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SAN MATEO � WHERE THE COMPLEX HIGH-TECH CASES GO High-tech cases will finally have a place to call home in San Mateo County. George Miram, presiding judge of the county’s superior court, announced earlier this month that the county is dedicating an existing courthouse on North Humboldt Street in San Mateo to high-tech cases and other lawsuits deemed “complex.” It is the first courthouse of its kind to open in a mid-sized county in the state, Miram said. Two judges � Carol Mittlesteadt and Steven Dylina � will be assigned to the high-tech courthouse. The facility’s ample space will help accommodate the large number of pretrial motions, parties and lawyers involved in many high-tech cases. Miram said the building will undergo a few technical upgrades to make it better equipped for audio-visual equipment and wireless Internet access. Given that San Mateo County is “between bio-tech alley and Silicon Valley” it seemed like dedicating a courthouse to high-tech, complex cases would be a good fit, the judge said. Bruce Simon, a partner with Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy, acted as a consultant on the high-tech courthouse project. He said the technical upgrades aren’t expensive. Opening the courthouse will give “continuity and consistency to these complex cases,” Simon said. The courthouse will officialy open for business in January. � Julie O’Shea DON’T MESS WITH THE BAR If nothing else, Alan Konig is tenacious. In what could be viewed as a last act of desperation, the ex-State Bar prosecutor has moved to disqualify the federal judge who last month threw out the final bits of a retaliation suit against his former employer. Konig contends that San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins � who has been on the state and federal benches for 16 years � was biased against him because of “significant and lucrative involvement” with the State Bar for years. His opponents call those allegations “absurd,” arguing that Konig has insulted a well-respected judge and native San Franciscan, who early in his career with the Justice Department prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan for racial violence. “Mr. Konig’s desperate effort to escape the summary judgment ruling by falsely smearing a dedicated federal judge is a tactic unworthy of any member of the Bar, much less a former ethics prosecutor,” said Kerr & Wagstaffe partner James Wagstaffe, who represents the Bar. “Judge Jenkins’ laudatory participation in unrelated Bar activities advancing legal education and equal access to justice,” he added, “provide absolutely no basis for disqualification under well-established authorities.” Konig, who accused the State Bar of retaliation after he challenged alleged improprieties, attacked Jenkins for his participation in Bar-related committees, symposiums and luncheons, and insinuated that a former extern got a State Bar scholarship solely based on the judge’s connections. “There can be little, if any, doubt,” Konig wrote, “that the court’s knowing participation in State Bar matters, its willingness to accept benefits from it and its willingness to be recognized by it, all while presiding over a matter in which the State Bar or members of its senior executive staff were defendants, would cause any reasonable person to reasonably question the impartiality of the court.” Wagstaffe called that “nonsense,” pointing to advisory opinions by the federal Committee on Codes of Conduct that say federal judges aren’t required to disqualify themselves from cases in which bar associations are members. He also notes Canon 4 of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which actually encourages jurists to participate in Bar activities. That canon says that a judge “is in a unique position to contribute to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.” Wagstaffe said Konig “simply ignores the real-world fact that the educational function of the Bar is different than, and separate from, the prosecutorial side of things. It’s all nonsense and an insult to Judge Jenkins.” The case is Konig v. Dal Cerro, C-04-2210. � Mike McKee NICE TRY Court security is a hot topic these days, with federal legislation aimed at improving court security and the handful of recent instances of threats � as well as a fatal attack � against federal judges and their families. So, before this tense backdrop, a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel last week took a stand against defendants who think they can disqualify judges after threatening to whack their colleagues. In a per curiam opinion, Senior Judge Thomas Nelson and Judges Sidney Thomas and Richard Tallman wrote that “we live in a time when threats against federal judges are not uncommon. Many of these actions are made with the intent of altering the outcome of judicial proceedings.” The judiciary, they said, must not reward such behavior, nor allow it to compromise judicial integrity. “We must be especially careful not to allow threats of violence to succeed in altering the normal course of litigation,” the judges wrote. “To do otherwise would be destructive of the independence of the judiciary, which is, as former Chief Justice Rehnquist aptly observed, ‘one of the crown jewels of our system of government.’” The defendant at issue in the case is Jeffrey Clemens, who is accused of trying to defile that jewel by threatening to extort, kill, harm or assault three judges in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Clemens argued that the Central District’s other judges should be disqualified from hearing the case, since they’d be biased by charges that the defendant wanted to harm their colleagues. But, the three-judge panel wrote, since there was no explicit threat against the other judges, there’s no reason why they would be biased. “No reasonable observer could conclude that a threat against three judges based on their handling of the defendant’s pro se cases should be construed as a threat against all the judges of the district,” the opinion said. � Justin Scheck

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