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BERKELEY CITY ATTORNEY NARROWLY AVOIDS COURT’S WRATH Berkeley City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque walked a dangerous line during oral arguments before the California Supreme Court in San Francisco a week ago � and probably didn’t even realize it. Several times during the case in which she was defending the city’s decision to deny free mooring to the Sea Scouts � an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America � Albuquerque interrupted or talked over questions posed by Justices Joyce Kennard and Marvin Baxter. She even ignored an inquiry by Kennard, insisting on completely answering a previous question by the justice. That just isn’t done, and it was surprising that neither Kennard nor Baxter snapped Albuquerque in line with a sharp retort. Both appeared frustrated by Albuquerque’s well-intentioned interruptions, but bit their tongues rather than get mean. Kennard, however, did plead with Albuquerque at one point to just let her finish a sentence. The attorney seemed to calm down afterward and butted in less often. Still, veteran court watchers were holding their breath, waiting for the rebuke that never came from the bench. Don’t expect future buttinskis to be so lucky. � Mike McKee WAITING FOR THE BLUES The fight over where to build an $80 million House of Blues continues to drag on. San Jose won a favorable ruling last week from the First District Court of Appeal � just two months before the city is set to go to trial against Santa Clara County over the location of the proposed concert hall. The appeal court’s unpublished Jan. 9 ruling reverses an earlier trial court order that said the city was wrong when it tried to prevent the county from securing bonds for the project in 2004. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman said San Jose interfered with the county’s rights of public participation. “It doesn’t make one iota of difference in the case,” Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel said of this recent ruling. While she doesn’t agree with the appellate court’s decision, Ravel said the ruling that will really matter will come in March, after the trial ends. City Attorney J. Richard “Rick” Doyle, however, said he thinks the appellate court made the right decision. “I don’t know what the trial court was thinking,” Doyle said. The city had been arguing with Santa Clara County for years over the location of the proposed concert hall. The county wants to build it on the fairgrounds. The city, however, claims that is not the best location and issued a formal complaint against Santa Clara, stating that the county failed to work with the city in planning and approving the theater project. San Jose claims the county violated the terms of a 2001 settlement agreement regarding the project. A trial date is scheduled for March 6 in San Mateo County. The city had requested the trial be moved to a neutral venue. The case is San Jose v. Santa Clara County , A109132. � Julie O’Shea NOW THAT’S DEDICATION David Shannon expected his walk to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 9 to be the most serene part of his morning. “I was walking down Market, not really paying attention to my surroundings, because I thought the big fight would be in the courtroom,” the Arizona assistant federal public defender said Wednesday. Unfortunately, a classic “there-goes-the-neighborhood” experience intervened. Shannon was violently accosted by a stranger near the end of the walk from his downtown hotel to Seventh and Mission streets. The man battered Shannon’s head repeatedly, breaking his bifocals, knocking the battery out of his hearing aid and bruising and bloodying him. The man then walked to the end of the block and got on a bus without stealing anything � “all without speaking a word,” said Shannon. “My guess would be that he was crazy.” Notwithstanding his injuries � which rendered him unable to see well enough to dial 911 from his cell phone � and surrounded by people unwilling to offer him help, Shannon walked the remaining three blocks to the courthouse. “I thought I had to argue the case, so I went and reported in to the courtroom deputy” after court security guards helped him gather himself and call the cops (they never showed up). “I didn’t want them to call the case and have me not be there.” Alas, there was more sympathy in the courthouse than on the street. “I was intending to argue the case, but realized I couldn’t see my notes,” Shannon said. “As I was assessing my situation in the courtroom, I began to realize that I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear and I may have been a little confused,” he said. So the judges and Shannon’s co-counsel agreed to submit the case on the briefs. Two days later, Shannon said his injuries were on the mend. “I just have an interesting montage of colors at this point,” he said. Not that the experience won’t change his behavior. “I think I’ll be taking a cab in the future,” he says. � Justin Scheckn COMING FULL CIRCLE If, some day, San Francisco’s city attorney and California’s attorney general get to boast that they made Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. return billions of dollars to customers, they can look back on last week as a defining moment in their case. That’s when a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals opinion breathed new life into an unfair competition claim against PG&E for more than $4 billion in restitution. “That restitution claim was dead,” said attorney general spokesman Tom Dresslar. The Ninth Circuit opinion, he added, “resurrects” it. This, of course, doesn’t mean that City Attorney Dennis Herrera or Attorney General Bill Lockyer will necessarily bring home billions in bacon. But it does mean they have a chance to try, which is more than they had under a lower court’s ruling. The gist of the litigation is the city and state’s allegation that certain fund transfers from the utility subsidiary to the parent company were illegal, and thus violated �17200 of the California Business & Professions Code. They each sued seeking restitution, as well as civil penalties and injunctive relief. (PG&E Corp. maintains that the transactions were aboveboard and in line with regulations, according to a spokesman.) In the lower court, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that PG&E Corp. could go ahead and remove the restitution part of the suit to bankruptcy court, where the subsidiary utility had filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. For all practical purposes that spelled the end of the restitution claim because Walker’s ruling essentially left it up to the utility to pursue it � and the utility chose not to. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion last week, penned by Judge Sidney Thomas, gives the government plaintiffs control over the claim again. Now all they have to do is prove their case. The case is San Francisco v. PG&E, . � Pam Smith

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