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

June 2013 Archives

Prop 8 Appeal Lacked Standing: SCOTUS

The long awaited gay marriage case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, ended in a procedurally dramatic way on Wednesday, with the Supreme Court vacating and remanding the Ninth Circuit's decision based on a lack of standing.

In a 5-4 decision, the Perry court determined that private parties do not have standing to defend the constitutionality of a state law "when state officials have chosen not to," reports the Huffington Post.

Though this case was not decided on the merits, it does have long-standing (no pun intended) consequences for gay marriage in California.

Judicial Council Meets the Internet! Mandatory E-Filing Coming Soon?

Every part of my tech-geek soul loves this.

According to a press release from our dear Judicial Council, mandatory e-filing may be in our near future for civil cases. Normally, the word "mandatory" makes us shiver, but this change could be one of the rare instances in which "California courts" and "efficient" actually belong in a sentence together.

Forget about the environmental impact of millions of fewer printed pages for a second, because who really cares about the environment? (Kidding. Seriously, having every case handled electronically would be huge for Mother Nature.) Imagine the convenience of not having to fill out one of those stupid Proof of Service forms ever again.

Family Feud Leads to Clarification of Juvenile Incompetence Standard

R.V. doesn’t seem to be all there. He tossed a television onto the floor, pulled a knife on his mother and stepfather, and stabbed his bed three times, all because he didn’t want to go to school. His parents told police that the child has mental problems, was getting worse, and had not taken his prescribed medication for the preceding four weeks.

An expert hired to evaluate his competency was unable to complete tests due to R.V.’s refusal to participate, but opined that he lacked competency anyway due to his demeanor and subjective observations. More specifically, Dr. Kojian observed signs of impairment, limited thinking, slow speech, and an altered thought process. He testified that it “seemed like he might have been responding to internal stimuli, meaning voices,” though R.V. denied it.

Ford Loses Lemon Law F-450 Transmission Appeal

FORD: Fix or Repair Daily. Fails on Rainy Days. Found on Roadside Dead.

Or FORD backwards: Driver Returns on Foot. Apologies, but apparently, I’m not the only disillusioned former Ford owner.

Greg Donlen was the former proud owner of a brand-new Ford F-450 Super Duty, equipped with a TorqShift transmission, which in addition to sounding badass, had the unfortunate habits of burning out seals, shifting erratically, and popping into neutral.

Police Can Still Seize and Destroy Guns from Mentally Ill

Sometimes, life sucks. You know it. We all know it. From bills to sitting in traffic in [insert metropolitan area here], the day-to-day grind can wear down your soul. Tack on an extra stressor, such as your car being towed or a medical problem, and it can feel like it’s all too much to bear.

Or you might just need to vent.

Ester Boggess called her niece on December 31, 2011. By the end of the conversation, her niece was worried enough to contact the police. The officers arrived, assessed the situation, and put Boggess on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, otherwise known as a Sec. 5150. The officers also confiscated her late husband’s firearms and pursuant to Sec. 8102, sought to dispose of them.

No Right to GPS Tracking Privacy When Carrying Stolen Cell Phone

Lorenzo Barnes, a past-convicted felon, held up a young couple at gunpoint. One of them handed over his wallet, while the lady tossed her bright teal Prada purse under a nearby vehicle. Barnes retrieved the purse and took off.

An hour later, the purse-snatcher was in cuffs. How?

In addition to having a very conspicuous purse, she was also carrying a Palm Pre smartphone. She told the police that her phone had GPS, together they contacted Sprint, and within forty-five minutes, they had Barnes’ location. The victims also provided a physical description.

Hilariously enough, Barnes, on appeal, argues that his Fourth Amendment rights, and the related “expectation of privacy” were violated by the GPS search. The Court of Appeals, however, strongly disagrees.

Cal Supreme Court Embraces Spirit of Section 998, Cloudy Non-Rule

We in the law like cases to settle. We like settlements so much that if a party makes a reasonable offer to settle, and the other side declines, and doesn’t land a more favorable verdict at trial, we’ll make them pick up part of the tab, specifically for expert witness testimony. You might know this as Section 998, though old-timers might recall that it was previously known as Section 997.

Where that procedural code remains silent, however, is how the court should treat multiple offers. If the plaintiff makes one reasonable offer, then makes another reasonable offer, which offer counts when the verdict rolls in?

Habeas Granted: Inmate Can Read Sexy Violent Vampire Thriller

Every full moon, Iris kills werewolves. It's what she's good at; it's what she's trained for. She's never imagined doing anything else ... until she falls in love with one. And being a professional werewolf hunter and dating a werewolf poses a serious conflict of interest. To add to her problems, a group of witches decides she is the chosen one -- destined to save humanity from the wolves at the door -- while her boss, Blake, who just happens to be her ex-husband, is hell-bent on sabotaging her new relationship.

All Iris wants is to snuggle up with her alpha wolf and be left alone. He might turn into a monster once a month, but in a lot of ways, she does, too.

Giggity, giggity. Now that sounds like an instant literary classic. And you, dear reader, have Andres Martinez to thank for the heads-up. In early 2011, he ordered a copy of The Silver Crown from his Pelican Bay cell, but was denied access to the novel after it was deemed contraband.

Action and Reaction: Clarifying 'Heat of Passion' Provocation

“[P]rovocation is not evaluated by whether the average person would act in a certain way: to kill. Instead, the question is whether the average person would react in a certain way: with his reason and judgment obscured.”

Tare Beltran began dating Claire Tempongko in 1998. Over the next two years, the relationship turned violent, with allegations of abuse, visits from the police, and eventually, a protective order. In late October, the then ex-couple argued over the phone, before Tempongko showed up to her house and stabbed her 17 times.

Jurors Watch Prison Movie, Impose Death; Verdict Upheld

Forget about the movie for a second. Let's go back a bit further in the facts.

A prospective juror is asked the following question:

"25. HAVE YOU, A CLOSE FRIEND, OR RELATIVE EVER BEEN ACCUSED OF A CRIME, EVEN IF THE CASE DID NOT COME TO COURT?"

Well, that seems pretty clear, right? Not so much, if you are Pervies Ary, the eventual foreman of the Boyette jury. According to the opinion, this is his rap sheet: