Decisions in Criminal, Administrative Matters and Civil Cases Including Hate Law Crimes - California Case Law
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Decisions in Criminal, Administrative Matters and Civil Cases Including Hate Law Crimes

The Second District decided a criminal matter involving a commitment offense, a high school student's suit under hate crime laws and defamation and a homeowner's property tax exemption under the corporate alter ego theory.

In People v. Townsend, No. B216325, the court faced a challenge to a judgment committing a defendant to the Department of Mental Health or Treatment as an MDO following his conviction of possession of Molotov cocktails. 

As stated in the decision: "A defendant may be committed as an MDO if his commitment offense  1) was a crime 'in which the prisoner used force or violence, or caused serious bodily injury,'" or 2) was 'a crime involving an implied threat to use force or violence likely to produce substantial physical harm."

In affirming the decision, the court concluded that defendant's offense came within the second category as defendant's possession of the Molotov cocktails could be used only for criminal purposes, and because these devices are bombs, they are more dangerous than other weapons typically used in crimes.  Therefore, people who carry such bombs are a threat to public safety and the danger is substantially increased when individuals who carry such devices are mentally disordered, delusional and paranoid.

In Grotenhuis v. County of Santa Barbara, No. B212264, the court faced a challenge to the trial court's ruling that a trustee, as the alter ego of corporation, can claim a homeowner's property tax exemption and transfer the base year of a former residence to a new residence of which corporation is owner of record. 

As stated in the decision: "Section 69.5(a)(1) provides that a natural "person" may transfer the tax basis of his or her principal residence.  Person means any individual, but does not include any firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, or other legal entity or organization of any kind."  Thus, in reversing the trial court's decision, the court held that the corporate alter ego theory applies only in narrow circumstances or when the ends of justice so require, and here, trustee cannot invoke the theory to gain a tax advantage.

In D.C. v. R.R., No. B207869, the court addressed trial court's denial of defendant's anti-SLAPP motion in a suit brought by a 15year-old high school student against his schoolmates and their parents under California's hate crime laws and common law defamation, arising from derogatory comments about the plaintiff's sexual orientation posted on his Web site by defendants. 

In affirming the trial court's denial, the court held that defendants did not make the required showing that plaintiff's suit is subject to anti-SLAPP statute.  The posted comments, threatening to kill and severely injure plaintiff, is not protected speech, and even if assuming that the defendants meant it as a joke by teenagers, the comments did not concern a public issue under the statute.

Today, the Fourth District addressed the father's challenge to the juvenile court's order declaring his daughter a dependent of the court and a mobilehome park owner and operator's challenge to the trial court's denial of damages arising from a city's rent control ordinance.

In In re S.A., No. D055148, the court addressed a father's challenge to the juvenile court's order declaring his daughter a dependent of the court, claiming that his daughter's appointed counsel was ineffective and that lack of evidence supported the juvenile court's conclusion that he sexually molested his daughter.  In affirming the order, the court held that the father lacks standing to assert ineffective assistance of counsel claim as her statutory right to be represented by competent counsel is a right personal to her.  The court also held that juvenile court's finding of sexual molestation was based on clear and convincing evidence and rejected remainder of the father's claims as lacking merit.

In MHC Fin. Ltd. P'ship Two v. City of Santee, No. D053345, the court addressed a mobilehome park owner's challenge to a city rent control ordinance.  In affirming the trial court's decision, the court held that the mobilehome park owner was not entitled to damages because it has not demonstrated that the trial court erred in ruling that plaintiff suffered no legally remediable injury due to the city's retroactive application of the ordinance.  The court also concluded that the trial court was correct in deciding that plaintiff was not entitled to damages for the city's violation of its right to petition under the California Constitution.

The Supreme Court of California decided two cases today involving issues of an air management district's failure to conduct a EIR report prior to approving a project and a petitioner's request for relief from lifetime mandatory sex offender registration. 

In Communities for a Better Env't v. S. Coast Air Quality Mgmt. Dist., No S161190, the Court of California addressed the decision of the air management district in approving a refinery project based on a prior baseline maximum permitted capacity.  The defendants, including ConocoPhillips, claimed that existence of valid permits to operate industrial equipment used for the project at particular levels is an exception to the general rule that existing physical conditions serve as the baseline for measuring a project's environmental effects.

In flatly rejecting the defendants' contention, the court held that the air management district abused its discretion in determining that the project would have no significant environmental effects prior to completing a EIR report and also held that nothing justified the defendants employing as an analytical baseline for a new project the maximum capacity allowed under prior equipment permits.

In People v. Picklesimer, No. S165680, the Court faced a challenge to the denial of petitioner's request for relief from mandatory lifetime sex offender registration based on equal protection on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction. 

In affirming the decision, the Court resolved an uncertainty in a class of defendants convicted of violating section 288(b)(1)  on or before the date of the Court's decision in People v. Hofsheier that imposition of mandatory lifetime sex offender registration on defendants convicted of violating this section violated the state and federal equal protection clauses.  The Court concluded, that for defendants like petitioner, who are no longer in custody and whose appeals are final, Hofsheier claims must be brought by way of a petition for writ of mandate in the trial court.  Thus, freestanding postjudgment motion, such as the one filed by petitioner is not cognizable.

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