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


Service Animals Must Be Trained, California Court Rules

Joey Miller and his dog Roxy got kicked out of court, but it started at a fish market.

Joey, a man who had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, walked into two seafood stores with his dog. The market employees stopped them for health and safety reasons.

Joey's stepfather was not about to have it, however, and they sued for disability discrimination. The courts turned them down again, but that's the short story.

Foie Gras Banned in California -- Again

Unless you are a specialty chef, you may not care whether the liver pate you prepare comes from a duck or a goose.

The ducks and the geese certainly don't have an opinion on the subject of "foie gras," which is the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened.

But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals say foie gras comes from force-feeding the birds to make their livers swell up to 10 times their normal size. A federal appeals court said that's against the law in California.

If you have just hung your shingle out there as a California family lawyer, or are planning on doing so, The Rutter Group's CFLR is offering a three-day seminar that can teach you and your staff the ins and outs of California family practice: Basic Training: Family Law. Experienced practitioners and their support staff can benefit by learning the current best practices and procedures from leading experts in the field and the current Supervising Judge of the Los Angeles County Court Family Law Division. (Disclosure: The Rutter Group is FindLaw's sister company.)

The course will walk participants through a divorce, from before it even starts to after it's finished. And like real cases, the course starts from the point of a client's first contact and ends with handling post-judgment matters. CFLR is offering the course in Costa Mesa, California, in October 2017 on the 6th, 7th, and 8th, at the Westin South Coast Plaza (just a short drive from Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, so bring the family).

The Fourth District Court of Appeal for the state of California has issued a ruling that, at first blush, appears to disregard the recent ruling of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on a nearly identical issue. At issue in the People v. Sandee case is whether a warrantless search of a probationer's cell phone is valid under the Fourth Amendment waiver that probationers consent to as a prerequisite to being granted probation.

The California appellate court explained that under California law, and precedent set by the California supreme court, probationers should expect that their Fourth Amendment waiver will allow a cell phone to be searched attendant to a probation search.

A recent lawsuit filed in the Fresno Superior Court by the National Rifle Association challenges the actual registration requirements for California assault rifle owners. The lawsuit attacks the requirements enacted by the state's department of justice in response to the legislation passed last year.

Along with the other NRA lawsuits challenging the ban on high capacity magazines and other aspects of the new gun control laws in the state, this most recent case seeks to invalidate the registration requirement on the grounds that the information sought is just overly invasive.

CA Courts Face Interpreter Shortage

An interpreter told the defendant that he was accused of a 'violacion,' which did not exactly mean 'violation' in Spanish.

"No he viole a nadie!" the distressed defendant exclaimed.

It was a disconcerting moment for the man, who was actually charged with a traffic violation. It also troubled the judge, who learned that "violacion" meant "rape."

Unfortunately, court interpreters are not always competent. What's worse, there are not enough interpreters -- especially in California where people speak more than 220 different languages.

Court: Attorney's Computers 'Necessary for Life' in Dividing Divorce Debt

In everybody's not-seriously favorite lawyer movie, Jim Carrey's movie wife explains how divorce insulated her from his personal life.

"That's the magic of divorce," she says to the chronic liar-lawyer in "Liar Liar."

If only it worked that way in real life when it comes to community debt in divorce court. Attorney Grant Brooks tried, but it was a flop in Direct Capital Corporation v. Brooks.

Court Ends Marijuana Tax Dispute: Local Voters Can Tax Themselves

Ulysses, fearing he would heed the tempting Siren's song, ordered his men to lash him to the mast of his boat.

Upland, fearing a prohibited tax aimed at marijuana businesses, kept it off the special election ballot. That's a slight twist on the California Supreme Court's mythical reference in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland.

"As Ulysses once tied himself to the mast so he could resist the Sirens' tempting song (Homer, The Odyssey, Book XII), voters too can conceivably make the clear and important choice to bind themselves by making it more difficult to enact initiatives in the future," the court said.

It was a tax powers case and more complicated than a Greek myth. But the story ends something like this: voters have the power to tax themselves.

Recently, a line of cases have all been filed against Apple and other device makers as a result of auto accidents caused by smartphone-induced distracted driving. Following a federal decision in a similar case against Apple out of Texas, a California court rejected the theory that device makers are liable for distracted driving accidents caused when drivers are using their devices.

In sustaining the demurrer, the court explained that:

The chain of causation alleged by plaintiffs in this case is far too attenuated for a reasonable person to conclude that Apple's conduct is or was a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs' harm.

L.A. to Join Sanctuary City Lawsuit

Los Angeles has filed in federal court to join a lawsuit against the Department of Justice for threatening to withhold law enforcement funds from sanctuary cities.

If approved, L.A. will become the third major city to sue the government over the sanctuary city controversy. San Francisco and Chicago sued after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the DOJ would cut off grants to cities that do not cooperate with the Trump Administration's campaign against illegal immigrants.

"This administration will not simply give away grant dollars to city governments that proudly violate the rule of law and protect criminal aliens at the expense of public safety," Sessions said. "So it's this simple: Comply with the law or forego taxpayer dollars."