as set forth in this section.

B. Applicability. In order to qualify to provide legal document preparation services under this section, legal technicians and business entities that provide legal document preparation services shall hold valid certification and perform their duties in accordance with this Chapter.

C. Administration.

1. The Board of Legal Technicians is established. (1) The board shall certify and recertify qualified applicants and shall make determinations regarding disciplinary proceedings. The board shall oversee a staff to administer the program. (2)

2. Establishment and Administration of Fund. The board shall establish a legal technician fund consisting of monies received for certification fees, costs and civil penalties. The board shall administer the legal technician fund and shall receive and expend monies from the fund.

D. Certification. The following requirements apply:

1. Eligibility Individual Standard Certification.

a. The board shall issue certification to an applicant for Individual Certification who provides or shows proof of each of the following: (3)

i. Age. An applicant must be at least eighteen years of age;

ii. Good standing. An applicant must show that he or she is not an individual whose application has been denied or whose individual certificate has been revoked by the board, except that the board may grant the application of such an individual if the board reviews the application of the applicant during a board meeting and is satisfied the applicant meets the requirements of this section, and by majority vote of the board, allows certification of the applicant. (4)

iii. Education or Experience. The applicant shall also possess one of the following combinations of education or experience:

1. Option 1. A two-year associates degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum of two years of law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney; under the supervision of a certified legal technician; or as court employee; or completed independently before this law took effect; or in a combination of any of the above.

2. Option 2. A four-year bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum of one year of law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney; under the supervision of a certified legal technician; as a court employee; or completed independently before this law took effect; or in a combination of any of the above.

3. Option 3. A minimum of three years of law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney; under the supervision of a certified legal technician; as a court employee; or completed independently before this law took effect; or in a combination of any of the above.

4. Option 4. A certificate of completion from a paralegal or legal assistant program approved by the American Bar Association or that is institutionally accredited, that requires successful completion of a minimum of 24 semester units, or the equivalent, in legal specialization courses, with a grade of “C” or better, or a pass in a pass/fail program;

5. Option 5. A certificate of completion from an accredited educational program designed specifically to qualify a person for certification as a legal technician under this section;

6. Option 6. The successful completion of eight semester units from a law school institutionally accredited or accredited by the American Bar Association or the bar association of this state, with a grade of “C” or better, or a pass in a pass/fail program.

b. An applicant who is denied certification by the board may exercise the right to a hearing by the board.

2. Eligibility for Business Entity Standard Certification.

a. All corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and all sole proprietorships that offer authorized legal document preparation services to parties and employ more than one certified legal technician, or supervise trainees, shall obtain certification as a business entity.

b. The business entity shall designate a certified individual legal technician as a principal pursuant to this section. The designated principal shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

i. Prepare and submit, with the business entity application, and by [Month] [Date] (5) of each year, a list of all certified legal technicians and trainees acting on behalf of the business entity;

ii. Actively and directly supervise all other certified legal technicians, trainees, and staff working for the certified business entity; and

iii. Represent the business entity, at the discretion of the entity, in any proceeding under this section.

c. In the event a designated principal is no longer able or willing to serve as the principal, a certified business entity shall immediately designate another certified individual legal technician as the new designated principal and file an updated designated principal form with the division staff.

d. If the status of an individual certificate holder changes from being associated with a business entity, the legal technician shall notify the division staff in writing.

e. The owner or officers of a certified legal technician business entity are not required to hold individual certification, provided the business entity has a designated principal who holds valid individual certification as a legal technician. (6)

f. A person whose individual application has been denied or revoked by the board without being later granted or reinstated may not hold ownership interest in a certified legal technician business.

3. Trainees. A certified business entity may employ a person who would qualify for certification as a legal technician but for the lack of required experience. A designated principal may train the employee to perform services authorized by this section until such time as the trainee meets the minimum eligibility requirements for individual certification. (7) Any designated principal who undertakes to train an employee shall:

a. Supervise the quality of and guide the trainee’s work;

b. Ensure the trainee is familiar with and adheres to this Chapter;

c. Provide the designated principal’s name and certificate number on any documents prepared by the trainee under the designated principal’s supervision; and

d. Prepare and submit to the board the name, address, start date of the trainee, and the anticipated date the trainee will meet the minimum eligibility requirements to seek individual certification. (8)

4. Eligibility for Online Legal Technicians.

a. To provide legal technician services to any customer in [this state], an online provider of legal technician services must:

i. Establish a designated principal who is a certified individual legal technician under this Chapter and who is responsible for receiving service of process in the state and ensuring that the online legal technician service provider complies with all applicable provisions.

ii. Comply with all applicable codes of conduct ethical and professional responsibility standards under this chapter, including that an online legal technician service must:

1. Clearly and unequivocally state in prominent locations throughout the website and on every downloadable form that an attorney-client relationship is not created, nor is any privilege associated with that relationship.

2. Provide on the website in clear and simple terms the nature of the services provided, and the role of all attorneys, legal technicians, other personnel and automated systems in providing, preparing and submitting legal documents.

3. Provide clearly and prominently the current certification and legal technician certification number for [this state].

E. Role and Responsibilities of Certificate Holders.

1. Authorized Services. A certified legal technician is authorized to provide all of the following services for any individual or entity:

a. Prepare, provide, or select legal documents for customers;

b. Provide general legal information pertaining to legal rights, procedures, or options available, but may not provide any kind of specific advice, opinion, or recommendation to a consumer about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, or strategies;

c. Review forms and filings for completeness, spelling and grammar, as well as internal consistency of names, addresses and other similar information. A legal technician may not review forms for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, or apply the law to the facts of a particular situation.

d. File and arrange for service of legal forms and documents for a person in a legal matter.

2. Code of Conduct.

a. Identification. All documents prepared by a legal technician shall include: the legal technician’s name; the title “Certified Legal Technician;” the legal technician’s certificate number; and the business entity name and certificate number where applicable.(9)

b. Ethics and Professionalism. (10)

i. A legal technician shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities, shall respect and comply with the laws, and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the legal and judicial systems.

ii. A legal technician shall refrain from knowingly making misleading, untrue, or fraudulent representations while assisting a consumer in the preparation of legal documents, and shall observe the highest standards of integrity and truthfulness in all professional dealings.

iii. A legal technician shall treat information received from the consumer as confidential, yet recognize and acknowledge that the privilege of attorney-client confidential communications is not extended to certified legal technicians.

iv. A legal technician shall not represent that they are authorized to practice law in [this state], nor shall the legal technician provide legal advice or services to another by expressing opinions, either verbal or written, about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, or strategies, or by representing another in a judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding, or other formal dispute resolution process.

v. A legal technician shall inform the consumer in writing that a legal technician is not a lawyer, is not employed by a lawyer, and cannot give legal advice, and that communications with a legal technician are confidential but not privileged.(11)

vi. A legal technician shall not use the designations “lawyer,” “attorney at law,” “counselor at law,” “law office,” “JD,” “Esq.,” or other equivalent words, the use of which is reasonably likely to induce others to believe the legal technician is authorized to engage in the practice of law in this state.

c. Fees and Services.

i. A legal technician shall provide in writing an itemization of all rates and charges to that consumer.

d. Skills and Practice.

i. A legal technician may consult and involve other professionals in order to assist the consumer, while protecting the confidentiality of his or her consumers to the extent possible. (12)

ii. A legal technician shall provide completed documents to a consumer in a timely manner, and shall meet document preparation deadlines in accordance with rules, statutes, court orders, or agreements with the parties. A legal technician shall provide immediate notification to the consumer of any delays.

iii. A legal technician shall accept only those assignments for which the legal technician’s level of competence will result in the preparation of an accurate document.

iv. A legal technician shall not at any time engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

F. Renewal of Certification. All standard certifications expire at midnight, on [Month][Day] of each odd numbered year.(13) Renewal fees are due before this date.

G. Complaints, Investigation, Disciplinary Proceedings and Certification and Disciplinary Hearings.(14)

1. Grounds for Discipline. A certificate holder is subject to disciplinary action if the board finds the certificate holder has:

a. Failed to perform any duty to discharge any obligation in the course of the certificate holder’s responsibilities as required by law or has failed to comply with any ethical or skills and practice standards;

b. Aided or assisted another person or business entity to provide services requiring certification if the other person or entity does not hold the required certification;

c. Been convicted of a criminal offense while certified by final judgment of a felony relevant to certification or failed to provide information regarding a criminal conviction;

d. Exhibited gross negligence or incompetence in the performance of duties;

e. Evaded service of a subpoena or notice or failed to cooperate with or supply information to the staff or board.

2. Filing of complaint. Any person may(15) file a complaint with the division staff if it appears a certificate holder has violated statutes, court rules, or this Chapter. The complaint shall be in writing with sufficient specificity to warrant further investigation. The complaint form shall provide the name, telephone number and address of the complainant.

3. The division staff shall immediately dismiss any complaint lacking any of the above information, or if a complaint fails to establish jurisdiction of the board.(16)

4. Standing of Complainant. A complainant does not have standing regarding any proceedings and is not a party to any proceedings. The complainant may, upon request, receive notice of public proceeding concerning the complaint. Failure by division staff to provide the complainant with information as required by this subsection shall not affect the ultimate disposition of any proceedings.

5. Investigative Subpoenas. Upon a demonstration of good cause, the board may issue an investigative subpoena to any person or entity for documents or information related to a pending investigation over which the board has jurisdiction.

6. Resolution of Complaints and Investigations. The division may resolve a complaint by:

a. Dismissing the complaint.

b. Resolving the complaint through a formal discipline proceeding. Formal Disciplinary Proceedings:

i. Provide the certificate holder the right to a hearing;

ii. May result in sanctions, including costs and civil penalties; and

iii. Are not confidential.

7. Public Availability of Certification and Discipline.

a. The board shall maintain an accurate, up-to-date list of all currently certified legal technicians and the disciplinary records of each available to the public.

H. Fee Schedule.

1. Certification for each two year certification period $[] (17)

2. Business Entity Certification for Two Year Certification Period $[]

3. Inactive Status $[]

4. Late Renewal $ []

(1) In Arizona and Washington (proposed), the Supreme Court oversees the administration of LT programs, but LTs are not providing legal services, so it is not clear that the SC in any state should have jurisdiction over them. Some administration is necessary, but it seems that a competent board should be sufficient. In Arizona, the SC serves as the last review board for certification decisions, but it seems that applicants and LTs will have adequate due process through a board procedure and the typical redress to courts. It may be necessary to include in the law that the “final” decision from the board is the necessary final step in exhausting administrative remedies before any claim can be brought in court.
(2) In Arizona, the board is comprised of an attorney, a judge and a member appointed by the Supreme Court; that level of detail seems unnecessary in model legislation.
(3) Arizona also requires an applicant to furnish fingerprints for a criminal background investigation, have good moral character, and be a citizen or legal resident. As far as the moral character and criminal background check go, including them adds to the complexity and cost of administration, and requires further regulations to determine what constitutes “moral character,” and what in a criminal background check would be disqualifying, unless these decisions are left to the board without additional guidance. Requiring legal citizenship or residency injects a political message without consumer benefit, so it has also been omitted here.
(4) Arizona also requires that an applicant show that he or she is not an individual who has been disbarred by the highest court in any state, without reinstatement, except that the board may grant the application of such an individual if: The board reviews the application of the applicant during a board meeting and is satisfied the applicant meets the requirements of this section, and by majority vote of the board in public session, allows certification of the applicant. Given the various possible reasons for disbarment, not all of which may be relevant to competence as an LT, and given a preference for autonomy of the LT profession from the bar, this requirement has been omitted.
(5) As with its recertification standards, which are required on the same date each year for all LTs, regardless of when they became certified, Arizona’s single deadline for other administrative requirements is a smart move that conserves resources for the state and results in clarity for LTs.
(6) This provision allows out-of-state businesses to operate within the state; it also allows large entities run by non-LTs to provide services.
(7) Arizona allows a trainee to work as a trainee for only two and a half years, which seems designed to prevent the creation of a permanent “trainee” position. Allowing more than the six month leeway they allow might be a more balanced approach and, for example, allow women to enter the field and count their training, even after they have left for maternity leave or other reasons. There are analogous provisions under the ABA for completing law school within a certain number of semesters, but there do not appear to be analogous provisions in California for apprenticing attorneys (those who do not go to law school before taking the bar exam), which seems to be a more applicable analogy.
(8) Arizona also requires a certificate holder who has been disbarred from the practice of law in any state since original certification as a legal technician to tell the board within 30 days of service of the notice of the disbarment. Arizona also requires a certificate holder who has been denied admission to the practice of law in Arizona since original certification as a legal technician to provide the information regarding the denial to the board within 30 days of service of the notice of the denial. These requirements correspond to Arizona’s requirements that someone who has been disbarred in any state, or who has been denied admission to the AZ board must have a special hearing before being certified as an LDP.
(9) Arizona requires that an LDP shall provide their name, title and certificate number to any person upon request, which seems odd and overbroad. I also think the nonjudicial agency language is quite odd, and am unsure of a case in which this would be applicable. It’s also strange to expressly require for a nonjudicial agency to prohibit the posting of a name and ID number, but not to include a court, which presumably an LT would have to listen to.
(10) Arizona has a number of detailed ethics requirements that are summed up in this shortened list.
(11) The reference to confidentiality is new.
(12) This reference to confidentiality is also new.
(13) Establishing deadlines may reach a level of detail we don’t need to incorporate in our model legislation. If we do want to incorporate it, it seems like establishing one date per year rather than a rolling admissions/recertification system minimizes the level of bureaucracy throughout the year and results in clarity for LTs.
(14) Legal technician professional associations may provide much of the needed oversight and structure for disciplinary proceedings, as will general market forces. Arizona’s complaint and disciplinary proceedings provisions are exceedingly detailed. This section is designed to provide a loose framework for such proceedings, that state can work into its existing structures.
(15) Arizona requires all judicial officers, court employees and certificate holders to file complaints with the board; we removed that requirement, as it is nearly impossible to monitor, and in the hopes that an aggrieved consumer would stand up for themselves and file a complaint if other mechanisms (such as a refund) are not sufficient to remedy any wrongs. One could envision a situation in which a consumer is wronged by inadequate services provided by an LT, and the consumer does not realize or is otherwise unable to report on the LT’s failures. In such a case, it is possible a court employee’s reporting would be valuable. To address this, the model legislation does not bar such reporting, but simply don’t require it. In general, allowing the market and private interactions to solve disputes seems like the more efficient and likely more satisfying option, and one that uses fewer state resources.
(16) Arizona allows the board to retain authority after expiration of a certificate, to initiate a complaint, direct division staff to investigate a complaint, or take disciplinary action regarding the certification of a certificate. This is unnecessary; if a person has a claim for damages against an LT whose license has expired, the person can bring a claim against them. The board should not retain jurisdiction over someone whose certification has expired.
(17) In 2009, Arizona’s fee was $650 every two years, or $325 per year. California’s was $175 plus the bond requirement. Since we require a bond in the model legislation, a smaller fee seems warranted. However, for model legislation purposes, including an actual number does not seem necessary.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CYA by Appointing a Committee?

A while ago, I commented on the criticisms of a number of California's Judges with respect to the Association of Courts and the Judicial Council's rather expensive endeavor to centralize California's court system via computer.

Prior to writing this article, I sat next to a woman who was flying from Hawaii to California in order to work on glitches in the system. During our five hour flight, she shared with me that she, on an almost weekly basis, flew back and forth to work on the new system. I again, thought about all the money that was being spent on this new system that remained basically, inoperable with few exceptions.

I found it very interesting to note by the press release below that the newly appointed Chief Justice acted quickly in an apparent attempt to stem the criticisms of a large number of the judiciary by appointing a committee to oversee the now over-budget and failing California court centralized computer system operations. I suppose when met with dissension it is prudent to hand over the reins to the those who would object and perhaps even to "shift the blame."

In any event, it will be a lark to learn of the findings of the new committee. We at ALDAP will keep you informed.


Chief Justice Appoints New Judicial Council Internal Committee to Oversee Case Management System

San Francisco—Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye today announced the appointment of a new Judicial Council internal committee that will oversee the council’s policies on the California Court Case Management System (CCMS). It will also oversee the council’s recently established CCMS governance and advisory committees.

“The new committee will be responsible for ensuring that council policies are complied with and the project proceeds on schedule and within budget,” said Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye. “This oversight committee and the new governance structure of CCMS will help ensure that the case management system will bring court technology into the 21st century and deliver great benefits to the justice community and the public.”

“This new internal committee will ensure that the Judicial Council is not only kept informed and up-to-date on the case management system, but that the deployment of CCMS is completed in a way that is consistent with the policies and priorities established by the council,” said William C. Vickrey, Administrative Director of the Courts. “This reflects the importance of CCMS and provides the council with the time and attention that this project merits for the next 5 to 10 years.”

The 10-member committee will seek reports and recommendations from the CCMS Executive Committee and the Administrative Director of the Courts and will ensure that reports to the council are clear, comprehensive, and provide relevant options so that the council can make effective final policies about CCMS. The committee will advise the council on CCMS policy decisions and report on CCMS at Judicial Council business meetings, which are open to the public. Like other internal council committees, the panel will be made up of Judicial Council members, as follows:

• Chair: Judge James E. Herman of the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County;
• Vice-chair: Assistant Presiding Judge Ira R. Kaufman of the Superior Court of Plumas County; Associate Justice Harry E. Hull, Jr., of the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District (Sacramento);
• Assistant Presiding Judge David S. Wesley of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County;
• Judge Stephen H. Baker of the Superior Court of Shasta County;
• Judge Teri L. Jackson of the Superior Court of San Francisco County; an advisory member of the council;
• Ms. Edith R. Matthai, an attorney who practices law in Los Angeles;
• Mr. James N. Penrod, an attorney who practices law in San Francisco;
• Mr. Michael M. Roddy, court executive officer of the Superior Court of San Diego County, an advisory member of the council; and
• Ms. Kim Turner, court executive officer of the Superior Court of Marin County, an advisory member of the council.

The new committee will make its first report on CCMS at the next business meeting of the Judicial Council on Friday, April 29.

CCMS is an integrated court and case management system designed to eventually support trial courts of all sizes on a statewide level. Its development was triggered by the actions and business demands of superior courts that found themselves with failing or inadequate case management systems that needed replacement in order for courts to continue operations.

Earlier this year, a new governance structure was established for CCMS. That structure is overseen by the Judicial Council’s CCMS Governance Executive Committee, chaired by Associate Justice Terence L. Bruiniers of the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District (San Francisco).