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

October 2017 Archives

Court: Ankle Monitor Data Is Not Hearsay

Little did we know that robots found a way around hearsay decades ago.

Judge Thomas Hastings knew it then. He was pondering a hearsay objection to computer records being offered into evidence.

"This is a very hypertechnical objection," he said in People v. Hawkins. "[T]he problem in this analysis is simply this: There is no declarant. The declarant is the computer. It's not a person."

Records admitted, and that's how computers first got around the hearsay rule. Now they have taken another step in People v. Rodriguez.

Talcum Powder Case Dissolves in California

One case to rule them all?

That's a big question after a judge overturned a $417 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson. The Los Angeles judge said the plaintiff did not prove the company's talcum powder product caused her ovarian cancer.

Eva Echeverria, who died after the verdict, is one of thousands of plaintiffs suing Johnson & Johnson in talc powder cases across the country. She had the largest jury award of them all, but the reversal casts a long shadow on the plaintiffs' bar.

Not all family law cases are created equal, and no two are exactly alike. While it's nearly always emotional, some cases are charged with more than just the usual family drama that leads to divorce.

When child custody and domestic violence cases crossover, the stakes are higher. If you're not ready for it, the consequences could be all too real. Fortunately, for practitioners in California, The Rutter Group's Effective Strategies for Litigating Child Custody in Contested Domestic Violence Cases program can teach you some of the best practices and strategies for handling these matters. (Disclosure: The Rutter Group is FindLaw's sister company.)

The recently decided case of Wiseman Park LLC v. Southern Glazer Wine and Spirits LLC may open a floodgate of litigation in California, or not. The case reversed a trial court decision sustaining a demurrer to a lawsuit brought by an alcohol retailer against an alcohol distributor.

The distributor sought the demurrer on the basis that California's Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) held the exclusive jurisdiction over all legal claims between alcohol retailers and distributors. However, the Second District Appellate Court of California held that the trial court sustained the demurrer in error. It reversed their decision, remanding the case to be litigated. It further held that there was no merit to the assumption that ABC was the exclusive arbiter of these disputes.

New California Laws Ease Fines, Punishment for Juveniles

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 11 crime bills aimed at lowering fines and punishments for juveniles and other offenders.

Most of the legislation helps young people charged with crimes, including one bill that limits counties and cities from collecting fees from families with children in juvenile detention. Parents and guardians will no longer be charged for juvenile hall expenses, such as housing, food, drugs, tests and transportation.

Lawmakers said juvenile penalties and fines have mostly affected low-income and minority families. The legislation follows a recent pattern in the Golden State to help people who are "paying more for being poor."

Whether you're still trying to get your first trial or have done hundreds, it's always good to learn new methods. The Rutter Group's The Evidence and Trial Wheels: Two Dynamic Devices for Trial Lawyers program can help participants develop those automatic trial reflexes and the confidence to resolve evidentiary issues at trial. (Disclosure: The Rutter Group is FindLaw's sister company.)

Unlike other seminars where speakers talk at the classroom, participants will get first-hand experience spinning "The Wheels" and testing out methods as they are being taught. There's a reason why even experienced litigators keep "The Wheels" at counsel's table during trial, and even pre-trial hearings.

State Bar Law Sections Split Off

The California State Bar announced 'historic reforms' under a new fee bill, including an amicable separation from its practice sections.

The voluntary sections will spin off into a non-profit entity, side-stepping an issue that came up last year. The sections were considering a split then, partly because of new restrictions against spending on alcohol and contracting with resort-style venues for events.

For the disciplinary and regulatory arm of the California State Bar, the biggest change comes to the board of trustees. Lawyers will no longer be elected to the board.

Earthjustice Wins Fight to Block Bee-Killing Pesticides in California

Bees face a no-win situation when attacked: if they sting back, they die.

Fortunately for California's bee population, EarthJustice lawyers fought for them and won a life-saving battle. A state appeals court has reversed a decision that would have unleashed deadly pesticides on the honeybee.

"This is a win for public health, the environment -- and in particular honeybees," said Paul Towers of the Pesticide Action Networks, plaintiffs in the case.

California bankruptcy practitioners, experienced and new: you know that keeping up with the changes to the bankruptcy code and case law is no simple task. Luckily, one of the most popular publishers of California legal practice guides and reference materials, The Rutter Group, is offering an evening seminar in both Northern and Southern California to get you up-to-date: Recent Developments and Hot Topics in Bankruptcy. (Disclosure: The Rutter Group is FindLaw's sister company.)

The seminar will not only walk you through the big changes coming to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Forms on December 1, 2017, but it will also review the recent Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court decisions that impact California bankruptcies. This is a "do-not-miss" event for bankruptcy practitioners in the state as each program will have local federal bankruptcy judges as panelists providing critical practice pointers.