Just a couple of weeks ago, I was taken aback when very late one night a drone started hovering nearby. I have a view of the bay and often see plane lights in the distance but these lights rapidly started getting closer and brighter. The drone didn’t come all the way up to my windows but it was not far from my neighbor’s. I have no idea whose it was or what it was doing but it could easily have taken photos through people’s windows, including mine. So I was eager to read Jonathan Kathrein’s article, Railroad in the Sky. He proposes using railroad rights-of-way as drone flight paths and in advocating this approach, he provides an interesting primer on the messy regulation of drones. I was distressed to read that California arguably does not have laws that even give it the ability to regulate drones. Presumably, those of us who have drones taking photos through their windows late at night might still have a few tort claims we could make—except that without regulation we are unlikely to know whose drone it is.

I would like to thank Dave Feingold for being guest editor this month and for writing about a subject that just a few years ago, I would have found hard to imagine was an urgent one: maintaining the independence of the judiciary. Charlie Dresow also address the subject in his President’s Message. The photo accompanying Dave’s article is a memorable one: a Pakistani lawyer fighting in the streets over an independent judiciary. Let’s hope that we don’t have to lob tear gas to preserve judicial independence. To keep things from getting that far, all of us, lawyers and non-lawyers, have an obligation to speak up, to educate the public about the importance of an independent judiciary and to take whatever steps we can to counter forces that erode judicial independence. As a bedrock of our form of government, the independence of the judiciary should not be a political issue but with a president who attacks it as a political tool, it now is. Both Dave’s and Charlie’s articles contain a few quotes to help inspire you.

Dave also contributed a concise and handy article on what general practitioners should know about the regulation of home improvement contractors. Even if you’re unlikely to ever have a client walk in with a contractor issue, the chances are good that you or one of your friends will have one someday and Dave’s article is a helpful starting point.

Despite it being early 2019, the 2020 Presidential race is already underway. It was front-page news when Kamala Harris kicked off her campaign in Oakland last month. At this point, we don’t know if any Republicans will be challenging Trump but the list of Democratic challengers is already long. Our political columnist, Greg Brockbank, takes an early look at four of the leading potential Democratic candidates, including Kamala Harris. And Ashley Hurd highlights the wonderful work of the Marin Foster Care Association.

Finally, if you did not attend MCBA's wonderful gala last weekend, I would like to remind you that the second part of the gala's name was, "scholarship fundraiser." Each year, MCBA gives several scholarships to law students from Marin. Three of the four spoke eloquently at the gala and I had a chance to speak with two of them before dinner--they are impressive and certainly deserving. At the gala, we raised nearly $11,000 towards our goal of $16,000, which is the amount we granted to this year's recipients. We need your help to close that gap. If you have yet to donate, please consider donating as much as you can towards this worthy cause. It's easy--just click the link below to make a tax-deductible contribution.


Next month, we will celebrate Women's History Month in one of our quarterly magazine-style issues. Don't forget that you can still download a pdf with all the articles from other monthly issues to take with you or print out when you're not online.