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

September 2012 Archives

Gov. Brown Signs Law Protecting Social Media Passwords

Make sure your clients get the memo: California employers and universities can no longer demand Facebook and Twitter passwords.

Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills that make it illegal for companies or universities to ask for access to personal social media or email accounts, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Lawyer Logistics: California Filing Fees

You’re finished with law school, you’ve survived the bar, and you’re officially licensed to practice law in the Golden State.

It’s time to sue some people.

If you’re a neophyte attorney at a law firm, you probably have a mentor who can guide you through the process of turning on your computer, using the electronic filing system, and finding the local coffee shop courthouse. If you decided to hang out a shingle and work for yourself, you’ll have to figure out the finer points of legal practice — like California filing fees — on your own.

Court Finds Felony Vandalism Through Damage Aggregation

Let’s say that you have a client who, for whatever reason, flipped out and started smashing stuff. Stuff that wasn’t his. More than $400 worth of stuff. You know your client is going to be fighting a felony vandalism charge.

But wait — could there be a loophole? If the destroyed stuff belonged to different people, and the damage to each individual’s stuff didn’t exceed $400, could your client walk away with misdemeanor vandalism?

Not according to a California Appellate Court.

Which Corporate Survival Statute Controls?

Many California lawyers make their living trying mesothelioma cases. One factor an asbestos lawyer should consider when reviewing a prospective client's claim against a defunct asbestos-product manufacturer is the applicable corporate survival statute.

Douglas G. Robinson, a California resident, died of mesothelioma in 2005. On November 1, 2006, Robinson's wife, Carolyn, and their three children filed a complaint for wrongful death and survival. The lawsuit alleged that Robinson's death was caused by his occupational exposure to asbestos.

Who's the Prevailing Party?

In litigation, the "prevailing party" often wins attorney's fees and costs, in addition to bragging rights.

But what happens if neither party wins? In that case, the issue of whether or not a party "prevailed" depends on whether you're addressing costs or attorney's fees.

Don't Get Disbarred: Avoid Holiday Travel

We try really hard not to fly during peak travel periods. Airports are never fun — other than San Francisco’s Terminal 2, which has both Pinkberry and a yoga room — but airports are particularly miserable during the winters. Sometimes, tempers flare and people lose it during holiday travel.

For example…

On Christmas Eve in 2010, former Los Angeles deputy city attorney Angela West went on a violent rampage with janitorial supplies at San Francisco International Airport, wielding a three-foot metal pole to smash merchandise, milk containers and food items at a Peet’s Coffee & Tea kiosk.

Man Can't Choose Private DNA Lab in County Paternity Battle

Can your client refuse a state-ordered paternity test on privacy grounds?

E.M.'s mother receives public assistance from San Diego County on behalf of E.M. To offset public expense, the mother had to assign to the County the right to any child support up to the amount of that assistance. The County then had an interest in finding E.M.'s father.

Will Gov. Brown Sign Bill to Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking?

Most Californians carry some form of tracking device, like a smartphone or a tablet, but California law currently does not address whether police need a warrant to track a suspect through electronic devices.

That could soon change.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced that the California Location Privacy Act (SB 1434), written by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), is currently awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature. The bill passed both the California Assembly and Senate earlier this summer.

California Must Pay Actual Interest on Seized Cash

If the state seizes your client’s cash, it has to preserve the value of that cash, just in case your client actually gets his money back.

This week, California’s Second Appellate District offered further insight into how that cash must be preserved.

Are All Forgeries Created Equal?

According to a recent decision out of the Fourth Appellate District, forgery of private records is just as bad as forgery of public records under California law.

Russell Eugene Dunbar was the office manager and controller at Fields Pianos (Fields) from 2001 to 2005. During that time, his responsibilities included depositing customers’ checks into the company’s bank account. He was supposed to deposit the full amount of the check into the company’s account, but an audit conducted after he left the company indicated that he may have actually shorted the company over $6.8 million between 2003 and 2005. The appellate court explained:

Judicial Council Approves AOC Restructuring

Friday, the Judicial Council of California voted unanimously to approve recommendations to reaffirm Judicial Council authority over the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), restructure the AOC, and endorse a plan for monthly monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations.

In May, the Strategic Evaluation Committee (SEC) recommended to the Judicial Council that that the AOC "must refocus on providing service to the courts; that a fundamental restructuring of the organization is needed; that the AOC must be down-sized to correspond with its core functions; and that its internal processes need to be improved."