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

March 2016 Archives

For decades, fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil fought to halt climate change regulations, denying the existence of anthropogenic global warming and funding outside groups dedicated to stymieing environmental laws. Yet, while action on climate change stalled and oil and gas profits skyrocketed, recent reports have revealed that those companies were well aware of the dangers their products posed to the environment.

Now, a new California bill seeks to hold past climate change deniers accountable for their actions, by extending the statute of limitations under California's Unfair Competition Law. If Senate Bill 1161 is adopted, those who attempted to deceive the public on climate change could be liable for misleading statements they made decades ago.

Court Rejects CA's First 'Browsewrap' Case

The California Court of Appeal just adjudicated a browsewrap case on the merits that will now be considered the current benchmark case in the ever murky issue of web-user assent.

Hopefully this case will help to clarify the design elements that must be present for every webpage owner in order to ensure that their users get the notice needed for the applicable Terms of Use.

CA Wine Producers Score Legal Win in Court

In what had the appearances of being a major legal battle over arsenic levels in California wines, the industry scored a major win when Judge Shepard Wiley dismissed a lawsuit against 83 California wine brands. Celebrations are sure to follow the defendants' successful demurrer of the suit Doris Charles v. The Wine Group.

Despite the loss, plaintiff's lawyers have vowed to keep on the fight. In the meantime, we can enjoy the quiet with a little wine.

Carrying a Concealed Gun in a Car Is a CA Crime of Moral Turpitude

It turns out that one of the best ways to aggravate and intensify a penal sentence against you in California is to be carrying a concealed weapon while you commit a crime. This is demonstrated in the crime of People v. Aguilar.

The legal issue at bar is whether "crimes of moral turpitude" include not just the more traditional crimes of dishonesty, but also other criminal acts that don't quite so neatly fall into a clean category.

Someone must have been pretty high when they came up with this legal argument. A medical marijuana dispensary in Palm Springs recently argued that it does not need to comply with that city's dispensary permitting program, which limits the total number of dispensaries to six.

According to the dispensary, that permitting rule was preempted by federal law, the very laws that ban marijuana dispensaries themselves. Can you guess how this turned out?

California Supreme Court Cuts State Bar Exam to Two Days

Lawyer-hopefuls can now rejoice: California's Supreme Court has conferred its approval for the State Bar of California's shortening of the bar exam from three days to two. Lucky examiners will get to try out the new test in July of 2017.

We lawyers here at FindLaw would probably be lying if we didn't admit some envy for law students who will dodge California's storied 3-day bar exam. For as long as anyone can remember, the three day exam has been prompting divorce, causing heart attacks, and more. Thankfully, that's almost all in the past now.

Actress Can Be Sued for Refusing Sex Scene, California Court Rules

California's appeals court affirmed a lower court ruling that denied an actresses' special motion to strike a "soft-core porn" production company's counter-suit against her.

A secondary issue in the suit was whether or not attorneys' fees could be recovered under California's anti-SLAPP statute because the "speech" involved took the form of court filings.

Will California Jump Ship on Daylight Saving Time?

A bill has been introduced into California halls to undo a law that has been bothering Californians since 1949: daylight savings time. If the bill makes it to the ballot and passes, Californians will no longer have to wrangle with "Spring forward, fall back."

Unfortunately, the Assembly bill still has a bit of process to go through before it can be approved into law, so we'll have at least one more season to worry about getting up earlier.

California Supreme Court to Stream Oral Arguments Starting in May

In a culture shift aimed to improve fairness in the state's judicial system, California's highest court is set to start streaming oral arguments online, according to the Associated Press. This development is also partly a response to a significant reduction in funds to California's courts.

Jerry Brown Appoints a Lot of Public Defenders to the Bench

Jerry Brown has been appointing a lot of judges with backgrounds as public defenders, and that has a tendency to lead to less harsh sentencing policies. It's just one of the major hallmarks of his governing style which has generally emphasized a gentler stance on criminal punishment.

Though Brown's judicial appointments get less attention than his pushes for prisoner realignment and proposal to let thousands of non-violent offenders qualify for early parole, they will have as strong if not a stronger impact on criminal justice in the Golden State.

Cal Supreme Court Allows Wrongful Foreclosure Suits

California's Supreme Court just potentially opened up a can of worms in its recent holding that certain non-judicial foreclosure borrowers have standing to bring suit on allegedly void deeds of trusts.

Although the ruling is long past the time when many borrowers had defaulted on their home loans in droves, it could still set the tone for borrowers and lenders in the now profitable scheme of securitization of home interests.

The Supreme Court declined to address the constitutionality of San Jose's inclusionary housing law on Monday, denying cert of real estate developers petition from a recent California Supreme Court ruling upholding the affordable housing plan. Under the inclusionary housing law, developers of large residential projects must set aside a small percentage of units as affordable, below market rate housing, which real estate developers had claimed was an unconstitutional taking.

The denial leaves the law, and the California Supreme Court's ruling, intact, but as Justice Thomas noted in a separate opinion, the conflict raises important constitutional issues that are likely to be before the Supreme Court at some time in the future.