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Sonoma County Gazette

Barrister Bits - Legal Questions Answered - by Debra Newby

Do you have a legal question on your mind? If so, please email me at Your name will remain confidential. This Q & A Legal Column is intended as a community service to discuss general legal principles and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Debra A. Newby is a resident of Monte Rio and has practiced law for 34 years. She is a member of the California, Texas and Sonoma County Bar Associations and currently maintains an active law office in Santa Rosa which emphasizes personal injury law (bicycle/motorcycle/motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, trip and falls, etc.) and expungements (clearing criminal records). Debra can be reached via email (, phone (707-526-7200), or fax (526-7202).

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2020-06-26Jun 26, 2020

Understanding the burden that has been placed on individuals, families, and communities as a result of cannabis convictions and In line with the values of the overwhelming number of people of Sonoma County, DA Ravitch took aggressive steps to assist those affected. Especially since the relief granted under Proposition 64 failed to reach many of those affected the DA, following the provisions of AB 1793, required the California Department of Justice to review state criminal history information, identify those eligible for relief under Proposition 64 to the courts, and directed said courts to automatically reduce or dismiss eligible convictions by July 1, 2020. To find out if your record has been cleared, get the contact info and/or access the "Clear my Record' portal.

2020-05-22May 22, 2020

When chasing an unpaid debt,  one viable option that is often overlooked or misunderstood is Sonoma County Small Claims Court.  It is a very effective solution that is cheaper and quicker than hiring a private attorney.  We are lucky to have a Free Small Claims Clinic staffed by 3rd and 4th year law students at Empire College School of Law.  

2020-03-19Mar 19, 2020

What are the rules for flying with a support animal?  The U.S. Department of Transportation kicked off 2020 by proposing a new federal rule that would only allow a DOG to fly as an emotional support animal.  The proposed rule also clarifies that the dog is considered a pet, not a service animal.  The proposed new rule would also give airlines much more latitude in developing and enforcing their own policies regarding travel with service or emotional support animals. Individuals with disabilities are not impacted directly by the new rule and may continue to fly with their legitimate and verified service animal. 

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