Monday, October 28, 2013

CCBA-Inspired Rule of Court on Telephonic Appearances Adopted by Judicial Council

Assemblymember Wagner
The Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) added yet another success to an already impressive year Friday (October 25), when the California Judicial Council unanimously approved a CCBA-inspired amendment to the Rules of Court (jc-20131025-itemA12) clarifying and expanding the types of court hearings at which attorneys may appear telephonically. The new amendments to the rules will take effect January 1, 2014.

Specifically the rule changes:
  • Clarify that the hearings, conferences, and proceedings at which a party may appear by telephone include all civil conferences, hearings, and proceedings except those expressly listed as requiring personal appearances;
  • Shorten the time for notice of such appearances from three to two court days, and amend references in the rule regarding timeliness to reflect that change;
  • Add ex parte applications to the types of proceedings at which a party may appear by telephone; and
  • Clarify that a court should grant leave to appear by telephone on shortened notice if good cause exists.
Jason Turner
The amended rules are the outgrowth of CCBA Resolution 07-05-2010, developed by CCBA delegate Jason Turner and sponsored by the Orange County Bar Association. That resolution was introduced in the California Legislature in 2012 by Assemblymember Don Wagner, Vice-Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, as AB 1582, which was intended to address serious problems in the implementation of 2007 legislation (AB 500 – Lieu) which had been enacted to increase and provide uniformity in telephonic appearance practices in the state’s courts. AB 1582 would have expanded the list of specific instances – including ex parte hearings – in which telephonic appearances could be made, and clarified other provisions of the law. Most importantly, it would have made clear that telephone appearances are to be permitted unless the judge decides in a specific instance that personal appearance is required.

At the request of the Chief Justice and other repres entatives and the judicial branch, Assemblymember Wagner and the sponsoring CCBA agreed not to move forward with AB 1582, and instead to permit the Judicial Council to create a task force (including a CCBA representative) to review the problems and address them through amendment to the Rules of court. The Telephonic Appearances Working Group was organized in July 2012, with representatives from the Judicial Council’s Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee , the CCBA, Consumer Attorneys of California, California Defense Counsel, California Judges Association, Court Executives Advisory Committee, and Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee.

It is the hope of all concerned that the revised rules will address the concerns about the lack of clarity in and inconsistent application of the law relating to telephonic appearances, which produced CCBA Resolution 07-05-2010 in the first place – and will provide the additional benefit of reducing unneeded court appearances and related travel, to the benefit of clients, attorneys, the environment and the courts.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Four More CCBA-Sponsored Bills Signed into Law by Governor Brown

Four more CCBA-sponsored bills have been signed into law by Governor Brown since the last posting.  The four are:
Assemblymember Chau

AB 267 (Chau) - Creates a privilege in the law for communications between a prospective client and a lawyer referral service (LRS) certified by the State Bar of California, similar to the existing attorney-client privilege. The privilege would extend to confidential communications between the client and the LRS, and would protect those communications from discovery or revelation in the same manner and to essentially the same extent as confidential communications between attorney and client. CCBA Resolution 08-02-2012, sponsored by the Contra Costa County Bar Association and developed by CCCBA delegate Stephen Steinberg.  
AB 381 (Chau) - Extends current protections against misappropriation of property by attorneys-in-fact to elders, dependent adults, and victims of the attorney-in-fact’s bad faith undue influence.  The bill also would also permit courts to add attorney’s fees and costs to the award in successful cases to recover property misappropriated from conservatees, minors, elders, dependent adults, trusts, decedent’s estates, or victims of bad faith undue influence. Includes Resolution 04-08-2012 and Resolution 04-09-2012, both sponsored by the Sacramento County Bar Association.
Assm. Wagner
AB 824 (Jones) - Amends Code of Civil Procedure §1856 to specify that trust instruments are agreements subject to the parol evidence rule, thereby conforming the language of the statute to numerous court decisions over the years and reducing unnecessary litigation and cost by obviating wasteful and futile attempts to re-litigate the issue.  The bill embodies Resolution 04-11-2012 sponsored by the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
AB 1160 (Wagner) - Reinstates the requirement that a personal representative who wishes to participate in an heirship determination proceeding in his or her capacity as personal representative - and therefore at estate expense – must first demonstrate good cause a
nd obtain the court’s approval. Protects the integrity of the probate system by helping to assure that an improperly motivated personal representative cannot use estate funds to finance proceedings for his or her own benefit, and preventing these heirship proceedings from becoming adversary proceedings that deplete estate funds. The bill is based on Resolution 01-04-2011 out of BASF.
The signings bring the number of CCBA-sponsored and supported bills in 2013 to eight (including 11 resolutions).  Another seven are still moving smoothly through the legislative process, and are expected to be sent to the Governor within the next few weeks.  The progress of all CCBA-sponsored/supported bills can be tracked on the CCBA Legislative Program matrix.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

First CCBA Bill of 2013 Signed Into Law

Assemblymember Jones
Governor Jerry Brown Monday (June 24) signed into law the first of what hopefully will be many bills from the Conference of California Bar Associations' (CCBA) 2013 Legislative Program.

AB 1183, by Assemblymember Brian Jones of Santee, specifies in statute that the clock does not begin to run on the deadline for filing motions to compel further response to discovery requests until verified responses to the requests are received. This simple clarification in the law will help decrease litigation games-playing and abuse of the discovery process, to the benefit of practitioners, clients and the courts.

Lilys McCoy
The bill, now Chapter 18 of the Statutes of 2013, will take effect January 1, 2014.  It is based on CCBA Resolutions 02-06-2011, 02-08-2011, and 02-09-2011, by former CCBA Chair Lilys McCoy of the San Diego County Bar Association delegation.  The measure passed both houses of the Legislature without opposition or ‘No’ votes. 

Trevor Carson
Two other CCBA-sponsored bills are already poised to join AB 1183 on the roll of laws-to-be.  AB 434, a largely technical bill by Assemblymember Curt Hagman relating to the issuance of dividends and redemption of shares by California corporations, is currently on the Governor's desk awaiting signature. The bill is based on CCBA Resolution 10-02-2012, developed by Trevor Carson of the Sacramento County Bar Association.  

In addition, AB 824, also authored by Jones, has been approved by both houses of the Legislature and is currently in Engrossing and Enrollment, the ministerial process immediately prior to submission to the Governor.  The bill, based on Resolution 04-11-2012 developed by Randall Spencer of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, would amend Code of Civil Procedure §1856 to confirm that trust instruments are agreements subject to the parol evidence rule, as has been held in numerous court decisions. 

The three bills are the vanguard of fourteen bills (out of 21) sponsored or supported by the CCBA which are still moving through the legislative process this year.