Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Our New Pad

November 6, 2006

After a year of chillin’ in this delightful location, Cal Law is moving to a flashier pad. Henceforth, you’ll find the Legal Pad blog at, where we hope to continue to bring you thrill-a-minute commentary on California’s legal community and items of interest nay, fascination to lawyers everywhere. This blog will stay right here as an archive of a year’s worth of posts, so if you bookmarked somethin’ special, it ain’t goin’ anywhere anytime soon. But drop by the new site and update your bookmarks, your RSS feed (we’re still working on that it’s been a hell of a move, and everything is still in boxes …)

Thank you to all the readers who have spent time here. We hope to see you (and read your comments) at the new Legal Pad.

Brian McDonough, blog editor


Sonsini Talks. And It Ain’t Pretty.

September 28, 2006

Larry Sonsini doesn’t like pretexting. He doesn’t even condone it, he told a congressional subcommittee probing Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom mess. In fact, he wants a law passed to prohibit it. (To help you kill your workday, C-SPAN’s running all the action from Capitol Hill live on its Web site.)

In a short opening statement, Sonsini condemned HP’s use of “pretexting,” or lying, to gain phone records of journalists and its own employees and directors in an investigation over boardroom leaks.

“It is probably illegal,” Sonsini told the committee. “We need to make it clearly illegal.”


Eshoo: What to Do About Leaky Boards?

September 28, 2006

It’s one thing to avoid going out of your way to avoid criticizing a major player in your constituency.

But Anna Eshoo took an extra step when she showed up at the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations’ hearing on Hewlett-Packard. Eshoo the Palo Alto Democrat, in whose district Hewlett-Packard sits isn’t on the subcommittee, but as a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, she got permission to put her two cents in.

And those were two rather surprising cents: Eshoo became one of the few and perhaps the only politician to stand up for HP.


Baskins Quits and Takes the Fifth

September 28, 2006

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing on Hewlett-Packard’s boardroom mess hadn’t even begun when one big question was answered: What would HP General Counsel Ann Baskins say, given that she according to the company’s deposed chairwoman, Patricia Dunn approved sketchy investigative methods to figure out who was leaking boardroom discussions.

The answer: not much.


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.


S.F. Attorney Fights for More JonBenet Coverage

August 28, 2006

The man accused — mostly by himself — of the 10-year-old murder of JonBenet Ramsey is worried about getting a fair trial given, among other things, the media circus triggered by his admission of involvement in the juvenile beauty queen’s death.

But San Francisco attorney Rachel Matteo-Boehm is fighting for even more coverage of the tabloid story of the summer — she’s trying to unseal records of John Mark Karr’s California child-porn arrest.


50 Judgeships Less Likely by the Day

August 24, 2006

The odds that lawmakers will create 50 new judgeships just got a little longer. The Assembly missed a procedural deadline today for voting on the judge-creating bill, which means it now needs approval from two-thirds of the house — always a dicey proposition in the highly partisan Legislature.

The problem? Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are still squabbling over judicial picks. Nuñez, as you’ll recall, says the governor isn’t appointing enough minorities, and he won’t authorize more than 25 new bench positions until Schwarzenegger makes some changes.

What those changes might be is the $64 million question. Random thoughts from conversations around the Capitol: It’s no secret that Nuñez is not a big fan of judicial appointments adviser John Davies. But it’s unlikely the governor would give Davies the boot over the current dust-up. We might see Democrats shine a more critical light on the handful of secretive panels around the state that screen potential judges for Schwarzenegger. Or we could see changes in the application process that encourage more women and ethnic minorities to apply.

Or nothing may change in the Legislature’s last week of session. Nuñez’s greatest power right now might be his authority to say “no” to the governor.

 UPDATE: The Assembly took a procedural vote Thursday night that will allow the new-judges bill to pass with a simple majority vote. A deal on 50 judges appears in sight — again. Look for changes to the application that would-be judges complete. A new form may put less emphasis on trial experience in an attempt to attract a broader range of candidates.

Cheryl Miller

Lawyers Back Bar’s Strict Disbarment Play

August 23, 2006

Before State Bar governors on Saturday approved permanent disbarment for certain crimes or acts of misconduct, they had sought comments from the public.

Many of the sharpest written remarks in support came from within the legal profession. A few responses:

“Anything less allows a fraud or worse on the unsuspecting public and potential clients who are the only ones who should benefit from Bar rules and professional conduct standards.” — Beverly Hills attorney Martin Perlberger.

“The California Bar must act to address the public perception that all California lawyers are ‘crooked shysters.’” — San Diego lawyer Francis Tepedino.


Gov Kills Bills — And Big Potential Lawsuits

August 21, 2006

With one signature Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger killed two bills and a potential bevy of civil suits.

Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1765, which would have allowed Mexican-Americans who were forcibly repatriated in the 1930s to sue for damages. Bill supporters say that Depression-era anti-immigrant anger led government agencies to force or coerce an estimated 400,000 Californians of Mexican descent to flee to Mexico. The move was also a loss — perhaps inadvertent — to victims of the Armenian Genocide.


Bonds Question Upstages Backdating Charges

July 20, 2006

At today’s packed press conference, reporters ostensibly flocked to see U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan announce the first charges in the stock options backdating scandal. But it didn’t take long to realize that many in attendance — particularly those accompanied by TV cameras — had a potential defendant in mind who was sexier (or at least more muscular) than any former Silicon Valley executive.

They all wanted to know about Barry Bonds, who’s being looked at for possibly lying to a grand jury investigating steroid use. The grand jury investigating Bonds, we know, was set to expire today. So many thought an indictment was in the works.

Alas, any such charge will have to come later, if at all, and from another grand jury, probably months down the road. When Ryan explained that in a brief prepared statement after the backdating announcement, he said any such decision will be have to wait for “another day.” Yet there was some doubt — he spoke quickly, and at least a couple of reporters heard “a day.” On the way out the door, Ryan’s spokesman could be seen trying to put the issue to rest ASAP.

Justin Scheck