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

December 2014 Archives

2014's Top 10: Nothing Comes Close to the Golden Coast

FindLaw doesn't have Texas Case Law blog. We don't have a West Virginia Case Law blog. We have a California Case Law blog.

And we're sure glad we do, because if we didn't, there's no way our writers and readers would know that they might be able to change music and adjust the navigation on their smartphones while driving.

This may be a backwards, liberal, heathen-filled state (kidding, I swear), but it's our state, and we covered it well. Here are our 10 most popular posts from the past year -- a potpourri of traffic violations, (alleged) police and prosecutorial misconduct, and court staff throwing a fit over a dress code (seriously, San Francisco?):

Riverside Co. CPS Takes 'Thousands' of Babies, Lawsuit Claims

Is Riverside County Child Protective Services taking newborn babies away from their mothers without so much as a warrant?

That's what a federal class action suit, filed last week, claims. The lead plaintiff, a baby known only as A.A., claimed that Riverside County systematically takes "thousands" of newborns away from their mothers -- and that a "large portion" of these takings are from African Americans and poor families.

Appeals Court Strikes Cal. DNA Collection Law for Arrestees

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Maryland law that allowed police to collect and store DNA from arrestees. This put a wrench in a California case called People v. Buza, centering on the validity of California's own DNA collection law.

The First District Court of Appeal decided Buza in the defendant's favor in 2011. On a petition for review, the state supreme court sent it back for reconsideration in light of King. Last week, the court of appeal reached the same conclusion: California's DNA collection law violates the state constitution.

Jury's Disregard of 5th Amd. Instruction Not Automatically Prejudicial

Seasoned prosecutors and defense attorneys know that, despite what many courts have held over the years, jurors don't follow jury instructions. They just don't. And they especially don't pay attention to the admonishment that they can't take into account a defendant's failure to testify.

Yeah, right. Though Sarah Koenig may have been shocked to learn that on a previous episode of the "Serial" podcast, the rest of us know that taking the Fifth raises jurors' suspicions. (If he didn't do it, why won't he tell us his side of the story?) The California Supreme Court on Monday ruled on whether it's automatically misconduct for jurors to come to that conclusion.

Lawsuit Claims Debt Collectors Are Using Prosecutors' Letterheads

Debt collectors have been accused of using shady tactics in order to collect, but a class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco this week really takes the cake. Kevin Breazeale claims that he and others received letters "threatening them with criminal prosecution unless they paid alleged debts arising from dishonored checks. The letters all bore the seal and letterhead of a county district attorney."

As it turns out, the letters didn't come from a district attorney, but from a private debt collection firm called CorrectiveSolutions. And guess what? The district attorney allowed the company to use his seal and letterhead.

Cal. Bar Results Plummet Along With the Rest of America

You may have heard about the plummeting bar passage rates for the July 2014 examination. If not, you're not reading our Greedy Associates blog frequently enough. The gist is this: lowest passage rates in recent memory have led to finger-pointing between schools and the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The debate is over whether the test was scored or designed poorly, or whether the students were simply less able.

It's not surprising then to see that California's bar rate has also plummeted. According to the California Bar Journal, the passage rate was the lowest it has been in nearly 10 years -- a startling 48.6 percent. The drop comes on the heels of multiple consecutive years of a rising passage rate and is the lowest since July 2004, when 48.2 percent passed.