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

California voters may be able to express their opposition to Citizens United when they go to the ballot box. The California Supreme Court seems poised to allow a public referendum, proposed by the state legislature, on whether the Constitution should be amended to overturn the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which removed limits on corporate and union political contributions.

Of course, the ballot measure, if allowed, would have no actual impact on the Court's decision or the U.S. Constitution. Instead, the real issue before the California Supreme Court is whether and to what extent, the legislature can place advisory measures on the ballot.

With the stroke of a pen yesterday, California became the fifth and largest state to allow physician-assisted suicide when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Option Act. The Act allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to mentally competent adults suffering from a terminal illness.

The bill had divided medical, ethical, and religious groups. Advocates argued that physician-assisted suicide allows death with dignity for terminally ill patients who could otherwise suffer excruciating ends. Others objected to doctors taking patient lives under any circumstances.

It's been six years since a federal three-judge court ordered California to drastically reduce its prison population and four years since the Supreme Court affirmed that ruling. At the time, the order brought cries that there would be "blood in the streets" if state prison populations were reduced.

Of course, California didn't just open the prison gates and let inmates walk free. Instead, it instituted a realignment program, moving prisoners from state to local jails, and adopted changes to "tough on crime" laws. Since then, a new report shows, crime has continued to drop, while 18,000 inmates have been removed from California prisons.

When it comes to protecting animal rights, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn't monkey around. Their message is simple: "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment." Oh, and they should have access to intellectual property rights, too. Yep, according to a PETA lawsuit in San Francisco, animals should have the ability to copyright works they create.

In particular, PETA is looking to have a macaque monkey who took a world-famous selfie declared copyright owner of the photos. You remember the photos -- the ones taken when an Indonesian monkey named Naruto grabbed nature photographer David Slater's unattended camera, smiled, and began posing for the camera. Slater threatened to sue Wikipedia when they published the photo and now PETA is suing Slater, arguing that Naruto should be declared the photo's author -- and that PETA should administer the profits from the photo on the monkey's behalf.

Two weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen granted class status to a group of drivers suing Uber. The drivers allege that Uber misclassifies them as independent contractors when they are in fact employees and entitled to employee benefits.

While the ruling itself is news worthy (we covered it here), so too was Judge Chen's handling of the lawyers, indicating that neither Uber nor the drivers have an easy road ahead of them.

Incarceration is no good for families. For parents, one of the worst parts of a prison sentence is being separated from one's children. For kids, incarceration can lead to stress, developmental delays, and financial and emotional trauma. In such situations, incarceration can injure the families of offenders "as much as, and sometimes more than, offenders themselves," according to studies.

Recognizing the problems caused by incarcerating offenders with minor children, California created an Alternative Custody Program in 2010. California's ACP program allows participants to spend a portion of their sentence outside of prison, maintaining contact with their children. The program, previously limited to mothers, must now be made available to all eligible inmates, a federal court has ruled.

A federal court in California granted class action status to all eligible Uber drivers in the Golden State. Drivers are currently suing the company, alleging that Uber illegally classifies them as independent contractors when they are in fact employees. In getting class certification, the drivers have overcome the first hurdle in a massive lawsuit that, should they succeed, could see them getting paid for past taxes, wear to their cars, and other expenses.

The lawsuit threatens to upend business as usual in the so-called "sharing" or "on demand" economies -- those tech companies which let users order goods or services instantly and who depend heavily on contractors to make it work.

California will strictly limit its use of solitary confinement in prisons, the state announced on Tuesday. The changes are expected to greatly reduce the number of inmates held in isolation. Currently, inmates are often kept in small, windowless cells for 22 hours a day, often suffering severe psychological distress as a result.

The changes come as part of a settlement to a landmark class action lawsuit brought by prisoners. Those prisoners had been held in solitary confinement for 10 years or longer in Pelican Bay State Prison, near the Oregon border.

Are traumatized students disabled students, entitled to extra help and accommodations in schools? Yes, according to a new lawsuit brought by students and teachers against Compton Unified School District.

The class action lawsuit, which has its first hearing today, alleges that students exposed to trauma through violence, family disruption, discrimination, and extreme stress are disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and are entitled to the same benefits and accommodations afforded students with more widely recognized learning disabilities.

It's a good time for sunscreen in California, though you wouldn't know it up here in San Francisco, where the June Gloom has given way to a relatively gray Fogust. But, sunless as we may be, sunscreen companies have reason to celebrate, having recently defeated a long running consumer protection lawsuit.

Two plaintiffs who alleged that Neutrogena's sunscreens were misleadingly labeled and marketed have had their suits tossed by a California appellate court, the National Law Review reports. Their state law claims were, ahem, eclipsed by FDA regulations.