Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LAX In-N-Out of Power; No Major SDGE Outages to Report*

For Santa Ana, it's hard to be a saint in the city.

Strong Santa Ana winds have already affected regional air travel. LA Times, NBC LA and other outlets reported power outages at LAX, with spotty electricity through much of the central terminal area. CBS LA tweeted about 10 minutes later that power was back on after other outlets reported outages.  FAA had imposed a ground stop program for all flights departing (and possibly en route) to LAX, though it looks like that might have been lifted according to the FAA web site. Looks like even the LAX web site is down as of 8:18 p.m.

FAA is not reporting any delays in our out of Lindbergh Field. A brief look at the SAN flight information shows a 9 p.m. United Express flight from LAX as cancelled, a 8:20 p.m. American Airlines flight to LAX as delayed and some other delays on several Southwest flights.

Remember, the LAX-SAN route carried about 379,000 passengers last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

As always, the best bet is to check with your airlines.

Also, SDGE reporting no significant outages.

These strong winds are expected to continue through Friday.

Update at 8:41 p.m.:  National Weather Service says that in the San Diego metro coastal zones, the wind speeds will peak tomorrow morning and then peak again Friday morning. A wind advisory is in effect along the coast with a wind warning in the mountain and foothill areas.

At LAX, LA Times reports that 20 flights have been diverted to Ontario International due to crosswinds at LAX over 40 knots and others are being held in the air. Debris shut down two southern runways.

Update at 9:14 p.m.: LA is definitely so far getting the brunt of this wind storm. KPCC-FM, a Pasadena-based public radio station tweeted that its radio signal may be down. Southern California Edison reports significant outages in the LA area, mainly in the South Bay region from Palos Verdes up through El Segundo (south of LAX), upwards of 14,000 customers.


If you are experiencing some stiff winds (not the smelly kind) email me at blawgsd@gmail.com and tell me about it.

Occupy Civic Center Plaza Next?

In more constitutional law news, Ray Lutz, described in Wikipedia as a businessman, electronics engineer and activist, was arrested yesterday after setting up a voter registration station at Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego. Apparent footage of the arrest is to the right via YouTube.

Kelly Davis of SD CityBeat does an excellent job of describing why Lutz was arrested in what you would think is a public space. Davis writes:
If you're familiar with the Civic Center, there are a set of steps that are considered a dividing line between public and private property. The area to the north of the steps, where Lutz set up his table, is private property, though the city rents out space in the building to house some city departments. 
So, the arrest is based the very fine line between public and private space that you wouldn't or couldn't necessarily tell with the naked eye. It's definitely worth the read to see about free speech and the public sphere in San Diego.

Read the blog post here.

In Camera: Groups Cross Over Pendleton Cross

I'm back in San Diego celebrating Mark Twain's 176th Birthday.

Meanwhile, a second group emerges in a simmering dispute over a cross erected at Camp Pendleton to honor fallen soldiers, reports the North County Times. These groups argue the cross is an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity (the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment -- you knew that off the top of your head, right?)

There has been a cross atop the same hill on-base off and on since 2003. It was first placed by Marines and then burned in a 2007 brush fire. This month, a group of former Camp Pendleton soldiers and widows of soldiers killed in Iraq set a new cross on the hill.

As you will likely deduce from the article (and remember from Constitutional Law class if you don't practice in this area), I'm not sure how the Marines get around the constitutional issues and allow the cross to remain. This dispute is distinguishable from the 2005 Van Orden v. Perry decision by the U.S. Supreme Court permitting a display of the Ten Commandments with other non-religious monuments around the Texas State Capitol due to its "secular purpose." If finding a "secular purpose" is the way to keep the cross there, I'm not sure how you find a secular purpose for it.

The Camp Pendleton cross dispute is similar to the Mount Soledad "Easter Cross/Veterans Memorial Cross" -- the cross in the photo above -- which the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional in January. No word on the status of the anticipated appeal of this decision to the U.S. Supremes.

Meanwhile, a similar issue is also brewing in Montana over "Big Mountain Jesus" reports the New York Times. If you click the link and view the photo, it sure makes you think Jesus might have been a football fan (of course, he is a Notre Dame fan as he has had season tickets to Notre Dame Stadium for some time as the photo below demonstrates.)



(Top photo of Mount Soledad by Guy Incogneato via Flickr; Bottom photo is of Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana with the famed "Touchdown Jesus" mural at the top right.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Something Special in the Air (Me!)

Travel Day today so posting is going to be light. Don't forget to follow BlawgSD on Twitter at @blawgsd for updates. (Updates may be more frequent if I splurge for online wifi access.)

Speaking of traveling, American Airlines' parent AMR filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy today. Travelers shouldn't see much of a change, says the Wall Street Journal. No need to start subscribing to hundreds of magazines so you don't waste your frequent flyer miles. And since they are staying in business, we can still "double A" all words that have an "a" in them. Don't you aagree?

(Photo of a shiny American Airlines MD-80 by ReneS via Flickr. I love the 3-2 configuration in economy but it can really be loud in the back of the plane.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

U.S. Builds Pier to Build Fence At Border

This slipped by over the weekend, but the LA Times reports on a significant temporary pier the U.S. has built. It's not for fun though. It is to support a crane driving pilings into the Pacific Ocean surf to build the planned border fence at the U.S. Mexican border where the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood meets Imperial Beach.

It is a piece of a $4.3 million project to extend the bigger, badder 18-foot border fence 300 feet into the ocean to replace/buttress the existing toothy fence that has created unique relationships for family separated by the U.S.-Mexico border.

Click the link for the LA Times story to view your tax dollars at work.


(H/T LA Observed. Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Chris Berman Announces 2012 SD Paralegal Association Board

Well, no I lied. I do not have audio or video of ESPN's resident bombastic sports anchor reading the list of names.

What BlawgSD (aka, I) can do is coming up with Bermanesque nicknames for the new officers as a token of appreciation on behalf of all lawyers for all that you paralegals do!

But first, the San Diego Paralegal Association has some events coming up as well:
  • 12/1: Monthly General Membership and CLE meeting 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Esquire Deposition Solutions. RSVP to programs@sdparalegals.org.
  • 12/8: Holiday Party from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Tom Ham's Lighthouse. Buffet dinner, no host bar and raffle. All proceeds raised go to the Voices for Children.
Back to the new officers and directors: as Hon. Mills Lane would say, let's get it on!

Officers

President - Kristine M. "Cus-Cus" Custodio
Vice President of Membership and Director - Julie "Let the" Schwartz "Be With You"
Treasurer/CFO and Director - Sara M. Minas "Gerais"
Secretary - Treva A. Cutts "Like a Knife"
Directors
Kelli Moro "Bay"
"Vicky" Kristina "Barcelona" Cocita
Valerie Ramirez
Merrill Cannon"ball!"
Congratulations to all!
I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!
(Photo by Martin Lobberich via Flickr)

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Gumby" Plot to Shanghai Sundries Gets Gummed Up, Guilty Plea Ensues

In the "fictional clay humanoid character" file, the man who dressed up as "Gumby" (that's not the crime), and his accomplice, who tried to rob a Rancho Penasquitos convenience store (that's the crime) each pleaded guilty on Erev Thanksgiving to one count of misdemeanor burglary reports the U-T.

As I'm reporting from South Florida this holiday weekend, posting will be few and far between. Check BlawgSD's Twitter feed @blawgsd to keep up to date on what's going on (and if I see something interesting from this side of the country, I'll share it with you as well.)

(OK, so in order to use the photo, I must provide critical commentary of the Gumby episode it comes from "Lost Treasure." So, here we go: Now, I thought in this episode Gumby had come to the apex of his acting abilities, clearly evoking the emotion of searching for the lost treasure more than he had ever before in previous Gumby seasons, though people thought by the 1980s, Gumby had already reached his zenith. I thought he eclipsed Pokey in terms of the emotional attachment to the viewer. Gumby's facial expressions evoke the merriment that had been absent in early 1980s American culture as we struggled through a tough economy. The feelings correspond to our current society malaise and difficulties in this economy. What are your thoughts?)


(Photo from the 1980s episode "Lost Treasure" via Wikipedia.) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movers and Shakers: Thanksgiving Week Edition


Here is BlawgSD's first installment of Movers and Shakers highlighting those in the San Diego legal community moving and shaking their way to the top.

Please send us your personal and law firm news so BlawgSD can share it with the world (but mainly San Diego).

As Alex Trebek said to the soldiers in the photo to the right, here we go:
  • Procopio's Andrew J. Kessler was named Volunteer of the Year by the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, according to the San Diego Source/Daily Transcript: "[H]is work as a volunteer attorney involves representing domestic violence victims in very difficult, volatile and emotional cases. In two such matters, Kessler devoted hundreds of hours and faced aggressive opposing counsel to obtain permanent protective orders and child custody orders for his clients."
  • Kudos, and a very brief huzzah, to Crystal Scripps McKellar who was named to San Diego Metropolitan Magazine's 2011 "40 Under 40" list in September. Anyone who has her own Wikipedia page gets the nod in my book. (Full disclosure: We served together for a brief time on the board of the Yale Club of San Diego. She helped us tremendously.) Other attorneys named to the exclusive list include Eric Ganci, Karen Hernandez, Andrea Musicant, Jessica Klarer Pride, and Johanna Schiavoni. Congratulations. Perhaps you all should celebrate with a "40." (HT November 2011 Lawyers Club News.)

  • Duane Morris welcomes David A. Charapp to its San Diego office. According to firm flackery: "Charapp assists life sciences and technology companies with their critical partnering, licensing and financing transactions, as well as significant operational agreements such as those for manufacturing and supply, distribution, and pre-clinical and clinical research." He moves over from Foley & Lardner, reports Thomson Reuters and JDJournal.com.
  • DLA Piper (if it were a sports team, its nickname be the Cessnas) added Darryl Steinhause to its stable of partners in its downtown San Diego office, coming on board from Luce Forward, says Thomson Reuters.
  • If you haven't already, catch San Diego's own Myra Fleischer of Fleischer & Associates wax poetic about legal issues to readers in the swamplands of the Potomac: "Legally Speaking" in the Washington Times. According to the Washington Times, Fleischner is a family law attorney.


(Photo of Alex Trebek by Expert Infantry via Flickr.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

U-T Sees Robie Leaning Toward San Diego Water Deal

Ronald Robie (left) with former Chief Justice Ronald George.
The U-T gleaned from today's Court of Appeal hearing in Sacramento on an appeal of a lawsuit over a water rights agreement between the San Diego County Water Authority and the Imperial Valley Irrigation District, that BlawgSD covered yesterday in its In Camera post.

The agreement calls for the Imperial Valley district to send Colorado River water directly to San Diego, which would have a direct impact on Salton Sea. The inland lake has agricultural runoff as its only water source. Less water in the Imperial Valley means less water flowing into the salty and ever-shrinking Salton Sea, and the unique ecosystem that relies upon it.

Michael Gardner of the U-T writes:

The issues before the court are twofold:
— Did the state unconstitutionally commit to paying an unspecified amount of money to help offset the environmental harm caused by selling Imperial Valley water to the San Diego region?
— Should the court order a fresh review of the environmental consequences for the troubled Salton Sea, which many believe is further imperiled by the transfer of water to the San Diego region.
Gardner analyzed Associate Justice Ronald Robie of the panel's Third District -- a former director of the state Department of Water Resources -- as leaning toward allowing the water transfer agreement to go forward. Remember, however, he is only one of the three-judge panel to render the eventual ruling.

Gardner's full dispatch on the hearing can be found here. A ruling can be expected within 90 days, which the U-T expects will be taken up to the Supreme Court.

(Photo from Sacramento County Bar Association.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

From the Clerk's Desk: Thanksgiving Closure Reminders

"Let us give thanks to Costco for the $1.50 hot dog and drink combo."
  • The San Diego Superior Court and U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, are closed on November 24 and 25. 
  • Post offices are closed and postal service is suspended on Thanksgiving Day only. So, mail deliveries will be made on Friday.
  • Check with your bank: Most banks are closed on Thanksgiving and open for business on Friday.
  • Internet is always open.
If you are heading out for the holiday, have a good time and be safe!

I'll be posting regularly through Wednesday and then I probably won't have too much time to post through the rest of the holiday weekend -- the Thanksgiving turkey needs my undivided attention (as does my wife and mother).

(Photo from Library of Congress collection.)

In Camera: San Diego Water With or Without Salt(on)?

Salton Sea, that strange, lovely, body of water due east of San Diego in the Imperial Valley, has been facing a battle over its existence for some time. The sea, formed by an overflowing (a man-made goof-up, mind you) Colorado River in the beginning of the last century has been slowly evaporating.

The LA Times highlights a lawsuit now in the California Court of Appeal over a water-rights swap that is to benefit  thirsty San Diego.

Here's the deal. Because the Salton Sea has no constant direct water source to feed it, agricultural runoff is the only way to maintain water levels -- and keep salinity levels at rate that doesn't kill just about everything (like it has been doing lately). That runoff -- pesticide-laden and all -- is scheduled to be cut dramatically in 2017 pursuant to an agreement between the Imperial Valley Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority to send Colorado River west to America's Finest City.

The state legislature, meanwhile, is scheduled to discuss long-term plans for the Salton Sea, an ecological treasure trove in its 100+ years of existence. From the LA Times,

A legislative hearing is scheduled Nov. 28 in the community of Mecca along the Salton Sea to discuss whether it can be saved or whether its demise is inevitable as water is sold to San Diego rather than being used to irrigate the Imperial Valley's half-million acres of farmland.

About 5,800 acres of farmland are being fallowed to save water to sell to San Diego. In coming years, fallowing is set to increase to nearly 30,000 acres.

"The clock is ticking [but] at the end of the day, the state is broke," said Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez (D-Coachella), who prefers a scaled-down, more affordable rescue plan for the Salton Sea.

The Washington Post, also in on the story, says that these deals involving Imperial Valley water have allowed San Diego to be less dependent on the Metropolitan Water District -- the water district that manages water rights for nearly all Southern California water agencies including the LA Department of Water and Power -- and these deals with the Imperial Irrigation District gives San Diego it's own water source apart from the MWD. MWD built, operates and doles out Colorado River water through the Colorado River Aqueduct. (Next time you're doing something funky in Lake Havasu, just remember what goes around could come around i.e. out of your faucet.)

Some opponents to the San Diego-Imperial water deals fear that Salton Sea could turn into Mono Lake.

If you haven't been to the Salton Sea, go see it. It's about an hour from Palm Springs proper and not too far north of El Centro should you trek in that direction via Interstate 8. It is an unusual place.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

SD Legal Sandwich Forces Canadian Burger Joint to Change Name -- The Weekend Roundup


Burger Lounge burgers feature hamburgers with all-natural ingredients, like grass-fed beef and other feel-good ingredients so you know that juice dripping down your chin is as naturally tasty as it gets. The orange-and-black sign also beckons the hungry.

In Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Burger Lounge, the San Diego-based mini-chain, that we have all come to know and love, chanted the chorus of "Blame Canada" in the form of legal threats to a maverick Windsor outpost of the name and similar menu to change its name or risk litigation. See, Burger Lounge of San Diego was first with the name, but according to the Windsor (Ontario, Canada) Star, the Canadian Burger Lounge didn't have to cave but did so anyway. The Star reports that there were other restaurants in the U.S. with the "Burger Lounge" name not affiliated with the successful San Diego chain, but that the Windsor restaurant's decor and menu went too far for comfort for the San Diego owners. So, Joe Fallea, the owner of the Canadian joint agreed to change his restaurant's names without having lawyers rush to courts and get their gowns aflutter.

An article in The Lance, the University of Windsor's student paper, said Fallea got the idea for the burger joint while visiting a former girlfriend in San Diego. "I never ate at any of their restaurants," Fallea said. "I eat Italian food like 99 per cent of the time."
He also said there are about 17 Burger Lounges in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. and that restaurant names are rarely unique.
Well, Mr. Fallea's story is inspiring and romantic, however, he will have to change. I'm recommending Burger Chaise, Burger Recliner, Burger Rink, Canadian Burger Lounge, Burgerteria, or Burger Restaurant. Great. Now, I'm hungry.

I have to say hamburgers from the Burger Lounge are savory, juicy and, ounce-for-ounce, among the best around. (I tried to rhyme that but the best I could do were "pounce" and "bounce.")

In other news,
  • From the Clerk's Desk: Short week coming up -- Don't forget the courts are closed on Thursday and Friday. If you are driving or flying this week, be careful and safe.
(Photo taken in front of a Hillcrest Burger Lounge by Joe Wolf.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Do not forget our Twitter, or you will be bitter!

I know, a nerdy headline but I'll be posting lightly today as I bounce around courts.

Don't forget to check our Twitter @blawgsd for updates, news and notes throughout the day (and night if I'm having trouble sleeping).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy San Diego Occupies the News

There was action at Occupy San Diego today, involving some police scuffles with protesters. There apparently is a faction starting Occupy Mission Bay, where they will camp on the Clairemont Drive Bridge.

I don't know why they are beating around the bush (or bay) and just do an Occupy La Jolla. That's a place I'd want to occupy. But the seals have beaten us to it.

Haze of Marijuana News in the Southern District (and Iowa)

The medical marijuana crackdown by the federal government will be getting a lot of play on BlawgSD mainly because there are so many great legal issues involved:
  • States rights
  • Contract/real property law governing landlord-tenant relationships with dispensaries (and the ability to terminate such leases)
  • The legality of other enforcement measures by the feds
First, the feds told U.S. Southern District Judge Dana M. Sabraw that it would not pause its crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries despite the pending request for a temporary restraining order and/or injunction on such behavior relating to cases filed in each California federal district court challenging the crackdown.

Then, media and conservative darling, Herman Cain of Republican presidential primary fame, said that marijuana is a states rights issue, reports the U-T based on an story by MSNBC:

“If states want to legalize medical marijuana, I think that's a state’s right," Cain said while shaking hands in Urbandale, Iowa. “Because one of my overriding approaches to looking at all of these issues — most of them belong at the state, because when you do something federally ... you try to force one-size-fits-all.”
This marks an unusual alliance of conservative forces with libertarians and (at least perceived) the liberal crowd in support of legalization of marijuana, or the very least, in support of California's existing medical marijuana law.

(Thank you Herman Cain for letting me ride your medial wave, which allows me to post the photograph above instead of a a closeup of someone smoking marijuana like local TV news loves to do. Actually, the best is when local news stories use file footage to accompany a story on weight loss and its effect on health.)

In other news,
  • The Grand Del Mar is the first Forbes five-star hotel, says the U-T.  Nice to see a new place large law firms can put up clients, out of town associates.


  • Thanksgiving Day is next week! Get to the airport early, even in San Diego, Fox 5 tells us.



(Photo of Herman Cain by Gage Skidmore.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

USD Law Student Gets Award for Immigration Work

The phrase "in my free time" as a law student is a ridiculous one. It just doesn't make sense. What does it even mean? It's like trying to figure out what the universe is expanding into.

But the National Catholic Reporter highlights one USD law student who spends her free time to help undocumented immigrants understand their legal rights while residing in the United States. For these reasons, 24-year-old Rosibel Mancillas Lopez received the 2011 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award in Baltimore on Monday. The award was given by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, during the U.S. Catholic bishops' fall meeting. According to the publication, the award honors a young adult for leadership in fighting poverty and injustice.

Lopez tells the publication:
"Something that has had a strong impact on me is Catholic social teaching, in particular the teaching on human dignity and the right of everyone to have labor and work," said Mancillas, who plans to become an immigration attorney. "Related to this is immigration in the sense that immigrants are stripped of their human dignity just because they were born in a different part of the world.
(Photo of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City by Andreas Tille.)

SEDC Officials Get VOSD'd, Plead Guilty

Voice of San Diego (is there any better news organization of its type in the country?) covers (like no other) the guilty pleas of two former Southeastern Economic Development Corporation officials. Randy Dotinga -- the best part of waking up in San Diego -- writes in his daily "Morning Report:"

Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will ask for a year of jail for Carolyn Y. Smith, the former president of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., and former Finance Director Dante Dayacap, along with repayment of about $700,000. Other counts against them were dismissed.
I say this without hesitation. San Diego is a better place with VOSD covering it. It should be your daily, weekly, or monthly reading (after BlawgSD).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SD's Apparent Wing Fetish Finds Itself in Revised Proposed LA (Chargers) Stadium Renderings

One news item that I'll be writing about from time-to-time is the Chargers stadium issue. Like the NFL in LA, it seems like the discussion has been taking forever. Unfortunately for San Diego football fans, the discussions have been intricately linked now for several years.

Today's news out of Los Angeles is merely cosmetic (Isn't it all? "No," says the Angeleno. "Really?," says the San Diegan -- a conversation that ran through my head), but AEG has released some new revised renderings of Farmers Field, the proposed new stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

Now, doesn't Qualcomm Stadium look so pretty in the photo right up there? Yes, it is draped in all of its Brutalist concrete fineries, and it is in dire need of an upgrade. It clearly is made to evoke...well, I'm not sure what it is supposed to evoke.

But, aside from the Spanos' (stated/unstated) intention to build "other stuff" in/near a stadium like Petco Park, I have not heard any good reason why a renovation of Qualcomm Stadium is off the table. It is situated perfectly in the region and there is room to expand. I understand the environmental issues but, just like in LA, can't our state assembly and senate delegation expedite any review and get a renovation project going?

I'm just not sure the San Diego electorate is willing to stomach higher taxes, subsidies etc. right now to fund a new stadium and/or convention center expansion or both.

Interesting, this is the second wing-based architectural rendering to hit the news wires/Twitters in Southern California. San Diego's proposed Wings of Freedom has caused a lot more consternation (though it has some support) than the Farmers Field project in LA to date. Surprisingly, aside from the politicos pushing for the deal, there is not much one way or the other from the average Angeleno for or against the Farmers Field downtown project. Time will tell.

And time is the key here. I was at the last NFL game in Los Angeles. I was in the ninth grade.


(Photo of Qualcomm Stadium by Minerva Vazquez.)

SeaWorld Wins Custody Dispute; Sanders: Dump Defense of Marriage Act

A contract dispute over an orca named Ike was resolved over the weekend, with Ike coming to San Diego from Marineland in the Niagara Falls area. It culminates a lengthy contract dispute between the companies that was in both Ontario, Canada and U.S. courts, reports the Orlando Sentinel via Fox 5.

I'll let the description of the transfer of the whale, which began on Saturday, speak for itself:
The transfer began Saturday evening, when Ike was lifted out of his pool at Marineland and into a waiting transport truck. A witness to the procession as it drove toward an airport in Hamilton, Ontario, told the Toronto Star that it included at least 14 police cruisers with lights flashing, two transport trucks and a crane. The animal was subsequently flown in a cargo plane to California.

"He was in the water in San Diego early Sunday morning," SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said Monday. "Everything went great."
I guess this is why we use "widgets" instead of "whales" when discussing hypotheticals in first year contracts courses.

In other news,

- San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders joins his fellow California big city mayors in urging Congress to dump the Defense of Marriage Act, reports the LA Times.

- The bookkeeper from the old Jack's in La Jolla faces more criminal charges, reports Fox 5. The bookkeeper had been accused of embezzling thousands from the large and seemingly successful restaurant and nightclub compound in the village, which abruptly and shockingly closed in July 2009.

- Rep. Darrell Issa of 49th Congressional District, which currently occupies most of the North County, is reported to be the nation's richest congressmen, says NBC San Diego.

- A personal favorite, Sharon Jones (right) and the Dap Kings, will be at the House of Blues Monday night, George Varga reports in the U-T.


(Photo of Sharon Jones by kallerna)

Monday, November 14, 2011

New SDCBA Board Members Announced

Lawrence Campitiello, Bob Gaglione, Richard Huver, Laura Miller and Stacie Patterson have been elected to the SDCBA board of directors, according to an announcement by current President Dan F. Link in the group's weekly email "This Week at the Bar" that I just received minutes ago.
 
They will be installed at the SDCBA's annual Stepping Up to the Bar on Friday, December 2 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the SDCBA Bar Center.  RSVPs are at www.sdcba.org/steppingup. Marvin E. Mizell will take the reins as president.

What's going on at Cal State San Marcos?

I told you last night about a complaint filed by some students alleging that Cal State San Marcos condoned a hostile environment created by The Koala humor newspaper's frequent use of graphic and sexual imagery.

Today, the North County Times reports that the school had 10 reported hate crimes in 2010, the second highest number of any public university in the state:
Ron Hackenburg, the school's police chief, attributed all 10 crimes to a string of racial and gay slurs written in school bathrooms in March and April 2010, according to a school spokeswoman.
One of the incidents included the drawing of a noose.
"It appears from our perspective to be very isolated to the few-week period in 2010 ---- and we have not had any (hate crime) incidents since then," said spokeswoman Cathy Baur.
The article cites school officials who noted that the incidents were sparked by racial and ethnic tensions that had sparked protests at UC San Diego around the same time last year. The article does not mention any continued hate crimes, though the tension and talk is likely to rise after the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education over The Koala.

Cal State San Marcos was the 20th Cal State campus, founded in 1989 in an idyllic 340-acre campus that at one time was part of the Prohoroff Poultry Farms chicken ranch.


Former Prosecutor Alleged to Have Made Advances Toward Those He Prosecuted

A former San Diego County prosecutor is alleged to have pursued romances with the women he prosecuted.  But, the U-T reports that Ernie Marugg Jr. did not violate any rules of professional responsibility.
Because Marugg’s alleged relationships occurred after the cases he prosecuted were over, a former prosecutor with the State Bar said Marugg did not violate any rules of professional conduct governing lawyers.
But that does not mean such conduct is acceptable, said Jan Stiglitz, a professor at California Western School of Law.
“It just looks bad,” he said. “If you are a prosecutor, you just don’t want any member of the public to have a question whether there was any action on your part that was colored or motivated by your personal interest.”
...


Laurie Levenson, a former prosecutor and now a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said nonetheless the allegations against Marugg raise larger ethical questions. “It makes you begin to wonder what’s on his mind when he’s prosecuting these cases,” she said.
The U-T story describes the lawsuit filed by one such alleged victim of Marugg's advances, and a background into the beleaguered former prosecutor.

In other news,

- A man was reportedly choked and arrested Saturday morning at the Occupy San Diego encampment, according to the San Diego Reader.

- The U.S. Supremes agreed to hear the cases involving the recent health care system overhaul.

- Family of a San Diego man who died while in Cathedral City police custody in August lawyer up, says the (Palm Springs) Desert Sun

- And finally, Zaha Hadid, the renowned Iraqi-born architect who has made her mark in Seattle and elsewhere, will bring her swooping lines to La Jolla.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Clearing the Desk and Inbox

- The Aguirre Strikes Back: Former San Diego city attorney Micheal Aguirre, now in private practice, files suit against the county relating to pension funding.


- To Sexy for My College Paper: Cal State San Marcos students filed a complaint against the school with the U.S. Department of Education because of a school humor newspaper's often racy and sexually graphic imagery and content that has harassed students "to the point where their equal access to education and programs at CSUSM has been impaired," writes the the North County Times. The legal hook is that the school allegedly condones repeated harassment of those students of protected classes. The newspaper at issue is The Koala, the school's humor newspaper. Clearly not everyone is in on the joke.

- The U-T goes in depth on the Briana Bilbray-Brian Bilbray medical marijuana story.

- President Obama nominates Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel to the federal bench in San Diego.

- How many veterans work for the federal government? Washington Post takes a Veterans Day look.

- Seven years ago yesterday, Scott Peterson, born and raised in San Diego, is convicted of murdering Laci Peterson and their unborn child in a trial that captivated the nation.

(Photo of Mike Aguirre by Kevin Baird/Flickr.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Endnotes: Veterans Day edition

Happy Veterans Day. Thank you to our veterans who sacrificed to keep us safe and free.

- From the Clerk's Desk: Courts are closed today. So are post offices. So are most other governmental offices. Most banks are closed as well.

- No apostrophes in the name of the holiday.

- There are many ways lawyers can help and give back to our veterans. The ABA has numerous initiatives, including the Young Lawyers Division. The San Diego County Bar Association participates in an Servicemembers Civil Relief Act program where attorneys are appointed pro bono to determine active duty status and prevent defaults from being entered against active duty servicemen and servicewomen.

- In their ongoing "San Diego Explained" series, Voice of San Diego and NBC San Diego tackle a topic that is on the mind of many: How did San Diego become "a beer haven?" Can they explain how I became a beer maven? Perhaps this is one reason.

- More Chargers: I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often, especially the way the Chargers are playing.

- Even More Chargers: Perhaps having read my earlier post, the esteemed Nick Canepa finally lays into Norv Turner. But I'm not sure if he's being facetious or not.

- Peripherally Chargers: San Diego County Bar Association's Ethnic Relations & Diversity Committee's "Holidays Around the World" event at Mintz Levin was a rousing success. Great food, drinks and music (too bad the sporting event also being shown wasn't up to par). It was my first time at Mintz Levin's San Diego offices. Offices like that make the TV law firm offices seem real. 


I don't plan on posting anymore today. Enjoy your weekend.

(Photo of Norv Turner by Jeffrey Beall. The first image is the flag of the United States of America. OK. Just checking.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Moneypit:" TJSL Confers Next Week on the BCS and College Football

College football has been on the mind for various good reasons (some great games have been played) and the obvious bad reasons. Aside from the horrific news story out of Penn State, the Moneypit (to jump on Brad Pitt's heels) that is Division 1 college football is a nearly daily news story. Teams are eschewing longtime rivalries and regional connections to play fiscal musical chairs and jump on the Chariots of Cash that is major BCS conference football. (I apologize for mixing sports metaphors/analogies -- I pack a lot into my sentences as if you haven't realized that already). Even the venerable Rose Bowl has arguably been diminished in this coast-to-coast Cannonball Run chasing dollars over tradition and the welfare of student-athletes (the Aztecs in the Big East? The Big Ten with 12 teams? The Big 12 with eight teams? It doesn't even make sense mathematically.)

There are clearly passionate voices that talk about the denigration of college athletics, the rise and fall of the amateur athlete and the money and power that has enveloped the sport -- all of which could have been a factor in the (you can't say this enough) shocking, disgusting and horrible news that came out of Penn State this week.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law is hosting a Sports Law Conference on November 17-18 that hopefully will delve into the legal issues and viewpoints about this BCS mess that has come about. TJSL's flackery elaborates:

“In keeping with its commitment to fairness and balance, as it examines such issues, the center has arranged for speakers who represent a wide range of viewpoints,” said Professor [Rodney] Smith.  “For example, the Attorney General of Utah, who has initiated an antitrust action against the BCS, and attorneys representing the BCS will be in attendance, as will leading policy-makers representing a wide range of views, including Roy Kramer, former commissioner of the SEC, who is often referred to as the ‘father of the BCS,’ and a co-founder of the leading PAC opposing the BCS. The issues discussed will reach well beyond whether we should continue with the BCS or have a national championship in big-time intercollegiate football. Participants will be responding in thoughtful ways to the broader, yet pressing, question: what is the future of big-time college football?"
Great topic and timely and should be fun.

Here's one question I have. What are the prospects of the student athletes, particularly football players, of unionizing in the same way many graduate students have done?

So much has changed since this, the first Rose Bowl game:


(Advertisement from TJSL; Photo from Wikipedia.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tone, or How I Learned to Love the Emergency Alert System

This morning, across this vast nation, there will be a tone emanating through your radio and television like no other before. Dogs will howl, winds will blow, mountains may move; don't try to change the channel. Satellite won't save you. You'll just hear the tone. More tone. Embrace the tone. Tony! Toni! Toné!

In all seriousness, the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (formerly the Emergency Broadcast System) will take place in about two hours, at 11 a.m. PST.

So, be ready and alert.

This could be a good time to test our your Emergency Alert System drinking game, until the Brent Musburger drinking game is updated.

(EAS logo from the Federal Communications Commission)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bilbrays Enter Medical Marijuana Battle

Rep. Brian Bilbray
The blogosphere, politicosphere, and any other sphere you can think of have been flush with reports that Briana Bilbray, a cancer survivor and daughter of local congressman Brian Bilbray, has joined those suing the Justice Department over its recent medical marijuana crackdown. She used medical marijuana after her Stage 3 melanoma diagnosis and is a proponent of legal medical marijuana use.

I really admire the statement by Rep. Bilbray on his daughter's participation in the suits, from the U-T:
"Karen and I raised our children to be strong individuals who think for themselves," he said. "I respect my daughter's right to fight for what she believes in based on her personal experiences. We may not agree with our children on every issue, but Karen and I are very proud parents."
You don't need BlawgSD to tell you that the medical marijuana issue in California is quite provocative both socially, ethically and legally, and it will be interesting to see how it shakes out in the courts.

It's unclear whether this issue will affect the 2012 race for realigned Congressional District 52, where Bilbray, a Republican, is the de facto incumbent (he is currently in the 50th district) and is likely to face a stiff challenge from Democrats Lori Saldana, a former assemblywoman, and recent entrant Scott Peters, a port commissioner.

"Litigation-Happy" "Papa Doug" Manchester To Buy U-T?

Voice of San Diego (do we italicize the title of an online-only publication?) documents the rumors of local developer Doug Manchester's interest in purchasing the U-T, which just sold two years ago. Writes the erudite and droll Randy Dotinga in his "Morning Report:"
Confirming rumors swirling around the local media world, influential and controversial local hotelier Doug Manchester told us that he's looking into buying the Union-Tribune, which was sold to new owners just two years ago.
"There's lots of people interested in that asset," he said. "There has not been anything completed. We're looking at it. It's a very complicated transaction if it were ever to come to fruition."
Manchester, who likes to be called "Papa Doug," "has a reputation as an aggressive and litigation-happy developer, who through sheer will and political chutzpah transformed San Diego's waterfront," the U-T reported in 2005. 
There is one thing certain. BlawgSD is not interested in purchasing the U-T (yet). Among the obvious controversies that I would expect would erupt if he were to actually buy the U-T (like one involving a ballot proposition that is the number between 7 and 9), I wonder if he would let the venerable Nick Canepa continue to be a "Superfan" of Norv Turner and A.J. Smith after the Chargers' last two games.


(Photo of Manchester Grand Hyatt from www.hyatt.com)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Folks Up in Arms Over Attorney Fees Request


The U-T takes a look at apparent uproar over Marco Gonzalez's $756,132 attorney fees request relating to his environmental lawsuit over San Diego's Fourth of July fireworks.

There's some color here beyond the drab backdrop of attorney fee and lodestars (it could be just me but every time I hear the word "lodestar" I hear Rick Moranis' character Dark Helmet from Spaceballs saying "Lone Starr"):

Alex Roth, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, criticized the billing papers which cite him by name.
“Apparently Marco wants extra money because he thinks I was mean to him in the press,” Roth said in a statement. “I’d call his request completely ridiculous, but that would probably provoke him into demanding an additional half-million dollars.”
The U-T looks at this fee request as a broader phenomenon of "fee-driven lawsuits" and obtains some quotes from various interest groups on the subject.

(Photo from U-T by Charlie Neuman via signonsandiego.com)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Endnotes: Honeybadger edition

"Randall" introduced the world to the "Honeybadger," a ferocious mammal with some "crazy" tendencies. I'm sure it has passed through your employer's email filter system to menace your inbox like cobra's venom (or what the honeybadger calls "lunch.")

Do you know any lawyers that act like the honeybadger?

(The question is rhetorical.)

The video is not intended for young audiences or those with ophiophobia.

In other news,
- Voice of San Diego covers what it calls District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' "medical marijuana conundrum." CityBeat also has some reaction.
- As I'm writing this, I heard some boos at Qualcomm Stadium as the Chargers came out of the tunnel for their "home" game against the Packers.
- Are women funnier than men?


(Video courtesy YouTube)

Marketing Tips for Young Lawyers

There is much written about the lack of emphasis on law practice and marketing in law schools. Lots of us have to learn on the job how to market ourselves and our practices.

Here's a great article from the American Bar Association's Law Practice Management Section about ways for new attorneys to market themselves. Law Practice Today writer Amy L. Drushal tells us:
Lawyering isn't what it used to be. In today's market, being a lawyer is as much a business as a profession: lawyers have to proactively sell their services.
This box might be a little soapy, but it would be great if somehow the California State Bar added marketing and practice management, such as client trust account management, to the bar exam somehow. I know some schools, such as Loyola of LA are working these types of things into the first-year mandatory curriculum (in addition to many schools that offer elective classes on this subject). Just a thought.

Full disclosure: I'm a member of the ABA's LPM section and really made great contacts and learned a to help my own burgeoning practice.

(Photo of Amy L. Drushal from Treman Kemker of Tampa, Fla. at http://www.trenam.com.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Court Budget Cuts Get Local Coverage

Attorneys have been explaining this to their clients for what seems like years now, but the struggles our budget-strapped Superior Court system is facing to meet the demands placed upon it are getting some local coverage. 10News (KGTV), our local ABC affiliate, is talking about it on its 5 p.m. newscast today.

Here is the preview from the 10News.com site:

http://www.10news.com/video/29668561/index.html

(Photo from San Diego County District Attorney 2009 Annual Report at www.sandiegoannualreport.com)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Clerk's Desk: Law Library Renovations Almost Done

The San Diego County Public Law Library renovation enters its final stages.

The Posture: Lawyers Club November Newsletter

Even in my short time as a member of the San Diego bar, the Lawyers Club monthly newsletters have gotten bigger and better; it is a comprehensive and great read (and I only contributed one article to it so far). There's so much good stuff. Here are the highlights in BlawgSD's first "The Posture" post:

- David Balfour (right) of Carlsbad's DiCaro, Coppo & Popcke leads the alphabetical list by last name of those speaking about work-life balance as husbands of female lawyers at the club's monthly luncheon on November 17. Lawyers Club does an excellent job with articles and programming on work-life balance in the profession -- one of the most pressing issues affecting lawyers today (including this one).

(Interestingly, I found out that David A. Balfour was a Mid-Century [clearly not Modern] Toronto politician who thought that The Grapes of Wrath was too salacious to take along to Maple Leafs games at the Gardens. I wonder what San Diego's David Balfour thinks of the landmark novel.)

- The Lawyers Without Courtrooms committee is having a fall kick-off event on November 9 at 5:30 at the W. I met Sarah McDonald, co-chair of the committee, at last week's Wine and Cheese Reception for the Judiciary (Procopio's new digs are beautiful -- sleek but not overbearing.) and she is eager to increase the networking opportunities for transactional and non-litigation attorneys in San Diego.

- The 20th Equality Survey: Only 12% of the attorneys employed at the 18 firms surveyed were "non-white." I find that figure quite shocking, considering Cal Western's student body is 1/3 "minorities" and my alma mater, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, boasts  an enrollment of 37% "minority" students.

You can read the newsletter in its entirety here.

(Photo taken from DiCaro, Coppo & Popcke's web site: www.dcp-law.com.)

Clerk's Desk: All Superior Court Central Civil Division Departments Using Imaging

All civil departments in the Superior Court's Central Division are now participating in the court's new "comprehensive imaging project." From Barton to Vargas,

All newly- initiated cases, with some exceptions, assigned to civil departments in the court’s Central Division will now be scanned and stored electronically in the court’s case management system.
 The announcement was made here.

(Photo from All About Apple Museum)

Welcome to BlawgSD



BlawgSD is San Diego's new hub for news and views by and about the legal community in America's Finest City. 

My goal in founding this blawg is to share some news, insight, and have a little fun; think Dobson's with the lights off and a DJ laying some heavy beats in the corner.

BlawgSD is not just for JDs. It is also for San Diegans to get a perspective on what is going on in the region through the legal lens. There are so many news items that carry a legal angle that the mainstream media only covers on the surface. I'll try to flesh out some of those issues with your help here. I'll bring it all to you in one simple, neat, tasty blawg. In other words, I'll wrap that legal news burrito with paper and foil. Hot sauce included.

The goal here is to capture the warm collegiality that defines the San Diego bar while providing some insight into what is going on.

To make all of this great information to go down smooth, I'll be featuring the following posts periodically:

Movers and Shakers - Every Friday, hiring, moves and other notable achievements in our legal community.

The Posture -- Highlights of great things going down in our local bar associations and groups.

In camera - Behind the scenes news and information and in depth blog posts about the legal side of hot topics and current events in the news. 

Clerk's Desk -  Notes about court closings, holidays and other judicial nuts and bolts.

Ex parte - Breaking news and other hot information that just can't wait.

Endnotes -  This stuff violates California Code of Civil Procedure section 2017.010. This is irrelevant, irreverent and just fun stuff that I want to post. Since I am the driver; I get to control the radio. And Endnotes. It's a post about nothing.

Send me news about your firm, your life and anything that you think would benefit your fellow San Diegans to blawgsd@gmail.com. Also, follow on Twitter at @blawgsd. 

Since this is something that San Diego has never seen before, my virtual door is wide open for suggestions and contributions. It takes a village to create a successful blawg.

Thank you so much for reading.

(Photo from BlawgSD archives)