California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal News & Information Blog

California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog


Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill yesterday that eliminates the statute of limitations on rape and other sexual offenses. The new law, S.B. 813, adds rape and similar crimes to the list of criminal acts that can be prosecuted regardless of how long ago the criminal act occurred, such as first degree murder, treason, and embezzlement of public money.

The bill's passage "shows victims and survivors that California stands behind them, that we see rape as a serious crime, that victims can come forward and that justice now has no time limit," the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Connie Leyva, said. The push to remove the statute of limitations for rape was inspired in part by allegations against the comedian Bill Cosby. Cosby has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women over several decades, with most of the alleged acts having occurred too far in the past to be prosecuted.

When grading teacher performance, school districts aren't required to incorporate students' standardized test scores, a judge in Northern California ruled last week. Contra County Superior Court Judge Barry Goode rejected arguments by the nonprofit group Students Matter that the school districts were required to make standardized test scores a central part of teacher evaluations.

School districts have broad discretion in how to evaluate their teachers' performance, Judge Goode ruled, and all of the 13 districts sued by Students Matter were complying with their legal obligations.

Yosemite National Park may be one of the world's most impressive landscapes, with its granite cliffs, towering waterfalls, and ancient sequoia groves. But while the beauty of the valley and surrounding mountains is a product of 10 million years of geologic shifts and slow evolution, the park itself is a legal creation, and a very important one at that. Yosemite became the nation's first parkland set aside for preservation when Congress passed the Yosemite Grant Act, signed into law by Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864. That act planted the seed that would grow into the National Parks System, or, as the writer Wallace Stegner described them, "America's best idea."

Now, Yosemite is growing larger still, with the addition of 400 acres of meadowland and ponderosa pine, the park's largest expansion in two generations.

A recent decision out of California's First Appellate District could open the door for benefit reductions for public sector pensions, Bloomberg reports. In that case, the court upheld a 2013 law changing pension benefits calculated in an effort to prevent "pension spiking," or gaming the system in order to retire with an inflated pension.

But, Bloomberg's Romy Varghese notes, the court's decision could open the door for other rollbacks, so long as the pension remains "reasonable" for workers.

Want to become rich while working in the California state government? Don't run for governor, don't become director of the department of health, don't put yourself in charge of the state's water resources control board. Get a job with the California State Bar Association.

That's right. The state bar's top executives get paid much more than similar employees elsewhere in state government -- including the 13 Cal Bar employees who make more than the governor.

A tall is a small, a grande is a medium, a venti is a large -- a trente is too much coffee and a short isn't worth the bother. These are Starbucks truths that we all know. But when you're ordering an iced two-pump no fat caramel latte, just how much ice is too much ice for your tall, grande, or venti? This we may never know, now that a federal judge has tossed a proposed class action accusing Starbucks of putting too much ice in their drinks.

Plaintiffs had accused the coffee company of robbing them of their promised amounts of java by over-icing, resulting in drinks that "contain significantly less product than advertised." But U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson killed their coffee class action dreams, tossing the suit and saying that not even a child would be deceived by Starbucks' ice usage.

Vergara Decision Stands: CA Teacher Tenure to Stay

The California Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Vergara v. California, one of the most significant teacher's tenure cases to date. This means that the state appeals court decision is undisturbed, preserving many employment rights for teachers.

CA Supreme Court Bans Dredges for Mining Gold

This is bad news for gold miners who invested in expensive equipment designed to suck up tons of earth. Today, the California Supreme Court ruled that despite federal rules allowing citizens to mine for gold on federally owned land, state rules that ban certain mining practices trump those federal rules.

The case is still developing, but we continue to examine possible justifications for the courts' ruling.

Will California's Concealed-Carry Gun Restrictions Go Before SCOTUS?

Few states top California when it comes to a general anti-gun stance -- with possible exceptions in New Jersey and New York.

Now, it appears that the state's "good cause" statute, whose legitimacy has been bouncing around in the courts for some time, is finally on its way to be scrutinized by the highest court in the land. Even after a request was made of 28 of the Ninth Circuit's judges, no majority granting a rehearing of last June's contentious case could be met.

Cal Supreme Court Says 'Yes' to Percentage Attorney Fees

The California Supreme Court said OK to percentage class-action compensation for attorneys, but it didn't go so far as to say that a pure percentage would be the end of the story. If we're reading the tone and tenor of the California Supreme Court's opinion correctly, percentage class-action suits involving a common fund will still have to be reigned in against reasonable lodestar guiding principles.

What does this mean for class action litigators? Contingency is not gone, but be prepared in the future to provide justification for your fees. The time of courts taking attorneys' accounting on faith may soon be coming to an end.