Wednesday, May 29, 2013

SHIN v. KONG (2000)

I successfully represented the defendant physician in this appeal back in 2000.  One of the interesting things that happens when an appellate decision becomes reported, as this appeal was, is that other attorneys and courts can cite it as legal precedent, and which has occurred several times with this case in subsequent decisions.  The case stands for the legal proposition that a physician owes a duty of care to his patient, and not to the patient's spouse whom he is not treating.  It is also significant for its reinforcement of the "anti-heart" balm statute as embodied in Civil Code section 43.5 as first enacted in 1939, and which prohibits civil damage actions for alienation of affection, seduction of an adult or "criminal conversation" (aka committing adultery with another person's spouse).  The practice of law was probably more exciting before this code section was enacted.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


The state's budgetary woes have already severely impacted the court system, especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where various subsidiary courts have had to close, resulting in longer waiting periods to get to trial and more travel time for litigants to attend court hearings.
Orange County Superior Court has been affected as well, although I believe it is one of the better managed county court systems in the state and has thereby been able to avoid many of the court closures that have affected other counties.
That is about to change on July 1, 2013.  At that time, the following changes will occur:

     The limited jurisdiction court in Laguna Hills will close.  This courthouse serviced South Orange County in small claims, traffic, civil harassment, unlawful detainer, and limited jurisdiction civil cases where the amount in dispute was less than $25,000.00.  Thereafter, the limited civil cases will be transferred to the Central Justice Center courthouse in Santa Ana, and the other matters will be heard at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

     Probate and mental health cases, which used to be heard at the Lamoreaux Justice Center in the City of Orange, will also be transferred to the Central Justice Center.

     Family law cases (divorce and separation cases, adoptions, etc.) that were formerly heard at the Central Justice Center will be centralized and heard only at the Lamoreaux Justice Center.

Across the state, $260 million is being cut from court budgets, with Orange County bearing slightly more than 8 percent of that number.

This will probably result in longer waits for trial on civil matters, as the civil trial panel in Santa Ana will now have to deal with a glut of limited jurisdiction cases in addition to their regular caseload of unlimited jurisdiction cases, wherein the amount in dispute exceeds $25,000.00.

The above changes will probably be more inconvenient to litigants than to attorneys, other than waiting for longer periods of time to get to trial.  Up until now, Orange County Superior Court has been very diligent in ensuring that most of the civil cases went to trial no later than a year from the date that the action was filed.  That is probably going to change, given the above developments.

While the legal system in this country has its share of critics, I firmly believe that the United States has the most fair and enlightened criminal and civil justice system in the world, and it is a shame that financial mismanagement by a series of governors and state legislators has brought us to this point in time.