The VCBA thanks the 2016 Law Day 5K Sponsors!!!


Those lawyers in attendance when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was in town include David Shain, Adam Pearlman, Mary Haffner and Katie Becker

A Florida prosecutor has been suspended from his job because of Facebook rants after the Orlando mass shooting that said the city should be leveled and its nightclubs are “utter cesspools of debauchery.” The prosecutor is Assistant State’s Attorney Kenneth Lewis of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office. He was suspended for violating the office’s social media policy. Another post, “Downtown Orlando has no bottom. It is void of a single redeeming quality. It is a melting pot of third world miscreants and ghetto thugs”….Pretty good job opening if you desire Los Angeles. Law Clerk to a U.S. District Judge. $66,137-$141,811. Apply

The only Ventura County lawyer with four  Es in her last name, Amy Kiesewetter, is going solo and opening her very own shop. After five great years with Strauss Law Group, Amy’s thinking Heritage Law Group since she primarily does estate planning and probate. Lob her other naming ideas on FB…

A Maryland judge has upheld a two-day suspension for a boy, then seven years old, who chewed his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and pretended to shoot it. Judge Ronald Silkworth of Anne Arundel County County Circuit Court said the suspension was appropriate because the incident was disruptive and the boy had a history of  escalating behavioral issues.” The boy attended Park Elementary School in Anne Arundel, Maryland. He made the pastry gun less than three months after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut…

On May 30, the consummate Dodger lover, Bob Ostrove , had a letter to the editor printed in the LA Times. It goes like this, “No blocking the plate, no sliding into second, no throwing four wide ones for an intentional walk. What’s next? Coach pitch and juice boxes in the dugout after the game?”…

A resolution has been reached of a legal ethics case against South Florida judge who ran into trouble last year, while still new on the bench. Broward Circuit Judge John Patrick Contini advised public defenders, in an email, about how to seek leniency and then blasted a prosecutor who made a filing objecting to an ex-parte communication, claiming that she told “a lie from the pit of hell.” Contini called the email a rookie mistake and has accepted a  recommendation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission that he be given a reprimand and hand-deliver a written apology to the prosecutor… Eric Reed has taken his talents to Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold after a solid job at Anderson Kill…

 Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert was honored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association June 23 inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. He was presented with the Outstanding Jurist Award…

A deputy public defender found herself in handcuffs as she tried to keep a client out of jail. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen said he wanted to teach the lawyer about courtroom etiquette. Zohra Bakhtary, a public defender for three years, has spent at least one day a week for the past year inside Hafen’s courtroom. Apparently, she protested a bit much after being told to be quiet. Bakhtary return to the courtroom later in the day to finish her caseload…

Cristian Arrieta has been named partner of Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman. This according to Managing Partner Patrick Loughman

And this classic from President-Elect of our Bar Association, Erik Feingold

Steve Henderson has been the executive director and chief executive officer of the bar association and its affiliated  organizations since November 1990. He will be spending a few days this month with the LeBron Clan in Cleveland and then begin his nationwide tour in 24 cities entitled, “I told you so.”Henderson may be reached at, FB, Twitter at steve_hendo1, Instagram at steve_hendo, LinkedIn or better yet, 650.7599.



Are you RELOCATING or LOOKING FOR OFFICE SPACE in L.A. or Ventura County? I have the expertise and resources to help you find the perfect space to suit your needs. Call now for immediate assistance and extraordinary service for each and every client. Elham “Elle” Ebizadeh, CA BRE: 01990486 DAUM Commercial Real Estate Services D/AQ #: 01129558. Office: (805) 384-8871 Cell: (310) 435-6008 Fax: (805) 987-7645. 751 E. Daily Drive, #105 Camarillo, CA 93010.

 Beautiful Westlake Village location with bright offices and large outside patio area. 10×13 office, secretarial desk, conference room, kitchen, storage. Internet, phone, and auto attendant included. Participation in Westlake Law Group cooperative advertising and internet website. Rent $1,000 per month. Virtual attorney rental available. Email: or

 Sale-Lease-motivated owner: 3500 Sq. ft. office condo with 101 Freeway frontage at 1835 Knoll Drive, Ventura. (805) 302-4883.


Starting attorney position wanted. Newly admitted member of the California bar seeking full-time employment. Experience in landlord/tenant mediation, unlawful detainers, consumer fraud prosecution, and criminal law. Excellent research and analysis skills and works well alone or with a team. Can adapt quickly to new areas of law and will work for a starting salary. Please contact Steve Henderson at the VCBA for more details.


Oxnard law firm seeking associate attorney with 3-5 years’ law firm experience handling both litigation and transactional matters.  The successful applicant will be handling a variety of civil litigation, transactional and corporate matters, including business disputes, entity formation, contracts, and general business-related matters.  Generous salary and benefit package. Interested applicants, please send résumé to

Substantial Oxnard law firm seeking part-time litigation paralegal with knowledge and experience in document management, discovery, court filings and related litigation procedures. The successful candidate will interact with clients to obtain necessary documents, organize stored documents, prepare documents for production, and manage data. The candidate should be a self-starter and motivated to succeed. Compensation is commensurate with experience. Minimum of five years’ litigation experience preferred. Interested applicants, please contact: Amber Waring at

Westlake Village Family Law firm seeks legal assistant/paralegal: Small family law firm seeks experienced family law legal assistant/paralegal. This is a part time position that requires a minimum of two years family law experience. Excellent writing and communication skills. Familiar with filings in both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. Email resume to


When we think of a mentor, we often think of someone who is older than we are and much more experienced. We don’t often think of someone who may be our own age and who may have been in practice for not that much longer than we have. However, that is what the Barristers will be doing with its Mentorship Program. Barristers will now be partnering Barrister board members with a young attorney or law student.

The Mentorship Program commenced over four years ago as an idea of something that could be “grand.” However, it has become increasingly difficult to pair a seasoned attorney or judge with a newer lawyer or law student because there’s a missing piece to that partnership. That missing piece is the bridge that allows the new attorney or law student to feel comfortable with calling or emailing their new mentor and engaging the relationship from that point forward.

Or vice versa. Thus, the Barristers board thought, “what if we pair a new attorney with a Barristers board member and that member can then facilitate introducing the new attorney/law student to our bar association and legal community?” And so an idea was born.

This year we will be revitalizing the Barristers Mentorship Program with a rejuvenated committee and a new mission: to help a new attorney or law student navigate through our legal community and introduce them to the wonderful judges, attorneys and bar association we all know and love.

Please join us at our Wine and Cheese Mixer on Aug. 18 at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson, LLP’s Ventura office.

Barrister Highlight – Katie Becker of Schuck, Becker & Dehesa, LLP

Katie Becker is a partner with Schuck, Becker & Dehesa, LLP. Katie enjoys working with clients in crafting their estate plans, business succession and general business transactions. Katie founded the Animal Law Section of the Ventura County Bar Association and is a strong voice for the animal law movement and animal welfare issues in Ventura County and Southern California. She is a Past President of Women Lawyers of Ventura County and is on the VCBA Board.

Rennee Dehesa is a bankruptcy lawyer. She practices at Schuck, Becker & Dehesa in Santa Paula.


The Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association honored Arash Homampour as the 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year at its May dinner meeting. Homampour tried a wrongful death action against Caltrans involving difficult liability issues arising out of a head-on collision between two motorcyclists on Route 33 in Ojai.

Homampour alleged that a group of motorcyclists travelling southbound took a sharp blind curve too fast because of a lack of warning signs. They lost control, crossed over the dividing line into the northbound lane and one of them struck and killed plaintiffs’ husband and father of three.

Homampour presented evidence that the state knew the location lacked critical warning signs. He also established that multiple preventable accidents happened at the same spot because of the inherent curve characteristics and that the state had investigated the area before.

The state denied it had notice of a dangerous condition or a duty to post signs and blamed the inexperienced motorcyclist as the sole cause of the accident.

The jury felt differently and found the motorcyclist ten percent at fault and the state 90 percent at fault, awarding a total of $14.2 million in damages.

Homampour gratefully thanked the VCTLA for the honor.

The other nominees for the award were John Howard (Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman) and the team of Gregory Johnson and Jody Moore (Johnson Moore).

Howard’s case involved a near head-on collision on PCH north of Ventura. A tractor trailer parked facing north on the southbound shoulder crossed over the southbound lane into the northbound lane, but the poorly-lit trailer was still in the southbound lane when plaintiffs came upon it in their passenger vehicle at twilight. They sustained heavy injuries. Howard tried the case to verdict twice.

One of the plaintiffs accepted a significant offer in compromise and the verdict on the second trial was for $3.3 million. Howard was happy just to have been nominated, and said he likens the love of his job to eating ice cream. “I would eat ice cream for free.”

Johnson and Moore’s plaintiff had a routine mammogram with abnormal results. Her referring doctor received the information but she received a letter indicating normal results. Both offices had system failures. The referring doctor gave her a follow up for her diabetes but not the mammogram. The radiology clinic placed her file in the “normal” pile and did not follow up. Two years later she found out she was dying of breast cancer at age 57.

A jury returned a verdict for $1,742,500, finding both the referring doctor and the radiology clinic breached the standard of care, but finding causation only as to the doctor. The case settled confidentially thereafter. Ventura County had not received a plaintiff’s medical malpractice verdict in over ten years. Moore notes that one in eight women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. “My own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 57. We are humbled and honored to have helped and to have been nominated for our efforts.”

VCTLA holds its annual Trial Lawyer of the Year awards dinner in the spring. The 2017 award will be given to a nominee who is a VCTLA Member with a noteworthy 2016 civil trial result, an advocate demonstrating high standards of ethics and civility and who has contributed to the legal community and to the betterment of the civil justice system.

Alfred Vargas handles criminal, landlord-tenant, and family law matters, practices in Ventura. He is a member of the CITATIONS editorial board.


Have you ever wondered how to get witnesses to open up to you, either at a witness interview or deposition? According to Westlake Village attorney Adam Treiger, “I have always wondered why many lawyers take on an adversarial tone and manner in depositions and witness interviews. I have found that I get way more information from a witness who likes me than I get otherwise.”

Several research studies involving police interviews reached the same conclusion. According to witness interview experts Ronald Fisher and Edward Geiselman, police detectives who received training on how to help witnesses relax and feel comfortable elicited 50 percent more useful information than police detectives who used harsher interrogation techniques. (Fisher and Geiselman, Memory-Enhancing Techniques in Investigative Interviewing: The Cognitive Interview (1992) at page 5.)

Additionally, as will be explained later in this article, another advantage of using this relaxed interviewing approach is that it may help interviewers to determine when someone is lying.

The five steps to helping witnesses to relax are:

  1. Establishing rapport
  2. Asking witnesses to tell you what they know without interruption
  3. Using a technique called an “extender” to help jog witnesses’ memories
  4. Listening with an open mind
  5. Listening with empathy

To establish rapport, professor Geiselman states, “Strike up a conversation first. Start with a neutral topic.” Picking a neutral topic that resonates with the witness is an especially good way to build rapport. For example, if you know the witness has children, ask the witness about her children’s ages and where they go to school. Similarly, if a witness is wearing a shirt with a logo of a sports team, ask him to tell you about his favorite sports team.  Interviewers can also reveal that they share common interests with the witness as a way of establishing rapport. (Geiselman, “How to Interrogate Someone,” New York Times Magazine, April 24.)

Once rapport has been established, the next step is to ask witnesses to tell you in their own words what they saw or heard, giving witnesses free reign to tell you what they know without interruption. If witnesses are interrupted, they may lose their motivation to tell you everything they know. Refraining from interrupting requires patience because witnesses sometimes tell things out of sequence or leave out essential facts. In such cases, it is best to wait until the witness is finished with his narrative before going back and asking questions to clarify what was said.

If a witness is unable or unwilling to provide a detailed narrative of an event, the interviewer can use a technique referred to by Professor Geiselman as an “extender” to gain more information. For example, the interviewer might ask witnesses to draw a diagram of the scene or to recall any smells or background noises they remember from the event. Asking a witness to close his eyes and visualize an event may also help jog the witness’ memory of an event.

Listening with an open mind will also promote witnesses giving full disclosure. Even unspoken skepticism or judgments might be detected by witnesses. Once a witness detects that the interviewer disbelieves him or holds a negative judgment, he may become withdrawn or uncooperative. Therefore, listening with an open mind is the best way to encourage witnesses to reveal what they know.

Demonstrating empathy toward witnesses is another way to encourage disclosure. Fisher and Geiselman state, “For the eyewitness to reveal her story, she must be made aware that the interviewer understands her feelings…

The most straightforward way to do this is periodically to make comments like, ‘I can understand your feelings [of fear, of injustice, of helplessness…].’” Saying to the witness, “I can understand your feelings” is not agreeing with the witness. It is merely an acknowledgment that the interviewer is aware of the witness’ feelings and concerns.

Demonstrating empathy will often cause the witness to relax and open up to the interviewer. (Fisher and Geiselman, supra., at page 24.)

Up to this point, the interviewer has not yet challenged the witness or confronted the witness with conflicting evidence. By following the five steps set forth above, this now sets the stage for introducing more sensitive matters and to assess if witnesses are lying.

Assessing witness credibility based on demeanor or body language is not an exact science. Fortunately, in most legal cases, there are documents, physical evidence or corroborating witnesses to help to prove which witnesses are being truthful. However, sometimes a case will turn on whether one particular witness is believable. In these cases, assessing witness credibility based on demeanor can be of great importance.

In dozens of research studies, observers could accurately determine if someone was lying based on demeanor only about 55 percent of the time. However, by first observing witnesses’ baseline behaviors and then comparing those baseline behaviors with witnesses’ behaviors after being confronted with conflicting evidence, trained interviewers were able to accurately detect lying 85 percent of the time. (Hartwig et al., Strategic Use of Evidence During Police

Interviews: When Training to Detect Deception Works, 30 Law Hum. Behav. (2006) at page 603.)

Workplace investigators Amy Oppenheimer and Craig Pratt explain how baseline behaviors can be used to detect when a witness is lying: “Some nonverbal clues, such as changes in an individual’s posture, shifting in his or her seat, stiffening, or looking away when he or she is questioned about something he or she is not being truthful about, can help you in determining credibility. It is important to observe the person’s posture (to get a baseline) before you ask questions that may elicit an untruthful response.” (Oppenheimer and Pratt, Investigating Workplace Harassment (2008) at page 114.)

Thus, by first building rapport and getting witnesses to relax and tell their story in detail, interviewers will have an opportunity to observe a witness’ baseline behaviors. If those behaviors significantly change when the witness is  confronted with conflicting evidence, interviewers will have a supportable basis for determining that witnesses are lying.

 Jay Sherman is an attorney in solo practice in Ventura. He has been conducting workplace investigations since 1997, when he began working as Employee Relations Manager for Kinko’s. (805) 659-1723 or


It seems that contraception is once again in the news. While the Supreme Court wrestles with ways to accommodate religious objections to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt), California has implemented a new law involving access to contraception.

SB 493 makes it legal for California pharmacists to furnish self-administered hormonal contraceptives, including birth control pills, skin patches, vaginal rings, and injectable products, without a prescription, in accordance with standardized protocols. Governor Brown signed this legislation in Sept. 2013. The California State Board of Pharmacy has now developed regulations to implement the legislation, and those became effective in April this year.

In addition to adding the authority to prescribe hormonal contraceptives, the new law also reiterates the authority of pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptive medication, such as the morning-after pill, without a prescription. In addition, properly trained pharmacists may now also prescribe nicotine replacement products and prescription medications recommended by the CDC for international travelers.

According to State Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., the sponsor of the legislation, the bill was prompted by the lack of primary care providers in the state, especially for underserved communities. In an attempt to provide more services to patients, Sen. Hernandez introduced this bill and two others that would have expanded the scope of practice for optometrists and nurse practitioners. However, only SB 493 moved forward.

The California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) and the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP) worked with Sen. Hernandez on the bill, which also for the first time explicitly recognizes pharmacists as health care providers and establishes the role of Advanced Practice Pharmacists. Hernandez acknowledges that these organizations played a critical role.

California and Oregon are now the only states to allow pharmacists to directly prescribe birth control. Unlike the Oregon law, however, which restricts access to women eighteen or older, the California law sets no minimum age for acquiring contraception. What is required is that women fill out a health assessment questionnaire to determine the best type of birth control for them and have their blood pressure checked. Pharmacists will be trained on the medications that they will be prescribing and will be able to recognize risk factors for the various methods. Interestingly, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has long supported over-the counter access to oral contraceptives. It has commented that the new law is not so much removing barriers as replacing one practitioner with another.

Will It Work?

 Now that the law has taken effect, it should be easier for women to access birth control. Not so. Few pharmacies are prepared to begin prescribing contraceptives. For one thing, the pharmacists must be trained. The law requires pharmacists who graduated prior to 2014 to take continuing education courses to be prepared to prescribe birth control. Both the Orange County Register and the Ventura County Star have reported that they could find no pharmacies ready to begin prescribing. National Public Radio has also reported that there are approximately 7,000 pharmacies in California, but fewer than 100 are actually furnishing birth control without a prescription. It is not mandatory that they do so, and many pharmacies will probably never take this step.

In addition to pharmacies being unprepared to begin the prescription process, individual pharmacists also have the right to refuse to prescribe contraceptives on ethical, moral, or religious grounds. To do this, the pharmacist must have notified the employer in writing of his or her objections, and the employer must be able to provide a reasonable accommodation of the pharmacist’s objection and provide referrals so that the patient still has access. For time-sensitive prescriptions such as emergency contraception, these provisions may be inadequate.

SB 493 faced solid opposition from a number of groups, including California Right to Life, which expressed the view that allowing teenagers to obtain contraception on their own would create a “barrier to communication between a mother and child.” They might be surprised to know that California law already protects minors seeking contraception without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

Related California Laws

California laws permit minors of any age to consent to medical care related to the prevention or treatment of pregnancy, including contraception and abortion, without parental consent. In fact, health care providers are prohibited from informing the minor’s parents or guardians without her consent. Other laws allow the diagnosis and/or treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, without parental consent or notification, except that the minor must be at least twelve years of age.

Future Directions

One aspect of the new law that has not been adequately addressed is how pharmacists will be paid for their consultations. The law provides for only an administrative fee of ten dollars for the prescription of emergency contraception and nothing for ordinary contraception. It also does not address fees for Advance Practice  Pharmacists, who are legally authorized to perform patient assessments, order and interpret drug related tests, refer patients, participate in the evaluation and management of patients’ health conditions, and manage drug therapy. However, the recognition of pharmacists as health care providers does potentially open up some reimbursement opportunities.

Certainly, other states will be watching California’s progress and some are likely to follow with their own legislation. Also, it is hoped that the two bills that did not move forward will be reintroduced to give optometrists and nurse practitioners the ability to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

In particular, nurse practitioners need an expanded scope of practice. Due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects a shortage of 20,400 primary care physicians by 2020. Over 60,000 nurse practitioners currently practice in primary care settings, and many  more are prepared to address the primary care needs of California’s population if regulatory barriers are lifted.

Carol Mack, RN, PhD. Is an attorney and an assistant professor of nursing at CSUCI. She is a member of the CITATIONS editorial board.


The Ventura County Bar Association supports Ventura County Legal Aid, which operates a number of no-cost and low-cost legal service programs throughout Ventura County. Cesar Libanati is the managing attorney for VCLA’s pro bono representation program. Libanati, together with VCLA’s long-serving emeritus attorneys, pre-screen cases for assignment to pro bono attorneys. Here are some of the cases available for assignment now:

Divorce. Wife needs representation to split from husband who is trying to take everything away from her.

Child Custody. Mom with a criminal record and on probation completing rehab gave father temporary custody and wants to adjust custody agreement over spouse’s objection.

Divorce/Unlawful Detainer. Stay-at-home mom abandoned by long-time husband. She was recently served with divorce papers and an eviction notice.

Interpleader. Litigant settled a case, her defense attorney failed to pay her lien, and she is now on the receiving end of an interpleader complaint.

Family law. Mom, children and pets were the subject of threats by dad, and fled  their home. Husband seeks to attribute marital debt to mom despite a prenuptial agreement.

Divorce. Mom with grown children filed for divorce. Husband in Mexico suing for support and her house. She wants to keep her home, which is under her and kids’ names.

Child Custody. Mother of infant wants full custody from father, a registered sex offender who committed violence against mom and is the subject of a TRO.

Child Custody. Father seeks modification of joint custody order to obtain full custody following mother’s neglect and substance use.

Child Custody. Wife seeks dissolution and custody of child. Father denies paternity, but if established, wants visitation over wife’s objection. If you have the capacity to take a case or know someone who does, please email Libanati at If you cannot take a case now but would like to be kept apprised of available cases in the future, sign up at

Pro Bono Case Highlight. VCLA would like to thank local pro bono attorney Christopher Beck, who recently  agreed to take a pro bono case through VCLA. With his client’s permission, Beck provided VCLA with this general summary of the case:

“I was working at the Ventura County Legal Aid clinic. I pulled a case and met with a new participant. We sat at a desk in the Ventura County Law Library, and we had a dialogue that changed my perspective in seconds. I asked basic questions, starting with what help the client needed. She told me she has a child and now the grandparents from dad’s side want to take custody. I asked, naturally, why dad was out of the picture. She said that he was in jail. I asked why, and she shuddered; she seemed incredibly uneasy with the question. I could tell right away that I wasn’t going to get a normal response, that she was going to tell me something earth shattering…and she did.

She said dad is not in the picture because he tried to kill her, and unfortunately for her, he did it in the most heinous way possible.

He kidnapped her, stabbed her multiple times, and then left her for dead when she dove from a car to save her own life. She recovered in a local hospital, and now her  abuser is continuing to assert control over her by proxy, through his parents.

“I was stunned, shocked, dismayed. I’d need a thesaurus and Steven King to describe the horror of what this poor person went through. I sat, stoically, not knowing what to say. I said the only plausible thing: I was going to take her case as direct representation. She needed it. This person had been victimized beyond anything I had ever encountered in all of my years in legal practice, all the way back to when I was seventeen working as a legal assistant at a family law office. It was the right thing to do. This person needed help, the trial was to be heard on a Friday, and by the nature of my work and availability, I was able to be there that Friday.

“I’m partially jaded when it comes to abuse victims; I started work in law at age seventeen with the Law Offices of David Jefferies in Lancaster. Jefferies was a notorious advocate for domestic violence victims. I recall him pulling a newspaper from his bookshelf whenever he encountered a domestic violence victim who was hesitant to request a restraining order. The article on the front page was of a woman who was murdered at a Lancaster park by a former partner who had abused her. She either didn’t want the restraining order, or she was recalcitrant at the hearing on the restraining order (I’m not sure which; it’s been a good while). Regardless, she didn’t have the protection, and she very unfortunately paid with her life. “This client wasn’t in that position; her abuser was in jail.  Nevertheless, the strings of abuse were extended by husband through his parents. Mind you, the parents may have had the best of intentions in seeking custodial time with the minor, but nothing supplants the trauma of forcing an abuse victim to constantly visit her abuser’s home, his parents, and the memories of the horror he caused.

“It’s been over 50 years since Gideon v. Wainright created mandatory representation in criminal matters. Part of the reasoning of the court included due process concerns and what a person stood to lose in the face of zealous representation on one side and a legally inarticulate individual on the other. In criminal courts, a person risks their freedom, so the right to counsel rightfully attaches. But what about losing your child? Some would argue they put that above their own freedom, regardless, no right to counsel is afforded, and even worse, there are limited-to-no services in many areas to protect these parties. This is compounded when the unrepresented party is also the victim of domestic violence.

“The need for volunteers, attorneys who have time, can find time, or will make time to help these people, is enormous. The legal clinic the Ventura County Bar Association now offers is fantastic, but it doesn’t satisfy the need of those who need direct representation. I would implore all attorneys to look at the gift we’ve been given in the ability to practice law as a call to help those who need our gift the most. There is no civil Gideon and there isn’t one on the horizon. Without more volunteers, the prevalence of injustice by a lack of representation will perpetuate like a plague, and the consequences will be dire.” Charmaine H. Buehner is current president of VCBA. She is an attorney in the office of Ventura County Counsel.


On June 7, thirteen new California lawyers were admitted to the State Bar in Department 20 of the Ventura County Superior Court. If you have not attended Ventura County’s twice-a-year New Admittee Ceremony or have not attended in a while, I highly recommend you attend the next one. The ceremony is something special and is a joint effort of the Ventura County Bar Association, Ventura County Superior Court, the California Court of Appeal, the California Bar Association, the American Bar Association, California Young Lawyers and Women Lawyers of Ventura County.

Presiding Judge Donald Coleman, who was flanked by Assistant Presiding Judge Patricia Murphy, opened the ceremony with a warm welcome and invitation for each of the new admittees to give brief comments about their educations and backgrounds and to introduce their families and friends who were there. The introductions by the celebrants, together with the palpable enthusiasm of their supporters and remarks that followed from the bench and bar, renewed – as the ceremony always does – my sense of optimism about our legal community and profession.

This time, Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert’s comments resonated with me the most. Shortly before Justice Gilbert administered the oath to swear in our new colleagues, he recited the nine “Principles of Practice” from the 1998 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference Senior Advisory Board:

  1. Give your word, and then keep it.
  2. Accept responsibility, and then perform.
  3. Pay attention to detail, but keep the whole picture in mind.
  4. Remember that exploiting short-term advantage often brings lasting bad consequences.
  5. Of course be truthful, but also take the trouble to be accurate. Being candid requires both courage and tact.
  6. Understand that courtesy and graciousness are usually repaid in kind.
  7. Remember that your integrity is your greatest, and most precious, asset.
  8. Be an attentive listener.
  9. Avoid criticism that is either needless or nonconstructive or both.

The importance of these Principles, which have a much broader application beyond our profession, cannot be  overstated (e.g., copies are soon to be framed and placed in each of my children’s rooms).

Other speakers included Josh Hopstone for the Barristers, Katherine Becker for California Young Lawyers, Aastha Madaan for the ABA, Sasha Collins for Women Lawyers of Ventura County, Miriam Krinsky for the State Bar, me for the VCBA and Alan Yochelson for the State Bar Committee of Bar Examiners.

I am happy to report that all candidates were successfully sworn in and are now members of the State Bar, starting with bar number 310,139:

  • Alice Arnold practiced for 26 years in New York and Colorado after obtaining her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and law degree from Columbia University. You can now find Arnold in Ventura, practicing at 260 Maple Court, Suite 123.
  • Rachel B. Eeles is a graduate of Exeter University in England. She was motivated to become a lawyer when she read To Kill a Mockingbird as a teenager. Eeles was admitted to the English bar in 2003, the New York bar in 2011 and practices family law and criminal defense.
  • Jessica Jawitz graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Jawitz pursued a career in law as part of her long-standing interest in the Constitution and desire to help others. She grew up in Ventura County, obtained her undergraduate degree from UCSD and anticipates practicing sports and entertainment law in Los Angeles.
  • Rachel Seim worked in the fashion industry for several years after she graduated from UCLA. She enrolled in the Ventura College of Law as part of her plan to pursue a career that would allow her to contribute to her community in a meaningful way. Seim would love to work as a deputy district attorney, preferably in Ventura County.
  • Andrea Whipple moved back to California from Chicago after obtaining her law degree from Loyola University, and her bachelor’s degree from UC Davis.
  • Tom Wehinger went to law school at the University of Bern in Switzerland, before he came to the US and obtained his LLM from USC. Wehinger now works in the financial services practice group of a large Los Angeles firm.
  • Jonathan Sue attended UCLA Law School and intends to practice transactional and intellectual property law.
  • Sean R. Richardson opened his own law office in Nashville, Tennessee after graduating from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2013. He now looks forward to practice in California in entertainment, cannabis-related and transactional law.
  • H. Frederick Seigenfeld is an alumnus of Ventura College of Law and UC Davis. He plans to practice estate planning and business law and was drawn to a career in law by its organic and ever-evolving nature.
  • Arman Noorbehesht graduated from McGeorge School of Law.
  • Jenna R. Dana graduated from UCSB and Albany Law School.
  • Andrea M. Anaya graduated from UCSB and the Santa Barbara College of Law.

The New Admittee Ceremony first convened in its current form on Dec. 10, 1985. For the last 25 years, Steve  Henderson, together with Victoria Borjesson for the last fifteen years, have coordinated and organized the   ceremony. I  overheard Henderson remark that this last ceremony was his 51st. Consider joining Henderson, and the rest of us, for his 52nd  ceremony in November.

 Charmaine H. Buehner is an Assistant County Counsel for the County of Ventura. ( She looks forward to celebrating her dad’s 70th birthday with family in southern Oregon this July. Summer in the Rogue Valley is like no other. (See, e.g.,,,, &


Family Law attorney and VCBA Board member Tom Hutchinson got hitched March 6 and suffered through a two-week honeymoon in Bora Bora with his new bride, Brenda Allison. Tom may be reached at 654.0911 or…The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law has announced new program modifications for its online Master of Legal Studies degree for non-lawyers. Program updates included an accelerated timeline for degree completion and additional options for electives, concentrations and a campus residency.…In March, two stellar estate planning and probate attorneys, Laura Bartels and Maria Capritto, scored their Legal Specialization designations. Laurawas the president of the bar in 2014…

New admittees, Barristers and millennials You need to take the time and read Tom Olson’s article in this edition of CITATIONS about the death of Donald L. Benton. Don died April 29 and was 98 years young. Mr. Benton joined the Benton Orr Duval & Buckingham group in 1970. Very class act indeed!…Court of Appeal, 2nd District Justice Richard M. Mosk passed away on April 17, less than three weeks after submitting his letter of resignation — medical reasons — to Governor Jerry Brown, Mosk’s fellow law clerk for the late California Supreme Court Justice Matthew O. Tobriner. As a young lawyer, Mosk worked for the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy Assassination alongside another 20-something lawyer, SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer. L.A. Times obits, 4.20.16. Thanks Bill Grewe… Italy and the Ferrari Factory in Maranello? Kevin Staker at 482.2282 or

Brazil (despite Zika)? Past Bar President(2012), Dien Le at 658.7800 or…Cayman Islands? Laura Bartels 524.1934 or…The VCBA Board of Directors approved a committee recommendation modifying the Civility Code, which was first established in 2007 through the efforts of a committee chaired by Judge Fred Bysshe and capably assisted by Michael Case, David Praver, Dennis LaRochelle and a few others. The Code may be seen at Click About and go to Governing Docs. Will also appear in our new Legal Services Directory coming soon… On April 21, Justice Steven Perren was honored by the Ventura Music Festival for his outstanding contributions to the community and to music. The LA Times  documented this “dedicated crusader’s efforts on behalf of young offenders,” a commitment that was marked publically in Ventura County by naming the Juvenile Justice Center after him…

After 22 years as a lawyer, Helene Godin decided to call it quits. Practicing law had always been her dream and it grew to define her  but the demanding work schedule began to takes its toll. “I called my husband  one morning and I said, “I think I’m done,” she told the Huffington Post. Godin then decided to make a career move that would completely change her life. Despite having little to no food industry knowledge, she opened By The Way Bakery, a   gluten free, dairy free bake shop with locations in Manhattan. Lucky gal!

The New Admittee Swearing-In Ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7, beginning at 4:00 p.m. inside Courtroom #22. It’s always an enlightening experience and you are encouraged to attend…We are hosting a Legal Boot Camp and one-day webinar, Thursday, June 2, from 9:00 a.m.- 4:40 p.m., inside the bar offices. There are 6 hours of FREE CLE and all you need is to bring your own brown bag. Additionally, you’ll be asked to take a pro bono case from the Ventura County Legal Aid, Inc. just once a year …Trial Lawyer Matthew Haffner will be conducting a CLE for us during the noon hour June 2, entitled, “Naked Discovery: How to Strip Down the Purpose and Essentials.” Contact Nadia at the bar using or 650.7599…Oh yeah, the Natural Resources Section meets June 15 for a noon time CLE and entitled, “A Growing Business.” MARIJUANA is coming to Ventura County. The speakers are Linda Ashand Jay Leiderman. It will be compelling and informative.

Lastly, this nugget from a crafty youngish trial lawyer. “Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain”… Steve Henderson has been the executive director and chief executive officer of the bar association and its affiliated organizations since November 1990. He’ll be inside the office collecting his beer winnings as The King rules once again. He may be reached at, LinkedIn, Twitter at steve_hendo1, Instagram at steve_hendo, or better yet, 650.7599