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

December 2013 Archives

CHP Officer Gets Disability, Despite Ability to Handle Job Duties

How do you define disabled? It probably involves (among other things) an inability to carry out one's work duties, right? And if you have been assigned to a light-duty position, and have been able to fully perform that job's duties without limitation, you aren't disabled, are you?

If you are a California Highway Patrol officer, you might be.

The CHP requires that its officers be able to perform "14 critical tasks," including removing a 200-pound person from a vehicle and dragging him 50 feet, and subduing and handcuffing a resisting subject. Despite prior case law and CalPERS's assertion that the only duties that mattered were the ones actually performed by the person seeking disability, the court held in Officer Perry Beckley's favor, holding that the vehicle code required all CHP officers, regardless of daily duties, to be able to meet the physical standards.

Rick Ross Wins Because His Entire Rap Career Is a Lie

Yes kids, there is no Santa Claus. And Rick Ross, despite his various boasts, is not actually "Rick Ross." Nor is he "Larry Hoover," "Big Meech," or any other real-life drug dealers whom he emulates in his quest to push more platinum albums.

Hate the player, not the game. Just don't sue the player for misappropriation of your identity, even if his entire career is based off of your real-life exploits.

Ladies and gentlemen: we introduce you to William Leonard Roberts II, a prison guard turned rapper. Knowing, of course, that police, corrections officers, and any other positions of authority would not translate well into an industry dominated by much-exaggerated feats of criminality, he adopted the moniker, persona, and beard of a man who could not easily object -- an imprisoned 80s drug kingpin who once sold millions of dollars worth of cocaine per day, the real Rick Ross.

Things are heating up in California -- well, almost. Even after the flames are long gone, the Environmental Protection Agency is still fanning the fires that are the controversy surrounding Chevron's refinery blaze. And, on the eve of a new law taking effect, religious groups have joined together to challenge the law on -- of all things -- privacy grounds.

Chevron and the EPA

If you're in California then you probably remember the refinery fire that resulted in 15,000 people seeking medical treatment, according to Reuters. The latest in the fire's aftermath is a letter from Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's Western Regional Administrator, in which he declares that the company failed to limit the risk of environmental catastrophe by "repeatedly fail[ing] to follow its own practices, plans, and recommendations."

Two Lawsuits Filed Against Sunnyvale's Gun Ordinance

When, in a barely-noticed local election, the City of Sunnyvale passed some of the strictest anti-gun measures in the nation, including some gun control efforts that were recently vetoed on a state-wide level by Gov. Jerry Brown, we knew that litigation would follow.

And it did. Two lawsuits were filed in the past week, one challenging the ban on magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds, and one challenging everything else (ammunition sales records, theft reporting, and storage requirements). And after looking through the two complaints, we've got to say: the arguments against the ordinance, especially the state law preemption arguments, are rather compelling.

Parents' Local Districts Must Cover Special Ed. Costs for Inmates

When a student is in need of special education services, typically, it is the parents' local school district that covers the cost of the free appropriate public education (FAPE) that is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Per the California Education Code, the burden shifts to juvenile hall if the student is incarcerated, however. And when that student reaches the age of eighteen, he is transferred to the county jail. But, per the Education Code, Section 56040 et seq., the FAPE requirement continues until the age of 21, so long as the student was identified as an individual with "exceptional needs" prior to incarceration in an adult facility.

The problem is, unlike on the outside, or in juvenile hall, the lawmakers forgot to mention who is responsible for the cost of educating these adult FAPE recipients.

As the second state in the nation to criminalize the activity, California has taken a strong stand against revenge porn. This week, California went a step further and charged Kevin Christopher Bollaert with 31 counts related to his ownership and operation of a revenge porn website, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Present Case

Kevin Christopher Bollaert owned and operated a website called, that allowed anonymous users to post sexually explicit and nude photos of their ex-lovers, mostly women, along with personal info including the women's name, age, location and Facebook profile page, reports the Los Angeles Times. Trying to take full financial advantage of the situation, Bollaert also allegedly created and ran a website called, where victims could pay to have their images removed from the site, according to a press release issued by the Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Cal NORML Not Conceding Fight Over Weed Cultivation Ban

Fresh off a defeat in a California appellate court, plaintiff James Maral, with the support of the California branch of NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws), will petition the state's high court for review of a decision that upheld the City of Live Oak's ban on cultivating marijuana for personal use.

According to California NORML, Maral, 42, suffers from compartment syndrome, a painful and life- and limb-threatening condition caused by insufficient blood flow to nerves and muscles, as well as six damaged discs in his back from work as a heavy equipment driver. He's also the caretaker for his mother, who has severe diverticulitis and Crohn's disease. Marijuana presumably helps with his pain management, allowing him to care for his mother, but the nearest dispensary is two hours away.

"The only thing I'm fighting for is the patients who just want a couple of plants in their backyard," Maral told NORML. "I'm not willing to let my mother die or live out the rest of her time in a hospital."

Supreme Court Gets 'C' for Disclosures; New Trial Judges Appointed

Last week, the Center for Public Integrity released their grades for our nations' courts disclosures. And despite a recusal oversight and a "C" grade, California beat out all of the other states at the top of the rankings (though one spot below the Federal courts).

In other news, Governor Jerry Brown filled 18 vacant seats on the superior court bench, including eight in the Los Angeles area alone.

The specter of Black Friday has come and gone, fortunately with no deaths this year (at least related to shopping). But the controversy at California checkout counters is far from over. Proposed legislation and pending litigation could change the face of toys, and shopping in general.

Town's Ban on Medical Marijuana Cultivation Stands

This may have been an interesting legal case, if it wasn't already all-but-decided by the California Supreme Court earlier this year.

The City of Live Oak passed an ordinance in 2011 that banned all cultivation of marijuana, regardless of whether the grower was doing so for personal use, medicinal use, or retail. The city did so due to fear of property damage, increased crime, the nuisance of noxious odors, the inability of the state laws to prevent recreational use, and because the city wished to comply with federal law.

And though the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program provide exemptions from prosecution for medical marijuana-related offenses, the California Supreme Court's holding earlier this year in Inland Empire nixed any arguments the plaintiffs may have had.