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JUDGES, GIDDY OVER S.F. MEETING, THANK EVERYONE The 40-some chief justices visiting for a three-day conference last week didn’t just love their time in San Francisco. They were downright rapturous about it. On Wednesday, 17 resolutions were adopted expressing appreciation and gratitude to just about everyone remotely attached to the event. There were the obligatory thanks to California Chief Justice Ronald George, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then there were those for the National Park Service, for an “excellent” tour of Muir Woods, Gap founder Don Fisher and his wife, for providing umbrellas and a “highly enjoyable” tour of the company’s art collection, and to Beth Nickel, for a visit to her family’s Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel wineries in Napa Valley. The California Highway Patrol Color Guard got a pat on the back for its participation in opening ceremonies, as did the California Court of Appeals Choir. The Gumps merchandizing family was congratulated for breakfast, the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility for lunch, and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers for dinner. There were even thanks to the San Francisco Youth Symphony and Hugh Friedman and the RB Swingtet. New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye said that she and the two other members of the resolutions committee intentionally used words such as “superb,” “magnificent” and “inspiring” to properly express their feelings about the conference and the city. “We were really challenged to find proper adjectives for all the things we’ve experienced here in San Francisco,” she said. “Let’s just say, ‘Wow, fantastic, this was great.’” — Mike McKee COUNTY COUNSEL AIMS AT MCMANIS, MISSES A federal judge has denied Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel’s attempt to bounce San Jose heavyweight James McManis from a whistle-blower suit. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel kyboshed the county’s request to disqualify McManis, Faulkner & Morgan from representing a jailhouse doctor and nurse administrator in a federal First Amendment suit. Ravel’s office argued that McManis had to go as plaintiff’s counsel because his partner, Sharon Kirsch, did sensitive legal work for the county for six years before joining the McManis firm last March. After looking at documents presented by the county, Fogel wrote that he’s satisfied with “McManis’ characterization of plaintiff’s claims.” McManis has described Kirsch’s previous work for the county as “peripheral at best” and said it wouldn’t affect their representation of the nurse practitioner and doctor who allege that the county retaliated when they spoke out about substandard medical care at the jail and improper billing. Kirsch’s old firm, Skjerven Morrill, was hired by the county in 2000 to examine the hiring, firing and discipline practices of nurses at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Before that, Kirsch worked for Berliner Cohen, which defended the county in two separate suits filed by a jailhouse guard and an inmate. But Fogel left the door open, indicating that Ravel could try again to disqualify McManis if new evidence surfaced or “if it becomes clear that the plaintiff’s claims are broader than those described by Mr. McManis.” — Shannon Lafferty 17200 FOES MAKE NICE Those who pay attention to such things probably looked twice recently when Assemblyman Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, received support from trial lawyers for a bill he’s pushing that would outlaw “gag clauses” in some lawsuit settlements. In the last legislative session, Correa and trial lawyers butted heads over proposals to modify the state unfair competition law, Business & Professions Code � 17200. But the plaintiffs bar’s main lobbying group, Consumer Attorneys of California, said there isn’t any bad blood over 17200. “There is no hard feeling to even get over, not from my perspective,” said CAOC President-elect Sharon Arkin, of Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson in Newport Beach. “It’s a pleasure to support Lou’s [new] bill.” Correa said it’s normal in his work to be allied over one issue and opposed over another. CAOC supports Correa’s new bill, AB 320, because it’s a step toward the group’s larger goal of outlawing confidential settlement agreements. The bill would prohibit anyone regulated by a state board, including doctors, from signing a settlement that precludes a victim-plaintiff from talking to regulators. Whether the lovefest continues between Correa and the CAOC, though, is anyone’s guess. Correa said he plans to introduce another 17200 bill this year that will be similar to his measure last year, which was killed by CAOC allies in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. — Jeff Chorney STATE BAR EXPORTING SUBSTANCE-ABUSE FLICK When State Bar officials wanted to produce a short film alerting the judiciary to its 2-year-old confidential substance-abuse Lawyer Assistance Program, they asked the judges themselves for help. The result is a 12- to 13-minute movie featuring state and federal judges talking about the need for such a program and their own experiences with intoxicated or drugged-out attorneys. “Judges are caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Starr Babcock, special assistant to the State Bar executive director and the main man behind the film. Butte County Superior Court Judge Darrell Stevens, who is in the film, said that “part of the disease” of alcoholism is that lawyers will “lie through their teeth” about being addicted. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel, meanwhile, made the point that without intervention by the court and the Bar, “We would have a lot of losers and no winners.” According to the State Bar, the program has helped 800 lawyers in the past two years and currently has about 190 enrolled. That might sound like a lot of messed up attorneys, but keep in mind that California has around 193,000 lawyers. On seeing the film two weeks ago, Chief Justice Ronald George suggested that Babcock — who planned to provide California’s presiding justices with copies — also ship the film to all the chief justices and state bars in the country. “I can tell you,” Babcock said, “that made my day.” — Mike McKee

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