Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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The Court of Appeal denied a petition for writ of mandate seeking to compel defendants to put plaintiff on the primary election ballot for county sheriff. The court affirmed the trial court's ruling that Government Code section 24004.3, which required persons to be elected county sheriff to meet certain law enforcement experience and education, is constitutional. The court explained that there was good reason why the Legislature imposed an experience requirement because, in order to have a true understanding of law enforcement, you must learn about it in the field doing it. The court held that the state Constitution empowers the Legislature to provide for the election of county sheriffs and to set minimum qualifications for sheriff candidates. The court rejected the argument that section 24004.3 conflicts with or was preempted by the California Constitution. The court also held that there was no merit to the argument that the Legislature exceeded its authority pursuant to the California Constitution in enacting section 24004.3 or that the statute violates the First Amendment rights of would-be candidates or the voters at large. Finally, the trial court reasonably concluded that plaintiff's delay in filing and prosecuting the writ petition was prejudicial. View "Boyer v. Ventura County" on Justia Law

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Commissioner, on behalf of preschool teachers employed by the Temple, filed suit alleging that the Temple violated various provisions of the Labor Code by failing to provide its preschool teachers with rest breaks, uninterrupted meal breaks, and overtime pay. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Temple and held that the Commissioner's claims were barred by the ministerial exception. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the teachers were not "ministers" for purposes of the ministerial exception. In this case, although the Temple's preschool curriculum has both secular and religious content, its teachers were not required to have any formal Jewish education, to be knowledgeable about Jewish belief and practice, or to adhere to the Temple's theology. Furthermore, the Temple did not refer to its teachers as "ministers" or the equivalent, nor did the teachers refer to themselves as such. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Su v. Stephen S. Wise Temple" on Justia Law

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In 2009, a jury found petitioner Sid Landau to be a sexually violent predator (SVP) within the meaning of the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA). The trial court committed Landau to the custody of the State Department of State Hospitals (SDSH) for an indeterminate term. The Court of Appeal filed three prior opinions regarding these matters. Landau filed a petition for unconditional discharge or conditional release (outpatient treatment), which was set essentially for a retrial. Effective January 1, 2016, the Legislature amended the SVPA. In advance of the retrial, the Orange County District Attorney served a subpoena duces tecum (SDT) on Coalinga State Hospital to obtain Landau’s records. The SDSH complied with the SDT and forwarded Landau’s records to the trial court. Landau moved to quash the subpoena; the court denied the motion. Landau then filed a petition for a writ of mandate to the Court of Appeal in order to challenge the lower court’s ruling. The Court concluded section 6603 (j) explicitly authorized a district attorney to subpoena and use an SVP’s medical records in proceedings under the SVPA. Thus, it denied Landau’s petition for a writ of mandate. View "Landau v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Given the plain language of California's open meeting law (the Ralph M. Brown Act), Government Code 54954.3(a), and its legislative history, the Brown Act does not permit limiting comment at special city council meetings based on comments at prior, distinct committee meetings. In this case, petitioner sought a writ of mandate and a declaratory judgment enforcing the Brown Act. The trial court sustained the City's demurrer without leave to amend, and entered a judgment of dismissal. The Court of Appeal reversed, and held that plaintiff stated a claim for a writ of mandate and declaratory relief with regard to the Brown Act. The court held that the trial court erred in holding that the committee exception in Government Code 54954.3(a) applied to special meetings. Rather, the plain language of section 54954.3(a) specified that the committee exception applied only to regular meetings. The court held that plaintiff adequately alleged a claim that he was improperly denied the opportunity to comment on the agenda item at a special meeting, and a pattern of conduct by the City at special city council meetings in violation of the Brown Act. The court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the California Public Records Act count as duplicative of plaintiff's Brown Act claim. View "Preven v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Lourdes Dimacali was charged with a single count of misdemeanor hit-and-run driving after she was involved in a 2016 incident with M.T. The State alleged Dimacali was the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in property damage, but failed to locate and notify M.T. or appropriate authorities. Dimacali pleaded not guilty to the offense. The issue this case presented for the Court of Appeal's review posited whether a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing only property damage in violation of Vehicle Code section 20002 (a) was subject to disposition by a civil compromise. The State contended such a violation could not be compromised as a matter of law; that the damages must flow from the criminal conduct and California v. Martinez, 2 Cal.5th 1093 (2017) confirmed the crime was not the accident but the failure to stop and provide information, which could not in any scenario cause the property damage suffered by the victim of the misdemeanor offense. The State urged the Court to reject authority to the contrary, namely California v. Tischman, 35 Cal.App.4th 174 (1995), flawed and no longer good law. The nature of the hit- and-run offense at issue and a plain reading of the civil compromise statutes compelled the Court of Appeal agreed, and reversed. View "California v. Dimacali" on Justia Law

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After consuming alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, defendant Eduardo Alvarez drove through traffic at high speeds, ran a red light and broadsided another car, killing its passenger. A jury convicted him of second degree murder and other related charges. He appealed only his murder conviction, claiming: (1) insufficient evidence supported a reasonable finding of implied malice; (2) the court should have instructed jurors on gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as a lesser included offense; and (3) he was prejudiced by prosecutorial misconduct during rebuttal argument. He argues these errors individually and cumulatively compel reversal. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "California v. Alvarez" on Justia Law

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In 2015, defendant Jarrett Chamizo pleaded no contest to transporting cocaine and admitted a prior conviction for transporting methamphetamine and a prior conviction for possessing cocaine for sale. Defendant was thereafter sentenced on the charge of transporting cocaine and, pursuant to section 11370.2 of the Health and Safety Code. He was ordered to serve two additional and consecutive three-year terms based upon the prior convictions. Defendant did not appeal the judgment and it became final in 2015. In 2017, the Legislature amended section 11370.2 to narrow the crimes to which the three-year enhancement applied, effective January 1, 2018. Under the new statute the sentence enhancement provided for by section 11370.2 would not apply to defendant based on his conviction for transporting cocaine. In December 2017, defendant filed a motion in the trial court to reduce his sentence by striking the two three-year enhancements. Finding that the legislation amending section 11370.2 did not have retroactive application to those defendants whose judgments were final before the effective date of the amended statute, the trial court denied his motion. Defendant appeals. The Court of Appeal determined that because defendant’s 2015 judgment was final at the time he filed his motion for resentencing, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the motion. The Court therefore dismissed the appeal because it came from a nonappealable order. View "California v. Chamizo" on Justia Law

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MTA filed suit against Yum Yum in eminent domain to take one of Yum Yum's donut shops that was in the path of a proposed rail line. The trial court determined that Yum Yum was not entitled to compensation for goodwill under Code of Civil Procedure section 1263.510, because Yum Yum unreasonably refused to relocate the shop to one of three sites MTA proposed at the entitlement trial. Based on section 1263.510's legislative history, accompanying Law Review Commission Comments, case law, and the general principles governing mitigation of damages, the Court of Appeal held that a condemnee is entitled to compensation for lost goodwill if any portion of that loss is unavoidable. The court held that a condemnee need only prove some or any unavoidable loss of goodwill to satisfy the condemnee's burden to demonstrate entitlement to compensation for goodwill under section 1263.510. In this case, the court held that the trial court erred in finding that Yum Yum's failure to mitigate some of its loss of goodwill precluded compensation for any loss of goodwill. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for a jury trial on the value of the lost goodwill. View "Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority v. Yum Yum Donut Shops" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging causes of action for violations of the Labor Code and the Industrial Welfare Commission's (IWC) wage orders based on the City's alleged failure to pay workers employed as pages and recreation leader specialists wages at or above the statewide minimum wage. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the trial court's dismissal of their action after it sustained without leave to amend the City's demurrer. The Court of Appeal held that legislation setting a statewide minimum wage, generally applicable to both private and public employees, addresses the state's interest in protecting the health and welfare of workers by ensuring they can afford the necessities of life for themselves and their families. Therefore, the Legislature may constitutionally exercise authority over minimum wages, despite the constitutional reservation of authority in charter cities to legislate as to their municipal affairs. In this case, the court held that the trial court erred in sustaining the City's demurrer where the state minimum wage law was designed to address a statewide concern for the health and welfare of workers and was reasonably related to its purpose. Furthermore, the application of the minimum wage requirement did not unconstitutionally impair the memorandum of understanding between plaintiffs and the City. View "Marquez v. City of Long Beach" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Richmond issued the city's first medical marijuana collective permit to RCCC. Other permits were later issued to the defendants. The ordinance governing the permits was amended in 2014, to reduce the number of dispensary permits from six to three, and to provide that if a permitted dispensary did not open within six months after the issuance of a permit, the permit would become void. RCCC lost its permit. RCCC sued, claiming that defendants, acting in concert, encouraged and paid for community opposition to RCCC’s applications and purchased a favorably zoned property. Defendants filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, which provides that a claim 'arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person’s right of petition or free speech ... in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike," unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established a probability of success on the merits. One defendant admitted: “Our group declared war on RCCC. We conspired to prevent RCCC from getting any property in Richmond.“ The court ultimately determined that the defendants failed to show how the allegations were protected activity and denied the anti-SLAPP motion. The court of appeal affirmed, stating that the appeal had no merit and will delay the plaintiff’s case and cause him to incur unnecessary attorney fees. View "Richmond Compassionate Care Collective v. 7 Stars Holistic Foundation, Inc." on Justia Law