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HIGH COURT TACKLES CHILD KIDNAPPING California law defines kidnapping as a crime in which someone is “forcibly” detained or moved, but what if the victim is an infant who doesn’t resist and isn’t even aware of an abduction? On Monday, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the amount of force required in such a situation “is simply the amount of physical force required to take and carry the child away a substantial distance for an illegal purpose or with an illegal intent.” The ruling, authored by Justice Carlos Moreno, arose from a case in which a 15-year-old girl identified only as Michele D. kidnapped a friend’s 12-month-old daughter while the two shopped in West Covina. Michele D., who was captured the same day, argued in court that there was no proof she had “forcibly seized” the child, who is named Cameron. Los Angeles’ Second District Court of Appeal held that it was “inconceivable” that the state Legislature didn’t intend kidnapping to cover an act such as the one committed by Michele D. The Supreme Court agreed. “Even if force, as conventionally understood, was not used to effect Cameron’s kidnapping,” Moreno wrote, “the minor’s intent in carrying off the infant still renders her conduct kidnapping.” The justice clarified, however, that illegal intent or purpose needs to be an element of the crime. “Unless we recognize that the victim must be moved for an illegal purpose or with an illegal intent,” he wrote, “every time a person picks up and moves a child, he or she could be charged with kidnapping.” The case is In re Michele D., 02 C.D.O.S. 12002. – Mike McKee JURY HITS UNOCAL WITH $11.5M VERDICT A San Francisco jury has returned an $11.5 million verdict for a woman suffering from terminal lung cancer that she allegedly contracted after being exposed to asbestos fibers in her husband’s clothing. The jury on Thursday awarded Genevieve Gunderson of Torrance $11 million for pain and suffering and another $550,000 for lost income and medical expenses. The case was filed in March and expedited to trial because of Gunderson’s terminal condition. There were 40 other defendants, all of whom settled before or during trial. Plaintiffs attorney Philip Harley said the total verdict would be reduced by the other defendants’ settlement amounts, but left Unocal on the hook for $1.5 million in damages. “This is another chapter in the continuing tragedy created by industry’s indifference to worker safety and particularly to asbestos hazards,” Harley, of Berkeley’s Paul, Hanley and Harley, said in a statement. Unocal’s attorney, Eugene Brown Jr. of Oakland’s Filice Brown Eassa & McLeod, said the company would probably appeal the verdict. Gunderson, 75, allegedly was exposed to asbestos from the clothing she laundered for her now ex-husband Gordon Fraser. He worked as a pipefitter at Unocal and other industrial sites from 1948 to 1963. Brown said he argued that Unocal had “delegated” responsibility for Fraser’s safety to his primary employer, a contractor, who was responsible for him. Defendants also asserted that it was unforeseeable prior to 1960 that such secondary exposures could cause cancer. Harley said Fraser, 89, does not suffer from cancer or any other asbestos-related disease. The couple was divorced in 1963. The trial in Gunderson v A.W. Chesterton Co., 406207, spanned three weeks of testimony before Superior Court Judge Tomar Mason. – Dennis J. Opatrny EX-STATE BAR GC NOW CHAIR OF ABA PANEL Diane Yu, the former general counsel for the State Bar of California, has been appointed chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. The first woman of color to chair the commission, Yu currently serves as chief of staff and deputy to the president of New York University. The Commission on Women is in charge of the ABA’s efforts to increase opportunities for the advancement of women in law. This is not the first time Yu has broken barriers in the ABA. In 2000, as chair of the ABA’s section on legal education and admission to the bar, she served as the first woman and the first Asian-American to head any section or division in ABA history. Prior to serving as chief of staff to the president of NYU, Yu was a faculty member of the law school. Before that, she served as associate general counsel at Monsanto Co. She earned her J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1977. – Jason Dearen

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