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BERKELEY LAWYER GIVEN COMMISSIONER JOB A Berkeley solo who’s been a substitute juvenile court judge for 12 years has been tapped to be an Alameda County court commissioner. Paul Seeman, 49, will start his commissioner career handling Fremont traffic cases, but he has his eye on a future juvenile assignment. In juvenile cases, attorneys and judges can have a lasting impact on a child’s life, he said. “Juvenile court, in my mind, is where the real work of the court is done: building families and saving lives.” Before he joined the bench, Seeman’s practice centered on San Francisco juvenile court cases in addition to a variety of civil work. Court conflict of interest rules barred him from handling any juvenile court cases in Alameda County after he became a pro tem in 1992. Over the course of his 24-year legal career, Seeman has represented many parties in juvenile cases, including parents, children �� and during a one-year stint as a deputy county counsel �� Alameda County’s social services agency. Seeman, who had law offices in San Francisco and Berkeley, has been active in a number of youth advocacy groups. They include the Donald P. McCullum Youth Court, the Alameda County Court Appointed Special Advocates program, the San Francisco bar’s juvenile law panel, the Pacific Juvenile Defenders and the National Association of Counsel for Children. Seeman will be sworn in Monday. — Jahna Berry STATE BAR FEES TO STAY FLAT NEXT YEAR For the fourth year in a row, lawyer dues are not going up. On Saturday, the California State Bar Board of Governors, meeting in Los Angeles, approved keeping the annual fee at $390 for active lawyers and $50 for inactive members. The board also approved a $54.7 million budget for 2005, up slightly from last year. The annual fee was approved contingent on the passage of Senate Bill 1490, the Bar’s yearly fee bill that is currently being held up by the Legislature’s budget impasse. The fee for active lawyers breaks down to $335 for the general fund, $10 for the building fund, $35 for the client security fund and $10 for the Bar’s substance abuse program. Lawyers may also make a $5 contribution to the State Bar for lobbying and a $5 donation to Bar programs aimed at eliminating bias in the profession. Three Bar governors voted against the fees Saturday, with one saying he felt they are still too high — a concept State Bar President Anthony Capozzi challenged. “Our dues are $87 less than they were in 1990,” he said. “I think we’ve had remarkable success in keeping dues down.” — Mike McKee THIRD CIRCUIT SAYS LAWYERS SHOULD FESS UP PHILADELPHIA — It’s not uncommon for an appeals court to remand a case and order that a trial judge cross a T or dot an I, but in a pair of recent decisions from the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the appellate judges took their finger-wagging one step further, faulting the lawyers for failing to speak up at the time of the lower court’s mistake. By catching an error at the time it occurs, the judges said, lawyers can easily avoid an unnecessary round of appeals. However, the two opinions take starkly different tones in their admonitions to lawyers — even though both decisions were rendered by the same three judge panel: Circuit Judges Edward Becker, Morton Greenberg and Thomas Ambro. In Caprio v. Bell Atlantic Sickness and Accident Plan, decided on July 8, Greenberg appeared to limit his lecture to lawyers to a mere suggestion, saying, “We can understand why parties might be wary of advising a district court of its oversight, and we do not require that they do so. Yet we note that our suggestion is consistent with requirements in other situations that parties bring procedural requirements to a court’s attention if it should overlook them.” But in United States v. D’Angelico, decided July 19, Becker took a much harsher tone, saying, “Our frustration is not limited to the courts, for the prosecutor and defense counsel also bear responsibility.” Becker concluded that when a trial judge fails to clarify the basis for refusing to grant a downward departure at a sentencing hearing, there is no justification for a lawyer’s failure to remind the court to do so. “Emphatically, this is counsel’s responsibility for it is a matter of preserving the record for appeal (or, from the government’s point of view, insulating the judgment from appeal),” Becker wrote. — The Legal Intelligencer

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