Week in Review (April 16, 2018)

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Week of:                      April 09, 2018
Publication Date:      April 16, 2018

Appellate Decisions

From the First Appellate District –

  • Is The People v. Mario Arturo Barboza; where the court of appeals refused to reverse and remand his sentencing in light of Proposition 57 because, although he was a minor and charges were not filed before a juvenile court, Mr. Barboza’s verdict was final at the passage of Proposition 57, and so he does not benefit from its provisions.
  • In re Carlos J., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR] The People v. Carlos J.; the court of appeals reversed and remanded Carlos J.’s commitment to the Department of Juvenile Facilities due to the trial court failing to include specific information regarding how the programs at the Department will benefit Carlos J., and how less restrictive alternatives to the reformatory educational discipline of the Department are ineffective or inappropriate.
  • Is The People v. Gabriel Elena Lopez; where the court of appeals reversed entry of judgment on the grounds that Mr. Lopez was denied his right to counsel of choice under People v. Ortiz (1990) 51 Cal. 3d 975, and his plea of no contest to two counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old, one count of rape, and admission of the special allegation of offenses against more than one victim could not be upheld.
  • Is Willard Birts, Jr. v. The Superior Court of Mateo County [Real Party in Interest] The People; where the appellate court reversed the disqualification of the trial court judge. The court held that when the district attorney dismissed the first action against Mr. Birts, and then refiled substantively the same action against Mr. Birts the next day, the DA was improperly attempting to avoid the effect of the trial judge’s orders in the dismissed case.  Since the new case was therefore merely a continuation of the first, the motion to disqualify the trial court judge was untimely.
  • Is Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute v. City and County of San Francisco et alterius; where, in the published portion of the opinion, the court of appeals held that an ordinance prohibiting a property owner from modifying their property for 10 years after evicting tenants under the Ellis Act, which allows for such evictions when a property owner is leaving the rental industry, was preempted by the Act. The court of appeals therefore reversed judgment in favor of the defendant city and county and ordered the trial court to enter an order enjoining the city from enforcing the ordinance.
  • Is City and County of San Francisco et alterius v. Chuck M. Post et alterius; where the appellate court affirmed San Francisco’s ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on a tenant’s use of Section 8 housing funds. The issue presented was whether California Fair Employment and Housing Act preempted the ordinance, as the Act expressly does not provide protections for Section 8 recipients.  The court held that the provision in the Act where the legislature expressed its intent to occupy the field of housing discrimination nevertheless permitted because the legislature did not intend to address the issue of whether a landlord could turn down section 8 housing in the first place.
  • Is Paula J. Novak v. Continental Tire North America et alterius; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s entry of judgment in favor of Continental Tire on a products liability cause of action based on an alleged failure to warn about the dangers of tire degradation in old tires. The Court found that there was no causal link between the 2005 accident involving Continental Tires’ product that left decedent partially disabled, and a completely different car accident in 2011 that caused decedent’s death when decedent was using a mobility scooter to cross a road.
  • Is Rodeo Citizens Association v. County of Contra Costa et alterius [Real Party in Interest] Phillips 66 Company; where, despite succeeding on a peremptory writ of mandate setting aside an existing Environmental Impact Report on an oil refinery project defended by Contra Costa and Phillips 66, the Rodeo Citizens Association nevertheless appealed on the grounds that the trial court failed to adopt their additional arguments that the proposed project violated the California Environmental Quality Act as a matter of law. The appeals court found no basis to disturb the trial court’s conclusions and affirmed the existing peremptory writ.

From the Second Appellate District –

  • Is The People v. Christian Almanza; where, after receiving an order by the California Supreme Court to vacate and reconsider Mr. Almanza’s sentence in light of Senate Bill No. 620 regarding firearm enhancements, the court of appeals once again affirmed the decision, and refused to remand to the trial court. It determined that remand would be an idle act because there is no reasonable probability that the trial court would exercise its discretion in favor of Mr. Almanza in his third strike offense for premeditated murder accruing to the benefit of his street gang.
  • Is Matthew Squire et alterius v. County of Los Angeles et alterius; which relates to grievances filed against two Sheriff’s officers for failing to report inappropriate dress or reports of an inappropriate relationship between a subordinate and a supervisor respectively. Both went through the formal grievance process, and both succeeded to the extent that the Sheriff’s department recognized that they filed the grievances under the wrong disciplinary section.  The department modified and re-issued the grievances and the officers appealed on the actions being time barred.  They sought a writ of mandate from the trial court, which determined that the new grievances were timely re-issued, and the court of appeals affirmed.
  • Is Maryam Day et alterius v. Lupo Vine Street, L.P. et alterius; where the court of appeal affirmed entry of judgment in favor of defendant landlord. The court determined that a commercial landlord had no duty to acquire and maintain an Automated External Defibrillator, when a tenant boxing club is required to maintain such a device under the Health and Safety Code but fails to do so.
  • Is Gordon B. v. Sergio Alberto Gomez; where the court of appeals reversed the trial court and remanded for further hearings on the issuance of Gordon B.’s request for a renewed restraining order under the Health and Safety Code provisions permitting a temporary restraining order for elder or dependent adult abuse. The appeals court reasoned that the trial court used the wrong standard by requiring evidence of further abuse when the standard only requires the showing of a reasonable apprehension of further abuse.
  • Is The People v. Bobby Watts; where the court of appeals partially affirmed and partially reversed and remanded to the trial court on the issue of Mr. Watt’s motion for a new trial. The appellate court held that the trial court used the wrong legal standard when considering the gang enhancement allegation, and the case needed to be remanded for the gun enhancement, but otherwise affirmed on the conviction for murder.
  • Is Pasadena Police Officers Association et alterius v. City of Pasadena [With Intervener] Los Angeles Times Communications, LLC; where the court upwardly modified the award of attorney’s fees to intervener Los Angeles Times on the basis of a California Public Records Act request for the release of a 70-page report regarding the shooting death by police of Mr. Kendrec McDade. The court held that the Times was entitled to additional monies under the Private Attorneys General Act, as they vindicated an important public right, and the Police Officers Association was acting to expand the institutional protections to police in the public disclosure of their records.
  • Is County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission [Real Party in Interest] Gregory Merritt; beginning by calling Mr. Merritt’s appeal of the trial court’s remand to the Civil Service Commission a “Purported Appeal”, the court dismissed the appeal as improper because there existed no final judgment. The court held that because the trial court remanded the case for further findings of fact regarding Mr. Merritt’s alleged negligent supervision of social workers responsible for closing the child abuse case of Gabriel Fernandez, and expressly provided Mr. Merritt the opportunity to challenge any new findings, the judgment could not be considered final, and thus could not be appealed.

From the Third Appellate District –

  • Is The People v. Jesse Cody Tom; where the court of appeals primarily affirmed the conviction of Mr. Tom on charges of animal cruelty, resisting arrest, and arson when he beat his girlfriend’s parent’s dog to death, covered it in oil, and place it inside a barbecue, and then fled from police upon their arrival. The court reversed one of the charges of animal cruelty, however, because the code sections relied on for the convictions do not permit the same act to stand for both criminal charges of “needless suffering” and “intentional killing” of a dog.

From the Fourth Appellate District –

  • Is In re S.K., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR] Riverside County Department of Public Social Services v. R.B.; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order removing S.K. from mother R.B. when S.K. was born with methamphetamine in his system, mother R.B. absconded with S.K., and S.K. was later hospitalized with toxic levels of oxycodone in his system.
  • Is The People v. Jose Luis Perez et alterius; where the court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the convictions of Mr. Perez and other co-defendants based on the murder and attempted murder of a rival cell of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. In the published portion of the opinion, the court refused to reverse on the basis of the expert testimony regarding the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, as defendants did not object during trial and the testimony offered was not case-specific testimony prohibited under People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665.

From the Fifth Appellate District –

  • Is The People v. Turlock Hernan Diaz et alterius; where the court of appeals substantively modified their March 20, 2018, decision, and is now remanding co-defendant Daniel Pantoja back to the trial court for the limited purpose of allowing him to make a record of information relevant to his eventual youth offender parole hearing, the determination otherwise remains affirmed.
  • Is Arthur Ochoa v. County of Kern et alterius; where the court of appeals affirmed entry of judgment against Mr. Ochoa on his wrongful termination claim against the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. In the published portion of the opinion, however, the Court agreed with Mr. Ochoa’s interpretation of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, in that the requirement for investigations to be completed within one year of discovery acts as a time bar for termination.  The ruling was then affirmed on the specific facts of this case.

Finally, From the Sixth Appellate District –

  • Is The People v. Francisco Javier Maldonado; where the court of appeals affirmed Mr. Maldonado’s terms of probation for a possession of methamphetamine charge. Maldonado specifically challenged the term that would allow a peace officer access to Mr. Maldonado’s electronic devices; the court held that the terms of probation were narrowly tailored to allow peace officers to access specific categories of information used for communication in order to achieve the constitutionally permissible purpose of monitoring whether Mr. Maldonado was procuring illicit drugs.

Supreme Court Roundup

This Week, the Supreme Court published no cases, other than a modification to a prior decision in People v. Contreras, which did not substantively change the opinion.

In the Supreme Court’s Weekly Summary of Accepted Cases, the court has announced that nine cases were accepted during the week of April 09, 2018, including:

  • People v. Fontenot; where the Court will seek to address the issue of whether attempted kidnapping is a lesser included offense to the crime of succeeding at kidnapping.
  • People v. Boatwright; People v. Cavalier; People v. Little; and People v. Lopez; are all described by the High Court as being accepted for a petition for review after affirmations from the various courts of appeal of the defendants’ respective convictions.
  • People v. Burrell; will look to address yet another Proposition 57 issue regarding whether a defendant is eligible for re-sentencing on a penalty enhancement for serving a prior prison term on a felony conviction when the superior court reclassified the underlying felony as a misdemeanor.
  • People v. Torres; on appeal from the Santa Clara County Superior Court will look at the difference between the crimes of misdemeanor receipt of stolen property and felony receipt of stolen property.
  • Finally, the Supreme Court will agreed to hear arguments on another People v. Torres; on appeal from the El Dorado County Superior Court, where the Court will look at whether a trial court may impose a criminal laboratory fee analysis and drug program fee based on a defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit certain drug offenses.

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