Treaty Trumps Parental Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an order prohibiting the removal of a child from a country without the noncustodial parent’s consent is enforceable under an international child abduction treaty. As reported by the National Law Journal, this decision is noteworthy for both its substance and because the justices used foreign law decisions to interpret U.S. treaties and the laws implementing them. Continue reading

Jury Research: Can You Afford Not To Do It?

You think you have a great case. Your client is convinced. Your staff, your friends, and sometimes even your spouse nod their heads when you talk about the case. What more information could a trial attorney want before gambling hundreds of thousands of dollars or many millions on how a jury will decide the case? The answer: a lot more information. Continue reading

Profile in Practice: Peter S. Myers

As part of CEB’s commitment to bringing together California’s legal community, our blog will post a short interview with one of your fellow attorneys.

This week, we profile attorney and CEB author Peter S. Myers:

CEB: What is your practice area and how did you choose it?

Peter: I specialize in estate planning, trust and probate law.  It is a fairly broad area, with many subspecialties.  I tend to like cases that are difficult and challenging, which can involve a number of different situations in the context of this practice area, including: moving control and ownership of a closely-held business (or a large estate) from one generation to the next; trust and estate disputes (a very interesting area of law, with interpersonal dynamics that nearly always read like a good novel); and elder law, in which clients often have limited means and you have to be very efficient in reaching solutions or the economics of lawyering will just destroy the family’s wealth.

I got into this area in the late 1990’s.  Having practiced in a number of areas foundationally (including civil litigation and securities law), estate planning, trust and probate law is an area where you can apply much of what you learned in the prior decades of your career. Continue reading

Self-Help Eviction: Don’t Even Think About It!

Here’s an all-too-common scenario these days: A property goes into foreclosure, the owner who buys the foreclosed property wants to evict the current tenants, who are living there lawfully. The owner decides to skirt the normal legal processes and engage in aself-help eviction.  This is a very risky and potentially illegal course of action!  Continue reading

When You Get a Call from Someone Who’s Been Arrested

We’ve all seen it on TV — a person is arrested and says “I want to call my lawyer.” But what do you do when you are the lawyer on the other side of that call? Arrested people often call the only attorney they know, which may be their business counsel, estate planner, or divorce attorney. What do you say when you haven’t cracked a criminal law book since law school? Continue reading

When Is a Chocolate Bar Iconic?

In a recent suit brought under the Lanham Act, Hershey is trying to stop Williams-Sonoma from selling a brownie pan in the design of a Hershey’s chocolate bar, i.e., a rectangle with 12 equally-sized rectangular panels arranged in a 4×3 format, with each panel having its own raised borders. reports that Hershey claims the infringement on its trademark was “purposeful” and “likely to cause consumers, purchasers and others to be confused or mistaken” into thinking the pans are somehow associated with Hershey.

This suit may end up being quite sweet for Hershey, because a successful plaintiff in a Lanham Act action may recover the defendant’s profits or the plaintiff’s damages, which may be trebled in the court’s discretion.

For more on the Lanham Act and trademark infringement generally, see CEB’s book on Trades Secret Practice in California. Also check out CEB’s program on Intellectual Property for Business Lawyers, available On Demand.

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Profile in Practice: Richard M. Pearl

As part of CEB’s commitment to bringing together California’s legal community, our blog will post a short interview with one of your fellow attorneys.

This week, we profile attorney and CEB author Richard Pearl:

CEB: What is your practice area and how did you choose it?

Rich: My major practice area involves court-awarded attorneys’ fees. Mainly, that entails representing attorneys and/or their clients in actions that entitle the prevailing party to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees, in the trial and/or appellate courts. I also serve as an expert witness on attorneys’ fee issues, and have written the CEB book on this subject,  California Attorney Fee Awards, as well as its annual updates. I do a fair amount of appellate work on non-attorneys’ fee issues as well, including punitive damages issues.

I got into court-awarded attorneys’ fees in the late 1970’s when fee-shifting statutes started proliferating. I was the Director of Litigation for California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), a statewide legal services program for the poor, and had responsibility for making sure that it recovered any fees to which it was entitled.  When I went into private practice in 1982, court-awarded attorneys’ fees was an expertise that clients were willing to pay me for, that was crucial to my own law firm’s public interest work, and that allowed me to work with great lawyers and facilitate important public interest work. Continue reading

To Examine or Not to Examine

Discovery during litigation provides powerful tools that allow each side to discover a wealth of information about the other. But how do you decide whether to use a particular tool? For example, when a plaintiff is claiming a physical or mental injury, should the defense always request its own physical or mental exam of the plaintiff? Such a request is available under CCP §§2032.010-2032.650, and it may be advantageous, but it is also risky. Continue reading

Judge Files Writ Petition Against Her Own Court

Judge Files Writ Petition Against Her Own CourtWhen a trial court grants probation in a case involving domestic violence, it is required under Pen C §1203.097 to impose numerous mandatory conditions of probation, including at least 36 months of probation, successful completion of a batterer’s program, and a criminal court protective order. As reported by the Recorder, there is a long history of courts failing to comply with these requirements. Last week, San Diego County Superior Court Judge DeAnn Salcido finally had enough of this noncompliance by her colleagues and went public.

Continue reading

Who Is Reading Your Texts?

I could be reading your texts. Or at least if I was your employer.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in City of Ontario, Calif. v. Quon on the issue of whether an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy from employer snooping in their texts. Continue reading