by Heather Cline Hoganson
Steve Wang, a native of Taipei, Taiwan, joined the Army right after 9/11, as a way of “giving back to our great nation as an immigrant.” He was mobilized to the Pentagon from 2007-2008 (Operation Enduring Freedom) and deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division to Afghanistan from 2011-2012. Wang recalls arriving In Afghanistan during “fighting season.” “The area of responsibility was large, and the operational tempo was high. As a result, there were a lot of casualties and deaths. Many of us attended ramp ceremonies almost on a daily basis as we were sending fallen heroes home to their families and loved ones.” Wang now serves as the City Attorney of Folsom. “I will always be grateful to my brothers and sisters-in-arms who shared the sandbox with me, especially those who did not make it home to their families and loved ones. These great patriotic American heroes are always in my mind when I’m sitting at my desk at City Hall.”
Brandon Erickson enlisted in the Army in 1999 and deployed to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was severely wounded in combat, receiving the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with the “V” device for valor in combat. After completing his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Erickson committed himself to making the most out of his “second chance” at life. He used his educational benefits as a wounded veteran to go back to school. He supports veterans’ causes including of Operation Rebound – a non-profit dedicated to getting wounded veterans back to a healthy active lifestyle. He also chairs a scholarship committee for high school students who write essays on patriotism. To Erickson patriotism means understanding the sacrifices others have made for this country. “I have been to some really bad places; we Americans have it pretty good, and we should not take this for granted.” After spending almost four years as a Deputy District Attorney in El Dorado County, Erickson opened his own firm, Erickson Law Offices, PC, in Gold River.
Ryan Wood, a partner at Stoel Rives, LLP, joined the Navy out of high school in 1993 and remained in the Navy Reserves, serving a total of 20 years. After enlisting, he served as a sonar technician on the USS Antietam. Switching to the Reserves in 1998, Wood earned his BA and JD while remaining in the enlisted ranks. He served with the Navy Seabees (the civil engineering component for the Navy and Marine Corps). In 2006, he deployed with his Seabee battalion, NMCB-18, to support the Marines in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served there as the Battalion Intelligence Chief, responsible for threat assessment and mission planning.
Assistant US Attorney Jill Thomas had been considering the FBI as she finished law school in 1997, when a classmate mentioned that she was joining the military “to see the world.” Although Thomas found it interesting to be a gay female in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era of the military, she has enjoyed and is grateful for her experience. Thomas was on active duty for over nine years, and then switched to the Air Force Reserves. She is currently with Moffett Operations Central (Southern) Command. She credits the US Attorney’s Office for being supportive of her military commitments.
Two Orrick lawyers, Rabindra (Rabi) David and Nick Horton, are military veterans. David earned his wings flying as an electronic warfare officer on the AC-130 gunship before becoming a logistics maintenance officer for the RC-135 “Rivet Joint.” He deployed to the Middle East for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. After eight years in the Air Force, David went to law school. He later re-joined the Air Force as a JAG officer, separating in October 2016 to join Orrick. In addition to his white collar internal investigations practice, David provides pro bono representation to veterans seeking disability benefits. Horton served on active duty from 2001-2008 as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He had three deployments to Iraq three between 2003 and 2005. After settling in Sacramento, he attended Pacific McGeorge, graduating Order of the Coif in 2012. He returned to service with the Marine Corps Reserves as an infantry officer, “which is a great escape from the office and allows me to still get my boots dirty once and a while.” Both David and Horton credit Orrick for supporting the military.
Felix De La Torre is the General Counsel of the Public Employment Relations Board. He joined the California Army National Guard while still in high school, using the summer between his junior and senior year to complete basic training. After finishing high school, he completed Combat Engineer training and transferred to the Air Force. De La Torre used his military education benefits to pay for his education. “I credit my military experience with giving me the confidence and discipline needed to attain my educational goals. … Had I not enlisted, I am fairly certain that I would not be an attorney today.“
For Eric Miller, his plans to attend law school while serving his “one weekend per month, two weeks per year” with the California Army National Guard changed after 9/11. He was activated and soon sent to Iraq. “I ended up filling out law school applications from my tent in southern Iraq and went to law school after I returned,” he explains. After his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom as first lieutenant, he graduated from law school in 2008, clerked for a federal judge, and wound up at Boutin Jones where he handles business and real estate litigation.
Roosevelt O’Neal remembers joining the military in 1960 when he was a 17-year-old high school drop-out. Because he was not yet 18, he had to have his mother sign his paperwork. He spent eight years in the Air Force, learning teletype communications at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, and serving with top secret military clearance in the Philippines, Japan, Oklahoma, and California, before his honorable discharge. Back in San Francisco and now married with two children, he used his GI bill benefits to enroll in City College, with the idea of becoming a doctor. However, a conversation with a local doctor convinced him that law school would be a better career path, so he enrolled at USF Law School and was admitted to the Bar in 1979. O’Neal became the first black CalTrans attorney in 1980, before he opened a private solo practice. He credits his military training, with an emphasis on loyalty and responsibility, in helping him be organized and maintain a dedication and sense to duty towards his clients.
Alejandro Mejia starts law school at Pacific McGeorge in August – quite a change from the four years he served in the Army as a combat medic. Mejia is the son of immigrant parents. “I felt the need to give something back to the country that had already given my family a shot at a better quality of life, so the added bonus of being able to help my parents [financially] helped me decide what to do.” Straight from training, Mejia deployed with the 1st Infantry Division, 1-4 Cavalry Squadron, Apache Company to FOB Sykes located outside of Tal-Afar, Iraq, serving as his platoon’s medic. He has been working as a legal assistant with the Voluntary Legal Services Program. “I think he’s a terrific young man,” say VLSP Managing Attorney Vicki Jacobs.
by Heather Cline Hoganson
“Through more than a decade of conflict that tested the fabric of our Nation, the service of our men and women in uniform stood true. …Yet, in one of the war’s most profound tragedies, many of these men and women came home to be shunned or neglected — to face treatment unbefitting their courage and a welcome unworthy of their example.We must never let this happen again. Today, we reaffirm one of our most fundamental obligations:to show all who have worn the uniform of the United States the respect and dignity they deserve, and to honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they served us.”
President Barrack Obama
Presidential Proclamation 2012-03-29
On the 50th Anniversary of the official end of the Vietnam War, President Barrack Obama proclaimed March 29, 2012 as Vietnam Veterans Day and called “upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities…” In 2017, Congress passed, and President Trump signed, Public Law No. 115-15 to add “National Vietnam War Veterans Day, March 29” to section 6(d) of the title 4 of the United States Code, the section that lists when flags should be displayed.1
To honor the Vietnam veterans who are lawyers in the Sacramento area, Justice Fred Morrison (ret.) – himself a Vietnam veteran – organized a luncheon on March 29, 2018, the first anniversary of the law. He called his friends Emmett Mahle and Tom Knox, also Vietnam veterans, to create a celebration on the anniversary where they could “tell war stories” and appreciate having their own recognition day. From there, “one thing led to another” with the SCBA handling logistics and the Del Paso County Club graciously donating one of its rooms. Thus, this event emerged, complete with speakers Mike McGowan and Judge David Abbott. A slide show of in-country photos taken by Norm Hile played as an accompaniment to the event. Red Cross volunteer Barbara Haukedalen contributed P-38s, which are the openers for C-rations, as a reminder of the haute cuisine provided to soldiers by Uncle Sam and a memento of this occasion. She also brought a map of Vietnam, and attendees attached their names with pushpins to the areas of Southeast Asia where they served. As Justice Morrison remarked, Red Cross volunteers provided a female touch of home to soldiers – in serving coffee and doughnuts to help troop morale, they were referred to affectionately as “Donut Dollys.” Tom Knox agreed and said “God bless them all.” Present were all branches of service, with the eldest statesman in attendance being retired Brigadier General Jed “Skip” Scully, now Professor Emeritus at Pacific McGeorge. When Justice Morrison mentioned “former Marines,” Thomas Fowler respectfully “objected” to the characterization, “there may be a dead Marine, but there is never a ‘former’ Marine.” Semper Fi!
Mike McGowan spoke about the things he learned as a Marine, which included the filling of a lot of sandbags, resourcefulness to the point of larceny in obtaining food to share with his fellow Marines, the telling of tall tales (which assisted him later as a trial lawyer and politician), and the putting of service above self. He said it was his duty to make life better for others, his debt to those “that didn’t make it home.” He explained that his responsibility to make real the promise of the 58,000 lives left behind was partially based on the fact that “we left Vietnam, but Vietnam has never left us.”
Judge David Abbott, who served during the Vietnam years as a Marine Corps prosecutor and defense attorney, presides over the Veterans’ Treatment Court, established in 2014 to provide an alternative to veterans who plead guilty or no contest to committing non-violent, non-felony crimes due to brain injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual trauma, substance abuse, or mental health problems connected to their military service.2 Judge Abbott reports that Sacramento’s recidivism rate after completion of the 18-month Veterans’ Treatment Court program is “almost zero,” a win for the individual and for society. Judge Abbott thanked the mentors in this program, including Vietnam veterans Kent Wyatt and Jim Anwyl, who also attended the luncheon, and encouraged others to volunteer to be mentors as well.
While this country loses Vietnam veterans daily (estimates are that 500 per day die), it now has an official recognition day to thank those that remain for their service and honor the sacrifices made by all who served.
1 The others include: Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May; Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May; National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, July 27; Navy Day, October 27; and Veterans Day, November 11.
2 See Forgotten Heroes, No More, Sacramento Lawyer, vol. 118, no. 1 (Jan/Feb 2017), p. 22.
by Alison Leary
The Public Law Section continues to feature presentations on new developments in the law. Recently, the section delivered a novel MCLE program on aerial drones. Katharine Killeen, a Senior Attorney at the California Department of Water Resources, spoke about public agency interest in the deployment of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), the Federal Aviation Administration regulatory framework, state legislation, and a public agency approach to policy, procedures, implementation, and compliance. Raiyn Bain-Moore, a Deputy State Attorney at CalTrans Division of Aeronautics, addressed beneficial uses, restrictions surrounding drones, and guidance to public entities. Tim Cromartie, then a Legislative Representative for the League of California Cities, explained local regulatory frameworks and offered perspectives and guidelines for local regulations.
In February 2018, the section again kicked off the calendar year with a legislative update of new laws impacting public agencies. Ashley E. Zambrano, who is an associate at Best Best & Krieger LLP, gave an insightful rundown of laws that impact a wide range of public law practice. Whether dealing with requirements or restrictions pertaining to public facilities, elections, transportation funding, post-government employment, public records, or a ban on asking about a job applicant’s salary history, there were topics of diverse practical value to the many attendees.
Thanks to Downey Brand and Best Best & Krieger for hosting these programs. The section looks forward to many more programs during this remarkable Centennial Year of the SCBA.
by Maureen C. Onyeagbako
Stepping up its outreach to local law students, the Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association (WMBA) recently held events to facilitate job-search training and mentorship. As WMBA President Adrian Carpenter sees it, attorneys “sometimes forget how much support we needed when we were in law school. One of my goals . . . is to offer guidance to our future lawyers within the Sacramento community.”
So, on January 20, 2018, WMBA hosted its first annual resumé and mock interview workshop at the Wilke Fleury law firm. Local attorneys and students met over a light breakfast to discuss a variety of topics related to legal careers. For example, Pacific McGeorge Adjunct Professor Wanda Hill Rouzan shared advice on navigating law school and the bar exam. Carpenter, who is Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary in the Governor’s Office, spoke of scholarship opportunities and encouraged students to take advantage of the mentors available within WMBA.
Next, students dressed in business-attire met individually with attorneys for mock interviews and resumé critiques. Carmen-Nicole Cox, Chief of the Office of Legislation at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, served as an advisor and found that students did not fully appreciate how their prior work history provided them with transferable skills. She focused her critiques on helping students understand what they have to offer and communicating that in resumés and interviews.
After the breakout sessions, the group reconvened to meet with Presiding Justice of the Third District Court of Appeal, Vance W. Raye. Justice Raye commended the students on investing in their careers by attending the workshop and reminded them that the job market is a buyer’s market. Thus, resumés should reflect the care and attention the students would put into the job they are applying for. Following up on the theme of care and attention, wardrobe stylist Chantera Gunn presented on dressing professionally and doing so on a budget. In all, the event helped alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with any job search.
WMBA’s outreach efforts continued in February, with a First Saturday Brunch at a local attorney’s home. Law students were treated to beautiful weather, great food, and direct access to attorneys at all stages of their careers. WMBA understands that students may find it difficult to identify and reach out to potential mentors. This intimate and informal gathering brought potential mentors to the students and also facilitated interaction with students from different law schools. Students left the brunch energized and reassured that they have support and guidance throughout their legal journeys. WMBA plans to keep this momentum going and will hold additional events throughout the year. Join us.
by Dan Glass
On March 23, 2018, the Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association (CCTLA) hosted an annual presentation by Presiding Judge David De Alba and Assistant Presiding Judge David Abbott at the SCBA office. The two jurists touched on the usual subjects: trials, settlement conferences, the daily running of the civil division of the Sacramento County judiciary, and the new courthouse to be built in the future.
Sacramento County is considered a “medium” size county, not a Los Angeles or San Francisco, but also not Glenn or Yuba County. Although not back the pre-recession funding level, the court is doing well. The court has approval for 63 judicial officers, but only 61 positions are filled. The court has only one probate judge, but based on population, it could (should) have three.
The good news for those who try civil cases is that Sacramento remains a court where it is highly likely you get a judge and courtroom on the date set for trial. Judge De Alba, like his predecessors over the past five years, makes it a priority not to have the litigants show up for the first day of trial only to find themselves “continued” to some future date months away. There is some “trailing” of cases for a day or two, but the Sacramento court remains one where there is better than a 95% – 98% chance of getting to trial on the date set – so be prepared.
Judge De Alba wondered why cases were only set for trials to commence on Mondays or Tuesdays. The judges are investigating whether it would be workable to have cases set to commence trial on other days of the week.
Judge De Alba stressed that Department 47 will not accept ex-parte requests to continue trial for cases set for trial eight or more weeks out. Those requests for a continuance will be placed on the normal motion calendar of the court.
The court has been reducing the ±1,700 stale cases in the system, and this remains a priority for Judges De Alba and Abbott. They are reviewing the cases and issuing Orders to Show Cause to determine the status of the cases. The backlog has been reduced to less than 600.
Finally, with regard to that new courthouse that every Presiding Judge has worked so hard to make happen, Sacramento County was one of five counties in the state’s budget for courthouses. One way to get the construction moving has become the issuance of Lease Revenue Bonds for financing. Sacramento County has acquired the land and has completed plans. However, even if everything goes as planned, it is likely that a new courthouse will not become a reality until 2022 – which really is not that far away.