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Monday, Sep 26, 2022
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Court System Budget Cuts Might Put Brakes on Wheels of Justice

The local wheels of justice turn slowly and it might get even slower in the coming months, despite the great work of the professionals in the San Diego Superior Court. Our local court system absorbed an $11.6 million reduction in operating funds this year. That was awful, but next year is going to be, well, awfuler.

Our local courts are going to have to make an additional $24 million cut to their budgets in the coming year, which starts in July. That’ll be a 15 percent reduction in the last two years.

Closing courthouses are the “last resort,” said Judge Kevin A. Enright, the presiding judge of the San Diego Superior Court. “I am proud of the judges, commissioners and court staff of the San Diego Superior Court for their hard work and dedication …” but the rest of this year and the coming year are going to be challenging. That means challenging for attorneys and litigants, too.

The presiding judge, who is also an outstanding Rotarian, said there will be more staff vacancies, a potential for furloughs and reduced hours in the clerks’ offices. There could also be a reduction in the number of available courtrooms.

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Steve Smith is stepping down as the dean of the California Western School of Law, after 15 years in the position. Smith came to California Western after serving as dean of the Cleveland-Marshall Law School in Cleveland. Before Cleveland, he was law professor, associate dean and acting dean of the University of Louisville School of Law. Smith has done a terrific job leading California Western and earned the school recognition for its pro bono work and other innovative teaching approaches. Smith is retiring as dean, but he’ll continue to teach and will remain a faculty member at California Western.

Speaking of recognition for pro bono work, Andrew J. Kessler of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP is the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. Kessler does construction litigation and contract disputes in California and Nevada, but works as a volunteer attorney representing domestic violence victims. That impressed the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, which will bestow the award at its Justice for All Celebration on Sept. 22 in Balboa Park. Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP is the Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year and the SDVLP awarded its Community Service Award to the Lawyers Club of San Diego.

Michael Neil was recently elected president of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel organization. Neil is a trial lawyer and senior partner at Neil, Dymott, Frank, McFall & Trexler APLC. Neil was past president of the Southern California branch of the organization, and is one of only 20 practicing attorneys in San Diego inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has too many other awards to fit in the column.

You don’t do an initial public offering, or IPO, without legal help. And there are going to be very few IPOs in the pharmaceutical space this year. But a team of Cooley attorneys from San Diego successfully advised Horizon Pharma through the process. Kay Chandler, Patrick Loofbourrow, Barbara Borden, Susan Philpot, Natasha Leskovesek, Michelle Lara, Sean Clayton, Amy Hallman Rice, Kirk Tyree and Wade Andrews made up the local team. Horizon Pharma, which specialized in developing drugs for arthritis, pain and inflammatory diseases, started trading July 29.

This might be torturing the word “recently,” but the news is worth inclusion. Jonathan Singer of Fish & Richardson represents Mayo Collaborative Services in its patent dispute with Prometheus. Singer recently successfully earned U.S. Supreme Court review of a circuit court decision upholding the patent-eligibility of Prometheus’ personalized medicine claims. I offer no comment on the merits of the suit, which involves how broad and far a patent may reach, but getting before the Big Nine is an accomplishment.

Randy C. Frisch is the president and publisher of the San Diego Business Journal. He is licensed to practice law in California, Nevada and Idaho. He can be reached at rfrisch@sdbj.com.

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