Criminal Law Section

News from the Section

State Bar of California Annual Meeting

My Annual MeetingThe State Bar of California 88th Annual Meeting
October 8-11, 2015
Anaheim, California

The State Bar of California returns to sunny Anaheim for the 2015 Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is a multiday showcase of continuing legal education courses, celebrity speakers, and noted legal scholars. Each day gives you several choices of courses and special events.

The Annual Meeting registration fee is structured to make it more affordable to attend. You can select either a Full Meeting Pass or a 2-Day Pass. Special fees are available for Young Lawyers and New Admittees. September 14 is the deadline for the lowest fee.

More than 100 programs are planned for the Annual Meeting, including these from the Criminal Law Section:

Program 9

50 Shades of “Brady”: DA Discovery Obligations and Sanctions for Violations

Program 29

Elimination of Bias in Jury Selection: Wheeler/Batson/Lenix in the Courtroom

Program 50

Courtroom Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts from the Judicial Perspective

Program 65

Ethics for Criminal Law Attorneys

Program 94

Kids Kaught Up in the Kourtroom: Trends in Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency Practices

Program 109

Ethics and Social Media:  Cybersleuthing, Predatory Friending and More

Program 120

Advanced Civil and Criminal Writ Practice in the California Court of Appeal

Program 122

In Limine Motions: When Before You Begin Trial

For more information, see The State Bar of California Annual Meeting.

Upcoming Criminal Law Section Webinars

Webinar: White Collar Crime Series: "Houston, We Have a Problem" - Clients Who Engage in Unlawful Conduct During Your Representation

Thursday, September 10, 2015, 12 noon - 1 p.m. (Pacific)

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

Lawyers are exposed to potentially tremendous liability when a client engages in criminal or fraudulent conduct under the lawyer's watch. Such liability may include Bar discipline, civil, or even criminal sanctions. This webinar offers practical guidance for lawyers on how to spot and navigate certain ethical issues that arise when clients engage in such conduct during representation.

This course is presented as a part of the Criminal Law Section Executive Committee White Collar Crime Series.


  • Vince Farhat, Partner, Holland & Knight
  • Nicholas Melzer, Senior Counsel, Holland & Knight

Webinar: Social Media and Legal Ethics: Potential Landmines of Ethical Violations and Virtual Treasure Troves of Evidence!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015, 12 noon - 1 p.m.(Pacific)

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

Lawyers frequently use social media in their personal and professional lives. The use of social media by lawyers can have significant benefits while simultaneously increasing the risk of violating ethical rules of professional conduct.

This webinar will explore various types of social media, provide a tutorial on setting up a social media account, discuss potential ethical violations implicated by the use of social media, provide an overview of the law controlling obtaining social media evidence and discuss how to admit social media evidence at trial.

Speaker: Mark Jackson, Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County

Book Review: Ghettoside, by Jill Leovy

Reviewed by Robert A. Schwartz

Recent police shootings of unarmed African-Americans have triggered a protest slogan and a rhetorical question over whether black lives matter. The question is emphatically answered in the affirmative in Jill Leovy’s new book Ghettoside, a thorough and compelling examination of black on black homicide in South Los Angeles, and the relentless efforts of several homicide detectives to find the perpetrators, and lay the foundation for a successful prosecution.

Leovy, a Los Angeles Times reporter, was provided an office at the 77th Division precinct house, and given an insider’s access to the scene of killings, and the opportunity to interview witnesses, surviving family members, and detectives assigned to the investigations. The result is a work that is part crime novel, and part sociological treatise. The term Ghettoside, coined by a South LA gang member, refers not only to a geographical vicinity (e.g. west side, east side) but a state of mind. Leovy could have used the alternate rhyming title Ghettocide as the book at its heart addresses the often mindless cycle of homicides in south LA. Entering this picture are LAPD homicide detective John Skaggs and some of his colleagues who battle a host of obstacles -- witnesses silenced by a fear of retaliation or just simply indifference, distrust and even contempt for the police, and bureaucratic restrictions imposed by LAPD -- but relentlessly pursue investigations, in the process honoring the memories of the decedents as well as the broken hearts and wishes of their loved ones. Aggressive investigation and apprehension of killers, Leovy contends in the book, mutes extralegal violence -- the street paybacks for every new killing or attempted killing -- that keeps adding fuel to the fire of the cycle of violence.

There are always witnesses to these killings (shootings to be exact ) but the trick for detectives is to get them to talk. No witness of course wants to be labeled a snitch on the street and getting them to talk necessarily involves intimidation and subtle psychology and can be a dirty business: lying to witnesses who insist on anonymity about whether they are being recorded, leaving them feeling ultimately betrayed, is depicted as a necessary evil in the process. Leovy dutifully traces African-American suspicion of the police and the dispensation of justice to the Jim Crow Deep South, where black on black crime was treated by the police with yawning disinterest (in contrast with the vigorous even hysterical response greeting black on white crime) and where the perception was that law was the domain of whites, and the wide scale migration of blacks in the mid-20th century from the south to northern and western urban areas. Leovy notes that a sign in a 77th Division squad room reads “Louisiana Hotel.”

A subplot of the larger theme conveyed in this book revolves around the killing of the son of an LAPD detective who rejected the usual practice of officers and detectives who chose to live  in the suburbs and instead remained in the 77th Division district. The son, like so many young black homicide victims, was not a gang member although was friends with a few guys who marginally were, and unfortunately was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Leovy follows the case through jury trial. A riveting element of suspense is introduced along the way as Detective Skaggs desperately seeks to keep available, compliant but reluctant prosecution witnesses, including a wheelchair-bound man shot in a prior gang dispute who was found in possession of the murder weapon, and a sometime prostitute and drug abuser who was a passenger in the car being driven by her then boyfriend, who apparently orchestrated the event that resulted in the eventual shooter leaving the car, walking out of view, and then shooting the homicide detective’s guileless son. The woman, needy for attention and encouragement, pesters at all hours the homicide detective, who must be responsive to keep her on board for trial.

Even veteran trial attorneys, prosecutor and defense attorney alike, will draw from this book several nuggets, including Leovy’s section on firearms examination relating to the discovery and testing of the murder weapon here, a revolver. Although most of the homicides referenced in this book are the work of gang members, Leovy’s expression of the thoughts of homicide detectives debunks one of the courtroom myths perpetrated by gang experts -- that all violent crimes committed by gang members are intended to benefit the gang.  In fact, Leovy notes, many such crimes are strictly personal -- a conflict over a woman or a perceived personal slight, to give just two examples. This book is a must read for everyone who works in the criminal justice system and is hard to put down.

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

As a 2015 benefit of Section membership, we are pleased to offer six hours of MCLE credit, offering credit in all of the MCLE subfields.

The Criminal Law Section Thanks You for Your Membership.  Member Benefit: 6 hours MCLE creditIf 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.

limination of Bias in the Legal Profession

  • Understanding the Role of the Interpreter – One More Way to Eliminate Bias in the Courtroom

Competency Issues (formally known as Detection & Prevention of Substance Abuse)

  • Staying Healthy and Mentally Competent Throughout a Long Legal Career

Legal Ethics

  • Advertising Your Expertise and Experience: What Can You Do to Build Your Practice While Meeting Your Ethical Obligations?
  • Conflicts of Interest and Disqualification Arising from Prior Client Representation: What are the Rules?
  • Ethics Update 2014: Significant Development in the Law of Lawyering 
  • Lawyering on the Outside: Electronic Communications & Social Networking vs. Ethics & Professional Responsibility

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.


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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

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