Monday, December 31, 2007
2007 IN REVIEW
END OF THE YEAR:
Court of Appeal Justice Paul Boland Dies After Brief Battle With Cancer... Paul Turner, George Schiavelli, and Joseph R. Cerrell Honored as MetNews Persons of the Year... Thomas O’Brien Named U.S. Attorney
3—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Board of Immigration Appeals to reconsider its order that a Mexican transsexual be removed to her native country, where she said she was likely to be physically abused because of her sex change.
4—Trial courts do not have the authority to order parties in a complex civil case to attend and pay for private mediation, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....Sources said the governor had sent three names to the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation as potential appointees to this district’s Court of Appeal—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Eric Taylor, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey W. Johnson of the Central District of California, and Gregory R. Smith, head of the appellate practice at Irell & Manella.
8—Four newly elected Los Angeles Superior Court judges took office—Lynn D. Olson, who defeated Judge Dzintra Janavs in the June primary; and Daniel Lowenthal, Susan Lopez-Giss, and Deborah L. Sanchez, who won open seats....The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to an indictment charging seven Los Angeles residents with aiding an Iranian opposition group that has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The justices, without comment, left standing a 2004 ruling of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that while the government’s order making such a designation may be appealed by the group, it cannot be collaterally attacked by persons charged with a criminal offense of having contributed “material support” to a group so designated.
9—California’s attorney fee arbitration statute, which makes arbitration optional for a client and mandatory for an attorney, precludes a law firm from enforcing a predispute fee arbitration agreement, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held.... The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished San Diego Superior Court Judge Vincent P. DiFiglia for failing to disclose on the record his personal relationship with a plaintiff’s attorney and his past employment with the City Attorney’s Office, in a case involving the city....President Bush resubmitted 32 of his judicial nominations that were not acted upon in 2006, dropping four of the more controversial nominees, including William G. Myers III. Myers, a former Department of the Interior solicitor, had been nominated for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but ran into opposition from environmental and Native American advocates. Among those whose nominations were resubmitted were Orange Superior Court Judge James Rogan, who was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rogan was nominated Nov. 15, 2006, but the nomination was not considered before Congress adjourned. The president also resubmitted the nomination of N. Randy Smith, a trial judge from Pocatello, Idaho and former chairman of his state’s Republican Party, to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals....First District Court of Appeal Justice James Richman, specially assigned to the Los Angeles Superior Court, rejected a challenge to the benefits paid to local judges by the county, over and above those given all superior court judges under state law. Richman granted the county’s motion for summary judgment in an action by Harold P. Sturgeon, a county taxpayer claiming that the “local judicial benefits” paid to Los Angeles Superior Court judges violate the state Constitution and the 1997 law under which the state took over trial court funding.
10—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced the reappointment of Judge Ernest M. Robles as a bankruptcy judge for the Central District of California....The Court of Appeal for this district ruled that a charter school is not a public entity for purposes of the claims-presentation requirements of the Government Tort Claims Act....Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a budget proposal that included funding for 100 new superior court judgeships statewide.... The Town of Woodside violated historic preservation laws when it authorized Apple, Inc. CEO Steven Jobs to demolish a 17,000-foot mansion on property on which he wants to build a smaller residence, the First District Court of Appeal ruled. The opinion was certified for publication Feb. 7.
11—California’s Mobilehome Residency Law does not preempt local rent control ordinances permitting mobilehome park owners to separately charge residents for property taxes imposed on park land, the state Supreme Court held.
12—A public entity cannot discipline an employee for refusal to answer potentially incriminating questions during the course of an internal investigation, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled, absent a grant or offer of immunity.
15—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard W. Van Dusen retired.
16—Evidence that a decedent during his lifetime acknowledged an individual as his child to various people on various occasions is sufficient to establish a father-child relationship for the purpose of inheritance rights, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a magistrate judge’s ruling that San Jose police used excessive force as a matter of law by throwing gas canisters into a man’s home in order to force him to come out to submit to arrest.
17—The Fifth District Court of Appeal vacated a now-deceased inmate’s 1986 murder conviction on the ground that prosecutors never disclosed tape-recorded pre-trial statements by key witnesses who identified him at trial as the killer. The justices—in what Presiding Justice James A. Ardaiz, writing for the panel, acknowledged as a “highly unusual” step—entertained the merits of the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Mark Collin Sodersten, who died in June 2006 while serving a life sentence in the death of a Visalia woman.
19—The Sixth District Court of Appeal ordered publication of its Dec. 20 ruling that an out-of-state business’ web site and minimum prior sales to California residents were not sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over the business on California courts.... A San Diego ordinance applying a $250 contribution limit to campaigns to recall city officeholders is invalid because the city has not shown a justification for the resulting burden on free speech, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
22—California’s determinate sentencing system is unconstitutional to the extent it permits a judge to impose an upper term sentence based on facts, other than prior convictions, that have neither been admitted to by the defendant nor found true by the jury, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.
23—The statute of limitations on a tort claim for domestic violence does not begin to run until the last alleged act of violence has occurred, the Court of Appeal for this district held.... A man who forced a store worker at gunpoint to give him the keys to a truck belonging to her employer was not guilty of carjacking, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Two reversed the carjacking conviction of Christopher Coleman, identified as the person who, on Dec. 10, 2004, walked into a Palmdale glass shop and demanded that office manager Rosalinda Ortega turn over the keys to a truck parked in front of the store....Non-Indian gambling interests waited too long to challenge compacts granting the tribes a monopoly over casino-type gaming, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Three agreed with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs that the suit was effectively an attack on the validity of the compacts, not just the authorizing legislation, and was thus subject to a 60-day statute of limitations.
24—The California Supreme Court appointed San Francisco Superior Court Judge Katherine Feinstein to the Commission on Judicial Performance for a four-year term beginning March 1. Feinstein, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, succeeded Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Rise Jones Pichon, who had to leave the commission due to term limits....The California Supreme Court declined to review a Court of Appeal ruling upholding Michael Demirdjian’s 50-year-to-life sentence for killing two younger boys on a La Crescenta schoolyard. Demirdjian was 15 at the time of the crime, and thus could not be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the crimes, which the jury found to have been committed under special circumstances of multiple-murder and torture, but the Court of Appeal said the consecutive sentences for first degree murder were proportionate given the vicious nature of the crime.
25—The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the legality of wiretaps used to convict Avelino Leon and Victor Aceves on drug charges. The justices said the eavesdropping was properly ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler because other methods of investigation would have been futile. The defendants were implicated during an investigation into the Tijuana-based Arellano-Felix cartel, long identified by law enforcement as one of the most violent of the drug trafficking organizations operating across the U.S.-Mexican border.
26—Words of high praise flowed at the 19th annual Metropolitan News-Enterprise “Person of the Year” dinner for the three honorees: Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Paul Turner, U.S. District Court Judge George Schiavelli, and political consultant Joseph R. Cerrell.
28—A well-published UC Davis plastic surgery professor and practitioner who sued a former patient for defamation over statements she posted on the Internet was a limited purpose public figure for purposes of her anti-SLAPP motion, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
29—A defendant in a strict products liability action, unlike a defendant in a negligence case, is jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff for non-economic damages, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
30—An employee whose office was not shared with co-workers and was kept locked had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his workplace computer, but his employer had the right to consent to a search of the computer and the evidence obtained in that search was thus admissible against the employee, the Ninth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals concluded....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Philip Gutierrez was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
1—An unauthorized phone conversation between the plaintiff’s attorney and a defense expert did not trigger a presumption that confidential information had been disclosed to the attorney, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Valerie L. Baker Fairbank was confirmed to be a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
2—A skier’s action against Mammoth Mountain Ski Area claiming that an employee’s violation of company policies while on the slopes caused a collision in which the plaintiff was injured is barred by the assumption of risk doctrine, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled. “Plaintiff has not explained why assumption of risk would not apply to a coparticipant employee when it applies to a person employed as a coach or instructor,” Justice George Nicholson wrote for the court....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Chris Conway retired.
5—The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the conviction and death sentence of a man described by a mental health expert who testified in his defense as a “classic psychopath.” Justice Carlos Moreno, writing for the court, rejected contentions that Richmond police unlawfully tricked or coerced Robert Lee Smith into making inconsistent statements that were used by prosecutors at his trial for the murders of Michelle Dorsey and James Martin. Dorsey and Martin were shot and killed on March 23, 1991 at their Richmond apartment.
7—Self-incriminating statements a hospital patient made to police while being interrogated in the intensive care unit where he was recovering from surgery and heavily sedated on pain medications were admissible as evidence.
8—An arbitration agreement that a chiropractic patient signed when receiving his first treatment applied to a medical malpractice claim arising from treatment for a different condition two years later, the state Supreme Court ruled....The court also ruled that a public official charged with violating conflict of interest laws cannot assert a defense based on claims her agency’s legal counsel advised that no conflict existed. The justices said Maria S. Chacon must face trial on felony charges that, while serving on the Bell Gardens City Council, she participated in an arrangement resulting in her appointment as city manager, and that the trial judge cannot charge the jury on “entrapment by estoppel.” The court noted that the city attorney in a general law city is subordinate to the council, and do not enforce criminal laws.
9—Jerry Brown is qualified to serve as California attorney general, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian, rejecting a challenge from Republican activists, agreed with Brown that a period of voluntary inactive status may be counted towards the five years of continuous State Bar membership immediately preceding taking office that is a requirement under the Government Code....The fact that an attorney signed his client’s name to a declaration in support of an anti-SLAPP motion filed on the client’s behalf did not by itself render the motion frivolous, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
12—The Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause bars the government from appealing a district court’s denial of a sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
14—Long Beach-based private investigator William Gailey was appointed to the California State Bar Board of Governors as a public member by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also appointed Northern California attorney and former veteran California legislative leader Ross Johnson chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission....A client who signed a pre-dispute binding arbitration agreement with a law firm waived any objection to the enforcement of the agreement when he failed to request non-binding arbitration under the mandatory fee arbitration statute, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....Div. Four of this district’s Court of Appeal rejected a challenge to a judgment rendered by then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rodney Nelson following a bench trial. While Nelson was subsequently forced to retire due to degenerative brain disease, there was no showing that he had any unusual difficulty in remembering and evaluating the testimony, Justice Thomas Willhite wrote.
15—For the purpose of determining when the limitation period began to run on a tobacco-related personal injury claim, California law does not presume that smokers are aware of the addictiveness or health hazards of smoking, the state Supreme Court ruled....The Senate confirmed President Bush’s nomination of N. Randy Smith, an Idaho state trial judge and former state Republican chair, to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 94-0 vote in favor of Smith, 57, filled the vacancy created when Judge Thomas G. Nelson took senior status in November 2003.... The state Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence imposed on a San Diego man who admitted that he stabbed his girlfriend’s 11-year-old son while the boy was watching a television set the defendant wanted to steal in order to buy crack. Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, writing for the court, said there was no reversible error at either the guilt or the penalty phase of Steven M. Bell’s trial for the killing of Joey Anderson.
16—An order requiring the state to pay a cost of living adjustment to perhaps 500,000 welfare recipients was overturned by the First District Court of Appeal. A split panel in Div. Three said that San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren, since retired, had erroneously interpreted a series of laws in which the Legislature tied the payment of COLAs to CalWORKS recipients to offsets in the state’s controversial vehicle license fee.
20—A defendant’s due process rights were not violated when jurors were secretly allowed to leave the courthouse by a non-public exit after delivering their verdict, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled, rejecting the contention that excusal of the jury was a critical stage of the proceedings at which the defendant had a right to be present.... Former Orange Superior Court Judge Ronald Kline collapsed in court in Los Angeles upon learning he was being sentenced to 27 months in prison for possessing child pornography on his home computer. Kline fell into the arms of his attorney, Paul Meyer, as Senior U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall was announcing his sentence shortly after noon. Court proceedings were temporarily halted and paramedics summoned. Kline, 66, was revived and the hearing resumed a short time later....Los Angeles Superior Court Judges David Schacter and Judson Morris retired.
21—A court cannot order a trustee to pay restitution to the victim of a violent crime committed by the beneficiary if the terms of the trust grant the trustee discretion over whether to make payments to the beneficiary and the trustee has not done so, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
22—The statutory requirement that a deposit of probable just compensation in a “quick-take” eminent domain case be valued on the date of deposit does not deny a property owner just compensation, the state Supreme Court ruled....The Court of Appeal for this district modified, and ordered publication of, its Jan. 25 opinion partially reversing a judgment in favor of a high school basketball coach found to have been falsely arrested on charges of molesting a player. The court upheld the verdict as to liability, but ordered a new trial on damages—which the jury fixed at $4.45 million—because jurors may have based the verdict, at least in part, on defamatory statements made by police in the course of their investigation, which were privileged.
23— The Administrative Office of the Courts announced the appointments of State Sen. Ellen Corbett and former Sen. Joseph Dunn to the Judicial Council of California. Dunn, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was named an advisory member by Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a term which expires today. Corbett, the current Judiciary Committee chair, was named by the Senate Rules Committee to a term expiring Dec. 1 of next year....Health & Safety Code Sec. 11353, which provides that every adult “who hires, employs or uses a minor to unlawfully transport, carry, sell, give away, prepare for sale, or peddle any such controlled substance” is guilty of a felony, does not require that the minor personally carry the contraband, the Third District Court of Appeal held. The court upheld Joseph Duarte’s conviction on the theory that he took his young son along on his travels on behalf of an interstate cocaine trafficking conspiracy, in order to divert attention from the drugs he was carrying. A dissenting justice said the majority had “mislaid its grammar book.” ...A lis pendens filed against a piece of real property before escrow closed on its sale, but indexed by the county recorder after the escrow’s closing, did not put buyers on constructive notice of the claim against the parcel, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
25—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary G. Rogan died at the age of 91.
26—The Commission on Judicial Performance cleared San Joaquin Superior Court Judge George J. Abdallah and San Mateo Judge Mark R. Forcum of any impropriety in connection with the case of now-removed Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Diana R. Hall. Abdallah and Forcum, as well as Monterey Superior Court Judge Michael S. Fields, were removed as special masters in the case after allegations that Fields told a court employee, before the conclusion of the hearing, that he and the others had determined that Hall was guilty on at least some of the charges. Officials declined to comment on the status of any investigation of Fields.... A woman who was the subject of a child abuse study more than 20 years ago may sue a prominent psychologist who has criticized the study and questioned the accuracy of the plaintiff’s account of what transpired, the California Supreme Court ruled. The justices, however, limited the action against Dr. Elizabeth Loftus to a single cause of action for invasion of privacy, based on the claim that Loftus and an investigator working for her misrepresented her relationship with the psychologist who treated the plaintiff in order to obtain confidential information.
27—An arson victim which accepted payment for a portion of its losses from an insurer for the perpetrator’s mother effectively released the mother, but not her son, from a restitution order imposed by the juvenile court, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....The seller of web-based software used to prepare bankruptcy petitions is subject to the restrictions imposed by the Bankruptcy Code on a “bankruptcy petition preparer,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled...A man facing a third trial for the murder of a 12-year-old Huntington Beach girl in 1979 may be tried at the same time for the murders of two young women in Los Angeles County during the same time period, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. Div. Three granted, in part, a petition for writ of mandate or prohibition brought by Rodney J. Alcala, who has spent more than 20 years on death row for the 1979 murder of Robin Samsoe. While fighting his conviction and death sentence in that case, he was indicted for four murders in Los Angeles County, and prosecutors wanted to try him in a single trial in Orange County for all five killings.
28—A juror who was not forthcoming about her contact with people associated with the defendant in a criminal trial was properly dismissed for misconduct, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....A pending order to show cause regarding dismissal or other sanctions for an attorney’s failure to appear at a mandatory settlement conference does not cut off a plaintiff’s right to file a voluntary dismissal without prejudice, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
1—A Los Angeles city employee who slept on a hammock underneath his truck during working hours was properly fired, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
2—The Administrative Office of the Courts released statistics showing the California judiciary is more than 27 percent female and close to 30 percent non-white.
5—The law firms of Geragos & Geragos and Kabateck Brown Kellner opened for business at their new home inside a historic downtown-Los Angeles landmark building once used as a fire station. The renovated 1912 edifice, purchased for $10 million by high-profile Los Angeles-based attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck, is located at 644 South Figueroa Street and once housed Engine Company No. 28....A murder defendant forfeited his right to object to the admission of “testimonial” hearsay statements his victim made before her death by killing her and thus causing her unavailability at trial, the California Supreme Court ruled....The high court also ruled, in a 4-3 decision, that a private school that is “pervasively sectarian” may obtain tax-exempt construction bond financing if it “offer[s] a broad curriculum in secular subjects,” including secular classes that “consist of information and coursework that is neutral with respect to religion.”
6—The Court of Appeal certified for publication its Feb. 22 ruling that Los Angeles County did not violate anti-discrimination statutes by establishing a county-run corporation that employed lawyers, generally women, who did the same work as deputy county counsels but received lesser pay and benefits. Div. One held that lawyers who were employed by Auxiliary Legal Services Inc. were not discriminated against in violation of the federal Equal Pay Act or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
7—Information supplied by a firearms licensee as mandated by the National Firearms Act may not be used to obtain a warrant to search the dealer’s home and business premises, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....Intentionally spitting on another person qualifies as “simple assault” under the theory of assault as an attempted or completed battery, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, as the panel unanimously affirmed a Washington man’s conviction under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 113(a)(5) for spitting in another man’s face on the grounds of a Veterans Administration hospital.
8—If an individual intending to steal from a victim causes property to become separated from the victim’s person and then gains possession of the property, he has stolen “from the person” and is liable for grand theft, the California Supreme Court ruled. The justices agreed 6-1 with a juvenile court judge that a local teen committed grand theft when his accomplice took a cellular phone that fell out of the pocket of another youth whom the two were attempting to rob....A Superior Court judge in Riverside County abused his discretion by allowing television coverage of a recommitment proceeding under the Sexually Violent Predator Act, but the defendant was not prejudiced as a result, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....A robber’s act of forcibly moving a maintenance worker at gunpoint from the exterior to the interior of a business establishment in order to gain entry to the building was sufficient to support a kidnapping-for-robbery conviction, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
9—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied en banc rehearing of a Sept. 20, 2006 ruling that public libraries whose meeting rooms have been opened to private groups can prohibit use of the rooms for religious worship....Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Van Dusen died at age 62. Van Dusen, a judge for over 20 years, was diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2006 and was away from the courthouse for several weeks before he officially retired Jan. 15....Strict enforcement of the Feb. 1 deadline to pay State Bar membership dues this year resulted in an estimated savings of $50,000 to the organization, State Bar Executive Director Judy Johnson said at a Board of Governors meeting.
12—Rule 3.1385(c) of the California Rules of Court—which requires that a suit be dismissed, absent good cause, if the parties reach a “conditional settlement” but a notice of dismissal is not filed within 45 days of the date on which the settlement was to become final—does not apply to a case where the parties announced an agreement in principle, but became embroiled in a further dispute when they attempted to reduce that agreement to writing, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....An order awarding attorney fees to a party who succeeds in expunging a lis pendens is not appealable, and is reviewable solely by petition for writ of mandate, which must be filed within 20 days under the applicable statute, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
13—U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg of the Central District of California took office.
14—A party asserting the “crime-fraud” exception to the attorney-client privilege in a civil case must prove by preponderance of the evidence that the exception applies, and the opposing party must be permitted to present evidence on the issue, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
15—An en banc panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Arizona death row inmate Robert Charles Comer’s request that his federal habeas corpus proceedings be dismissed. Clearing the way for Comer’s execution, the court in a per curiam opinion rejected his lawyers’ argument that his decision to waive further proceedings was involuntary, due to prison deprivations and harsh prison conditions....The former counsel for the California Housing Finance Agency, Robert L. McWhirk of Laguna Beach, and a company in which he held an undisclosed interest must return payments made to the business under a contract with the agency, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. Div. Three affirmed a multimillion dollar judgment against McWhirk, former CHFA insurance director John Schienle, and Hanover/California Management and Accounting Center, Inc., rejecting McWhirk’s argument that Government Code Sec. 1090, the conflict-of-interest statute, did not apply because he was an independent contractor for the CHFA at the time....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Otis D. Wright II was confirmed as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by voice vote of the U.S. Senate.
16—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elena J. Duarte and Samantha P. Jessner and civil litigator James A. Steele to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
19—An alien who overstayed his visa but petitioned for adjustment of status was “illegally” or “unlawfully” in the United States for purposes of a statute prohibiting such persons from possessing firearms, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....The state attorney general cannot be awarded fees under California’s codification of the “private attorney general” doctrine when suing on behalf of the general public, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
20—A nonparty has standing to file an attorney disqualification motion in order to protect the movant’s rights of confidentiality, at least when those rights have already been vindicated in an earlier case, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
21—Eighty-two-year-old Los Angeles Superior Court volunteer Max A. London, a retired textile industry executive and non-lawyer, was honored by the court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Department for his contribution of nearly 4,200 hours of service as a mediator....A “Good Samaritan” immunity statute protecting persons who render “emergency care at the scene of an emergency” applies only to medical emergencies, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled, and does not apply to a woman whose attempt to help a car accident victim resulted in permanent spinal injury to the victim, because the perceived risk of leaving the victim in the car was not “medical.”
22—A judge did not abuse his discretion by telling jurors that a death sentence—or a life sentence without possibility of parole—could be commuted, but that they should not consider that fact, or the conditions of the defendant’s incarceration, in determining sentence, the California Supreme Court ruled. The ruling came in an opinion by Justice Marvin Baxter for a unanimous court, which affirmed John Michael Beames’ sentence for the murder of his girlfriend’s 15-month-old daughter. Prosecutors said Beames had been beating the child for days or weeks before she succumbed, and jurors found that the murder was intentional and involved the infliction of torture.... The Federal Arbitration Act preempts a California law that bars enforcement of predispute arbitration agreements in construction and design defect disputes, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
23— A paraplegic who sues inaccessible public accommodations for a living is not a “business” but an “individual” entitled to recovery under state and federal disability laws, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The court held that a verdict rejecting Jarek Molski’s claim against a Woodland Hills restaurant could not stand because there was no substantial evidence that the restaurant had complied with its obligations to identify and remove barriers to disabled access and that the defendant’s alternative theory, that Molski—who has filed hundreds of similar suits—could not prevail because he was in the “business” of filing such lawsuits, was legally untenable.
26—A litigant’s decision to represent himself, despite difficulties in understanding the English language and legal procedure, was not “mistake or excusable neglect,” that would entitle him to a new trial, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....A prosecutor committed misconduct when he argued to the jury that the plight of home invasion robbery victims was analogous to that of 9/11 hostages, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
27—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George H. Wu was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a U.S. district judge for the Central District of California by a vote of 95-0.... A policy of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that requires custodial defendants to wear leg irons in their initial appearance before a magistrate judge does not violate the Due Process Clause, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
28—Thomas Lee Goldstein, who spent 24 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit, may sue former District Attorney John Van de Kamp and former Chief Deputy District Attorney Curt Livesay, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Goldstein alleges he was wrongfully imprisoned because Van de Kamp and Livesay failed to protect against the possibility of cases being prosecuted by lawyers who were unaware of promises made by their colleagues to informants, and the appellate panel said the rule of absolute prosecutorial immunity does not apply because if the alleged misconduct occurred, the defendants were acting in their administrative, not prosecutorial, capacities....The Commission on Judicial Performance elected Orange Superior Court Judge Frederick P. Horn to serve as its chair for the 2007-2008 term, and elected Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Judith D. McConnell of the Fourth District’s Div. One as its vice-chair.
29—A federal statute prohibiting international child-sex tourism by American citizens does not apply to alleged offenders whose travel abroad occurred before the law’s enactment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....The Fifth District Court of Appeal certified for publication its March 2 opinion holding that a sheriff who illegally authorizes payment of premium pay to a top deputy may be held personally liable to the county.
30—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation revising the state’s determinate sentencing system, a response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year that ruled California’s current procedure unconstitutional. Under the new law, a judge imposing a determinate sentence may impose any sentence permitted by the law, regardless of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
31—William J. Gargaro, a former prosecutor who became a leading medical malpractice attorney, died at age 67 as a result of complications from surgery for back problems resulting from a fall in October 2006, shortly after he retired from practice.
5—A remote search of files on the hard drive of a computer suspected of being used to hack into a university network was constitutional, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Writing for the court, Judge Sidney R. Thomas said the remote search was justified under the “special needs” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, which renders a warrant unnecessary when special needs beyond the normal need for law enforcement make the warrant and probable cause requirement impracticable....The litigation privilege extends to causes of action based on the constitutional right to privacy, the Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision.
6—Whether a criminal defendant was substantially prejudiced by the nondisclosure of exculpatory evidence in grand jury proceedings must be determined using the traditional test for state law error, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. Div. One applied the “reasonably probable” test to conclude a grand jury likely would not have indicted George H. Berardi on murder and conspiracy charges had San Diego prosecutors properly presented exculpatory statements his codefendant made to police.
9—A litigant is not entitled to have publicly filed records in Court of Appeal writ proceedings sealed merely on the basis that they had been filed under seal in the trial court, a First District panel ruled....Italian American Lawyers Association cofounder August Gene Carloni, died at the age of 79. His wife of 56 years, Irene Carloni, said he passed away at Little Company of Mary Hospital after two years of declining health due to a series of taxing surgeries....Guy N. Halgren was elected to a third term as chairman of the Los Angeles-based firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.
10—A teenager who claimed he did not offer financial or emotional support for his pregnant girlfriend because he feared being prosecuted for using a “date-rape” drug on her has no right to object to the child being adopted by the mother’s parents, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. Justice Raymond Ikola, writing for Div. Three, said Paul M., as the court identified him, could not object to the adoption, which the 16-year-old mother agreed to, because he was not a “presumed father” as defined by statute and had not stepped forward to exercise parental responsibilities.
11— Div. Three of the Court of Appeal for this district certified for publication its March 13 opinion that a professional property manager is jointly and severally liable for payment of workers’ compensation benefits owed the employee of an unlicensed and uninsured contractor for injuries sustained while working on a condominium building.
12— A trial judge has discretion in determining the significance of IQ scores as a means of deciding whether a defendant in a capital case is mentally retarded, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled. Overturning a ruling by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, the justices said Tulare Superior Court Judge William Silveira Jr. was within his authority in barring prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for an accused killer, even though the man’s “Full Scale IQ” tested above the range of retardation, where other evidence supported the defendant’s claim that he was retarded....An initiative permitting the state to contract with private companies for public works improvement projects implicitly repealed prior statutes regulating private contracting for architectural and engineering services, the state Supreme Court held.
13—A suit by film producer and former attorney David E. Kronemyer, charging the operator of the popular Internet Movie Data Base with failing to credit him for three films he worked on was properly dismissed as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Kronemyer was admitted to the State Bar in 1976 and resigned with disciplinary charges pending last year. The ruling was certified for publication May 15.
16—Remedial pay to which an employee is entitled for rest and meal period violations constitutes a “wage” rather than a “penalty” for statute of limitations purposes, the state Supreme Court ruled. Wage suits are governed by a three-year statute of limitations, while a suit to collect a penalty must be filed within one year....The high court also ruled that a trial court should not, absent compelling justification, resolve the merits of a putative class action prior to deciding class certification and notice issues.
17—Legislation shifting substantial control of the Los Angeles Unified School district to the city’s mayor violates the California Constitution, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. AB 1381, also known as the Romero Act, cannot be implemented because it would deprive LAUSD voters of their control over the district’s political structure, Justice Walter Croskey wrote for Div. Three, which upheld a December ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs....Los Angeles Superior Court Court Referee Sherri Sobel was honored by the Juvenile Court Judges of California at the organization’s annual convention as 2007 Juvenile Court Judge of the Year.
18— The First District Court of Appeal largely affirmed a San Francisco Superior Court judge’s ruling that the city’s Minority/Women/Local Business Utilization Ordinance violates the state Constitution. The panel did, however, reinstate a claim it said the trial judge failed to rule on, that the measure is mandated by the Equal Protection Clause as a narrowly tailored remedial program to remedy pervasive discrimination in public contracting.
19—An amendment that would have split the Ninth Circuit in two failed after Sen. Dianne Feinstein used a procedural maneuver to kill it. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., had offered the amendment to S. 378, a bill dealing with court security. Feinstein, however, objected that under Senate budget rules, the amendment was out of order because it would have increased federal spending without providing for an offsetting reduction. Supporters of the amendment did not seek to waive the budget rules, which would have required 60 votes.... Senior U.S. District Judge Dickran M. Tevrizian of the Central District of California retired to serve as a neutral for JAMS and a professor at the University of Southern California.
20—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction that would have barred Arizona from requiring residents to prove their citizenship when they register to vote....The Los Angeles Unified School District and former superintendent Roy Romer cannot be held liable for comments in which Romer questioned a high school principal’s ability to control student violence, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Former Jefferson High School Norman K. Morrow’s suit for invasion of privacy and defamation was a SLAPP, Div. Five ruled, because Romer’s comments concerned a public issue and were privileged because he was acting within the scope of his responsibilities.
23—Two employment discrimination lawsuits involving the same parties and similar issues but arising out of distinct events were not “related” for purposes of a peremptory challenge under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner’s order disqualifying Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles from representing a dependent child whose mother is a former CLC client was overturned by this district’s Court of Appeal. Div. Five held that contacts between the separate units of CLC were not so extensive to preclude treatment of the units as separate law firms for conflict purposes, absent a showing of an actual, rather than merely potential, conflict.
24—A treaty between the United States and Japan providing that nationals and companies of either country may hire specialists “of their choice” while doing business in the other does not preclude California-based employees of Japanese companies from suing for violation of the state whistleblower protection laws, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held.
25—A cause of action against someone arising from the person’s exercise of religious freedom is not subject to a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute, which protects only the rights to freedom of speech and to petition for redress of grievances, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....The Commission on Judicial Performance ordered the removal of Monterey Superior Court Judge Jose A. Velasquez. The commission, by a vote of 9-0, found Velasquez guilty of 21 instances of willful misconduct—the most serious level of misconduct under commission rules—and 25 instances of less-serious prejudicial misconduct.
26—State Auditor Elaine M. Howle released her annual audit of the State Bar of California, saying it faces a nearly $12 million general fund deficit by the end of 2010 and needs to improve the way it manages its programs....A court may prohibit the defendant in a defamation suit from repeating statements that have been determined to be defamatory at trial, the California Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision.... The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian for abusing his authority to impose monetary and terminating sanctions and for treating an attorney in a “sarcastic and belittling manner” when the lawyer appeared before him. Sohigian committed “a clear abuse of judicial authority” by following a practice, now discontinued, of issuing orders to show cause requiring plaintiffs who had not appeared at status conferences to appear at an OSC hearing, even though they were represented by counsel and had not been ordered to personally appear at the status conference, the commission. The jurist committed further violations by issuing OSCs to defendants who failed to give notice of status conferences, even though only plaintiffs are required to give such notice; by holding OSCs in abeyance for long periods of time before deciding whether to impose sanctions; and by routinely issuing OSCs that threatened to dismiss cases or bar defenses, rather than impose lesser sanctions, for failure to comply with procedures governing the initial status conference, even though there was no reason to believe that lesser sanctions would be ineffective, the commission found....The Sixth District Court of Appeal ordered publication of its March 28 opinion upholding the governor’s denial of parole parole to 48-year-old BranDee Tripp, who pled guilty to second-degree murder in 1981 and admitted she helped her stepfather and husband abduct and kill a 10-year-old girl to prevent her from testifying that Tripp’s stepfather molested her.
27—The Los Angeles Superior Court’s JusticeCorps program and the judicial extern program of the Second District Court of Appeal are among recipients of the 2006-2007 Ralph N. Kleps Award, the Judicial Council of California announced.
30—A videotaped television interview in which a woman told of her aspirations for a singing and acting career was properly introduced as evidence in the sentencing phase of the trial of the man convicted of killing her and five other women not long after the interview, the California Supreme Court ruled. The justices unanimously upheld the death sentences imposed on Cleophus Prince Jr., whose arrest in 1991 eased the fears of many in the Clairemont and University City neighborhoods of San Diego. Prince’s case has been mentioned in several articles on serial killers, in part because he is an African American convicted of preying upon young white women. Most serial killers are white, and most kill victims of the same race as themselves, the authors explained.... A law firm may potentially be liable for the conduct of a non-equity partner who directed the removal of cash from the home of a client in order to cover legal fees and bail, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Five said it was possible for the Century City firm of Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro to be held vicariously liable for alleged acts by named partner and well-known criminal defense attorney Robert L. Shapiro.
1—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Person retired....The Los Angeles County Bar Association honored local radio host and producer Warren Olney IV as part of its 14th Annual Dispute Resolution Services Awards dinner at the Milennium Biltmore Hotel. Olney—whose grandfather served on the California Supreme Court from 1919 to 1921 and whose father served under President Dwight D. Eisenhower as an assistant attorney general—received the Louis M. Brown Conflict Prevention Award, recognizing contributions to providing an important forum for civil dialogue on controversial public issues....The 40-lawyer business litigation firm of Alschuler Grossman became the Santa Monica office of Bingham McCutchen LLP. Bingham McCutcheon was formed by a merger of Boston-based Bingham Dana and San Francisco’s McCutchen Doyle Brown & Enersen in 2002 and acquired the Los Angeles firm of Riordan & McKinzie in 2003....A juvenile felon’s interest in confidentiality does not render the taking of a DNA sample unconstitutional, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
2—The federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act does not create rights enforceable in a 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 action, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. The court affirmed a summary judgment in favor of Los Angeles County, rejecting the claim that it violated the civil rights of a couple whose five group homes were placed on “Do Not Refer” status in 1997.
3—Publication of an attorney’s disciplinary summary in the California Bar Journal placed the attorney on constructive notice that it had been published on the State Bar Web site as well, triggering the statute of limitations with respect to his claim that publication online violated his civil rights, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Alleged violations of legal ethics rules do not preclude the enforcement of a business agreement between the attorney’s non-lawyer spouse and the attorney’s client, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Six overturned an order granting new trial to a defendant who was sued by an attorney and his wife against a former client of the attorney, rejecting the trial judge’s ruling that a business agreement between the attorney’s spouse and the defendant was unenforceable because it could not be severed from a contingency fee agreement that did not contain the required advisement that contingency fees are negotiable.
4—Culver City-based media and broadcasting entrepreneur George Davis was named as a public member of the State Bar Board of Governors by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
7—An ethnic Chinese woman claiming a likelihood of persecution because of her ethnicity and Christian faith if forced to return to Indonesia is not eligible for asylum, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the basis of evidence that the government in the predominantly Muslim nation is willing and able to control the sporadic violence that still flares against the Chinese and Christian minorities.
8— A district attorney’s failure to file a deputy’s appointment with the court clerk does not deprive the deputy of absolute immunity from civil liability for official acts, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled. The panel held that four special prosecutors who handled the case against the owner of a mine in Sierra County where a worker was killed had absolute immunity and that the mine owner’s malicious prosecution suit against them must be stricken under the anti-SLAPP law.
9—The City of Los Angeles violated Proposition 218, the Right to Vote on Taxes Act, when it acted to boost taxes on cell phone use without voter approval, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
10—A Tustin lawyer who claims that the Los Angeles Police Department and District Attorney’s Office illegally intercepted his conversation with a client during a sweeping wiretap program in the 1990s can sue, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Reversing a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge William Rea, now deceased, the court said Jack Whitaker had standing to sue the city and county, along with former Police Chief Willie Williams and former District Attorney Gil Garcetti, among others allegedly responsible for falsifying the wiretap application.
11—An alien who voluntarily enlists in the U.S. Navy and later obtains an honorable discharge on the basis of alienage is not barred from applying for citizenship, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held
14—A dispute resolution program imposed by O’Melveny & Myers on all of its employees on three months’ notice is procedurally and substantively unconscionable, at least as applied in California, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
15—Fair housing groups may sue a Web site that matches potential roommates for disseminating information regarding individuals’ discriminatory roommate preferences, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Los Angeles County did not violate the Establishment Clause by removing the cross from its county seal, the Ninth Circuit ruled....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bernard Kamins retired.
17—Senior U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall of the Central District of California was honored as the recipient of the California Women Lawyers’ 14th annual Joan Dempsey Klein distinguished jurist award at CWL’s 19th annual Southern California Judicial Reception at the Los Angeles office of Morrison & Foerster....A Sacramento man who drew widespread headlines when he raised his hand at a pretrial hearing and blurted out “I am guilty” was properly sentenced to death for six murders, the state Supreme Court ruled. In a unanimous decision, the justices rejected the contention that Eric Royce Leonard’s incriminating comment at the hearing on his motion for change of venue was an “offer to plead guilty” and should not have been admitted into evidence at his trial.
18—Failure to wear a proper safety helmet while riding a motorcycle is a potentially correctable infraction, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled. But the court nevertheless vacated a trial judge’s order in favor of a motorcyclist cited nine times for violating the law, saying his actions were unsafe and that the officers who cited him acted within their authority....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming actress Elizabeth Taylor is in wrongful possession of a Vincent van Gogh painting once confiscated by Nazis.
21—The City of Los Angeles has absolute immunity for injuries suffered by a cyclist who collided with a chain link fence upon exiting the Los Angeles River Bikeway in Griffith Park, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that would have allowed a Lancaster couple who were rousted from bed, unclothed, at gunpoint to sue the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The appeals court had ruled that deputies, who were executing a search warrant in connection with an identity theft investigation, may have violated Max Rettele and Judy Sadler’s Fourth Amendment rights by forcing them to get up. A divided Ninth Circuit panel said the deputies should have realized that the couple was innocent of any wrongdoing because the suspects were black and the plaintiffs Caucasian, but the Supreme Court said the deputies had objectively valid reasons for their actions, since the deputies did not know if the couple might be in cahoots with the fraudsters or if there were other, possibly armed, persons in the house....An out-of-state physician who wrote a prescription, knowing that the patient was a California resident and that the drug would be sent to him in California, may be prosecuted in state court for practicing without a California license, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
22—Fresno Superior Court Judge James M. Petrucelli was publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance for making discourteous and sarcastic remarks from the bench, both to attorneys and to individuals appearing before him....A school district violated the free speech rights of a journalism student by announcing that his controversial opinion editorial on illegal immigration should never have been published in the high school paper, the First District Court of Appeal held.
23—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioners Mitchell Beckloff, Graciela Freixes, and John Ing, along with Deputy District Attorneys David Gelfound and Kathryn A. Solorzano and Torrance lawyer Edmund W. Clarke Jr. to Los Angeles Superior Court judgeships....UC Irvine did not owe a legal duty to the families of Willed Body Program donors to properly track the remains of donated cadavers, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
24—The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence imposed on a local resident for the 1996 murder of a one-time reporter for KPFK radio. Witnesses, primarily his two accomplices, testified that Andrew Lancaster kidnapped and shot Michael Taylor in a dispute over a transmitter and other equipment for a planned microwave radio station. Justice Carol Corrigan, writing for the high court, rejected all of Lancaster’s challenges to the conviction and sentence, including a claim that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders should have allowed penalty-phase testimony about Taylor’s passionate opposition to the death penalty....A building owner or manager has no duty to inform visitors of the location of an automatic external defibrillator at the facility, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled.
25—The ninth wife of the late billionaire arts patron Richard D. Colburn and the couple’s children cannot seek to enforce provisions of a divorce judgment against his estate without risking the loss of trust provisions that he made for their benefit, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Colburn, who divorced Jacqueline Colburn in 2002, died two years later at the age of 92, having married for a 10th time in the interim....A little less than 37 percent of the 5,167 applicants who took the February California bar examination passed it, the Committee of Bar Examiners reported.
30—A petition to vacate an arbitration award must be brought within the statutory 100-day limit, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled, even if the party seeking to confirm the award waited more than 100 days to file its petition....The brother of a victim of Iranian terrorism can collect $2.8 million from a California company that owes Iran for a cancelled weapons shipment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the second time....The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the conviction and death sentence for aman who killed his Harbor City next-door neighbor in 1995. Dewayne M. Carey confessed to stabbing Ernestine Campbell to death when she surprised him as he was burglarizing her home on West 244th St....Business patrons alleging discrimination need not show that they demanded and were refused equal treatment in order to obtain redress under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled....A defendant may be convicted of second degree murder, on an implied malice theory, if the defendant knowingly engages in conduct that endangers the life of another and death results, the state Supreme Court ruled. In a unanimous decision, the justices held that a San Francisco Superior Court judge abused his discretion in awarding a new trial to Marjorie Knoller, the attorney convicted of second degree murder after her dog killed her Pacific Heights neighbor....Los Angeles Superior Court Judges John M. Mayeda and Alice E. Altoon retired.
1— Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James A. Bascue retired.
4—An instruction to a capital case jury that it could find true the special circumstance of lying in wait if the defendant waited for his victim long enough “to show a state of mind equivalent to premeditation or deliberation” was not constitutionally flawed, the California Supreme Court ruled. Justice Carol Corrigan, writing for the court, rejected contentions by attorneys for Charles Stevens, convicted of four murders and six attempted murders that occurred on or near I-580 in Oakland between and April and July of 1989.
6—The FBI did not violate the privacy rights of members of an organization that wants to eliminate laws against sex with minors when it infiltrated the group and disseminated information about some of the members to its field offices, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The court rejected the contention raised by North American Man/Boy Love Association member David C. Mayer, upholding his conviction for travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
7—A local ordinance designed to protect businesses located in a downtown commercial district by prohibiting stores in the area where the local mall is located from selling certain types of goods is constitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled.
8—A cable company that offers a music or FM radio service may require customers to purchase basic television service in order to receive it, the First District Court of Appeal rule. Div. One rejected claims that the requirement is an illegal tying arrangement or an unfair business practice and that it discriminates against blind customers who have to pay for the television service even though it is valueless to them.
11—The widow of an asbestos victim who died days after winning a jury verdict in his favor was entitled to have a tardily-entered judgment backdated to the day before his death, the First District Court of Appeal ruled, clearing the way for her to receive the future and noneconomic damages awarded to her late husband.
12—A man who indirectly herded minors in front of a hidden video camera and clandestinely filmed them undressing was guilty of inducing them to pose for an illicit video, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....A woman denied a home loan because she intended to use the subject property to operate a family day care business may sue the lender for discrimination, the Sixth District Court of Appeal has ruled.
14—The Fourth Amendment does not require police officers to corroborate an anonymous tip before contacting the occupant of a residence and seeking consent to enter and search, the California Supreme Court ruled.
18—The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence imposed on a man convicted of killing his business partner. Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar said an Alameda Superior Court judge committed no reversible error at Steven Wayne Bonilla’s trials for the killing of Jerry Lee Harris, who owned several businesses in the East Bay area. Prosecutors said Bonilla, who owned 40 percent of a Pleasanton night club controlled by Harris, quarreled with the victim over the club’s operations and over Bonilla’s bid for an interest in other businesses....Passengers, like drivers, have a constitutional right to challenge the legality of police decisions to stop cars in which they are traveling, the U.S. Supreme Court said, unanimously reversing a contrary ruling of the California Supreme Court....
A law firm’s failure to keep time records for work done on a contingency-fee case did not bar it from offering testimony in a fee dispute six years later as to the estimated number of hours it had spent, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
19—A man who made child support payments based on a paternity judgment later proven erroneous was not entitled to reimbursement, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....Prosecutors may not participate in litigation over whether a jury commissioner should be required to produce data to a defendant questioning the composition of the jury pool, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
20—Chief Justice Ronald M. George named Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry B. Friedman and San Bernardino Superior Court Judge James Michael Welch to new three-year terms on the Judicial Council of California; named Orange Superior Court Presiding Judge Nancy Wieben Stock, the president of the council’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, to a one-year term; and named two new members—Fifth District Court of Appeal Justice Brad R. Hill and San Joaquin Superior Court Judge George J. Abdallah Jr.—to three-year terms. Ventura Superior Court Executive Officer Michael D. Planet was named an advisory member.
21—The Century City-based firm of Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro said veteran white collar criminal defense attorney and commercial litigator Brian C. Lysaght had joined as a partner in its litigation practice....The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the felony conviction of a Huntington Beach woman on charges of misusing stolen personal data to harm an Orange Superior Court commissioner and several police officers....The Los Angeles County Bar Association elected new officers without opposition, including Danette E. Meyers as president-elect, Don Mike Anthony as senior vice president, and Alan K. Steinbrecher as vice president. Richard A. Lewis, Elaine W. Mandel and Ellen A. Pansky were reelected as at-large trustees, with Linda L. Curtis, Brian D. Huben and Ann I. Park newly elected as at-large trustees.
22—Local bans on the practice of animal declawing do not conflict with state regulations governing the veterinary profession in California, the Court of Appeal for this district held....Well-known civil rights attorney Stephen Yagman was found guilty of attempting to evade the payment of over $100,000 in federal income taxes by concealing his assets and committing bankruptcy fraud following a five-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
23—San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Elia V. Pirozzi was appointed to the bench by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger despite earning a “not qualified” rating by the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission.
25—Social workers are absolutely immune from liability related to their signing and verifying of juvenile dependency and custody petitions, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held....Steve Ipsen, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, told friends and colleagues that he will challenge his boss, District Attorney Steve Cooley, next year.
26—The Commission on Judicial Performance censured an Alameda Superior Court judge for violating rules of conduct by failing to decide cases on time and falsely swearing that he was keeping up with time limits. Judge Robert J. Freedman’s misconduct was of such gravity as to warrant his removal from office, but the lesser penalty was imposed on the basis of the judge’s long record of meritorious service and reputation for integrity, the commission said....A man claiming he suffered memory loss after undergoing electro-convulsive treatment cannot bring a class action against the manufacturer of the device with which he was treated on behalf of other psychiatric patients in the state who have been treated using the same device, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....A litigation update that a company sent to customers concerning its business competitor was not commercial speech excepted from anti-SLAPP protections, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held.
27—A $10 million bad-faith judgment against Farmers Insurance Exchange was reduced to just over $3 million by this district’s Court of Appeal. The court rejected Farmers’ arguments that it did not act in bad faith by refusing to defend a pair of limited-income homeowners from a negligence claim, forcing them to retain counsel, and later to settle the case at their own expense.
28—A stipulated trial court order declaring a defendant factually innocent of the crime for which he was imprisoned prior to his conviction being set aside is not binding on the state board that hears claims for compensation for wrongful imprisonment by the state, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
2—John Lawson II, Michael Garcia, and Elizabeth Munisoglu were named as commissioners by the Los Angeles Superior Court....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anita H. Dymant, a 15-year veteran of the bench, was reassigned to the court’s Appellate Division...A trial judge’s order granting new trial on the ground of jury misconduct, unsupported by a timely statement of reasons, need not be granted deference by an appellate court, the California Supreme Court ruled... Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner H. Kirkland Jones died at the age of 71....Robert Michael Nudelman, the managing partner and sole shareholder of a Woodland Hills-based criminal defense practice, surrendered his law license after consenting to the State Bar’s takeover of his insolvent business.
3—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Los Angeles-based environmental law expert and former state Resources Secretary Mary D. Nichols as chair of the California Air Resources Board.... Banks that process credit card payments on behalf of Web sites that infringe copyrights and trademarks cannot be held liable for doing so, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
4—Alan E. Ellis, a retired judge who sat by assignment on the Los Angeles Municipal Court for over 20 years, died at the age of 63.
9—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for a convicted bank robber, saying prosecutors should have disclosed that a woman with a similar appearance was arrested for other bank robberies in the vicinity.
11—The California Supreme Court declined to review Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler’s order that Sara Caplan, a former attorney for record producer Phil Spector, be held in contempt for refusing to testify against her ex-client.
12—An alleged benefit to consumers resulting from the rejection of a toxics warning suit under Proposition 65 will not support an award of attorney fees under the private attorney general statute, the First District Court of Appeal ruled... Jeannine English, a public member of the State Bar Board of Governors, was appointed California state president of the American Association of Retired Persons... The Court of Appeal reversed a $112,288 attorney fee award to a newspaper that prevailed on an anti-SLAPP motion, declaring that it was fundamentally unfair to deny the plaintiffs access to the bills the defendant received from its lawyers.
13—A plaintiff who becomes the subject of a cross-complaint by a defendant that is a local government entity may invoke the right to trial in a neutral county, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
16—In sentencing an extradited murder defendant, a U.S. district court is not required to honor a sentence limitation unilaterally imposed by a foreign extradition decree, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held....Patricia Nieto became the Los Angeles Superior Court’s newest commissioner after serving for two and a half years as a juvenile delinquency referee... A defendant who stalks a victim under circumstances that violate several subdivisions of the applicable statute may only be convicted of a single count of stalking, the First District Court of Appeal ruled... The limitations period governing an employer’s suit against the agency that placed an employee who stole $1 million from the company was triggered when the plaintiff learned that the employee was a convict with falsified credentials, rather than when the theft occurred, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled.
17—A man who claims that a San Francisco police officer looked inside his underwear during a search following his arrest for trespass at a public housing project was entitled to a new trial on his Fourth Amendment claims of unlawful arrest and unreasonable search, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... Two San Francisco 49ers season ticket holders had no basis for challenging the franchise’s patdown security screening policy, the First District Court of Appeal ruled... Lawmakers proposed an amendment to the State Bar Act that would declare pro bono service to be a responsibility of every lawyer.
18—An Indian tribe whose gambling compact included a limited waiver of sovereign immunity did not thereby consent to being sued in state court, nor could an action be maintained in state court based solely on the alleged unfairness of its tribal proceedings, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
19—A U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down an aspect of California’s Determinate Sentencing Law did not require extensive new proceedings with respect to defendants who were sentenced under the invalidated scheme, the state high court concluded.
20—Litigator Jeffrey Bleich, a partner in Munger, Tolles & Olson’s San Francisco office, was elected to succeed Sheldon H. Sloan as president of the State Bar of California.
25—Members of the City of San Diego Retirement Board, who were sued by the city attorney on conflict-of-interest allegations that were later dropped, were entitled to recover the attorney fees they incurred in obtaining a ruling that the city was liable for their defense, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
26—A sharply divided state Supreme Court ruled that cities can no longer seize automobiles whose drivers are arrested for allegedly buying drugs or soliciting prostitutes, overturning the laws of more than two dozen cities from Oakland to Los Angeles that allowed police to seize an automobile immediately after the driver’s arrest... The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that James Edward Hardy, who was convicted in the 1983 murders of a Van Nuys woman and her young son allegedly committed at the behest of the woman’s husband so that he could collect life insurance proceeds, was entitled to a new penalty trial because his trial attorney, Michael Demby, failed to present mitigating evidence that might have resulted in a lesser sentence, including evidence that another man may have committed the acts.
27—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision that a man who admitted killing his wife after she ridiculed his inability to perform sexually, and threatened to tell his mother he was “queer,” was unsuitable for parole was unsupported by any evidence, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
30—A landlord generally has no duty to refuse tenancy to, or to evict, tenants associated with a street gang the California Supreme Court ruled, holding that a landlord has a duty to initiate eviction proceedings only if a tenant engages in conduct that makes it highly foreseeable that an innocent person will be injured... The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Enrique Zambrano, a former member of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission, who was convicted of killing Luis Reyna, also a commission member, in order to prevent Reyna from testifying against him in an assault case.
31—County coroners have no duty to preserve remains in order to protect decedents’ relatives from anguish, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....The doctrine of qualified immunity, under which a public officer will not be held liable for a federal civil rights violation if he or she acted in good faith, has no application to a claim based on a state statute, the This district’s Court of Appeal ruled.... Former San Bernardino Superior Court clerk Eva Woods was charged with three counts of violating Government Code Sec. 6200 for falsifying court documents to benefit her ex-husband and boyfriend.
1—A federal judge violated two defendants’ Confrontation Clause rights by not allowing their lawyers to question a co-conspirator about the potential life sentence he was facing in the event he did not cooperate with the government, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....The State Bar launched a pilot program to provide special identification cards to lawyers granting them priority access to the Los Angeles County courthouse.
2—”Tenant harassment” provisions of Santa Monica’s rent control ordinance which purport to criminalize bad faith evictions are preempted by state law, the California Supreme Court ruled....The disposition of Marlon Brando’s estate was a matter of public interest for purposes of the anti-SLAPP statute, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
6—The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence for Maria Alfaro, who killed 9-year -old Autumn Wallace, the daughter of an Orange Superior Court clerk, while burglarizing the family’s home....Contra Costa Superior Court rules aimed at expediting family law trials are contrary to state law and unenforceable, the California Supreme Court ruled.
7—The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a portion of California’s Determinate Sentencing Law is not retroactive, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
8—An immigration judge, in ruling on the credibility of an asylum applicant, must take into consideration the applicant’s age at which the events forming the basis of the application occurred, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....The state Supreme Court ruled that a Court of Appeal ruling striking down legislation shifting substantial control of the Los Angeles Unified School district to the city’s mayor as unconstitutional will remain published.
9—The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence for Timothy L. DePriest, an ex-Marine convicted of robbing and killing Hong Thi Nguyen after trying to rape her, after it agreed with the trial court that sufficient aggravating circumstances existed to support the death penalty despite DePriest’s argument that he should be spared because of a difficult childhood... A declaration in support of a motion to compel disclosure of police personnel records may be filed under seal, with the trial court’s approval, in order to protect privileged information, the California Supreme Court ruled.
10—The government’s authority to screen passengers passing security checkpoints at airports is in no way dependent on the passenger’s express or implied consent, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, and a potential passenger may be subjected to screening even after offering to leave the airport without boarding a flight... A parochial school’s disclosure of private student information in response to a subpoena was protected by the litigation privilege, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
13—A former jail guard who worked for a despotic regime but was not actually involved in interrogations or physical abuse of prisoners is not disqualified from seeking asylum, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... A state law allowing seizure of assets of white collar criminals requires prosecutors to prove that the defendants’ controlled the seized assets, not necessarily that they owned them, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled.
14—Voice mail messages about anticipated litigation are privileged, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled, throwing out a slander suit under the anti-SLAPP statute... The seizure of child pornography and other evidence of an octogenarian’s involvement in sex tourism from a FedEx shipping facility in Oakland was valid as the equivalent of a border search, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... Chemical companies that developed plutonium at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state in the 1940s may be held liable for illnesses suffered by nearby residents, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
15—The Commission on Judicial Performance charged Orange Superior Court Judge Kelly MacEachern with violating the Code of Judicial Ethics by claiming reimbursement for attendance at a judicial education program at which she was not present... A capital murder defendant who liquidated assets to pay his defense lawyer, only to have part of the money seized to satisfy a child support lien, was not deprived of his constitutional right to counsel, the Fifth District Court of Appeal has ruled.
16—Immunity was not an defense for state employees who wrongly jailed a man due to a case of mistaken identity, the state Supreme Court ruled... The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prosecutors may not, at the retrial of an alleged drug smuggler, introduce the prior testimony of a witness who was deported after testifying at the first trial because the government’s deportation of the witness without notifying the district judge or the defendant’s lawyers, or taking meaningful steps to assure the witness’ availability for trial, was unreasonable.
17—Companies that count disability leaves as service time in calculating benefits must treat pregnancy leaves the same way, even if those leaves were taken before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 became law, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
20—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named 18 people to superior court judgeships throughout the state, including nine to the Los Angeles Superior Court. The appointees included Deputy District Attorneys Terry A. Bork and Gregory A. Dohi; Deputy Public Defender—and State Bar Board of Governors member—Marguerite D. Downing; private attorneys Elizabeth R. Feffer, Lesley C. Green, and Elia Weinbach; Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine Lu; Administrative Law Judge Georgina Torres Rizk; and Superior Court Commissioner Melissa N. Widdifield... A statutory provision that revived causes of action for childhood sexual molestation that would otherwise have been barred by expiration of the statute of limitations does not apply if the defendant is a public entity shielded by the claims statute such as a school district, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 6-1 decision.
21—A city may not circumvent zoning ordinances by issuing a conditional use permit in order to settle a claim that the property owners’ civil rights were violated, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... An elementary school student who suffered an eye injury when hit by a flying utensil has a viable negligence claim against the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
22—Officers may not detain and search a suspect solely to investigate whether he has committed a minor offense such as a noise violation, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
23—The Court of Appeal for this district ordered a trial judge to reconsider his order denying access to grand jury materials to a man suing county officials for false imprisonment....Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger and the executive officer of the court, John Clarke, told local bar officials that the Los Angeles Superior Court faced a serious crisis due to inadequate funding for security.
24—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a $145 billion budget for FY 2007-2008, but not before using his line-item veto power to cut $700 million, including $17.377 million that would have implemented conservatorship reforms approved by lawmakers in 2006... The First Amendment right of access to court proceedings does not extend to grand jury transcripts, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
26—A school district that allows other extracurricular clubs to meet on high school premises need not extend that right to a group whose membership is limited to professed Christians under the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Access Act, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
28—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had legally sufficient reasons for vetoing the proposed release of 82-year-old convicted murderer Arnold Jacobson from prison, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled... The Appellate Division of the Riverside Superior Court reversed a trial court ruling that the state indecent exposure statute applies only to men and that women are incapable of committing the crime.
29—The First Amendment protects an artist’s right to sell his work in public places, even if the content is not overtly political, ideological, or philosophical, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... A man who fell off a cliff at a Northern California campground operated by the Army Corps of Engineers can sue the government under the Federal Torts Claims Act, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, reversing a district judge’s ruling that the “discretionary function” exception to federal liability under the act applied to bar the action.
30—The primary assumption of risk doctrine, which generally bars actions by a participant in an inherently dangerous activity for injuries that are an inherent risk of the activity, extends to non-contact sports, including golf, the California Supreme Court ruled... A national bank employee who holds the title of vice president but whose duties are not among those normally associated with that position is not barred from bringing an employment-related suit under state law, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
31—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld orders barring a disabled man who has filed hundreds of lawsuits under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the attorney who has represented him in many of those cases, from filing any such suit in the Central District of California without prior court approval after the man filed approximately 400 federal lawsuits under Title III of the ADA... The Judicial Council of California approved minimum education requirements for justices, clerks/administrators, managing attorneys, supervisors, and staff of the California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
1—Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Vaino Spencer of this district’s Div. One, one of the longest-serving judges in California history and California’s first African-American woman judge, retired.
4—California Chief Justice Ronald M. George named Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William MacLaughlin to head a task force that will look into the financing of judicial campaigns in this state... The California Assembly approved legislation requiring uniform rules for telephonic appearances in general civil cases... The Commission on Judicial Performance took disciplinary action for a sixth time against Kern Superior Court Judge Clarence Westra Jr., publicly admonishing the judge for verbal outbursts against deputies of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department.
5—An Arizona city did not violate the First Amendment or privacy rights of a police officer whom it fired for his involvement with a Web site that included sexually explicit photos of both the officer and his wife, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the death sentence of Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo man, in the first case under federal law imposing the death penalty upon a Native American for crimes against other Native Americans... Court of Appeal Justice Paul Boland died after a brief battle with cancer... Los Angeles Superior Court interpreters went on strike after the court rejected their demands for a graduated pay scale based on seniority, and unilaterally implemented a 4 percent salary raise that the interpreters had previously rejected.
7—A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that a parole officer who compelled a parolee to attend a religious-based drug treatment program violated clearly established law and was not entitled to immunity from suit....Prosecutors presented enough evidence to send six former members of the City of San Diego’s retirement board to trial on criminal conflict of interest charges, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled... A San Diego Superior Court judge’s conversations with jurors in a murder trial, with no attorneys or court reporter present, constituted prejudicial error, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled... The Eleventh Amendment bars liability under the federal False Claims Act against public school authorities and officials acting in an official capacity, but not in an individual capacity, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
10—Overruling a U.S. district judge, an en banc panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence for Stevie Lamar Fields, who killed USC student librarian Rosemary Cobbs, rejecting his contention that a juror at his trial was biased as a result of his wife having been raped and kidnapped in a manner similar to the victim....The Court of Appeal for this district ruled that although the mother of a trust beneficiary may bring an action against the trustee for sexual harassment, a single ambiguous vulgar comment made does not constitute actionable conduct under Civil Code Sec. 51.9.
11—The Los Angeles County Code and relevant collective bargaining agreements allow the county to force deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators to use their accumulated vacation time instead of cashing it out, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled... The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that satellite programming providers may not pursue charges of assembling and modifying piracy devices under the Federal Communications Act against individuals who adapt receivers to illegally intercept signals for their own use....Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, who is also an attorney, said he hopes to have the disclosure of “not qualified” ratings of Superior Court appointees by the State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation made mandatory....The California Constitution does not guarantee solicitors the right to gather petition signatures in front of a retail store that is part of a larger shopping center, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
12—The California Supreme Court disposed of more than 200 cases that had been held pending resolution of issues related to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Cunningham v. California (2007) 127 S.Ct. 856....A police officer who witnesses a minor traffic infraction while outside his or her jurisdiction cannot issue a citation, the Orange Superior Court Appellate Division ruled.
13—The Los Angeles Police Department must reconsider its punishment of a former officer whom it fired for misusing department computers to look up personal details about celebrities, an ex-girlfriend and others without a legitimate work reason, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....A conviction of disorderly conduct for soliciting lewd conduct in a public place requires a showing that the defendant knew or should have known that third persons who might be offended by the conduct were likely to be present at the time the conduct was to occur, the Fresno Superior Court Appellate Division ruled.
14—The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that when a defendant signs a Harvey waiver, the trial court’s use of facts that were stipulated in a plea deal dismissing the charges resulting from those facts as aggravating circumstances to impose an enhanced sentence does not violate the defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights to trial by jury or proof beyond a reasonable doubt... .Prisoners do not have a constitutionally protected right to watch television, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled, also holding that showing religious programming on jailhouse televisions does not violate the Establishment Clause....Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Dennis W. Carroll was elected as a commissioner.
17—Objections to an American company’s sale of bulldozers to the government for use by the Israeli military, which used the equipment to demolish homes in the Palestinian territories, must be raised in the political process and not by litigation, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... A man who wrote his full name in block letters at the top of a document entitled “Last Will Etc. or What?” fulfilled the signature requirement for execution of a holographic will, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled.
18—A former Lancaster prison inmate failed to establish that he had a valid sanity defense to the charge of killing his cellmate, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled, rejecting the man’s claim that his attorney rendered ineffective assistance by failing to argue that he was unable to distinguish right from wrong.
19—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to grant habeas corpus relief to Albert Greenwood Brown, a California prisoner sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 15-year-old Susan Jordan... A developer seeking to evict the last 13 tenants from a six-decades-old Venice apartment complex in order to build condominiums on the property cannot proceed until it meets conditions imposed by the city as part of the environmental review process, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
21—National Football League retirement plan officials did not breach their fiduciary duties to a former player when they settled his disability claim without telling him about an appellate court ruling that would have made the claim worth much more money, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... A challenge to Alaska’s restraints on speech by judges during electoral campaigns is not ripe for adjudication in the absence of any evidence that the state would seek to enforce such restraints, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appointed Bankruptcy Judge Thomas B. Donovan to a second 14-year term on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California... The woman who drew national headlines when she claimed to have found a severed human fingertip in a bowl of restaurant chili was entitled to a new sentencing hearing based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled.
24—The Judicial Council of California issued its annual report saying that California courts have become stronger and more effective in the past year, but still need more resources and less politicization.
25—Trial courts have inherent power to dismiss a case when a plaintiff’s deliberate and egregious misconduct makes any sanction other than dismissal inadequate to ensure a fair trial, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled, affirming a trial court decision to dismiss a suit claiming that the Walt Disney Company owes millions of dollars to the heirs of the man who acquired American merchandising rights to Winnie the Pooh from the character’s creator... A plaintiff who purchases a product in the belief it is being deceptively marketed and with the intent of bringing suit to challenge that deception lacks standing to sue the manufacturers, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
26—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a suit by a former affirmative action official of the Screen Actors Guild against the union, saying she had made out a prima facie case of racial discrimination and retaliation....The State Bar Board of Governors rejected proposed rules that would have required California attorneys to disclose to clients and to the State Bar if they do not have malpractice insurance, and would have mandated that the State Bar identify uninsured attorneys on its Web site.
27—A probationer who failed to meet with his probation officer because the federal government deported him upon his release from jail did not willfully violate his probation, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....The tolling of the statute of limitations for a malpractice action against a law firm does not continue if the responsible lawyer leaves the firm while continuing to represent the client, the state Supreme Court ruled.
28—Judge Andria K. Richey retired after nine years on the bench....Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski was presented with the State Bar of California’s Bernard Witkin Medal....A former State Bar staff lawyer who filed an unsuccessful civil rights/whistleblower suit against the organization in federal court is not barred from suing for defamation in state court, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
30—Retired State Bar Court Judge Michael D. Marcus and former Los Angeles County Bar Association President Rex S. Heinke were sworn in to the State Bar Board of Governors.
1—A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing public libraries that open their meeting rooms to private groups to prohibit use of the rooms for religious worship was left standing by the U.S. Supreme Court.
2—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced that two of its members received the Justice Department’s highest award, and that 10 others were honored at the department’s 55th Annual Awards Ceremony held at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C....The Commission on Judicial Performance ordered the removal of Riverside Superior Court Judge Robert G. Spitzer, saying he had engaged in numerous instances of misconduct.
3—Former California lawyer Mark Forrest Cohn, in custody in Arizona on unrelated fraud charges, was charged with defrauding approximately 100 victims out of more than $19.7 million in a phony “telephone arbitrage” investment scheme....Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez appointed former Santa Monica Mayor Nathaniel “Nat” Trives to the Commission on Judicial Performance....An award of more than $100,000 in fees to the attorneys who represented four Los Angeles families in a wrongful eviction suit against their former landlord was upheld by this district’s Court of Appeal....A property owner’s inability to maintain religious use of its facilities without revenues generated by non-religious activities will not subject a zoning restriction on the facilities’ use to heightened scrutiny under federal law, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled.
4—Airlines are under no obligation to warn their passengers about the danger of developing potentially fatal blot clots during flights, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....A former Google, Inc. executive who was terminated at the age of 54 produced enough evidence to go to trial on his claim of age discrimination, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled....Police officers who have obtained consent to search a residence need not advise occupants that they have a right not to speak to the officers, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
5—Thomas P. O’Brien was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California..... An Idaho law that forbids voluntary deductions from local government employees’ paychecks to pay for political activities is unconstitutional, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved legislation requiring uniform rules for telephonic appearances in general civil cases.
8—Loyola Law School announced the launch of a genocide studies program after receiving $100,000 from alumni Mark J. Geragos and Brian S. Kabateck as part of a settlement of life insurance benefit claims left unpaid in the wake of the Armenian genocide.
9—A person 21 years of age or older who engages in a sexual act with a minor under 16 years of age does not categorically commit a crime of moral turpitude, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
10—A San Diego county ordinance regulating the operation of adult entertainment businesses and requiring them to move to industrial zones is constitutional, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled... Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a State Bar-backed bill designed to increase the amount of money provided for legal aid programs under the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts program.
11—The corporate attorney-client privilege extends to confidential communications regarding legal advice and strategy between a corporation’s agents, even those that do not directly involve attorneys or include excerpts of direct communications from attorneys, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
12—The state’s anti-SLAPP statute does not bar suits to determine the constitutional validity of proposed ballot initiatives, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled... The Court of Appeal for this district affirmed a judgment rejecting claims by an Altadena law firm and its principals that they lost their major client, the Compton Unified School District, because they refused to contribute to two board members’ campaigns for the City Council.
14—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 159, creating 50 new judgeships around the state and providing for the conversion of vacant subordinate judicial positions into judgeships.
15—An oral contract for domestic services between a deceased musician and his cohabiting partner that also required performance of duties controlled by the Talent Agencies Act was void in its entirety for the partner’s lack of a talent agent license, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled... Claims that Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., tried to subvert campaign fundraising laws were properly thrown out under the anti-SLAPP statute, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
17—Justice Earl Johnson Jr., a member of this district’s Court of Appeal’s Div. Seven since its creation, retired....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced the appointment of Bankruptcy Judge Erithe A. Smith to a second 14-year term on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California....District courts presiding over excessive force claims against law enforcement officers need only to instruct the jury to consider the reasonableness of the action, and are not required to give a separate deadly force instruction, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
18—The First District Court of Appeal upheld the denial of probation to Temple Lee Stuart, who was convicted of manslaughter for suffocating her elderly mother, Isabel Stuart, in what the woman contended was a mercy killing....A doctor need not advise a patient of her right to an abortion when there is no evidence of a significant fetal anomaly or a threat to the mother’s health, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held.
19—San Diego County is not liable to the family of a murder victim whose wife is serving a life sentence for poisoning him with drugs she allegedly stole from her employer, the county medical examiner, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
22—The Commission on Judicial Performance made public rules it had adopted permitting the taking of a limited number of discovery depositions in formal disciplinary proceedings... Former USC running back Chad Morton’s claim against a prominent attorney/agent for breach of fiduciary duty was not subject to an arbitration clause in a representation agreement unless the claim directly arises from that agreement, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled... A widow who successfully moved to amend her husband’s asbestos-related tort action in order to assert wrongful death claims on behalf of herself and her children should not have had those claims dismissed for failure to bring the case to trial within five years of her husband’s original filing, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
23—A Contra Costa Superior Court judge abused his discretion by summarily denying a domestic violence restraining order, in a rubber-stamped order, without hearing or explanation, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
24—A class action suit against an automobile dealership alleging that it inflated sales prices by including previous installment contract deficiency balances without adequate informing customers may proceed, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled... An individual who possesses multiple images of child pornography on a computer can only be convicted of one count of possessing such images, the Court of Appeal for the Third District ruled.... Davis attorney Thomas L. Riordan was reproved and placed on probation for one year by the California Supreme Court for failing to complete an appellate brief in connection with a capital appeal.
26—A rape charge filed just prior to the expiration of the six-year limitations period was timely, even though the defendant could only be identified at the time by his DNA profile, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled....The Judicial Council of California has adopted a recommendation to convert seven subordinate judicial officer positions, two of which are located in the Los Angeles Superior Court, into judgeships.
29—The U.S. Supreme Court left standing a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that actress Elizabeth Taylor cannot be held liable for the alleged wrongful possession of a Vincent van Gogh painting once confiscated by Nazis....The records of the Commission on Judicial Performance are absolutely confidential, and their disclosure cannot be compelled unless the commission’s rules so provide, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
30—The 20-year effort to deport two Los Angeles-area men, legal residents of the United States, over their alleged support for terrorism has been dismissed by the Board of Immigration Appeals, attorneys said.
31—The administrator of Laci Peterson’s estate can use Scott Peterson’s conviction for first degree murder in his wife’s death to bar him from collecting $250,000 as a beneficiary under his wife’s life insurance policy, the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled....Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Ann Dobbs retired from the bench....The California Supreme Court amended the Code of Judicial Ethics to adopt, effective Jan. 1, an objective standard requiring that judges disclose information reasonably relevant to disqualification, and to permit judges to submit character reference letters on behalf of other judges who are under investigation by the Commission on Judicial Performance.
1—Police officers who possess a valid bench warrant for the arrest of a person who has failed to appear at a court hearing, do not violate the Fourth Amendment by entering into a person’s residence to execute the warrant, a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled....The City of Los Angeles and the Boy Scouts of America have no liability to a pair of men who claim they were sexually abused while teenagers participating in a police explorer program, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled.
2—The University of California breached a contractual relationship with thousands of its students when it raised fees beginning in 2003, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
5—Provisions of a union agreement between the state and civil service engineers limiting the state’s right to contract with private engineers conflict with Proposition 35, and are unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled... The fall of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist government in Iraq does not sufficiently demonstrate a change in circumstances in the country to rebut the fear of an Iraqi Christian who was persecuted by the former regime that he will suffer future persecution if removed to the country, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
6—Criminal charges that are later dismissed because the underlying evidence is suppressed are not “vexatious” if the government articulates a viable basis for admission, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....The primary assumption of risk doctrine applies to an action for injuries suffered by a passenger as a result of a collision between personal watercraft, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled....A state commission may only delegate to another body or an individual officer powers and duties that do not require the exercise of special judgment and discretion conferred by statute, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. opined
7—The disqualification of a judge for bias resulting from remarks adversely characterizing a criminal defendant’s veracity does not retroactively invalidate a ruling the judge issued immediately prior to making the remarks unless the defendant can demonstrate that the judge was biased or prejudiced before hearing the defendant’s testimony, this District’s Court of Appeal held....A funeral director cannot force a county coroner to take possession of a decedent’s remains unless the director first determines that no other party within the state is subject to a duty of interment, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. opined.
8—A federal statute allowing some state and local government employees to sue for employment discrimination does not apply to members of a governor’s staff who are responsible for formulating and communicating policy, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
13—A police officer’s non-verbal actions can give rise to a detention under the Fourth Amendment, despite the absence of any verbal commands, the First District Court of Appeal ruled....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the U.S. Navy to lessen the harm its high-power sonar does to whales and other marine life during exercises off the Southern California coast....A San Joaquin Superior Court judge did not abuse her discretion in reopening closing argument in order to break a jury deadlock in a criminal case, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
14—Provisions in the California Political Reform Act that subject ballot proposal advocates to the same reporting and disclosure requirements as political action committees formed to promote candidates are unconstitutional, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
15—The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death sentence for Edward Patrick Morgan, who sexually assaulted Leanora Wong, then beat her to death....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an Arizona attorney’s argument that a state statute subjecting him to compulsory service as an arbitrator for minimal compensation was an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment....The Commission on Judicial Performance admonished Orange Superior Court Judge Pamela L. Iles for allowing a defendant to leave the state in order to avoid being sentenced for domestic violence....Retired Court of Appeal Justice Morio L. Fukuto died at the age of 77.
16—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave mixed news to the government in its efforts to use the state secrets doctrine to block a suit by an Islamic charity which claims it was illegally wiretapped under the government’s terrorist surveillance program, allowing the case to proceed but without a “top secret” call log the government inadvertently handed over....The pass rate for the July 2007 general State Bar examination was 56.1 percent, the highest since 2001, the State Bar announced.
18—The Sixth District Court of Appeal ordered the release of a man convicted of killing his wife in Los Altos Hills in 1985, saying Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger violated due process by denying parole based solely on the “heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner” in which the crime was committed.
21—The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that a “notice of unavailability,” by which a litigant purports to bind other parties and the court from taking adverse action during a prescribed time period, is not a fileable document under the Rules of Court.
26—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barry A. Taylor announced that he will step down in the latter part of February after more than 16 years on the bench....Spouses of victims may receive restitution from convicted killers based on the lost earning potential of the person slain, the state Supreme Court ruled....A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allows investigators to visit the homes of welfare applicants without obtaining warrants was left standing by the U.S. Supreme Court....A criminal defense attorney who obtains information about alleged police misconduct via a motion for discovery of personnel records is not necessarily barred from using that information in a case involving a different defendant, the California Supreme Court ruled.
27—California’s ban on incest does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled... Pauline Weinstein Ledeen, the first life member of the Criminal Courts Bar Association, died at the age of 97.
28—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger re-appointed local attorneys Sidney Greathouse and Pamela Hemminger to the California Law Revision Commission....Federal law licensing commercial vessels to operate off the coast of Hawaii does not bar the state from enforcing a partial ban on parasailing, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....A defendant’s murder confession to a jail psychiatrist was admissible where the statement was not entitled to confidentiality and was not coerced by the state, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
29—A convicted killer who is among more than 50 Mexican nationals awaiting execution in the United States whose rights to consular access under international law was denied by police, according to the International Court of Justice, suffered no prejudice as a result and is entitled to no relief from state courts, the California Supreme Court ruled....Law enforcement officers must return marijuana they seize from people who are in compliance with state law allowing possession of the drug for medical purposes if drug charges are not pending and the substance is no longer potential evidence, even if the person’s possession of the drug violates federal law, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
30—B. Scott Silverman was sworn in as the Los Angeles Superior Court’s newest commissioner....California law mandating relief from dismissal or default caused by negligence of counsel does not apply where summary judgment is granted as a result of an attorney’s failure to timely file opposition and a cross-motion in response to a motion to enforce a settlement, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....A private party cannot be held liable for conspiring with a public official to violate a conflict-of-interest statute, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
3—The “Tort Claims Act,” generally requiring the filing of a demand prior to the institution of litigation against a governmental entity, applies to contract actions, the California Supreme Court held, abolishing that shorthand title... The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ decision to remove a cross from the county seal, effectively ending a challenge by a county employee who claimed the action could reasonably be interpreted as hostile to Christianity.
4—A conspiracy prosecution in a California court cannot be based on a target offense that is a federal crime, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
5—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence for convicted murderer Kevin Cooper, whose 2004 execution for the hacking murders of a Chino family was stayed just hours before he was to die by lethal injection in order to conduct tests on evidence found at the crime scene....The U.S. Forest Service violated federal environmental law when it developed a plan to facilitate removal of potential fuel sources for catastrophic wildfires by easing federal environmental restrictions without actually considering the significance of the action, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Mia A. Baker, a longtime official of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office died at the age of 67....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge S. Patricia Spear confirmed that she will step down June 3.
6—A Los Angeles Superior Court judge did not abuse his discretion in allowing a jury to view a videotape tribute to a murder victim during the penalty phase of her killer’s trial, the California Supreme Court ruled.
7—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Mexican architect’s conviction on drug charges based upon his role in building a tunnel for the importation of cocaine and marijuana into the United States....The Judicial Council of California adopted a methodology for converting subordinate judicial officer positions into judgeships, and confirmed its previous decision to convert a number of positions into judgeships on Jan 1....John R. Pennington, a business litigator who spent his entire career at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton, died.
10—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down portions of a federal law that prohibits providing material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, saying the law fails to specify what such conduct includes....The signing and filing of a substitution-of-counsel form does not necessarily terminate an attorney’s representation for purposes of the statute of limitations, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
11—A police officer’s personal experience hanging a similarly sized object from his rearview mirror gave him an objective basis to believe that an air freshener hanging from another driver’s mirror obstructed the driver’s view in violation of state law, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled....A defendant who claims not to have been personally served with a summons and complaint, but who waits until after a default judgment is entered to raise the issue despite actual knowledge of the proceedings, has the burden of proof, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
12—A defendant’s waiver of his right to counsel is not conditional upon receiving a specific degree of assistance from standby counsel if the court accepting the waiver and assigning counsel promises no such assistance, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....An Orange County firm that sells aftermarket products to automobile dealers wrongfully terminated a sales representative who complained about the company’s involvement in fraudulent marketing practices, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
13—A State Bar committee voted to open a 90-day public comment period on a revised rule generally requiring lawyers who lack malpractice insurance to inform their clients of that fact....A lawyer who inadvertently receives a privileged document from opposing counsel must stop reading it once its privileged nature becomes clear, and must immediately contact the lawyer who mistakenly sent it, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled.
14—The Court of Appeal for this district affirmed the conviction of Tramayne Wood, who is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for a Crenshaw-area carjacking that escalated into the murder of Nathan Callis....A court cannot require a federal criminal defendant to abstain from consuming alcohol as a condition of supervised release where nothing in the record suggests a relationship between the crime and alcohol consumption, or that the defendant abused alcohol in the past, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
15—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles L. Peven retired.
17—Supporters of an initiative seeking to advance the rights of crime victims by, among other things, barring criminal defendants and defense lawyers and their associates from donating to campaigns for prosecutorial offices, submitted filing papers to the secretary of state....A law firm that entered a case well after it was underway and played a limited role may still be the subject of a malicious prosecution action, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....The U.S. Senate approved a measure to add a judge to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—bringing the total number of authorized active judges to 29—by eliminating a vacant seat on the D.C. Circuit.
18—A standing discovery order of the Los Angeles Superior Court, requiring plaintiffs in asbestos cases to identify “product identification” witnesses and disclose the substance of their anticipated testimony prior to trial violates state law codifying the work-product privilege, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....A federal judge ruled that individuals who claim that the Los Angeles Police Department violated their civil rights when it forcefully dispersed a May 1, 2007 pro-immigration rally in MacArthur Park may proceed with a class action suit against the department....A city may not limit the number of residential drug and alcohol treatment programs serving six or fewer persons on the ground that it already has enough such programs to serve its needs, Attorney General Jerry Brown opined.
19—Constitutional limits on the sealing of court documents do not apply to discovery materials that are made part of a court file but are not admitted at trial or otherwise used to decide substantive issues, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled.
20—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the appointment of insurance agent James Hussey to the California State Bar Board of Governors as a public member....The union representing rank-and-file police officers in the City of Los Angeles sued the city, seeking to enjoin imposition of new financial disclosure requirements for members of certain specialized units within the department....The California Supreme Court resolved a split between appellate courts by ruling that a juvenile court considering whether to continue reunification services between a child under three years old and a parent from whose custody he was removed may only examine the likelihood of a successful reunification during the time period leading up to the next review hearing, even if the hearing is less than six months away....The U.S. Senate confirmed Beverly Hills attorney Nathan Hochman as assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
21—A former Bell Gardens city manager who violated conflict-of-interest laws by engineering her appointment while serving on the City Council must repay her entire city manager salary, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled... A police officer who testified that he stopped a vehicle because it had an expired license tag, and that he didn’t notice a valid, temporary tag because he wasn’t looking for one, lacked the reasonable suspicion required to validate the stop, the First District Court of Appeal ruled... Police officers who have only limited experience dealing with people who possess marijuana legally do not have a sufficient basis to determine whether such persons intend to sell it, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
24—The time in which a plaintiff injured by the republication of a defamatory statement may sue begins to run when the work is distributed, rather than when the plaintiff first read it or learned of its contents, even when the work was of highly limited circulation, the California Supreme Court ruled....California’s Constitution guarantees the right to urge customers in a shopping mall to boycott one of the mall’s stores, the California Supreme Court ruled....A health service plan cannot rescind a contract with an insured based upon material misrepresentation in an application unless the omission was willful or the plan reasonably investigated before it issued the contract, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
25—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Haig Kehiayan died at age 80.
26—A tax protester convicted of willfully filing a false return should have been allowed to present expert testimony that he suffered from a mental disease bearing on the issue of his guilt, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled
27—A multimillion dollar judgment against several business operators who bribed San Bernardino County’s former chief administrative officer was affirmed by this district’s Court of Appeal....The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not violate the civil rights of deputies when it ordered them to remain after their shift and cooperate with a criminal investigation into their conduct, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held....A Los Angeles city ordinance mandating higher minimum wages for employees of hotels near Los Angeles International Airport was properly enacted after an earlier version of the ordinance was blocked by a referendum petition, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
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