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

December 2016 Archives

When is a rest period not a rest period? When you're kept working or on call the whole time, the California Supreme Court recently ruled. In a case decided last Thursday, the court ruled that California law prohibits rest periods and breaks where an employee remains on duty or on call, such as when employees are required to respond to calls or perform basic tasks even when on a required break.

For a break or rest period to meet the requirements of California law, the court concluded, employees must be truly free from work duties.

CA Supreme Court Rejects Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten's Petition for Parole

The California Supreme Court has rejected a petition to release Leslie Van Houten, who was convicted in the infamous Manson murders half a century ago.

Van Houten, 67, was a follower of Charles Manson in the 1969 slaughter of seven people in the Los Angeles area. She participated in the stabbing deaths of Leo and Rosemary LaBianca, but not the killings of actress Sharon Tate and four of her friends. Tate, who was pregnant, was stabbed 16 times.

The supreme court refused to hear Van Houten's petition, which sought to overturn Governor Jerry Brown's decision to reject a parole board recommendation for her release in July. A judge upheld the governor's decision in October, leading to the petition to the high court.

CA Supreme Court Slows Down Speedy Death Law

The California Supreme Court has stayed a voter-approved measure to speed up death penalty cases, giving opponents time to press their case through the court

Prop. 66, which was certified for implementation last week, authorizes more lawyers to take death penalty cases and sets a five-year timeline for appeals. Opponents have sued to invalidate the measure.

In a one-page order, the court said it was providing "time for further consideration" of a pending legal challenge "to permit the filing and consideration of papers in opposition to the petition." The court said the parties should complete their briefs in January.

Court Revives CNN Discrimination Suit

Slapping back an employer's free speech defense, a state appeals court said a fired producer may proceed in his discrimination case against CNN.

The Second District Court of Appeal reversed a decision on the network's motion under California's law limiting strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP). An appellate panel rejected the company's claim, saying the law did not apply to an employer's allegedly discriminatory actions.

In a split decision, the Second District said CNN failed to show the plaintiff's claim "arises from an act in furtherance" of the employer's right of free speech in connection with a public issue. The alleged acts of discrimination and retaliation against Wilson "are not acts in furtherance" of CNN's free speech rights, Justice Elwood Lui wrote for the majority.

California's 16 specialty bar sections may be leaving the California Bar Association in the near future. Those specialty groups, which California attorneys may join as part of their membership in the bar, cover everything from antitrust law, to environmental law, to workers' comp. But they've been struggling under new bar rules meant to balance the state bar's role as both a regulator and a trade group, according to Courthouse News Service.

On Monday, the California State Bar's Board of Trustees gave those sections the go ahead to start deunification discussions with the legislature and state Supreme Court.

Meeting your Continuing Legal Education requirements can sometimes feel like a chore -- but MCLE doesn't have to be pain. (Really, we promise!) A good MCLE program isn't just informative and educational, it also gives you the chance to network with colleagues and rub elbows with some of the state's leading lawyers and judges.

Take, for example, Civil Litigation Challenges: Excelling in the "Big League," presented by The Rutter Group and the California Judges Association. (Disclosure: The Rutter Group is part of Thomson Reuters, FindLaw's parent company.) This "don't miss" event features not just insightful topics and helpful guidance, but presentations from some of California's best legal minds and a chance to mix and mingle with the state's top judges and attorneys.

Appeals Courts Shoots Down Microstamping Gun Control Law

A California appeals court just affirmed a substantial roadblock to the 2007 "microstamp" bullets law. The law was touted as the first of its kind to help law enforcement fight gun crimes with microstamp technology linking bullet casings to guns. However, the Fifth District Court of Appeal said the law wrongly required a technology that gun manufacturers could not produce.

"It is unreasonable to require an individual to attempt what is impossible to accomplish," the justices said in reversing and remanding the case.

Appeals Court Approves Plan to Build New SF Arena for Golden State Warriors

A state appeals court has given an assist to the NBA's leading basketball team for a new arena in San Francisco.

In blocking an attempt by opponents, the First District Court of Appeal said the city's plan complies with environmental standards that were challenged on appeal. The Mission Bay plan includes a 488,000-square-foot event center with a capacity of up to 18,500 seats to host games by the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Local businesses, including a medical center, had claimed that increased traffic would adversely affect them. The court rejected the argument.

"[M]ost basketball games and concerts drawing large crowds will generally occur during evening hours, 'after commercial and medical office hours of nearby uses," the court said. The unanimous panel also turned aside arguments that the construction would endanger nesting for birds and bats.