Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, December 31, 2001


Page 7





California’s Longest Serving Justice, Stanley Mosk, Dies at 88...Carlos Moreno Becomes Davis’ First Supreme Court Pick...CJP Orders Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Patrick Murphy, Patrick Couwenberg Off Bench



2—Dirt bikers, dune buggy drivers, and other “off-roaders” assume the risk of injury in their sport and may not recover for personal injuries they sustain, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.

3—The Los Angeles Superior Court announced that Charlie Coleman, a filing window document examiner, would be honored as its outstanding employee of 2000.

5—A political candidate’s suit against persons who made illegal contributions to an opponent’s campaign is not a strategic lawsuit against public participation, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

8—A Los Angeles city program to fight slum housing by charging a $1 monthly inspection fee on apartment units doesn’t require a public vote under Proposition 218, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision. The impost is an incident of the business of rental, not of property ownership, Justice Stanley Mosk wrote...Four new judges, all elected in 2000, were sworn in as members of the Los Angeles Superior Court—Patricia Titus, to succeed Judge Kenneth Vassie; Katherine Mader, to succeed Judge Richard Montes; David Mintz, to succeed Judge L.C. Nunley; and Christopher Estes, to succeed Judge William Seelicke.

9—A father who allowed his children to live in the United States with his wife and go to school here did not give up his right to seek custody in his own country after his spouse decided to divorce him and stay here permanently, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in construing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of international Child Abduction. 13—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Los Angeles County’s claim of good-faith immunity in a suit charging that inmates were deprived of their constitutional rights when jailers—who said they needed the time to check for other holds—detained them after they had been ordered release or completed their sentences.

18—Rejecting the common-law “rule of consistency,” the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a defendant may be convicted of conspiracy even if all alleged coconspirators are acquitted....The statutes governing appointment of the public defender do not permit a judge to order the public defender to serve as standby counsel for a pro per defendant, the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled.

19—An alien’s fear that supporters of a politician in his home country will beat him because he reported that the politician had committed a crime is not fear of political persecution under the asylum statute, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

22—A trial court’s ruling that the prosecution’s efforts to locate a missing witness were sufficiently diligent to justify a finding of unavailability is reviewed de novo, not merely for abuse of discretion, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled.

24—Federal law does not allow public housing officials to evict tenants who did not know that their guests possessed illegal drugs, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 7-4 en banc decision.

26—Burt Pines, former Los Angeles city attorney and currently judicial appointments secretary to Gov. Gray Davis, was honored by the MetNews as 2000 Person of the Year....This district’s Court of Appeal affirmed a $33.5 million wrongful-death judgment against O.J. Simpson in the killing of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

29—Mark B. Simons, formerly a Contra Costa Superior Court judge, was confirmed and sworn in as a member of the First District Court of Appeal, Div. Five, succeeding retired Justice Zerne Haning.

30—An ethical rule requiring that agreements to share attorney fees be in writing and approved in writing by the client does not apply when the lawyer with whom the attorney-client relationship was formed hires the second lawyer to work under the first lawyer’s supervision, as distinguished from a “pure referral,” this district’s Court of Appeal ruled...A California Supreme Court ruling barring a district attorney’s office from having its prosecution of a case funded by the alleged victim does not preclude funding of a prosecution by another public agency, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled in approving a program in which a public housing agency shares the costs of prosecuting housing violations.

31—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Trammell III was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for mail fraud. Trammell earlier pled guilty to using the mails in a corrupt scheme to cover up a sexual relationship with a woman who had been a defendant in a case before him. The woman claimed that she had sex with the judge because he said she had to “pay the price” if she wanted lenient treatment for her co-defendants in the case, one of whom was her ex-husband.


1—Insurance companies which write standard comprehensive general liability policies do not have to pay their clients’ environmental cleanup costs ordered by regulatory agencies, the California Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision...Gov. Gray Davis named Barry P. Goode, a partner in the San Francisco firm of McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, as his secretary of legal affairs, succeeding Demetrious Boutris, who was earlier named corporations commissioner.

4California’s oldest practicing lawyer, Robert McManigal of South Pasadena, turned 100 years of age.

5—A $1 million judgment for mobile home park owners who alleged Byzantine and arbitrary rent control ordinances violated their due process rights was overturned in a 5-2 decision by the state Supreme Court. The justices left open the question of whether the Central California city of Clovis infringed on the rights of the park owners, saying instead that the trial court failed to use the proper standard for gauging constitutional injury.

6—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Simpson is under investigation by the Commission on Judicial Performance for alleged attempts to fix tickets and bizarre conduct, it was learned...The First District Court of Appeal upheld the state’s ban on dissemination of e-mail messages to prisoners at high-security Pelican Bay State Prison...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Schneider retired.

7—Four defendants convicted in a drug conspiracy involving former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darryl Henley may be entitled to a new trial if they can prove that a juror made racist remarks, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Henley, serving 41 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy and in a plot to kill a federal judge, was not a party to the appeal.

8—The Kings County trial courts unified into a single, countywide superior court, marking the demise of the state’s municipal courts under Proposition 220.

9—Justice Richard Neal retired from Div. Seven of this district’s Court of Appeal to become a private judge.

12—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Theodore Kaczynski a new trial in the “Unabomber” case, saying he was not coerced into pleading guilty to three fatal mail bombings...The Ninth Circuit ruled that Napster, Inc. had knowingly allowed users of its computer-file-swapping service to share copyrighted recordings. The panel ruled, however, that an injunction requiring Napster to take steps to prevent further such usage was overbroad.

15—The city of Pasco, Wash violated the First Amendment rights of artists by banning their work—which was not obscene or pornographic—from city hall after the city had originally solicited it, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled....Riverside attorney Michael Molloy was sentenced to 16 years in prison for looting conservatorships. Molloy’s ex-client, professional conservator Bonnie Cambalik, was previously sentenced to 26 years in the same case. Molloy resigned from the State Bar rather than face disbarment.

16—A convicted defendant whose lawyer improperly struck jurors on the basis of race is entitled to a new trial, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Kalustian dismissed ex-lawyer Thomas Hunt’s malicious prosecution suit against Howard Bennett. Hunt—who resigned from the State Bar with disciplinary charges pending in 1993—claimed that Bennett, a former client who organized a group of disgruntled ex-clients alleging that Hunt took their money but did no work on their cases, had encouraged prosecutors to file faulty theft charges against Hunt, but Kalustian ruled that the district attorney had charged Hunt on the basis of an independent investigation.

20—Retired Whittier Municipal Court Judge Alfonso Hermo was censured by the Commission on Judicial Performance and barred from sitting on assignment. Hermo, who stipulated to the discipline, admitted that he recalled warrants for the arrest of a fugitive in order to help his longtime bailiff avoid a suspension for negligently allowing the defendant to walk out of custody...The Board of Supervisors agreed to pay Deputy District Attorney Monika Blodgett $430,000 to settle a suit in which she claimed that former District Attorney Gil Garcetti demoted her from her acting head deputy position as retaliation for her criticism of office policy.

22—The millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded services provided by public hospitals to patients with smoking-related illnesses are too remote from the alleged injury caused by cigarette makers to warrant recovery, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.


1—A 1996 amendment to the State Bar Act which provides for summary disbarment following conviction of any felony involving moral turpitude, even if not directly related to the practice of law, was unanimously upheld by the California Supreme Court.

2—Civil Code Sec. 1717, providing that all contractual attorney fee clauses are reciprocal, is preempted by federal labor law to the extent that it conflicts with a collective bargaining agreement, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The court threw out an award of nearly $120,000 in fees to attorneys for a non-union contractor that successfully sued to overturn an arbitration award in favor of a union which claimed that the contractor was bound by a master labor agreement entered into by two of its subcontractors.

5—A prosecutor didn’t commit misconduct by arguing that the fact that a defendant was found under the apparent influence of PCP while sitting in a van in which a small quantity of the drug was found was evidence that the accused possessed the drug, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision.

6—A public library has no legal obligation to prevent minors using its computers from accessing pornographic material available on the Internet, the First District Court of Appeal ruled.

8—The board of a private property owners group, formed to levy assessments and administer a business improvement district, is a legislative body subject to state open meeting laws, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled in a case involving the Hollywood Entertainment District Property Owners Association.

13Los Angeles county prosecutor Karen Nobumoto was elected president of the State Bar of California, becoming the first public lawyer and the first minority woman to preside over the organization.

14—A lawyer may be sanctioned for instructing a witness not to answer a deposition question solely on the ground that it was not calculated to lead to admissible evidence, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. The instruction not to answer is appropriate only where the question seeks privileged information, Justice Daniel J. Curry wrote for Div. Four. If an attorney repeatedly asks irrelevant questions solely to harass or annoy the witness, the justice said, the proper procedure is to suspend the deposition....Oakland lawyer Mike Nisperos Jr. was named chief trial counsel for the State Bar....A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner, fired after she didn’t show up for work for several months, won reinstatement of her disability discrimination suit against the court. Div. Four of this district’s Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion, ruled that Antoinette C. Liewen had presented sufficient evidence to avoid summary judgment on her claims that the court failed to accommodate her disability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and terminated her employment in retaliation for her complaints about that failure.

20—Gov. Gray Davis named a pair of college professors as public members of the State Bar Board of Governors. Janet M. Green, 67, and John G. Snetsinger, 59, were named by Davis to replace John Morris and Jo Ellen Allen, appointees of ex-Gov. Pete Wilson whose terms expired two years ago. The terms to which Green and Snetsinger were appointed expire in September of next year.

21Los Angeles attorney Mona Soo Hoo was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis to a panel studying racial profiling.

22—The Department of Corrections may require a condemned inmate’s spiritual adviser to leave his or cell 20 minutes before the inmate’s departure for the death chamber, or about 45 minutes before the execution, the state Supreme Court ruled.

29—The state Supreme Court struck down a voter-approved initiative removing 29 private houses from the register of historic Sierra Madre buildings, saying that unlike an initiative, a measure placed on the ballot by a public agency is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act.


2—A lawyer’s failure to advise a client that a guilty plea will result in mandatory deportation under the 1996 immigration legislation constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel, but only if there was a reasonable possibility that a trial would have resulted in acquittal, a sharply divided California Supreme Court ruled....The high court ruled, 4-3, that artwork sent to a publisher to use in book illustrations is subject to sales tax.

3—The Commission on Judicial Performance reported it had disciplined 31 judges in 2000, including 25 instances of private discipline. One judge was censured and five were publicly admonished....The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to rename the Criminal Courts Building for Clara Shortridge Foltz, the state’s first woman lawyer.

5—Proposition 213, which bars uninsured motorists from recovering general damages for personal injury, applies to an action against a public entity, the state Supreme Court held in a 5-2 decision.

6—The federal judicial recusal statute does not bar a district judge from hearing the case of a defendant who was investigated by the Department of Justice in connection with an unrelated matter during the time that the judge was U.S. attorney, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled...An Indian tribe isn’t liable for torts committed by its employees away from the reservation, based on immunity provided by federal law, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled in a suit by a bartender allegedly injured in a melee at a party for employees of a tribal casino.

7—Charles M. Walker, a name partner in Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker and assistant U.S. secretary of the treasury in the Ford administration, died in Santa Monica at age 85.

10Los Angeles attorney Marshall Grossman was named by Gov. Gray Davis as a member of the Commission on Judicial Performance.

16—A party that successfully defends itself in an arbitration proceeding cannot sue for malicious prosecution, the California Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision...A law firm representing police officers who prepared incident reports but turned them over to the attorneys rather than to their superiors cannot invoke the attorney-client privilege to prevent disclosure of the contents, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. The officers were under a legal duty to prepare the reports, making them public records, the court said.

17—The Americans With Disabilities Act allows an employer to fire a worker with a drug or alcohol dependency unless the employee is in or has gone through rehabilitation and hasn’t used drugs illegally for a long time, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

20—Gov. Gray Davis named retired Deputy District Attorney Harvey Giss, private practitioners Kenji Machida and Margaret S. Henry and Superior Court Commissioners Norman P. Tarle and Allen J. Webster as Superior Court judges.

23—The state’s cap on general damages in medical malpractice cases does not apply when the plaintiff prevails on a battery theory charging a doctor with performing an operation that the plaintiff did not consent to, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled...Lower federal courts cannot interfere with ongoing state court proceedings by hearing constitutional challenges to subpoenas, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

24—A New York law firm that engaged a member of the State Bar of California to assist in a matter involving a California client—and requiring that the attorney give advice on California law and deal with persons and entities located in California—subjected itself to this state’s jurisdiction even if the lawyer didn’t actually come to California in connection with the representation, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

27—Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gennaco was named chief attorney for the Sheriff’s Office of Independent Review by Sheriff Lee Baca and the Board of Supervisors. The OIR is charged with reviewing officer-involved shootings, allegations of misconduct, and other internal investigations by the Sheriff’s Department...Retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James R. Dooley died at age 80.

30—T-shirts and other products bearing an artist’s drawing of the Three Stooges are not protected by the First Amendment from enforcement of California’s law prohibiting the use of deceased celebrities’ images without consent of their heirs, the state Supreme Court ruled....Mauricio Silva’s death sentence for three 1984 murders was overturned by the Supreme Court, which held that the late Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Douglas McKee erroneously excluded the defense from a hearing at which prosecutors explained their reasons for excluding Hispanic jurors, and that the reasons were inadequate .


1—Lawrence Mason was promoted to chief deputy district attorney of Los Angeles County and John Allen to assistant district attorney in charge of line operations. Mason replaced Curt Livesay, who had returned to the office from private practice to fill the post on an interim basis, and Allen replaced Mason...The First District Court of Appeal rejected a lawyer’s bid to enforce an agreement guaranteeing him a share of the fees earned by lawyers for Rena Weeks, who won a precedent-setting $3.5 million sexual-harassment award against the law firm of Baker & McKenzie. The panel held that a State Bar rule requiring fee-splitting agreements to be in writing and approved in writing by the client applies to divisions of work among lawyers, as well as to “pure referral” arrangements...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Metzler retired.

2—Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 664.6, allowing a court to enforce a written settlement agreement upon a simple noticed motion by one of the parties, applies to an agreed-upon increase in previously ordered child support payments, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.

4—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick B. Murphy resigned after a panel of special masters found he had engaged in willful misconduct by abandoning his duties and lying about being too sick to work. Murphy last worked regularly in mid-1998 and hadn’t taken the bench at all since June 2000.

7—Jury nullification is not a legitimate part of California law, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled as it affirmed the conviction of a Santa Clara County defendant for having sex with a 15-year-old girl. The trial judge was correct in removing a juror who told his fellow panelists he did not believe statutory rape should be a crime, the high court said...An acquitted defendant cannot be ruled “factually innocent” under Penal Code Sec. 851.8 if “[a] reasonable, objective review of the evidence establishes that many people of ordinary care and prudence would believe the defendant guilty of the crime charged,” this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

8—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Kalustian retired.

10—The Commission on Judicial Performance ordered Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick Murphy removed from the bench, saying it had not received formal notice of his resignation and believed it was “within its authority to impose the discipline Judge Murphy merits, his removal from office.” The commission further directed that if it was determined the commission lacked such authority, Murphy be censured and barred from receiving court-assigned work.

14—Gov. Gray Davis unveiled a revised budget , without the 8.5 percent pay raise sought by the judiciary. The increase and other proposals had to be shelved because of drops in revenue, the governor told reporters...The Supreme Court unanimously upheld Phillip Anderson’s death sentence for the 1979 robbery-murders of two women whose car broke down on I-10 near Indio. The justices said the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in allowing a psychologically impaired witness to testify, Justice Marvin Baxter noting that her testimony was corroborated in several respects.

15—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Simpson has applied for disability retirement, Victoria Henley, director-chief counsel of the Commission on Judicial Performance, confirmed.

16—A suit charging District Attorney Steve Cooley with defaming a criminal defense attorney was ordered dismissed under the anti-SLAPP law by this district’s Court of Appeal. Leonard J. Milstein—who was convicted of obstruction of justice after he allegedly used jailhouse informants to concoct a phony defense in a murder case, but won an appeal on the ground of insufficient evidence—failed to show “by competent and admissible evidence” that he could prove a case of slander based on Cooley’s alleged comments to a reporter for a legal newspaper, Presiding Justice Paul A. Turner wrote in an unpublished opinion for Div. Five...Court of Appeal Justice Don Work of the Fourth District’s Div. One died.

17—The California Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision, affirmed the death sentence for a homeless man who admitted killed a Redding resident after getting into a dispute with the victim’s neighbor over a drug deal. While Milton Otis Lewis’ defense attorney gave a “terse” and “meager” closing argument, Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote, the court cannot speculate on direct appeal as to his reasons for doing so...An attorney sued for actions undertaken on behalf of a client may bring an anti-SLAPP motion if the complaint implicates the lawyer’s own First Amendment rights, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.

18—A default judgment based on improper service of process cannot be renewed, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled, even if the judgment debtor had knowledge of it and failed to attack prior to the renewal proceedings.

19—A federal law allowing criminal defendants to recover legal fees for defending “vexatious” prosecutions only applies if the prosecution was both malicious and legally unsound, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

21—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Arnold Gold retired.

22—A former in-house lawyer had the right to share privileged information with her own lawyers in connection with her wrongful termination lawsuit, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. The panel also held that a motion to disqualify counsel may be subject to a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute... A public agency isn’t immune from suit for violating the civil rights of an official who was fired in retaliation for complaining about the downloading of pornography on the agency’s computers by employees, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

24—A lawyer who claims a second attorney gave him bad advice about how to resolve problems with clients can’t sue for malpractice because the other lawyer couldn’t defend without disclosing the clients’ confidences, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.

29—The pass rate for the February California State Bar Exam fell to the lowest level in 13 years, as 1,673 of the 4,488 applicants—37.3 percent—passed, the State Bar reported...

30—A device known as a “stun belt,” which delivers a 50,000-volt electric shock to the person wearing it when activated by remote control, may be used in court to subdue a convicted defendant who is acting violently, but not to punish one who is merely being verbally abusive, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The ruling left open the question of whether the belt may be used on a defendant who is merely a pretrial detainee...A group of children whose Little League team photo was used in a Sports Illustrated story about a former coach convicted of child molestation have a viable claim for invasion of privacy, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.

31—The victim of an assault at an apartment complex must prove that a lack of adequate security caused the attack, the California Supreme Court ruled. In a 4-3 decision, the justices held that causation could not be inferred from proof that the landlord’s security measures were inadequate...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kenneth Chotiner retired.


1—Justice Thomas L. Crosby of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Three, retired.

4—A local tax imposed without mandated voter approval can be blocked even if the statutory three years have passed since the tax was enacted, because the limitations period starts fresh with each collection, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously...Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Ulysses Burns retired.

5—In a 6-5 en banc decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an FBI sharpshooter who killed the wife of white separatist Randy Weaver during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff may be prosecuted by the state of Idaho for manslaughter...This district’s Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion, ordered a mistrial in a case before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Schacter. The court held that the judge abused his discretion by trying a non-jury case in “drips and drabs” over a period of nearly a year.

6—Justice Ramona Godoy Perez of this district’s Court of Appeal, Div. Five, died of an undisclosed illness.

11—Former Los Angeles attorney James H. Davis was sentenced to 12 years in prison for bilking clients out of about $2.5 million.

14—A San Francisco ordinance requiring city contractors to pay domestic partners of unmarried workers the same health and welfare benefits as employee spouses was upheld by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

15—Workers whose union agreed to video surveillance as part of an employment contract did not waive their right to sue their employer for installing video cameras in restrooms, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

19—Stanley Mosk, California’s longest-serving state Supreme Court justice, died at age 88.

21—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Gutman granted convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz’s petition for writ of habeas corpus, saying the governor had no legal basis for vetoing his release on parole.

22—President Bush nominated Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl and Honolulu attorney Richard Clifton to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...A woman who kept $1.3 million in lottery winnings secret from her estranged husband to avoid having to pay him half in their divorce settlement must give him the whole thing under a state statute, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

25—The Sixth Amendment right to trial before jurors from the district in which the crime was allegedly committed—known as the “vicinage” requirement—does not apply to the states, the California Supreme Court ruled in upholding a statute allowing defendants accused of committing certain types of crimes in more than one county to be tried on all charges in one of those counties.

26—A suspect who has not been arrested or charged with a crime cannot be compelled to appear in a lineup because there is no statute authorizing such an order, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

28—The power to decide whether a particular type of gun is a banned assault weapon resides with the state attorney general and not with the courts, California Supreme Court ruled.


2—The requirement that a criminal defendant be factually innocent as a prerequisite to suing his or her lawyer for malpractice precludes an action by a defendant who has pled guilty, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled, unless the plea is first set aside...A Catholic charitable organization whose employee health plan covers prescriptions cannot refuse to cover contraception, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled.

5—A plea bargain provision increasing the defendant’s sentence if he or she fails to appear as ordered for sentencing is enforceable, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled...Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Anthony Luna retired.

6—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a $3 million judgment Dustin Hoffman won against Los Angeles Magazine in 1999 over its use of an altered photo of the actor in his cross-dressing role of “Tootsie,” citing the First Amendment.

9—A court-appointed mediator may not report to a court that a party has failed to participate in good faith, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled, citing a statute making such mediations confidential...A divided Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected death row inmate Kevin Cooper’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Cooper was sentenced to die for the 1983 killings of four people at a home in Chino two days after Cooper escaped from the state prison there.

10—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen E. O’Neil was found dead in his Palos Verdes Estates home. He was 56.

11—The California Supreme Court stayed the release of convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz pending the state’s appeal of a Los Angeles Superior Court order granting his release on parole...Oregon’s vote-by-mail system does not violate the federal law setting specific election dates for federal offices, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

16—The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death sentence of Steven David Catlin for killing his mother and his fifth wife by paraquat poisoning. Catlin was also convicted of killing his fourth wife, but the death penalty didn’t apply because the killing occurred during a period when California didn’t have capital punishment...An employer who fails to protect an employee from harassment by co-workers based on the employee’s perceived effeminate qualities may be sued for discrimination “because of sex,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

17—Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in a formal opinion that state whistleblower laws do not permit a government lawyer to disclose information protected by the attorney-client privilege...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Cappai, 60, died after a long bout with a kidney ailment.

20—Attorney Leonard J. Milstein, who claims that District Attorney Steve Cooley and Deputy District Attorney Robert Foltz pursued a meritless prosecution accusing him of manufacturing a client’s defense, may sue to the extent that the defendants’ alleged activities were outside the scope of the prosecutorial function, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Such activities might include fabricating evidence, filing a false police report, or making defamatory comments to the media, the court said.

25—A will that terminated trust income to the testator’s surviving spouse in the event of remarriage violated a state law discouraging restraints upon remarriage, the Court of Appeal ruled.

26—The State Bar agreed to pay $900,000 in fees to the Pacific Legal Foundation for its representation of lawyers who filed a federal civil rights suit charging that the organization used mandatory dues money for improper political purposes in 1991. A Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled for the plaintiffs in 1999, and the State Bar dropped its appeal earlier this year.

30—The California Supreme Court, in a 4-2 decision, said the owner of a used automobile could unilaterally rescind an offer to sell, in the form of a newspaper advertisement, where the advertiser mistakenly inserted the wrong price.

31—Presiding Justice Gary Strankman of the First District Court of Appeal, Div. One, retired.


2—Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation creating a diversion program for lawyers who abuse drug or alcohol. SB 479 was double-joined to legislation previously signed by Davis allowing the State Bar to levy up to $390 in annual dues in each of the next two years...The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Raymond Anthony Lewis’ death sentence for a robbery-murder that netted him $5.

3—A California court properly convicted a doctor—whose California license had been previously revoked—of second degree murder following the death of a patient on whom the doctor performed an illegal and unnecessary operation in Mexico, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. California had jurisdiction because the arrangements for the surgery were made in this state and the victim was brought back here afterward and died here, the court said.

7—A California court has jurisdiction over the operator of a distant website that publishes trade secrets or copyrighted material belonging to a California plaintiff, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled.

8—Deputy Federal Public Defender Monica Knox, whose marriage to a state prisoner led to her being banned from visiting or mailing inmate clients as a security risk, waited too long to bring a suit challenging the ban, a divided Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled. The court rejected the lawyer’s claim that each denial of access constitutes a new violation of her civil rights....Justice Norman L. Epstein of Div. Four of this district’s Court of Appeal and Assistant Presiding Judge Robert Dukes of the Los Angeles Superior Court were named to the California Judicial Council by Chief Justice Ronald George, along with Solano Superior Court Judge William C. Harrison and Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Barbara Ann Zuniga.

9—Family members may not end life support for their barely-conscious loved one based solely on conversations in which the stricken person was remembered to have said he would not want to live like a vegetable, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 6-0 decision. The decision to end life support must be supported by clear and convincing evidence that the action is consistent with the stricken person’s previously expressed wishes, Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote...The high court unanimously upheld the death sentence imposed on Ronald Harold Seaton of Riverside for the 1986 beating death of an elderly neighbor, which jurors found to have occurred in the course of a robbery and burglary. The death sentence was proportional to Seaton’s “moral culpability” for the death of Willis Jones, Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote.

13—Attorney fees awarded to a prevailing party under the Fair Employment and Housing Act “belong to the attorneys who labored to earn them,” not to their clients, absent an agreement to the contrary, the state Supreme Court ruled. In a 5-1 decision, with Justice Joyce L. Kennard dissenting, the high court reversed a First District Court of Appeal decision holding that court-awarded fees belong to the client and that attorneys who prevail under FEHA are limited to whatever fees are established by contract...Public school officials do not need reasonable suspicion to stop and question a student, the high court ruled.

14Los Angeles County supervisors agreed to pay $27 million to settle a lawsuit by former inmates who claim they were wrongfully kept jailed after their release date or locked up on warrants that sheriffs’ deputies knew to be faulty. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled that the county was not immune from suit....Legendary trial lawyer Paul Caruso died at age 81 after a long illness.

15—The Commission on Judicial Performance removed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick Couwenberg from the bench for lying about his background and qualifications in his application for appointment to the bench and to the commission during its investigation.

16—A law enforcement officer who stops an alleged traffic violator has a duty not to direct the driver to pull over into a spot where there is an unreasonable risk of injury by third parties, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 4-2 decision...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kurt Lewin retired.

20—A minor and his parents are entitled to a defense and indemnification by the family’s homeowner’s carrier in connection with a shooting in which the child accidentally killed a friend, regardless of an “illegal act” exclusion in the policy, the state Supreme Court ruled. An unintentional act, even if criminally punishable as gross negligence, cannot absolve the insurer of its duties as a matter of law, Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for a 4-2 majority...The high court unanimously upheld the death sentence imposed on Ward Francis Weaver Jr., who claimed that voices drove him to kill an airman and rape and beat the man’s girlfriend. The justices concluded that aggravating factors, including violent crimes Weaver committed before and after the murder, were properly held to outweigh the mitigating factor of mental illness.

22—The sale of public land containing a 43-foot high Latin cross to a private group which is maintaining it as part of a war memorial doesn’t violate the constitutional prohibition against establishment of religion, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

23—Armed Forces involvement in a drug investigation that started on a military base but soon implicated a civilian didn’t violate the Posse Comitatus Act, a Reconstruction-era federal law designed to keep the military out of civilian law enforcement, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

30—Long Beach attorney Matthew Cavanaugh narrowly upset San Dimas lawyer Patricia Lobello-Lamb for the District Seven seat in race for the State Bar Board of Governors. It was the first time in over 20 years a candidate endorsed by the influential Breakfast Club had lost a Board of Governors election...A residential landlord’s rule prohibiting tenants from circulating a newsletter or other unsolicited materials within the complex doesn’t violate the state Constitution, the state Supreme Court ruled. By a 4-3 majority, the justices held that the state Constitution’s “liberty of speech” clause cannot be applied to premises not open to the public.

31—A court order requiring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to buy 248 more buses was upheld by a divided panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that a special master and U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter, who upheld the master, had the authority under a consent decree to direct the agency on how to spend its money.


4—Several provisions of state law mandating the use of affirmative action to correct racial imbalances in contracting and employment were struck down by the Third District Court of Appeal. Ruling on a suit that was begun by Gov. Pete Wilson and continued by University of California Regent Ward Connerly after Wilson left office, the court ruled that provisions of law affecting the community colleges, the State Lottery, the sale of state bonds, and the state civil service violate Proposition 209.

7—District Attorney Steve Cooley’s revised three-strikes policy doesn’t entitle defendants convicted before he took office to have their sentences reconsidered, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.

8—Chief Justice Ronald George swore in President Karen Nobumoto and the new members of the Board of Governors on the third day of the annual State Bar Convention. The Chief Justice also delivered a State of the Judiciary address outlining the courts’ continuing effort to improve public access to, and confidence in, the judicial system.

11—Law offices in downtown and Century City were virtually deserted, and every state and federal courtroom in the county was dark by the afternoon, following the deadly attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

13—Gov. Gray Davis named Betty Wyman, a mental health and behavior science consultant who works with Los Angeles jail inmates, to the state Commission on Judicial Performance...U.S. Marshall Tony Perez, citing security concerns, banned the use of cell phones in all federal courts in the seven-county Central District of California.

17—The Commission on Judicial Performance said it had charged Riverside Superior Court Judge Eugene R. Bishop with having violated the rights of parents in four separate dependency proceedings to proper notice. The judge, in a verified answer, said the commission was attempting to turn claims of legal error into a disciplinary matter and called the charges a threat to judicial independence.

18—Weider Nutrition Group, one of the country’s leading nutritional products suppliers did not violate Proposition 65 by distributing supplements that raise, but do not contain, testosterone, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

20—U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter stepped down as chief judge of the Central District and was succeeded in that post by Judge Consuelo Marshall.

21—Los Angeles Superior Court Referee Jeffrey Marckese was named a court commissioner....Attorneys who successfully defend themselves against frivolous lawsuits are entitled to Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 128.7 sanctions, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.

30—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elva Soper retired.


2—City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo announced a management shakeup, with former Assistant U.S. Attorney George Cardona named head of the criminal division; Patricia Tubert, formerly counsel to the airports department, heading the new Municipal Counsel Division. Maureen Siegel and Pedro Echeverria, former heads of the criminal and civil divisions, respectively, were given new assignments under Chief Deputy City Attorney Terree Bowers.

3—Gov. Gray Davis named U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Jones, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner John Doyle, Assistant Los Angeles City Attorneys Leslie E. Brown and William N. Sterling, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy L. Shubin, Deputy District Attorneys Martin L. Herscovitz and Cynthia Rayvis, and attorneys Marjorie S. Steinberg and Richard H. Kirschner to the Los Angeles Superior Court...Judith McConnell, elevated from the San Diego Superior Court, was confirmed and sworn in as a justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. One.

4—Proposition 21, the juvenile-justice initiative approved by voters last year, does not violate the constitutional single-subject requirement, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

12—A lawsuit by the American Humane Association seeking to block the Los Angeles Times from using internal association documents for a news story was a strategic lawsuit against public participation, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.

16—Employees in the two largest Los Angeles Superior Court mailrooms were given training on how to handle suspicious mail as the court attempts to deal with the increased threat of anthrax being sent through the mail.

17—An attorney representing an indigent client at the expense of family or friends cannot be forced to dip into that fee to pay the client’s expert and investigative fees, even if the fee seems unusually large, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in a case involving attorney Leslie Abramson.

18—Carlos Moreno was confirmed to succeed the late Justice Stanley Mosk. Gov. Gray Davis administered the oath of office to Moreno, his first appointee to the high court.

19—S. Robert Ambrose, a retired deputy county counsel and as-needed referee for the court, and Sanjay Kumar, a deputy state attorney general, were named commissioners of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

20—The State Bar Board of Governors voted to reduce late payment penalties for 2002 State Bar dues. Instead of a 50 percent penalty on all amounts unpaid as of March 15, the penalty will be 15 percent on amounts unpaid as of that date and another 15 percent on amounts not received by May 15.

22—Dennis Perluss, Richard Mosk, and Laurence D. Rubin were confirmed and sworn in as justices of this district’s Court of Appeal. Perluss, who succeeded the late Ramona Godoy Perez in Div. Five, and Rubin, who became the first member of newly created Div. Eight, were elevated from the Los Angeles Superior Court. Mosk was an attorney and arbitrator, whose work included service on the U.S.-Iran Claims Tribunal, before being named an appellate justice. He is the son of the late California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk.

24—The state Supreme Court elevated State Bar Court Review Judge Ronald W. Stovitz to be the discipline body’s presiding judge, and named San Bernardino Superior Court Staff Counsel Stanford E. Reichert and San Francisco lawyer Patrice E. McElroy to be hearing judges. Reichert, who was named to a three-year term, succeeded Michael Marcus in the Los Angeles office, while McElroy, who also received a three-year term, replaced Judge Eugene Brott in San Francisco.

26California law does not permit a parent’s non-marital partner to adopt a child without the parent relinquishing parental rights, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.

30—A statute making it a crime to falsely accuse a police officer of misconduct, while complaints of misconduct against other public officers are privileged, violates the First Amendment, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.


1—Retired Riverside Superior Court Judge William H. Sullivan was charged with misconduct by the Commission on Judicial Performance for questionable financial dealings with two trusts that continued after his appointment to the bench...The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence for Martin James Kipp, convicted of the September 1983 murder of Tiffany Frizzell. Frizzell was found, strangled and apparently raped, in her room at the Long Beach Ramada Inn where she was staying while waiting for her college dormitory to open for the fall term. The court rejected the argument that high court justices have an inherent conflict of interest in death penalty cases because they must be retained by a pro-death-penalty electorate. Kipp failed to show that the alleged conflict applies in his case or that of any specific defendant, Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote.

2—California’s three-strikes law violates the Eighth Amendment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in the “unusual circumstances” of a defendant sentenced to 50 years to life in prison on two counts of recidivist petty theft.

7—District Attorney Steve Cooley disclosed that his criminal probe into the Rampart police corruption case would conclude by the end of the year with no new charges being filed against police officers. Cooley said he would close 50 matters and release reports detailing why they did not become full-scale criminal prosecutions. But he added that his department’s Justice System Integrity Division remained “open for business for any allegations of criminal misconduct by any law enforcement officer from whatever source, Rampart or otherwise...The deadline for incumbent judges to file declarations of intention to run for new terms expired, with four Los Angeles Superior Court judges not filing—Michael Kanner, Richard Spann, David Finkel, and Michael Pirosh. Kanner said he would leave at the end of his term, in January 2003; Finkel slated retirement for Jan. 27 and Pirosh for Jan. 31. Spann did not comment on his plans. Two judges, C. Robert Simpson and Floyd Baxter, drew challenges, from Glendale lawyer Kenneth E. Wright and Newhall attorney Ross Stucker, respectively.

14— A state program that uses interest on funds held short-term in lawyers’ trust accounts to fund legal assistance for the poor doesn’t violate the Fifth Amendment ban on taking property without “just compensation,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

15—Gov. Gray Davis appointed Joseph Rouzan Jr., 69, Inglewood’s city administrator and a longtime LAPD officer and later police chief in nearby cities, to the State Bar Board of Governors as one of six “public,” or non-attorney, members.

22—Court of Appeal Justice Candace Cooper was sworn in by Gov. Gray Davis following her confirmation as presiding justice of this district’s newly created Div. Eight. Also confirmed and sworn in were Paul Boland, as an associate justice of Div. Eight, and Richard Aronson as a justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Three.

26—City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo continued to revamp his office’s leadership with the announcement that O’Melveny & Myers partner Cheryl White Mason would leave her firm to become chief of the Civil Liability Management Division, supervising about 100 lawyers.

29—A California statute allowing a peace officer to sue for defamation if a citizen files a false complaint with the officer’s employer is unconstitutional, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled...The city of Los Angeles and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California settled a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of seven journalists allegedly assaulted with rubber bullets and batons by the LAPD during protests at the Democratic National Convention in August 2000. The city agreed that in the future, it would designate safe areas for members of the press to observe public demonstrations so officers do not injure them when responding to protests that get out of hand.

30—Gov Gray Davis appointed five new Los Angeles Superior Court Judges—Luis Lavin, who was director of enforcement for the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission; Joe Hilberman, a civil litigator; Michael Stern, a trademark infringement specialist; Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Lench; and Anne Egerton, West Coast general counsel for NBC. 


3—The state Supreme Court affirmed the murder conviction and death sentence of Robert Clarence Taylor, who claimed he was under the influence of cocaine when he shot and killed an Anaheim resident and left her husband paralyzed in 1988.

6—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the death sentence of Bruce Morris for killing a man who offered to drive him from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe. The court held that an error on the verdict form, indicating that if the defendant wasn’t sentenced to death he would receive life “with parole,” violated due process and that Morris was entitled to a new sentencing trial.

7—The deadline for returning nomination documents for Superior Court contests expired, with Judge Reginald Dunn the only incumbent to file a declaration of intention to run but not complete the process. A five-day extension of time to file for that seat only was declared....Judith Ashmann, elevated from the Los Angeles Superior Court, was confirmed and sworn in as a justice of this district’s Court of Appeal, succeeding Candace Cooper in Div. Two. Cooper is now presiding justice of Div. Eight.

10—Gerald Chaleff, former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the city’s Police Commission, said he would leave private practice to head up a new risk management effort for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

11—The Board of Supervisors voted to rename the Central Courthouse after the late California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk ...Retired Long Beach Municipal Court Judge G. William Dunn died at age 71, several months after suffering a stroke.

17—An agricultural marketing order that compels producers to pay for generic advertising violates the “liberty of speech” clause of the California Constitution, the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled. A divided panel, hearing the case on remand after the state Supreme Court held that California’s charter may afford broader protection for commercial speech than the federal Constitution, said the state could not establish a sufficient justification for requiring a plum grower to contribute 11 cents for every box sent to market, when the grower said it would rather spend the money on its own advertising.

19—A Contra Costa Superior Court judge who was publicly reproved in 1992 for insulting lawyers, staff members and jurors in open court was charged with a pattern of similar violations over the past two years by the Commission on Judicial Performance. Judge Bruce Van Voorhis engaged in willful misconduct and brought his court into disrepute by, among other things, suggesting that an Ecuadorian-born deputy public defender “lose that accent” and telling a rookie prosecutor after a trial that he had intentionally excluded admissible evidence in order to see how she would handle it, the commission said...Toxic torts lawyer and Thousand Oaks Mayor Edward L. Masry and his world-famous investigator Erin Brockovich can sue attorney Kissandra Cohen who, while employed by Masry’s firm, allegedly claimed they were having a sexual relationship, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. Justice Earl Johnson Jr., in an unpublished opinion for Div. Seven, said the anti-SLAPP statute doesn’t protect an employee’s “gossiping to a fellow worker about the boss’s sexual conduct with another worker.”

21—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James G. Kolts, who headed the Board of Supervisors’ independent probe of the Sheriff’s Department in 1992—finding that the department had failed to adequately address excessive use of force and poor relations with ethnic communities—died of a heart attack while playing golf with one of his grandsons. He was 77...Gov. Gray Davis nominated six candidates for posts on the First District Court of Appeal and one for a seat on the Third District Court of Appeal. The First District nominees, all of whom face confirmation hearings in San Francisco Jan. 25, are Justice James Marchiano of Div. One and Justice Laurence D. Kay of Div. Four to become presiding justices of those divisions, Alameda Superior Court Judge Sandra L. Margulies to succeed Marchiano, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Marie P. Rivera to succeed Kay, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stuart Pollak for associate justice in Div. Three and San Mateo Superior Court Judge Linda M. Gemello to fill a new seat in Div. Five. The Third District nominee, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ronald Robie, faces a Jan. 15 confirmation hearing.

 24—A police department need not produce a police officer’s entire personnel file for in camera review in response to a discovery motion, but must be prepared to describe what documents were omitted and why, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled...Orange Superior Court Judge Richard D. Fybel was nominated by Gov. Gray Davis Monday to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Three, to fill a newly created seat. His confirmation hearing was set for Feb. 8.

26—A Kern County man who has spent 16 years on death row for killing his girlfriend and her son, allegedly so they would not inform the police of his drug dealing, won a new trial. A divided Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that Robert F. Garceau was deprived of a fair trial when the judge erroneously told jurors that they could consider evidence of other crimes “for any purpose.”...Gov. Gray Davis named Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Gilbert Lopez as a judge of that court...Fresno Superior Court Judge James I. Aaron, 59, was charged with misconduct by the Commission on Judicial Performance in connection with his dealings with an investment promoter sentenced to federal prison.

27—Gov. Gray Davis nominated Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Conrad L. Rushing as an associate justice of the Sixth District Court of Appeal, filling a new post. His confirmation hearing was set for Jan. 25.


Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company