John Balazs is an attorney in Sacramento, California, specializing in criminal defense, including appeals, habeas corpus, pardons, expungements, and civil forfeiture actions. After graduating from UCLA Law School in 1989, he clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. John was an Assistant Federal Defender in Fresno and Sacramento from 1992-2001. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in clinical trial advocacy at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Please email EDCA items of interest to Balazslaw@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @balazslaw.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated. Do your own research or consult with an attorney.
At least that's what this 2010 Most Productive Courts chart shows, which a helpful reader found on this lawsitesblog. The site discusses a speech U.S. District Judge William G. Young gave, in accepting the Great Friend of Justice Award from the Massachusettes Bar Foundation. The blog describes it as "a thoughtful and impassioned speech decrying the decrease in jury trials in the federal courts. Trial by jury, he asserted is the one place in our justice system that gives meaning to the words, 'equal justice under the law, fair and impartial.' He challenged lawyers and judges to help conceive of innovative ways to help courts remain productive without having to sacrifice actual trials."
Of the 94 federal districts, the chart lists EDCA active judges as 1st in "hours on the bench" and "trial hours," but 25th in criminal trials. I can't vouch for these figures and am not sure what they mean. But my guess is the huge EDCA caseloads per judge plays a large role in these numbers.
In this El Camino Wellness Center v. Holder, 11-CV-2939-GEB, Order filed today, the district court dismissed with prejudice a medical marijuana collective's civil lawsuit that had sought to enjoin the federal government from enforcing the Controlled Substance Act against plaintiffs and other medical marijuana collectives in California.
Warning that there is a new "green rush" of people flocking to California to exploit the market for marijuana, the top federal prosecutor in the Sacramento region promised a crackdown today on huge pot farms on agricultural land in the Central Valley.
Benjamin Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, said his office is not interested in prosecuting sick people using medical marijuana. But he warned that the "unregulated free for all" that has allowed marijuana growers and merchants to make fortunes must come to an end, and he said in the coming months a new focus will be made on pot farms in the valley.
"There's been a proliferation of these large commercial grows on farmland, especially in the southern part of the valley from Stanislaus County down to Kern County," Wagner said at an appearance before the Sacramento Press Club. "And these grows are often tens of thousands of marijuana plants.
A federal judge has recommended certification of a class of harvest fieldworkers who say a table-grape grower in Kern County, Calif., paid them less than minimum wage and made them wash trays at home.
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In recommendation to the trial court last week, U.S Magistrate Judge Jennifer Thurston in Fresno recommended class certification for two of the plaintiffs' claims, finding that the others failed to meet the tough legal standards for class actions.
Thurston granted the plaintiffs' request to certify a class of workers "who were paid an hourly wage less than minimum wage plus piece rate from January 2002 to July 2003," and those "non-supervisory harvest fieldworkers employed by Sunview during the 2001 and 2002 harvests who took trays home overnight and washed those trays without compensation."
EDCA Federal Defender Dan Broderick announced his retirement, effective at the end of the calendar year, so he can devote more time to travelling, teaching, and writing. Sounds like an upgrade from practicing law. He is giving notice now to give the Ninth Circuit time to go through the formal process to pick a replacement. A big thanks for all he's done for criminal defense in the EDCA. Here's wishing Dan well in his future endeavors.
In light of the Ninth Circuit's decision Thursday in Haskell v. Harris, 10-15152, Judge Karlton unsuprisingly denied the defendant's motion for return of a DNA sample taken by the U.S. Marshal's office when he briefly went into custody on an arrest warrant in U.S. v. Tuzman, 2/24/12 order. But Judge Karlton attached as an exhibit to his order his intended 48-page order that would have granted the motion on the ground that the forced taking of a DNA sample from a pretrial arrestee before conviction constitutes an unreasonable, warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, until Haskell beat him to the punch. Tuzman order exhibit. I'm hoping he's on to something in suggesting that "the Supreme Court's recent ruling in United States v. Jones, 132 S.Ct. 945 (2012), [may] mark a turning point in the depreciation of the Fourth Amendment['s]" warrant requirement. See Exhibit-Order, at 13 n.14.
In any event, the smart money is betting this fight is far from over and Judge Karlton's "exhibit" order will be persuasive authority for the all-but-inevitable en banc litigation in the Ninth Circuit. [I represent the defendant in this one].
A Modesto man appeared Tuesday in federal court on charges of conspiring to steal federal property from the Modesto airport.
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They allegedly stole copper wire from the enclosed lighting systems, causing three of the four medium intensity approach lighting systems to malfunction. The stolen copper wire is owned by the Federal Aviation Administration.