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September 2013 Archives

Court Order Halts Plan to Ship Prisoners Out of State

Gov. Jerry Brown is going to need to adjust his plan to cure overcrowding in California prisons.

Last week, a federal court denied the state's request for a three-year extension to cure overcrowding woes, granting it a four-week extension instead. The court also ordered the state to cease contracting with out-of-state prisons to transfer the excess inmates.

What's the plan now? Though some private in-state prisons may have rooms for rent, it's looking more and more like prisoner releases will be forthcoming.

In your young and crazy days, did you ever do something you regretted? Have you ever been thankful that the watchful eyes of social media and smartphones with cameras weren't lurking behind every corner?

We know we have. With young adults facing more and more scrutiny in job searches, their Internet history may come back to haunt them (and in very rare cases help them).

Quest for Legal Pot Begins Anew; Poll Shows 60 Percent Support

California narrowly missed its chance to become the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana, when voters defeated Proposition 19 in 2010. The "Regulate, Control, & Tax Cannabis Act" failed, 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent.

Now, after Washington state and Colorado have passed similar laws, it seems the Golden State might be headed that way once again. A recent poll showed 60 percent of likely voters in California, and 52 percent of adults overall, are now in favor of cannibals legalization, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Class Action Targets LinkedIn; Did Company Hijack Users' Email?

Anyone else greatly annoyed by the flood of LinkedIn email that arrives in their inboxes daily?

While most of us just ignore the messages, or feed them to our spam filters, four plaintiffs in California took things one step further and filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging not that they received too many messages, but that the company's email practices included sending too many messages on their behalf, and without their knowledge.

In short, they claim that the company hijacked their email accounts in order to harvest contact information and spam their contacts with LinkedIn invitations and endorsements.

Lyft and Sidecar Legal in California Under New Regulations

Lyft and Sidecar can continue operating as legitimate businesses in California, but they'll have to abide by the CPUC's new regulations which were approved in a decision Thursday.

Under the newly approved rules, "rideshare" apps which allow users to summon a participating driver to get them from point A to point B are now classified as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), a newly created regulatory category that has a whole new set of rules.

What does this decision mean for California riders and drivers using these TNC services?

Cop Can't be Sued for 'Dooring' Motorcycle During Traffic Stop

Deputy Sheriff Rowell Quemuel noticed a car heading the wrong direction on a one-way street. He flicked on his lights, pursued, and pulled the driver over. As he opened his door to exit the car ...


Mark Moreno saw the lights from two or three blocks away, yet was taken by surprise when a car door opened up immediately in front of his motorcycle. He is now suing for negligence and negligence per se, pursuant to Vehicle Code section 22517, which requires motorists to only open a traffic-facing car door when safe.

3 Strikes Reform Hasn't Collapsed Budget or Civilization (Yet)

Two of the biggest worries about California's recent Three Strikes reform, passed via an initiative last year, were the strain on the already-strapped court system budget and the possibility of rampant recidivism by releasing lifers into the community after years, or decades, in prison.

But 10 months after voters approved Proposition 36, one of those fears has, so far, not been realized, as our cities still stand, riots have not erupted, and the recidivism rate has been extremely low, according to the Stanford Three Strikes Project.

However, because of budget constraints, at least 2,000 eligible inmates are still waiting for their day in court.

California is always making headlines, and this week was no different. Once again California prisons are in the news, as well as the new take on standardized tests.

Prison Overcrowding

The issue of California's overcrowded prisons has been litigated since 1990 and is now, hopefully, nearing an end. Earlier this summer the Supreme Court denied Governor Brown's application for stay of a court-ordered deadline to reduce prison overcrowding.

Cal. Supreme Court to Review San Jose's Affordable Housing Law

More than 170 jurisdictions have passed "inclusionary zoning laws," which require a developer to either set aside a portion of new units for low to moderate income buyers, to pay fees to fund affordable housing, or to otherwise contribute to the cause. San Jose is the latest to pass such a law, doing so in 2010.

A local court quashed the law in 2011, holding that the city had to demonstrate some nexus between the planned housing developments and the ill to be cured (lack of affordable housing). Earlier this year, however, the Sixth Appellate District in San Jose reversed, finding that the wrong standard had been applied, and that the burden fell on the developers, not the city, to show that the law had no "substantial and reasonable relationship to the public welfare."

Convicted Killer Cites Autism in Latest Death Penalty Appeal

Despite more than a dozen stab wounds and a blow from a hammer to the head, Laurie VanLandingham née McKenna survived. The morning after she and her friend Jeanine Grinsell were attacked by a security guard during an unauthorized tour of Carolands Mansion in Hillsborough, California, Laurie crawled out of a ravine on her elbows, then flagged down a passing car. Jeanine, also alive at that point, later died on the operating table, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

That was February 1985. David Allen Raley, then a 23-year-old security guard, confessed most of the details to police officers when he was arrested. McKenna, then 17, testified against him as well. In the end, Raley was sentenced to death.

Twenty-eight years after his crime, and years after both the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court denied relief, he's trying one last tactic to avoid execution: claiming autism.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California law banning gay conversion therapy for minors, reports Reuters. California was the first state to enact such a ban, and the bill's author, State Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance stated: "Today's federal court opinion puts another nail in the coffin for the discredited and harmful practice of gay-conversion therapy. ... Now the law has caught up to the truth: Sexual orientation is not a mental illness or defect."

Arms Ain't All Arms: 2nd Amendment Protects Guns, Not Billy Clubs

Might we have a candidate for worst-reasoned judicial opinion of the year?

A man is caught with a homemade billy club. He took a bat, bored out the middle, filled the hole with a metal bolt, and wrapped the stick in rope. It's now a weighted club, possession of which is punishable by up to one year in jail.

That same clever craftsman and his lawyer came up with an even more clever defense: the Second Amendment. As a refresher, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."