Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal noted that effective January 1, 2019, Code of Civil Procedure section 998 will have no application to costs and attorney and expert witness fees in a Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) action unless the lawsuit is found to be "frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so." In regard to the litigation that predated the application of the amended version of Government Code section 12965(b), the court held that section 998 does not apply to nonfrivolous FEHA actions and reversed the order awarding defendant costs and expert witness fees pursuant to that statute. View "Huerta v. Kava Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Edward Manavian held a career executive assignment (CEA) position as chief of the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (Bureau), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Assignment by appointment to such a position does not confer any rights or status in the position other than provided in Article 9 . . . of [Government Code] Chapter 2.5 of Part 2.6.” The rights conferred by article 9 are the rights of all civil service employees relating to punitive actions, except that the termination of a CEA is not a punitive action. CEA positions are part of the general civil service system, but an employee enjoys no tenure. Manavian’s job description was to cooperate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to prevent terrorism and related criminal activity. However, Manavian’s relationships with state and federal decisionmakers were not good. The director and deputy director of the state Office of Homeland Security refused to work with Manavian. Richard Oules, Manavian’s superior, decided to terminate Manavian’s CEA position because of his dysfunctional relationship with federal and state representatives, and because of Manavian’s hostility toward Oules. Manavian sued, his complaint contained a long list of grievances. Manavian also claims that certain actions he took in liaising with other state and federal homeland security representatives, then reporting potentially illegal policy proposals, were protected by the California whistleblower statutes. The Court of Appeal concluded that the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBRA) protections were not triggered by the termination of Manavian’s CEA position, and that he was not protected as a whistleblower. View "Manavian v. Dept. of Justice" on Justia Law

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Guerrero came from Mexico to the U.S. with his parents in 1990 at age 11. In 1995, he created a false Social Security number (SSN) to get a job. He secured a legitimate SSN in 2007. He became a U.S. citizen in 2011. He applied to become a correctional officer with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). He passed written and physical exams and was placed on the eligibility list. CDCR’s background questionnaire asked, “Have you ever had or used a social security number other than the one you used on this questionnaire?” Guerrero answered “yes” and explained. Based on that answer, CDCR informed Guerrero he was no longer eligible to become a correctional officer. The State Personnel Board upheld the decision. Guerro filed a federal suit, citing title VII; California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code, 12940); national origin discrimination in a state-conducted program (Government Code 11135); 42 U.S.C. 1983; and state equal protection and due process violations. The federal court dismissed the state law claims on Eleventh Amendment grounds, effectively limiting potential money recovery to backpay. To recoup damages, Guerrero filed suit in state court. After Guerrero won judgment in the federal action, the superior court dismissed his state claims under California claim preclusion principles. The court of appeal reversed, reasoning that federal law, not California law, governs the preclusive effect of the federal judgment, and provides an exception to claim preclusion where jurisdictional limitations in a prior suit blocked a request for complete relief. View "Guerrero v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation" on Justia Law

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John Doe appealed the superior court's decision denying his petition for writ of administrative mandate to compel UCSB to rescind his suspension after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct in violation of the Student Conduct Code. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that John was denied access to critical evidence; denied the opportunity to adequately cross-examine witnesses; and denied the opportunity to present evidence in his defense. The court held that the accused must be permitted to see the evidence against him and, in this case, John was not permitted access to the complete Sexual Assault Response Team report. This error was prejudicial to John. Furthermore, cumulative errors occurred at the hearing, including the exclusion of John's evidence of the side effects of Viibryd, a prescription antidepressant, that Jane Roe was taking. The court held that neither Jane nor John received a fair hearing where the lack of due process precluded a fair evaluation of the witnesses' credibility. View "Doe v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Musclewood, alleging that defendants violated his rights under the Disabled Persons Act (DPA), by allowing their guard dog to interfere with and attack plaintiff's guide dog. Plaintiff, who is blind, had been trained to use a route that passed in front of defendants' business when he traveled to the market or bus stop. Defendants' guard dog was not trained, leashed, or otherwise controlled or restrained. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by sustaining a demurrer to his cause of action under the DPA without leave to amend where plaintiff stated a valid claim under section 54.3 of the DPA and plaintiff sufficiently alleged standing for damages. The court also reversed the trial court's order granting a motion to strike. In this case, the trial court committed reversible error by striking the first cause of action, the prayer for damages (including treble damages), and the prayer for attorney fees. View "Ruiz v. Musclewood Investment Properties" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal held that the evidence credited by the trial court was sufficient to support a Qawi order, which authorizes the California Department of State Hospitals-Atascadero (Hospital or ASH) to involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication to treat defendant's severe mental disorder. In this case, the trial court found that appellant lacked the capacity to refuse medical treatment and issued a Qawi order authorizing the Hospital to involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the finding that the order furthered a compelling government interest that outweighed any religious belief and there was no due process violation in defendant's case. View "California Department of State Hospitals v. A.H." on Justia Law

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In 2014, Appellant pled guilty to felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a billy club. He also admitted the allegations in the motion to revoke probation in an earlier case. Appellant was sentenced to three years’ probation and a 180-day county jail term. When he entered his pleas the court explained, and Appellant acknowledged, the possible immigration consequences of his convictions. Counsel stated he had advised Appellant accordingly. Appellant was placed in removal proceedings but was granted cancellation of the removal. In 2015, Appellant was found in possession of methamphetamine for sale, resisted arrest, and attempted to destroy evidence; he was placed on probation for five years. In the new criminal case, Appellant pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was sentenced to 360 days in the county jail. In 2017, Appellant moved to vacate revocation of probation under Penal Code 1473.7(a)(1), alleging ineffective assistance of counsel regarding the immigration consequences of his admission and sentence. The court of appeal affirmed denial of the motion. Appellant, a convicted felon currently on formal probation, is not entitled to the relief under section 1473.7. He did not establish ineffective assistance; the trial court would not have tolerated any lesser sentence and it is unlikely Appellant would have gone to trial under the circumstances. View "People v. Cruz-Lopez" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment against plaintiff in an action alleging claims under state law and the United States Constitution. The Long Beach Transit Company Board of Directors allows a public speaker to speak for 3 minutes on an agenda item during meetings. Plaintiff, a frequent attendee at meetings of the Board, was not permitted to speak a second time during the same agenda item and was eventually asked to leave by a police officer. The court held that defendants' argument that the trial court determined that plaintiff's Bane Act claims were barred in their entirety because the principal purpose was a monetary recovery ignored both plaintiff's concession in the trial court and the trial court's ruling on defendants' Code of Civil Procedure section 631.8 motion. The court held that the trial court correctly concluded that there was no violation of the Bane Act where nothing the officer said to plaintiff met the test of the statute; the three minutes per public speaker rule clearly met constitutional concerns, and there was no evidence it was applied based on the content of plaintiff's stated or intended remarks; plaintiff's remaining First Amendment claims were rejected; and plaintiff's contention that the second iteration of the Board's speech rules was void was also rejected. View "Ribakoff v. City of Long Beach" on Justia Law

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Certain provisions of Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) regulations, adopted to implement Proposition 57, are inconsistent with Cal. Const., art. I, 32, subd. (a)(1) and thus invalid. The Court of Appeal held that CDCR's adopted regulations impermissibly circumscribe eligibility for Proposition 57 parole by barring relief for petitioner and other similarly situated inmates serving Three Strikes sentences for nonviolent offenses. The court granted the petition for habeas relief and directed the CDCR to void and repeal certain portions of the regulations and to make further conforming changes necessary. View "In re Edwards" on Justia Law

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Defendants challenged an order of the superior court partially denying their motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute in a putative class action brought by plaintiffs against defendants and others for marketing a posthumous Michael Jackson album. The Court of Appeal held that the challenged representation―that Michael Jackson was the lead singer on the three Disputed Tracks―did not simply promote sale of the album, but also stated a position on a disputed issue of public interest. In this case, the identity of the artist on the three Disputed Tracks was a controversial issue of interest to Michael Jackson fans and others who care about his musical legacy. Therefore, defendants' statements about the identity of the artist were not simply commercial speech but were subject to full First Amendment protection. Furthermore, they were outside the scope of an actionable unfair competition or consumer protection claim. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court's order as to this issue. View "Serova v. Sony Music Entertainment" on Justia Law