San Francisco Paralegal Association


  • 08/16/2017 7:02 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    ABA Journal

    Annual Meeting

    August 14, 2017

    By Debra Cassens Weiss


     jail bars




     The ABA House of Delegates on Monday approved several criminal justice resolutions calling for changes that would affect poor and homeless people, juveniles, and those denied the right to effective counsel.

    The measures include a call for bail reform, a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles, and authorization of civil actions for systemic violations of the right to counsel. The ABA Criminal Justice Section sponsored or co-sponsored all the measures.

    The specific resolutions are:

    • Resolution 112C urges governments to adopt policies and procedures that favor release on personal recognizance bonds or unsecured bonds, and that permit cash bonds only after a court determines that the financial condition is the only way to assure appearance. The resolution also states that pretrial detention should never occur solely because of an inability to pay, and that “bail schedules” that consider only the nature of the offense should not be used.

    Policies should allow courts to order defendants to be held without bail, however, where public safety warrants pretrial detention and no conditions of pretrial release would suffice, according to the resolution.


    A report to the House of Delegates says ABA Standards for Criminal Justice, adopted in 2002, already establish a presumption that arrested people should be released on personal recognizance. Despite that position, “large-scale pretrial confinement has continued unabated in this country,” the report says.


    Since adoption of the ABA guidelines, risk-assessment studies have demonstrated it is possible to sort defendants into categories showing their probabilities of success on pretrial release, according to the report. New research also shows that when low- and moderate-risk people are detained in jail for more than one day, they are significantly more likely to be arrested for committing a future crime.


    Those who are kept in detention before trial are also more likely to be convicted, to receive a jail or prison sentence, and to receive a longer one, according to the report. The findings aren’t surprising because detainees will likely be more prone to accept a plea deal to win release, and they will have less leverage in plea negotiations, the report says. Detainees are also unable to show a sentencing judge that they were able to comply with court-ordered release requirements.


    Jaime Hawk of the Washington State Bar Association spoke in favor of the resolution. The current bail system creates a two-tier system, one for the wealthy and one for the poor, she said. “This pretrial detention is a pipeline to mass incarceration,” she said.

    • Resolution 112D urges governments to bar the use of bail and bond in juvenile cases, to use objective criteria for pretrial release that doesn’t have a discriminatory impact, and to use the least restrictive conditions of release that protect public safety and assure likely appearance in court. 
    • Resolution 112E calls for the adoption of laws and policies that ban solitary confinement for youths who are under age 18.

    The resolution says a “time-out” or temporary confinement of no more than four hours could be used when a youth’s behavior threatens immediate harm, but the confinement should end when the threat is over. The confinement should be used only when de-escalation strategies don’t work, according to the report to the House of Delegates.


    Solitary confinement is widespread in state and local juvenile facilities, even though its use harms juveniles’ mental health and increases aggressive behavior, according to the report. Its use in federal facilities has been banned since 2016 based on an order by then-President Barack Obama and the U.S. Justice Department. The states of California and North Carolina have also banned solitary confinement.

    • Resolution 106 urges Congress to authorize the U.S. Justice Department to sue over systemic violations of the right to effective assistance of counsel, both directly and through private litigants deputized to pursue such actions. Congress should also pass legislation recognizing the right of private litigants, individually or as class action members, to sue for such violations, the resolution says. In both types of suits, the remedy would be equitable relief.

    A report to the House of Delegates cites an “ongoing crisis in indigent defense” and “continued failures by state and local governments to fully enforce the right to effective assistance of counsel.”


    Courts have been reluctant to rule in suits claiming systemic deficiencies. State courts have been hesitant to find the claims justiciable, and federal courts have often cited the abstention doctrine in refusing to rule.


    The measure passed despite opposition from the Judicial Division and the Judicial Division’s Appellate Judges Conference. Speaking for the division, Peter Webster said the division fully supports adequate representation for defendants, but it can’t support the civil litigation remedy. Margret Robb, speaking for the Appellate Judges Conference, said the conference does not support a private civil remedy or civil litigation by private litigants on the Justice Department’s behalf.


    Both expressed concern about an onslaught of litigation clogging the courts.


    Among those speaking in favor of the resolution was James Williams of the King County Bar Association. “The Sixth Amendment is not going to enforce itself,” he said.

    • Resolution 112F urges adoption of laws that allow expungement of criminal records for charges or arrests that didn’t result in a conviction.

    One in three American adults has a criminal record, mostly for low-level misdemeanors, according to the report to the House of Delegates. The definition of expungement varies from state to state, but the ABA resolution defines it as complete removal from public view.

    When a record is removed from public view, individuals can truthfully say “no” when asked if they have been arrested, making it easier to obtain jobs and housing the report says.

    • Resolution 112G calls for laws allowing the expungement of convictions or statutory violations for actions in public spaces that are associated with homelessness.





  • 08/16/2017 7:00 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    ABA Journal

    Annual Meeting

    August 14, 2017

    By Debra Cassens Weiss



     account information



    Lawyers would have to provide more information about trust accounts in which they hold the funds of other people according to model rule changes approved by the House of Delegates on Monday.

    Lawyers would have to disclose the names of financial institutions, in addition to account numbers, for each account holding funds for clients and for third persons in connection with a representation.


    Lawyers would also have to disclose the names and addresses of people authorized to operate or disburse money from the accounts, and the name and address of the lawyer responsible for complying with the rules governing the account.


    Frank Neuner Jr., chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Client Protection, told the ABA House the changes will give regulators better tools to deal with client trust accounts when lawyers or their staff abuse them.


    The changes, summarized in Resolution 110, amend Rule 7 of the Model Rules for Disciplinary Enforcement.


    A report to the House of Delegates calls the proposed changes “simple but necessary.” The changes make it easier for disciplinary counsel to investigate allegations of misappropriation when the lawyer whose name on the account is not necessarily the wrongdoer.


    “It is an unfortunate fact that some lawyers continue to misappropriate client or third person funds,” the report says. According to the most recent information collected by the ABA, lawyers’ funds for client protection paid out claims of about $96.4 million between 2011 and 2013.






  • 08/14/2017 8:02 PM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    California Courts Newsroom

    August 11, 2017

    Contact: Cynthia Miranda


    Kimberly Aston-Young provides legal assistance in the self-help center of the Torrance courthouse, which sees 900 litigants per month.


     2017 Family Law Award Recipients

    Paralegal Kimberly Aston-Young (right) is presented the Family Law Award by Lisa Morris, a managing attorney for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.


    Kimberly Aston-Young, a paralegal who for twelve years has dedicated her career to delivering legal aid for self-help litigants, received the 2017 Family Law Award at this year's Family Law and Self-Help Conference. The training conference was co-sponsored by the Legal Aid Association of California and the Judicial Council. 


    Aston-Young provides legal assistance at the Los Angeles County Courthouse in Torrance, one of four self-help centers run by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. 


    Aston-Young attributes her experiences of nearly 30 years ago as motivation for serving self-represented litigants today. 


    "I've been on the other side, a single mother going to school and filing for divorce," says Aston-Young. "There was no help back then so I got my knowledge from books and my colleagues. I was working as a file clerk and as soon as the self-help center opened, I applied."

    Co-workers say Aston-Young is an asset to the center, valued by her peers for her wealth of knowledge in family law, positive attitude, and interpersonal skills. They agree the impact she makes on the community is worthy of the recognition. 


    "Kim is a model of the best customer service behavior and attitude," says center volunteer Joan Arias. "Our clients come to our center completely stressed and leave with a sense of confidence that they can help themselves."


    Seeing an average of 900 litigants per month, 80% of them being family law cases, Kimberly and her staff must be prepared to help individuals with difficult family law matters. Much of Aston-Young's satisfaction comes from mentoring the center's student volunteers, which include 13 members of JusticeCorps, a grant-funded program administered by the Judicial Council.


    "Nothing makes me happier than passing on the knowledge and experiences I have to the litigants coming in every day and to the wonderful volunteers from JusticeCorps who truly make a difference and keep the self-help center running efficiently."






  • 08/14/2017 8:00 PM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    ABA Journal

    Annual Meeting

    August 13, 2017

    By Debra Cassens Weiss


     Nancy Gertner

    Retired U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner. Photos by Len Irish.


    Civil rights advocates who are worried about the outcome of pending blockbuster cases before the U.S. Supreme Court can take heart.

    If rights continue to be diluted by court decisions, “eventually, you get to a bridge too far,” says retired U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner.    

    That happens when there is an aberrant case where the rights violation is so egregious that the justices “stick their toe in” and impose limits on the erosion of rights, said Gertner, who spoke at an ABA Annual Meeting program on Saturday called “Advancing Civil Rights and Social Justice in the New Supreme Court.”


    As an example, Gertner cited the case of Duane Buck, who was convicted and sentenced to death in Texas after his own expert testified on cross-examination that he is statistically more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. The finding of future dangerousness was needed for a death sentence in the state. In a February decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said Buck’s lawyer had been ineffective, and he could reopen the judgment.


    The Buck case, Gertner said, was “a bridge too far” for the justices.


    Gertner noted that new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will likely bring a different perspective to criminal cases than the justice he replaced, the late Antonin Scalia, who gave a literal interpretation to the Bill of Rights. Scalia was concerned about unreasonable searches and violations of the confrontation clause, while Gorsuch’s appellate opinions haven’t reflected that type of originalism, she said.


    Panelists considered several important cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term involving issues such as partisan gerrymandering, a baker’s refusal to supply a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, a purge of Ohio voters, police collection of cellphone data without a warrant and President Donald Trump’s travel ban.


    The prior term was the calm before the storm, said panel moderator Caroline Fredrickson, who gave credit to New York Times reporter Adam Liptak for the description. With eight members for most of the term, the court avoided tough cases, remanded others and used narrow grounds to reach decisions. Gorsuch has so far given some indications that he will take extremely conservative positions as he participates in a full term of the court, said Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society.




    American Constitution Society President Caroline Fredrickson


    Also speaking on the panel were Debo Adegbile, a partner at WilmerHale who is a commissioner with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Marc Elias, a partner and chair of the political law practice at Perkins Coie, who was general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.


    Though the Supreme Court has already accepted some voting rights cases this term, Elias said he believes there will be more. “The bad news from my perspective—as the resident partisan on the panel—is that these cases will come up with a less-friendly Supreme Court to voting rights,” he said.


    Panelists also expressed concern about the case involving a Christian bakery owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The issue is whether a Colorado nondiscrimination law violated the constitutional rights of the owner of the bakery, the Masterpiece Cakeshop.


    The case “threatens to fundamentally undermine Title VII,” Gertner said, because a ruling for the baker could support future claims that religious beliefs allow business owners to discriminate against minorities or other protected classes. 


    Marc E. Elias, partner and chair of the political law practice at Perkins Coie.


    Adegbile pointed to a prior concurrence by Gorsuch in the Hobby Lobby case when he was a federal appeals judge that suggests he could support religious rights over nondiscrimination. The case involved a challenge to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act by a closely held corporation.


    Gorsuch wrote in his opinion (PDF): “All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others. For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability.”



    Debo Adegbile, a partner at WilmerHale who is a commissioner with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.








  • 08/13/2017 7:29 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    ABA Journal

    August 11, 2017

    By Joshua Tashea



    Thanks to help from a California nonprofit, the federal courts have patched a “major security vulnerability" in PACER.

    On Wednesday, the Free Law Project, an organization dedicated to free, public access of legal materials, released a report commending the Administrative Office of the Courts for fixing the flaw. 

    The Free Law Project had, originally, notified the Administrative Office in February about the issue, giving them 90 days to resolve the issue before the Project would publish its findings for the general public.


    “We are pleased to share that this issue is now properly addressed,” stated a blog post on the organization’s website.


    The Free Law Project was concerned with a cross site request forgery vulnerability. This vulnerability put anyone signed into PACER at risk. As the recent statement explains, if a user of PACER was signed in and frequented a website, then underhanded administrators of that website could make purchases or, as the post speculates, file documents through the unwitting user’s PACER account.


    The extent of the vulnerability is disputed by a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts. “There was never a threat that the vulnerability could be used to file documents in a case on behalf of an attorney or party without their knowledge,” states David Sellers, a public affairs officer, over email. “The only potential vulnerability was that a user’s bill could be incorrectly increased.”


    The Free Law Project believes this problem has existed since PACER instituted per-page fees in 1998. Both Sellers and the Free Law Project say there is no evidence this vulnerability was ever exploited.


    With 1.5 million users and an annual income of $150 million, PACER is big enough to make itself a target, writes Mike Lissner, executive director of the Free Law Project and author of the blog post. Cross site request forgeries are ranked by the Open Web Application Security Project, a nonprofit online security organization, as the eighth-most-critical security risk of 2017.


    While this flaw has been fixed, there is still more work to be done, according to Lissner’s post. The federal courts have 204 PACER and electronic filing sites across the country, each run by a different person with different priorities and budget. Centralizing and standardizing the PACER and electronic filing systems would help limit vulnerabilities and make the Administrative Office’s response time faster, according to the post.


    It took about six months for the Administrative Office of the Courts to resolve the cross site request forgery issue.


    The Free Law Project also recommends the Administrative Office use a modern and trusted web development framework, hire security consultants to do regular security audits and establish a bug bounty, which would pay rewards to developers that find and report vulnerabilities in the system.


    Sellers said in a statement to that “security audits and scans are conducted regularly” on both PACER and the electronic case filing system, and that the “Judiciary has used anti-CSRF technology for many years.” As a matter of policy, he declined to discuss security procedures further.


    Lissner also recommends making PACER, which stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, free. He argues, this would decrease the scope of vulnerability because people would not need to log in.


    The Free Law Project is a staunch advocate for making the documents found in PACER free to the public. They operate RECAP, (PACER backwards), which is a free browser plug-in that collects downloaded documents from PACER and places them in a free-to-access public database.






  • 08/13/2017 7:27 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    ABA Journal

    August 11, 2017

    By Debra Cassens Weiss







    Arizona jurors studied by the American Bar Foundation took jury instructions seriously.

    Researchers videotaped deliberations in 50 civil cases and found that at least one juror read an instruction out loud in 92 percent of them, according to researcher Shari Seidman Diamond, a Northwestern University law professor. Twenty-six of the juries commented on instructions during the first five minutes of deliberations, a Northwestern University Law Review article (PDF) notes on the study.


    Jurors had a comprehension error in 16 percent of total comments about instructions, though the mistake was corrected about half the time by the judge or another juror.


    The low percentage of misunderstandings was surprising to some panelists at an ABA Annual Meeting program on Friday called “How Juries Think and Behave: Empirical Research from Real Jury Deliberations.” The program was one of several CLE in the City sessions, new for the annual meeting this year and held at New York City law firm offices, including this one at Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe.


    Susan Fillichio, a senior vice president at trial consulting firm DecisionQuest, said she finds a greater misapplication of the law when observing mock trials and conducting post-trial juror interviews. She surmised that Arizona jurors studied may have had an easier time with jury instructions because the cases were relatively straightforward.


    In complicated business cases and patent disputes, for example, jurors struggle to apply the law accurately. Improving and clarifying jury instructions could help, Fillichio suggested.


    Susman Godfrey partner Stephen Susman, one of the leaders of the Civil Jury Project at New York University School of Law, had a more detailed suggestion. All jurors should get iPads with written instructions and definitions, along with case information, including a cast of characters consisting of names that will be mentioned in the trial and the chronology of events. Exhibits should be added to the iPad as they are introduced at trial, and the iPads should contain real-time transcripts of testimony.


    “Even if it’s gimmicky, we have to figure out ways to restore confidence in the ability of the jury,” he said.


    In New York, he pointed out, jurors aren’t allowed to take the jury instructions with them into deliberations. Instead, the judge reads the instructions, a process so tedious, Susman said, that even he has trouble staying awake. The ban on instructions in the jury room makes New York the most backward state in the union, he declared.


    George Silver, who is deputy chief administrative judge for the city of New York, reacted by offering to have lunch with Susman to discuss his ideas. But the lunch should be on neutral ground—maybe St. Louis—and Susman should take the first bite, Silver joked.


    Many jurisdictions provide jury instructions, Fillichio said. In Arizona, each juror gets a copy, and they use them, Diamond said. In one case, jurors took turns reading a part of the instructions aloud, reminding her of a Passover Seder.


    Instructions aren’t the only written material bedeviling juries, according to Fillichio. Jury verdict forms are also hard to understand.


    Silver has seen the problem firsthand when jurors deliver inconsistent answers on the verdict form. When jurors ask questions about the form, there is often confusion about the meaning of proximate cause.


    But Silver and Diamond had some good news about juries.


    The Arizona study found that jurors actively work on the most plausible reconstruction of events that led to trial. They focus on inconsistencies in behavior and testimony, and they are sensitive to witness interests. They draw on common knowledge and experience for reference points. And while they sometimes struggle, they resolve the misunderstandings as a group.


    Silver reported that he is seeing a change in attitude among jurors. Recent events, he said, have electrified jurors, and he is finding that they are happy to serve.






  • 08/13/2017 7:25 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    ABA Journal

    Posted August 11, 2017

    By Lee Rawles






    From left, Gilbert A. King, author of “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America”; Ira M. Feinberg of Hogan Lovells; and Georgetown University Law Professors Susan Bloch and Sheryll Cashin, speak at "The Legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of His Historic Appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court," on Friday at the ABA Annual meeting in New York City./Photo by Len Irish


    On the cusp of the 50th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall's confirmation as the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court justice, three of his former law clerks gathered to speak about his legacy.

    Ira Feinberg, Susan Bloch and Sheryll Cashin took the stage Friday with Gilbert King, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America. The event, “The Legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of His Historic Appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court,” was a CLE Showcase program at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York City, sponsored by the Section of Litigation.


    King kicked off the program by giving the audience a primer on Marshall’s early years heading the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. King says that photos commonly used to illustrate the Jim Crow South show segregated water fountains or “Whites Only” signs and leave the impression that the laws were merely “rude or inconvenient.” His research shows a deeper reality of “brutality and terrorism.”


    Marshall defied the system of brutality and terrorism every time he traveled south to defend black people in capital cases, constantly endangering his life, King says. In the summer of 1946, there was a wave of lynchings in which black World War II veterans were being murdered for wearing their uniforms. U.S. Army Sgt. Isaac Woodard was taken off a bus, beaten and blinded in both eyes by South Carolina police officers. The NAACP and Marshall worked to publicize such atrocities and raised funds to provide legal representation to people suffering from racial injustice.


    Before Marshall was sworn in to the Supreme Court on Oct. 2, 1967, he had argued before that court 32 times and won 29 of those cases.


    Feinberg, now a partner at Hogan Lovells, was 25 years old when he clerked for Marshall in 1973 and 1974. It was “a heady experience,” Feinberg says. “In many ways, Watergate framed the entire year.”


    In the six years between Marshall joining the court and Feinberg beginning his clerkship, there had been a sea change. When Marshall joined, it was the Warren Court, known for liberal decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education. By 1973, with four President Richard M. Nixon appointees, it had become the conservative Burger Court, and Marshall found himself on the dissenting side of many opinions.


    Feinberg recalled a school busing case during his term, which was a “very bitter pill” for Marshall, as the desegregation jurisprudence he’d worked to establish was chipped away. He found himself “a dissenter on most of the things he cared about,” Feinberg says.


    Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.


    Bloch, a professor at Georgetown Law Center, clerked for Marshall in 1976 and 1977. She says that over the course of his Supreme Court career, Marshall dissented in 40 percent of the cases that were decided before the court. She says that he understood the power of dissent, and used to carry a copy of Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson in his pocket.


    As a law clerk, “working on a dissent is fun,” Bloch said. She recently got to see the logic of one of the dissents she worked on, Fiallo v. Bell, vindicated. Marshall had seen an immigration law which differentiated between the children of unwed female American citizens from the children of unwed male citizens as discriminatory. In June, the Supreme Court decided in Sessions v. Morales-Santana that a similar gender line drawn by Congress in an immigration case violated the Fifth Amendment.


    According to Bloch, two words and one issue during Marshall’s time as justice stick out for her: The words were “passion” and “courage,” and the issue was the abolition of the death penalty. Marshall’s time defending capital cases had convinced him that the government should never be allowed to take a person’s life.


    Bloch sees Marshall’s impact in every major civil rights battle since his time with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She says that his influence can also be seen in the women’s and gay rights movements. She traces an opinion Marshall wrote in a pornography case to the overturning of sodomy laws with Lawrence v. Texas and to the successful same-sex marriage cases. And she is heartened by the willingness to reconsider the death penalty that some current justices appear to be showing. “So I think there’s hope.”


    Cashin clerked for Marshall in the last year he served on the court in 1990 and 1991—although she did not have any idea that he planned to retire until he announced it during her last week on the job.


    “The most delicious aspect of the year was just spending time with him and hearing his stories,” says Cashin, now a professor of at Georgetown Law.


    Bloch recounted a story Marshall used to tell from his time at the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Right after his appointment by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, Marshall showed up for work at the courthouse. A woman employee saw him enter and asked if he was the electrician they’d called to make repairs. “No ma’am!” said Marshall. “They’d never let me in that union.”


    All three of Marshall’s former clerks recalled his empathy and humility. He referred to his clerks as the “knuckleheads” and had them call him “Judge” or “Boss.” He was a legal giant but also a human being.


    Cashin says that although Marshall found himself in the minority for much of his time on the court, he remained hopeful and maintained a belief that, in the words of Theodore Parker, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”


    Still, it was painful for him when the conservative majority made decisions curtailing school desegregation.


    “This man was 82, feeble, in declining health,” Cashin says, but when he talked about school cases, he would light up.


    Cashin says that the hardest day in her year as a Supreme Court clerk was the day that Marshall rehearsed for the arguments he would make to his colleagues as they deliberated over a school busing case, Board of Education of Oklahoma City Public Schools v. Dowell. As he practiced aloud to his clerks, Marshall became discouraged, wondering, “Am I supposed to keep telling people it’s going to get better?”


    Marshall was not successful in persuading his fellow justices in that case. But Cashin sees the power of his arguments and dissents still having an impact today.


    “It did matter that he was in the room,” she says.






  • 08/12/2017 6:04 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    The California Report 

    August 11, 2017

    By Scott Shafer


     U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who retires August 11, 2017.U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who retires August 11, 2017


    "Everybody gets their day in court, but my passion is for the underdog. That’s where I put in my extra time.’

    -Judge Thelton Henderson



    After serving 37 years on the federal district court bench in San Francisco, where some of his decisions involved hot-button issues, Judge Thelton Henderson is retiring today.


    His rulings often enraged opponents and thrilled those who agreed — often attorneys for “the little guy.”


    Henderson was born in Louisiana in 1933. But he grew up in South Central Los Angeles, where he first witnessed the impact of segregation and discrimination.


    After graduating from UC Berkeley’s law school, Henderson’s legal career got off to a bumpy start.


     In 1962, he became the first African-American to work in the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. He was sent to the South, where racial tensions were boiling over. One night he loaned his government car to the Rev. Martin Luther King, whose own car had broken down. Attorney General Robert Kennedy — worried about how it would look to Southern Democrats — gave Henderson little option but to quit.


     “(I was told) I couldn’t be sent out in the field any longer, that I’d have a desk job and that it would be best if I resigned. So I resigned,” Henderson told KQED. “But I was effectively fired. I can say that now after all these years.”


    Henderson landed on his feet — working in academia and helping to diversify law schools. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the federal bench.


    Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of cases he’s handled, Henderson says none was more important than his finding that overcrowding in California prisons contributed to terrible health care for inmates.


     “One prisoner was dying every six days for lack of adequate medical care,” Henderson recalls. “That’s a lot of lives. That’s no longer happening.”


     In 2006, he took control of prison health care away from the state and turned it over to an independent health care czar, forcing California to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to improve care. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fought the decision but it was eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. It led to the forced reduction of the state prison population.


     “Most of the prisons now are pretty close to the level of care that we get out here outside of prison, so it’s a profound change,” Henderson says. He still visits San Quentin Prison to check on conditions there, and he says inmates still come up to him and thank him for what he did.


     Guards outside the solitary confinement facilities, known as the Security Housing Unit, at Pelican Bay State Prison.Guards outside the solitary confinement facilities, known as the Security Housing Unit, at Pelican Bay State Prison.



    Donald Specter, executive director of the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, was one of the attorneys representing inmates. A decade earlier, he also went with Henderson to see firsthand the solitary confinement facilities at the notorious Pelican Bay State Prison in Del Norte County.


    After a three-month trial in 1995, Henderson issued a 300-page ruling that completely changed conditions in the prisons.


     “The beatings stopped,” says Specter. “Prisoners who were especially vulnerable to isolation were kept out of it. His ruling was responsible in large part for reforming the use-of-force policy for the entire corrections department. So it was dramatic."


    Over the years Henderson has had his share of reversals by higher courts, none more infamous that a case involving affirmative action.


    Surprisingly, when I asked Henderson to name the cases he’s most proud of, he mentioned his ruling that tuna fishermen could no longer use nets that were killing huge numbers of dolphins. Henderson says he still gets letters from schoolkids about that one.


    But he got very different kinds of letters after California voters passed Proposition 209, banning racial preferences in public institutions like the University of California. In November 1996, Henderson blocked its implementation — enraging supporters of the measure.


    Proposition 209 backer Ward Connerly called Henderson’s ruling “the most garbage decision I have ever seen,” adding that it “will be recorded in the history of American jurisprudence as one of the most perverse.”


    Some Republicans called for Henderson’s impeachment.


    Republican Gov. Pete Wilson called Henderson’s decision “an affront to the overwhelming majority of California voters.”


    “I got death threats for that case,” Henderson recalls. “I’ve had a few since then, but that one was the most emotional case.”


    Henderson’s Proposition 209 decision was overturned by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a few months later, and the law remains in effect today.


    Even today, 20 years after his decision, Henderson is convinced he did the right thing by blocking Proposition 209 from taking effect.


    “I felt I was following Supreme Court precedent,” Henderson says. “Of course the panel that got it on the 9th Circuit disagreed. I was never convinced I was wrong.”


    Cases like Proposition 209 led critics of Henderson to label him an “activist judge.” He rejects that but acknowledges that he’s always tried to level the playing field.


    “Everybody gets their day in court, but my passion is for the underdog,” Henderson admits. “That’s where I put in my extra time.”


    Now 83, he’ll have extra time for his two passions — fishing and poker.



  • 08/10/2017 12:36 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    Tracy Mosz talks about her experience as a litigation paralegal including handling the stress and maintaining all the necessary documents.


    Litigation paralegals are an essential cog in the trial machine, but handling this responsibility often comes with a large amount of stress. In this episode of the Paralegal Voice, host Vicki Voisin talks to Tracy Mosz about her experience as a litigation paralegal, including handling the stress and maintaining all the necessary documents for trial. Together they discuss keeping an organized trial notebook, creating demonstratives, and using technology.


    Tracy Mosz, ACP is a certified eDiscovery project manager with Brewster & De Angelis where she has been since March 2011.





  • 08/10/2017 12:19 AM | Denise Bashline (Administrator)

    Santa Rosa Press Democrat

    August 8, 2017

    By Paul Payne



    Language interpreters at Sonoma County Superior Court walked off the job Tuesday in protest of failed negotiations over pay and benefits they claim are rooted in discrimination.


    Court officials scrambled to provide translation services and some cases were postponed by the one-day strike of the half-dozen Spanish interpreters.


    It was part of a larger disagreement between state court officials and union interpreters in 15 coastal Northern California counties, whose contracts expired in September.


    Although the state is offering to boost the $76,000-a-year salaries by 21 percent over three years, interpreters claim it won’t make up for past wage stagnation and does not keep pace with raises given to federal counterparts and other court workers.


    At the same time, interpreters claim positions have gone unfilled despite money being allocated by state legislators.


    They accused court officials of placing a low priority on their work because they are mostly women and minorities who focus on helping immigrants.


    “The communities that need these services are getting short shrift in this county,” said Mary Lou Aranguren, a lead negotiator for the California Federation of Interpreters union, who stood outside the courthouse with colleagues carrying picket signs. “It’s institutional racism.”


    Sonoma County court officials referred questions about the dispute to a spokeswoman for regional negotiators at San Francisco Superior Court, who released a statement from T. Michael Yuen, the court’s executive officer.


    Yuen said one case requiring interpreters was postponed until Friday. He called what the court is offering “fair.”


    “By not embracing this salary structure and instead striking throughout the region, the interpreters’ union is actually hurting the women, minorities and non-English speakers who seek to access their right to justice in Northern California but instead see their day in court delayed because interpreters are on the picket line rather than in court providing vital interpreting services,” Yuen said in the statement.


    Cindia Martinez, assistant court executive officer in Santa Rosa, confirmed her court has a full-time staff of six interpreters who work 36 to 40 hours a week.


    Martinez said the court hires two additional contractors for Spanish translation and can bring in more for other languages.


    Meanwhile, striking interpreters said their wages have risen at less than half the rate of other court workers since court interpreters gained employment rights 14 years ago. Because they don’t receive salary “steps,” those who have worked for decades earn the same as others who are new to the profession.


    Also, interpreters claim they have suffered deeper cuts to take-home pay because of rising benefit costs.




San Francisco Paralegal Association • 1 Sansome St., Ste. 3500 • San Francisco, CA 94104-4448 • (415) 946-8935 •