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Simas & Associates, Ltd. Newsletter | May 9, 2014 | Volume II, Issue 6
Firm Announcement

Despite Best Efforts to Demonize Client, Simas & Associates is Able to Convince Hearing Officer and Agency that Client Can Keep License

Sacramento, California - Simas & Associates, Ltd. completed a one-day hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) regarding a licensee with the Bureau of Real Estate (BRE) earlier this year.  Earlier this week, Simas & Associates, Ltd. learned it had successfully secured a probationary license for its licensee-client, despite opposing counsel's best efforts to aggrandize the underlying misconduct and secure revocation.  



"The case stemmed from absent-mindedness on the part of our client," explained Steven Simas, who first worked with the client's criminal defense attorney to negotiate a plea bargain and then representing the client at hearing before the OAH and BRE.  "In all truth, had the client engaged in the complained of conduct - misdemeanor trespass - off the clock or as a different license-type, it might not have warranted criminal charges, let alone license discipline."  However, given that the client was a real estate licensee and visiting a property for purpose of purchasing real estate at the time of the trespass, it was determined that trespass was substantially related to the profession - the practice of real estate.  

"This was not that our client was not remorseful," retorted Mr. Simas.  "No, he clearly went to hell-and-back as a result of this ordeal.  And if anything, it was a reminder of how thin of a thread tethers a license to the underlying professional and how sharp the shears can be for the licensing agency."

"As a result," Mr. Simas continued, "our case turned on evidence of rehabilitation, mitigation, and character.  Since we knew that what the client did was wrong and reasonably troubling to whether or not the licensing agency could continue to license him in his profession, the focus on the case then turned from the fundamental questions of, 'did he do it?' and 'if so, so what?' to 'how can we be sure he won't do it again?'."




 This examination is the equivalent of sentencing in criminal cases.  "Yes, but in some respects it carries considerably more weight in preparing a case," explained Mr. Simas.  "For the most part, the [aforementioned preliminary questions] have already been clearly answered.  Or because the burden of proof is lower [than in criminal], establishing culpability is more easy to achieve for the licensing body."

In addition, the state requires that the hearing officer and licensing authority consider all that is presented.  "The law requires all licensing agencies in California, including the BRE, to issue Disciplinary Guidelines.  Within the Disciplinary Guidelines, the licensing agency must list out the criteria it will use to determine whether the licensee is sufficiently rehabilitated in light of the misconduct.  It provides a road-map to any licensee making their case that while they know what they did was wrong and deserving of discipline, that they have already done enough to 'serve their time.'  This then overrides the need of the licensing agency to make sure that they learned their lesson by revoking their license.  Furthermore, it lets the licensing agency begin to trust the licensee again."

Here, the licensee-client had exceptional evidence of rehabilitation, mitigation, and character.  "Everything we asked him do," stated Mr. Simas, "[the client] did.  This included complying with all terms of his criminal plea bargain, paying all fines, taking relevant education and ethics courses, volunteering his time, seeking spiritual and mental relief through professional and religious counseling, establishing new business controls, and establishing new business connections.  That and almost four years had passed since the underlying misconduct."

And the depth of the licensee-clients commitment to rehabilitation paid handsome dividends.  "Not only are we trying to convince the hearing officer," explained Mr. Simas, "but we also have to ultimately convince the licensing agency.  And our communications with the licensing agency are limited to discussions with its counsel, typically a [Deputy Attorney General].  In this particular case, opposing counsel would not entertain any settlement offer.  Oh, I take that back, I believe his settlement offer was along the lines of, 'your client can surrender his license to me at my office tomorrow, at noon.  Take it or leave it.'  As a result, we had no choice but to go to hearing."  

And the hearing is not just a walk in the park.  "No," respondend Mr. Simas, "the hearing is very important and a very important part of our representation.  However, we are not magicians; we can only deliver when we have good facts, evidence, and witnesses."

And when coupled with good luck, good fortune presents itself.  "Luckily," explained Mr. Simas, "our client took our advice and counsel seriously.  He has a good head on his shoulders and good people in his corner.  He also put in the time to compile the evidence, identify good witnesses based upon our instruction, and ensure a thorough presentation of rehabilitation of himself as a licensee.  Ultimately, we were able to overcome [opposing counsel]'s mindset, some ludicrous presumptions argued by [opposing counsel], convince the hearing officer, and convince the BRE that the hearing officer got the decision right."

Furthermore, the decision was a big winner with the client.  "When I explained that the decision was probation," stated Mr. Simas, "our client was thrilled to hear he was keeping his license but concerned about the probation conditions and whether they would be workable.  However, when I went over the very minimal restrictions on his practice - most of which he was already voluntarily taking part in anyway - it was a secondary relief."


If interested in learning more about our law firm's Professional Licensing Defense practice, please visit our website at www. simasgovlaw.com.
Staff Announcement

Simas & Associates, Ltd. Enjoys Management Dinner at Madonna Inn

On May 1, 2014, the management from Simas & Associates, Ltd. met at the San Luis Obispo office to discuss the growth of the law firm and upcoming expansions in marketing of the firm's services.  Thereafter, the management team continued its meeting over dinner at the Madonna Inn.  

"It was a great time," explained Justin Hein, Managing Attorney of the firm's Sacramento office.  "We work together remotely so often that it is good to actually get together.  Especially to meet-and-discuss the performance of the law firm and plans for future growth."

"We are always talking about hypotheticals," explains Amanda Lilley, Firm Administrator.  "However, those hypotheticals - like expanding into new practice areas or adding new staff members - can quickly turn into realities.  So, we need to be prepared to handle the complexities that come with it."

"I am the one who is typically on the road," stated Steve Simas, founder and owner of the law firm, "so, it was good that Justin and Amanda got to share the burden," he says with a chuckle.  "Laughs aside, it is good for both of them to see how the expansion of the firm has impacted our Central Coast office and whether we have the capacity for further growth."
Client/Vendor of the Month
 
Webco Communications, Inc.
8863 Greenback Lane
Orangevale, CA 95662
p: 916.965.9400
f: 916.231.0691
www.webco.com
 
Webco Communications, Inc. (Webco) is a leader in servicing the telecommunication needs of Northern California businesses.  In providing the unsurpassed service required and demanded in business telecommunications, Webco utilizes an in depth method to determine our client's business telecommunications needs and designs a program to best meet those needs.  For our law firm, this included ensuring that our two offices - Sacramento - Natomas and San Luis Obispo - are able to operate as if we were both in the same location.  Webco's services covers our telephone lines, directory, secure voicemail, and voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP).  Furthermore, Webco provides on-going and hands-on customer service after the sale to ensure quality and satisfaction.  From evaluation, design, installation, training and service, Webco Communications is truly a one-source telecommunications provider.

Simas & Associates, Ltd. is thankful for Webco's 5 years of service to the law firm as its primary vendor for maintaining its communication systems.  If you would like to be featured as our law firm’s “Client/Vendor of the Month,” please contact us at info@simasgovlaw.com
Featured Agency Announcement

California Department of Motor Vehicles begins Crackdown on Curbstoning

Sacramento, CA - Hundreds of undercover Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) officers are targeting vendors who they say are placing dangerous cars on California's roads.

The DMV is looking into cases of illegal car sales here in California.  Officers said unlicensed car dealers are selling cars without proper registration.  More than often, the cars being sold are low-end vehicles from wrecks and auctions, which hold salvage titles and most likely do not meet safety standards.  Some have their odometer tampered with. These unlicensed car dealers will use Craigslist, eBay, or just parked with "For Sale" signs in grocery or department store parking lots.  


The practice known as "curbstoning" is illegal without a dealers license, according to the California DMV, but it’s happening all across the state. A one-day, statewide crackdown in mid April netted 109 impounded cars, 68 warnings, 93 citations, and 4 arrests.

There is a common misconception that one has to sell so many cars in order to have a dealers license. However, this is not true.  If you sell a single car that's not in your name, you would be practicing an illegal activity - selling a car without a dealers license.

Furthermore, the seller is likely engaging in a form of tax fraud.  Officers indicate that most salespeople leave the title blank or give a false name at the time of sale.  This results in them being able to pocket the money without having to pay taxes on the sale.

If you find a car for sale online, Google the phone number. If you see multiple listings with the same phone number, that’s a sign you may be dealing with an illegal car flipper.  If you’re in a parking lot, check to see if there are other cars nearby with the same phone number.

Read the title carefully and feel the paper for authenticity before handing over any money. Spelling errors are a red flag the document may be counterfeit.  Don’t buy a used car until a mechanic checks it out. It may cost you between $50 and $150, but it could save you a lot of money and possibly even your life.

 
Featured Blog Entry
 
How the ACA is Affecting Private Practices: The Top 3 Things You Need to Know
 
The Affordable Care Act (the ACA, aka ‘Obamacare’) has been the center of news headlines and chatter for quite some time. It’s no wonder, as it is considered one of the most politically contested bills in American history. Whether you are for or against it, or somewhere in the middle, one thing is for sure: the ACA will bring about many changes in America.

The Private Practice sector of healthcare will not remain immune to these changes. We have consulted several healthcare professionals to get some inside information on what you need to know about the ACA, and how to deal with these changes.


To keep reading this entry, please click here: How the ACA is Affecting Private Practices: The Top 3 Things You Need to Know.  For more blog entries from our attorneys and legal staff, please visit our law firm’s official blog –Wit of Mandate.
Word of the Month

Statute of Limitations

A law that sets the deadline for parties to file suit to enforce their rights. For example, if a state has a 4-year statute of limitations for breach of a written contract, and one party is alleged to have breached the contract with the second party on January 1, 2014, the second party must file its lawsuit by no later than January 1, 2018. If the deadline passes, the "statute of limitations has run" (or the claim is "time-barred") and the second party may not be allowed to sue. There are, however, a number of conditions that allow a statute to be extended or "tolled," depending on the type of claim.

For more terms related to our practice areas, please visit our law firm’s glossary at SimasGovLaw.com - Glossary.
Looking to Hire
 
The
 Sacramento Office of Simas & Associates, Ltd. is looking to qualfied members to its staff.  This includes Associate Attorneys, Paralegals and a Marketing Coordinator.  The firm also is interested in establishing a relationship with a qualified and licensed Workplace Investigator as an independent contractor.  If interested or if you know of qualified candidates, please visit or direct qualified candidates to visit our Employment Opportunities section of our website.  Thank you.
S & A Renovations Continue
 
Simas & Associates, Ltd. continues to make improvements to its two office locations.  Recently, Managing Attorney, Justin Hein and Firm Administrator, Amanda Lilley visited San Luis Obispo and got to see the improvements with their own eyes (and camera phones).  For pictures of the office, please take a peek at our 
facebook photo album.
Happy S & A Work Anniversary!
 
Simas & Associates, Ltd. is happy to congratulate Paralegal, Rachelle Allison-Lamb on her 2 year anniversary.  Rachelle joined the firm as a junior paralegal and transitioned over into a hybrid role of running the front desk, assisting the Firm Administrator, and continuing to serve as an exceptional paralegal.  With some recent hires in the works, the attorneys are looking forward to having her back as a full-time paralegal in the coming months.  Thank you for your commitment and great efforts on behalf of all of our clients., Rachelle.
Upcoming Calendar

May 10 - National Babysitters' Day.

May 11 - Happy Mothers' Day!


May 12 - International Nurses Day.

May 14 - 
Schwartz-Levi American Inns of Court Meeting.  Also, National Receptionist Day.

May 15 -
Frog Jumping Day in Calaveras County.  Also, Barristers' Club of Sacramento Spring Social.

May 16 - SCBA Health Care Law Section Luncheon.

May 17 -
Armed Forces Day.  Also, the 139th Preakness Stakes.

May 20 - 
Kennedy American Inns of Court Meeting.  Also, the NBA Draft Lottery.

May 22 - 12th Annual Food & Wine Tasting Event, hosted by
ABAS.

May 24 -
National Escargot Day.

May 25 -
Indianapolis 500.  Also, the French Open begins.

May 26 - Happy Memorial Day!

May 29 -
National Spelling Bee Final.

June 1 -
National Cancer Survivors' Day.

June 3 - Happy Shavuot!

June 5 - MLB Draft.  X Games - Austin Begins.

June 6 -
National Doughnut Day.
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