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Simas & Associates, Ltd. Newsletter | January 8, 2016 | Volume IV, Issue 1
Firm Announcement

Simas & Associates, Ltd. Swiftly Defends Smog Technician - With Pen and Postage

San Luis Obispo, CA — Simas & Associates, Ltd. recently helped a California smog technician overturn an erroneous invalidation notice from the Bureau of Automotive Repair. And it was all done by mail.

"There was no interruption of his business, no one had to go to court," explained firm owner Steven L. Simas. "Rather, we immediately asserted our client's rights in writing. And we respectively asked BAR to double-check the process they were engaging in. We believed them all to be in error, creating numerous due process violations with every step they took."

STAR Certification

The State of California’s STAR program certifies independent businesses as smog check stations that can provide testing and repair. The BAR regulates the STAR program, including granting and revoking STAR certification to automobile inspection facilities, as well as citations to individual technicians. The BAR sends out hundreds of STAR invalidation notices to businesses and citations to technicians each year. 
 

Case Study

The BAR sent a notice to a California technician of being disqualified, but the notice was erroneous.

"There were several problems with the [disqualification] notice," explained Mr. Simas. "The most concerning was that the letter set an informal hearing with no charges. This meant that our client had no meaningful way to discern what he did wrong or how he could defend himself. "

This decertification letter from the BAR proposed an informal hearing as the next step. "However," continued Mr. Simas, "in this case, an informal hearing was not appropriate. Due to the lack of notice and information provided in the decertification letter, there was no way the client could mount a meaningful defense."

Simas & Associates, Ltd. immediately confronted the BAR with all of the above deficiencies. It also requested discovery and more information on the alleged deficiencies. This resulted in the BAR conducting a more thorough review of the allegations."

"When BAR completed their review, the disqualification was successfully overturned," stated Mr. Simas. "While we were ready to take the matter to hearing, we were able to get through to BAR and get them to see their own mistakes on their own without the need of a hearing."
 

Rule Not the Exception

Unfortunately, the above appears to be the rule with BAR.

"We are seeing a stream of new clients and potential clients who are receiving somewhat similar notices," added Mr. Simas. "Some notices are adequate. However, many overstate course-of-business actions or omissions as misconduct. And they threaten invalidation without much explanation as to why. Those overstatements could result in a station needlessly losing certification unless swift action is taken in response."

"BAR should not be able to invalidate a station's STAR certification without evidence and a formal administrative process, overseen by an administrative law judge, in which the BAR must comply with discovery rules," continued Mr. Simas. "This is where an attorney can help you save your skin."
 

Tips from the Pros

Here is some practical advice from Simas & Associates, Ltd. to California mechanics and automotive technicians:
  1. Watch Out—Be on the lookout for correspondence from the BAR regarding your STAR certification.
  2. Act Quickly—If you receive a similar notification, contact your attorney right away.
  3. Don’t Panic—You can keep your STAR certification during the hearing and appeals process.
For more information on Simas & Associates, Ltd. and its automotive defense practice, please visit our website at www.simasgovlaw.com.
Staff Announcement

Julianne Allen Sworn-In as Treasurer of the SVPA

Simas & Associates, Ltd. congratulates Julianne Allen, its most senior paralegal, for recently being sworn-in as Secretary of the Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association. Ms. Allen was sworn-in during the first monthly meeting and CLE event at Casa Garden Restaurant.

Julianne has been with Simas & Associates, Ltd. since 2010. She has served as the paralegal on countless administrative hearings, petitions for writ of mandate, and is our primary civil litigation paralegal. She has been active with the SVPA during her entire time at the law firm, most recently as the Region 1 representative for the organization at the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), and serves on the NFPA Budget Committee.

Way to go, Julianne!
Client/Vendor of the Month
 
Front Porch Ministry
1468 E Foothill Blvd
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
P: (818) 731-4984
http://frontporchslo.com/

Front Porch Ministry is a Christian ministry that seeks to build authentic relationships with college students on the campuses of Cal Poly University and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA. We love people without an agenda, believing that every person has something significant to contribute to the community. We believe that God is actively at work in the community around us and we look for creative ways of joining in that work. 
 
Simas & Associates, Ltd. appreciates the opportunity to serve Front Porch Ministry as special counsel. 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

Changes to License-Exempt Psychologists with the New Year

Sacramento, CA — Assembly Bill 705 is now the law of the land for license-exempt Psychologists in the state of California. It is important to know what it means for those employing or employed as an unlicensed psychologist. 

The revised law requires proper supervision and placement on a pathway towards licensure for all unlicensed, salaried employees who are practicing psychology in an exempt setting. Appropriate supervision would be by a California-licensed psychologist. Pathway towards licensure would mean that the individual would primarily be working and earning supervised professional experience hours towards licensure within a given time frame of no more than five (5) years from the date of employment, or from January 1, 2016 if already employed in an exempt setting.

Unlicensed salaried employees may only practice psychology in one of the following settings to qualify for the temporary exemption: ï‚·
  • Accredited or approved academic institutions ï‚·
  • Public schools ï‚·
  • Governmental agencies
The big change for unlicensed practitioners of psychology in the exempt settings is limit on how long they can be exempt. The length of time an employee is exempt will be limited to a cumulative total of 5 (five) years. This timeframe is consistent with the exemption period specified in the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 5751.2 (d). Furthermore, the employee must now be primarily gaining the supervised professional experience required for licensure by the Board and the employees now must have as their primary supervisor a California- licensed psychologist. 
Featured Blog Entry
 
Meet and Confer before Demurrer

A new law that goes into effect on the New Year (January 1, 2016) will require counsel to meet and confer before filing a demurrer to any pleading (i.e. complaint, cross-complaint, or answer). Specifically, at least 5 days before a responsive pleading is due, counsel will be required to meet and confer with opposing counsel to determine whether the parties can agree to the filing of an amended pleading that would resolve the objections. The amended pleading would then, hopefully, resolve the need for a demurrer. And it would permit the filing of a substantive responsive pleading.

In addition to the meet and confer requirement, the change in law limits demurrers to 3 times per pleading and prohibits one from demurring on an amended pleading on a ground that could have been raised in the prior version of the pleading.

To keep reading this entry, please click here: Meet and Confer before Demurrer
. 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

Hawthorne Effect

A type of reactivity or bias in which individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed. This commonly occurs in experiments, field studies, or in the workplace. Basically, the participants are more efficient, effective, and overly productive due to the novelty of being research subjects and the resulting increased attention.

For more terms related to our practice areas, please visit our law firm’s glossary at 
SimasGovLaw.com - Glossary.
Annual Holiday Dinner Party

On December 11, Steve and Michaele Simas once again treated all staff and their significant others to a holiday dinner and gift exchange. With three new employees having joined the law firm in the past 3 months, this really provided an opportunity for many members of the team to get to know each other and their loved ones on a personal level. Memories of the past year or years were shared and new memories were made.




To see pictures of the event, please visit the law firm's facebook page.
Upcoming Calendar

January 11 - NCAA Football National Championship Game

January 12 - Happy Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day!

January 13 - National Pharmacists' Day! Also, Schwartz-Levi Inn of Courts meets.

January 18 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Day - offices are closed. Australian Open begins.

January 21 - Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

January 28 - SLO Bar Association -
State of the Courts.

January 29 - Sacramento County Bar Association Open House.

January 31 - NFL Pro Bowl. And NHL All-Star Game.

February 2 - Ground Hog Day!

February 4 - Sonoma County Bar Association -
Medical Marijuana Regulations.

February 5 -
12th Annual Release of Pliny the Younger.
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