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November 2013 Archives

Cali's Bar Results Came Out And, As Always, it Wasn't Pretty

Black Friday? More like Blood Red Friday.

Late last week, California's bar results were released. By the time the scores hit the Internet, we were already a few drinks deep at the local watering hole (have to beat the nearly-half of bar takers that failed, after all), so we're just now catching up to the massacre.

And while the numbers aren't pretty, it's important to remember two facts: a lot of people failed, and even with failure, a great career is still possible.

California's egg law is still causing consternation in Washington, but while politicians are fighting over the farm bill, California has moved on to vaccines, booze tasting and fracking. As we get closer to January deadlines for new laws to take effect, here's a roundup of how these law are progressing.

Yes, You Can Be Convicted of Murder Even Though You Weren't There

Nope, it wasn't a planned hit. In fact, we'd venture a guess that Ryan Johnson didn't intend for anyone to get hurt, especially not one of the two men he sent, armed, to carry out a home invasion robbery. Still, under the "provocative act doctrine," even an absentee co-conspirator can be held accountable when things don't go according to plan.

Indeed, things really didn't go to plan.

Johnson sent two accomplices to carry out a robbery of a rival marijuana dealer's home. The armed individuals intimidated the house's occupants, and ate their takeout Thai food. One of the accomplices, who warned the victim that he was "quick on the trigger, homie" and asked, "You ever seen 'Pulp Fiction,' homie?," forced the victim to the back room, where the home owner picked up a gun, shot one perpetrator, and beat the remaining armed robber until he lost consciousness.

Bail Bond Company Saves $500k Despite Randy Quaid Fleeing to Canada

They're called the "Hollywood Whackers." They are the group of people responsible for murdering Heath Ledger, framing Mel Gibson and Robert Blake, and who stole all of Randy and Evi Quaid's money. Now, the couple is hoping to stay in Canada, where they hope they'll be safe from the murderous conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the company that posted a $500,000 bond for Randy Quaid, and an equal sum for his wife, will get at least some of that money back, despite the couple's unknown whereabouts.

California's Carbon 'Cap and Trade' Program Prevails, for Now

California's Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, was passed in 2006. It set the goal of hitting early 1990s greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020, and does so though a "cap and trade" system. California sets a statewide cap on carbon emissions, awards permits to affected companies, and then the companies are free to buy, sell, and trade between themselves.

There are also a number of permits that are held back. The state auctions these permits as a revenue-raising measure, with the proceeds earmarked for further efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These auctions are the basis of two legal challenges, both defeated Thursday at the trial level, which allege that the auctions weren't authorized by AB 32, and even if they were, the regulation amounts to a tax, and is unconstitutional because it was not passed by a two-thirds majority in the legislature.

So a chicken, a duck and a shark walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a corny joke right? Well it's not.

Right now, California's prohibitions on shark fins, foie-gras and the confines of egg-laying hens are coming to national attention, and raising issues of federalism and the dormant commerce clause.

Derailed High Speed Rail Shifts Legal Strategy

Back in August, we couldn't help but wonder: is this the end of the California High Speed Rail? The "train to nowhere" project, which plans to build its first section of track between Bakersfield and Madera, has faced increasing scrutiny as the price tag has exploded to $68 billion, while the authorizing legislation, Proposition 1A, only provides for $9.95 billion.

In August, Judge Michael Kenny held that the state had broken its promises to voters by failing to have a viable financing plan, with actual (rather than theoretical) sources of money, and by failing to complete the required environmental reports. On Friday, the state shifted tactics, and argued that only the legislature could shut down the project, and that construction could commence on federal funds alone  -- a proposition which would trigger massive state funding obligations.

Restrictions on Handgun Ammo Sales Void for Vagueness

This case comes down to one thing that is even more sure than death or taxes: lawmakers shouldn't write laws about things that they are ignorant of. Such a lack of understanding of gun basics is what doomed this state ammunition restriction to the trash bin.

A California law, passed in 2010 and blocked by a trial court in Fresno in 2011, placed a number of restrictions on the purchase of ammunition that was "principally for use" in handguns, including fingerprinting, sales tracking, and a ban on online and mail-order sales. That law is void for vagueness.

And because we realize that not all lawyers are familiar with the fine points of firearms and ammunition, we're going to make this a bit of a gun terminology lesson.

Our Dear Sunnyvale Becomes the Next Big Gun Control Battleground

Apparently, there was an election this week. No one really noticed, as the election mostly covered local measures. In fact, so little attention was paid that the City of Sunnyvale, the proud home of LinkedIn, FindLaw, and numerous other tech heavyweights, tacked a measure onto the ballot that passed 66 to 33 percent, and which will almost certainly lead to years of litigation.

What did Measure C do? It merely incorporates, on a city-wide level, a handful of gun control efforts that were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown just last month, and of course, implicates the Second and Fifth Amendments.

Imagine being so infamous that a Hollywood movie was made about your misdeeds? Well, Stephen Glass doesn't have to imagine that -- he lived it. Now, he's trying start over in a new career and to gain membership to the California Bar.

But the path for the putative lawyer ahead is anything but clear as ... no, we won't do it. Let's just say it's not looking very promising.

Lawyer Can't be Forced to Take Down Website Describing Past Cases

Prior restraint of free speech. It's a dangerous game, and an important one too. Though this trial ended years ago, the California Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District, heard the case anyway, as this issue is likely to creep up again.

Can a trial judge order a lawyer to take pages down off of her website in order to preserve an impartial jury?

San Francisco continues to bolster its image as a "feel good, live well" city with the latest passage of the San Francisco Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance. The first of its kind in the state, the city ordinance could have a lasting, and wide-reaching impact across the state, and hopefully, the country.