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


Appeals Courts Shoots Down Microstamping Gun Control Law

A California appeals court just affirmed a substantial roadblock to the 2007 "microstamp" bullets law. The law was touted as the first of its kind to help law enforcement fight gun crimes with microstamp technology linking bullet casings to guns. However, the Fifth District Court of Appeal said the law wrongly required a technology that gun manufacturers could not produce.

"It is unreasonable to require an individual to attempt what is impossible to accomplish," the justices said in reversing and remanding the case.

A state appeals court has given an assist to the NBA's leading basketball team for a new arena in San Francisco.

In blocking an attempt by opponents, the First District Court of Appeal said the city's plan complies with environmental standards that were challenged on appeal. The Mission Bay plan includes a 488,000-square-foot event center with a capacity of up to 18,500 seats to host games by the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Local businesses, including a medical center, had claimed that increased traffic would adversely affect them. The court rejected the argument.

"[M]ost basketball games and concerts drawing large crowds will generally occur during evening hours, 'after commercial and medical office hours of nearby uses," the court said. The unanimous panel also turned aside arguments that the construction would endanger nesting for birds and bats.

The State Bar of California is currently considering a radical change to the state's Rules of Professional Conduct: a bar on lawyer-client sex.

Under the current rules, lawyers are allowed to sleep with their clients, so long as they do not coerce them into the sack or condition representation on sexual relations. (Lawyers must end representation if their lusty lawyer-client relationship interferes with competent representation as well.) The new rules, if adopted, would put an end to California's permissiveness, prohibiting virtually all attorney-client lovemaking.

Real estate agents can represent both the seller and buyer of a property in California, despite the potential conflicts of interest, so long as the parties consent and it is disclosed that the agent owes a fiduciary to both.

But do the same dual fiduciary duties arise when two agents, both operating under one broker's license, represent both parties in a transaction? Does the seller's broker, acting as an associate licensee, owe a fiduciary duty to the buyer and vice versa? Yes, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday, in a case that could bring greater protections to California real estate buyers.

Well, consider this one of the most obviously stupid things you've encountered recently. In 2011, four supervisors at the West Kern Water District decided to stage a mock robbery in their work place. Following a training on responding to robberies, the supervisors snuck out of the office, with one soon returning dressed in a ski mask, demanding the office's money, and claiming to have a gun.

Of course, the "mock" victim hadn't been informed of the scheme beforehand. To her, everything appeared very, very real.

IMDb, the internet movie database, can tell you virtually every role an actor has played, what projects an actress has in the pipeline, and even your favorite celebrity's height. It can also tell you an actor's age and birthday, at least for now.

A new California law, signed by Governor Brown this September, seeks to deter age discrimination in the entertainment industry by requiring websites like IMDB to remove actors' ages on request. Now, IMDb is suing, alleging that the law violates its First Amendment rights.

When much of America swung to the right on Election Night, the Bear Republic tacked left. California voters approved a host of progressive ballot propositions, legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing tobacco, and upholding a ban on plastic bags. Among the victorious state propositions was Prop 63, which requires background checks for ammunition purchases and closes loopholes to the state's large-capacity magazine ban.

Now, after running a muted opposition campaign, gun advocates, including the California affiliate of the National Rifle Association, are planning to take their battle to court.

Workers at McDonald's franchises in California might soon have a reason to say "I'm lovin' it," now that the company has agreed to a pay out $3.75 million to settle a lawsuit against the world's largest fast food chain. The suit sought to hold McDonald's Corp. accountable, as a joint employer, for the alleged wage and hour violations of a Bay Area franchisee.

The settlement marks the first time McDonald's has agreed to pick up the tab for one of its franchisees, according to Reuters.

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.