California Lawyer


February 2013

Two Wrongs, No Rights
How many examples like this ["Adding Insult to Injury," November] are needed before some systemic reforms are enacted? It's another example of our state's lip service to managing a fair and civil society while allowing blatantly unjust, even contemptuous, practices against wrongly condemned people. Our law system in this regard is just only relative to banana republics and Middle Eastern autocracies. Sadly, this cause will only garner attention when a politician who sees the benefits of championing it makes it his or her issue.
John Simpson, San Francisco

I had the honor of representing Antoine Goff before the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board. Mr. Goff, along with his co-plaintiff John Tennison, was denied, as was his appeal. (See Tennison v. Calif. Victims Comp. and Gov't Claims Bd., 152 Cal. App. 4th 1164 (2007).)

In preparation for the case, I researched all the claims brought prior to Mr. Goff's. This revealed that-contrary to attorney Linda Starr's opinion cited in your article-in every instance in which the board approved a claim, the claimant had the support of the trial district attorney who was responsible for the original conviction. In Mr. Goff's case, the trial attorney who caused his conviction continued to oppose Mr. Goff in his effort to get compensation.

The Goff matter was rejected in 2007, and I am wondering if the board, in the years since, has granted compensation to any individual when the trial district attorney responsible for the conviction has opposed the granting of such compensation.
Randolph E. Daar, San Francisco

Winds of Change
I am happy to report that "Desperate Hours" [August] was a catalyst for positive change in San Mateo County. After the article was published, Iliana M. Rodriguez, director of the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) for San Mateo County, contacted Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal) to see how the two organizations could partner to help victims of domestic violence in the county. DCSS is now taking appointments in our office every week to open cases for domestic violence victims who have requested child support, with the goal of obtaining and enforcing child support orders as quickly as possible.

I would also like to clarify that BayLegal operates the restraining order clinic in partnership with the San Mateo Superior Court. The court, notwithstanding its ongoing dire budget situation, continues to invest its limited dollars in the clinic partnership. BayLegal had been working with the court for the last few years to remedy the ongoing issue of restraining order processing delays addressed in the story. After the article appeared, both the judicial and administrative leadership of the court confirmed in public and in private meetings a renewed commitment to prioritizing domestic violence cases. I applaud the court's hard work to find a solution to this problem.

Although San Mateo County is a success story, it is important to know that this is not the case in courthouses across the state. Without adequate funding the courts face difficult choices, leaving the most burdened in our society to silently pay the price.
Tülin D. Açikalin, Bay Area Legal Aid, Redwood City

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