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  • Donna Bader
  • Attorney at Law
  • Certified Specialist in Appellate Law
  • 668 North Coast Hwy, Ste. 1355
  • Laguna Beach, CA  92651
  • Tel.: (949) 494-7455
  • Fax: (949) 494-1017
  • Donna@DonnaBader.Com



Donna Bader

Attorney at Law

Certified Specialist in Appellate Law

668 North Coast Hwy, Ste. 1355

Laguna Beach, CA  92651

Tel.: (949) 494-7455

Fax: (949) 494-1017





An Appeal to Reason

When I picked the title of my blogAn Appeal to Reason, I thought it was a clever title.  It had the word "appeal" in it to describe the type of work I do, but it also focused on the process that one uses to write a brief. Looking back, the title was not particularly descriptive of the purpose of the blog, which was to advise trial attorneys on how to preserve their cases for appeal. Over time, I found that many of my clients were reading the blog to get a sense of who I was. They were not interested in my tips; they were laypeople looking for some justice.
As we enter 2017, I feel that providing tips to trial attorneys seems so insignificant, although I am hopeful that trial attorneys will get involved in the fight. We are facing so many potential catastrophes from climate change, droughts, lack of clean water, refugees reshaping the world, wars on everything from drugs to women's reproductive rights, that publishing tips to a small group of people has little interest for me now.  
But the title An Appeal to Reason is significant. I want to appeal to reason and hope that we can turn around this growing tidal wave of hate, racism and discrimination. We fought so hard as a country to give people fundamental rights, such as voting and making choices about their future, that I am not willing to go back to the Dark Ages when being different was a death sentence. And women were controlled by men. And religious freedom means freedom only when you believe what I believe. I look at our progress and I just cannot go back.  
Ever since it was announced that Trump had been elected, many of us have depressed. This is not the world we want. (I suppose I can't speak for everyone, but the people I talk to agree.) So, now is the time to speak out.  If we don't vote, if we don't speak out, we deserve what we get. The question is: do we deserve Trump? 



Supreme Court abolishes automatic depublication rule

For many years, we have operated under the rule that when the California Supreme Court grants a petition for review, the decision by the Court of Appeal can no longer be cited as valid law. A new rule, which took effect on July 1, 2016, changes the rule of automatic depublication. Pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.1150(e)(1)(B), the “Grant of review by the Supreme Court of a decision by the Court of Appeal does not affect the appellate court’s certification of the opinion for full or partial publication.” The Court of Appeal opinion will be citable while the Supreme Court case is pending.  However, the published opinion will have “no binding or precedential effect, and may be cited for potentially persuasive value only.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.1150(e).) The Supreme Court still retains the power to order publication or to “order depublication of part of an opinion at any time after granting review.” (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.1105(e)(2).) After review by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal’s opinion can be cited unless the Supreme Court orders otherwise and “has binding or precedential effect, except to the extent it is inconsistent with the decision of the Supreme Court or is disapproved by that court.”  When citing an opinion that is pending review, the citation should note that review has been granted as well as any subsequent action by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court intends to revisit this rule in three years to determine the practical effects of the rule and whether to continue it.




My New Book – How to Find and Keep a Good Attorney - is Out!

For many months I have been working on a new book, How to Find and Keep a Good Lawyer, which I decided to release through Bench Press Publishing as a mini-ebook. I also decided to release the book first through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. You can now purchase the book exclusively through Amazon by following this link:  
Why did I write this book? My main area of specialty is that of an appellate attorney, which means that I often get involved at the tail end of a case, not its beginning. So, it is unlikely that the book would produce many new clients for me. 
Basically, here is why I wrote this book:  as an appellate attorney, I am often consulted once the case has been tried. That means the client has already used and relied on the services of a trial lawyer. But my job requires me to analyze what happened at the trial below. Mistakes are often made by everybody and some do not justify reversal of the trial court’s judgment. Some of those mistakes involve choices of strategy and can’t be addressed by an appeal. 
What I observed and heard from clients after over 38 years of experience is how their trial attorney handled their case. Most people are aware that going to trial is not a “sure thing” and they take their chances. But they want a fair chance or a trial on the merits. Sometimes that doesn’t happen because of their choice of attorneys and the choices or strategy the attorney employs. So, the choice of an attorney is of fundamental importance (and we all understand that after watching People v. O.J. Simpson) and can seriously affect a litigant’s chances of success.



In Honor of William Kopeny

 In a world that has grown increasingly violent, I have become accustomed to hearing reports of tragic, painful deaths. (The morning news about the shooting in Orlando, Florida is just another example.) When one dies peacefully in his or her sleep, we celebrate the death as a “good” death.  We are saddened nonetheless because a loss is still a loss. We just don’t want our loved ones to suffer.  

It is with great sadness that I mourn the loss of William Kopeny, a fellow appellate attorney. I knew Bill for many years, but we didn’t know each other that well.  I had only one appeal again him. During the course of the appeal, I would joke with Bill that we were both so damned polite, how could we get anything done because we would each implore the other to go first. 

I mourn Bill, not for the time I spent with him, but because the world was a better place with him in it. He was a true gentleman and he really cared about people and his work. Civility is a problem in our profession, but it was never one with Bill. He was always polite. He could teach a lot of attorneys some lessons in civility.

I am sure that Bill’s kindness started with his family and friends. I am happy that I experienced it personally. Death may have come quickly and quietly for Bill, but we still feel the loss of a fine man.  But we will always celebrate his life and our memories of him.


Documentary about Pakistan Honor Killings called A Girl in the River

As a writer, I search for conflict in all of my stories. If there is no conflict and the choices for the protagonist are clear, the story is not that interesting. The story instead becomes a sort of “Day in the Life” and we all know the final destination. Stories with conflict make us think.


The same logic applies to legal cases. If the choices are clear, then the case is an easy one to settle. In a similar vein, there is seldom just one side to a story. I often find there are more than two and quite often, the truth lies somewhere in between. Although we are taught to be zealous advocates, if we cannot see the point of view of the other side, then we will be handicapped in prosecuting our cases.  And if our clients can see the other side’s point of view, then we may be able to reach a compromise and settle the case.


I have long been interested in the subjects of honor killings and genital mutilation. (I know, I know, I must be fun to be around.) I recently watched a documentary about honor killings in Pakistan entitled, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.”  This film won an Academy Award in 2016 for Best Documentary, Short Subject.  The director is Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and I encourage you to seek it out.  I watched it on HBO NOW.


The documentary follows Saba, 19 years, who survived an honor killing attempt by her father and uncle. For years she had been promised in marriage to a young man, but the uncle intervened and claimed the young man’s family was of lower status and too poor. He said Saba should be married to his brother-in-law. Saba took matters into her own hands and asked her suitor’s family to arrange their marriage. Once she was married, the father and uncle took her home, promising on the Koran that they would not harm her. Instead, they shot her in the face and hand and left her to die in the river.


The father and uncle were to be prosecuted for their crimes, but forgiveness by the victim would lead to an acquittal and free them. This all occurred in a small neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else. The father and uncle believed themselves to be well respected in the community as honorable men, but the father lost that respect because he had a daughter he could not control. His belief was that he gave birth to her and raised her; therefore, he could decide who she was to marry. Because he could not control her, the family lost respect and was ostracized by the villagers. The young man’s family suffered the same fate because they took her in. That loss of respect resulted in being shut out of community affairs and, if the father went to jail, the family would suffer as he was the sole breadwinner.


The elders of the village intervened, even choosing a new attorney for Saba. In her heart, she did not forgive her father, but could see the damage done to two families and she “forgave” her father. That meant his release. At the time the documentary was filmed, her mother was the only natural relative who was still talking to her. Saba was pregnant and hoped for a girl. Her hope for her future daughter was that she would be able to stand up to others. While the film sheds light on the point of view of those other than Saba, it seems that the justification for honor killings is not so much the loss of respect, but more importantly, the view that women are second class citizens whose desires and dreams are secondary to those the father who raised them and provided a home for them. More than 1,000 women in Pakistan suffer honor killings every year.