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DOH! SPEAKERPHONE INCIDENT DETAILS TRADE SECRET PLAN If you’re thinking of committing fraud to steal a business rival’s trade secrets, here’s some important advice: Don’t accidentally leave a message discussing your plan on the answering machine of your intended victim. That may seem like common sense, but consider Jasmine Networks, Inc., v. Marvell Semiconductor, Inc., 04 C.D.O.S. 3124, decided recently by the Sixth District Court of Appeal. In a unanimous, 15-page opinion, a three-judge panel overturned a decision by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cain. Cain had granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Marvell to restrain the use of a message inadvertently left in the voicemail of a Jasmine Networks employee. The companies are competitors in the semiconductor business and were negotiating a deal in which Marvell would buy some of Jasmine’s technology and acquire a group of engineers. A group of Marvell officials, including the company’s general counsel, had called the Jasmine employee to discuss terms. They left a message but then neglected to hang up their end of a speakerphone. Jasmine’s voicemail continued recording their conversation, which detailed Marvell’s nefarious intentions. After listening to the message, Jasmine officials figured out that Marvell had a mole inside their company and planned to hijack Jasmine trade secrets. The company filed suit against Marvell, the mole and others. But Marvell obtained a preliminary injunction limiting the use of the voicemail, arguing, among other things, that the conversation was protected attorney-client communication because Marvell’s general counsel was one of the speakers. The appellate panel disagreed, citing the crime-fraud exception to the privilege. “The undisputed facts of this case demonstrate the privilege was waived by Marvell’s uncoerced disclosure of the information on Jasmine’s voicemail,” Presiding Justice Conrad Rushing wrote. “In an era where corporate fraud and boardroom misconduct is front-page news as well as prosecutions of accountants and lawyers in connection with such conduct, our courts are required to ensure that the attorney-client privilege is not used to promote or further any such conduct,” Rushing wrote. — Jeff Chorney MISS MANNERS Two Sacramento lawyers got lessons on California Supreme Court etiquette Wednesday during separate oral arguments in Los Angeles. The first came courtesy of court administrator and clerk Frederich “Fritz” Ohlrich, who had anxiously been awaiting the arrival of Richard Maness, senior staff counsel for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which was the amicus curiae for the court’s first case of the day. Ohlrich was in the midst of advising arguing attorneys how to respond and what to expect when Maness walked calmly into the courtroom at the Ronald Reagan State Office Building. “Thank you for being here at 8:30,” Ohlrich said drolly. The time was actually 8:51 a.m., nine minutes before the court’s seven justices were set to take up Maness’s case. Point taken! Later in the morning, it was Chief Justice Ronald George’s turn to make a statement, when Deputy Attorney General Janine Busch got slightly too involved in her argument in a case involving removal of defense counsel at the trial court level. Busch emphasized her argument by pounding the podium with her right hand — in time with each word out of her mouth. She got away with it the first time, even the second time. But the third time was the charm. “I’d appreciate it,” the chief justice said quietly, but firmly, “if you don’t punctuate your argument by pounding on the podium.” A chastened Busch apologized, and the thumping came to an end. So ended the day’s lessons in etiquette. — Mike McKee ARMSTRONG BLASTS OFF Santa Clara public defenders swapped war stories and helped send off a 34-year office veteran April 2. More than 200 public defenders, office alumni, judges, probation officers and even a few prosecutors partied at San Jose’s posh Dolce Hayes Mansion to celebrate the office’s 39th anniversary. The Santa Clara County public defender’s office opened for business in April 1965. Revelers dined on chicken and steak and said their farewells to Assistant Public Defender Grant Armstrong. Armstrong’s last day was March 30, but he returned for a final tribute by his colleagues. “Grant is one of the most decent, treasured friends I have,” said defense attorney and former deputy PD Sam Polverino, who attended the festivities. “In addition to that, he is a very intelligent, compassionate and effective leader and an outstanding administrator in the office. He has really captured the devotion of everyone who worked with him, irrespective of where they worked in the system.” Armstrong’s departure creates a second vacancy in the public defender brass. Assistant PD Mary Greenwood took over the alternate defender’s office after veteran Ronald Norman retired in December. According to insiders, contenders for the two assistant spots include Acting Assistant PD Nona Klippen, Deputy PD Jose “Joe” Guzman, who supervises the felony team, and deputy PD Nancy Brewer, who heads up the research team. — Shannon Lafferty

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