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SANTA CLARA SUPERIOR READY TO PUT CIVIL CASE DATABASE ON WEB Attorneys won’t have to head to Santa Clara County Superior Court to check up on the status of civil cases anymore. After months of delays, the court is poised to become the first in the state to put its case management database online. Court CEO Kiri Torre said the project is in final tests, and the public should have access to the civil database, which includes attorney and litigant information plus case dockets, later this week. Currently, the civil court database is accessible only at terminals in the court clerk’s office at 191 N. First St. “It will provide a significant enhancement for the public. The information will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Torre said. “We will update the information daily so people can find out if their matter is calendared, and if so when.” Attorneys and the public will be able to search by case number as well as litigant name to find information. “We chose to build in search capabilities. We wanted to make it easy for the user to find the information they need,” Torre said. She said providing the service on the Internet cost the court $250,000 in one-time funds. She said other court databases would be put online throughout the next year. Small claims case management information will go online in September. Probate will be available in October, family in November, and traffic in June 2004. The criminal database will be online in July 2004, with appropriate privacy protections, Torre said. The court’s Web site is www.sccsuperiorcourt.org. – Shannon Lafferty PROFESSOR CAN’T RESIST CHIMING IN One of the most popular pundits on the historic recall of Gov. Gray Davis left the sidelines last week to file an amicus curiae brief in one of the federal suits challenging the Oct. 7 election. Loyola Law School Professor Richard Hasen, an elections expert, has been following the recall on his weblog and is frequently quoted in the media. Hasen said he found Southwest Voter Registration Education Project v. Shelley , 03-903, “irresistible” and worked pro bono to file a brief supporting the American Civil Liberties Union, which is sponsoring the suit. The ACLU had filed in the Central District in Los Angeles because it believes voters’ equal protection rights are going to be violated if counties use outdated punch-card voting machines. “This is an issue I’ve been tracking for quite some time, the scope of equal protection [from] Bush v. Gore ,” Hasen said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 2000 presidential campaign. U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson rejected the ACLU’s case last week, but the group is taking it to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Hasen said he wants to continue supporting the case. Reporters depend on academics to offer an objective perspective that paid lawyers cannot. Hasen concedes that now that he’s picked a side, the press might not call him as often. That doesn’t bother him. “I’m commentaried out,” he said. – Jeff Chorney NINTH CIRCUIT: DOGS GOOD It’s official: The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has finally gone to the dogs. Judge Ronald Gould last week scratched out a testimonial to man’s best friend, written in the form of a footnote to Miller v. Clark County , 03 C.D.O.S. 7563. The footnote was spread out over four pages, offering a diversion into more than a century of judicial dicta praising the qualities of dogs. The discussion buttressed a decision that the use of a police dog to “bite and hold” a suspect until police arrive is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Excerpted were decisions from the Maine Supreme Court in 1884, the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1899, the California Court of Appeal in 1919, and even the United States Court of Claims in 1950, which barked: “We have very little respect and no affection for anyone who has not at some time in his life loved a dog.” The panel also reprinted a once-famous closing argument from 1872, delivered by lawyer George Graham Vest, in a case involving the shooting of a prized hunting dog. “Truly,” Gould howled in conclusion, “we have no finer friend than the dog.” – Jason Hoppin ADACHI TORN IN MAYOR’S RACE Supervisor Matt Gonzalez missed the train on a lot of endorsements by jumping into the San Francisco mayor’s race at the last minute — not least of all from Jeff Adachi, the city’s public defender. Adachi said he was as surprised as anyone when his close friend and former co-worker — Gonzalez and Adachi worked together in the PD’s office for a decade — threw his hat in the ring less than three weeks ago. “I already gave my formal endorsement to Tom Ammiano a year and a half ago,” Adachi said. He still intends to be “very supportive of Matt,” though. “Having somebody from the Hall of Justice run for mayor, I can’t think of the last time that was done,” Adachi said. — Pam Smith

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