Juror Questions in an Orange County Courtroom

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

While waiting for a Case Management Conference in Santa Ana, California, I found these questions permanently affixed to a foam core board:

1. State your name.

2. In what city do you live?

How long have your resided there?

3. State your occupation and employer.

If retired, what was your occupation?

4. Do you have children?

If so, what are their ages and occupations?

5. Are there other adults living in your home?

Of so what are their occupations?

6. Have you had any prior jury service?

If so, was it a civil or criminal case?

These are typical of questions asked by the court during voir dire in other California counties, as well.

 

 

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

Leaving Your Keys In the Ignition In Your Car In San Bernardino: It’s Against the Law (and you’ll be fined $2 before P&As).

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

When I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, I never once saw this section enforced, with its circa 1964 $2 fine:

10.16.140 Removal of ignition key.
A. It is unlawful for any person having charge or control of a motor vehicle to allow
such vehicle to stand upon any street, alley or parking lot upon which there is
no attendant, when such motor vehicle is unattended, without first locking the
ignition of the vehicle and removing the ignition key from such vehicle.
B. Any person convicted under this section shall be punished by a fine of not less
nor more than two dollars; and such person shall not be granted probation by
the court, nor shall the court suspend the execution of the sentence imposed
upon such person.
(Ord. MC-460, 5-13-85; Ord.3880 §2 (part), 1980; Ord.2613,1964; Ord. 1652 Art. 4 §14, 1941.)

What’s the background on this law?

First, the 1941 ordinance, Ordinance 1652 is available online.  The ordinance repeals a variety of ordinances and adopts an overarching scheme for regulating traffic in the City of San Bernardino. Difficulty?  Article 4 has no section 14.  Another added difficulty, is that I didn’t see any similar language anywhere in the text of the ordinance. However, the language (especially the two dollars) sounds archaic.

The Municipal Code annotation is incorrect, because the section does not come from Ordinance 1652 as originally adopted.  Ordinance 2613 from 1964 amended Ordinance 1652 by adding section 14.  There is no legislative history or findings in the ordinance itself (and there are no minutes online), which reads in pertinent part:

 SECTION FOURTEEN: No person having charge or control of a
motor vehicle shall allow such vehicle to stand upon any street,
alley or parking lot upon which there is no attendant, when such
motor vehicle is unattended, without first locking the ignition
of said vehicle and removing the ignition key from such vehicle.
Any person convicted under this Section shall be punished
by a fine of not less nor more than Two Dollars ($ 2. 00); and such
person shall not be granted probation by the Court, nor shall the
Court suspend the execution of the sentence imposed upon such
person.

Ordinance 3880 (November 20, 1979) (not 1980 as shown in the annotations), Section 2 amended Section 14 to be titled SECTION FOURTEEN: Removal of Ignition Key.

The ordinance was codified in 1980, I believe, but I have not seen that ordinance.  It divided it into section (a) and (b), capitalization was changed, as was the reference to ($2.00) in section (b).

MC-460, Section 120, enacted May 15, 1985, amended the codified version, 10.16.140(a) to read:

A. It is unlawful for any person having charge or control of a motor vehicle to allow
such vehicle to stand upon any street, alley or parking lot upon which there is
no attendant, when such motor vehicle is unattended, without first locking the
ignition of the vehicle and removing the ignition key from such vehicle.

The backup from the City Attorney’s Office included removing archaic laws, but apparently, section B remained.

Item 7i on the July 2, 2012 agenda included a re-adoption of this section as part of a cleanup regarding reorganized departments, however, upon watching the video of that meeting (there does not appear to be minutes available online), it was tabled on a 7-0 motion by Council Member Wendy J. McCammack because of the need for further reorganization by the City Manager.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

W: http://michaelreiterlaw.com

Judicial Council Considering Allowing Courts To Suspend Case Management By Local Rules

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The Judicial Council is considering, and asking for comment on the following change to the California Rules of Court Rule 3.720 to add subdivision (b):

(b) Emergency suspension of rules 26

A court by local rule may exempt specified types or categories of general civil cases filed 28 before January 1, 2016, from the case management rules in this chapter, provided that the 29 court has in place alternative procedures for case processing and trial setting for such 30 actions, including, without limitation, compliance with Code of Civil Procedure sections 31 1141.10 et seq. and 1775 et seq. In any case in which a court sets an initial case 32 management conference, the rules in this chapter apply.

Advisory Committee Comment
Subdivision (b) of this rule is an emergency measure in response to the limited fiscal resources available 37 to the courts as a result of the current fiscal crisis and is not intended as a permanent change in the case 38 management rules.

This first came to my attention at the San Bernardino County Bar Association Board of Directors’ Meeting on Monday, January 14, 2013.  The Judicial Council is asking for review and comment by January 25, 2013, and proposes to implement the proposed rule on February 26, 2013.

The request is in response to the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Sacramento Superior Court because of their responses to the funding problems the courts are having because of the State of California’s budget.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

The fastest way to connect to the San Bernardino Superior Court’s Website To Search For Cases Without Using a Bookmark

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

Other than bookmarking the site, how do you find the San Bernardino Superior Court’s website for searching cases?  For years, I’ve told clients to use Google to search for “bernardino superior” and go from there.  However, there is a quicker way.  If you type “sb o” and then tab over, you will get an autosuggestion of “sb open access.”  If you then hit “I’m Feeling Lucky” you can get directly into Open Access, the San Bernardino Superior Court’s case information system by typing only five letters and clicking on I’m feeling lucky with your mouse in the search box.  There is even a direct URL for it: http://openaccess.sb-court.org/.

How To Use A Court Interpreter in San Bernardino Superior Court

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

As long-time readers know, I am a member of the Hon. Joseph B. Campbell American Inn of Court.  Last night was a monthly meeting, and the program was one of the best since I became a member in the earlier part of the last decade.  The program included a skit that showed how interpreters were used in a criminal trial, both with American Sign Language interpreters and Spanish interpreters.  When I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, the court interpreters were invaluable in communicating with primarily monolingual Spanish speakers in code enforcement cases.  While the performers in the skit provided a great deal of information, here is some information derived from the hand outs:

How To Use a Court Interpreter

The interpreter is your voice in court.

So, it is important to . . .

Listen carefully to the interpreter.

Wait for the interpreter to finish talking before your answer.

Do not speak in English, even if you speak a little.  It is confusing for the judge.

Do not interrupt, even if someone in court says something bad about you.  You will get a chance to speak.

Take notes. If someone says something untrue, write it down.  Then when it is your turn to speak, you can tell the judge your side.

Source: How to Use a Court Interpreter, Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino, pamphlet in English and Spanish, undated.

Additionally, a handout with the title of the presentation, “Lost in Translation” dated January 2013 says:

Our guest Spanish Language Interpreters ask that we, as attorneys and judicial officers, always keep the following things in mind . . .

- Don’t speak fast.

- Don’t use humor or figures of speech. [Note: The examples given were, “you’re really in a pickle” or “bird of a different feather”]

- Don’t give the jury instruction on interpreters or modify it.

[Note: The interpreter referred to CALJIC Instruction 121 which reads:

“Some testimony may be given in <insert name or description of language other than English>. An interpreter will provide a translation for you at the time that the testimony is given. You must rely on the translation provided by the interpreter, even if you understand the language spoken by the witness. Do not retranslate any testimony for other jurors. If you believe the court interpreter translated testimony incorrectly, let me know immediately by writing a note and giving it to the (clerk/bailiff).”  The notes state: “The committee recommends that this instruction be given whenever testimony will be received with the assistance of an interpreter, though no case has held that the court has a sua sponte duty to give the instruction. The instruction may be given at the beginning of the case, when the person requiring translation testifies, or both, at the court’s discretion. If a transcript of a tape in a foreign language will be used, the court may modify this instruction. (See Ninth Circuit Manual of Model Jury Instructions, Criminal Cases, Instruction No. 2.8 (2003).) If the court chooses, the instruction may also be modified and given again at the end of the case, with all other instructions.”

The interpreter presenting strongly objected to the part of the instruction which states: “If you believe the court interpreter translated testimony incorrectly, let me know immediately by writing a note” undermined the certified interpreter’s training and experience and emphasized that the instruction was not mandatory, and that the judicial officer could leave that objectionable line out of the instruction.]

- Always speak directly. [Note: attorneys should speak to the witness, and the witness should answer the attorney.  Do not speak to the interpreter directly].

- Beware of false cognates.

- Spanish is 30% longer than English.

- The Only person who never stops speaking during proceedings is the interpreter.

The American Sign Language interpreters said that they are required to provide a translation that included emotions such as shouting or sarcasm.  The Spanish language interpreters said that it was a matter of style for them to provide the translation in the same tone or volume.

Thank you to the leaders of the Inn for providing such an educational program, particularly Judge John Pacheco and Donna Connally, and to the court interpreters that helped us understand the process.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374

City of Corona City Attorney – Now In-House

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

People are searching to find out about the City Attorney of the City of Corona.  While the person did not change, recently, the form of City Attorney changed from outside counsel to an in-house City Attorney and an in-house City Attorney’s Office.  The Press-Enterprise reported on December 31, 2012 that the City Attorney would be moving in-house.  The story says

The new legal team includes [Dean] Derleth, a separate full-time attorney, a part-time attorney, a paralegal and a clerk.

A search of the State Bar website shows three in-house attorneys with the City of Corona at the time of this posting, City Attorney Dean Derleth, John Higginbotham and Jamie Raymond.  All, prior to the creation of the in-house positions, were attorneys for Riverside municipal law firm Best Best & Krieger LLP.  When I was a contract neutral and unbiased hearing officer for the City of Colton on an as-needed basis from May 19, 2011 through June 30, 2012, Dean Dertleth was the City Attorney.  John Higginbotham was the Deputy City Attorney for the City of Colton representing City staff in the hearing.  I have never worked with Jamie Raymond in any capacity.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374

A quick primer on Code of Civil Procedure 394(a), removal to a neutral county

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

This is a complicated statute, one that originated in the 1872 code, and therefore can be difficult to parse.  California Code of Civil Procedure section 394(a) allows, in a suit between a local government agency against a party who resides in another county, transfer to a neutral third county.  The code is a removal statute, not a venue statute, so the suit needs to be filed like any other suit.  When I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, a corporation tried to sue the City of San Bernardino in Orange County for declaratory relief.  It was kicked back to San Bernardino County.

The purpose of this provision “is to guard against local bias that may exist in favor of litigants within a county as against those from without the county, and to ensure that both parties have a trial on neutral territory.” [Citations omitted]. There is no need for a party seeking transfer to demonstrate actual prejudice because the statute “is designed to obviate the appearance of prejudice as well as actual prejudice or bias.”  Arntz Builders v. Superior Court (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 1195, 1203.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055
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