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


Uber is finding itself "disrupted" right into federal court, this time over allegations that it's charging users a 20 percent gratuity but not paying that to employees -- excuse me, partners (because they're not employees and Uber isn't operating a transportation company).

On Wednesday, Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted part of Uber's motion to dismiss, but left in place an unfair trade practice claim.

As Scotland prepares to vote whether to end its 307-year affiliation with the United Kingdom, we're left to wonder what could have been if California were put to the same question.

As you might know, Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, sponsored a ballot initiative to split our beloved Golden State into six different states: a northern state called "Jefferson" from Chico to Oregon, a band surrounding Sacramento from the ocean to Nevada ("North California"), a "Central California" state, a Los Angeles-centric state called "West California," a Bay Area and coastal state ("Silicon Valley" -- really?), and a San Diego-based state called "South California."

Sadly, however, our billionaire's ballot initiative won't be appearing anytime soon.

We've all suspected for a while now that Airbnb is decreasing the housing stock in San Francisco, where housing units are a precious asset. Though Airbnb either disputes the claim or says it's not a big deal, investigations by the San Francisco Chronicle suggest that Airbnb hosts in San Francisco aren't just renting a room in their apartment or renting the apartment when they're not there; a significant number of hosts may be leasing a totally separate apartment from where they live as a side business.

In the wake of Facebook threats, which are becoming all the rage these days at the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court had occasion to address the law of attempting to make a criminal threat.

Fairly recently -- just in 2001 -- the state supreme court recognized the existence of attempting to make a criminal threat. The elements are basically the same as in the completed crime, except that, because of circumstances outside the defendant's control, the threat doesn't reach the intended victim, or the victim doesn't understand the threat, or doesn't construe it as a threat.

In People v. Chandler, the court -- in an opinion by newish Justice Goodwin Liu -- had to decide whether attempting to make a threat required only a subjective intent to threaten, or additionally required that the threat be objectively threatening to a reasonable person.

Yes, judges behave badly, too. But when they behave badly, it makes lawyers and courts look bad.

This week, the Commission on Judicial Performance issued a pair of sanctions to two different superior court judges who both engaged in some inappropriate conduct in camera.

"[She is] attracted to women. OK? She has the motive. I'm not saying that everyone who's attracted to women is going to attack children or going to molest children, but we know that she is attracted to females, and [the victim] is a female child."

That, folks, is an improper argument: sexual orientation as motive for molesting a child. And when the defendant's counsel pointed out the impropriety of the argument in his own closing, and argued that the prosecutor showed them the booking photo of the accused to further that argument, the prosecutor doubled down:

"Does she look like a lesbian to you? Of course, not every lesbian looks like that. But you have to ask yourself, why would a woman dress this way? Why would a woman have her hair that short? Is it because she is sexually attracted to other females? It had evidentiary value. And the defendant is charged with sexually molesting a female child, so her sexual orientation and whether or not she's ever had a boyfriend or whether or not she's attracted to females or whether or not she looks like this when she's arrested and then looks like that for trial is absolutely relevant."

A divided California Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the idea that a franchise parent company can be automatically held liable for the acts of a franchisee. The 4-3 decision will surely make waves, as the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel decided last month that McDonald's could be held liable for labor violations of franchisees.

The case involves a Domino's franchise and an employee claiming that a manager had been sexually harassing her. She complained about the harassment to corporate headquarters, took a week off work, then resigned soon afterward, believing that the manager had reduced her hours as retaliation for reporting the harassment.

"For those who already own a firearm and are known to be trustworthy due to the licenses that they hold and a history of responsible gun ownership, there is no justification for imposing the full 10-day waiting period."

That's District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii's holding: For Californians who already lawfully own guns, or for those who are licensed concealed carry permit holders, there is no justifiable reason to have a strict 10-day waiting period before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa County proved fairly destructive near the epicenter, toppling wine bottles, knocking out power, and shearing bricks off buildings. It was the strongest quake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area since 1989.

Even if earthquakes aren't that likely where you are, plug the magnitude of harm into Judge Learned Hand's cost-benefit analysis and you'll quickly discover it's worthwhile to take some steps to make your office more earthquake-resistant -- especially here in California.

Here are five tips not only for making your physical office more earthquake-proof, but also for making your practice earthquake-proof:

Richard Tom crashed into a car in 2007 and killed one of the occupants. He was tried and convicted of manslaughter. As part of its case, the prosecution brought up the fact that Tom hadn't once inquired about the other car's passengers at the scene of the accident. Though Tom didn't bring the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination issue up on appeal, the Court of Appeal did, and reversed his conviction.

So, was Tom's Fifth Amendment privilege violated when the trial court admitted evidence that he "failed to inquire about the welfare of the occupants of the other vehicle"? Yes, said the Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision.