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Lots of California law updates this week with the 2014 State of the Judiciary, a retiring judge, and a review of laws, pending, passed, and interpreted. Let's jump in:

2014 State of the Judiciary

On March 17, 2014 Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye gave her 2014 State of the Judiciary Address before California judges, legislators and attorneys. The foundation of her statements rested on "fairness and collaboration" -- values that both the judiciary and legislature embody. She went on to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and discussed issues important to her including collaborative courts, self-help centers at the trial courts, JusticeCorps and juvenile justice. To read her remarks in full (or watch a video), click here for the 2014 State of the Judiciary Address.

This week California is making headlines with laws -- enacted and proposed -- that affect gun rights, and the rights of juveniles. A Sunnyvale municipal law banning large-capacity magazines reaches the highest court of the land, while another proposed law would require juveniles to be tried as adults.

Sunnyvale's Controversial Gun Law

Last November, the voters of the City of Sunnyvale passed Measure C, a law that among other things, bans large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. A group of Sunnyvale gun owners affected by the new law challenged Sunnyvale, California Municipal Code § 9.44.050, in federal district court, seeking an order for a preliminary injunction blocking its enforcement.

Yolo County's Concealed-Carry Permit Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Gun rights activists in Yolo County nabbed a win, as the Ninth Circuit has held that the county's "good cause" concealed-carry handgun policy is unconstitutional.

Yolo County's policy requiring anyone seeking a concealed-carry permit to show "good cause" was initially upheld by the district court. However, following the Ninth Circuit's recent decision on a similar law in San Diego County, it's not a huge shocker that Yolo County's concealed-carry law was also shot down.

It's been a busy few weeks in California with so much legal news to write about that we couldn't just pick one issue. Today, we take a brief look at the teacher tenure case, Propositions 9 and 89, and a new suit filed against U.C. Berkeley.

Vergara v. California

A group of students is challenging five statutes that regulate the dismissal, tenure and layoff of teachers in Vergara v. California, reports LA School Report. The plaintiffs' attorney, Theodore Boutrous argued in court that the challenged laws "put and keep grossly ineffective teachers in the classroom in front of students," reports Reuters. After the plaintiffs presented their case, defendants -- two largest teachers unions and the state of California -- moved to dismiss.

Is a website a place? That's basically the question that a panel of Ninth Circuit judges needs guidance on, and has certified to the California Supreme Court.


Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case involving California law. The case was initiated by the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness ("GLAD") against CNN, for its lack of closed captioning on its online videos. GLAD brought its claims under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act ("Unruh") and the California Disabled Persons Act ("DPA") and sought damages, declaratory, and injunctive relief.

A 2010 law that would have placed a number of restrictions (fingerprinting purchasers, sales tracking, and a ban on online and mail-order sales) on ammunition that is "principally for use" in handguns, has twice been shot down by California courts as "void for vagueness." Now, the law will get its last chance at life from the state's high court.

The California Supreme Court yesterday agreed unanimously to hear an appeal in the case, reports the Metropolitan News-Enterprise. Possible issues could include the vagueness of the statute itself or the standard to be applied in facial challenges to laws.

With so many legal issues brewing in the state of California, it's hard to settle on just one. Between the ongoing drought and water shortage in California, new civil rights lawsuits and federal challenges to state laws, there's a lot to talk about. So let's get to it and see what all the headlines are about.

Voting Rights of Ex-Felons

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in Alameda County seeking declaratory injunctive relief on behalf of ex-felons that fall under new categories of low-level felons under realignment, according to KQED.

The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in a duo of cases regarding the constitutionality of searching cell phones as "search incident to lawful arrest" ("SITA"), and one of those cases has its roots in the California courts.

Supreme Court's Review of Final Judgments

Riley v. California, is an unpublished opinion of the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District of California. And if you just did a double take -- then you're on to something. If Riley didn't reach the highest court of the state, how did the Supreme Court grant cert? Because, the Riley decision was based on controlling precedent from the Supreme Court of California. Since the California Court of Appeal was the highest court available to review the decision, Riley was able to petition the Supreme Court for cert.

You won't find many people who will shed a tear over city and county ordinances that ban sex offenders from parks, except with prior written permission from the sheriff. We'd venture a guess that most people would support such a law, though much like city-specific gun ordinances, the laws face a major obstacle: state preemption.

Hugo Godinez is a registered sex offender. He attended a "mandatory" company picnic on Cinco de Mayo in 2010, at the Mile Square Regional Park. He was prosecuted and convicted, under the Orange County ordinance, but last week, in an unpublished opinion, a California appeals court reversed the conviction, and held that the OC ordinance was preempted by state law.

Things are heating up in California -- well, almost. Even after the flames are long gone, the Environmental Protection Agency is still fanning the fires that are the controversy surrounding Chevron's refinery blaze. And, on the eve of a new law taking effect, religious groups have joined together to challenge the law on -- of all things -- privacy grounds.

Chevron and the EPA

If you're in California then you probably remember the refinery fire that resulted in 15,000 people seeking medical treatment, according to Reuters. The latest in the fire's aftermath is a letter from Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's Western Regional Administrator, in which he declares that the company failed to limit the risk of environmental catastrophe by "repeatedly fail[ing] to follow its own practices, plans, and recommendations."