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


Those of us in the criminal defense community were outraged yesterday at the news that San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson was arrested for preventing police from questioning or photographing her client at the San Francisco Hall of Justice.

"If you continue with this, I'll arrest you for resisting arrest," Police Sgt. Brian Stansbury paradoxically told Tillotson, who was, in fact, arrested. (After her arrest, Stansbury took photos of her client anyway, so take that!)

How can you be pre-emptively arrested for resisting arrest?

Ah, the Boy Scouts. They teach you how to use knives, camp in the woods, and make things out of other things. The Boy Scouts have been under fire in recent years, though. Turns out they're a Christian organization that, until 2012, refused to admit openly gay Scouts, and still forbids employing openly gay Scout leaders.

That's enough to make them an organization that practices "invidious discrimination," according to the California Supreme Court, which decided Friday to prohibit state judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts, effective January 21, 2016.

Attorneys general from 26 states filed an amici curiae brief in a suit over San Francisco's "gun locker" ordinance last week, increasing the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case (which they were probably going to, anyway).

On March 25, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit determined that the ordinance, which requires that handguns stored at a residence be kept in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock, didn't violate the Second Amendment.

Our long statewide nightmare is finally over. Foie gras for everyone!

Back in 2012, legislation went into effect prohibiting "force feed[ing] a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size." Also prohibited were any products made that way. Given that's exactly how foie gras is made, and to date, no one (except some random farmer in Spain whose foie gras is astonishingly expensive) can figure out how to make it any other way, foie gras was effectively banned in California.

Until Wednesday!

Among the 900 or so new laws taking effect in 2015, California is letting undocumented immigrants get state driver's licenses. Undocumented immigrants are already out there driving, but without licenses because they can't prove they're in the country legally.

If you're in the immigration biz, or even if you're not, here are five things you should know about the new law:

It's a big year for ch- ch- changes in California law. Starting in 2015, everything from human trafficking to massage therapy to emotional support animals will see some tweaks.

Here's what you should know in order to keep up to speed with some of the more high-profile changes to state law coming in the new year:

2014's Top 10: Nothing Comes Close to the Golden Coast

FindLaw doesn't have Texas Case Law blog. We don't have a West Virginia Case Law blog. We have a California Case Law blog.

And we're sure glad we do, because if we didn't, there's no way our writers and readers would know that they might be able to change music and adjust the navigation on their smartphones while driving.

This may be a backwards, liberal, heathen-filled state (kidding, I swear), but it's our state, and we covered it well. Here are our 10 most popular posts from the past year -- a potpourri of traffic violations, (alleged) police and prosecutorial misconduct, and court staff throwing a fit over a dress code (seriously, San Francisco?):

Is Riverside County Child Protective Services taking newborn babies away from their mothers without so much as a warrant?

That's what a federal class action suit, filed last week, claims. The lead plaintiff, a baby known only as A.A., claimed that Riverside County systematically takes "thousands" of newborns away from their mothers -- and that a "large portion" of these takings are from African Americans and poor families.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Maryland law that allowed police to collect and store DNA from arrestees. This put a wrench in a California case called People v. Buza, centering on the validity of California's own DNA collection law.

The First District Court of Appeal decided Buza in the defendant's favor in 2011. On a petition for review, the state supreme court sent it back for reconsideration in light of King. Last week, the court of appeal reached the same conclusion: California's DNA collection law violates the state constitution.

Seasoned prosecutors and defense attorneys know that, despite what many courts have held over the years, jurors don't follow jury instructions. They just don't. And they especially don't pay attention to the admonishment that they can't take into account a defendant's failure to testify.

Yeah, right. Though Sarah Koenig may have been shocked to learn that on a previous episode of the "Serial" podcast, the rest of us know that taking the Fifth raises jurors' suspicions. (If he didn't do it, why won't he tell us his side of the story?) The California Supreme Court on Monday ruled on whether it's automatically misconduct for jurors to come to that conclusion.