Results tagged “Ventura County Bar Association” from The Court Reporter

Beware of Wolves With Law School Sheepskins

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I bumped into a private investigator outside the Hall of Justice in Ventura this week.  He told me that a couple of unscrupulous criminal lawyers who have offices in another county have been advertising in Ventura County.

What they do is milk clients for cash and then withdraw  from the case after a person runs out of money.

The investigator said these lawyers never take these criminal cases to trial and do little legal work for their clients.

There is also the practice of other lawyers of sending advertising mail-outs to defendants after they get arrest and get out of jail.

Some of these lawyers who sent the mail outs  are lazy, incompetent and charge high fees for their services, the investigator said.

He said people should be leery and not fooled by ads offering legal services  and make outlandish promises, especially in civil cases.

I agree.

There are lawyers in the courthouse I see in the hallways on a daily basis that I wouldn't hire to represent me for a parking violation.  These guys are the punch lines for lawyer jokes.

People looking for a lawyer to represent them in criminal, real estate, probate, family law or other legal matters should call the Ventura County Bar Association.

The Bar Association, which is a nonprofit organization, has an attorney referral service that charges $35 for a consultation with an attorney, according to Mr. Steve Henderson, who is the executive director of the association.

Mr. Henderson explained that a person calls the association and is asked a few questions - where do you live and what is the nature of the problem.

He said the receptionist will set up  the appointment with an attorney who lives close to the person's residence and who specializes in the area of law that the caller seeks.  For example, Mr. Henderson explained people might get referred to a real estate, criminal, copyright law, probate, sports or an attorney with another legal specialty, depending on what legal service that the caller needs.

The consultation is for at least 30 minutes, and if the person wants to hire the attorney to handle his legal matter, then he can do so at that time. However, there are times when the chemistry between a lawyer and a legal consumer isn't there.

"That's not uncommon," said Mr. Henderson. "It's infrequent."

Much of the time, this happens because,  Mr. Henderson said, "the lawyer isn't telling them what they want to hear."

If the first consultation doesn't work,  the  consumer can always go back to the Ventura County Bar Association and to set up another consultation with another attorney, said Henderson.

He said there are 112 attorneys listed in the Ventura County Bar Association's lawyer referral service, and a software program ensures that the names on the list are automatically rotated so the same lawyers don't keep getting all the referrals.

Mr. Henderson said the Bar Association gets about 14 calla day from people seeking the help of the Bar Association's lawyer referral service.

He noted that the Ventura Bar Association does a follow-up survey with a legal consumer to gauge its attorney referral service and get feedback from the consumer.

Also Mr. Henderson said one of the best ways to find a lawyer is by word-of-mouth, asking friends or family who they would recommend.

For more information call the Ventura County Bar Association at 650-7599 or go to the organization's website: http://www.vcba.org

Complaints against lawyers can be made through the California Bar Association: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/LawyerRegulation/FilingaComplaint.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Comes The Judge, er, Juror Bennett

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I answered his questions and those of the court honestly. I am fair; I am impartial; I will follow the law; I do not know the defendant here and I am ready to serve as needed. Of course I am fair, that is what the voters elected me to do every day in this courthouse"   Judge Jeffrey Bennett writes in "Citations," the official publication of the Ventura County Bar Association.

Judge Bennett was selected to serve as a juror in a murder trial. In the Citations article, he writes about his experience.

To read the entire article go to:http://www.vcba.org/2012/09/judge-and-juror/

Judicial Review Committee Stands By Its Unqualified Rating

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In response to poor ratings by the Ventura County Bar Association's Judicial Evaluations Committee as to his qualifications to be judge,  Attorney Bradley Bjelke who is running against Judge Harry Walsh wrote:

"I made the decision not to participate in the evaluation because I want to be elected by the people--not a committee of individuals who have no accountability.  It should also be noted that one of the members of this supposed "independent" committee openly and publicly endorses my opponent. That alone discredits the entire evaluation."

 "I graduated from a top law school, worked for one of the largest law firms in the United States, and I represent sophisticated clients in complex matters and litigation.  The ratings that this committee gave me are not based on any facts and they are irresponsible and absurd.  I am confident that the voters in Ventura County will see through this nonsense and realize that this is just an attempt to discredit me to maintain the status quo.  If you want to change the way the current process works, you will vote for me and bring new life to the bench."

The committee recently concluded that Walsh is exceptionally well-qualified; Bjelke is not qualified to be on the bench.

The Bar's 13-member judicial Evaluations Committee who rated the qualifications of Walsh and Bjelke fired back on Friday, saying that Bjelke was invited on numerous occasions to participate in the judicial review process but declined to do so.

"Mr. Bjelke also alleges that the support of one member of the Committee of his opponent "discredits the entire evaluation."  Again, Mr. Bjelke is incorrect.  When this allegation surfaced shortly after the evaluations were released, the Committee's Vice Chair investigated it and concluded that it was unfounded.  The Committee member in question had been asked to endorse Judge Walsh.  He did not intend to do so.  However, a supporter of Judge Walsh placed the Committee member's name on the list of endorsers in error.  The Committee member participated in the evaluation process not ever knowing of the mistake or that his name appeared as an endorser of Judge Walsh.  Once the error was brought to the Committee member's attention, he promptly asked that his name be removed from the list of endorsers."

"What is particularly irresponsible about the timing of Mr. Bjelke's allegation is that, under the rules, he had a right to bring the situation to the attention of the Committee and to ask that the member not participate in either or both evaluations.  Mr. Bjelke chose to do nothing.  Had he acted in accordance with the rules, the mistake would have been corrected sooner.  Had he done so, based upon past experience, it also is most likely that the member voluntarily would have withdrawn from the process."

"Accordingly, while the Committee regrets the error and is disappointed that Mr. Bjelke did not raise the issue sooner, the Committee also continues to stand by the independence and integrity of its investigation and its evaluation of Mr. Bjelke." -- Joel Mark, Vice Chair Ventura County Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee

The Bar Association Issues Its Judicial Ratings

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The Ventura County Bar Association on Wednesday released its ratings of judicial candidates Judge Harry Walsh and Attorney Bradley Bjelke.

The ratings were given by the Bar's 13-member Judicial Evaluations Committee.

Walsh is exceptionally well-qualified; Bjelke is not qualified to be on the bench, according to the committe's findings.

Candidates were rated on Professional Ability, Professional Experience, Judicial Temperament, Professional Reputation and Work Ethic/Resource Management.

The ratings scale ranged from outstanding, very good, satisfactory, below average, unsatisfactory and unknown. The overall ratings given were either Exceptional Well Qualified; Well Qualified; Qualified or Not Qualified.

        Judge Harry Walsh was rated Outstanding in the categories of Professional Ability, Professional Experience, Professional Reputation and Work Ethic/Resource Management.  He received a rating of Very Good in the category of Judicial Temperament.  Overall, Judge Walsh has been rated as Exceptionally Well Qualified for the office of Superior Court Judge.

            Bradley Bjelke was rated Unsatisfactory in the categories of Professional Ability, Professional Experience, Professional Reputation and Work Ethic/Resource Management.  He received a rating of Unknown in the category of Judicial Temperament.  Overall, Mr. Bjelke has been rated as Not Qualified for the office of Superior Court Judge. 

            Judge Walsh stated in an email that his goal is to be "outstanding" in all categories and that he had some work to do on "judicial temperament."

         "I am not going to be falsely modest.  I have been a judge for 14 years, and I think the overall rating of "Extremely Well Qualified" is accurate, and I am proud of it.  I have never made a secret that being a judge is the best job I have ever had, and I work hard to be good at it.  I was disppointed that Mr. Bjelke did not fully participate in the process.  This is not an election for student council.  It is an election for an important position where the decisions that a judge makes often have a direct impact on people's everyday lives."

"Lawyers are in the unique position of being able to critically evaluate the performance of judicial officers they encounter on a daily basis, and most are able to do this objectively and get beyond the monentary disappointment they may experience when they in get a ruling they disagree with. My endorsements now include just under 500 lawyers. The VCBA evaluation reflects that level of support and approval.  Mr. Bjelke does not show great respect for either his profession or the position he seeks by refusing to present himself for scrutiny and evaluation."

 

Attorney Bjelke stated in an email that he declined to participate in the Bar Association's evaluation of the judicial candidates, criticizing the ratings process:

"I made the decision not to participate in the evaluation because I want to be elected by the people--not a committee of individuals who have no accountability.  It should also be noted that one of the members of this supposed "independent" committee openly and publicly endorses my opponent. That alone discredits the entire evaluation."

 "I graduated from a top law school, worked for one of the largest law firms in the United States, and I represent sophisticated clients in complex matters and litigation.  The ratings that this committee gave me are not based on any facts and they are irresponsible and absurd.  I am confident that the voters in Ventura County will see through this nonsense and realize that this is just an attempt to discredit me to maintain the status quo.  If you want to change the way the current process works, you will vote for me and bring new life to the bench."

 

The Ventura County Diversity Bar Alliance Inaugural Mixer

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The Ventura County Diversity Bar Alliance is holding its inaugural mixer on Wednesday,May 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Twenty 88 Restaurant & Bar in Old Town Camarillo, according to Attorney Dien Le.

Come and learn about the Diversity Bar Alliance and its pro bono program.

The cost is $25 a person, this includes appetizers and drinks, said Le who is the president of the Ventura County Bar Association.

Please RSVP to the Diversity Bar or the Ventura County Bar Association at 650-7599 or email Dien at Dien.le@calawcounsel.com

Got $35 and Need Some Legal Advice? Call the Bar Association.

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Are you about to sign a contract for thousands of dollars in goods or services and like most people are mesmerized by all the fine print on the written agreement?

Need a defense lawyer to ask about a criminal charge such as drunken driving, shoplifting or vandalism?

Do you have questions about a trust fund or a will, or perhaps, need to legal advice about estate planning?

For a $35 flat fee, the Ventura County Bar Association can help connect you with one of its 110 civil and criminal lawyers who can help answer these legal questions and are part of the Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service, according to Steve Henderson who is the executive director and CEO of the Bar.

Here is how it works, said Mr. Henderson:  People can 650-7599 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Ask for the Lawyer Referral Service and someone from Mr. Henderson's office will interview the caller for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Mr. Henderson said this is so the Lawyer Referral Service worker who is screening the calls can put a person in touch with the right lawyer whose law office is close to where the person lives.

A person, for example, might need a personal injury lawyer rather than a worker's compensation attorney, said Mr. Henderson.

The Lawyer Referral Service works strictly on an attorney rotation basis to ensure fairness in the referral process, according to Mr. Henderson.

 The Lawyer Referral Service screener sets up the interview between the attorney and the person who is seeking legal advice, said Mr. Henderson.

The $35 fee goes to the Bar Association, which is a non-profit agency.

Basically, the lawyer who is giving free legal advice does so in hopes of gaining a client, said Mr. Henderson.

The legal consultation with lawyers usually lasts about 35 to 45 minutes, according to Henderson.

A person who uses this service, however, is not obligated to hire the attorney after the legal consultation, and as a matter of fact, the individual can call the Bar Association, pay another $35 and get another referral to a different lawyer to get a second legal opinion.

Mr. Henderson said lawyers who agree to participate in this service must fill out a nearly three dozen page application and questionnaire so the best possible referral can be made.

The Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service has an 11 attorney advisory board and is certified by the State Bar Association and the American Bar Association, Mr. Henderson noted.

For more information go to the Ventura County Bar Association web site:

http://www.vcba.org/

 

The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at rhernandez@vcstar.com.