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

Recently in Civil Rights Law Category

Blanket prohibitions on where registered sex offenders can live are unconstitutional, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday. The case was brought by registered sex offenders in San Diego who objected to mandatory residency restrictions in the penal code.

Sex offenders can't, for example, live within 2,000 feet of a public or private school or a park where children regularly gather. These requirements, the court said, have done more harm than good to registered sex offenders and bear "no rational relationship to advancing the state's goal of protecting children from sexual predators."

The California Supreme Court has unanimously sided with a group of investigative journalists over the Department of Public Health (DPH) in a dispute over public access to regulatory records.

In an investigation into abuse at state-owned and -operated treatment facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, the Center for Investigative Reporting (the Center) requested from DPH copies of all citations issued to the seven largest state faculties. DPH responded to the request with 55 aggressively redacted citations, giving scant information about the actual violations.

DPH claimed that the redactions of private medical information were justified under the Lanterman Act. The Center, demanding more information under the Long Term Care Act, sued DPH for the unredacted citations.

Attorneys general from 26 states filed an amici curiae brief in a suit over San Francisco's "gun locker" ordinance last week, increasing the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case (which they were probably going to, anyway).

On March 25, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit determined that the ordinance, which requires that handguns stored at a residence be kept in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock, didn't violate the Second Amendment.

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.

In December 2013, Isaiah Martinez -- undoubtedly an Adorable Child (as evidenced by this photograph) -- brought some candy canes with him to his public elementary school, to be given away to his classmates as Christmas gifts. But those mean old school officials wouldn't let him. Another casualty in the War on Christmas!

Well, not quite. Each candy cane had a little paper attached containing the "candy cane legend," which described how the white part of the candy cane represents "the virgin Birth, the sinless nature of Jesus" and the red stripes represent "the blood shed by Jesus on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life, if only we put our faith and trust in Him."

Calif. Handgun Advertising Ban Challenged on 1st Amendment Grounds

California Penal Code Section 26820 states:

No handgun or imitation handgun, or placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof, shall be displayed in any part of the premises where it can readily be seen from the outside.

Like guns? Hate guns? It doesn't matter, really. This is a law that seems to curtail commercial speech for no discernable reason whatsoever. Store owners can't put up signs advertising the sale of handguns, but they can advertise sales of shotguns and even "assault" rifles. And any non-dealers (think protesters) are free to post their own handgun-related signs.

It's a law that, to be fair, was passed in the 1920s. And yet, California is still trying enforce it.

Parolees in California can be required to enroll in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs as part of their parole or probation. But it's potentially crossing a line to ask an atheist parolee to surrender to a higher deity that he doesn't believe in.

That's what happened to Barry Hazle of Shasta County, who was paroled after a prison term for meth possession and then ordered to enroll in a drug treatment program. The program required that he "submit to a 'higher power,'" the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Hazle, a lifelong atheist, was having none of it.

GVRO: What the Gun Violence Restraining Order Law Means

Every fearful conversation that I have heard from gun owners and conspiracy theorists has finally come true in California: The government can come seize your guns, though only if a family member claims that you are a danger to yourself or others.

Still, that's not going to assuage the fears of many gun owners out there. Assembly Bill 1014, drafted after the Santa Barbara shooting and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, creates the Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), a set of procedures that piggybacks the current Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO) system. The law will allow police officers to temporarily seize the restrained party's firearms, reports Reuters.

Here are the specifics of the legislation, which is set to take effect on January 1, 2016:

Gun Owners Won't Have to Wait 10 Days to Add to Arsenals

"For those who already own a firearm and are known to be trustworthy due to the licenses that they hold and a history of responsible gun ownership, there is no justification for imposing the full 10-day waiting period."

That's District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii's holding: For Californians who already lawfully own guns, or for those who are licensed concealed carry permit holders, there is no justifiable reason to have a strict 10-day waiting period before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights.

The dust is still settling after Hobby Lobby, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of exempting closely held corporations from the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, but Californians may not feel the aftershock.

Why? California has laws in place that require employers to include birth control in their prescription drug coverage. But these laws don't cover the same legal ground as the healthcare mandate.

So how will Hobby Lobby affect Californians?