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

October 2012 Archives

The Letter of the Law Can Produce Absurd Results

D.B. sounds like a thug who deserves to be locked up in juvie.

Regardless of what he deserves, California law was on D.B.'s side in a recent juvenile commitment appeal.

California Considering Video Trial Pilot Program

California Courts are still trying to cope with budget cuts. Under this year’s budget plan, the courts will be dipping into their reserves for $300 million that used to come from the state, and a separate $240-million cut will delay 38 construction projects, the Los Angeles Times reports.

When the money isn’t there, courthouses have to be consolidated. Consolidation not only imposes a burden on court staff, but on people appearing before the court. To address that problem, the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts are developing a remote video trial pilot project.

Will Trademark Ruling Haunt Winchester Mystery House?

It's unusual to find a case that combines both haunted houses and a trademark lawsuit. Whether frightful or delightful, we stumbled across such a case today.

In 1862, Sarah "Belle of New Haven" Pardee married William Wirt Winchester, of the famous Winchester repeating rifle family. The couple was the toast of New England society. In 1866, their infant daughter died, and Sarah fell into a deep depression. After William died in 1881, Sarah supposedly spoke with a medium who claimed that the Winchester family was being haunted by the victims of Winchester rifles.

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.

Judge Erred in Tossing Charges Against Howard K. Stern

Anna Nicole Smith died more than five years ago, but courts continue to hear cases related to both her life and death. There was the short-lived paternity battle over Smith's daughter, Dannielynn, the Supreme Court battle over her claim to late husband J. Howard Marshall's estate, and the criminal charges stemming from her death.

In 2011, Judge Robert J. Perry dismissed two criminal charges against Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend/lawyer Howard K. Stern, finding that there was "insufficient evidence" to support his conviction. The state appealed.

The Verdict is In: Cal Supreme Court Releases Workload Stats

How many opinions did the California Supreme Court release in the last year? How many death penalty appeals did the Court consider?

We have all the answers, thanks to the Court's Annual Report on Workload Statistics.

Lead-Footed Septuagenarians Lose Confrontation Clause Appeal

Here's the crazy thing about Confrontation Clause appeals: A confrontation right violation requires reversal of a criminal defendant's conviction unless the prosecution can show "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the error was harmless.

For example, let's say there was a pair of killer grannies who ran over a homeless man and collected over $1 million in life insurance proceeds from his death. It wouldn't matter if the analyst who tested the victim's blood for drugs wasn't the same person who testified at trial that the victim was drugged before his death. In the face of the overwhelming, uncontradicted evidence against the grannies, the California Supreme Court would find that the confrontation violation was a harmless error.

Zut Alors! French Sailboat Arrested in San Francisco

If you’re among the seven people in America who care about competitive sailing, you may have heard about the America’s Cup World Series regatta in San Francisco earlier this month. It was pretty exciting. Once of the boats even capsized.

Even if you can’t distinguish a stern from a bow, starboard from portside, or a main sheet from a main sail, America’s Cup could still be interesting thanks to maritime law.

How could maritime law apply to a fleet of million dollar racing catamarans? It all started with the one that got away.

$10 For Your Trouble: Facebook Reaches Sponsored Stories Deal

If your name and likeness avatar are used to promote a business, you deserve to be paid. Kind of.

Facebook found itself in trouble last year after California users complained that their images were being used to promote products without their permission through 'Sponsored Stories’ posts. The users sued the social network, arguing that using a person's image to promote a product without the person's consent violates California's right of publicity laws.

Facebook has been trying to settle the case for months, but U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg rejected the initial settlement agreement for attorneys fees and $10 million in cy pres. Over the weekend, lawyers filed a $20 million revised settlement agreement.

Internet Commenter Beats Defamation Suit with Anti-SLAPP Motion

Thanks to California's anti-SLAPP law, businesses that get burned on public review websites are unlikely to win a defamation suit against their dissatisfied commenters.

A California appellate court rejected an anti-SLAPP appeal last week, finding that an Internet commenter's personal attacks against a businessman were protected speech.

Naked Crusader: SF Supervisor Wants to Clothe Castro Street

We all know that San Francisco has a reputation as a liberal bastion, even in famously left-leaning California, but City Supervisor Scott Wiener is trying to curb the city’s naked enthusiasm on street curbs. This week, Weiner introduced a proposal to ban the exposure of genitals or buttocks on all city sidewalks, plazas, parklets, streets and public transit, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

While public nudity is an arrestable offense in most cities, San Francisco takes an unusual approach: Police don’t cite exhibitionism unless a naked dude is aroused or a private person complains that he is offended. The city’s relaxed approach has led to nudists congregating daily at a plaza in the Castro district.

Conservative Groups Challenge Gay Therapy 'Quackery' Ban

Over the weekend, Gov. Gerry Brown signed SB 1172, a bill prohibiting mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with patients under 18 years of age. The soon-to-be-banned "conversion" or "reparative" therapies include a wide variety of techniques, (like counseling, shock therapy, and exorcism), used in an attempt to "cure" individuals of their homosexual and transgender leanings.

Gov. Brown explained, "This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery."

Cal. Supreme Court Hearing Arguments at UC Davis Oct. 3

The California Supreme Court will hold a special outreach session of oral arguments at the UC Davis School of Law on Wednesday, October 3.

Oral arguments will begin in the new Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom in Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall at 10 a.m.