Profile in Practice: Mitchell E. Abbott

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 Mitch Abbott:

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

Mitch: I specialize in handling writs and appeals (mostly in the state courts) on behalf of cities and other public agencies.  The cases I handle include election disputes, complaints of non-compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), “takings” claims in the context of local land use regulation, challenges to local taxes, assessments and bonds, and constitutional challenges to city ordinances in a wide variety of settings — from billboards to newsracks, and from juvenile curfews to regulation of adult-oriented businesses. Continue reading

New Law on Living Organ Donation

You probably know that you can make an organ donation at death, but did you know that you can make an organ donation while you are still living? 

The newly enacted Altruistic Living Donor Registry Act of 2010 (Health & S C §§7152–7152.2) allows people to register to make an organ donation (mainly kidney donation, because a person can live with just one kidney) while they are living.

The Act is intended to increase the number of individuals who identify themselves as potential organ donors and to establish the Altruistic Living Donor Registrar, a nonprofit entity that will establish and maintain the Altruistic Living Donor Registry.

On issues related to organ donation and how to discuss them with your clients, check out CEB’s Complete Plans for Small and Mid-Size Estates (Cal CEB 2006) and California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives (Cal CEB 2008).

© The Regents of the University of California, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

10 Things to Check Before Moving for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is a great way to cut down on the economic and emotional costs of continued litigation. As explained by the California Supreme Court, the law of summary judgment is intended to provide courts with a way to cut through the parties’ pleadings to determine whether, despite their allegations, a trial is actually necessary to resolve their dispute.  Aguilar v Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 C4th 826, 843, 107 CR2d 841.

As with everything else related to litigation, it is best to approach summary judgment with a plan, and what’s a better way to help you organize a plan than using a checklist? Continue reading

Wiretapping with an iPhone

New technology, same law. As reported by, the Second District Court of Appeal has held that when one party to a conversation uses an iPhone to secretly record the conversation, it does not violate the Wiretap Act as long as the recording is done for legitimate purposes. This ruling (.pdf) is consistent with those of other circuits, including the Ninth Circuit, that have tackled similar issues. Continue reading

The Blush Is off the Arbitration Rose

The honeymoon with contractual arbitration appears to be over. The advantages of arbitration are disappearing or being outweighed by the disadvantages more and more often, prompting a growing number of attorneys to advise their clients to take their chances in court.

Continue reading

The Right to Tattoo

In a decision that conflicts with those of at least six other cases from various jurisdictions, the Ninth Circuit, as puts it, “had no trouble deeming tattoos and the business of tattoo parlors forms of pure expression fully protected by the First Amendment.” Continue reading

When Is a Church Not a Church?

The issue of what constitutes a church for the IRS tax exemption purposes has recently been considered in a novel context: Is a congregation that holds only internet and radio worship services a church entitled to IRS tax benefits? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the “electronic ministry” did not meet the IRS’s definition of a church. Continue reading

Preying on the Predatory Lenders

Predatory lending is a term used to describe a range of abusive and aggressive lending practices that often target the elderly and people with limited income or in deep debt. But even institutional lenders with respectable reputations in the banking industry can be guilty of lending abuses with their victims being sophisticated borrowers. Although the most recent manifestation of predatory lending is the subprime lending crisis that began in late 2006, it’s been around for decades.  Continue reading

Privacy Rights in the World of Video Games

As modern technologies evolve, new areas for right of publicity and right to privacy litigation emerge. Video games featuring representations of actual people present interesting issues — and not just hypothetical ones. In the Northern District of California, a case is pending for the “blatant and unlawful use” of NCAA student athlete likenesses in video games. In a preliminary ruling, the court held the defendant liable for violating the players’ rights of publicity. See Keller v Electronic Arts, Inc. (ND Cal, Feb. 8, 2010, No. C 09-1967 CW) 2010 US Dist Lexis 10719. Continue reading

Profile in Practice: J. Tony Serra

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 Tony Serra:

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

Tony: I am a criminal jury trial specialist.  I chose such a specialty because for me it is the most effective way of preserving civil and constitutional rights. Continue reading