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

March 2012 Archives

Cal. Supreme Court: Oakland Clergy Abuse Claim Time-Barred

The California Supreme Court dismissed the Quarry v. Doe Oakland clergy abuse case on Thursday, ruling that the statute of limitations barred the plaintiffs from bringing the case, reports the Mercury News.

The issue in the case was how the Supreme Court should interpret California Civil Code section 340.1, which states that an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse must be commenced within three years of discovering that injury occurred as the result of the abuse, or within eight years after the plaintiff attains the age of majority, whichever is later.

Change is Coming to the California Supreme Court

Spring is a time for change and renewal, and the California Supreme Court will be experiencing both this year. One change you should be sure to note is the increase in filing fees for certain documents.

Effective August 30, 2011, the filing fee will be $325 for the following documents, if they are the first document filed in the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court by a party other than the appellant or petitioner in a civil case:

Paying Twice Isn't So Nice: Verify Address Before Mailing Check

Here’s a reason to be extra-careful when mailing a worker’s compensation check to an injured employee: If you mail the check to the wrong address, you may have to pay twice.

Last week, California’s Second Appellate District Court ruled that an employer remained liable to a former employee for proceeds of a settlement of a workers’ compensation claim when a check for the proceeds was mailed to the wrong address and then fraudulently endorsed and cashed by someone else.

We're not talking about small change, either; this case involved a $17,000 check.

Cal Supreme Court to Consider Testator Intent in Holographic Will

The California Supreme Court is set to decide whether deeds speak louder than words when it comes to testator intent.

This week, the state’s highest court voted to review an intestacy ruling to decide whether a decedent’s clear intent in his holographic will should overcome shortcomings in the language of the document.

Stand Your Ground and Civil Liability: What Do You Tell Clients?

The tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has prompted a national dialogue about "stand your ground" laws and the Castle Doctrine. Many question whether George Zimmerman, a Sanford, Fla. neighborhood watch leader, should evade prosecution under Florida's stand your ground law, which allows the use of force if a person "reasonably believes" it is necessary to protect the person's own life, the life of another, or to prevent a forcible felony, reports USA Today. Critics say that Zimmerman was unreasonable in shooting Martin, who was armed only with Skittles and iced tea.

As the Trayvon Martin case continues to unfold, California lawyers will probably receive calls from current and prospective clients inquiring about California's take on the stand your ground laws. While most citizens are concerned about the possibility of criminal charges, you should be prepared to answer questions about both criminal consequences and civil liability for the use of force.

Mirkarimi Lesson: Attorney-Client Privilege Covers Non-Attorneys

Yesterday, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was sentenced to one day in jail and three years' probation for false imprisonment in a domestic violence incident. While the plea agreement provided plenty of headline fodder — sheriffs are supposed to enforce the laws, not break them — Mirkarimi might have been able to walk away from the incident scot-free if an evidence ruling had been decided differently.

Jury Undecided Despite Desperate Housewives Lawsuit Bombshells

Nicolette Sheridan’s Desperate Housewives lawsuit is in the jury’s hands now.

Sheridan, who was one of the stars of the ABC hit from 2004 through 2009, has been embroiled in a trial with Housewives Creator Mark Cherry and ABC over battery and wrongful termination claims. She claims that Cherry struck her across the head with his open hand during a September 2008 rehearsal after an argument about the script. Sheridan allegedly complained to ABC execs about the altercation.

The following year, her character was killed off the show. Sheridan sued Cherry and ABC, seeking $4 million in damages.

Committee Votes to Suspend Court Computer Modernization

California’s Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety voted yesterday to suspend expansion of the Court Case Management System (CCMS) due to escalating costs, reports the Los Angeles Times. The full legislature can now consider whether it wants to halt program expansions.

CCMS is a statewide computer modernization initiative to develop and deploy a unified case management system for the state’s 58 superior courts. The California Judicial Branch’s website claims that “CCMS will reduce operating costs, increase efficiency, and give Californians an unprecedented level of access to their courts.”

Are New Cal Judicial Survey Questions an Invasion of Privacy?

Of the 1,005 California judges who responded to the sexual orientation inquiry in the state’s latest judicial survey, 969 identified as heterosexual and 36 identified as gay or lesbian, reports the Los Angeles Times. Approximately 40 percent of the state’s judges selected the “none of your business” option; they refused to answer the question.

What is wrong with California that we’re asking for such private information from our jurists? Like most bureaucratic ills, this demand for disclosure originated in the legislative branch.

Who Suffers a 'Desperate' Death and Will it Kill Sheridan's Case?

We don’t come across many television spoilers in our line of work. Case law and court transcripts generally don’t contain juicy plot points. Thankfully, the judicial powers-that-be sent us Nicollette Sheridan’s Desperate Housewives lawsuit, and, for once, we have an interesting piece of non-legal gossip: A Desperate Housewives character will die this week.

We read enough to know that television spoilers must occur after the jump so as not to ruin the surprise for readers who like to be surprised. If you want to know who dies, click through and keep reading.

Lawyers Trying Billable Hour Alternatives to Appease Clients

Lawyers make a lot of money, and just maybe, California law firms are part of the problem instead of the solution.

In the '90s, Silicon Valley powerhouse Gunderson Dettmer kicked off the salary shift in the Bay Area by offering new associates $125,000 salaries, which prompted competitors to match the blockbuster salaries. The cost of the salaries was passed along to the consumer as an increase in legal fees, reports Forbes.

SCOTUS Denies Review of Game Warden Warrantless Search

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the California Supreme Court’s 2011 People v. Maikhio warrantless search ruling this week. The denial could be bad news for California’s parks enthusiasts, as it means that game wardens still do not need a warrant to stop cars exiting the state’s hunting and fishing grounds.

The case originated in San Diego, where a game warden, who was surveilling a public fishing pier with a spotting telescope, witnessed fisherman Bouhn Maikhio catching and bagging either a lobster or a fish.

Red Light Camera Images Not Hearsay Evidence

As much as we hate, fear, and loathe California’s red light cameras, we have accepted that they are a part of our life.

But while we twiddle our thumbs and wait for an anti-camera activist to underwrite a ballot initiative banning the bane of our existence -- like this couple in Houston did -- some people are waging a war against red light cameras in California’s courts.

This week, Carmen Goldsmith sadly lost her traffic appeal in the Second Appellate District after the court ruled that red light cameras images are not hearsay evidence.