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


Ellen Pao, the former junior partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, lost her gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm on Friday. In a case that made headlines, Pao had claimed that she was not promoted because of her gender, was subject to harassment, and faced retaliation when she complained.

Pao's case included salacious details, what her attorneys argued was "despicable, malicious, oppressive treatment," as well as allegations of subtle double standards faced by women: things like not being invited to outings or being subject to contradictory, irreconcilable evaluations.

Watch out sommeliers, oenophiles, and old-fashioned winos. According to a class action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, your wine of choice may contain high levels of arsenic, the potentially toxic poison.

According to the complaint, several popular wines contain up to 500% or more of the maximum acceptable arsenic levels, yet provide no warning to the consumer. Though the suits claims are just allegations at the moment, they may have you thinking twice before going back for that extra glass of Pinot.

A nonprofit representing California sex workers is currently suing to overturn the state's laws against prostitution and solicitation. The organization, Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLER, a very unsexy acronym), argues that the state's prohibitions on sex work violates the Fourteenth Amendment.

So, is California about to go the way of Amsterdam or certain counties in Nevada and decriminalize the world's oldest profession? It's doubtful, but ESPLER thinks it's possible.

Even though a federal district court found California's foie gras ban was pre-empted by federal law, federal district court orders aren't necessarily binding on nonparties, so the federal case may have to wait for the Ninth Circuit to step in.

But earlier this month, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a state trial court decision that would let a lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) proceed against a Napa restaurant that served foie gras in violation of the law.

The Judicial Council of California earned some harsh criticism earlier this week from state legislators during a hearing at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

The Chief Justice of California, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, has said over the past several years that the state court system needs more money; indeed, state courthouses have been closed, and employees laid off, to save money. In spite of that, though, an independent audit of the judiciary's finances showed $30 million in questionable spending.

Blanket prohibitions on where registered sex offenders can live are unconstitutional, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday. The case was brought by registered sex offenders in San Diego who objected to mandatory residency restrictions in the penal code.

Sex offenders can't, for example, live within 2,000 feet of a public or private school or a park where children regularly gather. These requirements, the court said, have done more harm than good to registered sex offenders and bear "no rational relationship to advancing the state's goal of protecting children from sexual predators."

The California Supreme Court has unanimously sided with a group of investigative journalists over the Department of Public Health (DPH) in a dispute over public access to regulatory records.

In an investigation into abuse at state-owned and -operated treatment facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, the Center for Investigative Reporting (the Center) requested from DPH copies of all citations issued to the seven largest state faculties. DPH responded to the request with 55 aggressively redacted citations, giving scant information about the actual violations.

DPH claimed that the redactions of private medical information were justified under the Lanterman Act. The Center, demanding more information under the Long Term Care Act, sued DPH for the unredacted citations.

Those of us in the criminal defense community were outraged yesterday at the news that San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson was arrested for preventing police from questioning or photographing her client at the San Francisco Hall of Justice.

"If you continue with this, I'll arrest you for resisting arrest," Police Sgt. Brian Stansbury paradoxically told Tillotson, who was, in fact, arrested. (After her arrest, Stansbury took photos of her client anyway, so take that!)

How can you be pre-emptively arrested for resisting arrest?

Ah, the Boy Scouts. They teach you how to use knives, camp in the woods, and make things out of other things. The Boy Scouts have been under fire in recent years, though. Turns out they're a Christian organization that, until 2012, refused to admit openly gay Scouts, and still forbids employing openly gay Scout leaders.

That's enough to make them an organization that practices "invidious discrimination," according to the California Supreme Court, which decided Friday to prohibit state judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts, effective January 21, 2016.

Attorneys general from 26 states filed an amici curiae brief in a suit over San Francisco's "gun locker" ordinance last week, increasing the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case (which they were probably going to, anyway).

On March 25, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit determined that the ordinance, which requires that handguns stored at a residence be kept in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock, didn't violate the Second Amendment.