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FLETCHER PENS MAJORITY OPINION – AND CONCURS Isn’t it a little redundant to concur with yourself? Apparently not, according to Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Senior Judge Betty Fletcher. Last week, Fletcher authored the unanimous opinion in Moran v. Ashcroft, 05 C.D.O.S. 558, shutting down the immigration court appeal of Martin Noe Moran. The government ordered Moran deported for trying to sneak his wife and son from Mexico into the United States. But Fletcher was so upset at being forced to decide against Moran that she penned a concurrence describing her “heavy heart.” “This case is but one example of the harsh effects and unintended consequences current immigration laws visit upon immigrant families,” Fletcher wrote. “Punishing Martin Moran for endeavoring to bring his family together could hardly be more antithetical to Congress’s stated goal of promoting family unification in immigration law.” Concurrences are usually reserved for judges who wish to add something alongside a majority opinion they did not write. Maybe Fletcher wanted to emphasize her point, or perhaps she couldn’t get fellow panelists Pamela Ann Rymer and Richard Paez to sign on had the main body of the ruling included her critique of the law. — Jeff Chorney COURT VETERAN RETIRES For about three decades, San Francisco Superior Court clerk Sandra Stark was the court’s living calendar. “You could always judge what season of the year it was by how she was dressed,” said Commissioner Arlene Borick, who worked alongside Stark as a staff attorney in the late ’80s. At Christmas, Stark wore a Santa Claus hat. At Halloween, a prom queen or gangster costume, recalls Borick. “Clothes, jewelry, earrings. It was just full bore.” About 100 people — including 12 judges and four commissioners — celebrated Stark’s 30 years with the court at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco on Friday, about five months after she retired. The invitation to the “masquerade” encouraged costumes, masks and “zany hats.” Stark spent nearly her entire career in the civil courts, including about a decade working for now-retired Judge Raymond Arata Jr. But she also held assignments ranging from six months to seven years with retired judges Eugene Lynch, Francis Mayer, Raymond Williamson Jr., Ina Gyemant, and current judges Charles Haines and Susan Breall. Looking back, Stark says, her third day in court stands out most vividly. After two days of basic training, it was time to fly solo. “It went fine, but it was absolutely unmitigated fear,” she recalls. Everyone in the courtroom seemed to know what they were doing, “and assumed, because I was sitting in the clerk’s desk, that I knew exactly what was going on, too.” In time, though, she got her sea legs. Judge Lynch, who worked with Stark for several years and remembers her as a take-charge personality, calls her “a wonderful person with a great sense of humor.” Judge Haines, to whom Stark was assigned for about six months when he first took the bench in 2001, said that she “really helped show me the ropes as a baby judge.” And gauging by the verse she wrote for his swearing-in, he added, “she was a very good poet.” Stark says she decided to retire when she was made a “floater,” the type of rotating job she’d held for about nine months when she first started with the court at age 33. “I did not feel that at this time in my [career] I was going to return to a beginner’s position,” she said. — Pam Smith NEW SUPREMES LINK As an appellate specialist, Reed Smith partner Paul Fogel finds himself surfing the California Supreme Court’s Web site all the time. “That Web site is like a lifeline to me,” he said last week. So it was only natural that the San Francisco-based attorney noticed a slight deficiency in the court’s site and suggested a change. As a result, the high court has begun offering online links to the published rulings of appeal court cases it accepts for review each week. As Fogel noted, the Supreme Court’s site already stated the issue in cases granted for review, “but you always like to know which way the appeal court went.” The high court already provided access to unpublished opinions granted review, but the court takes up far more published cases. All this might not sound like a big deal, but consider what Web users had to do in the past. When the court granted review of a case previously, visitors had to call up case information on the court’s site, get the appellate case number and travel to yet another site to locate the original appellate ruling. Even then, the ruling could be hard to locate and might even be unpublished, requiring yet another search. Now members of the public merely need to go to www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/revgranted.htm to find rulings that the Supreme Court has accepted. In its first full run last week, the site had links to published rulings almost immediately after the Supreme Court justices granted review. One small complaint: The site doesn’t indicate which cases have been granted pure review, as opposed to those that have been granted and held for some reason, or granted and transferred to an appellate court for further proceedings. That’s a small gripe, however. The new site’s quite a time saver. Fogel said he figured linking to published rulings would be relatively easy for the court, so he “dashed off an e-mail” to Frederick “Fritz” Ohlrich, the court’s administrator and clerk, and Edward Jessen, its reporter of decisions, “and said, ‘How about this, guys?’ And I got back a very favorable e-mail.” In a press release announcing the new service, the court credited Fogel with the idea and touted its possibilities. “We believe,” Ohlrich said, “that the new service will be a helpful, expedited way for appellate practitioners, and even trial or transaction attorneys, to assess what issues are under review by the Supreme Court.” — Mike McKee

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