Criminal Law Section

News from the Section

Webinar: Defenses in Criminal Cases: Challenging the Prosecution’s Proof

Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 12 noon - 1 p.m.

This program offers 1 hour participatory MCLE credit and 1 hour legal specialization credit in Criminal Law. You must register in advance to participate.

Defenses in criminal cases either negate the prosecution’s proof of one or more elements of the charged crime, including the identity of the perpetrator, or rely on new matter which justifies or excuses conduct that would otherwise be criminal. This webinar will focus on defenses which challenge the prosecution’s proof, including eyewitness misidentification, third party culpability, alibi, unconsciousness, and mental impairment.  Emphasis will be placed on a practical approach to understand the rules of admissibility and requirements for jury instructions for each defense with factual scenarios for illustration.

Speaker: Mark Hanasono

On-line Billing and Payment for 2017 Fees

The State Bar will be launching  a new on-line billing and payment application for 2017 fees.  Paper billing statements will not be sent to members. Instead, statements will be available online through My State Bar Profile. Individual members will continue to be able to make payments online through My State Bar Profile. Attorneys should make sure that the email they have provided for State Bar communications is up to date.

Law firms and agencies will be able to use the State Bar’s new Agency Billing system where they can calculate billing costs and make payments for a group of attorneys. 

Please be sure your Section Membership Fees are included in your payment.    

Once an attorney’s fees are paid, a paper bar card will be conveniently available for download through My State Bar Profile. Plastic bar cards will still be made available, but only upon request and can also be ordered through My State Bar Profile.

The online billing system makes it easier than ever for individual attorneys and agencies to help make the justice system available to everyone.  When paying your bill, please consider making a contribution in support of legal services for low income Californians.  Your support is a lifeline that can help prevent homelessness, keep kids in school, protect elders from fraud and abuse, and connect veterans to services, among other critical legal assistance. 

It is anticipated that the on-line agency and billing application will be available through the State Bar’s website by mid-December.  

Go to for more information, or contact Member Records and Compliance at 1-888-800-3400.

Thank You for Being a Section Member - Here's 6 Hours MCLE in Legal Ethics!

We're very grateful for your membership in the Section. As a token of that, we're offering six hours of self-study MCLE credit in the area of Legal Ethics. The programs are posted in our Member's Only Area.

Simply watch the programs and read the accompanying materials, and keep track of having done so. You can report this to the State Bar when it's time to demonstrate your compliance with the MCLE requirements.

Book Review:
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
by Matt Taibbi

Reviewed by Robert A. Schwartz

In The Divide, Matt Taibbi, a reporter and editor at Rolling Stone Magazine, has produced a sobering, powerful indictment of the criminal justice system, in particular the dramatically contrasting ways in which justice is administered according to whether you are rich or poor. Taibbi is a gifted storyteller who has successfully decoded the often arcane and esoteric jargon and complex financial instruments generated on Wall Street, and has ferreted out massive fraud and irregularities in the financial services industry, none of which was ever prosecuted. Here, Taibbi, speaks for the little guy -- victimized by Wall Street chicanery, dual standards of law enforcement, and the aggressive growing cottage industry of welfare fraud prosecutions.

Taibbi’s reportage is channeled through a voice that is at times indignant and enraged, but always entertaining. (Think of an edgier, profane version of Michael Lewis.) The book is a corollary to an earlier work of his, Griftopia, where Taibbi first laid bare the many layers of fraud that contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown. Taibbi is critical of the Obama Administration Justice Department for its policy, no matter how egregious or massive the fraud, of reaching massive civil settlements with banks, investment banks, insurance companies, and other major players on Wall Street, in lieu of criminal prosecutions. He quotes with approval from the New York Times editorial, “Clearly the government has bought into the notion that too big to fail is too big to go to jail.” The insidious result that Taibbi exposes is that crime, from insider trading to selling worthless securities to unsuspecting investors, to false bond ratings to paying huge executive bonuses from companies on the verge of collapse, does pay on Wall Street. In one chapter, entitled “The greatest bank robbery you never heard of,” Taibbi chronicles Barclays Bank’s purchase of the Lehman Brothers investment firm wherein countless shareholders and investors were shortchanged, like the City of Long Beach, California, while a hidden five billion ($5B -- not a misprint) dollar side deal (euphemistically termed a “discount”) was arranged, benefitting insiders. And then there is the case of HSBC bank laundering millions of dollars of drug proceeds for a Mexican cartel. And the beat goes on. Taibbi takes on the arguments for the non-prosecution of these crimes, and debunks each one.

There is another world Taibbi has depicted in this book. It is a world where people lack Ivy League degrees or connections, high priced lawyers or lobbyists, political juice, or in many cases documentation of citizenship. These are people who are just getting by. And in many cases they are low hanging fruit for law enforcement, from aggressive cops on the street in New York City trying to pad their numbers, to welfare fraud investigators in California who barge into the homes of female welfare applicants and search through underwear drawers looking for a sign that a male adult actually lives there, to cops in a small town in Georgia who target Hispanics for minor traffic violations that set in motion deportation actions for those driving without a license, virtually unattainable there without citizenship papers. Taibbi spent a great deal of time sitting through New York City criminal courts, and what he saw offered a glimpse into practices widely assumed to no longer exist: full scale dragnets, skyrocketing misdemeanor arrests for petty (if not wholly fabricated) offenses such as obstructing pedestrian traffic for merely standing at night in front of one’s own apartment building. Taibbi has done a great service to those who are genuinely concerned about the justice component of the criminal justice system.

Retirement of Criminal Law Section Advisors Gregory Paraskou and Marshall Schulman

The Criminal Law Section would like to thank long time section advisors Gregory Paraskou and Marshall Schulman. After years of service to the Criminal Law Section, both are retiring from practice.

Gregory Paraskou began practicing law in 1971 after graduating from the University of California Hasting College of the Law. In 1972, he began his 28-year career with the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s office. While a deputy public defender, Greg was on the special trials unit, handling many homicides and high profile cases including People v. Richard Farley, a 1988 case involving a mass shooting at a high-tech firm. In 2000, Greg moved to Santa Barbara where he served first as Assistant Public Defender and later, as the Chief Public Defender. Greg served for many years as a member and advisor to the Executive Committee of the State Bar Criminal Law Section. When asked what advice he had for criminal law practitioners, Greg stated, “it is important to remember that your first consideration is what is in the best interests of the client. When you ask that question and answer it honestly, it becomes pretty clear what you have to do.” Greg is enjoying his retirement – he is involved with several non-profit organizations, and is learning to play the piano.

Marshall Schulman, who will turn 89 years old this month, first started practicing law in 1953 after graduating from Loyola Law School. He began working as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in 1956. As a prosecutor, Marshall handled several high profile cases, including prosecution of the “Onion Field” murder case. After nearly 10 years of service as a prosecutor, Marshall left the office to begin a successful criminal defense practice in Santa Ana. In 2002, Marshall moved his practice to San Francisco, a location closer to his wife’s family. He served for many years as a member and then advisor of the Executive Committee of the State Bar Criminal Law Section. He states that what he liked most about his service on the Committee was “the camaraderie between the defense lawyers and prosecutors.” Marshall was instrumental in implementing the policy of balancing defense and prosecution members on the Committee. In addition to his service to the Criminal Law Section, Marshall was a past President of the Orange County chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, was elected into the American College of Trial Attorneys and the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, and was one of the founders of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He was instrumental in developing the State Bar Criminal Law Specialization program. When asked to sum up his thoughts about the practice of criminal law, Marshall stated, “it is the most challenging, interesting, and rewarding area of the practice of law. I enjoy my colleagues and my opponents. I find that it is a highly ethical practice, which is surprising to most people. I am going to miss it terribly.”

Do You Miss a Webinar? It's in Our Online Catalog!

Criminal Law Section members can get participatory MCLE credit for viewing programs online, including webinars put on by the Criminal Law Section that you may have missed. Choose from Criminal Law programs.

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.

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!

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