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Right-To-Die Lawsuit Rejected by California Appeals Court

The Associated Press reported yesterday that a California appeals court rejected a lawsuit brought by Christy O'Donnell and two other terminally ill patients who sought to legalize the procedure for doctors to prescribe them fatal medication.

The court ruled that current law would criminalize physicians who helped patients commit suicide. The news comes as a blow to the patients in light of this month's signing of the California's physician-assisted suicide law. This is ironic because O'Donnell's face has become synonymous with California's freshly legalized right to drug-assisted suicide.

Incarceration is no good for families. For parents, one of the worst parts of a prison sentence is being separated from one's children. For kids, incarceration can lead to stress, developmental delays, and financial and emotional trauma. In such situations, incarceration can injure the families of offenders "as much as, and sometimes more than, offenders themselves," according to studies.

Recognizing the problems caused by incarcerating offenders with minor children, California created an Alternative Custody Program in 2010. California's ACP program allows participants to spend a portion of their sentence outside of prison, maintaining contact with their children. The program, previously limited to mothers, must now be made available to all eligible inmates, a federal court has ruled.

Call it a family law case for the modern age. The question of who controls a couple's frozen embryos after divorce goes before the San Francisco Superior Court today in what could be a precedent setting trial. The case is the first in California to address what happens when one half of a couple wants to preserve embryos that the other half wants destroyed.

As a result of the increasing popularity of in vitro fertilization, there are more than 600,000 frozen embryos in the United States, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Most of those are left over from successful IVF procedures, their futures uncontested. However, a few of those embryos are increasingly becoming the center of custody disputes during divorce and separation.

Riverside Co. CPS Takes 'Thousands' of Babies, Lawsuit Claims

Is Riverside County Child Protective Services taking newborn babies away from their mothers without so much as a warrant?

That's what a federal class action suit, filed last week, claims. The lead plaintiff, a baby known only as A.A., claimed that Riverside County systematically takes "thousands" of newborns away from their mothers -- and that a "large portion" of these takings are from African Americans and poor families.

Randy Jackson Escapes 21-Year-Old Child Support Order

In 1989, Steven Randall "Randy" Jackson, one of the famed musical Jackson children, impregnated Alejandra Loaiza. She filed a complaint for acknowledgement of paternity and child support, along with a proof of service. Jackson does not deny that he is the father of the child, Genevieve Katherine Jackson, or of their second child, Steven Randall Jackson, Jr.

But, he claims that he was never served in the initial lawsuit. A proof of service claims otherwise. The following year, a law firm which represented him in a bankruptcy proceeding filed a substitution of attorney in the case, naming him as in pro per, but never filed a proof of service. That's two reasons to believe that he was served, but was it enough?

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California Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Gay Marriage ... Again

The California Supreme Court has refused to stop gay marriage for a second time this week.

"Once more, with feeling" is the name of a musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Coincidentally, it also describes the California Supreme Court's position on Proposition 8, otherwise known as the bane of the court's existence the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage.

The court "slayed" (or is it slew?) a request by San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg Jr. for a temporary hold on same-sex marriages. This comes after the court rejected a similar request last week by the sponsors of Prop. 8.

Court Terminates Father's Parental Rights Due to Mental Disability

A California court ruled this week that parental rights can be legally terminated when a parent poses a danger to his child, even if the danger results from a treatable mental disability.

The parents in this case married and adopted their minor child. Prior to the marriage, the father suffered from mental illness, but had taken medication that allowed him to function normally. Shortly after they adopted the child, the father stopped taking his medication. As he failed to take medication, his mental condition deteriorated to the point where it seriously impacted his relationship with his wife and child, resulting in restraining orders.

We Are Not 'Slaves to the Tyranny of Literalness'

Today's California appeal includes stalking, dead animals, broken golf clubs and windows, and the definition of a victim.

Nancy Clayburg was convicted of two counts of stalking, and sentenced to prison for two years, eight months. The named victim of one of the stalking counts was "B.," Clayburg's former husband and the father of her daughter.

Juvenile Court Needs More than Drug Use to Take Child from Mom

Eleven-year-old Destiny and her mother came to the attention of the Department of Children and Family Services in September 2011 when someone called the Department and alleged that Destiny was being sexually abused by an unknown perpetrator. The local police and the DCFS concluded after an investigation that the allegation was "unfounded."

In the course of that investigation, however, Destiny's mother admitted that she had a history of methamphetamine and marijuana use. She told the DCFS worker that she smokes marijuana on a weekly basis, but not around Destiny. She also told the worker that she had stopped using methamphetamine "over a year ago" but a drug test the same day came back positive.

Aesop and Appeals Court Agree: Be Careful What You Wish For

If we're ever a litigant in a California appellate case, we hope that the judge doesn't begin the opinion with some kind of condescending life lesson like, "If ever there was a case where the adage 'be careful what you wish for' applied, this is surely it."

Losing a case that begins with an Aesop shoutout sounds miserable.

Jeffrey Barth understands that all too well, thanks to this Fourth Appellate District case.