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Service Animals Must Be Trained, California Court Rules

Joey Miller and his dog Roxy got kicked out of court, but it started at a fish market.

Joey, a man who had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, walked into two seafood stores with his dog. The market employees stopped them for health and safety reasons.

Joey's stepfather was not about to have it, however, and they sued for disability discrimination. The courts turned them down again, but that's the short story.

CA Courts Face Interpreter Shortage

An interpreter told the defendant that he was accused of a 'violacion,' which did not exactly mean 'violation' in Spanish.

"No he viole a nadie!" the distressed defendant exclaimed.

It was a disconcerting moment for the man, who was actually charged with a traffic violation. It also troubled the judge, who learned that "violacion" meant "rape."

Unfortunately, court interpreters are not always competent. What's worse, there are not enough interpreters -- especially in California where people speak more than 220 different languages.

Court Ends Marijuana Tax Dispute: Local Voters Can Tax Themselves

Ulysses, fearing he would heed the tempting Siren's song, ordered his men to lash him to the mast of his boat.

Upland, fearing a prohibited tax aimed at marijuana businesses, kept it off the special election ballot. That's a slight twist on the California Supreme Court's mythical reference in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland.

"As Ulysses once tied himself to the mast so he could resist the Sirens' tempting song (Homer, The Odyssey, Book XII), voters too can conceivably make the clear and important choice to bind themselves by making it more difficult to enact initiatives in the future," the court said.

It was a tax powers case and more complicated than a Greek myth. But the story ends something like this: voters have the power to tax themselves.

L.A. to Join Sanctuary City Lawsuit

Los Angeles has filed in federal court to join a lawsuit against the Department of Justice for threatening to withhold law enforcement funds from sanctuary cities.

If approved, L.A. will become the third major city to sue the government over the sanctuary city controversy. San Francisco and Chicago sued after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the DOJ would cut off grants to cities that do not cooperate with the Trump Administration's campaign against illegal immigrants.

"This administration will not simply give away grant dollars to city governments that proudly violate the rule of law and protect criminal aliens at the expense of public safety," Sessions said. "So it's this simple: Comply with the law or forego taxpayer dollars."

Environmental Review for CA Bullet Train Reinforced by State High Court

Federal railway laws do not categorically preempt the California Environmental Quality Act, the state Supreme Court said, slowing down a Northern California train pending an environmental review.

The Court said CEQA applies to the state North Coast Railroad Authority -- just like any other state agency -- on its projects. The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, a federal law that regulates public rails, does not displace state laws in carrying out those projects.

"This decision clears the way for the courts below to begin considering the merits of plaintiffs' CEQA claims, which the courts had previously found to be preempted by the ICCTA as a categorical matter," Justice Leondra Kruger wrote in a concurring opinion in Friends of Eel River v. North Coast Railroad Authority.

SpaceX Survives 'Contractor' Suit

A California appeals court said a construction company has no "contractor" claims against SpaceX because the company was not licensed.

Phoenix Pipeline Mechanical performed services for the private aerospace business, but it was not licensed for construction work. The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said the company can only sue for non-contractor work.

"Phoenix Pipeline has not alleged one contract, but rather a series of agreements for each separate task that it was asked to perform," the court said in Phoenix Pipeline Mechanical, Inc. v. Space Exploration Technologies, Corp. "It may therefore seek compensation under those alleged agreements that apply to tasks for which no license was required."

California Courts at High Risk for Quake Damage

This is not a script for a disaster movie; it's just a script for disaster.

According to the California Judicial Council's Court Facilities Advisory Committee, scores of courthouses pose a high or very high risk of falling apart in an earthquake. More than 140 courts are seismically unsafe, the committee reported.

Glendale Superior and Municipal Courthouse is the least safe, according to the report, followed by Alameda County Administration Building, which houses civil courts. Retrofitting the buildings with the highest risk would cost about $2 billion.

"It doesn't get safer each year as the buildings get older," said Stephen Nash, executive officer for Contra Costa County Superior Court. "We are sitting on a time bomb. We are watching the clock tick."

Governor Likes Budget the Way It Is, Chief Justice Not so Much

Gov. Jerry Brown has released a revised California budget, and it does not include new money for the courts. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is not impressed.

"Under this proposed budget, trial courts receive a little more than a penny for every general-fund tax dollar, less than what the courts were receiving before the Great Recession," she said in a statement. "This is neither fair nor just."

In his initial budget, the governor added $35.4 million to support the state trial courts. The judiciary's proposed budget was about $3.6 billion, and the revised budget keeps it the same.

California Supreme Court Confirms Day of Rest

The California Supreme Court said employees are guaranteed a day of rest for each workweek, although employees may choose to work the seventh day.

There is an exception for employees who work shifts of six hours or less, the court said, but only for those workers who never exceed six hours of work on any day of the workweek. Resolving the dispute in Mendoza v. Nordtrom, Inc., the court said the law protects the day of rest for anyone who works more than six hours a day.

"If on any one day an employee works more than six hours, a day of rest must be provided during that workweek," Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote, adding that it is subject to the applicable exceptions.

Airbnb Settles San Francisco Suit

Airbnb has settled a suit with San Francisco, and will require people to register with the city when they rent-out their homes through the company's website.

The company, which lists rental lodgings in 65,000 cities worldwide, agreed to share names, addresses and zip codes of hosts in the city. San Francisco has only 2,100 on its records, but Airbnb has more than 8,000 in the city.

"Every host on the Airbnb platform will be registered, which is what the city has said it will be looking for," said Chris Lehane, global policy chief for the company. Registration will debut for Airbnb hosts in San Francisco in 2018.