Archive for the ‘Matthew Hirsch’ Category

City’s Strategy: Settle for a Cheaper Loss

October 20, 2006

Just imagine the outrage San Francisco taxpayers would direct at city leaders if they believed the city handed off a couple hundred thousand dollars to Macy’s Department Stores. There’d be picketing, long rants at the next Board of Supervisors hearing, maybe even calls for impeachment.

Well, Macy’s is likely to get a nice six-figure payment from the city sometime soon, a move that will finally end a long-running dispute over taxes the retailer paid in the late 1990s. Depending on how you read it, that payment is either a slick move by city lawyers to avoid losing millions or a failure to fight for every last dollar.



S.F. Judge Weighs Bid to Stop Electronic Voting

September 14, 2006

It appears that San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay was unconvinced by Harri Hursti.

Hursti, you’ll recall, is the Finnish computer nerd who turned up a security glitch in touch screen voting machines made by Diebold Elections Systems. His discovery goes to the heart of a lawsuit, Holder v. McPherson 06-506171, that aims to pull the plug on the machines before the November election, claiming they are vulnerable to hackers.

This morning, Quidachay gave lawyers for a nonprofit organization called Voter Action an hour to argue for a preliminary injunction against the Diebold machines.


Attorney Brings Second Play to S.F. Stage

August 29, 2006

No matter how well trial lawyers perform, they never get called for encores. David Rouda does.

Following his triumph last season at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, Rouda returns to the stage Sept. 7 to direct his second original play, “Pomp & Circumstance.”

Billed as a “comedic legal drama,” the performance revolves around Max, a prominent trial attorney in the twilight of his career, and his son Zack, a junior associate at the firm who is struggling to step out of his father’s shadow and make a name for himself.

If the subject matter seems like it might be personal to Rouda, that’s because it is. While writing the play, the 39-year-old personal injury lawyer drew on his own experience as the nephew of Ronald Rouda, a name partner at the firm Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & Zanobini who was once voted California Trial Lawyer of the Year.


DaimlerChrysler Launches Dr. Gag Campaign

August 16, 2006

Here’s a question for Dr. Z: Why are you trying to prevent the news media from covering a high-profile asbestos trial?

DaimlerChrysler, the auto company represented in TV commercials by its chairman, Dieter Zetsche aka “Dr. Z”, moved yesterday for a gag order to stop an Oakland law firm from fielding calls from the press, including Legal Pad’s sister publication The Recorder.


“Woo Hoo! I’m No. 2! Yeah, baby!”

June 9, 2006

Most people who lose an election by more than 40 percent get discouraged, but not Joscelyn Jones.

In a voice message, Jones said she was “ecstatic, grateful, humbled and elated” by her 24 percent showing in Tuesday’s Contra Costa County judicial election. Jones, a probate administration attorney, was so excited she rattled off her final vote count — 29,594.

Not bad for someone who threw in the towel two months ago, after Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed federal prosecutor John Laettner to finish retired Judge Merle Eaton’s term on the bench.

Laettner thanked Oakland attorney Robert “Rod” Divelbiss for not only dropping out after his appointment but endorsing the newly seated judge. Divelbiss, who claimed 6 percent of the vote, helped Laettner win a majority and avoid a run-off against Jones in November.

As for Jones’ surprisingly strong showing, Laettner noted that before dropping out she had been campaigning for three months — longer than the judge’s own campaign.

He offered few clues to explain how an inactive candidate fared so well at the polls.

“I’m told if your name is first on the ballot, you [automatically] get 10 to 15 percent,” Laettner said.

Matthew Hirsch

Ladies First in Alameda County Judge Race

May 16, 2006

With six candidates jockeying for a seat on the Alameda County Superior Court bench, you can’t just flip a coin and decide who to vote for.

But you can figure out who’s working the legal community hardest when the races for judicial endorsements and support from county lawyers produce nearly identical results.

Kathy Mount emerged as the top vote-getter from an Alameda County Bar Association poll published May 15. The Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson partner collected 36 percent of ACBA member votes, almost twice as much as her closest competitor, Deputy County Counsel Sandra Bean.

As of May 4, Mount had also claimed the most endorsements from county judges. She had 13 of them, or 40 percent of all county judges’ endorsements at the time. Bean had the second most endorsements with a total of eight.

These victories give Mount some confidence heading into the last few weeks of the primary. She said she’ll make ample use of them in mailers and on the campaign trail.

The news of the lawyers’ poll wasn’t as promising for the four male challengers in the race.

Dennis Hayashi finished with 13 percent of the ACBA vote, followed by Frederick Remer (12 percent), Philip Knudsen (10 percent) and Mike Nisperos Jr. (8 percent).

It’s not an overwhelming defeat. Only one in five Bar Association members participated in the poll, which was open to the entire membership.

But it may be a sign that some candidates should turn their attention back to their law practice – assuming they haven’t already.

Matthew Hirsch

A Rocky AG Primary in Oakland?

May 11, 2006

Jerry Brown may be coasting through the Democratic primary election for attorney general, but his opponent hasn’t conceded an inch, even on Brown’s home turf.

The Rocky Delgadillo campaign rolls into Oakland this afternoon to unveil a TV ad to the press, part of a $2 million effort to boost name recognition for a candidate some voters still haven’t heard of.

Delgadillo spokesman Roger Salazar said come Election Day, the Los Angeles city attorney expects to be competitive in Oakland, where Brown has been mayor for the past eight years. An Oakland firefighters union, the Oakland Black Caucus and the Oakland Education Association have all endorsed Delgadillo for AG.

“We’ve got a lot of groups that ought to be for Jerry but are for Rocky instead,” he said.

But if Delgadillo’s found a support base among Oakland residents, they are not contributing generously to his campaign. In fact, they’re hardly contributing at all.

Campaign finance records show a total of seven donations to the Delgadillo campaign originating in Oakland, including one from a regional carpenters association and another from a consulting firm with headquarters in the East Bay city.

Four came from attorneys at Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliot, a law firm that’s hosted campaign events for Delgadillo. And the last came from Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson, an Oakland-based firm that does not endorse political candidates but gave Delgadillo $1,000 “to support one of our city attorney colleagues,” said Managing Partner Jayne Williams.

— Matthew Hirsch

Arguedas Honored by Women Defenders

May 10, 2006

Cris Arguedas is described by colleagues as a naturally skilled attorney born to play the role of advocate for criminal defendants. After all, notes Arguedas’ former law partner Penny Cooper, “The first five letters of her name spell ‘Argue.’”

But few may know that Arguedas envisioned a different career path when in seventh grade a teacher assigned her to write a report about her future.

“I thought, if I was a boy I would pick lawyer. But I’m not, so I’m going to pick social worker,” Arguedas told a crowd of more than 150 attorneys on May 4.

Arguedas, lead partner in Berkeley’s Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, rarely speaks in public about her clients. She says she never talks about herself, either. So those who attended the Women Defenders’ spring event, where Arguedas was recognized “for more than 25 years of remarkable advocacy,” were treated to an unusually personal glimpse at Arguedas’ life and law practice.


Not a Lawyer, But He Plays One on TV

May 2, 2006

Sandy Cohen will be visiting Boalt Hall School of Law on May 11 to present a fellowship award in his honor.

A one-time public defender who went to law school in Berkeley, Cohen might stir up some controversy for the staid Boalt Hall alumni. After all, he’s reportedly the target of a criminal investigation stemming from his role in a shady hospital development deal in Newport Beach, Calif.

That’s not to say Cohen isn’t a decent role model. He once ranked #25 in TV Guide’s list of the all-time greatest dads.

Oh, did we mention that Cohen is a fictional character?

In fact, it will be Peter Gallagher, the bushy-browed actor who plays Cohen on “The OC,” who will present the Sandy Cohen Public Defense Fellowship, an award that’s funded in part by proceeds from an annual “OC” Prom organized by Boalt students.

(That’s right, an “OC” Prom.)

“There are some fellowships that are bigger [in dollar value],” said Carl Gustafson, a second-year Boalt student and a member the “OC” fan club. “But around the school, this is the one people remember best.”

(That’s right, an “OC” fan club.)

Now in its third year, the Sandy Cohen fellowship is awarded to students who take unpaid associate jobs in public defense offices. Five law students share the $5,000 award.

This year’s honorees will be Rachel Pfeiffer and Loriani Santos, who will work in Contra Costa County, Van Swearingen (San Francisco), Joey McInnis (Los Angeles) and Ruth Mackey (District of Columbia).

For more information about the Sandy Cohen fellowship presentation on May 11, email Gustafson at

Matthew Hirsch

Rider Would Trade Millions for Cop’s Salary?

May 1, 2006

Assuming you’d been wrongfully terminated, which would you want a shot at first: reinstatement or a huge pile of cash? That’s the proposition Alameda County Judge Winifred Smith has issued to two-time Oakland Riders defendant Matthew Hornung.

In a tentative ruling late last week, Smith granted a motion to compel arbitration for Hornung and co-defendants Clarence Mabanag and Jude Siapno, who years ago were accused of widespread police misconduct and fired. Smith gave Hornung’s attorney, Edward Fishman, and attorneys for the city of Oakland until mid-May to help her decide whether to stay the arbitration until the resolution of a civil rights suit Hornung filed Apr. 3 in federal court.

Alleging racketeering, illegal search and seizure and slander, among other charges, Hornung’s civil rights suit seeks damages that could clear $45 million.

But it appears that Hornung first wants a crack at once again earning a policeman’s paycheck.