Communities In Schools of Los Angeles (CISLA) is usually in schools working towards our mission to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. We provide one-on-one case management for nearly 1,000 at-risk students and their families.

We’ve had to change the way we approach that mission.

During the COVID-19 crisis, we have shifted our attention to focus on providing additional wraparound support centered around conducting almost daily check-ins, communicating relevant information, and providing basic needs to students and their families.

 As you probably know, in high-poverty neighborhoods, LAUSD schools serve a much larger purpose than just providing an education. Nearly 85% of LAUSD students live at or below the poverty line. That being said, as one could imagine, in Los Angeles, a lot of schools are a primary source of food, shelter, medical care, psychological services, and physical safety for some of our most vulnerable students. Schools also provide families with resources, information and translation services.

Now that schools are closed, this pandemic has revealed just how vulnerable students are when they don’t have the ability to go to school. It’s also revealing how high the actual costs are when it comes to meeting these non academic needs.

Communities In Schools of Los Angeles is working very hard, everyday, to try to meet those non academic needs while schools are closed.

If you want to help us help our students and their families, please visit and donate today.

By Kevin Gres, Esq., Law Offices of Kevin Gres

Johnny Doe is being sued. As your initial discovery deadlines slowly approach, you call up Johnny to discuss crafting responses. After a few minutes of pleasantries, Johnny tells you he was recently indicted by a grand jury and has a court date quickly approaching. Talk about throwing a monkey wrench into the mix.  How does this impact your case? What are the larger ramifications?

You do not need to be a criminal defense attorney well-versed in constitutional criminal procedure to navigate this. Any civil attorney, no matter the area of practice, should be aware of the perils and pitfalls of parallel civil and criminal proceedings. This article will provide you with a brief overview of the issues and some of the remedies when confronted with this situation.

 There are two major obstacles in parallel proceedings, the first, unwittingly waiving Johnny’s Fifth Amendment rights in your civil case, and two, having Johnny make incriminating admissions even if his rights are not legally waived.

Johnny can unwittingly waive his right to remain silent if he answers a complaint with specific denials under oath, responds to special interrogatories, requests for admissions, or even requests for production. If you don’t spot the issue early enough, trying to assert the Fifth Amendment midway through the discovery process will likely result in a successful motion to compel by opposing counsel.  If waived, opposing counsel will have a field day at Johnny’s deposition, and there will be very little you can do about it.

But you’re smarter than that. You caught it early, and Johnny will not be waiving his rights. Pat yourself on the back…but don’t assume you’re out of the minefield quite yet.

Many experienced civil attorneys believe that Johnny should be as cooperative as possible without waiving. This is risky. Any admission made in the civil case, whether it results in a waiver or not, can still likely be used in a future criminal proceeding. Under state and federal rules of evidence, a defendant’s statement is admissible even if the defendant asserts his Fifth Amendment right and elects not to testify at his trial. If the statement is relevant and has proper foundation, the jury will hear it and the damage will be done. 

So, you invoke, and you invoke hard. You will quickly realize invoking is not all it is cracked up to be. Depending on the nature of the case, successfully invoking your client’s Fifth Amendment rights can prevent you from meaningfully defending your client from the plaintiff’s claims. Discovery comes to a screeching halt. Invoking could even result in an adverse inference jury instruction at trial. Your client is on the horns of a rather prickly dilemma. What to do?

Courts are sensitive to the unfairness of Johnny having to choose between his freedom and his fortune, his rights and his riches. Johnny should petition the court to stay his civil case until the criminal case resolves. That would allow him to assert his Fifth Amendment right in his criminal case without sacrificing his defense in his civil case. Generally, courts look at six factors to determine whether a stay is appropriate, including: whether there is a common core of facts between the two actions, the interests of the plaintiff and burden on defendant, the interests of the court and public, and the status of the criminal case.

If the stay is denied, Johnny should at least request a temporary stay on discovery. If that is denied, a protective order on the discovery should be requested, so if prosecutors attempt to gain access to the discovery in the criminal case, his defense attorney will have a stronger objection.

There are many reasons why prosecutors love parallel proceedings. Civil discovery is often more encompassing than criminal discovery laws. There are depositions, admissions – things prosecutors can only dream of. In my time as a prosecutor, I would often dig through civil discovery, pull domestic violence restraining order transcripts from Stanley Mosk on my lunch hour, and subpoena all kinds of admissions. It was like taking a metal detector to a busy beach on a summer day.  

No area of law is immune from potential criminal action. Often, a civil case is a treasure trove of incriminating information for law enforcement and prosecutors. But recognizing the issue and having the legal tools to navigate parallel proceedings gives you and Johnny a substantially higher likelihood of success in both of his cases.  


Kevin is a native Angeleno and attorney specializing in criminal defense. He worked as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, and then for the Law Offices of Donald Etra. Kevin now represents individuals and corporations under investigation or accused of crimes, including misdemeanors and felonies (emphasis on white collar/fraud), both state and federal.

By Kevin Klowden (Milken Institute) and Elisabeth Browne (Cornerstone Research)

The damage to the economy of Los Angeles from a potential strike by the Screen Actors Guild is undeniable, yet extremely difficult to estimate. The range of estimates of the impact of the Writer’s Guild strike that ended a year ago varied from $380 million to $2.5 billion. Kevin Klowden of the Milken Institute wrote a seminal study of the impact of that strike: “The Writers’ Strike of 2007-2008: The Economic Impact of Digital Distribution.” Here Mr. Klowden discusses how a SAG strike might affect our already battered entertainment economy.

The Current SAG Stalemate

On June 30, 2008, the contract established between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expired. Although there was plenty of coverage in the news media concerning another major Hollywood strike so soon after the completion of the October 2007 to February 2008 Writer’s Guild strike, no actual strike occurred. Because the SAG leadership could not reach a consensus on the actual need for a strike, none took place. However, instead of being eliminated, the uncertainty over a possible strike has instead been extended all the way into 2009, with only ongoing negotiations and the continued lack of a SAG consensus preventing the occurrence of another strike.

Estimating the Harm from a SAG Strike – the Damage has Already Begun

In examining the economic impact of an actors’ strike, there are many factors to consider. First and foremost, the strike’s impact on the economy cannot simply be measured by a short-term loss of television advertising revenue. Losses from the writers’ strike affected television revenues long after the strike itself was resolved, including cancelled shows, shortened seasons, a lack of new pilots being filmed or picked up, and consistently reduced ratings for all networks, even once the new season resumed. In addition, key economic multipliers should be considered. Not only did people at the studios and production companies lose earnings, but so too did the numerous independent contractors, artists, construction workers, clothing manufacturers, caterers, drivers, cleaning crews and others who directly or indirectly earn revenue from film and television production. The hospitality industry, financing and bonding firms, local restaurants, and other professionals also felt the impact. And though many workers were able to find other jobs, they displaced other people who also could have done the same jobs. The Milken Institute estimated the impact on California alone to be worth $2.1 billion in lost economic growth as measured in terms of Gross State Product.

In addition, the overall economic condition of both the state and the country must be addressed. The Milken Institute report suggested that the writers’ strike actually helped to push California into recession in early 2008, ahead of the rest of the country. Currently, the United States is in the deepest recession in decades. This creates possible differences in consequences for a strike in 2009. Overall economic losses are actually likely to be lower in the short term because advertising revenues are already down and the major studios and networks have already engaged in non-strike related layoffs. However, the lingering consequences of any strike will be longer, as it is much less likely that workers who lose their jobs because of a strike will regain them when the strike ends. Finally, in examining the length and scope of the strike’s impact, we need to understand that both the long period from the end of the actors’ contract on June 30, 2008 to today and the fractured negotiations have created a very different circumstance than that with the writers. The very threat of a strike has already led to economic losses that continue as producers, firms, and studios act cautiously to mitigate the effect of any potential strike. Last Spring and Summer, many productions were either rushed or delayed in anticipation of a possible strike. As no settlement with SAG has yet occurred, many network and studio executives remain more cautious when committing to major projects. Costs from these delayed, postponed, and diverted projects have likely already run into the tens of millions of dollars.

The Strike Dynamics of SAG Differ from the Writers Guild

The most difficult element in estimating the potential economic effects of a strike is the breadth of participation by actors and the subsequent impact on not only the entertainment industry, but all of the other local industries tied into it. In order to understand how the mechanics of a SAG strike would be different than the one by the writers, it is worth examining how the Screen Actors Guild functions.

In theory, the Screen Actors Guild has a wider overall reach than the Writers Guild. Since the 1988 strike, it has expanded to include the Screen Extras Guild in addition to entering into an alliance with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). These two changes have resulted in a very different dynamic as to how the guild operates. While many writers are not active at any given time, most members of the Writers Guild earn a living from their writing, either through active projects or through residuals from past work. Because of the presence of so many part-time actors in the current SAG ranks, the vast majority of the guild’s members do not actually make a living from acting. This makes it far harder to unify the interests of the guild, and raises the concern that many more actors would be willing to strike (compared with writers), as their short term losses would be minimal when compared to any potential gains they might make if the strike gained them better terms and they then “made it big” by landing a major role.

On the other hand, AFTRA already has a working contract with the producers that it ratified separate from SAG, which calls into question how widespread an actors’ strike truly would be. In addition, the extended length of negotiations has resulted in a number of smaller side deals that have been reached to act as buffers to any potential strike. These “in-kind” deals generally state that producers will retroactively honor any final SAG-AMPTP deal when it is reached, thus exempting them from any direct strike action. Also, because SAG is the only major union not to reach an agreement, chances of solidarity from other unions, such as in 1988, is less likely.

Given the actions already taken by so many players to minimize the consequences of a strike, and the question of breadth of participation, unless the actors’ strike is significantly longer than the writers’ strike, the economic consequences are likely to be smaller. It is very difficult to estimate exact numbers until it is clear who is participating, but a strike of equal length might only have half the impact of the writers’ strike. Still, based on prior estimates of the damage caused by the writer’s strike, the impact of a prolonged strike could still be easily over $1 billion in an already battered Southern California economy.

Note: Assistance with this article was also provided by Elisabeth Browne and Sean Twersky of Cornerstone Research, a firm specializing in economic damages analysis and support of experts in complex business litigation. Opinions expressed in this article are those of Mr. Klowden and do not represent positions taken by Cornerstone Research or the Milken Institute.