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


As the effects of global warming are felt every day as we weather this drought, California legislators continue to debate how to deal with the impending effects of climate change.

And as cap-and-trade is debated, California's Department of Health is setting new standards by "adopting the nation's first-ever drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium," reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Orca Welfare and Safety Act was just effectively put in hibernation, a/k/a, interim hearings where it won't be the subject of hearings, or put to a vote until 2015.

In 2013, the film "Blackfish" came out exposing the nature of animal captivity and the effects on Orcas. As a result, earlier this week Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced AB 2140 -- the Orca Welfare and Safety Act -- that would prohibit orca shows, and the import, export, and breeding and holding of orcas in captivity for "performance or entertainment purposes," reports the Independent Voter Network.

Every lawyer at some point or another is going to have a client that can't pay. If it hasn't happened to you yet, then consider yourself lucky.

It may happen that they come to you and there is just no way they can afford a private attorney. Or, they may have engaged you, and then discovered that they can't make the bill. Either way, we have resources you can turn to and a few ideas that might help.

California. This state, often derisively referred to as the "People's Republic of California," has a reputation as a wee-bit left-leaning. It might come as a surprise to some, then, that the state's high court is actually almost exclusively made up of Republican appointees, and is seen by many as a moderate to conservative court.

That might be changing soon, however, with Gov. Jerry Brown expected to nab a second term in the fall. Not only does he have a vacancy to fill from Justice Joyce Kennard's retirement last week, but there are a few other spots that could be opening up during the governor's second term.

Almost four years after an explosion in San Bruno, California, devastated a community, destroying homes and taking lives, the U.S. Government filed a criminal indictment against Pacific Gas and Electric Company ("PG&E") on April 1.

The Criminal Indictment

The indictment lists 12 counts of violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act, for knowingly and willfully violating minimum safety standards including not maintaining the proper records, failing to identify threats, and failing to fix parts of the pipeline. According to the indictment, PG&E was missing pipeline records, and existing records had errors and omissions. The company received notice about the record deficiencies from employees, agencies, and third-party consultants and auditors.

The indictment further alleges that although PG&E knew about areas of threatened pipe, the utility failed to label the pipes as high risk.

A mayor sends an email to a state senator through his official government email account. The California Public Records Act applies, and this email is subject to public disclosure.

A mayor sends an email via a free webmail service, such as Gmail, to that same senator, and per this court decision, it is not subject to public disclosure.

Note to Leland Yee: sign up for Gmail.

Lots of California law updates this week with the 2014 State of the Judiciary, a retiring judge, and a review of laws, pending, passed, and interpreted. Let's jump in:

2014 State of the Judiciary

On March 17, 2014 Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye gave her 2014 State of the Judiciary Address before California judges, legislators and attorneys. The foundation of her statements rested on "fairness and collaboration" -- values that both the judiciary and legislature embody. She went on to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and discussed issues important to her including collaborative courts, self-help centers at the trial courts, JusticeCorps and juvenile justice. To read her remarks in full (or watch a video), click here for the 2014 State of the Judiciary Address.

Flash. That'll be $980.

Who caught you? A camera, one that can't face you in court. And the person who prepared the picture that is attached to your ticket? She's also not available to cross-examine.

Good luck with your defense.

See why red light cameras and other "Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems" (ATES) are problematic? Hearsay issues and Confrontation Clause rights are at the center of the war on ATES -- one that is set to hit the California Supreme Court next week, and which has inspired a pro se plaintiff's U.S. Supreme Court petition for certiorari, as well as protective legislation that backs the camera operators.

Well, his odds of a successful run for Secretary of State just diminished greatly.

State Sen. Leland Yee, one of the most well-known California lawmakers, was arrested this morning on bribery charges, while houses and office buildings were raided throughout the Bay Area and Sacramento. Also arrested was Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, reportedly the head of Ghee Kung Tong, a fraternal organization in San Francisco's Chinatown.

According to ABC 7, Chow's rap sheet dates back to 1978, but he has been out of prison for more than a decade after claiming that he'd turned his life around. Authorities believe he may be a local leader of a Hong Kong-base crime syndicate.

"Defendant Nicholas John Smit was charged with a number of drug offenses that exposed him to a maximum of 11 years in state prison. How did defendant attempt to avoid those 11 years? By trying to kill the detective whose testimony was required to convict him, of course.  None of the usual suspects such as Wile E. Coyote, Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam, not even Boris or Natasha, ever eclipsed what defendant did here."

How does one attempt to murder a detective, and in the process, turn an 11-year sentence into four consecutive life sentences with a 40-year garnish? You know, the usual: boobytraps, panji boards, zip guns, and military rockets.