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ON THE ROAD TO HELP SERBIA GRAPPLE WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE International human rights professor and Santa Clara Deputy County Counsel Kathryn Zoglin is off to Belgrade. Zoglin will help set up the first legal clinic to help authorities institute domestic violence laws and training. “Domestic violence just became a crime in Serbia this January,” said Zoglin, 43. “A lot of my work will involve working with and educating judges, law enforcement and community members.” Zoglin is traveling to Yugoslavia for a year to work pro bono as part of the American Bar Association’s Central and East Europe Law Initiative. Zoglin, who teaches international human rights at Stanford and UC-Berkeley, will also be putting in time on larger women’s rights issues — including enforcement of the United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Yugoslavia signed onto the U.N. convention, which requires the country to incorporate gender equality in its legal system, abolish discriminatory laws, adopt laws prohibiting discrimination and establish institutions to ensure compliance. “Serbia is a transport point for the trafficking of women from the former Soviet Union,” Zoglin said. She will also focus on discrimination in the workplace. “There are no laws prohibiting sexual harassment,” she said. Zoglin first became a human rights advocate when she interned at the United Nations in Geneva in 1983 during summer break from Harvard Law School. Since then, she’s journeyed to Argentina and most recently Paraguay in 1995 as a Fulbright Scholar. While there, she wrote a human rights report on current conditions for the International Human Rights Law Group and researched the “archives of terror”– more than 700,000 files detailing arrests and political detainments dating back to the reign of dictator General Alfredo Stroessner. Zoglin �– who also spent time prosecuting domestic violence cases as a Santa Clara deputy district attorney — currently handles elder fraud cause and affirmation litigation for the Santa Clara County Counsel, and she sees some parallels between her activism and her current work. “It’s helping to vindicate the rights of senior citizens who have been defrauded — and these are companies that put lead paint in the public domain knowing it would be harmful to people.” — Shannon Lafferty FORCED TO STAY PUT The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided last week against rehearing the case of a woman who was denied a visa because she hasn’t been paying child support. The State Department’s decision to effectively constrain Eudene Eunique within U.S. borders has sparked debate among appellate judges about liberty and freedom of movement. Although a call was made to take it en banc, it failed. Nevertheless, the court did issue a new opinion in the case, which could make it tougher for the government to issue similar regulations. Eunique lost custody of her children while she was in law school and never paid child support — she owes approximately $30,000. She wanted to travel to Peru, telling the court that she may be able to drum up business for her Lucerne Valley law practice. (Eunique was temporarily suspended by the California State Bar in 1998 for failing to pay child support.) Previously, a 2-1 majority held that the government must meet only a reasonableness standard for restricting overseas travel by citizens. But a new concurrence by Judge M. Margaret McKeown may raise that bar. Although she agreed with the result, McKeown said the standard should be intermediate scrutiny. The new opinion also gave Judge Andrew Kleinfeld a chance to revamp his stinging dissent, increasing the footnotes in the history-tinged 10-page diatribe from 57 to 63. Calling it the first time the court has upheld an “across the board” travel ban for reasons other than national security or foreign policy, Kleinfeld quoted Socrates, the Magna Carta and finally the U.S. Supreme Court in criticizing the decision. “The right to leave one’s country is a very important guarantor of freedom (and in some countries, of life). That right is too important to let the government take it away as punishment to advance a government policy just because it is important,” Kleinfeld wrote. “You can’t get a passport if you’re in arrears on your taxes? If you were ever convicted of drunk driving? If you didn’t obey a summons for jury service? That weighs our liberty too lightly.” — Jason Hoppin A TAXING MATTER Skipping out on property taxes is wrong and could cost you a pretty penny in punitive damages. But then again, maybe not. Last week, a jury decided that the old verdict in Nippon Credit Bank v. 1333 North California Boulevard, C96-0207, was out of line and that the bank did not deserve punitive damages. The Contra Costa County verdict closes another chapter in a dispute that started in 1994. At that time, the North California Boulevard real estate partnership found itself owing Nippon $72 million for property that was suddenly worth only $52 million. The property, by the way, consisted of the two largest buildings in Walnut Creek. The partnership let the bank foreclose, and skipped out on one last property tax payment for $394,000. The bank, perturbed at having to pay the taxes, sued. In 1998, a jury decided it was wrong not to pay the taxes on a building that a bank foreclosed on, and told the delinquent party to pony up for $8 million in punitive damages. The trial judge lowered the amount to $1.6 million. “It was the first time that a jury and a court of appeal had directly held that failure to make a property tax payment is bad faith waste,” said Robert Russell, a Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich partner who represented the defunct partnership. The court of appeal agreed that the taxes should have been paid — but also said the punitive damage award was out of line. The new punitive damages after last week’s jury verdict? Zero dollars. “I think ultimately the jury was able to see that this case was about one missed payment and even if it was intentional, we don’t punish every mistaken business decision in this country,” Russell said. Nippon’s lawyer, Kevin Senn, a partner at San Francisco’s Senn Palumbo & Meulemans, said he plans to file some form of appeal. Senn said the jury misunderstood some of the provisions of the original loan and mistakenly believed they couldn’t award damages. — Renee Deger

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