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San Francisco Superior Court Clerks Return to Work

  
  
  

San Francisco Superior Court clerks returned to work Wednesday after walking the picket line on a daylong strike last Tuesday. The clerks believe that the court should be using what they say is a $16 million surplus to increase their pay. Court officials say that money is earmarked for the health care of retired court employees. The strike shut down most court operations with the exception of certain pressing criminal matters along with those matters facing statutory deadlines. The shutdown also came after the Columbus Day holiday, creating an even greater backlog than anticipated.

Although the clerks have returned to work and daily court operations have resumed, tensions still run high. Court officials say that the clerks are the highest paid court employees in California, and San Francisco Superior Court Executive Officer Michael Yuen called the strike "dirty", after stating that it also violated their labor agreement. However, Steve Stallone, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, disagreed, saying that the court's salary figures are "lies" and emphasizing that it takes years for the clerks to reach the highest level of the pay grade for their position. In a city like San Francisco where the cost of living is so high, they believe that their salary doesn't go very far.

San Francisco Superior Court officials promise to file a complaint with California's Public Employement Relations Board as part of their response to the strike. Stallone argued that the strike was a repsonse to the court's alleged unfair labor practices and that as a result it is legally sanctioned and overrides the 2012 labor agreement's no-strike provision.

In the meantime, it is back to business as usual for the One Legal San Francisco branch. Our  branch manager has reported that they are almost caught up on filings from both the Columbus Day holiday and Tuesday's strike. They are experiencing little to no fall out, which is great news for those of you who need us to file your documents with the San Francisco Superior Court! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our Customer Support team.

San Francisco Superior Court Clerks Shut Down Court on Daylong Strike

  
  
  

Thinking about filing a document today in the San Francisco Superior Court? You might want to think again. The San Francisco Superior Court clerks have officially gone on strike, and today marks the first day of picketing. Clerks offices are closed and hearings have been canceled for today.

The court clerks voted overwhelmingly to strike last month. Out of 186 ballots cast, 169 clerks voted in favor of striking because they want an increase in pay. They state that the San Francisco Superior Court has roughly $16 million in their reserve fund but continue to refuse to offer the clerks a raise. Steve Stallone, spokesman for the Service Employees International Union Local 1021, said that the clerks received a three percent pay raise last year in addition to increasing co-payments for health care. Instead of offering any further pay increases, the court instead offered court clerks two additional paid holidays. However, because there is such a significant shortage of staff, clerks argue that it is impossible to get time off as it is.

Picket lines were set up early this morning at three different locations, including the Hall of Justice, the Civic Center Courthouse and the Youth Guidance Center.

As most Californians know already, the state courts have been suffering through a budget crisis for the last few years. The majority of courts statewide have endured court closures, furloughs and staff layoffs. The San Francisco Superior Court laid of 69 employees in 2011, closed 11 of its 63 courtrooms, and reduced clerk office operating hours. Governor Jerry Brown submitted a budget that includes a $129 million increase for trial courts, but Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has stated that although this is a start, it is only about half of what the courts need to maintain services. Ann Donlan, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Superior Court, says that the court expects to avoid further reductions through June. They have earmarked the remaining reserve money for the health care coverage of retired employees.

If you have any questions regarding the strike and how it affects you, please contact our Customer Support team! We have sources on the ground in San Francisco keeping us up to date on any new developments.

We want to know what you think about the strike! Do you have a document that won't be filed today as a result?

court workers strike resized 600

One Legal Attends Annual Witkin Award Dinner

  
  
  

A swanky soiree with an Oktoberfest feel? Sign us up! One Legal had the privilege of attending the Witkin Award dinner last night, held at the San Diego Law Library in beautiful downtown San Diego. Though fall has yet to show its crisp face here in perpetually sunny San Diego, the Law Library was decked out in seasonal decor complete with pumpkins, orange and red leaves, and just enough black ties to polish off the festive look. An accordion player serenaded the crowd as they visited the beer garden, bought raffle tickets, and perused the art for sale. In keeping with the Oktoberfest vibe, the crowd dined on German style sauerkraut and bratwurst. 

For those of you who don't know, the Witkin Award is presented annually to honor members of the San Diego legal community for civic leadership and excellence in teaching, practice, enactment, or adjudication of the law.  The Witkin Fund is then used to purchase books and materials for the San Diego Law Library. The award is named after Bernard Witkin, Esq., a man who developed an alternate way of teaching and learning the law after becoming disheartened with the Socratic method taught at most law schools of his time.

This year's winners of the prestigious award included the following honorees:

  • The Honorable Julia Craig Kelety for Excellence in the Adjudication of the Law

  • Thomas E. Sharkey, Esq. for Excellence in the Practice of Law

  • Linda and Carlos LeGerrette for Excellence in Civic Leadership and Philanthropy

  • Stephan C. Ferruolo for Excellence in Legal Education

Congratulations to all of the honorees! It was such a fun night to celebrate those who have made a difference in the legal community and raise money for the San Diego Law Library. We have done many free, MCLE accredited trainings at the library for the community and were happy to be a part of this night. Check out our Facebook page to view more pictures of the event!

Witkin Award Dinner

 

 

Is it 120MB or 65MB with Orange County eFiling?

  
  
  

As we previously posted, a typical Orange County eFiling transaction can include multiple documents totaling up to 120MB in size. There is, however, a list of several documents which automatically limit the transaction size to 65MB, those are:

• Notice of Entry of Judgment
• Notice of Ruling
• Opposition
• Opposition to Noticed Motion
• Reply - Other
• Reply to Motion
• Reply to Opposition
• Reply to Opposition of Noticed Motion
• Request for Judicial Notice
• Separate Statement

 

chart for oc file size blog

For those of you who are interested in the technical details -

These documents are automatically accepted by the court's system and skip clerk review. For this reason, large documents cannot be sent via a proxy page and need to be sent as-is for the court's system to file and stamp them automatically and so they need to conform to a different size standard.

While we instruct our customers to try and upload as many documents for the given case as possible in a single transaction, when you are filing any one of the document types listed and you are near the limit it may be a good idea to upload that document separately.

As a reminder on a related subject - even if you are not quite approaching the size cap, whether the 120MB or the 65MB, it is a good idea to reduce your file size and optimize your documents. The court wants you to minimize the digital size of your filings and our Training team offers the "Adobe Acrobat for the Law Office" webinar where you will be shown how to perform those functions within a matter of minutes.

If you wish to receive more information or have specific questions about file size and electronic filing, email us at training@onelegal.com and we will be happy to assist you!

Service of Process via Facebook…The New Paradigm?

  
  
  

Lately there’s been some chatter about service of process via social media, specifically Facebook.   In case you haven’t seen it, on September 18th, nypost.com published an article entitled “Judge Oks serving legal papers via Facebook.”   The article speaks to a “groundbreaking court ruling” in which Staten Island Support Magistrate Gregory Gliedman ordered a party to serve his ex-wife via Facebook.  The order, according to the judge, was the “first of its kind in New York, and also the first in the United States that didn’t involve an attempt to serve someone overseas.” 

In 2011, Jeffrey N. Rosenthal, of The Legal Intelligencer, wrote an article entitled “You’ve Been Served – On Facebook?”  His article speaks to a Minnesota case, In re the Marriage of Jessica Mpafe v. Clarence Ndjounwou Mpafe (Hennepin County, MN No. 27-FA-11-3453), in which the court told the plaintiff not to waste her time with service via publication and instead “held that ‘publication on the internet’ was acceptable so long as it followed the same ‘information and timing’ requirements that would go into a newspaper.”  “Soon may come a time,” Rosenthal writes, “when service via Facebook isn’t the exception – it’s the rule.”  Okay, so we’re not there yet but perhaps it depends on your definition of “soon.”  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  On a less flippant note I should point out that Mr. Rosenthal’s article also provides a concise analysis of what he calls “the origin of American service law:  the U.S. Constitution.” 

service of process, process server, one legal, process serving, service via social media

In November of 2011, Lisa McManus, of LexisNexis Legal Newsroom, published a post about the same case.  She voices a valid concern as well:  how does one know that the person who holds the account is really the person he or she claims to be?  “On the other hand,” she writes, “neither notice by publication nor public posting provide actual notice to defendants.”  That’s a great point and the essence of the judges holding in Mpafe; service via the internet “provides a cheaper and hopefully more effective way of finding respondent.”   I always found it interesting that service via publication, which is authorized by statute here in CA (Code of Civil Procedure 415.50), culminates with publishing an image of the summons in a newspaper “that is most likely to give actual notice to the party to be served.”  Even if the defendant doesn’t see it, or answer, a judgment can still be entered.  So in reality it doesn’t matter if the defendant receives notice, does it?   By the way, Ms. McManus also provides some additional resources from Australia, Canada, New Zealand the U.K.  In those examples you’ll notice a theme:  that service via Facebook takes place via court order, either after traditional service has been attempted or because it could not be. 

In a 2013 Federal case, Federal Trade Commission v. PCCare247 INC., Dist. Court, SD New York 2013, the FTC asked the court “for leave to effect service of documents other than the Summons and Complaint by alternative means…of both email and Facebook.”  The court did decide that service via email did comport with due process but raised the point that if the plaintiffs would have asked the court to serve via Facebook only, then it wasn’t quite as clear as to whether due process was satisfied.  “To be sure, if the FTC were proposing to serve defendants only by means of Facebook, as opposed to using Facebook as a supplemental means of service, a substantial question would arise whether that service comports with due process. As one court in this district has observed, ‘anyone can make a Facebook profile using real, fake, or incomplete information, and thus, there is no way for the Court to confirm’ whether the Facebook page belongs to the defendant to be served.”  Ms. McManus would probably agree!  I’ll take it one step further and posit that service via email can be just as perilous.  To tweak the court’s language just a bit:  Anyone can set up an email account using real, fake or incomplete information, and thus, there is no way confirm it belongs to the party or that the party opened the email or viewed the document or documents.

I realize I’m taking some liberties.  The point I am trying to make, though, is that while technology may provide some options that did not exist just 10 years ago, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for effecting service.  It’s also important to note that the services I discussed in this post were allowed by court order, not by statute

I do expect that to change, and frankly I’m an advocate of such change, as long as the service is effected by a disinterested third party, e.g. a process server.  Technology is forcing many of us to adapt, and the legal field is certainly not immune.  As I’ve heard many times in my 35-plus years in the legal industry, judges want to hear the case on its merits.  They generally don’t like it when people evade service.  So, if a court can get the party under its jurisdiction in a more creative manner, it should.  Seems logical, doesn’t it?  Perhaps as a first step here in the Golden State, we tackle our antiquated service via publication statute and allow for publication via social media?  In any case, before we all start touting the benefits of service via social media I believe we need to better understand the pitfalls that lie therein and realize that service via Facebook is the exception, not the rule

I’d love to know your thoughts.  Please email me or comment on this post.    

California Superior Court Updates Page: New Updates Posted

  
  
  

Well, here we are again...Due to lack of sufficient funding for our beleaguered Superior Courts we're seeing more and more closures and reductions in hours.

We've recently updated our page with items for Contra Costa, El Dorado, Plumas, Santa Clara and Sierra Superior courts.  Click here to take a look, especially if you have a court filing in one of those jurisdictions!

efiling, public records, legal secretary, paralegal, legal assistant, California superior court, one legal

Santa Barbara Courthouse

(Lili Daniel snapped this phone last weekend while she was in town attending the Santa Barbara Paralegal Association's 5th Annual MCLE Conference)

More Federal Court Judges Viewing Legal Briefs on Tablets

  
  
  

iPads and tablets - it seems like just about everyone has one these days. It's therefore only fitting that this technology is finding its way into courtrooms, and specifically into the hands of judges. Tablets give judges the freedom to review briefs from anywhere, not just within the confines of chamber walls. In fact, a 2012 survey indicated that 58% of federal judges were using an iPad. If you are filing in federal court, you are most likely utilizing the electronic filing system, and because your brief may be read on an iPad, perhaps you should be thinking about how to make your documents tablet friendly. Lawyerist.com posted an article recently highlighting some tips to write better briefs for tablets. Some of those tips include:

  • Use hyperlinks. Hyperlinks allow the judge to jump directly to the authority you are citing. The 5th Circuit court loves hyperlinks so much, in fact, that they have developed an application that will automatically covert citations into hyperlinks! Other courts have not been as proactive, but always check your local rules. Hyperlinks may not just be a preference, it might be a requirement in your particular court.

  • Use more lists. Rather than forcing the judge to read lengthy paragraphs packed with information, instead put the important stuff into a list or bullet point format. It's much easier to read and digest the information on a tablet when it is provided in a clear and concise layout.

  • Use charts, pictures and infographics. Visual aids are another way of making the information provided easier to digest and it is aesthetically pleasing when reading a brief on a tablet.

It may take some getting used to, but as technology improves the legal world evolves and adjusts to the times. It only makes sense that the manner in which a brief is written changes with them as well. Have you changed the way you write briefs to accommodate those who view them on a tablet?federal court, legal brief, eFiling

Governor Brown Signs Groundwater Regulation Bills into Law

  
  
  

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of environmentalist driven bills Tuesday that will regulate groundwater pumping. This is the first time in the history of the state that a series of bills like that has been signed. The bills were signed in light of the drought plaguing California with the intent to hopefully replenish the dwindling water supply.

Californians are using roughly 800 billion gallons of water annually. The water is coming from the aquifers in the Central Valley, where much of the vast land is in fact farmland. Because the area is losing such a significant amount of water, the land is dropping, with parts of the valley subsiding almost a foot each year. Bridges and canals have subsequently suffered damage.

The new laws require local government officials to bring groundwater basins up to sustainable levels. Any water that is taken out must be replenished, and farmers will most likely eventually have to meter the water they pump. In fact, some farmers may be required to stop pumping altogether. This of course has upset many farmers and their representatives, as it will significantly impact their livelihoods. However, Governor Brown hopes that the new laws will lessen the severity of droughts in the future.

“We’re concerned that these hastily written measures may come to be seen as ‘historic’ for all the wrong reasons,” said Paul Wenger, a Modesto almond and walnut farmer who is president of the California Farm Bureau. “I anticipate we’re going to see a significant downsizing of California agriculture.”

The regulations will be implemented slowly. Water agencies aren't required to submit plans to the state until January 2020, and those plans should be designed to achieve sustainability by 2040.

Do you think these new regulations will help or hurt the water crisis in California?

eFiling, drought, California

Become a One Legal Expert and Indispensable to Your Law Firm!

  
  
  

Are you the professional court filing expert in your law office? Do your colleagues come to you because you know the answers? Are you the problem solver? You can be that go-to person and more! It's time to become indispensable to your law firm by mastering the power of One Legal technology. We are introducing our new Instant Expert series that will have your co-workers thinking that you know everything about court filing, process serving, and all things One Legal. This series of short "how-to" guides will not only simplify your day to day work life, it will make you indispensable in your law office.
 

Our first Instant Expert guide will show you how to check the status of your One Legal order. We offer real time status updates so you will always know what exactly is going on with your court filing, process serve, or document research & retrieval. The next time someone asks you for a status update, you will know just where to find it!
 

This is just the first of many installments in our series that will make you an Instant Expert when it comes to One Legal.

 

If you would like to become even more of an expert and are interested in further training, you can sign up for any of our free, MCLE accredited courses! We have a diverse curriculum that covers everything from Process Serving to eFiling and eService in Orange and San Diego Counties, as well as in the state of Texas. We also keep you up to date on court closures, reduction in clerk's hours and other pertinent court news.
 

Do not hesitate to contact our Training team with any questions! We are always here to help.

 

Instant Expert, One Legal, eFiling

California Superior Court Updates Page: New Updates Posted

  
  
  

We've recently updated our page with items for Los Angeles and Shasta Superior courts.  Click here to take a look, especially if you have a court filing in one of those jurisdictions!

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New San Jose Courthouse Under Construction (August 14th)

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