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

Garage Sales and Yard Sales (and permits) in the Cities of Highland, Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Redlands, Yucaipa and unincorporated San Bernardino County

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

People want to know how to get yard sale and garage sale permits in the East Valley, and they find this site because of this article about the City of San Bernardino’s yard sale ordinance.  Therefore, here is a chart to give a basic (but not complete) understanding of the rules and regulations regarding yard sales in the East Valley, here defined as the Cities of Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Highland, Redlands, Yucaipa and unincorporated San Bernardino County such as Muscoy, Mentone, Oak Glen, Devore, Arrowhead Suburban Farms, Devore Heights, and Del Rosa.  Per the City Clerk of Loma Linda, there is no yard sale ordinance in the City of Loma Linda as of 10/17/2012.  Note also that homeowners associations (HOAs) probably have additional restrictions (particularly East Highlands Ranch) which you should look into.

City/Unincorporated Permit Required Permit Cost Where? Duration
Colton Yes $2, except charity, nonprofit, religious Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Grand Terrace Yes (Except Exemptions) $5 Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Highland Yes $7 Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Loma Linda N/A N/A N/A N/A
Redlands Yes $2.50 Treasurer 3 d or 2d each over consecutive weekends; 8 am-8pm
Rialto Yes (Except Exemptions) $5.40 Finance Department 3d, daylight
San Bernardino No (anomoly regarding Estate Sales) N/A N/A 3d, daylight
Yucaipa After 1st sale $2.50 (sales 2-4) Front Desk, City Hall 3d, 8am-8 pm
Unincorporated San Bernardino County No (See SBCC section 84.25.030(e) unless exceed standards of 84.10. N/A N/A 3d, 8am-5 pm
City/Unincorporated Frequency Display Signage Exemptions Ordinance Codified At Violation
Colton 1/quarter Not in PROW During, onsite Court sales Ord 1483 (1975); 0-3-1989 (1989) Colton Municipal Code Chapter 5.45 Misdemeanor
Grand Terrace 2/yr Not in PROW 2 onsite, unlit, 4ft area, 5 day limit, not on PROW, trees, fences, utility poles, removed at end Court sales, charitable, nonprofit, religious Ord 35 (1980) Grand Terrace Municipal Code Chapter 5.40 Infraction
Highland 3/12 mo Safety 1 onsite doublesided, 6 ft area, 5′ tall, 24 hours before until end. Court sales Ord 239 (1998) Highland Municipal Code section 5.04.370 Infraction
Loma Linda N/A N/A N/A N/A None N/A N/A
Redlands 3/12 mo Not in PROW, safety, only during sale Court sales Prior Code secs 24001-10; Ord 2684 (2007), 2779 (2012), Redlands Municipal Code Chapter 5.68 Infraction
Rialto 4/calendar yr only first weekend in March, June, September and December Not in PROW, front or side yards 2 onsite, 4ft area, 4directional signs, prohibited in PROW, >864 sq in., with permission of property owner. Nonprofits, Ord 1416 (2008) Rialto Municipal Code Chapter 5.69 Infraction; misdemeanor for <3/yr
San Bernardino 12/yr only on 3rd weekend of mo Not in PROW, safety, only during sale 3 onsite unlit 24 hr prior until end; 4 Directional 2 sq ft  on private property w/consent Estate sales as to frequency nonprofits as to frequency Ord MC-1344 (2011) San Bernardino Municipal Code Chapter 8.14 Infraction/misdemanor (woblette)
Yucaipa 4/12 mo Not in PROW 1 onsite, not in PROW Court sales Ord 102 (1992) Yucaipa Municipal Code Chapter 5.22 Infraction
Unincorporated San Bernardino County 4/yr Not in PROW 2 onsite, 4ft area, 4 directional signs, prohibited in PROW, 864 sq in., w/permission of property owner. None Ord. 411 (2007) San Bernardino County Code  Chapter 84.10 Infraction; misdemeanor for >3/yr

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. BE SURE TO CHECK WITH THE INVOLVED CITIES FOR CURRENT LAW AND FEES.

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

City of San Bernardino Code Enforcement Salaries and Benefits as of July 24, 2012

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

As a follow-up to Tuesday’s post on San Bernardino’s Fiscal Emergency Operation Plan Memorandum, and yesterday’s snapshot of the City of San Bernardino’s Community Development Department Code Enforcement Division contained in the memorandum, here are more details from the Operation Plan Memorandum regarding Code Enforcement Salaries.

This was found on page 48 of the Fiscal Emergency Operation Plan Memorandum.

As you can see, it shows the Code Enforcement Division Manager budged at $132,565 in salary and benefits, including salary, the employee portion of PERS, the employer portion of PERS, unemployment, fringe benefits, and the employer portion of Medicare.  The City of San Bernardino does not pay into Social Security.  You can also see that a portion of the Community Development Director’s salary is shown in Code Enforcement, $53,347 in total.  The three supervising code compliance officers each are budgeted $113,545.  Of course, that doesn’t mean they are taking home $113,545, but that is the current budgeted cost of the position.  The two Senior Code Compliance Officer positions are set at $102,915 in salary and benefits.  The lowest-cost employees appear to be the Code Compliance Processing Assistants without special pay.  They are budgeted at $53,007 each.

In total, $3,024,254 are allocated towards Code Enforcement salaries in the City of San Bernardino.  As the Mayor and Common Council make cuts in anticipation for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy, this amount going forward could be cut through agreed-upon give-backs or lay-offs.

The thing that seems strange about the numbers is that all similarly situated code enforcement officers and other positions are receiving the exact same amount of pay, which if they were all stepped-out would make sense, and like I said before, a lot of the officers were there when I started as a Deputy City Attorney in 2001.  Also, it shows salaries for more officers than positions that are currently filled.

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.

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

City of San Bernardino Code Enforcement Organizational Chart as of July 17, 2012

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on San Bernardino’s Fiscal Emergency Operation Plan Memorandum, here is a snapshot of the City of San Bernardino’s Community Development Department Code Enforcement Division contained in the memorandum.

On Page 50 of the Memorandum is an organizational chart for Code Enforcement dated July 17, 2012.  It details the names and titles of the code enforcement officials responsible for code enforcement in the City of San Bernardino as of July 17, 2012.  In all, it shows 34 filled positions, and two vacant positions.  There is a Code Enforcement Manager, Steve Wilkomm, and three Supervisor Code Enforcement Officers.  The three Supervisor Code Enforcement Officers were all with the City when I was last a Deputy City Attorney, and two of them were with Code Enforcement before I became a Deputy City Attorney in 2011.  In all, there are still 19 code enforcement employees that were employed at the time I left the City of San Bernardino to become the Assistant City Attorney of Redlands.

While this organization chart is likely to change in the coming months because of the Chapter 9 bankruptcy and the planned (but heretofore proposed) reorganization, likely retirements and possible further attrition, this chart gives the public insight into how Code Enforcement in San Bernardino is organized at the moment.

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.

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

San Bernardino’s Code Enforcement Problems

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The San Bernardino Sun had this Voice of the People letter, which appeared, I believe, in the print edition on May 11, 2012.

I wish San Bernardino would give me just 5 percent of the fines I could collect if I cited all the ordinances and laws not being enforced.Example: On Dec. 15, 2010, San Bernardino City Council passed an ordinance and code enforcement law on yard sales to help clean up the city and not have it look like a Third World city and help local businesses.

The ordinance states clearly: Only on the third weekend of the month will yard sales be permitted, and no new items may be sold at any of these sales. In addition there are to be no signs on street corners, phone poles, trees, cars, etc., except in the yard of the sale. There is to be a $300 fine for a first offense and $100 for each sign found – this is law.

Legitimate businesses that pay for permits, state and federal sales tax, business tax, code tax, OSHA inspections, liability insurance, licenses, and more in this town are struggling and being driven out of business by those selling new items in their yards or street corners. You can find this any day, but even more on holidays like Mother’s Day, Valentines Day, Christmas, and so on – people selling flowers, candy, baskets, toys, fruit, jerky, even clothes in these makeshift stands or sitting on an off-ramp with milk crates full of their goods.

These crates, by the way, are stamped clearly on the sides – if stolen the person in possession will be fined $250-$500 for each one. These losses are added to our food bills. Why does our city not enforce these laws and ordinances considering the huge income it will provide for the city as well as help keep our legitimate businesses here?

These ordinances have been in the newspapers, mailed to all homes, and talked about everywhere and they are still ignored and these people have zero respect for the law.

STEVE PORTIAS
San Bernardino

I wrote before (and I have excised it from the original post because the law changed):

When I was a Deputy City Attorney in San Bernardino, mobile food vendors (except for people selling paletas, which were permitted) were a common complaint.  These ranged from people selling flowers at freeway off-ramps (for some reason, they often had the same address on Union Street in Los Angeles . .. more on that some other time), to people selling roasted corn out of coolers, almost uniformly with mayo as the condiment.  I, along with other Deputy City Attorneys, prosecuted them under San Bernardino Municipal Code section 5.04.495.  The section was amended in 2004 by the Common Council to prohibit a transient merchant with a “valid City of San Bernardino Business Registration Certificate or Permit” from staying “at any location not listed on their Business Registration Certificate or Permit for more than five (5) minutes in a twenty-four (24) hour period.”  San Bernardino Municipal Code section 5.04.495(B).  The origin of that section was quite colorful.

. . .

Update 5/14/2012  The Mayor and Common Council passed MC-1363 in August 2011, changing the transient vendor ordinance, San Bernardino 5.04.495, to have an exception to allow food carts as allowed by the Development Code, 19.70.060(1) which says “food carts and produce stands may be permitted for one year initially, and renewed annually, subject to verification of compliance with conditions of approval and County permit requirements, as applicable.”  19.70.020(11) states that temporary uses, subject to a Temporary Use Permit, including  “Food carts, operated at fixed, pre-approved locations, in the Main Street Overlay District, at least 500 feet away from any restaurant and under current permits from the County Environmental Health Services Division.”  SBDC section 19.70.020(12) also allows produce stands in community gardens.

Mr. Portias is correct, even with the changes to the Transient Vendor ordinance, 5.04.495, the things complained of are illegal in San Bernardino.  Even though it is not codified, MC-1363, amending section 5.04.495(a) of the San Bernardino Code states:

5.04.495 Transient merchants/vendors and temporary businesses prohibited. A. It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to offer for sale, trade, or barter,
to create, to possess items to be sold, traded, or bartered, or to sell, trade, or barter any items including but not limited to manufactured items, homemade
items, packaged and unpackaged goods, commodities, food, agricultural products, vehicles, furniture, or any other item or to offer any service, from a
temporary stand, or other temporary location, upon any public street, alley, sidewalk, right-of-way, easement, or other public place, doorway of any room
or building, unenclosed building, building for which no certificate of occupancy has been issued, vacant lot, front or side yard, back yard (except as permitted
in chapter 5.68 of this title), driveway, parking lot, or parcel of land, either paved or unpaved, at any time, except as permitted pursuant to Chapter 19.70. San Bernardino Mayor and Common Council Ordinance MC-1363, passed August 1, 2011.

I also wrote about garage sales, in one of my more popular posts.  As of this writing, the Municipal Code is still not updated to show these changes (at least online), a fact I decried in this post.  I prosecuted many people for violating both ordinances, as well as other examples of visual blight.  I helped amend the previous version of 5.04.495 when I was a Deputy City Attorney to cover more categories.

The City of San Bernardino has the tools to deal with these issues.  In addition to Code Enforcement, at least when I was there, the Police Department would also enforce the transient vendor ordinance, as would the City Attorney Investigators.  Why are these ordinances not being enforced?

I would guess that to some degree, they are still being enforced, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they are not being enforced.  For example, as I drove down West Highland Avenue during two nights before Mother’s Day, and there were tons of people selling flowers for Mother’s Day, in addition to actual florist shops.
Mr. Portias is also correct in that there is money to be made in enforcement, with administrative citations and misdemeanor and infraction citations.  Whether it actually pays for code enforcement is debatable.

The political will to enforce the laws is there, the staffing may not be.  Though there were Code Enforcement officers, and sometimes City Attorney Investigators assigned to work weekends and nights, enforcement has not made a measurable dent.  Citing your way into compliance may not be feasible, because the city of San Bernardino (and I’m not talking about the entity, the City of San Bernardino) has changed from the vision of what long-time residents see for their City.  These kinds of vendors and constant yard sales are now the norm because people have decided that’s the kind of city they want to live in.

The vast majority of residents of the City of San Bernardino do not vote in municipal elections (12,466 voted for City Attorney in the 2011 primary). The 2010 Census counted 209,924 residents.  32 percent of the population are under 18, and thus ineligible to vote (67,176 people) leaving 142,748 voting age residents.  It is difficult to find statistics for non-citizens, but assuming that half of the 23.8 percent of foreign-born residents are not eligible to vote (11.9 percent) (23,092), that leaves 119,656 eligible voting age residents.  Assuming, 2000 people are felony parolees, that leaves 117,656 eligible voting age residents.  As of May 6, 2012, there are 71,833 registered voters in San Bernardino.  Of the people eligible to vote, thirty nine percent have chosen not to even register.  Of the people registered to vote, only 17 percent bothered to vote at the last major municipal election.

Code enforcement is a very important municipal function, particularly in an analysis of the broken window theory and what is important to a community.  However, the people actually making and enforcing the rules in San Bernardino reflect only six percent of the population, city-wide.  The vast majority of  people of San Bernardino, not the few who vote in City elections, have apparently decided this is the kind of city that they want to live in.

Does that mean that these rules shouldn’t be on the books, or not enforced?  It does not.  However, residents who want more code enforcement have to realize that the government will have difficulty imposing standards when the vast majority of people in a city, by voting with their feet (by having illegal garage sales, by illegally vending, and by patronizing these garage sales and vendors) in favor of these practices.

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.

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

How To Change A Code Enforcement Misdemeanor Into An Infraction

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

When I was a Deputy City Attorney in San Bernardino and the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, many of the code sections I prosecuted were alternate misdemeanors/infractions, also known as wobblettes to distinguish them from alternate felony/misdemeanors, which are known as wobblers. Usually, the code section will designate punishment and note if the charge is an alternate misdemeanor/infraction, or a code will have a general penalty section. Typically, the city prosecutor will have prosecutorial discretion on how to charge the violation or how to plea it out. If it is a straight misdemeanor, and the code does not have a provision allowing prosecutorial discretion in reducing it to an infraction, the prosecutor does not have the ability to reduce the charge to an infraction. Similarly, if it is a straight infraction, which are never punishable by jail time, the city prosecutor does not have the ability to make the charge a misdemeanor. Why would someone want a misdemeanor instead of an infraction? Perhaps they served jail time, possibly on a bench warrant, possibly on some other charge, and they want credit for time served in lieu of a fine.

Can a court reduce a code enforcement misdemeanor to an infraction? I have seen it done in San Bernardino both to straight misdemeanors and alternative misdemeanor/infraction cases. Penal Code section 17(b) is the authority many criminal judges are familiar with regarding wobblers. But what about wobblettes? Penal Code section 17(d) reads:

A violation of any code section listed in Section 19.8 is an infraction subject to the procedures described in Sections 19.6 and 19.7 when: (1) The prosecutor files a complaint charging the offense as an infraction unless the defendant, at the time he or she is arraigned, after being informed of his or her rights, elects to have the case proceed as a misdemeanor, or; (2) The court, with the consent of the defendant, determines that the offense is an infraction in which event the case shall proceed as if the defendant had been arraigned on an infraction complaint.

Penal Code section 19.8 refers to a variety of California code sections, but does not reference Municipal Code violations. Penal Code section 19.8 does refer to other offenses made subject to 17(d) by the Legislature, but presumably that means the California Legislature, and not a legislative body like a city council.

Straight misdemeanors were difficult at times, particularly violations of the California Fire Code. Sometimes a barrier to settlement was not the punishment (as far as fines), but the fact that the charge was a misdemeanor. The work-around was finding an alternate violation for the same conduct.

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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