California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog


Suit Revived to Make Glassdoor Identify Anonymous Review Posters

A state appeals court ruled that a company may compel an online review site to identify its anonymous critics.

In the case against Glassdoor, a website for jobseekers and others to post information about employers, California's Second District Court of Appeal said the First Amendment does not protect anonymous posters from making libelous statements in the guise of opinion.

"On the contrary, where an expression of opinion implies a false assertion of fact, the opinion can constitute actionable defamation," said Acting Presiding Justice Maria Rivera in ZL Technologies v. Does 1-7.

Court: Medical Board's Right to Records Outweighs Patients' Privacy Rights

The California Supreme Court said the state medical board did not need a warrant or subpoena to obtain a doctor's prescription history for his patients.

In Lewis v. Superior Court, the court said that the board's interest in protecting the public outweighed any privacy rights. The board acquired the patient information through the state's Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, "CURES."

"[W]e find that the balance tips in favor of the Board's interests in protecting the public from unlawful use and diversion of a particularly dangerous class of prescription drugs and protecting patients from negligent or incompetent physicians," Justice Goodwin Liu wrote.

Judge Keeps Injunction in Place on President's Order Against Sanctuary Cities

Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not help President Trump's case against sanctuary cities that is playing out in San Francisco.

On Wednesday, Sessions gave a speech claiming sanctuary cities have more violent crime on average than those cities that cooperate with the president's campaign against illegal immigrants. On Thursday, a federal judge refused to lift an injunction against the president's order to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.

"The fundamental problem I see is, as found in my initial order, Section 9 of the executive order is unconstitutional," Judge William Orrick III said, notwithstanding Session's latest memo on the order. "The attorney general's memo can't change that."

CA Supreme Court: Voters Did Not Amend 3 Strikes Law

Californians approved Prop. 47 to reduce sentences for certain drug and theft crimes and to allow some prisoners to petition for lesser sentences after convictions.

But that proposition did not change the Three Strikes Reform Act under Prop. 36, which voters enacted two years earlier to reduce sentences when a defendant's third strike was not serious or violent.

That's the last ruling from the California Supreme Court in People v. Valencia. But it was a hard-fought decision as the justices split 4-3 in their interpretation of the voter-approved laws.

Judge Blocks Law Against High-Capacity Gun Magazines in California

A federal judge has stopped a voter-approved law that would have forced gun owners to surrender magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

Californians voted Prop. 63 into law last year, outlawing the high-capacity magazines, requiring background checks of people who buy ammunition and imposing other gun restrictions. Judge Roger Benitez said the bullet ban went too far.

"The State of California's desire to criminalize simple possession of a firearm magazine able to hold more than 10 rounds is precisely the type of policy choice that the Constitution takes off the table," he said in granting a preliminary injunction against the law.

SpaceX Survives 'Contractor' Suit

A California appeals court said a construction company has no "contractor" claims against SpaceX because the company was not licensed.

Phoenix Pipeline Mechanical performed services for the private aerospace business, but it was not licensed for construction work. The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said the company can only sue for non-contractor work.

"Phoenix Pipeline has not alleged one contract, but rather a series of agreements for each separate task that it was asked to perform," the court said in Phoenix Pipeline Mechanical, Inc. v. Space Exploration Technologies, Corp. "It may therefore seek compensation under those alleged agreements that apply to tasks for which no license was required."

Oakland Settles Police Sex Scandal

The Oakland City Council approved a settlement to pay nearly $1 million to a former prostitute who alleged that a parade of police officers used her for sex, including times when she was a minor.

Jasmine Absulin, formerly known as Celeste Guap, said that police in Oakland, Richmond, Livermore, and San Francisco, as well as Alameda and Contra Costa counties, were involved. She has filed claims for civil rights violations against the police agencies.

"Officers are supposed to protect young girls like this, not take advantage of them," her attorney John Burris said. "They were like wild rats that went from one department to the next department to the next department."

From memos to moot court, law school students are trained in the art of persuasion. Unfortunately, much of that art goes to seed upon graduation, or is reserved only for the biggest case filings or court appearances. While some attorneys will find the argument in anything, many more lawyers think the only time they need to be persuasive is in front of a judge or jury.

As it turns out, you may need your powers of persuasion in your everyday practice, and there are ways to be more effective in your interactions with clients, opposing counsel, judges, mediators, arbitrators, regulators, and others and therefore be more successful in your legal practice. Here’s how.

California Courts at High Risk for Quake Damage

This is not a script for a disaster movie; it's just a script for disaster.

According to the California Judicial Council's Court Facilities Advisory Committee, scores of courthouses pose a high or very high risk of falling apart in an earthquake. More than 140 courts are seismically unsafe, the committee reported.

Glendale Superior and Municipal Courthouse is the least safe, according to the report, followed by Alameda County Administration Building, which houses civil courts. Retrofitting the buildings with the highest risk would cost about $2 billion.

"It doesn't get safer each year as the buildings get older," said Stephen Nash, executive officer for Contra Costa County Superior Court. "We are sitting on a time bomb. We are watching the clock tick."

Governor Likes Budget the Way It Is, Chief Justice Not so Much

Gov. Jerry Brown has released a revised California budget, and it does not include new money for the courts. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is not impressed.

"Under this proposed budget, trial courts receive a little more than a penny for every general-fund tax dollar, less than what the courts were receiving before the Great Recession," she said in a statement. "This is neither fair nor just."

In his initial budget, the governor added $35.4 million to support the state trial courts. The judiciary's proposed budget was about $3.6 billion, and the revised budget keeps it the same.