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February Chapter Update

The year is off to an eventful start. Hundreds of attendees virtually joined us for our Seventh Annual Ethics, Competence, and Elimination of Bias MCLE Event, which is now available on demand, and the Ceremony for the Passing of the Gavel as Chief Judge from the Hon. Larry Alan Burns to the Hon. Dana M. Sabraw.

Judge Burns assumed senior status, opening yet another judicial vacancy in the Southern District of California. In a timely webinar, How to Apply to be a U.S. District Judge, a distinguished panel shared insight into the application process, what the advisory committee is looking for, and how an applicant may be disqualified. Interested candidates are encouraged to view the webinar and apply now.

Given the success of our virtual events, Immediate-Past President David P. Finn continued his service to the FBA by presenting How to Host a Zoom Brown Bag Lunch with Your Local Judges to national FBA members. We hope you will join us for another Virtual Brown Bag, the first part of our Two-Part Criminal Legal Skills Series, and more this month.

Member Spotlight:

Craig McClellan is a staple of San Diego's legal community who has obtained more than 140 verdicts and settlements in excess of one million dollars each. James Gaeta shares that Mr. McClellan credits much of his success to the many community organizations that have helped build and maintain his career, including the San Diego Chapter and its "tremendous networking opportunities."

We hope to see you at these virtual

FBA, San Diego events:

February 11, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

During the Virtual Brown Bag, Judge Butcher will discuss practice pointers for civil and criminal cases, his path to the federal bench, and his chambers rules and procedures.

Cost: Free MCLE: 1.0 hour of General MCLE Credit

Two-Part Criminal Legal Skills Series

February 17, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Part one of the series will cover effectively litigating at the pre-sentencing stage, including objections to pre-sentence reports and analyzing predicates for career offender determinations.


Hon. Cathy Ann Bencivengo

U.S. District Judge

Southern District of California

Ellis "Trip" Johnston

Clarke, Johnston, Thorp & Rice

Ashley Goff

U.S. Attorney's Office

Cameron Ervin

U.S. Probation Office


Benjamin J. Cheeks

FBA Vice President of Community Outreach

Cost: Free MCLE: 1.0 hour of General MCLE Credit

March 17, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Part two of the series will cover advocating at sentencing, including drafting the sentencing brief, effectively grouping charges, and learning judges' preferences. Panelists will include the Hon. John A. Houston, U.S. District Judge, and federal practitioners.

Cost: Free MCLE: 1.0 hour of General MCLE Credit

We hope you will encourage participation in these civics contests:

High school students from San Diego and Imperial Counties are invited to submit an essay and/or video on the topic of "What Does our American Community Ask of Us?" Cash prizes will be awarded at both the Circuit and District Court levels for the top essays and videos. The deadline for entries is March 17, 2021.

Middle and high school students throughout the country are invited to submit an essay on the topic of "What does it mean to support and defend the Constitution?” Prizes are available for each school category. The deadline for entries is March 31, 2021.

We hope to see you at these virtual

FBA, National events:

February 17, 2021 - February 19, 2021

FBA National's conference will focus on the False Claims Act in times of crisis, including changes in enforcement priorities that may follow the COVID-19 pandemic. This annual event, dubbed “the Oscars for False Claims Act nerds” by a panelist at 2020’s sold-out conference, provides timely perspectives from all sides of the FCA ecosystem: prosecutors, relator-side attorneys, defense counsel, inspectors general, federal judges, and in-house counsel.

February 24, 2021, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

A panel of experts will address the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) and using AI as evidence in litigation. Topics will include how and why AI is used, what admissibility issues arise when introducing AI evidence, and how the Federal Rules of Evidence apply to AI.


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