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

Withholding or altering exculpatory evidence has long been considered an major violation of a prosecutor's duties. After all, "Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted, but when criminal trials are fair," as Justice William Douglas wrote in 1963's Brady v. Maryland. The consequences for violating that duty can include overturned convictions, mistrials, and damaged careers.

Soon, those consequences could include a felony conviction. Earlier this month, Governor Brown signed legislation that ups the penalties for prosecutors who alter or withhold evidence, making what was previously a misdemeanor a felony crime.

In many cities throughout California, developers must either include a certain percentage of affordable housing in large, new developments, or pay an in lieu fee, which is used to fund affordable housing construction elsewhere. Under this scheme, if you want a new condo tower to go up in San Francisco, San Jose, or West Hollywood, you either offer a few units at a below market rate or pay for those units to be built somewhere else. Many, many developers chose in lieu fees.

And there's nothing wrong with that, an appeals court in California ruled recently. The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, Division One, rejected a West Hollywood developer's argument that such fees were an unconstitutional taking. The court's ruling comes a year after the California Supreme Court upheld a similar inclusionary housing scheme in San Jose.

The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal involving an order forcing Yelp to remove a negative review against an attorney. The case arose after a San Francisco lawyer won a defamation lawsuit against a client over her review on Yelp, the online business directory and review site. That victory came with an injunction ordering Yelp to take down the offending post. In June, the injunction was upheld by a California appeals court.

But Yelp wasn't a party to the suit and had no opportunity to defend against the injunction. It now argues that it shouldn't be held to the court's order -- an argument that the California Supreme Court will soon entertain.

California's rape laws will change dramatically when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, thanks to a host of legislation signed by Governor Brown this week.

Earlier this week, the governor signed legislation that removes the statute of limitations for rape and other sexual offenses. Today, Brown signed two more bills, to expand the legal definition of rape and impose mandatory minimums for rape convictions. The new laws go in to effect on January 1st, 2017.

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.