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News:After DA Terence Hallinan reportedly invited them to take an active role in the process, grand jurors return sweeping indictmentsagainst 10 San Francisco police officers, including Chief Earl Sanders and Assistant Chief Alex Fagan Sr. Comment:Haven’t we seen this movie before? After Hallinan’s office told grand jurors to make the call in the Noel/Knoller dog mauling case, they returned a second-degree murder indictment that could not be proven as a matter of law. News: Defense lawyers say there’s no evidenceof conspiracy to obstruct justice. The police brass’s decision to pull Lt. Joe Dutto off the internal investigation was a simple employment performance decision, they argue. Comment:Of course, you could say the same thing about Richard Nixon’s termination of Archibald Cox, or the University of California’s termination of those pesky Los Alamos employees who complained about $3 million in equipment being stolen. Yep, all those cases really needed was a good employment lawyer. News:Unlike dog mauling prosecutor James Hammer, who seemed to thrive in the media limelight, the lead prosecutor on the police department case, Albert Murray, tends to avoid dealing with the media. Comment:I know absolutely nothing about Murray’s courtroom proficiency, but I guarantee it won’t be long before newspapers are throwing around words like “plodding” and “aloof” while questioning whether he’s got what it takes to try the case. News:Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali orders settlement talksbetween PG&E, its creditors and the Public Utilities Commission. Comment:That raises an interesting question: Would it be more or less difficult to agree to an out-of-court settlement after having burned through $100 million in attorneys fees? News:Legal marketer Anne Bothwell wins two awards for the Skjerven Morrill advertising campaign, but still hasn’t been paid in fullfor the work by the now-dissolved firm. Comment:Proving the adage, “No good deed goes dischargeable under Chapter 7.” News:Apparently unhappy about a missed appearance, U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong dispatches federal marshalsto Hayward to personally escort criminal defense attorney Todd Bequette to her Oakland courtroom. Comment:I have a feeling it will be a while before Bequette or any other lawyer is late to Judge Armstrong’s courtroom. News: Keker & Van Nest withdrawsfrom its representation of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and partners Debra Pole and William Fitzgerald in the case against the now-defunct Dickson, Carlson & Campillo. “We represent multiple clients that no longer have a harmony of interests,” Keker partner Elliot Peters explains. Comment:The post-dissolution fighting between ex-Brobeck partners is going to be spectacular. Let the games begin. News:In a 5-4 ruling on perhaps the most passionately debated issue in California criminal law, the U.S. Supreme Court concludes that the state’s Three Strikes and You’re Out lawis not cruel and unusual. The decision has enormous impact on the lives of hundreds if not thousands of California prisoners. Comment:Any decade now, our own state Supreme Court is expected to notice the issue too. News:For the first time, a sex offender is ordered released from custody under the Sexually Violent Predators Act of 1996. With the blessing of medical experts for both the prosecution and the defense, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Robert Baines rules that serial child molester Brian DeVries has met the conditions of the act and orders his release. Comment:I must not have been paying attention when our state’s system of judicial elections was repealed. News:The Commission on Judicial Performance removes Contra Costa County Judge Bruce Van Voorhisfrom the bench for his notoriously abusive temperament. His lawyer is quoted as saying that the decision “sends a horrible message to judges that, if you possess a difficult demeanor, you’re not going to stay on the bench.” Comment:It may be a horrible message for judges, but it’s a great one for the public. News:Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges associate Robert Byrnes gives up his part-time workas a bike messenger to focus full-time on the law. Comment:No doubt Byrnes was tired of being looked down on by society, and wanted to focus on work that is meaningful and mentally stimulating. But, surprisingly, he stuck with the law anyway.

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