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For more information contact Nadia at bar@vcba.org or at 650-7599 (x 10).

 

Exec’s Dot …Dot …Dot … By Steve Henderson

Dan Barron has been a valued member of our bar association for 35 years. A perennial presence at Estate Planning and Probate lunches, he served as an arbitrator in our Fee Arbitration Program managing dozens of cases. He may now be reached at barronlaw@live.com as he migrates into travel land. Thank you my friend! …In a case of first impression, the State Bar Court has issued a public reproval of a lawyer who falsely accused his opponent in a June 2012 judicial campaign of being involved in a bribery and corporate fraud scheme. The State Bar Review Department said Clinton Edward Parish, 43, made the false charge against his opponent, a sitting Yolo County  Superior Court judge, with reckless disregard for the truth. The court found the false accusations violated rule 1-700 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires attorneys running for judicial office to abide by Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Ethics. The judicial canon states that a candidate for judicial office shall not “knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth, misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or any other fact concerning the candidate or his or her opponent.”…Our esteemed Emeritus Attorney, Carolyn Tuleberg celebrated her 62nd birthday on Feb. 8. She has donated her time with the VLSP, Inc. since 1998… Got shoplifters? Indeed that’s the name of a company located in the 310. “Over 20 years of experience HELPING shoplifters CONQUER their compulsion to steal.” www.donnaburstyn.com

An Arizona lawyer has been admonished after a fee dispute escalated into an email feud that included a reference to the movie Deliverance. The presiding disciplinary judge of the Arizona Supreme Court admonished lawyer Dennis Wilenchik on Feb 2. During an angry email exchange on a late Friday evening with the complainant, a medical marijuana consulting business, Mr. Wilenchik emailed, “OK drug dealer–I look forward to the many nights and mornings when you think of my name and squeal – you mean nothing to me. Check out the movie Deliverance.”…The Immigration Law Section is hosting their first CLE of the year on March 10, beginning at noon at the Pirates Restaurant in Oxnard. Check out the enclosed flyer for registration information. The speaker is Matt Bromund, the section’s chair…

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg caused something of a stir last month when she offered an excuse for nodding off during President Obama’s State of the Union. Ginsburg said she had dined with other justices before they attended the speech, and wine was on the menu. “I wasn’t 100 percent sober,” Ginburg said. In a follow-up interview she offered a second explanation for her sleepiness: She hadn’t slept the previous night because she was writing. “I thought to myself, don’t stay up all night,” she told MSNBC. “But then my pen got hot.”…Judges’ Night is scheduled for March 24 and St. Patrick’s Day is March 17. “May your luck be like the Capital of Ireland– Always Dublin.”…

Carmen Ramírez will be awarded the Outstanding Environment Leadership Award from State Senator Hannah Beth-Jackson on March 7 during activities of the International Women’s Day hosted by Ventura Sierra Club.  Bar Assistant Executive Director, Sandra Rubio, is celebrating her birthday March 27. Give her a shout-out at 650.7599 or sandra@vcba.org. John Hribar of Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP and Betsey Hillman of Move, Inc. are the proud parents of Emmett James, who weighed in at 7 lbs., 13 oz. on Feb. 5 – the same day his big brother Ethan turned three.

Steve Henderson has been the executive director and chief executive officer of the bar association and its affiliated organizations since November 1990. He has respectfully submitted his Final Four calculations including Kentucky, Duke, Virginia and Wisconsin. Henderson in 2009 was aboard a helicopter that was shot down in the Afghan Province, Kabul. He may be reached at steve@vcba.org, Twitter@stevehendo1, FB, LinkedIn, or better yet, 650.7599.

MARCH 2015 CLASSIFIEDS

SERVICES OFFERED

 Need a good legal temp? Professional and Confidential. 25 years legal secretarial and paralegal experience: General corporate, employment, civil litigation, intellectual property, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate and personal injury. Proficiency in Word, Word Perfect, Power Point, Excel, Outlook, ProLaw, Legal Solutions, Abacus,

Best Case, PACER, Timekeeping and other programs. Excellent quality work, flex hours, reasonable rates. Email: juliebnap@yahoo.com or call Julie Napoleone at (805) 886-9799.

 HELP WANTED

Westside family law firm Van Oorschot Law Group seeks family law attorney with 7-10 years’ experience. Requirements: family law courtroom experience and be able to handle complex financial issues. Pay is based upon production and origination of business; or upon a negotiated salary. Full support staff provided. Business development efforts supported. Please email cover letter and résumé to mvo@mvolaw.com

 OFFICE SPACE

Office for rent across from Ventura Superior Court the office has a large picture window with views of trees and landscaping. Ideally located, Walk to court via unique tunnel access in 5 minutes. The monthly rent is $450/ 160SF includes utilities and custodial. Adjoining office is also available for receptionist or employee for $250/month. Call Paul at 805 701-5865 for info.

“MANDATORY NEW FORM FOR BOND WAIVERS IN PROBATE MATTERS” By Amber Rodriguez

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, there is a new Judicial Council form that is to be used in all matters where an heir or beneficiary is waiving the requirement of a bond. The form numbers are DE-142 and DE-111(A-3d). Because this is a “mandatory use” form, the court will no longer be able to accept the self-drafted bond waivers that have been previously used for this purpose.

In addition to the entirely new bond waiver form, many other forms have been updated. Those forms include the Spousal or Domestic Partner Property Order and both the temporary and permanent Letters of Conservatorship. You can see all of the updated forms on the judicial council website at www.courts.ca.gov/forms. Our local court has also created a new mandatory form. VN248 can be found at www.ventura.courts.ca.gov, under the Self-Help tab, Local Forms. This form is titled, “Confidential Ex Parte/Temporary Conservatorship Information Summary.” As the title suggests, it is required whenever you file a new ex parte conservatorship petition. If it is not submitted with your ex parte petition, your filing may be delayed. If you have any updates or information to share with our section, please let me know.

Otherwise, we hope to see you at the end of March for Judge Reiser’s Annual State of the Probate Court Presentation.

Amber Rodriguez is the Chair of the Executive Committee for the Estate Planning and Probate section of the VCBA. Her practice focuses on Probate and Trust Litigation and Administration, Estate Planning and Conservatorships. You can visit her website at www.estateattorneycalifornia.com or you can reach her directly at arodriguez@estateattorneycalifornia.com.

WE READ SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

The Case Of The Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Bikini Top v. The (More) Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Pastie

Order concerning preliminary injunction

An ordinance dealing with semi-nude dancers has once again fallen on the  Court’s lap. The City of San Antonio wants exotic dancers employed by Plaintiffs to wear larger pieces of fabric to cover more of the female breast. Thus, the age old question before the Court, now with constitutional implications, is: Does size matter? The genesis of this gentlemen’s clubs case can be found at 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8517, 2003 WL 21204471, known by some as “The Salomé Order.”

****************************************

To bare, or not to bare, that is the question. While the Court finds these businesses to be nefarious magnets of mischief, the Court doubts several square inches of fabric will stanch the flow of violence and other secondary effects emanating from these businesses. Indeed, this case exposes the underbelly of America’s Romanesque passion for entertainment, sex and money, sought to be covered with constitutional prophylaxis. Alcohol, drugs, testosterone, guns and knives are more likely the causative agents than the female breast, proving once again that humans are a peculiar lot. But case law does not require causation between nudity and naughtiness. Baby Dolls  Topless Saloons, Inc., 295 F.3d at 479-82.

Accordingly, the request for preliminary injunction is DENIED.

Should the parties choose to string this case out to trial on the merits, the Court encourages reasonable discovery intercourse as they navigate the peaks and valleys of litigation, perhaps to reach a happy ending.

It is so ORDERED.

(35 Bar & Grille, LLC v. City of San Antonio (W.D.Tex. 2013) 943 F.Supp.2d 706, 712-713, footnotes and several pages of text omitted, though they are worth reading.)

What The California Supreme Court Does Not Love About Easement Disputes

From a 1995 decision:

The dispute is now before us.

Its resolution requires us to penetrate a legal thicket entangled by the ancient doctrines of convenants that run with the land and equitable servitudes. The task is not easy. “The law of easements, real covenants, and equitable servitudes is the most complex and archaic body of American property law remaining in the twentieth century.”

(Citation.) Another commentator uses stronger language: “The law in this area is an unspeakable quagmire. The intrepid soul who ventures into this formidable wilderness never emerges unscarred. Some, the smarter ones, quickly turn back to take up something easier like the income taxation of trusts and estates. Others, having lost their way, plunge on and after weeks of effort emerge not far from where they began, clearly the worse for wear. On looking back they see the trail they thought they broke obscured with foul smelling waters and noxious weeds. Few willingly take up the challenge again.” (Citizens for Covenant Compliance v. Anderson (1995) 12 Cal.4th 345, 348 [47Cal.Rptr.2d 898, 906 P.2d 1314].)

HELP THE LAW LIBRARY, by Alfred Vargas

The Friends of the Ventura County Law Library, Inc. (FVCLL), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is now accepting donations to benefit the Ventura County Law Library, which faces budget cuts due to decreased filings and statewide filing jurisdictional changes affecting fees collected. Only the Legislature may increase filing fee allocations to fund the State’s law libraries, which is unlikely at this time.

Many attorneys are grateful for having had the VCLL available during their early days in practice. Many more still use the Law Library for research, for the workspace, and for the ability to copy, print and fax away from the office during court days.

You may donate any amount by visiting WWW.FVCLL.ORG and clicking on the “Donate” button at the bottom of the screen. If everyone reading this article donates even a small amount, it would help the VCLL keep more books available to all.  The FVCLL will host a book sale fundraiser on May 1st from 1 to 5 pm at the Law Library. Further activities are planned for 2015 – but you can click on the donate button right now.

Alfred Vargas is a landlord tenant and appellate lawyer practicing in Ventura. He is a member of the CITATIONS editorial board and the president of FVCLL. You can reach him at 805-415-7837 or avargaslaw@gmail.com.

“IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT?” by Rachel Coleman

How many times have you heard someone ask “Is there an app for that?” Next time you receive a traffic ticket and you do not want to appear in court, you can download a free app that will assist you in preparing and filing paper work to request a trial by written declaration. GetDismissed, which made its debut on Feb. 3, is the first-ever app that enables drivers across California to fight traffic tickets. Managing member Steve Miller and member Alexis Vega, a local attorney, came up with the idea and put the concept together through their company, The Ticket Advocate LLC. Mr. Miller expects that within the first year of its debut, about 5,000 tickets will be contested using the app. Within three years, he projects that between 30,000 and 40,000 tickets will be contested with the assistance of GetDismissed.

Vega stated that using an app is a revolutionary way to contest a traffic ticket. There is no other app out there like GetDismissed, which has a patent pending. In a press release, Miller said that he “wanted to offer the most cost effective way to contest and dismiss a traffic ticket ever seen in the state of California.”

GetDismissed is free to download and very easy to use. Simply download the app from the App Store on an iPhone or iPad, or download it directly from the company’s website at www.GetDismissed.com. The app is also available for download from the Google Play store. Once you have downloaded the app, just follow the instructions. First, take a picture of your driver’s license. Next, take a picture of the ticket. Then, answer a series of questions based upon the type of ticket you received. Once you answer all the questions, the app automatically generates the documents necessary to contest the ticket. All you have to do is print out the documents and mail them to the court.

The most difficult step in the process is finding a stamp and envelope. The cost is $49.00 to use the app to prepare the Trial by Declaration documents.

If the driver does not win the trial by declaration, not to worry. He or she can still fill out a form (TR-220) requesting a trial de novo within 20 days of the decision, and be right back at the start. The driver then can either ask for a bench trial, or ask the court to allow traffic school. The driver loses almost nothing. If the driver wanted to hire an attorney to represent them at the bench trial, the driver does not lose that option either by using the app. So, next time someone asks you for help with a traffic ticket, tell them there is an app for that.

Rachel Coleman practices criminal defense and civil litigation with David Lehr Law in Ventura. She is a member of CITATIONS Editorial Board. Email Rachel at Rachel@DavidLehrLaw.com or phone (805) 477-0070.

Barristers Update

The Barristers held their Second Annual Law Student Mixer at Surf Brewery on Feb. 17. T his meet and greet is held once a year and is an opportunity for the local legal community to interact with the law students from both Ventura College of Law and Pepperdine. If you did not go, you missed out on good beer and even better company! Whether you are a Barrister or not, you are welcome to attend these upcoming fun events: Third Thirsty Thursday at Dargan’s in Ventura on March 19 and Dart Night at Brendan’s in Camarillo on April 16. For further information about the Barristers or about a Barrister event, please give Barristers Vice President Melanie Ely a call at 805.643.2200.

Melanie Ely is an associate at Engle Carobini & Coats, LLP, focusing on civil litigation.

“BREAKING NEWS FLASH: FRACKING IS STILL CONTROVERSIAL” By Joshua S. Hopstone

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is an oil and gas well stimulation treatment by which a pressurized mix of water, sand and chemicals is injected into a wellbore to create small fractures in rock formations deep underground, increasing the flow of liquid hydrocarbons trapped within. The process has been actively used by oil and gas producers in California for decades, without a single publicly reported instance of groundwater contamination or other harm to the environment. Nevertheless, the process has  grown increasingly controversial in recent years, as opponents contend that economic productivity resulting from the practice is outweighed by the risk of environmental harm.

Conflicting sentiments concerning fracking came to a head on Feb. 10 at the Ventura College Performing Arts Center, as the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) kicked off a statewide tour to receive public comments on its draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) regarding hydraulic fracturing and other controversial oil and gas well stimulation treatments. This was the first of six public comment meetings that DOGGR arranged across the state during the course of the public review and comment  period of its draft report.

The EIR is a result of Senate Bill 4 (Pavley), California’s attempt to examine and regulate fracking at the state level. The law requires the state to conduct to the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the effects of well stimulation treatments on our environment and to implement a comprehensive regulatory scheme to ensure that they continue to be conducted safely. Among other things, PRC § 3161 requires DOGGR to conduct a comprehensive EIR under the California Environmental Quality Act (PRC § 21000 et seq.) to analyze the statewide impacts of well stimulation treatments on the environment. After eighteen months of preparation, DOGGR released a draft of its EIR last month.

The “project” for the purposes of the EIR is defined as “the physical acts that are associated with hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing, and acid matrix stimulation, as they apply to both existing and future oil and gas wells within the State.” Other well stimulation techniques such as steam flooding, water flooding and cyclic steaming are expressly excluded. The 5,000-page draft report partitioned the state into six “study regions” and addresses 24 environmental subject areas required by CEQA, such as air quality, geology, noise, seismicity, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions. It provides a programmatic analysis of specific oil fields across the state, including the Sespe Oil and Gas Field in the Los Padres National Forest, just north of Fillmore. The EIR further considers the effectiveness of the final regulations, which were approved on Dec. 30 (Cal. Code of Regulations, Title 14, Chapter 4, Subchapter 2 (§§ 1751–1789)), with the goal of recommending refinements or additional regulations through mitigation measures.

Essentially, the draft EIR concludes that well stimulation techniques such as hydraulic fracturing can continue to be employed safely statewide through adherence to, and enforcement of, the final regulations. It is possible that some potentially unavoidable impacts may occur on things like aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, terrestrial environment, cultural resources, greenhouse gas emissions, public and worker safety, and transportation and traffic. However, most of the environmental impacts can be reduced to the level of “less-than significant,” Steven Bohlen, Supervisor of DOGGR, said in a press release announcing the draft report. “With the regulations and the newly formulated proposed mitigation measures in place, DOGGR is confident that well stimulation treatment activities can continue in California without the kind of environmental problems that have plagued well stimulation treatment in other states with lesser levels of environmental protection.”

These conclusions are generally seen as welcome news to oil and gas producers, who continue to maintain that well stimulation processes can be done safely in California. At minimum, the findings reduce the prospect of a statewide moratorium. But the findings are unlikely to persuade environmentalists or other opponents, who have not sat idle since the passage of SB 4. In November, voters in San Benito and Mendocino Counties approved bans on the practice, but a similar measure in Santa Barbara County failed to pass. The public comment hearing in Ventura was well attended, and despite heated opinions, the tone was respectful. Dozens of public interest groups (Save the Sespe, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Ventura 350, Food and Water Watch, Keep Sespe Wild, Energy Alliance, Environmental Defense Center, Sierra Club, and many others), oil and gas industry representatives (California Independent Petroleum Association, Western States Petroleum Association, Seneca Resources Corporation, Weatherford International, National Association of Royalty Owners), and good old fashioned concerned citizens appeared to voice their opinions and concerns about the methodology, analysis, and conclusions of the report.

The public review period for the draft report is Jan. 14 to March 16. Following the kickoff in Ventura, additional public comment meetings were held around the state in February. Under CEQA, the agency is required to review and respond to all public comments received in response to the draft version of its EIR. The final version will be published in June and certified before the July 1 statutory deadline.

Joshua S. Hopstone is an attorney at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP specializing in appeals, real estate, land use and natural resources litigation. He can be reached at (805) 659-6800 and jhopstone@fcoplaw.com.

“A ROLE MODEL FOR SOCIAL PROGRESS: OUR NEW SUPERIOR COURT COMMISSIONER MICHELE CASTILLO” By Panda Kroll

When Commissioner Michele Castillo spoke at a reception in her honor in January, sponsored by the Ventura County Diversity Bar Alliance, she recalled the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and when they fail in this purpose, they  become the dangerously structured damsthat block the flow of social progress.” Castillo knows something about social  progress: The County of Ventura – with a Hispanic population of 42 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 statistic) – can now claim its first Latina bench officer.

Ventura County Superior Court Presiding Judge Don Coleman said of Castillo, “[H]er desire for excellence is unsurpassed. She is now, and will be for many years to come, an outstanding member of the bench.” The July 2014 appointment has not gone unnoticed by the community at large. Among the dignitaries attending her reception at Camarillo’s Safire Restaurant were Berenice Diaz Ceballos, Mexican consulate titular and Consul Patricia  Lorenzo from Oxnard’s Mexican consulates office, Assistant Presiding Judge Patricia Murphy, Judge Dino Inumerable, Judge Manuel Covarrubias, Judge Kevin McGee, Judge Henry Walsh, and Judge Rebecca Riley. Representatives from the constituents of the host Diversity Bar attended in full force, including their respective presidents: Jacquelyn Ruffin (Black Attorneys’ Association), John Fukasawa (President of the Asian American Bar Association), Kathi Smith (Women Lawyers), Lou Kreuzer (Mexican American Bar Association, or “MABA”), Rebeca Mendoza (MABA Foundation) and Ed Elrod (Diversity Bar, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Bar, or “LGBT ”). In her remarks, Castillo quoted the national non-partisan group, Justice at Stake’s challenge to diversify: “An ideal bench is representative of the larger community.”

A side note: I first met Castillo along with her (now former) co-workers from the Ventura County Public Defender’s office as a fellow traveler to Cuba in 2008. Our MABA-sponsored trip manifest included Judge Fred Bysshe, Judge Charles Campbell, and (now) Oxnard Mayor Pro-tem Carmen Ramírez, who organized the “professional” voyage: Under U.S. Cuban Assets Control Regulations, travel to Cuba is permitted for “full-time professionals conducting professional research or attending professional meetings.” Despite a full plate of meetings with Cuban bar groups, a law school, and the Cuban Parliament, we were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of old Havana.

Just before Castillo’s formal appointment to the bench, she was appointed to serve on the Board of Ventura County’s Jerome Berenson American Inns of Court. The nominating Board’s unanimous opinion of the young, thoughtful, smart attorney: “What’s not to like?” In my opinion, Castillo’s participation on the Inns’ Board injects life and perspective into the enthusiastic leadership of this venerable organization. At her first meeting, the Board had a discussion that was at times contentious about  inclusiveness, political correctness, codes of civility, and “teaching moments.”

Castillo knows a little something about diversity. Raised in Ventura County, she grew up in a working class, multi-racial family.

Her mother is half-Filipino and half- Caucasian. Her father, a Mexican-American, was deployed when she was born, and she didn’t meet him until she was a toddler. Along with her parents, Castillo’s maternal grandmother was a “huge” part of her upbringing, and Castillo recalls the difficult yet – rewarding two years when she cared for her grandmother “24/7” prior to her passing, while she was studying for both the Arizona and California state bar exams. Her interests are also as diverse as she: she enjoys writing, playing the ukulele, surfing and running.

As early as elementary school, Castillo was fascinated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She continued to study the Nobel Prizewinner’s passion for justice and advocacy for human and civil rights, and she recalls with pleasure a Stanford University “Junior Statesman” summer program she attended while in high school, when she and her fellow students were assigned to study and watch King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. In addition, she also started traveling when her eleventh grade high school Advanced Placement English class took a trip to England to study English authors. Since then, she has traveled to England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, India, Nepal, Thailand, Australia, Tahiti, Costa Rica, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Peru, Cuba, Grenada,  St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Rejecting her high school counselor’s admonition to “take home ec” instead of more challenging classes because she “would soon be at home,” Castillo was a serious academic who went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in both history and women’s studies from UCLA. While at UCLA, she was recognized with the Chancellor’s Service Award for her service on a committee that ruled on violations of the University’s code of conduct, ranging from plagiarism to sexual and other forms of violence. Her experience hearing evidence and reporting findings to the Chancellor was one of the many sources of inspiration leading Castillo to attend law school at San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She was equally motivated by her desire to be a role model for her community. While in law school, she attended a summer program at Oxford University, earning a certificate in International Human Rights Law and the International Rights of Women. This certificate is one of numerous documents and awards evidencing Castillo’s passion for social justice and public service.

As the first person in her family to graduate from a four-year university, Castillo, whose family life often included a chaotic environment, is no stranger to the struggles of at-risk youth. Her journey to the bench is a testament to social progress and  possibility. Dr. King would surely approve.

Panda Kroll is co-chair of the Ventura County Bar Association Employment Law Section and a member of Citations’ editorial board. She is the newest attorney at the oldest firm in Ventura County, Benton, Orr, Duval and Buckingham, founded 1882.