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

April 2013 Archives

Local Ordinance Isn't a Statute. Thanks for the Clarification.

The California Supreme Court ruled last week that a Long Beach ordinance couldn’t save the seaside city from a tax refund lawsuit.

Long Beach resident John McWilliams sued the city on behalf of himself and similarly-situated individuals, challenging the city’s telephone users tax (TUT) and seeking refund of taxes paid.

He claimed that Long Beach Municipal Code Section 3.68.50(d) exempted from the TUT all amounts that “are exempt or not subject to” the federal excise tax on telephone service and that the city has been mischaracterizing the charges subject to the federal excise tax for some time. The city claimed that a local ordinance barred his class action.

California Supreme Court Clarifies 'Accessory' Status

Every episode of the ‘Law & Order’ begins with the same explanation: In the Criminal Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the District Attorneys who prosecute the offenders.”

As the California Penal Code explains, “crime” also has two separate, yet equally important groups: the principals who commit the crimes, and the accessories, who assist the principals.

Creepy (Losing) Defense of the Day: Consensual Incest Is Okay

Just so we’re all on the same page, California’s law banning incest doesn’t violate due process rights.

And even if it did, Daniel McEvoy would still be in trouble. McEvoy had sex with his adult sister. They both agree that it happened. Their versions of how it happened differ. She says that she was not a willing participant. He claims otherwise.

Have You Agreed Upon a Verdict?

Christina Marie Anzalone was accused of an odd assortment of crimes. She reportedly threatened a motel owner with a knife, threw a bagel and an open knife at another man, and broke the side mirror and radio antenna on the bagel victim's truck.

She was charged with making a criminal threat, assault with a deadly weapon, (along with allegations that she personally used a deadly weapon in both counts), and misdemeanor vandalism.

The case went to trial, and, after learning from the bailiff that the jurors had a verdict, the trial judge invited the jury back in to announce its result. But the judge never specifically asked if the jury had reached a verdict, he just stated that he had heard that they reached a verdict.

Perez Hilton Prevails in Email Privacy Arbitration

After five years of legal wrangling, Perez Hilton (real name: Mario Lavandeira) has won an email privacy battle in arbitration, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

A disgruntled reader sued Perez after he published a nasty email she sent him, along with her name and unredacted email address. (Back in the day when we still read his site, Perez would occasionally publish these types of messages -- usually containing anti-gay rants -- under the heading "You Are an Idiot.") The sender, Diane Wargo, wanted Perez to cough up $25 million because she received threatening email messages and lost her job after he published the post.

That didn't go so well for her.

Trial Courts Required to Instruct on Aiding and Abetting

Mildred Delgado was convicted of robbery and kidnapping for purposes of robbery on evidence from which a jury could have determined that an accomplice — not Delgado — “performed the act of asportation necessary to the offense of kidnapping.” He claims the trial court erred in failing to instruct, sua sponte, on the law of accomplice liability.

Last week, the California Supreme Court concluded that Delgado was right: the court was required to instruct on aiding and abetting liability as a general legal principle raised by the evidence and necessary for the jury’s understanding of the case.

Don't Fence Me In: Larry Hagman and Adverse Possession

A California Appellate Court clarified that it's easier to steal acquire land from a religious organization than from some other private entity.

That's because an adverse possessor snagging a religious organization's property doesn't have to meet the standard five-year tax requirement.

We'll explain.

Court Reconsiders Howard K. Stern Appeal, Reaches Same Conclusion

Nothing is ever simple when it comes to Anna Nicole Smith.

Smith, (real name: Vicki Lynn Marshall) spent years tangled in legal battles over late husband J. Howard Marshall’s fortune. That case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Smith’s estate eventually lost.

There was also the paternity battle over her daughter: both boyfriend/attorney Howard K. Stern and ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead claimed to be the girl’s father. DNA testing later proved that Birkhead was the father.

And then there was the criminal trial targeting Stern and Smith’s doctor, Khristine Eroshevich. In 2009, they were accused of conspiring to illegally provide Smith with sedatives and opiates before she died.