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

October 2016 Archives

Withholding or altering exculpatory evidence has long been considered an major violation of a prosecutor's duties. After all, "Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted, but when criminal trials are fair," as Justice William Douglas wrote in 1963's Brady v. Maryland. The consequences for violating that duty can include overturned convictions, mistrials, and damaged careers.

Soon, those consequences could include a felony conviction. Earlier this month, Governor Brown signed legislation that ups the penalties for prosecutors who alter or withhold evidence, making what was previously a misdemeanor a felony crime.

In many cities throughout California, developers must either include a certain percentage of affordable housing in large, new developments, or pay an in lieu fee, which is used to fund affordable housing construction elsewhere. Under this scheme, if you want a new condo tower to go up in San Francisco, San Jose, or West Hollywood, you either offer a few units at a below market rate or pay for those units to be built somewhere else. Many, many developers chose in lieu fees.

And there's nothing wrong with that, an appeals court in California ruled recently. The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, Division One, rejected a West Hollywood developer's argument that such fees were an unconstitutional taking. The court's ruling comes a year after the California Supreme Court upheld a similar inclusionary housing scheme in San Jose.

The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal involving an order forcing Yelp to remove a negative review against an attorney. The case arose after a San Francisco lawyer won a defamation lawsuit against a client over her review on Yelp, the online business directory and review site. That victory came with an injunction ordering Yelp to take down the offending post. In June, the injunction was upheld by a California appeals court.

But Yelp wasn't a party to the suit and had no opportunity to defend against the injunction. It now argues that it shouldn't be held to the court's order -- an argument that the California Supreme Court will soon entertain.