Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 IN REVIEW
State Supreme Court Says Same-Sex Couples Have Constitutional Right to Marry...Lee Edmon Becomes First Woman Elected to Superior Court Leadership...Court of Appeal Holds County Benefits for Superior Court Judges Unconstitutional
1—Jean M. Lawler, who became the first female partner at Murchison & Cumming, LLP in 1993, took over as managing partner of the firm.
3—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reappointed Michael Hersek as state public defender....Two denials of parole to a former motorcycle club member by then-Gov. Gray Davis violated due process, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, saying Davis’ reasons were inadequate or lacked evidentiary support. The court, in an opinion by Judge Ronald Gould, ordered that a writ of habeas corpus be granted to Ronald Hayward, a former member of the Vagos club who had served 27 years for killing a man who allegedly attempted to rape the woman whom he later married.
4—First District Court of Appeal Justice Linda Gemello retired.
7—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bradford L. Andrews retired....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal immigration law requiring a showing of hardship to a relative in order to obtain cancellation of removal did not violate the constitutional rights of a couple who claimed that their religious beliefs barred them from participating in in vitro fertilization and that they could not conceive a child by other means.
8—A City of Los Angeles ordinance authorizing the seizure and forfeiture of vehicles used to solicit prostitution is expressly preempted by state law, this district’s Court of Appeal held.
9—State law preempts a never-enforced 2005 San Francisco initiative that would have banned the possession of handguns and the sale of any other firearms or ammunition in the city and county, the First District Court of Appeal ruled. A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned an injunction barring the City of Seattle from enforcing regulations requiring street performers in the downtown entertainment zone known as the Seattle Center to obtain permits and wear badges during performances, comply with certain terms and conditions in order to obtain and keep their permits, refrain from actively soliciting money, and perform only in 16 designated locations within the 80-acre district.
10—A constitutional amendment allowing the Court of Appeal to hear death penalty cases is needed to alleviate the large backlog of full-briefed death penalty appeals pending before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ronald M. George told the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice....The First District Court of Appeal affirmed a Humboldt Superior Court judge’s ruling throwing out a lawsuit in which the Humboldt County district attorney claimed The Pacific Lumber Company made misrepresentations and concealed crucial facts during an environmental review of its plan to harvest timber under the Headwaters Agreement....A state law prohibiting false bomb threats gave airport police probable cause to arrest a woman who sarcastically told airline employees that her luggage contained a bomb, even if the threat was not believed to be credible, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
11—The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chavez—later elevated to the Court of Appeal—was correct in ruling that 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 in March 2007 that Dwayne Giles could not complain about his inability to cross-examine ex-girlfriend Brenda Avie because he had made her “unavailable” to testify by killing her....A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said scientists and other workers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are entitled to a temporary injunction against background checks they challenged as overly intrusive.
14—The operator of an aerial sightseeing tour was entitled to enforce a release of liability for injuries caused by its own negligence, even if federal air safety standards were violated, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Six affirmed a summary judgment in favor of Santa Barbara Biplanes, LLC. Two passengers on one of the company’s sightseeing tours of Santa Barbara sued after a May 2005 accident, which occurred when a replica Waco biplane lost power and made an emergency landing near Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.
15—Police officers who engage in high-speed pursuit are entitled to qualified immunity unless a plaintiff can prove that they acted with a deliberate intent to harm, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Two Orange Superior Court judges violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and a related court rule by denying a continuance to a self-represented litigant who checked herself into a hospital the day before her divorce trial was to resume, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
16—Statutes requiring that the circulator of a city referendum petition be a resident and eligible to vote in the city are unconstitutional, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
17—State election law allows an individual to ask for a manual recount of paper ballots while relying on the electronic records stored by computerized voting machines to tally electronic ballots, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. Rejecting an argument by Trung Nguyen that the recount of the disputed Feb. 6, 2007 special election for a vacant Orange County supervisor seat was invalid because electronic votes were not recounted manually, Div. Three affirmed the ruling of Orange Superior Judge Hugh Michael Brenner that Janet Nguyen won the election by seven votes.
18— Juror misconduct warrants a new trial in a malpractice action against the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s office by a man who was wrongfully convicted on trumped up charges arising out of the LAPD Rampart scandal, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. Affirming a trial court order in a suit by Javier F. Ovando, whose convictions for assaulting two police officers and brandishing a gun in their presence were overturned after the scandal broke, Div. Three held that a juror who had starred in a motion picture explicitly referencing the scandal committed prejudicial misconduct when she intentionally concealed her knowledge of the scandal during jury selection.
22—A Stockton man was properly convicted of burglarizing his own home after he left at his wife’s demand, but came back and sexually assaulted her, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.... Prison officials cannot justify a blanket prohibition on group worship by maximum security prisoners merely by citing the need to maintain order and security, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Reversing the decision of U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. of the Eastern District of California, the court held that Darin D. Greene could proceed with a suit against Solano County jail officials contending that their ban on group worship by prisoners violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 because they could not show they had actually considered and rejected less restrictive measures before adopting the policy.
23—A Muslim prison inmate’s suit alleging that the Arizona Department of Corrections violated his civil rights when it refused his request for kosher meals can proceed, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Ruling that U.S. District Judge Paul G. Rosenblatt of the District of Arizona incorrectly focused on whether consuming Halal meat was required as a central tenet of Amin Rahman Shakur’s faith—rather than on whether Shakur sincerely believed that a kosher meal was consistent with Islam—the court held unanimously that the department was not entitled to summary judgment because it had failed to study the impact of accommodating the request or the availability of ready alternatives.
24—California’s private attorney general statute does not permit an award of fees against a party who merely asserted private rights, even if the case resulted in an appellate ruling affecting a large number of people, the California Supreme Court ruled. The justices unanimously affirmed a Fourth District Court of Appeal ruling that a San Diego woman who—in a case that ended at the U.S. Supreme Court—successfully defended her right to adopt her former lover’s child as a “second parent” cannot recover attorney fees from the birth mother....Employers can fire workers found to have used marijuana even if it was legally used for medical purposes under state law, the state high court held. Affirming the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, the high court held 5-2 that a man who used marijuana to treat chronic pain pursuant to his physician’s recommendation could not state a cause of action for disability-based discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act or for wrongful termination in violation of public policy after being fired by his employer after failing a drug test because the drug remains illegal under federal law.
25—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated U.S. District Judge Martin J. Jenkins of the Northern District of California for justice of the First District Court of Appeal and named Deputy District Attorneys Kathleen O. Diesman and Rogelio G. Delgado, Deputy Public Defender Mark E. Windham, and entertainment lawyer Louis M. Meisinger to judgeships in the Los Angeles Superior Court.....Proposition 51’s prohibition on apportioning non-economic damages jointly and severally applies to damages arising from negligent entrustment, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. Reversing the decision of Los Angeles Superior Judge William F. Highberger, Div. One held that an unlicensed minor driver who was involved in a vehicle collision after she was negligently entrusted with a vehicle could not be held jointly liable for resulting non-economic damages because the tort of negligent entrustment did not impose vicarious or derivative liability that would except it from Proposition 51’s scope....Both plaudits and playful gibes were directed at the three awardees—former Los Angeles County District Attorney Robert Philibosian, Los Angeles County Bar Association President Gretchen Nelson, and private practitioner Lee Kanon Alpert—at the 20th annual Metropolitan News-Enterprise “Person of the Year” awards dinner.
29—Suits against a religious order of the Catholic church by two men who claim that they were sexually molested by a priest as minors over 30 years ago are barred by the statute of limitations because the men cannot show that the order had prior knowledge of similar conduct by the priest, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
1—A statutory assessment on dairy producers that funds the state’s “Real California Cheese” advertising campaign does not violate the California Constitution’s “liberty of speech” clause, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
5—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger acted within his authority when he denied parole to a San Diego-area man convicted of a murder that prosecutors alleged was based on the victim’s race, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. Justice Cynthia Aaron, writing for Div. One, said the governor’s conclusion that Joseph Rozzo’s crime was so “atrocious” and “shocking” as to render him an unreasonable parole risk in spite of his positive prison record met the deferential “some evidence” standard of review....A Superior Court spokesperson said that Judge Tracy Grant would not seek re-election.
6—Riverside Superior Court Judge Robert G. Spitzer, who was ordered removed from the bench for misconduct and dishonesty, filed papers to run for a new term, raising legal issues as to whether a removed judge may run for re-election while seeking Supreme Court review of the removal order. The issue became moot when the court denied review and Spitzer agreed to a court order removing his name from the ballot....Individuals who post to Internet message boards have a First Amendment right to anonymity which can only be overcome in a defamation case if the plaintiff shows that the posts give rise to a viable cause of action, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled.
7—The Court of Appeal for this district ordered publication of its Jan. 8 opinion holding that poverty alone—even abject poverty resulting in homelessness—is not a valid basis for assertion of dependency jurisdiction. Reversing an order by Div. Eight ruled that Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Marilyn K. Martinez erred when she failed to conduct a hearing to determine a father’s fitness to regain custody of his two sons and instead terminated his parental rights because he was impoverished....The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence for a Hawthorne resident convicted of involvement in the 1996 kidnapping, torture, and murder of a Redondo Beach man. Justice Kathryn M. Wedegar, writing for the court, said that three instructional errors by the Ventura Superior Court judge who sentenced Spencer R. Brasure to die were minor and could not have, separately or cumulatively, affected the jury’s verdict.
8—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially revived a malicious prosecution suit targeting lawyers who sued a politically prominent black woman over her attacks on rap music lyrics. Although the court voted 2-1 to affirm a grant of summary judgment by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi of the Central District of California in favor of Charles Ortner, David Kenner, and Geoffrey Thomas, and their clients, Interscope Records and Death Row Records, because the widower of C. DeLores Tucker could not show that the defendants acted with malice when they sued Tucker, it ruled that Tucker’s estate could pursue Kenner for drafting a complaint alleging abuse of process by Tucker because a reasonable fact-finder could infer that Kenner knew the claim lacked merit.
9—Senior Judge Joseph T. Sneed III of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals died at 87.
11—A class action alleging that various grocery stores violated state law by selling artificially colored farmed salmon without disclosing the use of color additives can proceed, the California Supreme Court ruled. Unanimously reversing a decision by the Sixth District Court of Appeal, the justices held that the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not preempt deceptive marketing claims under California’s Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law because Congress explicitly intended to allow states to establish their own disclosure requirements and remedies for violations, and because the plaintiffs’ claims were based on state, rather than federal, law.
12—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Ronald Isley’s 37-month federal prison sentence for tax evasion. A three-judge panel rejected the 66-year-old R&B singer’s argument that his sentence was unreasonable due to his age, poor health and lack of proof that the federal prison system can provide him adequate health care.
14—An immigration judge exceeded his authority by proceeding with an in absentia removal hearing after the alien showed up late, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled,,,.A shareholder who was forced to sell his stock as a result of a merger lacked standing to continue with his derivative suit brought on behalf of the corporation he no longer held an interest in, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled....Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest G. Williams died at age 83.
16—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure that will postponing funding for 60 new judgeships in the state’s trial courts. ABXXX 8, one of a number of special session bills addressing the state revenue shortfall, deferred funding for 10 vacant judgeships to July 1 of this year and postponed funding of 50 positions authorized last year, including one in Los Angeles County, from June 1 of this year to June 1 of next year.
18—An en banc panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a Shasta County man’s conviction of a murder he confessed to because authorities violated his right against self-incrimination when they continued to interrogate him after he repeatedly told them, “I plead the Fifth.”
19—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alan Kalkin retired.
20—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barry Taylor and Commissioner Gary Polinsky retired....An arbitration clause in a contract involving commerce takes precedence over a state law requiring that disputes be heard by an administrative agency, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. In an 8-1 decision, with Justice Clarence Thomas the lone dissenter, the high court overturned a ruling by Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal. The state panel, in a split decision, had sided with Alex E. Ferrer, television’s “Judge Alex,” who argued that the California Labor Commissioner, not an arbitrator, should decide whether he had to pay 12 percent of his earnings from the show to a lawyer he described as an unlicensed talent agent....O.J. Simpson’s move to Florida did not deprive the Los Angeles Superior Court of jurisdiction to renew a $33.5 million wrongful judgment against him in favor of Ronald L. Goldman’s family, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
21—A public entity cannot be held liable under the Government Claims Act for injury caused by a dangerous condition on its property unless the plaintiff can show that the entity created the condition negligently or wrongfully, or had notice of it for a long enough time to protect against the danger, the California Supreme Court ruled. Rejecting an argument by the victim of an automobile accident at an intersection under the control of San Joaquin County, who argued that the county was liable because it created the dangerous condition at the intersection, the court held that the plain meaning of Government Code Sec. 835 required the plaintiff to also establish that the county had done so negligently or willfully.
22—An emergency medical technician was entitled to protection under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act in an action against him by a police officer injured while riding in an ambulance the technician was driving, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....A modification of a contingent fee agreement must comply with the same statutory requisites as the original contract, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled in requiring the Van Nuys firm of Stroud & Do to return $75,000 to a former client who had signed what the trial judge found to be an illegal modification changing a flat-fee agreement into a contingency arrangement.
23—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William E. McGinley died at age 81.
25—A torfeasor is not necessarily liable for the full amount of plaintiff’s damages where the injuries are aggravated by subsequent medical malpractice, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Seven Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss explained that earlier cases holding the original tortfeasor jointly liable for any aggravation of the injuries that resulting from negligent medical treatment cannot survive Proposition 51. The initiative, enacted in 1986, provides that the liability of multiple tortfeasors for noneconomic damages is several and not joint, with limited exceptions.
26—A lawsuit by the Mid-Wilshire-based Taheri Law Group, accusing Sherman Oaks attorney Neil C. Evans of stealing a client, was a strategic lawsuit against public participation because Evans’ communications to the client concerning pending litigation was a protected activity under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 425.16, and because a lawyer’s advice to a prospective client on pending litigation does not fall within the “commercial speech” exemption to the statute, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
28—Redondo Beach attorney Pattricia M. Vienna said she would no longer be seeking a seat on the Los Angeles Superior Court in the June 3 primary election, telling the MetNews that she would not be returning the nomination documents she had taken out for Office No. 119 because she agreed with an editorial endorsing an opponent, Deputy District Attorney Jared Moses, that she would make a credible future judicial candidate if she obtained more court experience....A trial judge erred in applying another state’s statute of repose to dismiss a tort claim by a longtime California resident against a defendant based in a third state, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 608, restoring an inadvertently deleted provision that permitted certain active judges under the now-closed Judges’ Retirement System (JRS I) to elect to provide a monthly allowance, or “optional settlement,” payable to the judge’s surviving spouse if the judge died before retiring, but had attained eligibility to retire with at least 20 years of service.
2—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Pratt retired.
3—Non-employer individuals cannot be held personally liable for workplace retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Supreme Court ruled. Reversing the decision of Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the court held 4-3 that an employee who charged that he was the subject of retaliation after he complained about workplace harassment could hold his employer liable under Government Code Sec. 12940, but could not hold the supervisor who allegedly engaged in the retaliation liable because the act does not impose personal liability on non-employers.
4— A trial court erred in allowing a jury to consider evidence of two massive oil spills while assessing a defendant’s reprehensibility in causing and responding to the underground contamination of a plaintiff’s real property, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. Reversing a $5 million dollar punitive damages award against the Unocal Corporation, Div. Six held that the due process proscription against evidence of “dissimilar acts” in punitive damages cases must apply to both the jury’s predicate determination of whether a defendant is liable for punitive damages as well as its assessment of the amount of damages to be awarded.
6—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a mobilehome park owner’s defamation suit against San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, which a district judge had dismissed under the state anti-SLAPP statute. In a 2-1 decision, the appellate panel said a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that Jacob’s statements about the owner declared or implied assertions of fact, rather than opinions. The owner brought the complaint against Jacobs after she—in response to the owner’s decision to raise tenants’ rent by 25 percent—made statements at tenants’ meetings and to local media that the company, among other acts, lied about fixing a sewage leak in one of their parks and enjoyed driving out elderly tenants, and that the district attorney was interested in investigating the owner’s operation of its mobile home parks.
7—The Railway Labor Act does not impose a status quo requirement precluding parties from unilaterally changing working conditions before a collective bargaining agreement has been formed, even if negotiations have commenced, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Filing for the June 3 primaries closed, with 11 Los Angeles Superior Court races being contested. Judge Ralph Dau was the only incumbent to be challenged, while candidates filed for 10 open seats.
10—Former Hawthorne School Board member Frank DeSimone cannot hold the county liable for the surreptitious installation by district attorney investigators of a tracking device on his car that caught fire and destroyed the vehicle, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled in an unpublished opinion. Div. Seven held that the county and District Attorney Steve Cooley are immune from liability because the agents who placed the device were acting within the scope of their employment and in connection with a judicial proceeding. The investigators were probing charges that DeSimone actually resided outside the district and voted using a false address.
11—A woman who went to bed leaving her son in the care of her boyfriend who had been beating the child only hours earlier can be held criminally culpable in the child’s death for failing to take all reasonable steps to protect him, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
12—A pleading accusing West Los Angeles attorney Gregory Chudacoff of defaming a client’s former employee by telling customers the man had misappropriated customer lists and suggesting that they refrain from doing business with him lest they be dragged into litigation was properly stricken as a SLAPP, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....The superior court is the proper forum to determine whether homebuyers who entered into extended warranty contracts containing arbitration provisions requiring arbitration of their very enforceability actually agreed to the provisions, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
13—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, over the dissent of three of its judges, denied en banc review of a ruling that allows voters in different states to exchange promises to vote for each others’ favorite presidential candidates.
15— Louis A. Nissen, a well-known labor attorney and the father of former State Bar Executive Director Steven A Nissen, died at 94.
17—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Luros retired.
18—Two men whose accomplice was killed by a man they allegedly tried to rob were properly convicted of first degree murder under the “provocative acts” doctrine, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
19—Attorney Joseph L. Shalant, who was disbarred for coercing a client into an illegal fee agreement, cannot sue the client for work he performed on the case before the client terminated him because he waited too long to bring his action, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
20—Amendments made to the Sexually Violent Predator Act by Jessica’s Law, enacted in 2006, which permit former prison inmates designated as sexually violent predators to be committed indefinitely to a state hospital do not violate federal constitutional rights to due process, to equal protection under the law, or to freedom from ex post facto laws, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth District ruled....The California Supreme Court unanimously reversed Kenneth Gay’s death sentence for the 1983 murder of Los Angeles Police Officer Paul Verna, saying the trial judge erred in limiting evidence that the defense contended would show that Gay’s co-defendant may have been the lone shooter. Such evidence was relevant to show the existence of a mitigating factor, Justice Marvin Baxter wrote for the court, adding that the exclusion of the evidence was prejudicial because there was no physical evidence to tie Gay to the murder weapon. The prosecution theory was that Gay and Raynard Cummings passed a single gun between them, and shot Verna to avoid being arrested for a series of robberies....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs retired.
21—Public entities lack standing under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to sue employers of illegal aliens to recover the costs of services provided to undocumented immigrants, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Albert Robles, a candidate for district attorney of Los Angeles County, confirmed that the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division filed a complaint against him alleging that he violated state election law by sending out two mass mailings in 2005 that failed to list the name and address of the candidate or committee responsible for sending them.
24—Orange County’s jails are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related state law requirements because of physical barriers that deny inmates access to certain facilities and because of the disparities between programs and services offered to disabled and non-disabled inmates, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk accepted a ballot designation for judicial candidate Robert Davenport for the June 3 primary ballot after a Superior Court judge denied Davenport’s request to designate himself as a “Retired Criminal Prosecutor.” A spokesperson for the registrar’s office confirmed that the designation “Lieutenant Colonel/Pilot” had been approved....The state Supreme Court unanimously denied a habeas corpus petition by a Modesto man who unsuccessfully defended himself against charges of hiring two men to commit a 1989 murder, telling jurors he wanted to be known as the Beast described in the Book of Revelation. Dennis Lawley asked the high court to throw out his conviction and sentence, claiming that Brian Keith Seabourn and Steven Curtis Mendonca killed Kenneth Stewart on behalf of the Aryan Brotherhood, a violent prison gang, and that he had nothing to do with the murder. Seabourn, who was tried separately, and Mendonca, who pled guilty, were both convicted of second degree murder.
25—The Academy Awards are not subject to judicial review, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled in upholding the dismissal of a suit by Bob Yari. The plaintiff, one of six people who received screen credit as producers of the movie “Crash,” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2006, challenged new rules limiting to three the number of producers who could share the Best Picture Oscar....Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie died at the age of 79....AB 1828, which would excuse poll workers from jury service for a period of one year, was rejected by the Assembly Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7-3.
26—The MetNews reported that the District Attorney’s Office was actively investigating allegations that a campaign operative representing Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner and judicial candidate Harvey Silberman illegally offered something of value to induce his opponent to leave the race....The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California kept alive a lawsuit by a Muslim woman who claims that officers of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department violated her constitutional rights when they made her remove her headscarf while she was being held in a courthouse holding facility. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled that Souhair Khatib had sufficiently stated a claim that the county violated her rights under the Free Exercise Clause to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, but rejected Khatib’s request for heightened scrutiny of the county’s actions under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, ruling that the act does not apply to courthouse holding facilities.
27—The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death sentence for the convicted killer of a Cambodian immigrant shot to death on her first day of work at a Long Beach market. Justice Ming Chin, writing for the court, rejected Andre Wilson’s various claims of instructional, jury selection, and other error and said there was no basis to overturn the decision of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bradford Andrews—who has since retired—to impose the death sentence....The Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Three, certified for publication its Feb. 28 opinion that an employer may be held liable for damages caused by its employee’s physical assault of a customer because an employee’s angry outburst was a predicable risk of retail employment.
28—Los Angeles Chief Deputy County Counsel Donovan M. Main retired after more than 38 years of service to the county, although he will continue to work up to 120 days per year as counsel to the Memorial Coliseum Commission.
31—Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioners Ronald Slick, Victor Reichman, Albert J. Garcia, and Richard Curtis retired.
1—The heirs of comic book hero Superman’s co-creator are entitled to resume control of their half of the character’s copyright, U.S. District Judge Stephen G. Larson of the Central District of California ruled. Citing termination provisions contained in the Copyright Act of 1976, the judge said Joanne Siegel and Laura Siegel Larson, the widow and the daughter of Jerome Siegel, are no longer bound by the agreement by which Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster sold the rights to “Superman” for $130 in 1938...Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Davis was “deemed elected” to the State Bar Board of Governors from District 7 (Los Angeles County) after no other attorney stepped forward to run for the seat.
3—The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for the convicted killer of two Placer County women. Chief Justice Ronald M. George, in a 161-page opinion for a unanimous court, said there was no prejudicial error at the trial of David A. Rundle. Rundle was convicted of two counts of attempted rape and two counts of first degree murder with rape-murder and multiple-murder special circumstances in the deaths of Caroline Garcia and Lanciann Sorensen....The high court also ruled that “sophisticated users” of products cannot hold manufacturers liable for failing to warn of risks those users should have recognized. Unanimously concluding that the “sophisticated user” doctrine applies in California, the court ruled that a certified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician who alleged that he was injured when an evaporator unit he was servicing released toxic gas could not sue the unit’s manufacturer for failing to warn him of the risk of such a release because HVAC technicians could reasonably be expected to know about it....A website that matched people renting rooms with those looking for a place to live which required users to disclose their gender, family status and sexual orientation in order to utilize its services is not immune from civil liability for discrimination, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held....Officials disclosed that the judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court had elected Deputy Alternate Public Defender Sharon Lewis Miller to succeed Commissioner Gary A. Polinsky, who retired....A candidate for Los Angeles Superior Court judge who has been a member of the military reserve may be listed as “Retired Lieutenant Colonel” on the June 3 primary ballot, a Superior Court judge ruled. Judge James Chalfant granted a writ of mandate requiring that Robert R. Davenport be listed by that designation rather than as a “Lieutenant Colonel/Pilot,” the designation approved, at Davenport’s request, by Acting Registrar/Recorder Dean Logan.
4—U.S. District Judge Martin J. Jenkins was confirmed as a justice of Div. Three of the First District Court of Appeal.
10— A defendant’s forcible retention of stolen property in a victim’s presence constitutes robbery, even if the victim was not present when the defendant initially gained possession of the property, the California Supreme Court ruled....A couple alleging that a bank concealed its Nazi past in order to keep their business is not entitled to rescind an agreement with the bank setting up a charitable trust or recover losses the trust suffered, the First District Court of Appeal ruled in an unpublished opinion....A federal statute of repose limiting the time in which tort suits may be brought against aircraft manufacturers applies to accidents occurring outside the United States, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The panel affirmed a judgment in favor of Raytheon Aircraft Company in a suit brought by the families of nine people killed in the crash of a Beech Super King Air 200 Aircraft in rainy, foggy weather near Mostar, Bosnia and Herzogovina in February 2004. Killed were Boris Trajkovski, the 47-year-old president of Macedonia, and eight other persons, including the pilots.
11—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stanley M. Weisberg retired....The city of Oakland and the Oakland Unified School District did not contribute to the death of a student who was struck by a car and killed while crossing the street on her way to school, the First District Court of Appeal ruled Div. Four affirmed Alameda Superior Court Judge James A. Richman’s grant of summary judgment, finding that the marked crosswalk at a city intersection where six pedestrians were struck by an unlicensed motorist did not create a dangerous condition, and that the school district was not responsible for the safety of its students outside of the school premises....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of former Glendale attorney Geoffrey C. Mousseau—who resigned from the State Bar rather than face disciplinary charges following the 2006 conviction—and two of his former clients on charges of mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy in connection with a scheme to conceal assets from creditors.
14—A Los Angeles law firm that billed a disabled conservatee for nearly $300,000 in legal services may be liable for misappropriating its client’s money, the Court of Appeal for this district held. In an unpublished opinion, Div. Five affirmed the trial court’s finding that claims against Steven M. Garber & Associates were not subject to a special motion to strike because the plaintiff’s causes of action were not based on the firm’s protected petitioning activities....The Sixth District Court of Appeal ordered publication of an earlier opinion in which it held that the owners of a San Jose card room who alleged that the city enacted an ordinance for the purpose of putting them out of business are not entitled to access documents that might illustrate the mental processes of city council members who approved the ordinance.
15—A federal district judge erred when he struck down Long Beach’s parade permit ordinance in its entirety two years ago, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Intervening case law, Judge William Fletcher wrote for the court, demonstrates that Long Beach Municipal Code Sec. 5.60 is valid to the extent that it distinguishes between expressive and other activity; allows the city manager to set conditions for a “special event” permit, including requiring proof of insurance, and to investigate claims that a sponsor is indigent for purposes of getting a waiver of the permit fee; and imposes criminal penalties for violations.
17—The Los Angeles Superior Court announced that criminal defense attorney Alan Rubin had been elected commissioner to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Ronald Slick....A statute requiring that a police officer be notified of a disciplinary action within one year from the date the employing agency learns of the misconduct does not require that the officer be told within that time what specific discipline he faces, the state Supreme Court ruled....Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. Kimball Walker, died of a heart attack at age 83....Retired Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice F. Douglas McDaniel died at the age of 87.
18—Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Tamila Ipema was elected a commissioner of the San Diego Superior Court by that court’s judges. Ipema had been commuting between Los Angeles and San Diego, where her husband is an immigration judge.
21—The Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District found that the methodology employed by a trial court in calculating an attorney fee award of over $2 million as part of a $7 million class action settlement was not an abuse of discretion. The class action was brought against Netflix Inc. for allegedly false and misleading advertising as to how it fulfills orders for video rentals....The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentences imposed on Samuel Zamudio for killing his South Gate neighbors, 79-year-old Elmer Benson and 74-year-old Gladys Benson, in the course of a robbery.
23—The employees of a developer building low-income housing financed by tax credits are not entitled to be paid the prevailing wage because such a development is not a “public work,” the First District Court of Appeal ruled....A state law requiring an early merits showing when a plaintiff seeks punitive damages from a religious organization applies to an elder abuse claim against a religiously affiliated healthcare corporation, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....Los Angeles County Bar Association trustees voted to honor County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke with the organization’s highest honor, the Shattuck-Price Award.
24—Civil litigation attorney Robert John Chavez, son of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor E. Chavez and brother of Victoria M. Chavez, who serves as an appellate court justice for this district, died at age 46....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the piracy convictions of Lei Shi, a Chinese national who killed the captain and first mate of the ship on which he was sailing in international waters and then seized control of the vessel....The California Supreme Court overturned a $200 million punitive damage award in favor of City of Hope National Medical Center in its patent dispute with biotechnology company Genentech Inc. The justices rejected Genentech’s objections to the $300 million award of compensatory damages, but unanimously held that the parties’ agreement allowing Genentech to exploit certain intellectual property in exchange for royalties did not create a fiduciary relationship.
28—The California Supreme Court upheld five death sentences for the leader of a group responsible for several killings, kidnappings, and robberies in the San Gabriel Valley in 1991. The justices unanimously agreed that while some of the special-circumstance findings against John I. Lewis were unsupported by substantial evidence, the remaining findings and the evidence of aggravating circumstances as a whole supported the sentences imposed by since-retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Clarence Stromwall.
29—Efforts by an out-of-state university to recruit a California student-athlete to play college sports did not constitute minimum contacts sufficient to confer long-arm jurisdiction on the state’s courts in an action alleging that the university was responsible for the death of an athlete who fell from a train trestle after allegedly being assaulted by a teammate and fellow California recruit, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
30—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Wendell Mortimer Jr. retired....Orange Superior Court Judge James M. Brooks, 70, presided for the last time after agreeing to retire and to accept a public admonishment in order to resolve disciplinary charges brought by the Commission on Judicial Performance. The CJP said the judge, who had been previously disciplined for similar misconduct, belittled attorneys and litigants, violating ethics rules requiring that judges act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary; appear patient, dignified and courteous; and uphold order and decorum in proceedings....The MetNews reported that Los Angeles Superior Court judicial candidate Bill Johnson had, under the pseudonym James O. Pace, written a book in 1985 advocating the deportation of non-whites from the United States.
2—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the death sentence imposed on a Van Nuys resident for killing two men during the botched burglary of a Tarzana home in 1982. A divided panel ruled that while Scott Lynn Pinholster’s trial counsel may have conducted an inadequate investigation and failed to present available mitigating evidence in the penalty phase of the 1984 trial, a better defense would probably not have resulted in a lesser sentence.
5—Retired Citrus Municipal Court Judge Robert O. Young died of cancer at the age of 80....The California Supreme Court ordered a new penalty trial in the killing of an Eagle Rock convenience store clerk. Justice Kathryn M. Wedegar, writing for a unanimous court, said the death sentence imposed on Adam Miranda for the 1980 killing was tainted because prosecutors, who blamed Miranda for another murder during the penalty phase of his 1982 trial, failed to turn over a letter to the defense in which another man claimed he committed that crime.
6— The equitable putative spouse doctrine extends to domestic partnerships, the Fourth District Court of Appeal said. Reversing the trial court’s dismissal of a petition for dissolution of a domestic partnership, Div. Three held that a person’s reasonable good faith belief that his domestic partnership was validly registered entitles that person to the rights and responsibilities of a registered domestic partner, even if the registration never took place....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins retired.
8—The Los Angeles County Bar Association Criminal Justice Section honored Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Brandlin, Deputy District Attorney Robert Grace Jr., and Head Deputy Public Defender Stuart Glovin as the outstanding judge, prosecutor, and public defense counsel of the year, and presented Senior U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi of the Central District of California with a Career Achievement Award.... A trial judge did not abuse his discretion when he denied a defendant’s request to conduct an independent DNA test on the only remaining portion of a blood sample tying him to a murder after the defense said it would not agree in advance to disclose the result to the prosecution, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed a Compton gang member’s conviction of murdering two people in a drive-by shooting. Justice Carlos Moreno, writing for the court, rejected claims that prosecutors denied Paul Gregory Watson a fair trial by using peremptory challenges against a number of African Americans, and that now-retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Donald F. Pitts deprived Watson of a jury trial by replacing a juror who said during deliberations that he would never vote for the death penalty.
12—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Mintz, 48, died after battling lung cancer....A Nevada school district’s policy requiring students to wear uniforms does not violate the students’ First Amendment rights, a divided panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....A Santa Barbara Superior Court judge hearing the case of accused murderer Jesse James Hollywood did not abuse his discretion by allowing a prosecutor to remain on a case in which he had opened up his file to assist the maker of a motion picture, the California Supreme Court ruled. Ronald Zonen of the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office said he cooperated with the producers of “Alpha Dog” only because Hollywood was a fugitive at the time and he thought the film might spur efforts to locate and apprehend him. In two related cases, the court held that a deputy district attorney who wrote a work of fiction mirroring a real case was not barred from prosecuting that matter, and that a prosecutor did not have a conflict in arguing against release of a minor victim’s confidential psychiatric records after the victim’s father—who was the defendant’s brother—consented to the disclosure.
14—A state worker who was allegedly kissed by a state official at the site of a bikini contest in which the worker was participating was coerced into resigning her position through actions and inactions approved, orchestrated and encouraged by the employing agency, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
15—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Francis J. Hourigan III retired....The University of California Board of Regents confirmed Kevin R. Johnson as dean of the UC Davis School of Law, making him the first Latino to lead a law school in the University of California system, the school announced....A trial court did not deprive a defendant of his right to an instruction on the defense theory of the case by refusing to modify the standard jury instruction on motive in light of the defendant’s claim that he had robbed a bank in hopes of being caught, the First District Court of Appeal held....The California Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution grants same-sex couples a right to marry, and held that state legislative and initiative measures limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate same-sex couples’ state constitutional rights.
16—A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a portion of California’s Determinate Sentencing Law as violating the right to trial by jury is not retroactive, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....Slightly under 40 percent of the 4,533 applicants who took the February California bar examination passed it, the Committee of Bar Examiners reported....Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated Acting Presiding Justice Robert Mallano as presiding justice of Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal. He also nominated Los Angeles of Superior Court Judges Frank Y. Jackson and Tricia Bigelow as associate justices in Divs. Seven and Eight, respectively....Schwarzenegger appointed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Judge Elena Duarte to the Sacramento Superior Court.
19—A federal law making it a felony to carry an explosive while committing another felony applies without regard to the relationship between the explosive and the underlying crime, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. The justices overturned a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that could have resulted in a sentence reduction for “Millennium Bomber” Ahmed Ressam, serving 22 years in prison in connection with a plot to detonate explosives at Los Angeles International Airport while Americans celebrated the dawning of the 21st Century.
21— A lawsuit charging that officials of the Fresno Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church were on notice that a parish priest was molesting young boys was reinstated by this district’s Court of Appeal. In a 2-1 decision, the court held that while there is no direct evidence the officials knew of any molestations taking place at the church rectory in the Kern County community of Wasco, a triable issue exists as to whether such knowledge may be imputed to them based on the observations of a part-time parish employee.
22— A pretrial order allowing a plaintiff to seek discovery of the defendant’s finances in order to pursue a punitive damage claim is not a ruling on the merits, and thus does not preclude a party from subsequently moving to disqualify the judge under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6....The California Legislature did not intend a law against speed traps to be an absolute bar to traffic stops by officers in unmarked cars, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled....The California Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, affirmed Charles Keith Richardson’s death sentence for the murder of April Holley, an 11-year-old who was found dead in the bathtub of her family home. The court held that a Tulare Superior Court judge did not abuse his discretion by denying post-conviction DNA testing of evidence found at a murder scene because there was enough other evidence to convict the defendant and sustain the death sentence regardless of what the testing might show. Richardson was found guilty of rape, burglary, child molesting, sodomy and murder.
23—The Third District Court of Appeal ordered publication of its May 8 opinion declaring that Sacramento Superior Court Judge Peter McBrien violated the due process rights of a divorce litigant when he “essentially ran the trial on a stopwatch, curtailing the parties’ right to present evidence on all material disputed issues,” a “method of conducting a trial [that] cannot be condoned in a California courtroom.”...A company that gives workers unlimited leave for days that they are ill, pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, must allow those employees to use such leave to care for sick family members as well, the First District Court of Appeal ruled....The prosecution does not need to prove that a defendant intended to carry out his threat to kill his court-appointed lawyer for the defendant to be guilty of threatening a public official, the First District Court of Appeal held.
28— The Los Angeles County Bar Association presented its Outstanding Jurist Award to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William A. MacLaughlin.
29—A defendant who proffered evidence that the star prosecution witness had presented the trial court with a forged military document and repeatedly lied under oath about being a combat veteran was entitled to a new trial, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....The San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce has a First Amendment right to exclude members of the religious group Falun Gong from participation its Chinese New Year parade and other events, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
31—Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Gerald T. Richardson retired.
2—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Einstein died at age 83 following a months-long illness....The First District Court of Appeal ruled that a legislative cap on the number of chiropractic, physical therapy or occupational therapy visits the system will pay for violates the state Constitution’s guarantee of “full” treatment for the relief of job-related injuries....A trial court may not compel a criminal defendant presenting a diminished actuality defense to grant access to a prosecution mental health expert for purposes of a mental examination, the California Supreme Court held.
3—The Department of Motor Vehicles may not automatically suspend the driver’s licenses of individuals convicted of boating while intoxicated, this district’s Court of Appeal held....This district’s Court of Appeal threw out a claim by victims of the 2005 Metrolink train derailment in Glendale that pushing trains from one end, rather than pulling them from the other, constitutes negligence, holding that passenger equipment safety standards promulgated by the Federal Railroad Administration preempted the claim. The court, however, left alive claims that Metrolink violated other federal rules as well as the railroad’s own rules and regulations, and that it was negligent in allowing the vehicle to be on the track at the time of the derailment....A lay pastor duped a teenage girl into believing he had a “professional purpose” when he touched her sexually under the guise of trying to determine whether she had remained a virgin in accord with church teaching, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled. The justices affirmed the conviction, under Penal Code Sec. 289 (d)(4) of Mario Bautista, a now-disbarred San Jose attorney who led a small Spanish-speaking Pentecostal congregation in that city from 2001 until 2004, when he was charged with criminal offenses involving three girls....Superior Court Commissioners Patricia Nieto, James Bianco, and Harvey Silberman, and Deputy District Attorneys Kathleen Blanchard and Jared Moses were elected to open seats on the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Ralph Dau, the only incumbent to draw a challenge, won re-election, while five contests went to November runoffs.
4—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not exceed his powers when he declared a state of emergency based on prison overcrowding and directed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to contract with out-of-state institutions to house prisoners, the Third District Court of Appeal held....The Fourth Amendment does not apply to customs agents’ searches of passenger cabins on cruise ships arriving from foreign countries, this district’s Court of Appeal held....The Commission on Judicial Appointments unanimously confirmed three appointments to this district’s Court of Appeal. The panel confirmed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appointment of Justice Robert A. Mallano as presiding justice of Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal, and the appointments of Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Frank Y. Jackson and Patricia A. Bigelow as respective justices of this district’s Divs. Seven and Eight.
5—A trial court’s ruling that a dentist’s alleged inappropriate acts towards other child patients were admissible to show a common plan or design in a suit by a child who claimed the dentist choked and shoved him during a dental appointment was error, the Third District Court of Appeal held....The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a former Merced Superior Court judge for using his office to engage in fundraising for his church’s mission trips to Africa. The commission took the action against retired Merced Superior Court Judge Robert D. Quall, who since 1994 has served as the main organizer of an auction to support missions by the Merced Presbyterian Church’s to Tanzania and Kenya, for personally soliciting funds and engaging in fundraising activities for the organization while still on the bench in violation of canon 4C of the Code of Judicial Ethics.
8—California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George Friday named eight Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lee S. Edmon, Third District Court of Appeal Justice Tami Cantil-Sakauye, State Bar Board of Governors member James Penrod, Alameda Superior Court Judge Winifred Younge Smith, Orange Superior Court Commissioner Lon F. Hurwitz, Placer Superior Court Executive Officer John Mendes, and Bench-Bar Coalition Co-Chair Joel S. Miliband, an Irvine attorney, to the Judicial Council of California for three-year terms, beginning Sept. 15. Tehama Superior Court Presiding Judge Dennis E. Murray was re-appointed to the council.
9—A group of plaintiffs who signed long term cellular phone service contracts with various providers may proceed with their action alleging that early termination fees contained in the contracts are unlawful liquidated damages provisions, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
11—This district’s Court of Appeal rejected a man’s claim that the state’s sex offender registration law violates equal protection by requiring mandatory registration for engaging in oral copulation with a minor under the age of 16, but not for those who engage in sexual intercourse with minors that young. The panel, in Div. Seven, acknowledged that another panel in this district had reached the opposite conclusion earlier in the year....Self-described disabled rights activist Ron Wilson can proceed with his claim that a restaurant owner violated his civil rights when she allegedly tried to throw him out after his previous visits caused her to spend over $130,000 eliminating accessibility problems, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
12—California Chief Justice Ronald M. George named San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary E. Wiss, the incoming president of the California Judge Association, to a one-year term on the Judicial Council of California....California courts’ ongoing personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant to renew a judgment also extends to an independent action on that judgment, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled....Alleged serial sex-killer Rodney James Alcala’s single trial for five murders in Los Angeles and Orange counties may proceed in the latter county, the California Supreme Court ruled.
13—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Hoff retired.
16—Evidence establishing the likelihood of a defendant having committed a charged crime, expressed as a probability that a person selected at random from the relevant population would have a DNA profile matching the evidentiary sample taken from defendant, was admissible in a “cold hit” case, the California Supreme Court ruled....Purported notice of a tax sale did not put the property owners on actual or constructive notice of the delinquency where the notice was sent to the correct address but misnamed the owners, who reasonably believed the notice was sent to them in error, the state high court ruled.
19—The state Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Lanell Craig Harris, a onetime San Fernando High School football standout convicted of robbing and killing a man who was playing cards in a Van Nuys park. The court said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bert Glennon Jr. did not abuse his discretion in allowing a detective who drove a recalcitrant witness home from court to testify that the witness claimed to have been threatened by a relative of the defendant. Justice Carol Corrigan noted that the judge told the jury to consider the testimony only as an explanation of the witness’ state of mind when he testified....Superior Court Referee Jacqueline Honovich Lewis was named the court’s newest commissioner.
20—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a U.S. district judge’s rejection of a suit against Cable News Network and Time Warner, Inc. over a story accusing the U.S. military of using nerve gas on Vietnam War-era defectors. The panel said Michael Hagen’s appeal was untimely. Hagen, an Army sergeant at the time of “Operation Tailwind” in 1970, sought damages for the mental distress he allegedly suffered after CNN and Time magazine reported in 1998 that the U.S. military used the deadly nerve gas sarin on a Laotian village in 1970 as part of a secret mission to kill American defectors....A consumer who innocently purchased an insurance policy from a company unlicensed in California may still enforce that contract, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held.
24—A trial court erred when it ordered a former prison guard convicted of bringing marijuana to work to keep her probation officer up to date on any pets in her home, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
25—Senior Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Warren J. Ferguson died at the age of 87 after a sudden illness.
26—The California Supreme Court affirmed a San Bernardino County man’s death sentence for beating and sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl before strangling her and dumping her body in a mine pit. Ruling that Terrance Charles Page could not show that he was prejudiced by the admission of certain magazines from his vast pornography collection or testimony by a local waitress as to why she referred to him as a “pervert,” given the “overwhelming” amount of physical evidence linking him to Tahisha Clay’s 1993 death, the court unanimously concluded the admission of the evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt and upheld Page’s conviction and sentence....The Commission on Judicial Performance removed Orange Superior Court Kelly MacEachern from office, saying she engaged in willful misconduct by claiming reimbursement for attending judicial education classes that she did not, and was not authorized to, take.
27—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the U.S. government’s argument that Saddam Hussein’s 2003 fall from power negates Iraqi Christians’ fear of persecution if they return to their country....A Grass Valley man’s proclamation via block letters on his 1970 Volkswagen van that he was a terrorist carrying a weapon of mass destruction was political hyperbole protected by the First Amendment, the Ninth Circuit ruled.
30—The Los Angeles civil law firm Nossaman Guthner Knox & Elliott LLP said it had merged with O’Conner & Hannan LLP, a Washington D.C.-based firm, to form Nossaman LLP....The fact that a Mexican national was seized in that country and returned to California without formal extradition did not bar state courts from trying him or from sentencing him to death, the state Supreme Court ruled in affirming the death sentence for Ramon Salcido, convicted of six counts of first degree murder with a multiple-murder special circumstance. He was also convicted of second degree murder and two counts of premeditated attempted murder. Salcido, who worked as a forklift operator at a Sonoma County winery, admitted killing his wife, a co-worker whom he believed was having an affair with her, his two sisters-in-law, ages eight and 12, and two of his daughters, ages one and four.
1—Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge J. Stephen Czuleger said the court is cracking down on commissioners who fail to decide cases within 90 days, an action he attributed to alleged foot-dragging by former Commissioner Ann Dobbs....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Townsend retired.
2—A 2006 state Supreme Court ruling that allows judges to free defendants convicted of oral copulation of minors over the age of 16 from the sex offender registration requirement is not retroactive, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled....Pro-life advocates had a constitutional right to drive a truck displaying enlarged, graphic photographs of early-term aborted fetuses around the perimeter of a local public middle school, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled. The court partially overturned a summary judgment in favor of Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies who were sued after they detained two members of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform near a school in Rancho Palos Verdes.
3—Justice Miriam Vogel of Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal retired....A state law reviving some time-barred claims of child molestation is constitutional, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled, both on its face and as applied to a case in which the passage of time resulted in the deaths of several witnesses and the loss of documentary evidence.
6—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer retired after 36 years of judicial service.
9—An Arizona law that requires independent candidates to file their petitions by early June in order to appear on the November ballot is unconstitutional, as is a requirement that all petition circulators be qualified to vote in the state, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
10—A canvass of ballots for the contested District 7 seat on the State Bar Board of Governors showed that Los Angeles attorney James Aguirre was elected....A Riverside Superior Court judge did not err in allowing the jury in a capital murder trial to view a brief excerpt of a television program that the defendant told police accurately depicted his crime, the state Supreme Court ruled. Justices unanimously affirmed the death sentence for Billy Ray Riggs, a former resident of Inglewood convicted of killing a Van Nuys woman who was abducted on Interstate 10 while on her way back to California from visiting friends in Arizona....A retired Los Angeles Superior Court judge had a duty to disclose his censure for making offensive comments about women based on their physical attributes before arbitrating a medical malpractice claim centering on a woman’s appearance, this district’s Court of Appeal held. In an opinion by Justice Sandy Kriegler, Div. Five held 2-1 that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan Goodman correctly vacated an arbitration award in favor of a cosmetic surgeon in which former Judge Norman Gordon cast the deciding vote because the censure could have caused a person to reasonably entertain a doubt that Gordon would be able to be impartial.
11— A daughter of the man who created Lassie is entitled to reclaim the copyright, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Seventy years after Eric Knight penned his tale about a devoted collie who struggled to find her way home to the little boy who loved her, the panel unaimously held that the Copyright Act’s termination of transfer right could not be extinguished by Winifred Knight Mewborn’s post-1978 re-grant of the very rights she had assigned in 1976, reversing the district court’s contrary conclusion....An Arizona school official violated the Fourth Amendment when he ordered the strip search of a 13-year-old middle school student suspected of possessing prescription-strength Ibuprofen, an en banc panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.... Holly Fujie, 52, of Los Angeles, was elected as the 84th President of the State Bar of California by a majority vote of the Board of Governors.
14—The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death sentence for a Los Angeles man who was 19 years old when he murdered two men in separate incidents hours apart in 1994. Justice Joyce L. Kennard, writing for the high court, said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Horan—who called the defendant a “predator”— properly weighed aggravating and mitigating factors when he adopted the jury’s death penalty verdict in the case of Gerardo Romero. Romero was convicted of killing Eugene Afable, 17, felled by a single bullet fired to the back of his head as he was watching videos at a video store at the intersection of Temple St. and Rampart Blvd. on the night of Oct. 9, 1994, and Reynaldo Hau, killed about three hours later while sitting in his brother-in-law’s car, parked in the driveway of a residence on Bonnie Brae St., where he, his brother-in-law, and three other men were visiting....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury’s award of $5 million each to three former LAPD officers who claimed they were wrongfully prosecuted in connection with the Rampart scandal. Paul Harper, Brian Liddy and Edward Ortiz were charged with conspiracy and perjury in 2000 after former officer Rafael Perez—who revealed widespread corruption in the LAPD’s anti-gang CRASH unit as part of a plea bargain on drug charges—accused the three of planting a firearm on a suspect in 1996, and then filing false reports to cover it up, but all three were acquitted on all charges.
15—Los Angeles Superior Court Judges S. Patricia Spear and Charles Lee retired.
16— A no-contest clause in a trust instrument will not be applied to trust amendments in the absence of specific language to that effect, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held.
17— An Alameda County man charged with assaulting his mother with a knife was entitled to a new trial because the prosecutor at his criminal trial struck six African-American jury venire members on the basis of race, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held....The California Supreme Court overturned approvals by two state agencies of plans for future timber harvesting in the Headwaters Forest on the North Coast of the state.
18—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the conclusion of an immigration judge—who openly accused the court of failing to follow U.S. Supreme Court precedent—that an Ethiopian woman seeking asylum who alleged torture by her government lacked credibility....The Ninth Circuit affirmed the conviction of a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy on charges he sexually assaulted three women while on duty in 2002 and 2003. The panel rejected claims by Gabriel Gonzalez, who is serving a 30-year sentence for the crimes, that the conviction was tainted by improper hearsay and other inadmissible testimony....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David M. Horwitz retired.
21—Where a defendant commits a robbery by displaying an object that looks like a gun, the object’s appearance and the defendant’s conduct and words in using it may constitute sufficient circumstantial evidence to support a finding that it was a firearm as a matter of law the Third District Court of Appeal held....A juror committed misconduct when she applauded the plaintiff’s counsel during closing argument, but it was not prejudicial, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. Concluding that the clapping—which began after the attorney told the jury on rebuttal that it could reject the entire testimony of a witness if it determined any part had been willfully false—did not, by itself, indicate the juror had unfairly pre-judged witnesses’ credibility, and that no evidence suggested it impacted the jury’s deliberations, Div. Six held that San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Roger Picquet did not err when he declined to excuse the juror....The California Supreme Court took a strict view of mediation confidentiality, unanimously ruling that statements made during the process could not be used to bind a party to a settlement agreement she did not sign.
22—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Duggan retired.
23—Poverty alone—even when it results in homelessness or less than ideal housing arrangements—is not a sufficient ground to deprive a mother of parental rights to her children, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
24— The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a man who shot and killed a Shasta County sheriff’s deputy with the officer’s own gun. Justice Marvin Baxter, writing for a unanimous court, rejected arguments that Hispanics were discriminated against in jury selection at the trial of Tomas Verano Cruz for the murder of Ken Perrigo. The handcuffed Cruz, according to testimony, was able to obtain a pistol Perrigo had in a fanny pack under the front seat of his patrol car and shot the officer in the back of the head as he drove....Appellate courts evaluating whether a prosecutor’s stated reasons for peremptorily challenging a prospective juror are truth or pretext must conduct a comparative juror analysis, even if one was not conducted below, the California Supreme Court held.
28—The California Supreme Court reversed a Riverside man’s sentence of death based on the erroneous excusal of the sole juror holding out for a life sentence during the penalty phase deliberations. The state high court affirmed Lester Wilson’s convictions for murder and rape, with special circumstances, but reversed the penalty judgment, holding that the trial court had erred, as a matter of state law, in excusing the holdout juror based on the juror’s stated position that he had decided not to vote for death penalty because his understanding of African American family dynamics led him to believe Wilson grew up in a dysfunctional family and this mitigating factor sufficiently outweighed the aggravating evidence.
29—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Xenophon F. Lang Jr. retired.
31—Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Michael R. Hoff and Jack Hunt retired.
4—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Leon Kaplan retired after almost 27 years on the bench....A defense attorney did not act unethically when he attempted to speak about a case with the plaintiff who was her own counsel of record in pro per, but who had retained an attorney to assist her, this district’s Court of Appeal held....Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Kevil Martin retired.
5—This district’s Court of Appeal rejected challenges by Encino attorney Mervyn H. Wolf to the State Bar’s finding that he improperly withheld trust funds from one former client, and to a judgment that he committed malpractice against another. One panel of Div. Two held in an unpublished opinion that substantial evidence supported the State Bar Client Security Fund Commission’s findings against Wolf, and that the commission afforded him due process when it served him at his State Bar membership address of record. A panel sharing two of the same justices held in an unpublished opinion that Wolf’s purported trouble focusing on personal matters in the two months leading up his July 10, 2006 placement on involuntary inactive status did not excuse his earlier failure to respond to a malpractice action. The panel also held that his failure to provide an adequate record waived his challenge to damages awarded under a subsequent default judgment.
6—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that disparate residence requirements for unwed male and female citizens over the age of 14 who seek to transmit citizenship to a child born abroad to a non-citizen do not violate the Equal Protection Clause.
7—An employee’s agreement not to compete with a former employer is invalid unless a statutory exception applies, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled. The court, however, divided on the issue of whether an agreement requiring an employee to terminate his noncompetition agreement and waive “any and all claims” against his former employer as a condition of employment with a new employer was void, with a majority upholding the agreement.
8—The State Bar announced the winners of this year’s President’s Pro Bono Service Awards, including the Los Angeles offices of Howrey LLP, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, and Morrison & Foerster LLP for donating the services of 11 attorneys for nearly 1,000 hours to defend four HIV-positive detainees being held at the federal San Pedro Detention Center on Terminal Island for immigration or asylum proceedings and ensure the detainees received the medical care they needed....The Department of Veterans Affairs did not violate the First Amendment rights of California Democrats when it refused to allow them to register voters at one of its facilities, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Rejecting a challenge to the department’s application of a federal regulation prohibiting “partisan activity” at its facilities, the court held the department acted within the Constitution because the hospital was not a public forum, the regulation did not target specific viewpoints, and the VA had reasonable concerns about disruption of patient care and appearance of partisan affiliation....California law permits parents to school their children at home, but also permits a juvenile court to order that dependent children be placed in a public or traditional private school over parental objection, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Three, on rehearing of a much-criticized Feb. 28 ruling, said that home-schooling parents may comply with the state’s compulsory education law by filing the affidavit required of all private schools, setting forth such basic information as the names of the teachers and their qualifications.
11—Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Martin Wegman retired after 19 years of service....A probation condition prohibiting a minor citizen from entering the United States was both unreasonable and unconstitutional, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held....A defendant whose jury deadlocks in the penalty phase of a capital murder trial may waive the use of a jury for the retrial, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled. The justices affirmed the death sentence of Jackie Ray Hovarter, convicted of killing a young woman, Danna Walsh, who was abducted, raped, and strangled. Her body was found under the Scotia Bridge, about 30 miles south of Eureka in Humboldt County, in August 1984....An attorney’s alleged misconduct towards clients did not require disgorgement of fees that were reasonable in light of the result obtained, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo sued Controller Laura Chick, seeking to enjoin her from conducting a performance audit of programs within his office....A worker who was fired for excessive absenteeism may be entitled to damages under the state’s medical leave law, even though he did not specifically request such leave, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
12—A man’s alleged admissions to elders of his church that he raped a member of a fellow Jehovah’s Witness congregation, who was present when the statements were made, are not protected by clergy-penitent privilege, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled. Directing the Santa Clara Superior Court to vacate its ruling that the elders could not be compelled to testify in an action regarding custody of a child born to the man and woman after the alleged rape, the court held that the woman was a “third party” whose presence during the group meetings eliminated the expectation of confidentiality necessary for the man to claim the privilege, even though his faith required her presence in order for him to receive spiritual guidance. `
14—The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a Riverside man convicted of robbing and murdering his neighbor, rejecting the claim that his rights were violated when the trial court replaced his court-appointed lawyer over his objection. Justice Joyce L. Kennard, writing for a unanimous court, said Riverside Superior Court Judge J. Thompson Hanks acted reasonably in appointing private counsel to represent John Mungia after the deputy public defender handling the case suffered a heart attack and the Public Defender’s Office indicated it might be a year before another lawyer could try the case.
15—The Judicial Council of California selected Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley and retired Placer Superior Court Judge Richard Couzens to receive its 2008 Jurist of the Year award for their work leading a team of judges to help ease a heavy backlog of criminal cases in the Riverside Superior Court.
18—A passenger whose name appears on the No-Fly List and who is detained at an airport may sue in U.S. district court, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held....Guarantees of free speech and religious freedom in the state and federal constitutions do not permit doctors to refuse to artificially inseminate a patient because she is a lesbian, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled.
20—A lone sale to a California buyer via Internet auction website eBay does not give rise to sufficient “minimum contacts” supporting personal jurisdiction over a nonresident seller in California courts, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deanne Smith Myers died of cancer at the age of 64....Retired Los Angeles Municipal Court Commissioner D. Joseph Spada died at age 87.
21—The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California named Ninth Circuit Deputy Executive Terry Nafisi as clerk of court and district executive, effective Sept. 29....The State Bar of California announced the selection of Los Angeles appellate attorney Richard Rothschild, director of litigation for the Western Center on Law and Poverty, to receive the Loren Miller Legal Services Award, the association’s highest award for service to the public....The California Supreme Court upheld a ruling by this district’s Court of Appeal freeing a convicted murderer who served more than 23 years in prison for killing her lover’s wife. In a 4-3 decision, the high court said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lacked evidence to support his conclusion that Sandra Davis Lawrence, 60, should remain incarcerated because “her release from prison would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society.” In a companion case, the court unanimously upheld the governor’s denial of parole to Richard Shaputis, convicted of second-degree murder in 1987 after shooting his wife and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. While Shaputis is 71 years of age and in poor health, Chief Justice Ronald George wrote, his history of domestic violence prior to the murder and his failure to take responsibility afterward support the governor’s conclusion that he remains a danger to society....Los Angeles Superior Court probate clearing attorney Robert S. Wada and Referee Steven Berman were elected as the court’s newest commissioners.
24—Two plaintiffs’ attorneys’ failure to disclose their fee-splitting arrangement when they moved to approve a class action settlement precluded one from later enforcing it against the other, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
25—A medical prescription held by a registered pharmacist to whom it was presented is a privileged communication under the physician-patient privilege, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled....The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a man who killed his mother and the mother of his child on Mother’s Day 1995 at Universal Studios CityWalk. In a 5-2 decision, the justices affirmed the death sentence for Paul Carasi, rejecting contentions that Carasi, who was convicted along with his then-girlfriend Donna Lee, should have received a separate penalty trial in order to avoid the alleged tendency of jurors to punish men more severely than women for the same crimes.
27—An Orange County man’s will placing the bulk of his $3 million estate under the control of his friend who drafted the will is exempt from state law prohibiting such transfers because the man executed the will out of state before gaining California residency, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held.
28—A pregnancy without medical complications that results from unlawful, but not forcible, sexual conduct with a minor may support a finding of great bodily injury, the California Supreme Court held. The court unanimously affirmed Gary Cross’ 15-year-to-life sentence based on a jury’s finding that he had personally inflicted great bodily harm on his 13-year-old stepdaughter who became pregnant by him and underwent an abortion with his assistance....The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death sentence for a former Tustin resident who killed a Vietnamese American on the Tustin High School campus, a murder found by the jury to be in part motivated by hatred of non-whites. In upholding the death sentence for Gunner Jay Lindberg, the court said there was ample evidence to prove that the death of Thien Minh Ly was a hate crime, and also that it occurred during the attempted commission of a robbery.
29—Ventura attorney Michael Tenenbaum was confirmed as eligible to represent District 6 on the State Bar Board of Governors, seven weeks after winning election. While the ballots in that election were canvassed July 10, certification of the results was delayed because of what officials said were questions about where the winner actually practiced law.
3—A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered changes to a Superior Court candidate’s ballot pamphlet statement, although not all of the changes her opponent asked for. Judge James Chalfant held that Referee Cynthia Loo cannot say that the juvenile delinquency proceedings she presides over are “criminal trials,” but may refer to them as “criminal juvenile adjudications.” The judge also ruled that Loo’s opponent, Deputy District Attorney Thomas Rubinson, failed to debunk her claim that she has presided over “nearly one thousand” such sessions.
4—A provision requiring the approval of both trustors in order to revoke a trust will not be presumed exclusive, even if the parties are married, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Rejecting objections by the widow of prominent tort litigator Edward Masry that the ruling will allow spouses to take advantage of one another, Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert wrote for Div. Six that the governing statute is clear and that the Legislature can amend it if it chooses.
5—The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished San Diego Superior Court Judge Lisa Schall over her conviction stemming from a 2007 arrest for drunk driving. The jurist, who had twice previously been admonished by the commission, pled guilty to a reduced charge of alcohol-related reckless driving.
8—This district’s Court of Appeal upheld a juvenile court finding that a minor possessed “metal knuckles,” based on a police officer’s testimony that gang members often use bicycle footrests, similar to the one he found in the minor’s pocket, as weapons....An asylum-seeker’s general aversion to criminal street gangs in El Salvador did not constitute a protected political opinion for purposes of asylum and withholding of removal, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held....This district’s Court of Appeal rejected a constitutional challenge to a West Hollywood ordinance banning “mobile billboard advertising” by a nonprofit group seeking to broadcast graphic images of animal abuse on large video screens mounted on a truck.
10—Judge Lee Smalley Edmon was elected assistant presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court for 2009, making her the first woman ever chosen for the post. She and the current assistant presiding judge, Charles “Tim” McCoy, who will be the new presiding judge, were both elected without opposition.
11—An attorney’s suit alleging his family members and their counsel stole documents from his office to use against him in a pending action was not a strategic lawsuit against public participation, this district’s Court of Appeal held. Holding that San Pedro attorney Fred J. DiBernardo’s claims stemmed from the method of procuring the documents rather than any protected activity, and that the contents were therefore irrelevant, even if relevant to other litigation, Div. Eight, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed a trial court’s order denying an anti-SLAPP motion by DiBernardo’s sister, Rose DeLuca, her three daughters and their attorney, Michael Leight of Long Beach.
15—A police officer who posed as a prospective home buyer so a real estate agent would allow him to enter a home listed for sale did not violate the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled....The Third District Court of Appeal reinstated a challenge to a state law that gives in-state college tuition to aliens who are in the country illegally if they attended California high schools....Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Coleman Swart, Alexander Williams III, and Suzanne Person retired.
16—Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Ken Lamb, a veteran prosecutor who tried more than 600 felony jury trials in his 25-year tenure with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, died of cancer at 55.
17—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of an Arizona law requiring employers to verify the employment status of their workers and penalizing those who knowingly hire illegal aliens.
21—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Julius M. Title died at the age of 93.
23—A plaintiff may avoid court-ordered contractual arbitration by dismissing the action before arbitration begins, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
24—Veteran Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender Paul Nichols died in an apparent suicide. Witnesses said that Nichols jumped in front of a Metrolink train shortly after it pulled away from the Sylmar/San Fernando station shortly after 9 a.m. A source said Nichols had been despondent in recent months due to his girlfriend’s death from a drug overdose.
25—The state constitutional requirement that an initiative, including a local measure, embrace only one subject does not apply to a charter amendment submitted directly to voters by a city council, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled....A woman who pled no contest to criminal charges after her previous convictions arising from the same incident were reversed for ineffective assistance of counsel was barred from suing her trial attorney for malpractice, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
26—Evidence seized in a warrantless search of a defendant’s military living quarters is admissible if the search was conducted in accordance with military law requiring probable cause and the base commander’s authorization, the First District Court of Appeal ruled....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed former Ukrainian Prime Mister Pavel Lazarenko’s convictions on charges that he laundered money through American banks, but reversed his convictions of wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property and remanded for resentencing....The governor vetoed SB 1589, by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, which would have barred prosecutors from using the uncorroborated testimony of in-custody informants. The governor said that adequate safeguards already exist to avoid the abuse of such testimony.
29—The Fourth District Court of Appeal granted the Orange County Register’s request to vacate an order barring it from reporting on trial testimony in a $100 million wage-and-hour class action against the newspaper by its carriers.
30—This district’s Court of Appeal upheld a six-figure award against Los Angeles attorney Eddie B. Jamison for legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and financial abuse of an elder....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp retired.
2—LaJetta Wright, a Long Beach attorney, pled not guilty to embezzling charged with embezzling over $26,000 from the Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Los Angeles during her term as treasurer for the organization in 2004....Public Health Service doctors who willfully fail to render appropriate diagnosis and treatment may be sued in a constitutional tort action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
7—A factual question that is preliminary or predicate to arbitration can be decided by a trial court in the proceedings on a petition to compel arbitration, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
8—The Attorney General may decide by adjudication that an alien’s individual crime was “particularly serious,” even though that crime was not classified as an aggravated felony, for purposes of asylum and withholding removal, a divided panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held.
10—The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a $300,000 damage award and an award of more than $400,000 in attorney fees against a public school district in San Diego County for failing to adequately respond to the harassment of two gay students by their peers....Los Angeles County’s payment of benefits to Los Angeles Superior Court judges, over and above those given all superior court judges under state law, violates the California Constitution, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
14—State laws funding domestic violence programs that offer services only to women and their children, but not to men, are unconstitutional, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.
17—State law precluding the installation of worn tires on a vehicle does not apply to dealers and retail sellers who merely rotate them, this district’s Court of Appeal held.
21—An Orange Superior Court judge did not deprive a now-disbarred Brea lawyer of his right to counsel by allowing him to represent himself, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. Div. Three affirmed the conviction of Harpreet Singh Brar on charges of willful failure to file tax returns on behalf of himself and his professional corporation. Judge Richard W. Stanford Jr. sentenced Brar last year to five years’ probation, on condition he serve 365 days in jail and pay more than $800,000 in restitution....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a hearing on whether famed movie director John McTiernan can withdraw his guilty plea to an information charging him with making false statements to a federal agent. The court vacated McTiernan’s conviction and four-month prison sentence, ruling that a reasonable person in McTiernan’s position would not have pled guilty if he had been properly advised by counsel as to the possibility of suppressing the evidence incriminating him in the Anthony Pellicano wire-tapping scandal....The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church in its struggle with a San Diego County congregation that sought to leave the church over theological differences and affiliate with an Anglican church in Africa.
22—Federal immigration law does not preempt California’s requirement that police notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they have reason to believe a person arrested for certain drug offenses may not be a U.S. citizen, the First District Court of Appeal held.
23—The seizure of child pornography and other evidence of an elderly man’s involvement in sex tourism from a FedEx shipping facility was valid as the equivalent of a border search, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
27—Police officers violated the Fourth Amendment when they entered a mentally disordered man’s home to confiscate his gun after taking him into custody outside for posing a danger to others, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled....The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished retired San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Paul M. Bryant Jr. for failing to display the proper judicial demeanor with individuals he dealt with in an official capacity.
29—This district’s Court of Appeal reversed a $1.5 million verdict in favor of a former Los Angeles deputy city attorney who was discharged after angrily suggesting to a clerk that then-Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner (now Judge) Joseph Biderman “would have to answer to the Creator” for a judicial ruling which she opposed. Div. Five ruled that the uncontroverted evidence of this hostile language directed at Biderman was a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason to discharge Lynn Magnandonovan, and that her pretext evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support a reasonable inference of intentional retaliation.
30—The California Supreme Court ordered the City of West Hollywood to rescind its approval of a low-income housing development project due to violations of the California Environmental Quality Act. Affirming a ruling by Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal, the high court unanimously ruled that the city’s conditional agreement to sell land to developers, coupled with its statements in support of the project and financial support, indicated that the city had approved the development as a practical matter prior to conducting environmental impact review. The land, located at 1343 Laurel Avenue, had been donated to the city by its longtime owner, Elsie Weisman. It is occupied by a large colonial-revival style house construed in 1923; the property acquired the nickname “Tara,” after the famed plantation in “Gone With the Wind.”...A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner erred in ruling that an inherent conflict prevented Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles from representing a dependent child whose mother is a former CLC client, the California Supreme Court ruled.
31—La Canada attorney Walter Loustari was arrested without incident at his law office on a felony complaint charging him with possessing child pornography and an assault weapon....A California Medical Facility inmate claiming that his illness was aggravated because prison dieticians failed to provide the special diet that prison doctors said he needed was denied meaningful access to the trial court, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.
3—The MetNews announced that it would honor Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge-Elect Charles W. McCoy and Assistant Presiding Judge Lee S. Edmon as its Persons of the Year.
4—The strict products liability doctrine does not apply to institutions that finance others’ equipment purchases through leases, the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled....Deputy District Attorneys Hilleri Grossman Merrit, Thomas Rubinson, Pat Connolly, Michael J. O’Gara, and Michael V. Jesic won election to judgeships on the Los Angeles Superior Court.
5—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named former Los Angeles Mayor James. K. Hahn; Superior Court Commissioners Amy M. Pellman, Ronald H. Rose and B. Scott Silverman; Administrative Law Judge Michael D. Abzug; Deputy District Attorneys David C. Brougham, Debra Cole-Hall, Karla D. Kerlin, Bernie C. LaForteza, Ricardo R. Ocampo and Benny C. Osorio; Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Young; Deputy Public Defender Ray A. Santana; Deputy Alternate Public Defender Jon R. Takasugi; and attorneys Teresa A. Beaudet, Carlton Seaver and Robert C. Vanderet to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
6—The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished Orange Superior Court Judge John M. Watson for expressing irritation with the fact that a case he considered “a waste of time” had gone to trial and making numerous comments during the trial that the commission found to be demeaning. It was the fifth time that Watson, who is retiring in March, had drawn discipline from the commission....Original vehicle equipment that has not been altered cannot be classified as a “false compartment” under a state law making it a crime to possess such a compartment with intent to conceal or transport illicit drugs, the state Supreme Court ruled.
7—A drug manufacturer may be liable for negligent misrepresentation even though it would not be liable in strict products liability because it did not manufacture or sell the product which harmed the consumer, the First District Court of Appeal held.
12—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the copyright infringement claims by the widow of the original “Gone in 60 Seconds” star, H.B. “Toby” Halicki, over unauthorized replicas of the Ford Mustang known as “Eleanor” which appeared in the 2000 remake of the film....The U.S. Supreme Court overturned restrictions imposed by U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of the Central District of California on the Navy’s use of sonar in training exercises off the California coast. The ruling was a defeat for environmental groups who say the sonar can harm whales and other marine mammals. “We do not discount the importance of plaintiffs’ ecological, scientific, and recreational interests in marine mammals,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. “Those interests, however, are plainly outweighed by the Navy’s need to conduct realistic training exercises to ensure that it is able to neutralize the threat posed by enemy submarines.”...Justice Thomas A. Harris of the Fifth District Court of Appeal died
13—Plaintiffs who renew their judgments under the statutory procedure are entitled to compound interest, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
14—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders told the MetNews he intends to retire from the court by the end of next year, or sooner if a Court of Appeal decision striking down benefits paid to judges by the county is implemented.
17—Trial courts have no inherent authority to grant discovery of grand jury materials for use in a lawsuit, the state Supreme Court ruled. Reversing Div. Three of this district’s Court of Appeal, the justices said Thomas Goldstein, who is suing former county officials for false imprisonment, can only obtain grand jury transcripts related to his case if they show that witnesses gave conflicting testimony at trial.
18—The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished the assistant presiding judge of the San Francisco Superior Court for improperly advancing trial dates and substituting counsel. The CJP found that Judge James McBride, 57, had engaged in improper conduct while presiding over the master criminal calendar in several cases in late 2006 and early 2007.
19—An order requiring a defendant to register as a sex offender subject to Jessica’s Law’s restriction on residency within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children gather must be based on facts found by a jury, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
20—A sheriff’s spokesperson confirmed that retired Pasadena Municipal Court Judge Elvira Mitchell had been found dead in her home. She was 70....A prevailing party seeking an award of attorney fees under the “private attorney general” statute, Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1021.5, need not necessarily show it made adequate efforts to resolve the dispute short of litigation, the state Supreme Court ruled. An earlier decision suggesting such a requirement only applies to “catalyst” cases, where the party seeking fees claims that although it did not obtain judgment in its favor, it forced the opposing party to change its behavior by litigating, Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar explained for the court....Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas C. Yager died at age 90.
21—The pass rate for the July 2008 general State Bar examination was 61.7 percent, the highest since 2001, the State Bar announced.
24—Evidence obtained by searching a vehicle after arresting a passenger pursuant to a valid warrant was admissible against the passenger even though the underlying traffic stop that led to discovery of the warrant was illegal, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled... A medical marijuana supplier must have provided patrons some previous, other form of caregiving in order to qualify as a “primary caregiver” immune from prosecution for growing or possessing the drug for sale, the California Supreme Court held.
30—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Francis Gately retired.
1—A man who sold marijuana from a Hollywood facility he called a church did not have a constitutional right to sell or possess the drug, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Six affirmed Craig X. Rubin’s conviction on charges of selling marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel placed Rubin on probation on condition that he serve 90 days in jail.
2—The Fifth District Court of Appeal rejected a general contractor’s attempt to set aside an award by an arbitrator who did not disclose that his law firm previously represented a debtor whose bankruptcy proceedings led to substantial, ongoing litigation against the contractor. Opining that proposed neutrals who have previously represented a third party with an adversarial relationship to a party to arbitration need only disclose matters that could cause a reasonable person to doubt their ability to be impartial, and noting that the firm had withdrawn as counsel before the litigation began, and a year and a half before the arbitrator’s appointment, the court ruled that substantial evidence supported a finding that disclosure was not required....The First District Court of Appeal imposed $6,000 in sanctions against a San Francisco lawyer for failing to timely notify the court that a settlement agreement had been reached in the underlying dispute.
4—Court officials announced that attorneys Michael Pearce and Lloyd Loomis were elected Los Angeles Superior Court commissioners by the court’s judges.
5—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday overturned a ruling that would have required a major movie theater chain to retrofit auditoriums at 96 multiplexes containing nearly 2,000 auditoria around the country to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. A three-judge panel unanimously agreed that U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper abused her discretion by ordering AMC Entertainment, Inc. to modify multiplexes that were designed or built before the government gave “fair notice” of what it believed was required so that disabled patrons could watch films in facilities with stadium-style seating....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rodney Forneret retired.
8—Two men exonerated of murder after 13 years in prison can proceed with a civil rights action alleging two San Francisco Police Department homicide inspectors withheld exculpatory evidence and manufactured and presented perjured testimony, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
11—A 77-year-old prisoner, convicted of the 1989 murder of his ex-wife, must be released on parole because there is no evidence that he represents a current threat to public safety, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Three granted a writ of habeas corpus to Zenaido Aguilar, who was arrested in 1989 and convicted of second degree murder in 1991. ...The fact that a motor vehicle has temporary plates, which an officer believes might be forged or otherwise invalid, is insufficient to justify a traffic stop, the California Supreme Court ruled.
12—Loyola Law School named Victor J. Gold as the school’s 16th dean....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned as facially unconstitutional a City of Seattle ordinance granting the chief of police wide discretion when issuing parade permits to require marchers to use sidewalks instead of city streets....Tuition and fees for religious day schools are not deductible for federal income tax purposes, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maurice R. Hogan Jr. died at the age of 84.
15—The “public interest” exception to the anti-SLAPP statute only applies if an action is brought solely for the public good, by plaintiffs whose personal stake in the outcome is no greater than the general public’s, the state Supreme Court ruled.
16—The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished Alameda Superior Court Judge Christine K. Moruza for making comments from the bench and in chambers which demonstrated a lack of patience and bias, undermined the justice system, or were inappropriately personal.
19—The First District Court of Appeal reinstated a former Sonoma Superior Court commissioner’s suit charging the court with age discrimination. Div. Four said that discretionary function immunity does not apply to the selection of commissioners, and that Theodore DeJung had presented sufficient evidence to avoid summary judgment on his claim that he was replaced because the court had stronger candidates for the job....The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Magnet School program and a separate voluntary desegregation program are exempt from Proposition 209’s ban on racial preferences in education, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. Div. Five upheld Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Gutman’s conclusion that the programs grow out of a 1981 Superior Court desegregation order and are thus explicitly exempt from Proposition 209....The U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision clarifying the right to bear arms did not invalidate state laws against carrying a concealed weapon or a loaded firearm in a public place, or those prohibiting possession of firearms by felons, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
23—The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy cannot rely on the marital communications privilege to exclude evidence that she knew and failed to report that her husband—also a deputy—was stealing and using methamphetamine.
29—Sen. Dianne Feinstein named State Bar President Holly J. Fujie to chair a committee that will screen potential federal judicial nominees in the Central District of California.
31—Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Candace Cooper of this district’s Div. Eight and First District Court of Appeal Justice Douglas E. Swager are retiring.
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