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

Social Media Companies Must Comply With Subpoenas for User Communications

In a significant social media case, the California Supreme Court said Facebook and other social media companies must comply with subpoenas for information that users make public.

Facebook v. Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco is actually based on a criminal case, but it reaches beyond criminal law or procedure. In the underlying matter, Derrick D. Hunter and Lee Sullivan subpoenaed social media communications of a homicide victim and a witness.

The state Supreme Court said the defendants are entitled to social media posts and messages that the users made public. The judges remanded the case to the trial court to sort out which communications were public at the time.

Environmentalists Win Beach Closure for Seals Over Children

There goes that neighborhood.

It began with the barking, then the loitering. When they started mating on the beach, well, that was it.

The city decided to close the beach to protect seals from humans. What was once a children's beach is now, by court order, the seals' beach.

LA to Pay $14 Million to Settle Fatal Venice Beach Case

Venice Beach is a destination vacation for millions of people, but it became a bitter, final destination for traveler Alice Gruppioni.

She died there five years ago when a man drove onto the boardwalk and plowed her down. The City of Los Angeles decided this week to pay her survivors about $12 million to settle their claims.

Ending three lawsuits with the settlement, the city will pay up to $2 million more for others injured in the tragedy.

The California Supreme Court issued a ruling in the highly watched Liberty v. Ledesma matter, and it may have insurers across the state upset. The case reached the California Supreme Court thanks to the Ninth Circuit's certifying the question to the state's high court.

In short, the court held that when an employee intentionally inflicts harm on a third party, an employer's insurer may actually have to cover the loss as an accident. The case that brought this issue to the court's attention involved the rape of a minor by a school employee. That employee had been hired by his brother-in-law, the school's owner, despite being on the sex offender registry.

Voters Recall Judge Aaron Persky in 'Stanford Rape Case'

Reacting to a widely controversial sentence, Californians voted to recall a judge who sentenced a man to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

Aaron Persky, a Santa Clara County judge, drew national attention after a jury convicted Brock Turner of three felony charges in 2016. According to reports, Turner sexually assaulted a woman who had passed out drunk near a dumpster.

As precincts closed Tuesday, nearly 60 percent of the voters decided to recall the judge. It was the first time Californians have recalled a judge in more than 80 years.

Police Can Be Disciplined for Racist, Homophobic Texts, Court Rules

A California appeals court cleared the way for disciplinary proceedings against San Francisco police officers for sending homophobic and racist text messages in 2012.

A trial judge had dismissed the case, saying the department filed charges after the statute of limitations period. But the First District Court of Appeal said the department was cooperating with a federal criminal investigation at the time, which extended the deadline.

The decision, holding that the statute of limitations was stayed during a criminal trial, is legally interesting. But the backstory is the stuff of police corruption movies.

New Rule on Disclosure of Settlements Involving Judicial Officers

Under a new rule, California courts must disclose financial settlement agreements involving judges accused of sexual harassment, discrimination, and other misconduct.

The state Judicial Council explained that courts -- when requested -- must release the records if public funds are used to pay such settlements. Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye convened a group to study and recommend a rule in April.

It's a timely rule change, given high-profile cases involving judges and others accused of misconduct. Observers praise the rule as a step in the right direction, but it could have gone further.

There are two types of trial lawyers. Good ones and others.

And just because an attorney may not make any technical errors during a trial, that doesn't mean they're good, or even that they know what they're doing. Trial is about so much more, and only so much trial and error is going to be helpful in making a trial lawyer good at their job.

Plain and simple, if you want to be a good trial lawyer, you need training, and you need to keep up on your training.

State Attorney General Appeals Ruling Against Assisted-Suicide

California's attorney general is appealing a court decision that struck down the state's assisted-suicide law.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the appeal after a Riverside judge ruled the law was unconstitutional. Judge Daniel Ottolia said legislators wrongly passed the law in a special session dedicated to healthcare.

The law, also known as the "right-to-die," has been controversial since California approved it three years ago. Its fate is now in the hands of judges at the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

New Ethics Rules: What's Changing, What's Interesting?

Somewhere in the Bible or the movies, there are Seven Deadly Sins -- not 70.

But that's how many new ethics rules will be imposed on California lawyers this year. Technically, it's only 69 but that would make the first sentence really wrong.

Actually, it would have been 70 but the state Supreme Court rejected one. It means attorneys can get away with at least one thing.