Criminal Law Section

News from the Section

Giving Back While Paying Forward -- The High School Educational Pipeline

By Otis Bruce, Marin County Office of the District Attorney and Criminal Law Section Executive Committee Member

Giving back while paying forward during 2013 - 2014!

Students and MentorsI'm happy to share the positive success of my 2014 mentees at Richmond De Anza High School Law Academy Graduating Seniors - May 28 at the Marriott Hilltop Reception, Richmond Ca!

Proud of these young brothers & sisters at De Anza High School in Richmond, CA!

Otis Bruce with StudentsDuring 2013 - 2014 academic year, l lectured and mentored regarding  education-college/law school/internships/life skills and career opportunities-for ethnic minorities as prosecutors.

 I joined 46 attorneys, along the judges and staff noted below, who were committed to mentoring 160 high school students (10th, 11th, 12th graders) during the entire academic year.   The Law Academy mentors signed on to supporting the high school education pipeline to get more minority students to pursue college and law school because of the under-representations in the legal professions.

Mentors and State Bar StaffThe coordinators of the De Anza High Law Academy:

  • Judge Judy Johnson-Contra Costa  County Superior Court
  • Judge Diana Becton-Contra Costa County Superior Court 
  • Patricia Lee -The State Bar of California Council on Access & Fairness
  • Judge Catherine Purcell -California State Bar Review Judge
  • Tahitia Dean-2014 -De Anza Law Academy Instructor.  Ms. Dean did a phenomenal job!
  • Mentors and StudentsAttorney Ruth Ashley-Chair California Law Academy Support Council (CLAS)

This is the High School Educational Pipeline supported by the State Bar of California and California Department of Education.

There are 10 Law Academies that have been started and supported in specific high schools in California--specifically those with a high percentage (and capable) number of ethnic minority students.

I am encouraging our black prosecutors (NBPA, BABPA and BPLA) to consider participating and supporting the Law Academies in the State.  This program presents an excellent opportunities to give back while paying forward and show our commitment to service and building the pipeline for the future!

Join me during the 2014-15 academic school year and support and become a mentor at one the 10 Law Academies in the state!

For information on whether the program is happening near you, and how to participate, contact Pat Lee at

Let Us Know How We Can Serve You Better -- Criminal Law Section Membership Survey

Thanks to everyone who has aready resonded to our request for input. If you haven't yet responded, please consider adding your voice!

The Executive Committee of the Criminal Law Section will greatly appreciate your feedback on a short survey about your experience as a Criminal Law Section member. The survey will take only minutes to complete, and will help us greatly in planning how best to serve you in the future. Take the survey HERE.

Upcoming Criminal Law Section Webinars

Webinar: Conducting Fraud Investigations - Best Practices for Lawyers

Thursday, March 12, 2015, 12 noon - 1 p.m.(Pacific)

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance in order to participate.

The main learning points of this course are:

  • Gaining an understanding of the various types of Fraud schemes (Financial Statement Fraud, Asset Misappropriation, Corruption)
  • How to plan an investigation based on the type of Fraud
  • Decisions on if, when and how to use Forensic Technology in your Fraud Investigation
  • Leveraging your forensic accountant and/or Certified Fraud Examiner as an Expert Witness

With speaker Steve C. Morang.

Steve is a Senior Manager at Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP in our Assurance and Advisory Department and has over 20 years of auditing, consulting and management experience working with companies in the United States and Europe. He leads our risk management group and as a result oversees all of Frank, Rimerman + Co.’s Sarbanes-Oxley, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and internal audit engagements. Steve specializes in leveraging his expertise in fraud prevention, detection and investigation into an array of areas in the Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) fields. Steve’s industry experience spans across the life sciences, financial services and manufacturing sectors, as well as with privately held, pre-IPO software and high-technology companies.

Steve graduated from Webster University and received his M.B.A. in Finance. He is also a Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Internal Auditor and holds the Certification in Risk Management Assurance. Steve is a frequent speaker at local, regional and national events, as well as being a published author on the topics of Internal Audit, Risk Management and Fraud. Steve is the current President of the San Francisco Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Additionally, Steve has been an Expert Witness in several high-profile fraud investigations both in the US and Europe.

Webinar: Proposition 47: What You Need to Know Now

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 12:15 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.(Pacific)

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit and 1 hour Legal Specialization in Criminal Law. You must register in advance in order to participate.

The California electorate passed Proposition 47 last November. In doing so, the voters reduced several types of non-violent felonies to misdemeanors. The legislation also has a provision that allows a person who is currently serving a felony sentence for a qualifying felony to petition to have his or her charge reduced to a misdemeanor, allowing for re-sentencing. Finally, the legislation contains a provision allowing someone who was convicted in the distant past to a qualifying felony to have that felony reduced to a misdemeanor. These legislative changes come with limitations and restrictions, and practitioners need to be aware of these to apply the law correctly. This webinar will cover: 1) the felonies that are reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47; 2) the restrictions that prevent reduction; 3) the mechanics for handling open cases, sentenced cases, and long-closed cases; and 4) the federal implications of this new California law.


  • Christopher W. Dybwad, Federal Public Defender's Office
  • Mark Harvis, Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office

6 Hours of Self-Study CLE in the Specialty Areas -- Complimentary for Members of the Criminal Law Section!

As a 2014 benefit of Section membership, we are pleased to offer six hours of MCLE credit, offering credit in all of the MCLE subfields.

The Section thanks you for your membership!If you were purchasing these courses individually in our Online Catalog, they would cost $210 -- so that's your Section membership more than paid for, and then some!

Just watch these programs, and keep a record of having done so in the event you're audited for MCLE compliance.

You can access these programs and the accompanying written materials any time this year in the Members Only Area.

Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession
  • Navigating Diversity
Detection and Prevention of Substance Abuse and Emotional Distress
  • Coping with the Unique Challenges of Legal Practice
Legal Ethics
  • Avoiding the State Bar Disciplinary System
  • Client Trust Accounting Fundamentals
  • Ethical Implications for Lawyers in Cyberspace and Social Media
  • Ethics and Civility: Want an Extension? Forget about It!

The State Bar Steps Up MCLE Audits

Did you know that this year the State Bar expects to audit between 7,000 and 8,000 attorneys for MCLE compliance? That figure accounts for fully 10% of all active members, and is up from 1% in 2011.  This increase reflects a growing emphasis on compliance with MCLE requirements.  The consequences of failing an audit are unpleasant, running from a letter of deficiency to disciplinary charges.  What is the easiest and best way to survive an audit? It’s simple: complete your MCLE requirements on time. 

MCLE Requirements - Compliance Group 3 (Last Names N-Z) Must Comply by January 30, 2014

Every three years, all non-exempt California attorneys are required to obtain 25 hours of approved credits, including four hours of legal ethics, one hour of prevention of substance abuse credits and one hour of elimination of bias credits. Fully half of these credits (12.5 hours) may be obtained through self-study programs. Check out our on-demand MCLE catalog for ways to fill your requirements customized for your practice. Many programs also offer legal specialization credits in the area of Criminal Law!

Articles from the Criminal Law E-Bulletin

The Criminal Law E-Bulletin is sent each month to members of the Section. The E-Bulletin often includes articles of lasting interest, and we have compiled some of these from 2012 on and posted them in the Members Only Area. Section members can access the articles by clicking on the link and signing in to My State Bar Profile.

Sentencing Manual - September 2013 Update

The Section is pleased to present the Sentencing Manual prepared by Gary Mandinach of the California Appellate Project, revised March 2013.

Gary has also prepared Reported Three Strikes Opinions as of March, 2013.

Both documents are posted on the Criminal Law Section's website under Publications.

Lawyer Beware: Kickbacks From Deposition Firms Expose Law Firms And Lawyers To Possible I.R.S.Tax Penalties

By  Stephen J. Walwyn, Esq.

Booking a deposition with a licensed court reporter should not expose lawyers or law firms to possible tax problems. However, the way some court reporting firms entice business may entangle lawyers and law firms with the Internal Revenue Service as well as the Franchise Tax Board.

Most lawyers don’t realize that some court reporting providers vigorously market their services to the secretaries, legal assistants, and paralegals who frequently select which court reporting provider to use. Some court reporting providers regrettably go so far as to offer kickbacks to law firm employees in exchange for bookings. These kickbacks – often entirely unknown to lawyers or law firm managing partners -- can be of significant value: cash and gift cards, spa treatments, tickets to major Broadway plays, bottles of expensive champagne, airline tickets and free condominium stays, contests with valuable prizes awarded.

While the court reporting providers style these valuables as "gifts," both practically and as a matter of tax law they are not gifts but payments for services. As confirmed by a recent, thorough analysis by counsel at Hanson Bridgett, the law deems these valuables to be compensation paid to a lawyer’s or law firm’s employee in exchange for services provided; namely, giving the lawyer’s or law firm’s business, often exclusively, to one court reporting provider.

The valuables that raise tax issues are specifically offered as quid pro quos: valuable items offered and delivered in exchange for the scheduling of reporting business. Further, even if the kickback is characterized as a prize, award or as points, the Internal Revenue Code specifically includes amounts received as prizes and awards in gross income unless the prize or award is transferred directly to a charity.

Read the full article HERE.

The Sections and CYLA Are on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn

Social media, anyone? The Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) now have pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn where we can keep you up-to-date on our latest news and events.

We're also looking forward to interacting with a wider community and reaching out to people who are not currently members.

We invite you to "Like" us and follow our "Tweets."

And by the way, the CYLA definition of "young" is any California attorney under the age of 36 or in their first five years of practice.


Like us! Follow us! Connect with us!

Get Online Participatory MCLE Credit from the Criminal Law Section

Get your MCLEs online! View Criminal Law Section programs over the internet for participatory MCLE credit. Choose from 45 Criminal Law programs at both modem and broadband connection speeds. These can be downloaded at

Recently added to our catalog:

Among the courses offered from the Criminal Law Section are:

  • Credibility and Character Evidence
  • Eliminating Bias in the Jury Selection Process: Tips & Tactics in Criminal & Civil Trials
  • Ethical Considerations for Prosecutors and Criminal Defense Attorneys
  • Following Your Conscience Without Losing Your Head
  • Hate Crimes After 9/11: Where Do We Stand
  • He Said! She Said! Hearsay Rules and Objections
  • Jury Selection: Tips and Tactics in Criminal and Civil Trials
  • Legislative Update: New Laws for 2002
  • Motions in Limine: Win Before You Begin
  • Narc, Narc...Who's There?
  • The Innocence Project: When the Criminal Justice System Fails
  • Using a Language Interpreter

Save Money with CEB

CEB Discount Program for Section MembersContinuing Education of the Bar, California (CEB) is extending some special discount offers to our section. As a member of the Criminal Law Section, you're eligible for:

  • 10% off selected CEB print or online books
  • rebate on your section dues that can be applied to the cost of a CEB Gold CLE Passport or a CLE program ticket

 A complete list of the products eligible for a discount is available on a CEB web page accessible through our Members Only Area. Information about the section dues rebate program can be found on the CEB Web site.

Contact Us

Criminal Law Section
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
415/538-2368 fax