Tuesday, December 31, 2002
2002 YEAR IN REVIEW
END OF THE YEAR
Mildred Lillie, California’s Longest-Serving Jurist, Dies at 87...Walter, Anderson, and Klausner Become First Bush Appointees in Central District...State Supreme Court Backs Governor’s Tough Stance on Parole.
1—Judge Procter Hug Jr. took senior status at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals....The law firms Grebow & Yee and Berger Kahn merged.... Assembly Bill 106, requiring all guns sold in California to be fitted with firearms safety devices before they can be taken out of the store, went into effect.
2— The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that an agreement to buy and sell real estate, using reprinted forms standard to the California real estate industry, is a purchase agreement, not an option contract. The decision by Div. One means that a prospective buyer who backs out of the purchase of the seller’s residence may recover his or her deposit, less liquidated or actual damages....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Arizona agency’s hiring preference for members of the Navajo Nation cannot be challenged in court because the Navajo would be an indispensable party to any litigation and are immune.
3—The First District Court of Appeal upheld California law banning businesses operating in this state from sending unsolicited commercial email to recipients who don’t want it....Retired Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Sherman Seymour Welpton Jr died at 93.
4—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Northern District of California’s requirement that members of its indigent defense panel belong to the State Bar of California as well as the district bar...The Ninth Circuit also ruled that sovereign immunity precludes state courts from issuing warrants to search Indian casinos.
7—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elvira Austin retired.
8—The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that a defendant convicted of resisting a police officer cannot sue for violation of civil rights, battery, or related torts based on claims the officer used excessive force...A task force appointed by the California Supreme Court recommended that the state continue to require out-of-state lawyers to pass the bar exam here in order to be admitted to State Bar membership.
9—The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to California’s law which prevents the use of the images of deceased celebrities without the permission of their estates...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Indian tribe and its law enforcement officers are immune from suit for police misconduct under federal civil rights laws...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a provision of the 1996 immigration law eliminating bail for aliens awaiting deportation following conviction of an aggravated felony is unconstitutional, at least as applied to a permanent resident alien...The City Council voted 12 to one to approve spending more than $1.4 million this year to start a neighborhood prosecution operation in the City Attorney’s Office.
10—Orange Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline, already facing a federal charge of possessing child pornography, was arrested in a child molestation case more than 25 years old...This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a landlord who agrees to repair or replace a broken or missing window screen and does not do it may be liable for injury to a child who falls out of the window.
11—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a sheriff and his deputy are not immune from a suit charging that they violated the constitutional rights of environmentalist protestors when they ordered deputies to use pepper spray to break up the non-violent protest....Andrew J. Thomas, renowned for his work with local medial outlets, was named partner of the downtown Los Angeles office of Davis Wright Tremaine.
14—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a loophole in Idaho law allows users of some drugs, including marijuana, to drive legally as long as they don’t drive erratically and can pass a field sobriety test.
15—This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a defendant arrested on a drug charge less than five years after being released from prison pursuant to a serious or violent felony conviction may be placed in a treatment program under Proposition 36...Ronald Robie, elevated from the Sacramento Superior Court, was confirmed and sworn in to fill a newly created position on the Third District Court of Appeal.
16—The State Supreme Court rejected former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick Couwenberg’s bid to resume practicing law. Couwenberg was ordered removed from the bench in August 2001 after the Commission on Judicial Performance found that he had, among other misconduct, falsified his application for appointment to the bench...The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a federal agency can control rates that cable companies pay for high-speed Internet lines... The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that San Francisco officials did not violate the rights of conservative Christian activists by adopting resolutions linking them to violent crimes against gays and lesbians.
17—Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Jeffrey Marckese was killed on his way to the Compton Courthouse when a big rig slammed through a center divider on the 710 freeway during morning rush hour and crashed into Marckese’s sports utility vehicle....The state Supreme Court ruled that proof that a defendant intended to take property only temporarily, but for so extended a period of time as to deprive the owner of a major portion of its value or enjoyment, satisfies the intent element of a theft prosecution in California....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal statute granting attorney fees to a party prevailing in litigation against the U.S. government applies if the government’s position is not “substantially justified” if the government has acted unreasonably, even if it takes a reasonable litigation posture.
18—Deputy District Attorney Scott M. Gordon was named a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner.
22—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved allocation of $2.5 million from the Criminal Justice Facilities Construction Fund for repairs at the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Mental Health Courthouse...The U.S. Supreme Court ordered that a convicted killer from Missouri be given a chance to argue that his due process rights were violated. The defendant’s family never had a chance to tell a jury that that the defendant was with them in another state at the time of the murder because they left after court officials told them that their testimony was not needed until the following day.
23—This district’s Court of Appeal threw out a suit under the anti-SLAPP statute by two Los Angeles detectives, claiming that ex-Chief of Police Willie Williams slandered them at a press conference by accusing them of falsifying reports in a homicide investigation...The First District Court of Appeal ruled that a public entity that operates an emergency telephone response system can be held liable for a death resulting from the negligent training of a 911 operator...President Bush nominated Los Angeles attorneys John Walter and Percy Anderson to the U.S. District Court.
24—The State Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the death sentence of a Modesto man who defended himself against charges of hiring two men to commit a 1989 murder...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alban I. Niles sustained a demurrer to a complaint brought by a former Los Angeles police officer against Sara Jane Olson for her involvement in a 1975 bomb plot, but granted leave to amend. Retired LAPD officer James Bryan’s claim accusing Olson of assault was legally flawed because it did not state that Bryan was aware of the potential danger he was facing...The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that a public employee named as a defendant in a job-related lawsuit is entitled to a defense at public expense, but not to separate and independent counsel, even if there is a conflict of interest between employer’s counsel and the employee....The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that a defendant who claimed he entered a residence while the owner was gone merely to take a shower was properly convicted of burglary.
25—The “One Trial” jury system went in to effect at the Hollywood Courthouse...The Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed seven Court of Appeal justices and presiding justices in the Bay Area. Justice James Marchiano of the First District’s Div. One was elevated to presiding justice of his division, and Justice Laurence D. Kay of the same district’s Div. Four became presiding justice of his division. Alameda Superior Court Judge Sandra L. Margulies succeeded Marchiano as a First District Div. One associate justice and Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Maria P. Rivera succeeded Kay on Div. Four. Superior Court Judges Stuart Pollak, Linda M. Gemello and Conrad Rushing were confirmed to the First District, Div. Three; First District, Div. Five; and Sixth District, respectively.
27—Los Angeles Superior Court Judges David B. Finkel and James Albracht retired.
28—The State Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the death sentence was not excessive for a Pacific Grove resident who was convicted of stabbing, robbing, and sodomizing his upstairs neighbor in 1989...The Fourth District Court of Appeal overturned an order disqualifying an attorney from representing the defendants in a suit brought by a hospital because his wife—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ana Maria Luna—served on the hospital’s board.
29—U.S. District Judge Ronald S. W. Lew denied bail for Jewish Defense League Chairman Irv Rubin and another member accused of plotting to bomb a Culver City mosque and the office of an Arab-American congressman...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, over the vigorous dissent of three of its judges, declined to order en banc rehearing of a ruling that allows a school board to expel a student for writing a poem featuring violent imagery.
30—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry ruled that prosecutors cannot retry an Armenian man, Harry M. Sassounian, convicted of assassinating a Turkish diplomat on the special circumstance of lying in wait because the special circumstance was dismissed with prejudice at the original 1984 trial...This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a cross-complaint filed by the City of Los Angeles in a multi-million dollar suit brought by a construction firm wasn’t a strategic lawsuit against public participation even if brought in retaliation for the filing of the action.
31—Judges Harold Shabo and Michael Pirosh of the Los Angeles Superior Court retired...A suit charging that the Navy discriminates against clergy of certain denominations in the promotion and retention of chaplains was reinstated by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the Feres doctrine, which generally bars members of the armed services from suing the government for damages, does not bar claims for injunctive relief...The hirer of an independent contractor is liable for injury to an employee of the contractor if the hirer has retained control of the worksite and affirmatively contributed to the injuries, the state Supreme Court ruled in a pair of decisions.
1—A San Bernardino County deputy district attorney said prosecutors and city officials would seek changes in the state’s prostitution laws following the Supreme Court’s decision not to review a Court of Appeal decision. The October 2001 ruling by the Fourth District’s Div. Two held that no violation was committed by a strip club that charged patrons to watch women perform sex acts on each other, as there was no “lewd act” between a prostitute and a customer as required by the Penal Code....Officials announced that a $414 million, 20-story federal courthouse would be built on the site of the old State Office Building at 107 S. Broadway, to open in 2008 if Congress appropriates enough funds.... Former “Playmate of the Year” Terri Welles may continue to use “Playboy” and other trademarked words on a website she uses to sell erotica, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, holding that Welles’ uses of the trademarks were “permissible, nominative uses.”
4—A jury verdict requiring Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to pay $167,000 in wrongful termination damages to a worker fired for taking expired meat out of a receptacle was upheld by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the action violated an implied agreement that the employee would not be terminated without good cause...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pirosh retired.
6—Glendale can sue Robert Fenton for punitive damages as a result of a scheme to defraud the city, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. Fenton, a former Encino lawyer who resigned from the State Bar with disciplinary charges pending, previously pled no contest to bribing an administrator for the Superior Court to obtain inside information regarding unclaimed interest owed to cities that had posted bonds in eminent domain cases...The U.S. Postal Service did not violate the Fourth Amendment when it held an express mail package for six days before obtaining a warrant to search it for drugs, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
7— Sentencing petty thieves to potential life terms under the three-strikes law is cruel and unusual punishment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled...The prohibition against double jeopardy bars retrial after a judge improperly removes a juror, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
8— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the high court, joined several other present-day female legal trailblazers who renamed and rededicated downtown’s Criminal Courts Building in honor of Clara Shortridge Foltz, California’s first woman lawyer and a founder of the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office...Newport Beach lawyer Thu-Truc (Tracy) Nguyen, who pledged her home as collateral for her brother-in-law/client’s $100,000 bail bond, must forfeit the bond as a result of his failure to appear for remand, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled...A federal civil rights statute cannot be used to sue a public defender for ineffective assistance of counsel, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled...Richard D. Fybel, formerly a judge of the Orange Superior Court, was confirmed and sworn in as a justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Three.
12—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Thaddaeus Turner for the stabbing murder of a Merced College professor who allegedly made a sexual advance toward him, but ordered an evidentiary hearing into whether his attorney provided ineffective assistance by not presenting penalty-phase evidence of Turner’s PCP use and difficult childhood.
13— Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Gunn retired...The Los Angeles County Bar Association released its final judicial candidate evaluations. Of 21 candidates seeking seven seats, nine were rated “well qualified,” 10 “qualified,” and two—attorneys Thomas Warden and Ross A. Stucker—“not qualified” to be judges...Punch-card voting systems must be replaced within nine southern California counties in time for the 2004 presidential elections, a federal district judge ruled. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson of the Central District of California is the first since the 2000 Florida presidential debacle to require that outdated voting machines be replaced by the next presidential election, according to the ACLU, which brought the suit...The parents of an 11-year-old girl, who was killed in the crash of the helicopter that rescued her from the site of an automobile crash, are entitled to sue the city of Los Angeles for non-economic damages, even though they lacked auto insurance, this district’s Court of Appeal has ruled...The Court of Appeal for this district held that an uninsured motorist whose child was killed in a helicopter crash while being airlifted from the scene of a car accident was not barred by Proposition 213 from bringing a wrongful death suit because the crash did not “arise” from the auto collision.
14—A hospital that allegedly fired a worker to retaliate for his complaints of discrimination may be sued for termination in violation of public policy, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled, even though the hospital’s religious affiliation bars the plaintiff from suing under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
15—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jerold Krieger died of cancer.
18— Orange County Deputy District Attorney Victoria Chen’s failure to win a promotion was not a result of race, gender, or marital-status discrimination, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled. The court held that Chen—who took a disability retirement from the office after filing suit—was not subjected to marital-status discrimination resulting from her relationship with, and subsequent marriage to, then-Deputy District Attorney Devallis Rutledge, if it was Rutledge’s unpopularity with his superiors, not the fact she was married to him, that blocked her progress within the office.
19—A death row inmate who grew up working in pesticide-soaked fields in Southern California is entitled to a new sentencing trial because his trial lawyer never presented evidence of the mental impact of exposure to pesticides, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. A divided panel, which had earlier ordered an evidentiary hearing on whether Fernando Eros Caro was in fact brain-damaged, agreed with U.S. District Judge James Ware of the Northern District of California that Caro had established the existence of brain damage.
21— California’s “Son of Sam” law is facially invalid under the First Amendment and the state Constitution to the extent that it permits seizure of all monies due a convicted felon from expressive materials that include the story of the crime, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled.
22— The U.S. may deny a passport to a citizen who is behind in child support payments, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, upholding a federal law that allows the State department to deny a passport to anyone who is $5,000 or more behind on a child support debt to the other parent. Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez said that unlike the right to interstate travel, which can be revoked only under the most narrowly tailored circumstances, the constitutional right to international travel can be limited if the law is deemed to advance a reasonable governmental purpose such as upholding the welfare of children...U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Q. Robbins retired.
27— This district’s Court of Appeal upheld the 1998 termination of Workers’ Compensation Judge John D. Young for consistently filing his decisions late and continuing to hear cases involving two women lawyers with whom he was trying to form personal relationships, among other misconduct...A nonsuit was properly granted in a malpractice/sexual harassment suit against well-known civil rights lawyer Dan Stormer after the plaintiff committed “outrageous” conduct by defying the trial judge’s order to complete psychological testing, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
1—The Los Angeles County Bar Association withdrew the “qualified” rating given Superior Court candidate Donald Renetzky, following news reports that Renetzky, a judge for the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, was found to be 100 percent permanently disabled in a workers’ compensation action....Melissa Widdifield, a criminal defense attorney, part-time Superior Court referee, and Women Lawyers Assn. of Los Angeles president, was named a Superior Court commissioner.
4—The state Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision, upheld a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff’s arrest of a bicyclist for failing to produce identification when he was pulled over for pedaling in the wrong direction on a one-way street. The decision “is probably the price we’re paying for 9-11,” the attorney for Conrad Richard McKay, who was placed under custodial arrest, searched, and found to have a baggie of methamphetamine in his sock, said....Superior Court Commissioner Louis Head retired.
5—Deputy District Attorney Lauren Weis defeated three opponents to win a Los Angeles Superior Court judgeship. Judges Floyd Baxter and C. Robert Simpson were re-elected, while four contests for open seats went to runoffs.
7—An Orange Superior Court procedure in which parties to a lawsuit agreed to waive their rights to trial and appeal and appoint a sitting judge as arbitrator pursuant to the California Arbitration Act violates state law, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
11—Superior Court Commissioner Michael Price retired.
13—District Attorney Steve Cooley distributed his office’s new policy on direct filing of criminal charges against juveniles in adult court under Proposition 21. Factors to be considered, Cooley said, include the circumstances and gravity of the offense, the minor’s previous delinquent history, past efforts at rehabilitation, completion of rehabilitation before expiration of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction, the minor’s degree of sophistication, the existence of a companion adult defendant, and special consideration for victims and witnesses, such as whether a victim or witness is elderly or in ill health or has been threatened.
14—It is illegal to record a telephone conversation if the other party has an objectively reasonable expectation that the call is not being taped, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously, regardless of whether the party doing the eavesdropping intended to disseminate the contents.
17—Retired Court of Appeal Justice Bernard Jefferson, a pioneer African American jurist, author, and legal educator, died at 91 after a lengthy illness.
18—James Leslie Karis Jr., an El Dorado County resident convicted of murder, rape and kidnapping in connection with the 1981 abduction of two women at gunpoint, was granted a new penalty trial by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that his trial lawyer was ineffective because no evidence of Karis’ abusive childhood was presented...Former ACLU legal director Fred Okrand, a veteran of more than 500 cases on civil rights issues ranging from the right of a State Bar applicant to refuse to answer questions about Communist Party affiliations to school busing to abortion, died at age 84.
21—State bar groups may use mandatory dues money to enhance the image of the profession, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case from Nevada...San Francisco attorney Marjorie Knoller was convicted of murder and manslaughter, and her husband and fellow attorney Robert Noel was convicted of manslaughter, in the controversial case of their neighbor who was mauled to death by the couple’s two huge dogs. The case was moved to Los Angeles because of heavy publicity in their hometown.
25—Dues or agency fees that workers are compelled to pay under a collective bargaining agreement may be used for organizing activity, at least within the same industry, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. An 11-judge en banc court unanimously rejected the view of a three-judge panel, which ruled last year that organizing activity outside the immediate bargaining unit is unnecessary to the union’s role as collective bargaining representative and thus workers cannot be forced to pay for it...A malicious prosecution suit may be the subject of a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
29—An employee of a charter city must exhaust administrative remedies under both the charter and the Fair Employment and Housing Act before suing for a violation of the act, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled...A transfer of property between estranged spouses is subject to the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled. The court said a contrary 1999 ruling of the Fourth District Court of Appeal was wrong.
31—Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioners Linda Elliot, David Stephens and Jeffrey Castner retired.
2—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Brandler died at age 92. He was the stepfather of California Chief Justice Ronald M. George and presided over a number of high-profile cases, including the trial of “Onion Field” killers Jimmy Smith and Gregory Powell...Janice Fukai, chief assistant to county Alternate Public Defender Bruce Hoffman from the creation of the office in 1993 until Hoffman’s retirement March 31, was named as Hoffman’s successor by the Board of Supervisors.
4—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe temporarily enjoined the city of Compton from footing the bill for the $840,000 in legal fees ex-Mayor Omar Bradley racked up while fighting the city’s June 2001 election results, along with $43,000 in disputed back wages for the ousted mayor...A contract by which spouses agree to pay liquidated damages in the event of a breach of a promise of marital fidelity is contrary to public policy and unenforceable, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
5—Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Diana Summerhayes was named a Superior Court commissioner.
8—Senior U.S. District Judge Harry L. Hupp of the Central District of California threw out a 28-year-old consent decree quota system for hiring Los Angeles city firefighters, saying it had “outlasted its purpose,” but rejected the request of four white would-be firefighters to declare it unconstitutional.
9—U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of the Northern District of California rejected a suit by an Arizona-based attorney who claimed that he had a constitutional right to vote for members of the State Bar Board of Governors. The plaintiff failed to demonstrate that State Bar Act provisions limiting the voting to members with California addresses violate the equal protection, free speech, or privileges and immunities clause of the Constitution, the judge ruled.
12—Gov. Gray Davis named Torrance attorney Vincent H. Okamoto, Deputy District Attorney Charles Q. Clay III, and Los Angeles Assistant City Attorney Mary Strobel as judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
15—A $500,000 sanctions award against former Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps partner James B. Hicks was overturned by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said Judge Nora Manella of the Central District of California may have considered conduct, such as discovery violations, which cannot be the subject of sanctions imposed under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure...Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White, who after leaving the court chaired a commission that recommended splitting the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals into semi-autonomous divisions with authority to create their own case law, died at age 84.
16—The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office violated the constitutional rights of parents whose dead children’s corneas were removed without consent, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
18—Gov. Gray Davis named civil trial lawyer Daniel J. Buckley and state Deputy Attorney General Chester Horn Jr. to the Los Angeles Superior Court...In a 6-1 decision, the state Supreme Court said it is not necessarily improper for a public entity that is the victim of a possible crime to pay for the services of an expert witness who testifies for the prosecution.
19—Conversations between a defendant, his lawyer and the defense investigator, in which the client threatened to kill the attorney and the investigator, weren’t privileged communications, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
22—The Los Angeles Police Protective League has the right to intervene in legal proceedings concerning reform of the city’s police department, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The court also directed U.S.. District Judge Gary Feess to reconsider his denial of permissive intervention to the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, which argued that it should be allowed to represent the interests of community members affected by the consent decree negotiated between the city and the Department of Justice and approved by Feess...Los Angeles Police Department Chief Bernard Parks said he would leave the department and would not sue the city over its decision not to give him a second five-year term...Los Angeles County and other counties and cities in California have the power to ban gun sales on government-owned property, the state Supreme Court said in response to a certified question from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...Local attorney Andrew Caine assumed the presidency of the American Bankruptcy Institute after serving a year as president-elect.
24—Federal courts cannot review INS orders for the deportation of convicted firearms violators, even if the conviction has been expunged pursuant to state law, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
25— Los Angeles attorneys John Walter and Percy Anderson were confirmed by the Senate as judges of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California...Overturning lower court rulings for the release of Patrick Henry Ghilotti, the state Supreme Court held that prosecutors need not prove that a multiple sex offender’s prospects of re-offending are greater than 50 percent in order to obtain an extended commitment order under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. Concurring Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar warned that the decision was likely to result in “all or nearly all” such offenders being kept behind bars. Ghilotti would have been the first SVP ever released from custody...Sacramento Superior Court Judge Peter McBrien, who pled no contest last year to a misdemeanor charge of cutting trees on public land—the branches were apparently blocking his view of a nearby river—was publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance.
26—Los Angeles Superior Court research attorney William Dodson and State Bar Court Judge Stanford Reichert were named Superior Court commissioners.
2—Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office investigators closed the Metropolitan News Company for three hours, ordered reporters and other employees out of the building and threatened a search of all company offices, including the newsroom, as they served a search warrant in a quest for documents they said related to a South Gate corruption probe. The company was one of 15 locations across the county where warrants were served in connection with the South Gate investigation...Athletic shoe giant Nike, Inc.’s public relations campaign in defense of its labor practices in the Asian countries where its products are made is a form of commercial speech, the California Supreme Court ruled...Fresno Superior Court Judge Gene Gomes was named to the Fifth District Court of Appeal by Gov. Gray Davis...In a 4-3 decision, the justices overruled a First District Court of Appeal panel and held that the company’s First Amendment defense to a private citizen’s suit against the company for unfair competition and false advertising must be judged by the same rules that govern commercial advertisements generally.
3—A patient’s agreement to arbitrate medical malpractice claims doesn’t prevent his adult children from suing for wrongful death, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
4—The State Bar Board of Governors took a major step toward spinning off the Conference of Delegates as a separate nonprofit organization, but resolved to continue joint annual meetings and to assist the conference in collecting donations. The board called upon the Legislature to permit the conference to incorporate as a separate entity, with one member saying the board was looking for a “maturing” relationship rather than a divorce.
6—A county may not choose hearing officers for regulatory cases under an ad hoc system that gives those officials a financial incentive to rule in favor of the county, the state Supreme Court ruled. The justices agreed with a Fourth District Court of Appeal panel, which held that a San Bernardino County massage-parlor operator had been denied due process by having his license-revocation hearing assigned to a factfinder appointed by the county counsel. Six of the seven justices went further than the Court of Appeal, saying that any system in which the hearing officer’s prospects of future employment lie in the unbridled discretion of a local government which is a party to the dispute is unconstitutional...Prosecutors may eavesdrop on inmates—including pretrial detainees—to gather criminal evidence, the state Supreme Court ruled. A 1982 ruling that limited wiretapping and eavesdropping on inmates in jails and prisons to cases where information was needed for safety and security, such as preventing escapes, ceased to be good law after the Legislature amended the Prisoners’ Bill of Rights in 1994 to make prisoner monitoring more widely available, Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the court.
9—A Sacramento man who spent most of his adult life in prison before he killed his roommate at a group living facility had his death sentence affirmed by the state Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision, the justices said Herbert Koontz’s “cold-blooded” killing of George Martinez and “staggering” history of criminal violence warranted the maximum sentence.
10—A death row inmate from Contra Costa County was granted a new trial by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said his trial lawyer gave him ineffective representation by not exploring a mental health defense. Michael Wayne Jennings might have been convicted of manslaughter or second degree murder if his trial counsel had presented evidence of his background instead of abandoning that possibility in favor of presenting a weak alibi, Judge William Fletcher wrote...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debra Yang resigned to become U.S. attorney for the Central District of California.
14—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to name a new courthouse in the Antelope Valley after Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
15—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Kough retired.
16—Ralph Dills, who served 18 years on the Compton Municipal Court and 42 years in the California Legislature, died at age 92...A religiously affiliated hospital did not violate public policy by firing an employee for talking about his faith at work, the California Supreme Court ruled. “Although there is a clear, constitutionally based state policy against religious discrimination in employment,” Justice Carlos Moreno wrote for a unanimous court, “...there is also a countervailing policy rooted in the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as the comparable California constitutional right...that permits religious organizations to define themselves and their religious message.”...An anti-abortion group and its members who created Wild West-style posters and a website targeting abortion doctors must pay damages to the physicians because their works were illegal threats and not free speech, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled en banc. The 6-5 ruling showed an unusual split on the court, with the majority consisting of Judge Pamela Ann Rymer, Chief Judge Mary Schroeder and Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Barry G. Silverman, Kim M. Wardlaw, and Johnnie B. Rawlinson. Judge Alex Kozinski dissented, along with Judges Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Stephen Reinhardt and Marsha S. Berzon.
17—Retired Riverside Superior Court Judge William H. Sullivan was censured by the Commission on Judicial Performance for questionable financial dealings with two trusts that continued after his appointment to the bench. Sullivan, 74, was also barred from receiving court-assigned work as part of a stipulation approved by an 8-0 vote of the commission...A woman whose husband died of autoerotic asphyxiation is entitled to recover benefits under an accidental injury and death insurance policy, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
20—Los Angeles County cannot be sued for negligence in the death of a woman shot in the Central Courthouse by her ex-husband, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled. The county owned Eileen Zelig no duty, either under state common law or a federal civil rights statute, to conduct weapons screening that would have revealed that Harry Zelig, then a San Fernando Valley physician, was carrying a gun, the justices said.
22—Gov. Gray Davis named attorneys Amy Hogue, Gregory Keosian and Charles Palmer to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
23—A prisoner has no constitutional right to artificially inseminate his wife, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 6-5 en banc decision...Sonoma County officials violated the civil rights of a patron who was prevented from wearing his Hell’s Angels vest at the county fair, the First District Court of Appeal ruled, saying a dress code that, among other things, barred “apparel or accessories intended to provoke, offend or intimidate others...including offensive slogans, insignia or ‘gang colors.,’” was vague and overbroad...President Bush nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jay Bybee, a former law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, to fill the Ninth Circuit vacancy created when Judge Procter Hug Jr. took senior status Jan. 1.
25—Los Angeles Superior Court Juvenile Referee Jane Godfrey and Santa Monica lawyer Michael I. Levanas were named commissioners of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
28—The State Bar announced that 1,361 of the 4,070 applicants who took the general bar examination in February passed. The 33.4 percent pass rate marks a nearly four percent drop from the February 2001 exam and was the lowest in at least 12 years, a State Bar official said...A member of the Rastafarian faith does not have the right to bring marijuana into Guam, either under the territory’s Bill of Rights or the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
29—The state controller can pay state employees minimum wage, but no more than that, during a budget impasse, absent a continuing or emergency appropriations act, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. The Div. Four panel also ruled that only a limited portion of the funding for public schools under Proposition 98 may be disbursed in the absence of a budget or emergency legislation...Newly appointed Los Angeles Superior Court public information director Allan Parachini said he would launch a full audit of the court’s communications functions and prepare a plan to improve the way the court makes information available to the public and to reporters.
30—The state Supreme Court upheld two death sentences, including one against a man whose first penalty phase trial ended in a hung jury after the judge declined the jury’s request to address the defendant. The justices rejected Michael Corey Slaughter’s argument that the unusual request by his first penalty jury should result in a life sentence. Slaughter said he should be spared death for two drug-related killings in Modesto because the jury appeared to be considering life without parole, but only if it had a chance to speak with Slaughter before reaching a verdict...In the other case, the high court upheld a death sentence for Raymond Edward Steele, who was convicted of murdering a developmentally disabled women in 1988. Writing for the majority, Justice Ming W. Chin said the Shasta County trial judge acted correctly in admitting into evidence Steele’s earlier conviction for a 1971 killing.
31—The nonprofit organization that processes insurance and retirement claims for Los Angeles Police Department officers did not violate the state Constitution’s privacy clause by firing an employee who chose to marry an incarcerated felon, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled. The Los Angeles Police Relief Association’s termination of former benefits administrator Cipriana Ortiz “was a rational response to a legitimate employer interest,” Justice Robert Mallano wrote for Div. One.
1—Judge Ferdinand Fernandez assumed senior status at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
4—Retired First District Court of Appeal Justice Marcel Poché was named to the Santa Clara Superior Court by Gov. Gray Davis.
6—A man who raises a child as his own may be granted parental rights even if he is not a biological parent and the mother objects, the state Supreme Court ruled.
10—A ceremony marked the official renaming of the civil courthouse in downtown Los Angeles for the late California Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk.
13—A witness may not refuse to testify against his or her spouse if the alleged crime was committed against a third person and is closely related to an uncharged crime against the witness/spouse, the state Supreme Court ruled. The court held that the wife of convicted murder Robert Sinohui was properly compelled to testify, under a statutory exception to the spousal privilege, in a case where her husband was accused of following a car in which she was riding with a former boyfriend, forcing her out of the vehicle, killing the man, and then taking her home with him.
17—Former Los Angeles attorney Leonard R. Milstein, who regained his law license after a 1995 conviction for conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury was thrown out by the Court of Appeal, was placed on involuntary inactive status after the State Bar Court found that he enticed incarcerated clients to hire him with promises of early releases that he did not, and could not, follow through on.
18—Longtime Deputy District Attorney Margaret Ann Barreto-Morehouse died of complications following pulmonary surgery. The sister of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Antonio Barreto Jr. and 22-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Office was 52.
21—Jurors in Santa Ana rejected Pifen Lo’s claim that she was coerced into having repeated sex with then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George W. Trammell III after he presided over a criminal case in which she and her husband were defendants. Trammell, who quit the bench when his relationship with Lo became public, was later sentenced to 27 months in prison for mail fraud related to his earlier efforts to cover up the affair.
22—Santa Barbara civil litigator James Herman was elected president of the State Bar of California...Two Los Angeles attorneys were elected by the members of the California Young Lawyers Association to lead the organization for the next year. Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Anthony Paul Diaz was elected CYLA’s president for the 2002-2003 year and Margaret P. Stevens, a Los Angeles litigation attorney and president-elect of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Barristers, was selected as CYLA’s representative to the State Bar Board of Governors.
26—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 violates the California Constitution’s prohibition against government aid to religion, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 7-4 en banc decision.
27—A lawyer sued for malpractice may, at least in some cases, bring a cross-complaint for indemnity against co-counsel who allegedly bears responsibility for the negligence, the state Supreme Court ruled.
1—The Los Angeles County Bar Association installed new officers, including President Miriam Krinsky, President-Elect Robin Meadow, Senior Vice President John Collins and Vice President Edith Matthai...An employee who signs a broad release to settle a worker’s compensation claim may be barred from later filing a lawsuit to recover damages for the same actions that sparked the claim, the state Supreme Court ruled...Trial courts have no authority to strike or expunge a notice of lien when an attorney fails to make a prima facie showing that he has a valid lien on the judgment, the First District Court of Appeal ruled. The law can be unfair, but any change must come from the Legislature, Presiding Justice Barbara J.R. Jones of Div. Five said...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Nancy Brown was removed from her juvenile dependency court assignment in Monterey Park and reassigned to the Alhambra courthouse in action described by Presiding Judge James Bascue as being “for the betterment of the court.” Lawyers for Dependency Court Legal Services, which represents foster children in dependency proceedings, began filing affidavits of prejudice under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6 against Brown earlier this year.
2—A church has the right to bar an ex-member from entering its property to spread an arguably religious message, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
3—Anita Bock, the controversial director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services responsible for the welfare of thousands of foster children and juvenile court wards, resigned following a closed Board of Supervisors session Tuesday at which the supervisors unanimously agreed not to keep her on.
8—Fresno Superior Court Judge James I. Aaron agreed to step down from the bench within five days in exchange for a public censure by the Commission on Judicial Performance and the promise of no further discipline for his involvement in a “dubious investment scheme” that included a lawyer who appeared regularly in his courtroom.
9— California’s timeliness restrictions on habeas corpus petitions must be respected by federal courts, but only if they have been applied consistently, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
10—Retired judges will no longer be able to serve on state courts as assigned judges if they take jobs in private dispute resolution, effective Jan. 1, Chief Justice Ronald George said...The new child care waiting room at the Compton Courthouse was given the name “Jeff’s Place” after the late Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Jeffrey Marckese, who was killed in a car accident earlier this year.
11— Self-styled “outsider” candidates David M. Marcus and Steven J. Ipsen defeated establishment-backed bar activists in the two Los Angeles County races for the State Bar Board of Governors, State Bar officials reported. Of 43,496 lawyers eligible to vote in District Seven—Los Angeles County—just over 6,000 cast ballots in the two races. Marcus, a partner in the Century City office of Marcus, Watanabe, Snyder & Dave, got 3,138 to attorney Michelle Katz’s 2,947, while Ipsen, Los Angeles deputy district attorney, scored 3,082 to Deputy City Attorney Matthew St. George’s 3,055.
15—California insurance companies affiliated with foreign firms that issued Holocaust-era insurance policies must disclose information related to those policies, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, saying the law is merely a reporting statute and not a regulation of foreign commerce...Cities and other public entities may not block an expected Public Records Act lawsuit by filing a preemptive declaratory relief action, the state Supreme Court ruled.
16—The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pay $150,000 to settle with a pregnant woman who claims she twice went into premature labor due to the stress of an unlawful strip search she was subjected to after being arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to appear in court for a traffic citation.
17—Gov. Gray Davis signed AB 1933, authored by Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno, a bill giving domestic violence victims more time to sue for damages and the opportunity to collect attorney’s fees from a violent spouse or boyfriend. The law takes effect tomorrow, Jan. 1.
18— Los Angeles Superior Court Judges R. Gary Klausner and S. James Otero were nominated to seats on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California...California’s medical marijuana laws do not immunize users from arrest, but they do allow qualified users to present a medical defense at trial or to avoid trial altogether by moving to set aside their indictment, the state Supreme Court ruled...The state Supreme Court upheld a death sentence for Kurt Michaels in the 1988 stabbing death of his girlfriend’s mother. The justices unanimously rejected Michaels’ assertion that he confessed to the killing only after his request for counsel and right to remain silent was invoked and ignored. Prosecutors said 16-year-old Christina Clemens asked Michaels to kill her mother because she had been sexually abused...A sharply divided high court directed trial courts around the state not to instruct jurors hearing criminal trials that they must tell the judge when one of their colleagues states an intention not to follow the law in rendering a verdict.
22— An attorney fee award of more than $88 million for the successful challenge to California’s smog fee on out-of-state cars was an unconstitutional gift of public funds, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled...The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the death sentence for Raymond Anthony Gurule, a former Los Angeles man who claimed it was his accomplice who slashed the throat of a gas station attendant during a 1982 robbery that netted $75.
23—The federal statute barring possession of firearms by persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders does not violate the Second Amendment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
24—Former civil rights icon A. Thomas Hunt, who resigned from the State Bar with charges pending in 1993 and has since carried on a protracted fight with a former client, should be reinstated as an attorney in good standing, State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo said. The judge found that Hunt, 62, became an alcoholic and abdicated his duties to clients, but has now established by clear and convincing evidence that he has been sufficiently rehabilitated.
25—Randall Scott Cash, whose attorney was not permitted to ask potential jurors whether they would automatically vote for a death sentence for someone who had killed before, became the first Death Row inmate to have his sentence overturned this year. The justices, however, upheld Cash’s Alameda Superior Court conviction for the murder of Bud Smith, in whose home he rented a room, along with the special-circumstance finding that Smith was killed in a robbery and Cash’s conviction of the attempted murder of Smith’s girlfriend.
29— Duress is not a defense to murder, nor does it reduce the crime to manslaughter, the state Supreme Court ruled ..A state law allowing the Fair Employment and Housing Commission to award up to $10,000 to an discrimination victim as compensation for emotional distress is constitutional, the high court held.
30—An attorney who was retained to represent a former legal secretary for a company he was suing should not have been disqualified in the absence of proof he actually obtained and used confidential information, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled.
1—Chief Justice Ronald M. George assumed two national court leadership posts, president-elect of the Conference of Chief Justices and chair-elect of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts...A defendant who moves to strike a suit under the anti-SLAPP law and loses on the merits cannot later sue for malicious prosecution, because the denial of the motion establishes probable cause for the underlying action, the state Supreme Court ruled in a suit growing out of protests at a Riverside County school by members of the Mexican Political Association over alleged sexual harassment female middle school students of Mexican descent and unfair discipline of Latino students...A death row inmate from Orange County is entitled to a new penalty trial because a prosecutor told jurors they could not consider his mitigating evidence and the trial judge did not correct him, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 6-5 en banc decision. The court held that William Charles Payton was denied his constitutional right to have all relevant mitigating evidence considered by the jury that imposed the death penalty in 1982 for a 1980 rape-murder, accompanied by two assaults, in Garden Grove. The victims had been repeatedly stabbed, and investigators called the crime scene one of the bloodiest they had ever seen.
2—A California Department of Corrections policy, under which media and other witnesses to executions were not permitted to see the procedures leading up to the condemned inmates’ deaths, violates the First Amendment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
5— A statute repealing the immunity that California once gave tobacco manufacturers from products liability claims isn’t retroactive, so smokers with illnesses cannot recover for industry conduct covered by the immunity while it was in effect, the state Supreme Court ruled. The justices, however, limited the immunity to conduct occurring during the 10 years that the repealed law was on the books, and, in a companion case, limited the types of claims to which the immunity can be applied...The Los Angeles County Claims Board approved a $75,000 settlement, payable to a court reporter who said a sheriff’s deputy frequently hugged and kissed her and made offensive sexual comments to her when they were working together at the Burbank courthouse...County supervisors asked for a closed-session briefing on a $12.3 million medical malpractice award that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered when the county’s lawyer failed to show up for trial. Judge Josh Fredericks made the ruling on July 18, which was to be the fourth day of trial in a lawsuit brought against the county by a woman who said she suffered brain damage because of negligence at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Attorney George Peterson of Bonne, Bridges, Mueller, O’Keefe & Nichols had not appeared for trial all week. County lawyers said that Peterson was in trial in another courtroom, that he had advised Fredericks of his unavailability, and that the judge’s decision to go ahead with jury selection and trial in Peterson’s absence was a denial of due process...The Commission on Judicial Performance ordered San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Michael E. Platt removed from the bench for ticket fixing and using improper influence.
6—A judge’s ruling that the federal government must bear the entire cost of cleaning up a Torrance toxic site where rubber was produced for the Allied effort in World War II was upheld by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...This district’s Court of Appeal held that the owners of Shakey’s Pizza on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood cannot be held liable for a murder on the premises, which they could not reasonably have foreseen. A divided panel in Div. Four affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles W. McCoy, who granted a nonsuit to the restaurateurs at the close of the plaintiffs’ evidence, rejecting a suit brought by the family of a man shot to death in 1996 after an incident at the restaurant....This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a defendant who is simultaneously convicted of two serious sex crimes, one of which occurred before the one-strike law was enacted and another afterwards, may be punished under the recidivist provision of that statute...The first children’s waiting room in a Los Angeles County courthouse was dedicated in Long Beach, providing what court officials said will be a safe place for children to play while their parents conduct their court business.
7—The Fifth District Court of Appeal ordered a new trial in a 14-year-old murder case, saying the misuse of DNA evidence deprived the defendant of a fair trial. While the use of DNA evidence is now broadly accepted in California, Presiding Justice James Ardaiz wrote for the court, jurors were likely misled by the way such evidence was used at the 1990 trial of Michael Pizarro...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit authorities from conducting random, suspicionless searches of bags that have cleared the X-ray machines. The court also held that a person whose bag has gone through the machine does not have the option of taking the bag and leaving the airport rather than submit to the search....Former police officer Nino Durden, who with ex-partner Rafael Perez symbolized the Rampart police scandal, was sentenced to five years in prison for perjury, filing false police reports and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley accepted plea terms in which the prosecution agreed that Durden can serve his time in federal prison, where he was already sentenced to three years for civil rights violations and possession of an illegal firearm.
8— The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled partners in a failing law firm who took partnership draws while the firm was not paying rent cannot be held liable to the landlord on a fraudulent conveyance theory. The court affirmed a summary judgment in favor of eight partners in the dissolved Newport Beach firm of Hamilton & Samuels....Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioners Steven Sanora, Thomas R. White and Kelvin D. Filer were named Superior Court judges by Gov. Gray Davis....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley rejected a motion to order release of secret grand jury transcripts from a probe of the Rampart police scandal. The judge told defense lawyer Gigi Gordon he had no authority to review confidential proceedings of the civil grand jury, which conducted a three-week investigation of Rampart earlier this year but disbanded in June without reporting its findings.
9—The State Bar Board of Governors acted quickly to amend the rule that permits people who flunk the bar exam a chance to see what they missed, after the administrators of the Multistate Bar Exam said they would no longer turn over their used exam booklets.
12—The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that a law firm is not necessarily disqualified from representing a client in a suit solely because it has hired a lawyer who represented an adverse party in separate, but related, litigation....The California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Maureen McDermott’s death sentence for hiring the men who killed her former housemate. McDermott was the first woman to have her death sentence upheld by the state high court since California instituted capital punishment in 1977.
13—Gov. Gray Davis appointed federal prosecutor Jacqueline H. Nguyen, who trains new assistant U.S. attorneys in Southern California, to the Los Angeles Superior Court...This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that an art school employee who was caricatured in a sexually explicit work that was hung in the school’s main gallery for about 24 hours lacks a triable claim for sexual harassment. “We affirm the judgment of the trial court [in favor of California Institute of the Arts] because the undisputed facts establish the alleged harassment was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the plaintiffs’ employment and create a hostile work environment,” Justice Dennis Perluss wrote for Div. Seven.
14—This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that defendants who filed a timely motion to strike a strategic lawsuit against public participation, in a suit that was dismissed on other grounds, may be awarded attorney fees under the anti-SLAPP law...Former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti was appointed to a five-year term on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission by City Council President Alex Padilla.
15—The California Supreme Court ruled that a former firefighter convicted of forcing his son from a prior marriage to rape his estranged wife and killing the person with whom she was living was properly sentenced to death. In an opinion by Justice Marvin Baxter for a unanimous court, the justices upheld the death sentences imposed on Isaac Gutierrez Jr.
16—Gov. Gray Davis named Deputy Attorney General Tammy Chung Ryu to the Los Angeles Superior Court, making her the first Korean American woman to sit on a California court. Sherman Oaks attorney Michael Convey was named a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner.... Imprisoned Spanish-language disc jockey Hector Rocksetti and the managers of Los Angeles pop station Viva 107.1 FM were named as defendants in a negligence and sexual assault lawsuit. The suit was filed by the legal guardians of two minor girls allegedly enticed into sexual encounters with the radio personality, who real name is Firmo Martin Rosetti. Rosetti pled guilty in May of having committed lewd acts with the same girls.
19— This district’s Court of Appeal ruled the Los Angeles Police Department is not liable for failing to intervene with respect to a relationship between an officer and a supervisor that allegedly drive the subordinate to suicide....The California Supreme Court ruled that a party seeking to enforce its rights under a lost or destroyed insurance policy need only prove the substance of the document, not its exact language. The justices overturned a Court of Appeal decision favoring Commercial Union Insurance Company in its longstanding dispute with Dart Industries, Inc. over coverage of more than 1,500 claims related to the drug DES...The California Supreme Court ruled that a trial judge may condition a grant of probation on the defendant’s waiver of credit for time served, even if it results in the defendant ultimately serving more total time in custody that the maximum prison term.
20—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a group of suits targeting a popular technique for marketing sports and other trading cards as a violation of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. A three-judge panel affirmed orders by U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster of the Southern District of California dismissing eight suits in which the plaintiffs—parents of some of the industry’s young customers—alleged that the random inclusion of “chase” or “insert” cards into sealed packages encourages children to gamble in violation of state laws.
22—The California Supreme Court ruled the use of an electronic belt that allows a court officer to administer a 50,000-volt shock lasting 8-10 seconds as a means of controlling a criminal defendant is permissible only in very narrow circumstances....A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said a Los Angeles Unified School District policy that limits the ability of teachers to transfer from one school to another, based on the effect of the transfer on the racial makeup of the faculty, should be reviewed by the California Supreme Court. The federal tribunal certified to the state Supreme Court the questions of whether the policy constitutes a racial preference, within the meaning of Proposition 209, and if so, whether it falls within any of the exceptions to the initiative’s ban on such preferences.
23—Gov. Gray Davis named four new judges to the Los Angeles Superior Court—UCLA law professor John Shepard Wiley Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlaine F. Olmedo, and civil litigators Mark A. Juhas and Steven J. Kleifield...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that unauthorized access and review of the contents of a password protected website does not violate the Wiretap Act....Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Montes declared unconstitutional a voter initiative designed to prevent expansion at Burbank Airport.
26—The California Supreme Court declined to strike down California’s five-year limit on criminal defendants’ access to police personnel records, but also ruled that older records still can be brought to court if a judge can be shown the materials would make a difference in the trial’s outcome...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that judicial regulations that bar the wearing of clothing with motorcycle organization symbols in a Carson City, Nev. Courthouse appear to violate the First Amendment. The three-judge panel held that plaintiffs, members of several motorcycle gangs who have been banned from wearing their “colors” on the second and third floors of the Carson City Public Safety Complex, had shown that they are entitled to a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the policy...Twelve jurors in U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder’s courtroom found Los Angeles Police Officers did not use excessive force or racial profiling when they ordered three people, including Virginia Judge Alotha C. Willis and her husband, the director of naval contracts for the Defense Department, out of a car at gunpoint and forced them to lie face-down on a street while handcuffed.
28—The California Supreme Court declined to review a Court of Appeal ruling striking down a school district’s restrictive transfer policy as a violation of Proposition 209. The panel held that the policy, which restricted a student’s ability to transfer into a school where his or her racial group was over-represented, or out of a school where he or she was in a racial minority, violates the 1996 initiative outlawing racial preferences in public education, employment, or contracting.
29—The state Supreme Court ruled that defendants who claim lawsuits against them could squelch their exercise of First Amendment rights do not have to show that the plaintiffs had just that effect in mind in order to prevail under California’s “anti-SLAPP” law.
30—This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a sperm bank is a “health care provider,” entitled to special statutory protection from punitive damage claims. Revisiting the tragic case of a child conceived by artificial insemination who suffers from a serious, genetically transmitted kidney disease, Div. Two held that Ronald and Diane Johnson cannot sue for punitive damages unless a judge first finds that there is a “substantial” probability the plaintiffs will prove the required malice, fraud, or oppression at trial...The National Center for state Courts reported that California Chief Justice Ronald M. George won the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence.
31—Gov. Gray Davis vetoed a bill to require trial courts to collect traffic school fees after that drew stiff opposition from the Los Angeles Superior Court.
3—Eugene Allen “Gene” Wright, a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals senior judge often praised for the clarity of his writing, died at 89...Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M. Ross Bigelow, 77, the father of current Superior Court Judge Tricia Bigelow, died at his home in Temecula.
4—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employer is not required to hire a potential employee who refuses to sign an agreement to arbitrate federal statutory claims arising from the employment relationship.
5—Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation enacting a $98.9 billion dollar state budget, including nearly $1.6 billion for the state’s courts....Two partners of the dissolved Los Angeles firm of Lyon & Lyon joined the West Coast office of Holland & Knight. Robert E. Lyon joined Holland as Of Counsel and Richard E. Lyon as a partner.
9—This district’s Court of Appeal upheld an injunction barring the Burbank City Council from opening its meetings with a “sectarian prayer.” Div. Two affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alexander Williams III’s ruling that an invocation offered “in the name of Jesus Christ” offended the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
10—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied habeas corpus relief to Death Row inmate Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a co-founder of the Crips street gang who was nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize as a result of his work to keep children from joining gangs...Ira Yellin, a Harvard-educated lawyer who became known for the redevelopment of historic Los Angeles buildings and for promoting downtown urban life, died at the age of 62.
11—Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Robert Dukes and William MacLaughlin were deemed elected as the court’s presiding and assistant presiding judges when nominations closed without anyone else submitting papers....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that members of the Yakama Indian Tribe are not immune from federal taxes on large vehicles and diesel fuels.
12—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Randolph Rogers filed for divorce after 10 years of marriage to Superior Court Judge Pamela Rogers. In his petition, Rogers asked that he be given legal and physical custody of the couple’s 9-year-old daughter, and that his wife be limited to supervised visitation...Veteran child support enforcement attorney Nicholas Taubert was named a commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court...This district’s Court of Appeal largely upheld a $614,000 attorneys fee award to a Los Angeles firm that represented employees of the Spanish-language Telemundo network in a class action for unpaid overtime compensation, wages and benefits. Div. Five, in an unpublished opinion by Presiding Justice Paul A. Turner, agreed with Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Bruce Mitchell that Daar & Newman would could reasonably charge $325 per hour for its work on the case...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that circumstantial evidence was sufficient to convict a woman who accompanied three undocumented aliens on a flight from Japan to Los Angeles of immigration crimes.
13—This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that veganism is not a “religious creed” and its adherents are not protected from discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act....The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a law banning the sale or rental of sexually explicit material on military bases.
15—Gov. Gray Davis signed into law a bill authored by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin to keep the home addresses of judges and public safety officials out of the hands of people who intend to cause them harm....Former Los Angeles County Bar Association President David Pasternak and Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel began three-year terms on the California Judicial Council.
16—A copyright infringement suit over the video footage of truck driver Reginald Denny being beaten a decade ago during the Los Angeles riots was reinstated by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled a copy of the tape turned over by a television station was not hearsay and could be admitted into evidence. The court ruled that the Los Angeles News Service, which copyrighted the footage, may sue CBS Broadcasting Inc. on allegations of copyright violation...A jury decided that David Westerfield should get the death penalty for killing 7-year-old neighbor Danielle van Dam, the little girl who vanished from her bedroom in the first of a string of high-profile child abductions across the country.
17—This district’s Court of Appeal decided that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge exceeded her authority when she attempted to give a plaintiff in a limited civil case a second bite of the apple by declaring a mistrial and ordering that the case be transferred to the “unlimited jurisdiction court” after a jury awarded more than $25,000 in damages...Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation replacing the “Son of Sam Law” declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. Under the current law, the victim of a felony—absent a longer period prescribed by another statute—has one year from the date of sentencing to sue the perpetrator for damages, but the new law extends that to 10 years from the date the felon is discharged from parole where certain serious or violent felonies are committed, including murder, attempted murder, mayhem, kidnapping, rape or child molestation.
18—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated in part two suits by Burmese citizens, charging Unocal Corporation with responsibility for human rights violations committed by its partners in a pipeline project in the plaintiff’s homeland...The state’s Supreme Court declined to review this district’s Court of Appeal ruling rejecting charges of discrimination against white males by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The panel held that the department did not discriminate against white male sergeants in its handling of promotions to the rank of lieutenant between 1997 and 1999...The Los Angeles Superior Court’s Executive Committee adopted a framework for slashing the court’s budget that include 150 additional layoffs by Nov. 1 and possible closure of 29 courtrooms.
19—A drive to recall four South Gate elected officials appeared back on track as this district’s Court of Appeal ruled that the recall documents substantially complied with election laws. The recall process was tied up in court for months in the wake of a lawsuit challenging the petitions, which made the case for recall in old type while reproducing the targets’ response in mixed standard and bold type....The Commission on Judicial Performance charged Fresno Superior Court Judge Vincent J. McGraw with lying about his use of a courthouse computer to view Internet pornography and threatening a baseless lawsuit against a local television station that disclosed what he had done.
20—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the invasion-of-privacy claim brought by the owner of a medical laboratory featured on a 1994 “PrimeTime Live” segment about errors in pap smear results allegedly caused by pressure being placed on technicians to process them quickly.
23—The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that a convicted murderer whose release on parole has been blocked twice by Gov. Gray Davis failed to prove the governor has a blanket policy of denying release to convicted murderers...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the California Public Utilities Commission may have exceeded its authority by entering into a settlement agreement that would allow financially troubled Southern California Edison Company to realize billions of dollars in the form of higher rates. The panel declined to make a final ruling on whether the settlement violated both open-government and regulatory statutes and certified the questions to the state Supreme Court...Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill making California the first state to offer paid family leave.
24—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled en banc that federal civil rights laws protect a homosexual worker allegedly harassed because of his sexual orientation...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Montana initiative that imposes strict limits on campaign contributions, including an aggregate limit on political action committee donations.
25—In closed session, the Los Angeles City Council voted to settle suits brought by three men who won release from prison on habeas corpus writs after they charged that police officers lied to get them convicted...The First District Court of Appeal ruled that a Washington-based organization that aired television commercials last summer critical of Gov. Gray Davis’ handling of the state’s energy crisis is not required to register as a California political committee, an act that would require it to disclose its donors.
26—The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a California law requiring service station owners to provide customers who buy gas with free water, compressed air and use of an air pressuring gauge.
27—Gov. Gray Davis vetoed a bill that would have significantly reduced penalties for non-violent civil disobedience...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Bush administration did not abuse its discretion by deciding not to adopt statistically adjusted census date for redistricting purposes...Longtime Conference of Delegates activist Laura Goldin was selected to be the first executive director of the nascent and newly independent Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, when it takes the place of the 68-year old conference that was a component of the State Bar.
28—The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld a state law requiring service station owners to provide customers with free water, compressed air, and use of an air pressure gauge.
1—Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to settle for $150,000 a lawsuit brought by a woman claiming she was unlawfully strip-searched twice by sheriff’s deputies.
2—The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declined to review a challenge to the city of San Diego’s plan for a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres after the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in the city’s favor...Two homeless men who were paid to hurt themselves and beat each are seeking unspecified punitive damages for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil rights violations from filmmakers who recorded their self-destructive acts for a videotape sold on the Internet...This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a law firm that formerly represented the Bell Gardens Bicycle Club in employment litigation can represent one faction of the casino’s owners in a dispute with the other faction.
3—The Senate passed a Department of Justice reauthorization bill that creates one new judgeship for the Central District of California and five for the Southern District of California...This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a state law allowing a court to grant visitation rights to a sibling after a parent has died is unconstitutional to the extent it interferes with a custodial parent’s control of the minor...Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Eugene Siegel, 59, retired from the court after 12 years as a bench officer.
5—Superior Court Referee Marilyn H. Mackel and Deputy Public Defender Mark Zuckman were named commissioners of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
7—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by a opponents of an English-only public school measure that Proposition 227, which virtually banned bilingual education in California public schools, violated the Equal Protection Clause by improperly reallocating local school district authority to the state to further a racial purpose.
8—The state Supreme Court issued an order rejecting a request by officials in the city of South Gate to stop county elections workers from processing recall petitions. The court declined to review the Court of Appeal’s decision holding that the papers’ format substantially complied with the Elections Code despite variances in the typeface.
9—A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld Arizona’s law requiring minors to get parental consent to have an abortion in a 2-1 ruling...Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash denied bail to actor Robert Blake...This district’s Court of Appeal released a decision throwing out the malicious prosecution portion of a lawsuit a former “The Price is Right” model filed against the show’s host, Bob Barker.
10—Author Brad Meltzer kicked off the State Bar of California’s annual meeting in Monterey by sharing with his lunchtime audience the lesson he learned from his 24 rejection notices — “don’t let anyone tell you—no.’”....Saying the energy crisis no longer threatens California, an anti-tax group sued Gov. Gray Davis to end the state of emergency the governor declared nearly two years ago. The declaration of a state of emergency gives the governor extraordinary powers, and the National Tax Limitation Committee said there’s no longer any reason for Davis to have that authority...Students filed a class-action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court alleging that schools do not have enough space, materials and teachers, and that the shortcomings are particularly evident in minority communities...U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer suspended her earlier order enjoining the use of the claim that the anti-depressant Paxil is non-habit-forming..President Bush nominated Orange Superior Court Judge—and former UCLA football star—Cormac J. Carney to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
11—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Los Angeles police officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of a Los Feliz man mistakenly detained for 45 minutes to an hour after another man tried to break into a neighbor’s house.
12—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory O’Brien took the helm of the California Judges Association...California Chief Justice Ronald M. George administered the oath of office to the new State Bar president, Santa Barbara lawyer James Herman, at the State Bar’s annual meeting in Monterey. Herman asked California attorneys to help him make his term as State Bar president a “year of pride” by educating the public on lawyers’ good works, promoting member services and visiting bar groups throughout the state.
13—Chief Justice Ronald M. George reaffirmed his new policy of denying court assignment to retired judges who engage in private dispute resolution for pay at the final session of this year’s California Judges Association annual meeting in Newport Beach, but promised to consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The Chief Justice also administered the oath to officers and board members, including Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Emilie Elias, Abraham Khan and Michelle Rosenblatt, and Justice Paul Coffee of this district’s Court of Appeal, Div, Six.
15—Eduardo Angeles, a former legal chief of San Francisco’s Fire Department and Public Protection Team, began serving as managing assistant of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Airport Division. He was selected for the position by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo...Richard Clifton, a top Honolulu litigator and longtime lawyer for the local Republican Party, was sworn in as the newest judge on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a Los Angeles County Charter provision requiring the county to reimburse employees who travel on county business does not preclude an agency from requiring its workers to use their personal vehicles for business-related travel.
16—John A. Kronstadt, a partner in the Century City offices of Anrold & Porter, and Rafael Ongkeko, a veteran deputy county counsel, were named to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
17—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Santa Monica is not violating the First Amendment or the Equal Protection Clause by barring a council candidate from running under the designation “peace activist.” The city clerk rejected Jerry Rubin’s designation concluding that “peace activist” is a status, rather than a “profession, vocation, or occupation” as required by the Elections Code...Governor Gray Davis appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Bachner, Superior Court Commissioner Deborah L. Christian and Chief Deputy Federal Public Defender Dennis Landin to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
18—Prosecutors agreed to drop a special circumstances allegation against convicted assassin Harry Sassounian, who has been in prison for nearly 20 years for the murder of a Turkish diplomat. Sassounian will become eligible for parole in 2007 as part of a plea bargain reached as he was about to face trial on the allegation that he was motivated by the national original of his victim, Turkish General Consul Kemal Arikan...Nearly 100 Superior Court employees were notified that they would be laid off as part of an agreement to cut the Sheriff’s Department contract for staffing and security by $9.7 million a year...DeAnn M. Salcido, a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, was appointed to the San Diego Superior Court.
21—This district’s Court of Appeal rejected assertions by Bryan Cave and by Weil, Gotshal & Manges that they, while serving as counsel for City of Hope, also had become agents for the two of the cancer treatment center’s ex-officials, entitled to the benefits of the settlement agreement....This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a state Supreme Court ruling that bars lawyers from recovering attorney fees for representing themselves does not preclude an award for the services of their co-counsel...Huntington Park City Councilwoman Linda Luz Guevara was convicted of four felony charges for falsely claiming she lived in the community in southeast Los Angeles County...The U.S. Supreme Court declined to reverse an order that released a man who was jailed for giving advice to members of an Arizona street gang. The case centers on a former California gang member convicted under an Arizona law that prohibits providing advice to criminals or encouraging criminal activity.
22—This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that an unfair competition suit charging the State Farm Insurance companies with mishandling claims for property damage resulting from the Northridge earthquake should not have been stricken under the anti-SLAPP law.
23—Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in an opinion that city officials may spend public money to buy meals for lawmakers and constituents at meetings to discuss city business only if the city charter specifically allows it, and that public funds of a general law city may not be expended to reimburse city officers for their expenses in purchasing meals for third parties...A New Jersey lawyer who daughter died in a 1995 Gaza suicide bus bombing lost another round in his continuing attempt to collect on a $247 million wrongful death judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Stephen M. Flatow’s bid to execute his judgment on property in Carlsbad owned by Bank Saderat Iran, ruling that Flatow failed to show that the bank is simply an agent or front for the Iranian state.
24—Civil Service Commission ordered the county to reinstate two prosecutors allegedly demoted because they backed the wrong candidate for district attorney. The Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled in an unpublished opinion that a high school student’s poems in which the speaker threatened to shoot his classmates constituted criminal threats and were not protected by the First Amendment because they could substantially disrupt school activities.
25—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that local ordinances barring banks from charging non-accountholders for the use of automatic teller machines are preempted by federal law...A former police officer filed a $100 million defamation suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Bill Simon Jr., over the GOP gubernatorial candidate’s recent claim that he had a photo of the plaintiff giving Gray Davis an illegal campaign check.
27—Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Mildred Lillie, the longest-serving judicial officer in California history and one of the state’s first female jurists, passed away at the age of 87.
28—Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Fratianne passed away of complications from pancreatic cancer at the age of 72....This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that the Fair Employment and Housing Act does not create a cause of action for a worker who claims her employer failed to protect her from sexual harassment from a patron.
29—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a contempt conviction, but vacated the prison sentence of Robert Mullally, who turned over sealed documents to the media exposing the Los Angeles Police Department’s lax treatment of officers accused of domestic violence in 2001...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2-year-old court order prohibiting the Justice Department from revoking doctors’ licenses to prescribe medication, or investigating doctors, for recommending marijuana to sick patients...This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a Northern California couple who received a settlement from UC Irvine after learning that eggs and sperm they donated to the university’s fertility clinic may have been given to another couple cannot sue to determine whether twins born to another couple are actually the plaintiffs’ biological children.
4— The State Supreme Court ruled that failure to obtain client’s written consent bars enforcement of an agreement to share fees among lawyers from different firms who worked together on a case...The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had granted a new trial to a convicted murderer on the ground that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge coerced the jury into reaching a verdict. In an unusual summary reversal, the high court held that there had not been an unreasonable application of controlling federal law, as required by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act...President Bush signed into law a Department of Justice reauthorization bill that creates one new judgeship for the Central District of California and five for the Southern District of California...Anthony Seine, a partner at downtown’s Veatch, Carlson, Grogan & Nelson, passed away of complications from lung cancer at the age of 64.
5—The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the California three-strikes sentencing law that put a man who shoplifted children’s videocassettes in prison until 2046 and gave another man a life sentence for taking three golf clubs...Four judges were elected to the Los Angeles Superior Court at the general election. State Bar Court Judge Paul Bacigalupo defeated Deputy District Attorney David Gelfound; Deputy District Attorney Hank Goldberg defeated Santa Monica civil practitioner Joseph “Joe” Deering; Richard E. Naranjo, a trial prosecutor in Lancaster, defeated Deputy District Attorney Craig Renetzky; and Deputy District Attorney Richard F. Walmark defeated Workers’ Compensation Judge John C. Gutierrez. Three California Supreme Court justices—Marvin Baxter, Kathryn M. Wedegar and Carlos Moreno—and 54 justices of the Court of Appeal were retained by large margins.
6—The Library and Courts Building across the street from the state Capitol became the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building.
7—The California Constitution does not guarantee a right to become a write-in candidate or cast a write-in vote in a municipal runoff election, the state Supreme Court ruled...James Toledano, a Santa Ana lawyer and former chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party was sanctioned by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for filing a frivolous appeal from a $7,500 fine he received for mishandling a political contribution....Guillermina Gutierrez Byrne and Roger Ito were named commissioners of the Los Angeles Superior Court.
8—Howard Wistrich, the State Bar Court’s top administrator, retired after working at the State Bar for 24 years.
12—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated most of Gennifer Flowers’ defamation and invasion-of-privacy suit against the “Clinton smear machine:” James Carville, George Stephanopolous and Hillary Clinton...County supervisors imposed a cultural shift on their huge legal department, ordering the County Counsel’s Office to hire a manager from the private sector to rein in spiraling litigation costs...Ex-lawyer Angela Wallace, already facing trial and a possible eight-year prison sentence for allegedly stealing a $380,000 life insurance settlement, was arrested in court on new charges of conspiracy to commit false personation and subornation of perjury.
14—A Florida jury ordered gun distributor Valor Corp. to pay $1.2 million to the widow of a teacher gunned down by 13-year-old student Nathaniel Brazill in a landmark case targeting the inexpensive “Saturday night special” handgun...A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered a former movie industry security guard to stand trial on charges that he received stolen, custom-made Spiderman and Batman suits worth more than $150,000...Lawyers for David Westerfield, the man convicted of kidnapping and killing Danielle van Dam, requested that his sentencing be delayed and prosecutors hand over unspecified evidence they believe could show the 7-year-old girl died in her bedroom....Senate approved Los Angeles Superior Court Judge R. Gary Klausner as the newest judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Jeffrey White, a San Francisco litigator, was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California....A judgment awarding more than $400,000 to a long-time state employee who said he was turned down for a special investigator’s position with the State Controllers Office solely because of a disability was affirmed by the Third District Court of Appeal in an unpublished opinion...In an unpublished opinion, this district’s Court of Appeal reinstated a claim that the proprietor of the Magic Mountain amusement park discriminated against an African American customer by expelling him for having cut in line with members of his family. The opinion was certified for publication Dec. 16.
15—U.S. District Court Judge Robert Takasugi issued a preliminary injunction ruling that a portion of the Aviation and Transportation Security barring non-citizens from being government airport screeners is unconstitutional...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a widow’s claim that her husband’s employer negligently advised them to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia rather than return immediately to the United States is not preempted by ERISA.
18—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a coalition of lawyers, clergy and law professors lacks standing to challenge the detention of hundreds of prisoners captured in Afghanistan and now being held at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba because the coalition lacks a “significant relationship” with any of them and therefore cannot sue as “next friend” of the prisoners...The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a ruling that allows parents whose dead children’s corneas were removed without consent to bring a class action against the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office...Malibu attorney Sam Birenbaum pled no contest to two felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement from former clients and agreed to return more than $100,000 within the next 90 days...Richard Allen Honn, a Los Angeles business attorney and USC lecturer, was named a State Bar Court hearing judge by the state Supreme Court, which also reappointed Madge Watai as Review Department judge...The county Claims Board recommended paying the law firm Horvitz & Levy and its client, the Alliance for Children’s Rights, $250,000 to settle a legal fee claim sparked by the county’s unsuccessful challenge to an order that foster children be visited monthly.
20—California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante filed a lawsuit against dozens of natural gas companies and two trade journals, alleging they conspired to publish false information that led to price spikes.
21—Los Angeles attorney Robert Dennis Jr. was arrested on federal bribery, extortion and kickback charges in a probe centering on the City of Carson and a $60 million trash hauling contract...Los Angeles Court Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich was selected as the Metropolitan News-Enterprise’s “Person of the Year” for 2002...The state Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff who releases a claim for trade secret misappropriation cannot, under the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act, later sue for a new misuse of those secrets...This district’s Court of Appeal rejected a suit by Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden against a Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant and the county.
22—The State Bar reported that barely half of the 7,511 people who took the July 2002 California bar exam passed. Of the 5,168 first-time applicants, 64.5 percent passed. Of the 2,343 repeaters, 19.6 percent passed.
25—In a ruling that helps define when using the Internet conveys personal jurisdiction, the state Supreme Court rejected a suit by a California-based group that licenses DVD encryption software to the motion picture industry, holding that the group must sue the Texas resident for posting on the Internet the codes to break such software in Texas.
26— The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a class action settlement in which Boeing Company agreed to pay up to $15 million to remedy discrimination against black employees at its facilities in 27 states. A divided panel said that U.S. District Judge John Coughenour of the Western District of Washington abused his discretion by approving a settlement agreement that appears to give too much money to the class lawyers and contains unjustified discrepancies in the amounts awarded to different claimants...The state Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch effort by the city of South Gate to block a recall election for the city treasurer and the council majority.
27—The First District Court of Appeal ruled that a defendant cannot be convicted of fetal murder if he didn’t know the expectant mother was pregnant and the pregnancy was not apparent...The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals allowed 18 residents of San Fernando and Simi valleys to proceed with a suit claiming a Boeing North American, Inc.-owned facility gave them cancer and other diseases, ruling that the trial judge had miscalculated the statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims.
2—Opponents of new oil platforms along California’s coast were handed a victory by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld California’s power to review federal drilling lease extensions. Congress gave the state a say in any activity affecting coastal communities under the Coastal Zone Management Act, amended in 1990, Senior Judge Dorothy Nelson wrote for the three-judge panel...This district’s Court of Appeal upheld a grand jury’s power to subpoena records for three priests under investigation for child molestation, providing what District Attorney Steve Cooley called “important tools” to obtain evidence and leads in sex abuses cases.
3—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an award of punitive damages in an Elko, Nev., couple’s suit against the Ford Motor Co., maker of a truck whose parking brake disengaged, causing the truck to roll over the plaintiffs’ 3-year-old son...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Microsoft Corp. was justified in claiming nearly $32 million in tax deductions on software it shipped overseas to subsidiaries and computer makers.
4—The California Supreme Court ruled that manufacturers of windows for mass-produced homes are subject to strict liability for damages caused by defects in their products, including damages caused to other parts of a house.
5—The California Supreme Court upheld a state law making it a crime for citizens to knowingly lodge false accusations against police officers. The unanimous seven-member court said the law, enacted after a flood of complaints against officers following Rodney King’s 1991 taped beating, does not violate free speech guarantees under the Constitution....The Second Amendment never was meant to guarantee an individual’s right to own a gun, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court said in a ruling upholding California’s tight restrictions on assault weapons. The 1989 Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act, enacted after the schoolyard killing of five Stockton children by gunman Patrick Purdy, doesn’t violate the Bill of Rights because the Second Amendment was meant only to affirm the power of official state militias to organize and to arm their troops, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the three-judge panel.
6—Gov. Gray Davis proposed cuts totaling $10.2 billion from the current budget, including $10 million in unallocated reductions from judicial branch operations, and $50 million from the state’s funding for the trial courts. He also announced that in his budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year, he will propose additional cuts of $29 million from judiciary operations and $200 million from the trial court budget.
9—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and sentence of a Woodland Hills woman convicted of illegally bringing Thai women into the country and forcing them to work in slave-like conditions. Supawan Veerapol, the common-law wife of a Thai diplomat, used her contacts to get passports for three women. She was also convicted of seven counts of mail fraud for running up massive bills on credit cards she opened in the women’s names...Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Simpson and retired Riverside Superior Court Judge Arthur Block were censured in unrelated cases by the Commission on Judicial Performance...Carson Mayor Daryl Sweeney, indicted in November in connection with an alleged vote-buy scheme, pled not guilty in federal court to corruption-related charges.
10—This district’s Court of Appeal ruled that a suit alleging that former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and two associates conspired to undermine campaign finance laws was properly dismissed by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on the ground that plaintiff is a fugitive from justice. Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz ruled that Peter F. Paul, now under indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on charges of bank fraud and manipulating the stock of now-bankrupt Stan Lee Media, Inc., could not sue while fighting extradition from Brazil.
12—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sovereign immunity laws do not bar a Los Angeles trial against Austria over the alleged Nazi-era theft of priceless artwork. The ruling allowed Maria V. Altmann of Cheviot Hills to press forward with her suit to recover six Gustav Klimt paintings owned by her uncle, Czech banker and sugar magnate Ferdinand Bloch...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $1.4 million verdict against Greece-based Olympic Airways as compensation for a California man who died from being exposed to smoke on an international flight. Abid Hanson died as the result of an asthma attack suffered during a flight from Athens, Greece to New York in 1998.
13—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an armed robber who opened fire on police officers from the controversial Special Investigation Section when they blocked his getaway cannot sue the city for violating his civil rights, since the material allegations of his complaint are inconsistent with the judgment convicting him of responsibility for the shootout, but his dead cohort’s survivors can sue since the man’s death meant he was never tried for a crime...Chief Justice Ronald George made clear that the he would not permit budget cuts so deep as to jeopardize the courts’ constitutional duties, despite earlier statements that the courts must do their part to cut costs in the midst of a state budget crisis...The Judicial Council named Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge James Bascue as the recipient of its 2002 Jurist of the Year Award. The judge was recognized for his key role in leading the nation’s largest trial court through its first two years of unification.
16—The California Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Gray Davis acted within his constitutional authority in vetoing the release on parole of convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz. In a 5-2 decision, the justices overturned an order by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Gutman for Rosenkrantz’s release. Rosenkrantz is serving a 17-year-to-life sentence for second-degree murder in the June 28, 1985 shooting death of Steven Redman, a former Calabasas High School classmate who exposed his as a homosexual...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict requiring the city of Long Beach to pay $1.75 million to a man jailed for three months after being falsely accused as the Belmont Shore rapist...The company that publishes the Metropolitan News-Enterprise and Roger M. Grace, the paper’s editor and co-publisher, filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles District Attorney Steven Cooley over a May 2 raid by investigators executing a search warrant on the company’s downtown office. The complaint by the Metropolitan News Company, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks injunctive and declaratory relief and damages and stems from investigators’ quest for documents they said related to a probe of possible government corruption in South Gate...U.S. Supreme Court justices clashed in a major wetlands protection case with a 4-4 stalemate that sets the stage for renewed debate over whether farmers should have more freedom to work in environmentally sensitive areas. The court affirmed a judgment against a California man punished for converting wetlands into vineyards and orchards without getting permission first.
17—The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Republic of Korea’s deputy consul general in San Francisco and his wife are not immune from a suit for overtime wages and other compensation brought by a former live-in worker at their home. The panel reinstated Tae Soo Park’s suit against Bong Kil Shin and his wife, Mee Shook Shin, overturned a district court ruling that the suit was barred by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations...The First District Court of Appeal held that a Contra Costa Superior Court judge erred in a ruling that an alleged drug trafficker who disappeared in 1989 while under house arrest is legally dead. A divided panel in Div. Four said that Barry Starr’s reluctance to face drug charges that were likely to result in a sentence of more than 20 years in prison “satisfactorily explained” his disappearance and precludes application of the statutory presumption of death. Barry Starr, a chemical engineer who attended MIT and the University of California, was arrested in May 1988 after a raid on the family home in Orinda uncovered $80,000 and 10 pounds of metamphetamine, according to police, who also found what they said was the most elaborate drug laboratory they had seen in Contra Costa County....Chief Trial Counsel Mike A. Nisperos confirmed that the State Bar had opened an investigation into numerous complaints from business owners alleging that two Beverly Hills attorneys had filed a flurry of lawsuits and then used “extortion tactics” to force quick settlements.
18—The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that a woman who nodded her head in assent when asked whether she was agreeing to a litigation settlement did not enter a binding agreement enforceable under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 664.6...This district’s Court of Appeal upheld an order requiring an insurance company, the Orange County-based Alliance for Mature Americans, to pay millions of dollars in penalties and restitution for unfair business practices in marketing of annuities to senior citizens...Angela Wallace, a former attorney, was convicted of stealing from the $380,000 insurance policy of a deceased Los Angeles police officer’s sons, who later were killed themselves by a gunman posing as a postal worker. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about a day before finding her guilty of a half-dozen charges, including grand theft of personal property, forgery and perjury. She faces up to eight years and eight months in state prison...A San Francisco Superior Court judge ordered the two fans who claimed ownership of Barry Bonds’ record 73rd home run ball to sell the ball and split the money, estimated by one sports memorabilia auctioneer at up to $2 million...A Los Angeles Superior Court judge reduced the punitive damages award against cigarette maker Philip Morris from $28 billion to $28 million, calling the jury award for a woman with lung cancer excessive.
19—A California court cannot enjoin another state’s courts from enforcing an employee’s covenant not to compete with a former employer solely because such covenants violate this state’s public policy, the California Supreme Court ruled...The Court of Appeal for this district reinstated a suit by former California State University-Northridge baseball pitcher Andrew Sanchez, saying the assumption-of-risk doctrine is not an absolute bar to his claim that a popular brand of aluminum bat was negligently designed. The defendants, the court held, may have increased the risk inherent in the sport by allowing for a bat speed that gave pitchers and infielders too little time to react to batted balls...A lawsuit brought against a high school student who, a week after the Columbine high school massacre, informed authorities about a classmate’s threats of violence was a strategic lawsuit against public participation, the Court of Appeal for this district held in an unpublished opinion.
20— Monrovia’s first-in-the-nation daytime youth curfew ordinance is not preempted by state law giving school officials exclusive authority to enact anti-truancy measures, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled.
23—Gov. Gray Davis nominated three judges for appointment to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, and also nominated Sixth District Court of Appeal Justice Conrad Rushing to be presiding justice of that court. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia G. Aaron of San Diego was nominated to the Fourth District’s Div. One, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Jeffrey King to Div. Two in Riverside, and Orange Superior Court Judge Raymond G. Ikola to Div. Three in Santa Ana. Confirmation hearings were slated for Jan. 10 for the Fourth District nominees and Jan. 21 for Conrad Rushing...Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alban I. Niles was named a State Bar Court hearing judge by Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson.
24—David Venegas, a probationer who sued officers for false arrest and unreasonable search and seizure, is entitled to a trial, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled. Reversing a judgment of nonsuit entered by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Pratt, the appeals court ruled that Pratt erred in granting nonsuit to Los Angeles County and a host of law enforcement officials based on a determination of probable cause.
26—Home visits to Los Angeles County welfare applicants, intended to weed out fraud cases, are not unconstitutional searches, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled...Court of Appeal Justice Dennis Perluss of this district’s Div. Seven was nominated a presiding justice of that division. He faces a Jan. 10 confirmation hearing...The limited immunity afforded users of medical marijuana under Proposition 215 is incompatible with the broader common law defense of medical necessity, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled...The First District Court of Appeal rejected a constitutional challenge to the state’s Indian gaming compacts brought by pornographer/casino owner Larry Flynt.
27—A beer maker may give direct cash rebates on the purchase of alcoholic beverages that are contingent upon the purchase of nonalcoholic products, the Third District Court of Appeal held, contrary to the position of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
30—The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the California Coastal Commissionís exercise of executive powers violates the separation of powers required by the state Constitution, because it gives legislative leaders the unfettered discretion to appoint and remove a majority of the members...Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Mackey said he would retire Feb. 24 of next year.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company