Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Neighboring developers win again as judge invalidates Richland’s Initiative for The Ranch development

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Map of area covered by the Richland Communities’ alternative initiative, and The Ranch 1,177-home project that was ruled invalid by a Superior Court judge. Herald file graphic.

By Allen Payton

On Friday, November 22, 2019 Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Edward G. Weil issued the final ruling in the lawsuits brought by Oak Hill Partners and Zeka Ranch against the City of Antioch and developer Richland Communities, that “the entire Richland Initiative is invalid”. Richland Initiative final court ruling 11-22-19

In July 2018 the Antioch City Council adopted a voter initiative sponsored by Richland Communities that approved Richland’s development called “The Ranch”, while at the same time downzoning Oak Hill’s, Zeka’s, and other neighboring properties to just one home per 80 acres. In August 2018, the City Council followed up by adopting a second voter initiative sponsored by environmental groups to limit growth in the Sand Creek Focus Area, the so-called Let Antioch Voters Decide Initiative. Earlier this year, the Court ruled that the City’s adoption of the environmental groups’ initiative was invalid, and ordered the City to put that initiative on the November 2020 ballot. The earlier order also found that Richland’s inclusion of a Development Agreement between Richland and the City for The Ranch development was unlawful and invalid. (See related article).

In the 23-page November 22 ruling, the issue before the Court was whether Richland’s invalid Development Agreement for The Ranch could be “severed” from the initiative to allow the initiative to survive without the unlawful Development Agreement. The Court found Richland’s Development Agreement not to be “volitionally” severable from the rest of the initiative. Because the invalid Development Agreement is not severable from the balance of Richland’s initiative, the bottom line of the Court’s ruling is that the entire Richland Initiative is invalid.

According to the ruling, “The Court of Appeal has described the test for volitional severability as follows: The volitional requirement concerns whether the voters would have adopted the initiative without the invalid provisions.” Because the initiative was adopted by the City Council instead of submitting it to the voters, the Court focused on the “volition” or decision of the City Council in enacting the Richland Initiative. “The Court concludes that it is the volition of the City Council members who voted on the initiative that matters.”

The judge then reviewed the substantial, valuable community benefits promised by Richland in the Development Agreement if it proceeded with The Ranch development. These benefits included at least $1.2 million for improvements to Deer Valley High School, cost free land for a new fire station, land for an East Bay Regional Park trailhead, fees to support Antioch police, and other community benefits. In the absence of the Development Agreement, Richland would not be legally obligated to provide those benefits to the City as part of The Ranch development.

The judge found that Richland’s PowerPoint presentation shown to the City Council, at the meeting where the City Council adopted the initiative, was relevant and persuasive evidence provided by Oak Hill and Zeka.

In that presentation, it showed the Development Agreement included “Communitywide Benefits” such as the $1.2 million for Deer Valley High School facility improvements, and “Public Safety Benefits” such as the annual per home police fee.

The judge determined that “There is no guaranty that a different developer would agree to give the school district as much money as Richland agreed to give, just as there is no guaranty that a different developer would agree to devote 44% of its land to open space and parks, etc.” If the Development Agreement “were not approved, there would be no certainty as to when another willing developer might come along, and no certainty that the new developer would offer the City as good a deal.”

“The totality of the evidence persuades the Court that the Richland Initiative was a package deal, with the City agreeing to certain General Plan and Municipal Code amendments in exchange for the benefits specified in the Development Agreement.”

The judge’s ruling further determined that the initiative “imposed substantial development restrictions on other parts of the Sand Creek Focus Area including those owned by Zeka Ranch and Oak Hill” as part of a package with development of Richland’s The Ranch project. The Court found that those “development restrictions are not volitionally severable.”

Finally, the Court found that the General Plan and Zoning Code amendments that remained in the initiative outside of the Development Agreement could not be considered “standalone benefits independent of the Development Agreement.”

“Why would the City Council have wished to enact these amendments, if the City was not going to receive the benefits of the Development Agreement?” the judge asked rhetorically in his ruling. “This is another factor supporting the Court’s ruling on volitional severability.”

The result of the ruling means Richland must pursue its development through the development process with the City. The ruling also allows both Zeka Ranch and Oak Hill Partners to purse their development projects, as well.

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Judge tosses out Antioch Council’s adoption of environmental group’s Sand Creek initiative and The Ranch development agreement

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Herald file graphic.

Let Antioch Voters Decide initiative must go to Nov. 2020 ballot; Richland must produce new Environmental Impact Report

By Allen Payton

On May 31, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Edward Weil tossed out the Antioch City Council’s adoption of the initiative sponsored by environmental groups to limit growth in the Sand Creek Focus Area, as well as the development agreement for The Ranch project, contained in the competing initiative sponsored by Richland Communities. That agreement approved 1,177 homes on their property. (See related articles, here and here.) See judge’s ruling, here: Judge’s Order on initiatives lawsuits 05-31-19

As a result of the adoption by the Antioch Council of the two initiatives, last year, four lawsuits were filed against the City of Antioch, two each by The Zeka Group and Oak Hill Park Company, challenging both initiatives. The Zeka Group owns the 640-acre Zeka Ranch property on Old Empire Mine Road at the west end of the Sand Creek Focus Area, and according to the court documents, “which Zeka Group purchased in 1989. Prior to purchase, the City’s planning development manager, Raymond Vignola, assured Zeka Group that the property was and would continue to be designated for residential development of 1000+ units. The City’s 2003 General Plan called for 4,000+ units in the Sand Creek Focus Area, and Zeka Ranch was to develop the executive housing stock.” That resulted in a reduction of the number of housing units on the property that can be built. Zeka’s plans are to build 340 homes on their property.

Oak Hill “owns roughly 419 acres in three parcels” directly south of The Ranch project, “designated for a golf course and senior housing in the 2003 General Plan.”

The city council adopted both initiatives instead of placing either on the ballot, as the council had the option of doing. First, they adopted the one sponsored by Richland on July 11, 2018, which also resulted in the adoption of the development agreement 30 days later. The other initiative, entitled Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative (LAVD) sponsored by Save Mount Diablo and other environmental groups in the county, was adopted by the council on August 28, after the council had sent it back for more study and a report by city staff, which was also one of the options the council had.

Both initiatives downgraded the development potential on the Zeka Ranch, Oak Hill and other properties in the Sand Creek area west of Deer Valley Road to just one home per 80 acres, the same level as land outside the city’s and county’s Urban Limit Lines. The entire Sand Creek area is inside the city’s voter approved ULL. That would allow only eight homes on Zeka’s property and only five homes on the Oak Hill property.

The Ranch Development Agreement Unlawfully Included In Initiative, Requires EIR

In the decision, “the Court finds that the Richland Initiative unlawfully includes the Development Agreement between Richland and the City…but it may be severed from the remainder of the Richland Initiative.” The court also found that “The Development Agreement cannot be approved by initiative and requires compliance with CEQA” (the California Environmental Quality Act).

The decision means the development agreement is invalid and Richland must go through CEQA’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process in order to obtain approval of their development agreement. Whether or not the development agreement can be separated from the initiative has yet to be determined. If the judge finds that it can’t be, that will result in the entire initiative being invalidated.

Voids Let Antioch Voters Decide Initiative

In addition, the court found, “The LAVD Initiative is void as an improperly-adopted amendment to the Richland Initiative. The…question is whether the LAVD Initiative improperly amended the Richland Initiative. The Court concludes that it did. Under Elections Code section 9217, the City could not adopt the LAVD Initiative on its own. A vote of the people was required. This renders the LAVD Initiative void.”

The Council Must Place the LAVD Initiative On The Ballot

The court further finds, “Since the LAVD Initiative amends the Richland Initiative, the City had no choice but to put the LAVD Initiative before the voters. It would be manifestly unfair to the supporters of the LAVD Initiative to start the process over because the City instead adopted it. So, the Court is inclined to order the LAVD Initiative to a vote. The Court is unconvinced that the Richland Initiative is somehow immune from challenge by initiative amendment.”

The court prohibits “the City from enforcing the LAVD Initiative.” The judge then ordered the city council to place the environmental groups’ initiative on the November 2020 ballot. City Clerk Arne Simonsen said he has sufficient funds to include the ballot measure on the November 2020 election ballot.

Zoning For Zeka Ranch’s Property Couldn’t Be Changed By Initiative

In an additional decision, the judge ruled that the city council couldn’t change the designation of executive housing for the Zeka Ranch property.

“A city may not adopt ordinances and regulations which conflict with the state Planning and Zoning Law,” the ruling quoted from a previous court case. The judge further wrote, “Government Code section 65913.1 provides that a city ‘shall designate and zone sufficient vacant land for residential use with appropriate standards, in relation to zoning for nonresidential use, and in relation to growth projections of the general plan to meet housing needs for all income categories as identified in the housing element of the general plan.’

Zeka Ranch claims…that the Richland Initiative violated the code by restricting development in a manner that makes it impossible to meet the City’s housing needs allocation, particularly for the kind of executive housing Zeka Ranch was to build.

In fact, Zeka Ranch pleads that the General Plan called for allocation of one-to-two units per developable acre and contained a housing element specifically calling for residential development appropriate for executives of businesses seeking relocation to the City. Accepting this as true, Zeka Ranch properly pleads this claim.”

Legal Process Continues

The legal process continues over the two initiatives. To conclude his ruling the judge wrote, “The remaining challenges to the Richland Initiative will be resolved in a further phase.” Furthermore, the judge wrote, “Parties shall appear to discuss the proper remedy as to the LAVD Initiative and any further orders that may be necessary, as well as a schedule for briefing the remaining matters related to the Richland Initiative.”

In addition, the judge gave the parties in the lawsuits until June 24 to file amended pleadings. Both Zeka and Oak Hill submitted them by the deadline.

The case numbers are MSN-18-2228, 2229, 2231 and 2232.

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Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial seeks legal professionals to volunteer

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Deer Valley High Law Academy team will be one of 17 competing

Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 38th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held on seven early weekday evenings during late January and early February, in the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, close to 100 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the Mock Trials.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year’s case, People v. Klein: A young adult is charged with two felony counts: making a false report of an emergency (in this case, commonly referred to as “swatting”) and making a criminal threat.

“This program is a great tool to ensure that our students understand the workings of the trial courts and thus the importance of an independent judiciary, says,” says Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Barry Baskin. Judge Baskin, a long-time Mock Trial volunteer, encourages all of his local fellow law professional to join him in assisting with this year’s Mock Trial Competition.

Teams of high school students work with teachers and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives.  Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 17 Mock Trial teams competing, representing high schools throughout all of Contra Costa County.

Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the case in their assigned court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial judge and scorers.  The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of Bay Area deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, seasoned law students are also welcome to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial’s scorers.

“We applaud the hard work and time our students and their coaches put in to prepare for our Mock Trial program,” said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey. “In addition, we are grateful for the continued generous volunteer support we receive from our county’s Judicial, District Attorney, and Public Defender offices, as well as so many of our current and retired public- and private-practice attorneys. This successful program would never come together without so much support from the community.”

Teams from the following 17 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing:
Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley (San Ramon), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), and Richmond (Richmond).

Last year, several students from the Dear Valley High Law Academy earned individual awards including Loren Paylage, Kyle Lewis, Jafar Khalfani-Bey Kiara Chatman, Tristen Patel, Orianna Todd, and Elizabeth Vargas.

Schedule for 2019 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: January 29 and 31; February 5 and 7, – 5:00-8:30 p.m. (Nine competitions each night)

Quarterfinals: February 12, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Four competitions)

Semifinals: February 14, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Two competitions)

Final and Consolation: February 19, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Two competitions)

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting the CCCOE’s Mock Trial Web page, or contacting Jonathan Lance at [email protected] or (925) 942-3429.

The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals on Tuesday, February 19. The winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial Competition, held in Sacramento, Calif., March 22-23. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 16-18, Athens, Georgia.

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.

Preliminaries: January 29 and 31; February 5 and 7, – 5:00-8:30 p.m. (Nine competitions each night)

Quarterfinals: February 12, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Four competitions)

Semifinals: February 14, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Two competitions)

Final and Consolation: February 19, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Two competitions) 

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting the CCCOE’s Mock Trial Web page, or contacting Jonathan Lance at [email protected] or (925) 942-3429. 

The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals on Tuesday, February 19. The winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial Competition, held in Sacramento, Calif., March 22-23. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 16-18, Athens, Georgia.

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials. 

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BART to pay $1.275 million settlement in environmental prosecution case by DA’s of three counties

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Transit agency failed to implement plans notifying first responders of the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials at its facilities throughout the Bay Area

Martinez, , CA – The Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney, along with District Attorneys from Alameda County and San Mateo County, announced today that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson has ordered San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to pay $1.275 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution alleging that the transit agency failed to implement hazardous materials business plans at facilities throughout the three counties as well as violating aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.

The judgment agreed to by BART, resolves allegations made in a civil enforcement lawsuit filed January 31, 2017 in Alameda County and covers environmental violations dating back to January 2010.  The lawsuit claimed that at over 30 of BART’s 190 facilities throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo Counties, BART unlawfully failed to establish and implement a hazardous materials business plan for emergency response to a release or threatened release of hazardous materials.  These hazardous materials included large quantities of diesel fuel, petroleum, sulfuric acid contained in industrial batteries, and fire extinguishing chemicals.  The lawsuit further alleged that at these and other facilities, BART violated its environmental obligations related to its aboveground storage and underground storage of petroleum, and its hazardous waste.

“The protection of the public and the environment from dangerous hazardous materials through the enforcement of environmental protection laws is and always will be a high priority,” say District Attorney, Mark A. Peterson. “I am committed to ensuring both private and public entities comply with environmental laws enacted to protect our community and environment.”

In January of 2014, during routine compliance inspections, hazardous materials inspectors from the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health observed large aboveground storage tanks containing diesel at BART facilities in East Dublin/Pleasanton, West Dublin, and Castro Valley. These tanks, which contained 500 to over 1,700 gallons of diesel, fueled backup generators and were located in close proximity to areas accessed by thousands of BART commuters each day.  Despite the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials, BART had never implemented a hazardous materials business plan for any of these facilities as required by law.  These plans contain critical emergency response information for first responders, such as firefighters, and BART employees, should there be a release or threatened release of hazardous materials into the environment.  These hazardous materials business plans are designed to ensure the protection of the public and the environment in the event of a hazardous materials spill.

The violations were brought to the attention of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division who then conducted a follow up investigation with the District Attorney’s Offices’ Environmental Protection Units of Contra Costa County and San Mateo County.  The Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Program and San Mateo County Environmental Health Division also conducted inspections of all BART facilities in their respective Counties.  The follow up investigations revealed that BART’s failure to implement hazardous materials business plans was more widespread and covered over 30 BART facilities in the three counties.  The investigation also revealed that, at numerous other BART facilities, BART was committing violations of California’s aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.

BART was cooperative throughout the investigation and worked hard to bring their agency into substantial environmental compliance.  During the investigation, BART hired an third party to conduct an audit of its environmental management programs and the audit identified areas of improvement related to hazardous materials, aboveground storage tanks, and hazardous waste. As part of the settlement, BART agreed to implement the recommendations from this audit.

As part of the settlement, BART agreed to implement the recommendations from this audit.

Under the settlement, BART must pay $675,000 in civil penalties paid out, according to statute, to other government agencies, and $300,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation.  As part of the settlement, BART must also commit $300,000 to an additional environmental compliance position, for a total of two such positions for the next two years.  BART will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.

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Estate Planning: A long list will save me, right?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Matthew Hart column logoFor the last few months I have been talking about the Advance Health Care Directive (AHD).  I covered who will make a good agent and why co-agents can be a bad idea.  Once the agents are specified in the AHD the next piece of information in the directive is a list of things that the agent should do and can’t do.  Some people try and get really exhaustive with their list thinking the doctor will be following it to the letter.

What most people don’t realize is that the list of do’s and don’ts is only for your agent.  The doctor will not be reading the list.  The doctor will be looking at the AHD to find out who is in charge and then will ask your agent what course of action to take.  Therefore, what is most important is whom you put in charge.  Moreover, as medical technology changes, a list of do’s and don’ts may become outdated before you know it.  In addition, as we age the list of do’s and don’ts might radically change.

The point I try and make to my clients is; it is more important to choose a good agent who you communicate with often so that they can execute your wishes around health decisions even in an environment of change.  Next month I will talk about probate.

Matthew Hart is a California Licensed Attorney who is an Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California.  He can be reached at 925-754-2000 or www.MatthewHartLaw.com and he has offices in Antioch and Walnut Creek.

 

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I like group hugs don’t you?

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Matthew Hart column logoBy Matthew M. Hart, Esq.

Last month I talked about the Advance Health Care Directive (AHD).  Specifically I spoke about the role of the spouse in making medical decisions.  Assuming the spouse is able to make the decision, or wants to make the decision, all is usually fine.  However, when the spouse does not want to make health decisions, or more commonly cannot make health decisions for the sick spouse, who will make the decision?

When speaking with married couples, they sometimes forget someone is going to die first therefore having backup agents is critical.  The next logical choice for most families is to appoint the children as backup agents after the spouse to make the health decisions.

Most clients have the first thought that all of the children should be co-agents or in layman’s terms, they will make the decision together.  I usually advise against co-agents for the following reasons:

Generally speaking, a doctor will talk with all of the children present (if the spouse is unavailable) to see what course of action should be taken medically.  If the family agrees to the course of action everything is fine.  If the family does not agree, then the doctor will be looking to the AHD to see who will be the final word.  If the AHD says that all children equally will be the final word, then the AHD is pretty much useless and the next step is to go into court and get a judge’s final word.  Whereas if the AHD has a primary agent and backup agents then there is a final word if the children cannot agree.

Next month I will talk about non-family members as agents.

Matthew Hart is a California Licensed Attorney who is an Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California.  He can be reached at 925-754-2000 or www.MatthewHartLaw.com and he has offices in Antioch and Walnut Creek.

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Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial seeks legal professionals to volunteer their expertise

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 35th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held in the early evenings throughout the month of February, at the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, 150 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the Mock Trials.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year’s trial: People v. Hayes – a murder case, and features a pretrial argument on the Fifth Amendment.

“I encourage all my fellow law professionals to join us in serving as volunteer Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers,” said Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Steve Austin. “Not only is it a wonderful service to our county’s high school students, but you will really enjoy watching them in action. You will be impressed with the skill these young men and women demonstrate in our courtrooms. Every year I volunteer, I am continually amazed at the obvious time each student has invested to participate in this challenging academic event.”

Teams of high school students work with teachers and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives.  Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 16 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing.

Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the cases in their assigned court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial judge and scorers.  The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of Bay Area deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, seasoned law students are also welcome to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial’s scorers.

Teams from the following 16 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing: Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Northgate (Walnut Creek), Pinole Valley (Pinole), and Richmond (Richmond).

Schedule for 2016 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: February 2, 4, 9, 11, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Eight competitions each night)

Quarterfinals: February 16, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Four competitions)

Semifinals: February 18, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Final and Consolation: February 23, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

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Planning for Your Future: It’s always the spouse…isn’t it?

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Matthew Hart column logoBy Matthew M. Hart, Esq.

Last month I introduced readers to the Advance Health Care Directive (AHD), the document attorneys use to specify who will make your medical decisions when you cannot.  When I sit with my clients to discuss the AHD the big decision is who will make the decisions.  If my clients are married they usually choose their spouse.  Are you surprised I didn’t say, “they always choose their spouse?”

Part of my job is to gently help my clients face reality.  Although the spouse seems like the logical choice, what if my clients are in their 80’s and have only been married six months?  What if they have adult children in their 50’s and 60’s?  Sometimes, it will make more sense for that client to let the adult children make those final decisions instead of a new spouse.  What about the spouse who just can’t live without their mate?

When the critical time comes to make that tough decision, will the grieving spouse be able to set aside their emotions to make the decision?  Would it be more practical for an adult child to make that decision?  Although both of these situations are not too common, I have seen circumstances where the spouse wasn’t the best choice. When creating an AHD clients should take an honest look at who can make the final decision.

Next month I will talk about the issues around children and AHD’s.

Matthew Hart is a California Licensed Attorney who is an Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California.  He can be reached at 925-754-2000 or www.MatthewHartLaw.com and he has offices in Antioch and Walnut Creek.

 

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