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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





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.


Can I use the bathroom, please?

What is happening in this country? Following the acclaim of Transparentwhich portrays the lives of transgender people and their families, and after Caitlyn Jenner “came out,” we have witnessed greater public awareness, and hopefully, greater acceptance of transgender people. One giant step forward.

In 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which restricts the rights of gays and transgender people. A giant step back, way back. The law bans any local nondiscrimination laws, which appears to be a state response to the City of Charlotte’s legislation that sought to protect transgender people from discrimination. The new law also bans transgender people from using bathroom facilities that match their gender identities, rather than their biological sex.

Think of what that means. Let’s take a transgender person who is born with male genitalia but identifies as a woman. If that person desires to live her life as a woman, or is preparing for sexual reassignment surgery by living as a female, then that person is forbidden from using a women’s bathroom in North Carolina. What options are left? Going into the men’s bathroom dressed as a female? 

Not only would that be very uncomfortable for the person, but it puts her at risk for violence against her by those who might be offended by her sexual orientation. If a “man” walked into a public bathroom for women, I might be a little surprised, I might even suspect he made a mistake, but I would not want to harm him for that choice. But there are others who would and have. Should people risk their safety, or even their lives, to go to the bathroom?

The next choice, which might avoid some embarrassment, is to find a spot behind an alleyway or a port-a-potty to, relieve themselves. That might also put the person at risk if she is observed trying to pull her pants down in a public location.

How far do we go with this? If a mother has a male child, is she now forbidden from taking her child into the bathroom because the women’s bathroom does not match the male’s gender identity? Would that mother have to risk sending her child off for an unmonitored visit to the men’s bathroom? And what is a poor father to do with a female child . . . beg some strange woman to take his daughter into the bathroom?

What is the fear that is behind this? Does anyone really believe that the transgender person is conniving to get into a bathroom so she can spy on other women in closed stalls? Does this fear arise from some perceived sexual threat that the transgender person wants to hit on women in public toilets? The truth is much more obvious . . . the transgender person simply wants to go to the bathroom and not risk his or her life by doing so. They are not there to engage in sexual activities. Have our fears really taken us to this level of trying to stop others from exercising a basic bodily function? Yes, a giant step backward.

Obviously, I am not the only one to protest such legislation. PayPal had plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, but decided against the move, declaring the new law “discriminatory.”  As a result, the city will not have 400 jobs it might have had. Other corporations, such as American Airlines, Google, Biogen, Dow Chemical, Red Hat, Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Facebook, Twitter, IBM, Yelp, and Apple, are also protesting, along with 100 companies. Even the NBA has threatened not to allow the state to host next year’s all-star game. Other states and cities have issued travel bans that bar government employees from non-essential travel to North Carolina. 

Representative Paul Stam, who sponsored the bill, defending it, saying, “We’re trying to protect the reasonable expectations of privacy of 99.9 percent of our citizens, who think when they’re going into a restroom or a changing room or a locker room, that they will be private.” Oh, really?  In a public bathroom? Those people certainly can’t have an expectation of privacy from same sex members.  And what if those same sex visitors to the bathroom just happen to be gay? I think what Mr. Stam is really saying is that those using the bathroom will only encounter same sex members who have no sexual interest in them. The sexual element cannot be eliminated. The implication is that transgender individuals only want to visit a bathroom as sexual predators. One would think that we might have gotten beyond stereotyping individuals based on sexual orientation.