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

August 2013 Archives

California is often seen as the renegade state -- going left, when the other states go right. And so it seems, California is poised to do so again.

While, according to the Guttmacher Institute, over 40 laws (in less than two dozen states) have been passed restricting a woman's right to choose, California has passed a bill that would allow non-physicians to perform first-term abortions, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Appellate Case Puts an Important Spin on Arbitration, Retainers

With all of the pro-business and anti-consumer arbitration decisions lately (we're looking at you, SCOTUS), it's a bit refreshing to see a decision, albeit a California-only appellate court decision, go the other way, and fall on the side of the consumer. Even if the decision does seem to contradict, somewhat, the language of the contract. Lawyers should especially pay attention, as this case dealt with a retainer agreement.

The three plaintiffs here are elderly residents of a Section 8 (low income) apartment complex. They retained an attorney to deal with issues of mold. Their counsel later allegedly coerced them into taking a lesser settlement by attempting to have a guardian ad litem appointed to manage their affairs.

CA Wants Reimbursement from NV for Greyhound Therapy

Greyhound Therapy. It's an evocative, sarcastic colloquialism used to describe the practice of dumping your mental health patients on busses or trains, with one-way tickets, in hopes that they'll become some other city/state/county's problem.

The practice, which was prevalent in the 1970s due to deinstitutionalization, is generally frowned upon by the mental health community, as the patients often lack resources in the destination community, and the communities themselves often have more people in need than they can handle.

The California prison system can't seem to stay out of the news -- or controversy -- for that matter. Earlier this month the Supreme Court denied California Governor Jerry Brown's application to stay a court order requiring California to reduce its prison population. And one month prior, we saw the initiation of a hunger strike ("Massive Hunger Strike").

On July 8, 2013, the Massive Hunger Strike was started, by prisoners in California prisons, protesting the prolonged use of solitary confinement and the controversial "debriefing policy" where prisoners must provide officials with gang-related information in order to get out of solitary. A policy, which according to Reuters, has been condemned by Amnesty International, as well as other human rights groups. What started out as a Massive Hunger Strike with over 12,000 prisoners, has now dwindled to about 129 inmates, with 69 having participated from the beginning.

Train to Nowhere Crashes in Court; Hyperloop Looms

Does this spell the end of the oft-criticized California High Speed Rail project?

Last week, a Sacramento judge nearly put the brakes on the project, but stopped short of a full shutdown, reports the Los Angeles Times. In a rare case of a court's ruling reflecting common perception, the court ruled that the state has failed to live up to its promises to voters and would need to remedy a number of shortfalls, including finding funding, before the "train to nowhere" could proceed.

_irate Joe's: Grocery Chain Sues 'Pirate' Who Resells Goods

Trader Joes has gone international, though not by choice, and they claim, not legally. The grocery chain's is suing their most valuable, yet most despised customer, Michael Hallatt, for trademark infringement, unfair competition, false endorsement and false designation of origin, after he purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the store's goods and sold them at his own location in Canada, the aptly-titled Pirate Joe's (now changed to _irate Joe's).

Hallatt claims that he's not making significant money off the arrangement, though it might be fair to question that assertion in light of the fact that he has gone as far as California to purchase his wares and has even dressed in drag to avoid detection. Trader Joe's products are good, but not that good.

Questionable bookkeeping or not, we're even more skeptical about TJ's federal claims.

Budget cuts in California have affected every facet of life, especially education. Only 5 percent of schools have a full-time nurse, and 26 percent of schools have no nurse at all. This precarious situation has made it difficult for diabetic children -- who may need insulin shots regularly or at any given time -- to attend school regularly. Either kids would miss school, or parents would have to leave work to administer medication, The Sacramento Bee reports.

California Legal Advisory

A group of parents filed a class action lawsuit alleging that their respective school districts failed to meet the obligations to diabetic students as set forth in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. As part of a settlement, the State Department of Education issued a Legal Advisory allowing a "voluntary school employee who is unlicensed but who has been adequately trained to administer insulin pursuant to the student's treating physician's orders as required by the Section 504 Plan or the IEP."

Prop. 8 Supporters Lose (Another) Bid to Halt Gay Marriages

Call them whatever adjective you desire, but one descriptor is beyond debate: persistent.

More than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court held that the group lacked standing to argue against gay marriage in federal court, and two weeks after another state Supreme Court challenge was rejected, the backers of California's much discussed Proposition 8 had not yet conceded the fight.

However, Wednesday's ruling by the California Supreme Court may finally end any serious hopes they may have had of reinstating the ban.

California's Initiative Process in Crisis: A Simple Fix?

When the U.S. Supreme Court announced the pair of holdings in Perry and Windsor, it left us, and many others, a bit concerned. Though the decisions in the cases had positive outcomes for marital equality advocates, the means employed to get there may have created a sort of unofficial "pocket" veto for the governor's office, which simply refused to enforce legislation that was approved by a popular majority. Ironically, such legislation is usually passed in response to inaction from, or disagreement with, the state government that refuses to enforce it.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Wall Street Journal in an interview shortly after the decision was handed down, "You'd be hard pressed to find someone more enthusiastic about the outcome of the Supreme Court decision, but I do think the decision raises legitimate questions that are very problematic in the future."

To do, or not to do, that is the question.

The Supreme Court of California had to determine the correct standard a defendant had to meet in establishing prejudice, where he was not advised that his plea would affect his immigration status.

While the lower courts looked at whether the defendant's decision would have led to a more favorable result, the Supreme Court held that the determining factor is not what the result would have been, but what the defendant would have done, if properly advised.

This past Saturday, community groups and environmental workers held a rally in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Richmond to mark the one-year anniversary of the Chevron refinery fire, started by a rupture in the pipeline, reports Reuters. The one-year anniversary however, has had much more significance for Chevron. On Monday, Chevron entered a plea to criminal charges alleging violations of the Labor and Health & Safety Codes.

Ah, but it doesn't end there for Chevron. On Friday, it came face-to-face with a civil action.

In what's become a political ping pong match dating back to 1990, the most recent play by SCOTUS, denied California Governor Jerry Brown's application to stay a court order requiring California to reduce its prison population.

Six justices, with the exception of Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas, denied the Governor's application for stay. The court order required California to ease prison overcrowding by providing early release to certain prisoners.

The state and law enforcement expressed grave concern over a drastic influx of prisoners into society. President of the California Police Chiefs Association, Covina Police Chief Kim Raney, stated: "[the Justices] chose instead to allow for the release of more felons into already overburdened communities."

Yesterday was a bad day for Bank of America ("BofA"). Forbes reports that in a regulatory filing, BofA noted that it was awaiting civil charges from the Department of Justice and the SEC. As if that wasn't enough, the California Supreme Court also ruled against them. TGIF.

At issue before the Supreme Court of California was the interplay between the federal Truth in Savings Act ("TISA") and the California Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"). The Court had to determine whether plaintiffs could base an UCL claim upon violation of TISA. The Supreme Court, ruled for plaintiffs, and stated that it could.

Bad Parenting: Sentence For Firing Unloaded Gun at Child Upheld

But, the gun wasn't loaded!

It doesn't matter. Putting a gun to your child's head and pulling the trigger is a crime. And it wasn't Gregory Culbert's first.

Culbert's son and stepson, both teenagers, were arguing over money. The stepson has ADHD and opposition defiance disorder. As his mother put it, "he's difficult." Culbert intervened in the argument, determined that his stepson was at fault, and sent the child to the bathroom for a time out. Instead of getting the message, the child threw a tantrum and began yelling and cursing at his stepfather through the door.