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JURORS NEED TO KNOW WHAT THE HECK THE COURT’S SAYING In its efforts to translate legalese into something more palatable to jurors, the Judicial Council’s Task Force on Jury Instructions tried to simplify some of the muddiest language spoken in courtrooms. There’s one instruction that the task force’s vice chairman, Justice James Ward of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, holds up as the “signature example of change.” Book of Approved Jury Instructions 2.21 says, “Failure of recollection is common. Innocent misrecollection is not uncommon.” The new instruction written by the task force is, “People often forget things or make mistakes in what they remember.” Ward might have used BAJI for the sake of comparison, but his group resisted using BAJI instructions — which he said judges have used since at least the 1940s — as the starting point for a section-by-section translation. Rather, it re-created jury instructions from the ground up. After more than six years, the task force is near the end of its work. Last week, the public comment period ended for the last set of about 250 instructions. Now, the Judicial Council has to approve the full set of approximately 800 instructions. Ward hopes to get it all to the publisher by September. Even though his project is longer than BAJI by about 200 instructions (added topics include antitrust and the Family Leave Act), Ward said the new instructions are far more simple to use and, most important, are written in “plain, basic English.” If the Judicial Council OKs the task force instructions, juries will still have to consider “preponderance of the evidence,” but they’ll be told, “When I tell you that a party must prove something, I mean that the party must persuade you, by the evidence presented in court. . . . This is sometimes referred to as ‘the burden of proof.’” – Jeff Chorney FAREWELLS After 24 years on the bench, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Robert Foley will hang up his robe at the end of April. Foley is the first of three judges planning to depart the Santa Clara bench in 2003. Judge Marliese Kim will retire in July, and Judge Jerald Infantino will exit in November, said Presiding Judge Thomas Hansen. Foley, 60, spent the majority of his career in the court’s criminal division but moved to civil trials in 2001 to try his hand at Silicon Valley’s business disputes. “I like high-tech cases. I like paper cases,” Foley said shortly after the switch. “I’ve never been afraid of complicated cases that have new legal issues.” Foley has spent his final two years in the same courtroom that his father, Judge John Foley, occupied for 25 years in San Jose’s historic courthouse. A Santa Clara University School of Law graduate, Foley was elected to municipal court in 1979 and then to the superior court bench in 1982. Foley declined to discuss his retirement plans. Kim, 68, currently handles preliminary examinations and criminal trials. Gov. George Deukmejian appointed her to municipal court in 1989. The Hastings College of the Law grad was elevated to superior court with unification in 1998. Infantino, 62, currently handles criminal trials and case management duties in the Sunnyvale court. Deukmejian appointed him to the municipal court bench in 1984. The Santa Clara graduate was also elevated with unification. – Shannon Lafferty TRUST ISSUES Suzanne Hyde won a $1,600 judgment against her dad, but like many small claims court litigants, she’s having trouble getting the defendant to pay up. Hyde, the daughter of Alameda County Superior Court Judge D. Ronald Hyde, is waiting for her dad to pay her share of an inheritance from her grandmother. On April 11, Suzanne Hyde filed a writ of execution, which authorizes the sheriff to enforce the judgment. Enforcement can include garnishing wages, placing a lien on property or taking the sum from a bank account. Suzanne Hyde, who has said she is not on speaking terms with her father, sued the Pleasanton judge in small claims court in November 2002. In March, retired Kings County Judge Carlos Baker ruled in Suzanne Hyde’s favor and ordered Judge Hyde to pay the money. Now the 30-day appeal period has lapsed and the money hasn’t been paid. Judge Hyde is also at the center of a state misconduct probe. The Commission on Judicial Performance has accused Hyde of misconduct that includes using his post to help acquaintances. Testimony before a panel of three special masters concluded in March, and a decision has not yet been announced. — Jahna Berry

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