Week in Review (May 07, 2018)

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Week of:                      April 30, 2018
Publication Date:      May 07, 2018

Appellate Decisions – Summaries

From the First Appellate District –

  • The People v. Scott D. Flint; where the court of appeals remanded on the limited issue of permitting further argument before the trial court as to whether Mr. Flint, who was adjudicated to be a Sexually Violent Predator, had his equal protection rights violated when he was compelled to testify in the People’s case-in-chief because he is similarly situated to a person who was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and cannot be compelled to testify on that basis. In its analysis, the court of appeals considered that the record was insufficient to determine whether the case should be affirmed or denied under a similar case, People v. Curlee (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 709, which was decided after the order compelling Mr. Flint to testify was entered.
  • In re Aaron J., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR] The People v. Aaron J.; here, the court seeks to disentangle whether a minor who appears to fall under two applicable sections of the Welfare and Institutions Code should be treated as a dependent or as a ward. Ultimately, the court of appeals held that the trial court’s determination should be affirmed, as the trial court took the jurisdictional considerations under review, and made its decision based on the best interests of the child.
  • In re Juan R., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR] The People v. Juan R.; the court of appeals upheld a probation terms that granted officer’s the ability to search Juan R.’s phone for social media, text, and other communications in an effort to monitor Juan’s activities for further acts of violence and for communications with his co-conspirators. Juan R. was originally placed under the wardship of the court following a crime where he chased down a man, C.C., stole his mobile phone and wallet, and violently attacked C.C. together with several co-conspirators.

From the Second Appellate District –

  • The People v. Jesus Pedro Garcia; where the court struck the trial court’s sentencing a prior punishment to run consecutive to the new judgment as improper. Garcia’s new, four year prison term for carjacking will effectively supersede his prior term where he was sentenced under the Postrelease Community Supervision program, which is a middle ground between parole and prison.
  • County Line Holdings, LLC v. Janice M. McClanahan; the court reversed the trial court’s judgment in favor of defendant on a statute of limitations defense under the probate code when the defendant dies before satisfying the judgment. The basis of the reversal is the difference between a cause of action to enforce a lien, which has a one-year statute of limitations after the death of a debtor, and the enforcement of a judgment for a lien that was previously adjudicated, which remains enforceable and given priority.
  • The People v. Joseph L. Billingsley; where the court affirmed Mr. Billingsley’s conviction on attempted murder, but remanded in order for the trial court to reconsider the gun enhancements under Senate Bill 620’s new criteria.
  • La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association of Hollywood et alterius v. City of Los Angeles et alterius [Real Party in Interest] Target Corporation; in a partially published case, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order awarding attorney’s fees in favor of La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association under the statute that provides for such rights when the litigation results in a significant benefit to the public. Here, the Neighborhood Association successfully halted the construction of a development that violated Los Angeles zoning laws and when the City Council did not have a substantial basis for granting variances that would have permitted the project to proceed.  Nor is the issue of attorney’s fees moot in the underlying litigation when the zoning laws thereafter changed to allow the project.
  • In re D., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR] Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services v. Angelina A.; two-year-old D.L. was removed from her father’s care for having a loaded gun left in the 2 year-old’s closet, and placed in the care of her mother with visitation rights granted to the father. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order, but reversed the trial court’s finding that there existed an “ongoing risk” because any future danger posed by loaded firearms was “entirely speculative.”

From the Third Appellate District –

  • The People v. Antoine Lamar Blessett; which was certified for partial publication on Mr. Blessett’s appeals the basis of the confrontation clause, which the court determined was waived for failure to object during trial, and on ineffective assistance of counsel grounds, as the defense counsel’s failure to object to background hearsay was reasonable and the remaining hearsay evidence was introduced through an expert. The court nevertheless remanded for consideration of Senate Bill 620 on gun enhancements.
  • The People v. Brady Dee Douglas; Ms. Douglas was convicted of the attempted murder of Jeffrey B., who had short-changed Ms. Douglas’ boyfriend, a male prostitute. On appeal, Ms. Douglas contended that she was denied a fair trial when the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges on the only two openly-gay jurors.  The court of appeals agreed and held that whether or not the prosecutor had a permissible purpose to dismiss those jurors, the taint of invidious discrimination in juror selection renders the entire process substantively unfair.  It should also be noted that this case featured a dissenting opinion by Justice Hull, who argued that the majority erred, as the jurors at issue specifically stated that they were biased against the People’s victim, who had not openly acknowledged his sexual orientation.  Justice Hull argued that the “mixed motive approach strikes the proper balance between protecting a defendant’s constitutional rights, preserving the public’s confidence in the fairness of our system of justice, and recognizing the institutional interest in the finality of judgments.”

From the Fourth Appellate District –

  • The People v. Joseph Bocklett; where the court of appeals affirmed the jury verdict adjudicating Mr. Bocklett a Sexually Violent Predator, a mental disorder, based in part on the multiple instances of sexual violence committed on minor children between 1971 and 1994. Bocklett argued that the tolling provisions of the relevant statute constituted an ex post facto punishment for prior crimes where he had already served his time, but the court of appeals relied on Hubbart v. Superior Court (1999) 19 Cal.4th 1138, to determine that the Sexually Violent Predator statute does not constitute ex post facto punishment, as the purpose is to protect the public in the present rather than punish a person for past acts.
  • Rae Weiler v. Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, Inc. et alterius; Ms. Weiler alleged that Marcus & Millichap lost more than $2 million in investment funds. The parties engaged in arbitration but after years litigating the issue Ms. Weiler could no longer afford to pursue the case in arbitration.  She therefore sought relief from arbitration, or an order requiring Marcus & Millichap to pay her share of the arbitration costs.  The trial court denied relief, but the court of appeals reversed and held that under Roldan v. Callahan & Blaine (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 87, Ms. Weiler was entitled to a full hearing on her present ability to pay, and to relief if she could no longer pay.
  • The People v. Charles Wesley Brady; in a case related to assault with a deadly weapon, Mr. Bradley argues on appeal that the reasonableness of his self-defense should account for his medical conditions and past experiences that make it more likely for Mr. Bradley to misperceive a threat. The court of appeals, however, affirmed the conviction and stated that “Essentially, Brady argues that the relevant question is what a reasonable person with bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and his personal history would have done in the situation — i.e., what would a reasonable Brady do?  That, we think, is not the standard.”
  • Nielsen Contracting, Inc. et alterius v. Applied Underwriters, Inc. et alterius; the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration when the contract was unenforceable. Specifically, in an insurance contract for employer’s compensation, the insurance provider cannot enforce an arbitration agreement that was not filed with the regulatory agencies, as is what occurred here.
  • Marisa Hernandez v. Rancho Santiago Community College District; where the court of appeals affirmed judgement against Rancho Santiago Community College District for failing to provide reasonable accommodations for an injured employee when they fired her while on an approved leave of absence from her injuries. The Community College argued that because Ms. Hernandez was on a one year probation and the leave of absence would have allowed her to become a permanent employee without working for the requisite one year, they were justified in terminating her.  However, the trial court and the court of appeals found that this argument lacked merit, as the Community College could have taken any number of actions to accommodate Ms. Hernandez, not least of which would be extending the evaluation period for the time she was on leave.
  • Lisa Williams et alterius v. Moulton Niguel Water District et alterius; the court affirmed judgment in favor of the Water District when homeowners filed suit on the basis of an added chemical damaging their copper pipping. The court held that the chemical was added pursuant to all statutory and regulatory standards, and that the type of damage suffered by the plaintiffs did not fall within the ambit of eminent domain or inverse condemnation because plaintiffs voluntarily purchased water from the Water District and brought the public water into their private piping systems.

From the Fifth Appellate District –

  • Erik J. Hansen et alterius v. Sandridge Partners, L.P. et alterius; in a land dispute between adjacent farm owners, the court held that because the Hansen plaintiffs could not establish the elements of adverse possession because they had not paid taxes on the disputed land for the relevant period of time, they could not employ legal sophistry to gain such possession under the guise of a prescriptive easement when they sought to continue to use the disputed land as farmland until their crops, pistachio trees, died.
  • James Davis v. County of Fresno et alterius; the court of appeals reversed judgment against Mr. Davis, who is a correctional officer in the juvenile detention system that was dismissed from employment for insubordination, discourteous treatment of a subordinate, wrongfully assuming supervisorial duties over his wife despite several admonitions to the contrary, exaggerating the hours he worked on multiple time cards, and other misconduct. The court found that he was not granted a fair hearing because in the relevant hearing the administrative court considered evidence that was not provided to Mr. Davis, and thus Mr. Davis was denied the ability to contest the evidence ultimately relied upon.
  • Arnaudo Brothers, L. et alterius v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board [Real Party in Interest] United Farm Workers of America; where the court denied the Arnaudo Brother’s petition for a writ of administrative review, finding that the administrative board properly exercised its discretion in issuing relief to the United Farm Workers requiring that the Arnaudo Brothers provide information and engage in the interactive process with the union.

Finally, From the Sixth Appellate District –

We have no cases.

Supreme Court – Roundup

This Week, the Supreme Court published cases:

  • Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County [Real Parties in Interest] Charles Lee et alterius; where the Supreme Court held that truck drivers who did not employ others and who only worked for Dynamex were properly employees of Dynamex when applying what is commonly known as the “ABC” test where to establish the existence of an independent contractor relationship the proponent of the relationship establishes “(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under contract for the performance and such work and in fact; (B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and (C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.”
  • The People v. Juaquin Garcia Soto; on the issue of whether voluntary intoxication can create a defense to murder, the Supreme Court held that while a jury may consider voluntary intoxication when determining whether the defendant had the intent to cause death, it could not be used to determine whether the person believed he needed to act in self-defense.

In the Supreme Court’s Weekly Summary of Accepted Cases, the court has announced that no cases were accepted this week.

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