Week in Review (May 29, 2018)

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Week of:                      May 21, 2018
Publication Date:       May 29, 2018

From the First Appellate District –

  • The People v. Joshua J. Williams; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of Mr. Williams’ petition for re-sentencing under Proposition 47, where he was previously convicted for receiving a stolen vehicle. The court held that because Mr. Williams had not established that the value of the stolen property was valued at less than $950, the petition was properly denied without prejudice to refiling.
  • Professional Collection Consultants v. Robert M. Lujan; in a partially published case, the court of appeals held that when Professional Collection Consultants attempted to collect a debt owed by Mr. Lujan, the cardholder agreement that required Mr. Lujan repay his credit card debt was governed by Delaware’s three-year statute of limitations rather than California’s four-year statute of limitations when there was an express choice of law provision for Delaware law and “no fundamental policy of California is offended by applying Delaware’s somewhat shorter statute of limitations.” Accordingly, judgment in favor of Mr. Lujan on the issue of his debt was affirmed.
  • Ada Abed v. Western Dental Services, Inc.; the court of appeals reversed the trial court’s entry of judgment in favor of Western Dental Services on an employment claim which was entered based on Ms. Abed’s failure to file a job application. The court held that Western Dental could be held liable for sex discrimination by lying to Ms. Abed in telling her no dental hygienist position was available because they did not want to hire Ms. Abed, who was pregnant at the time she was told this.  Further, the court held that “it is hardly surprising that Abed did not seek a job there once she discovered she had been lied to… Western Dental [cannot] escape liability for past discriminatory acts merely because Abed did not demonstrate an ongoing interest in becoming a dental assistant by applying for similar positions, including in offices that were inconveniently located.”
  • The People v. Reginald Brown; where the court affirmed the conviction of Mr. Brown on various acts of sexual abuse and lewd acts upon children under the age of 14, including Jane Does 1, 2, and 3. On appeal Mr. Brown argued that the conviction for crimes against Jane Doe 3 should be reversed on statute of limitations grounds, as his last sexual act against her occurred in 1994, when Jane Doe 3 was around 13 years old.  The court held that the statute of limitations was tolled under a specific tolling provision, as Jane Doe 3 satisfied all of the tolling elements, including that (1) she was under 18 when she was offended against, (2) the statute of limitations expired, (3) the offense involved substantial sexual conduct, and (4) there was independent evidence corroborating the allegation.
  • Charles T. Jensen et alterius v. City of Santa Rosa [Real Party in Interest] Social Advocates for Youth; the court of appeal affirmed the City of Santa Rosa’s mitigated negative declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act for a project that would turn a defunct 69-bed hospital into a youth facility housing 63 young adults. Jensen and the other nearby residents opposed to the conversion argued that the City should have conducted a full environmental impact report because they expect that there will be increased traffic noise, and the residents will also make additional noise.  The court considered that the opponents to the project based their noise calculations on a “hard-to-grasp methodology [which] appears to require us to compare the highest possible predicted noise levels from the outdoor activities to appellants’ own calculated maximum allowable noise levels, rather than comparing an average noise value… with the base levels identified in the City Code.”
  • The People v. Justin Brooks; the court of appeals affirmed Mr. Brooks’ conviction for burglary and the order of restitution including security improvements, holding that the trial court’s inclusion of Mr. Brooks’ prior, uncharged, offenses did not constitute prejudicial error, and that California’s restitution laws generally permit any reasonable restitution that is corrective and equitable.
  • The People v. Jeremy Simms; where the court of appeals vacated the trial court’s determination of Mr. Simms’ Proposition 47 petition, holding that the trial court deprived Mr. Simms of his right to be present for the determination of eligibility.

From the Second Appellate District –

  • Sandra Diaz et alterius v. Grill Concepts Services, Inc. et alterius; where the court of appeals affirmed entry of judgment in favor of Ms. Diaz, holding that employers are subject to “waiting time” penalties and are considered to be “willfully” failing to make proper payments when they suspect that they should have paid, but didn’t, then make unreasonable arguments regarding the law being unconstitutionally vague. Additionally the court held that the trial court correctly determined that it did not have discretion to waive the waiting time penalties.
  • Salima Multani v. Evelyn Knight; in a commercial landlord-tenant dispute, the court of appeals held that when a tenant refuses to pay rent, and is in the process of being evicted, they cannot properly allege causes of action stemming from damages caused by a sewage backup that was not caused by any acts of omissions by the landlord, as the tenant had no legal right to be in possession of the property, the landlord had no further contractual or economic duties stemming for damages caused by the sewer backup.
  • The People v. Roderick Washington; where the court of appeals reversed the trial court’s summary denial of Mr. Washington’s petition for reclassification of his burglary conviction under Proposition 47. The court held that the trial court erred in its summary denial because Mr. Washington submitted prima facie evidence that he had stolen less than $950 in property, which requires further inquiry into the petition.

From the Third Appellate District –

  • Terri Raines v. Coastal Pacific Food Distributors, Inc.; when Ms. Raines was terminated, she filed various employment claims including age and disability discrimination and failure to provide accurate wage statements. Raines causes of actions were all adjudicated in favor of Coastal Pacific due to Ms. Raines failure to provide a triable issue of fact as to injury.  The court of appeal agreed with the trial court’s determination, except for Ms. Raines cause of action under the Private Attorneys General Act, where the court of appeal reversed the trial court, and held that civil penalties awardable under such a cause of action do not necessarily require an injury when the purpose of the cause of action is to prevent and punish violations of the law, and not necessarily compensate a plaintiff for an injury.

From the Fourth Appellate District –

  • J.N. v. The Superior Court of Orange County [Real Party in Interest] The People; J.N. petitioned the court of appeals for a writ of mandate reversing the juvenile court’s determination that he was not suitable for treatment in the juvenile court pursuant to the requirements of the recently passed Proposition 57. Here, the court of appeals reversed the juvenile court’s determination, holding that in its review of the five statutory factors as to whether J.N. should be tried as an adult, the court abused its discretion making findings on two of the factors that were not supported by substantial evidence, specifically the circumstances and gravity of the charged offense, and whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.
  • The People v. Peter Balov; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of Mr. Balov’s request to suppress the results of a blood test, which demonstrated he was driving while intoxicated at above the legal limit. The court held that the arresting officer properly offered Mr. Balov the option of either taking a blood test or a breath test, and Mr. Balov consented to the blood test.  The officer did not ‘coerce’ Mr. Balov by failing to inform him about the statutory consequences of refusing to submit to either the blood or breath test.
  • In re Albert Lugo Ruedas; on a habeus corpus writ seeking the retroactive application of the California Supreme Court decision People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal. 4th 665, regarding his own conviction for gang related crimes, the court of appeal denied Mr. Ruedas’ petition, holding that Sahnchez is not retroactive pursuant to the standards for retroactivity set forth in Teague v. Lane (1989) 489 U.S. 288, or even under the more lenient standards described in Stovall v. Denno (1967) 388 U.S. 293, or Linkletter v. Walker (1965) 381 U.S. 618.
  • D.C. Randall, Jr. v. Ditech Financial, LLC; where the court of appeal reversed and remanded the trial court’s sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend on a wrongful foreclosure action. The court held that the second amended complaint was improperly sustained without leave to amend because the facts could be amended to plead a cause of action for unfair or unconscionable debt collection practices under a federal cause of action.  The court of appeal reached its decision based in part on new facts presented to the court on appeal that were not presented to the trial court.
  • The People v. Israel Soto; the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of Mr. Soto’s petition under Proposition 47 for re-sentencing. Both the trial court and the court of appeal held that Mr. Soto’s conviction for theft from an elder was categorically precluded from relief under Proposition 47, and expressed hesitance at the possibility of converting every possible aggravated form of theft into crimes subject to re-sentencing under Proposition 47.
  • In re E., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law [OR] The People v. E.P.; where the court of appeals reversed the trial court’s adjudication on E.P.’s conviction of burglary and receiving stolen property. The court agreed with E.P. that Proposition 47’s reclassification of the stolen property cause of action into a shoplifting misdemeanor requires reversal of the burglary cause of action, and that E.P. could not be charged with both receiving stolen property and the theft of that same property.
  • Yvonne Reid et alterius v. City of San Diego et alterius; where the court of appeals affirmed the City’s demurrer without leave to amend on Ms. Ried’s putative class action for “an illegal hotel tax” as both time barred under the statute of limitations and as failing to state a cause of action. The case involved the interpretation of San Diego’s municipal code as between a 30-day statute of limitations and a 60-day statute of limitations, and involved a prior litigation on substantially the same issue in 2012 that was ultimately rendered moot in an ordinance amendment in 2016.

From the Fifth Appellate District –

  • In re the Marriage of Leslie P. and Robert D. Rodriguez [OR] Leslie P. Rodriguez v. Robert D. Rodriguez [Respondent] Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services; where the court of appeals affirmed child custody payments in the amount of $1,273 for the Rodriguez’s three children. Rodriguez had appealed on the basis that the trial court failed to correctly calculate child support by failing to take into account his computing business’ depreciation of assets and by deviating from the child support guidelines without adequate evidentiary support.  The court held that the tax deduction was properly considered and added back into the calculation for child support purposes by the trial court, and that the special circumstances involving the three children, all adopted and requiring 24-hour support for their medical conditions, justified the deviation from the guidelines.
  • John Doe, a Minor, et cetera v. Good Samaritan Hospital; the court of appeals reversed the entry of judgment in favor of Good Samaritan Hospital in a case involving the standard of supervision the Hospital was obliged to provide to the Doe Plaintiff as a patient in the psychiatric unit, when he was placed in a room with an involuntarily admitted minor patient when Doe was subsequently sodomized by the involuntarily admitted patient. The appeal considered whether the Hospital’s conclusory expert witness declaration, which was unopposed on summary judgment, was sufficient to maintain their right to adjudication.  The court concluded that because the Hospital’s expert witness failed to specifically state the facts, standards, and circumstances that ultimately led to her conclusion that the Hospital was not negligent, judgment was not appropriate, and that the trial court should instead deny adjudication.

From the Sixth Appellate District –

  • Forrest Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.; where the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of a new trial to Mr. Huff on an employment action under the Private Attorneys General Act, when he had failed to prove that he was personally injured by one of the multiple alleged labor code violations. The court of appeals held that Private Attorneys General Actions merely require that the person bringing the action “be brought by an employee ‘against whom one or more of the alleged violations was committed,’ a clear expression that the Legislature intended that a PAGA plaintiff be affected by at least one, but not necessarily all, of the violations alleged in the action.”
  • The People v. Timothy J. Miller; where the court of appeals upheld the trial court’s denial of Mr. Miller’s petition for a certificate of rehabilitation when the authorizing statutes only permit such certificates to issue when the petitioner has lived within the State of California for the five year period immediately preceding the petition, and Mr. Miller had filed his petition from outside of the state.
  • The People v. Andrew Marshall Berg; where the court affirmed the conviction of Mr. Berg on his possession of methamphetamine while present in the Monterey County Jail. The court held that Mr. Berg could not introduce evidence of his voluntary intoxication two days prior, upon his arrest, to negate the presence of general criminal intent.

Supreme Court – Roundup

This Week, the Supreme Court published 4 cases, including:

  • The People v. Floyd Daniel Smith; the Supreme Court affirmed judgment and penalty against Mr. Smith on a death penalty appeal from his conviction on one count of murder with special circumstances of lying in wait and two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter in 1994 when Mr. Smith committed a murder in revenge for the killing of his friend, Manuel Farias. The decision was affirmed in its entirety.
  • Delano Farms Company et alterius v. California Table Grape Commission; in determining whether promotional speech generated by a compelled-subsidy program amounts to government speech, and whether the speech violates Delano Farms own rights, the Supreme Court held that the generic promotional speech activities here are government speech because there were sufficient mechanisms of government control over the message and composition of the California Table Grape Commission that it could properly be ascribed to the government of the State of California.
  • Facebook Inc. et alterius v. The Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco [Real Party in Interest] Derrick D. Hunter et alterius; Mr. Hunter and other defendants in a murder case sought public and private communications from Facebook. When Facebook moved to quash the subpoena under the federal Stored Communications Act, the trial court denied Facebook’s motion to quash and the court of appeals granted the motion to quash.  Here, the Supreme Court partially granted and partially denied the motion to quash, holding that any communications that were designated as public, and were not direct one-on-one communications fell under the lawful consent exceptions to the Act, and should be produced.
  • In re Robert Lewis, Jr.; where the Supreme Court granted Mr. Lewis’ writ on habeus corpus, holding that his intellectual disability makes him ineligible for the death penalty.

In the Supreme Court’s Weekly Summary of Accepted Cases, the court has announced that 5 cases were accepted this week:

  • In re Humphrey; where the Supreme Court will consider whether (1) the Court of Appeal erred in holding that principles of constitutional due process and equal protection require consideration of a criminal defendant’s ability to pay in setting or reviewing the amount of monetary bail, (2) In setting the amount of monetary bail, may a trial court consider public and victim safety or must it do so, and (3) under what circumstances does the California Constitution permit bail to be denied in non-capital cases?
  • In re White; addressed one of the issues raised by In re Humphrey, where the court will consider under what circumstances does the California Constitution permit bail to be denied in non-capital cases.
  • People v. Crockett; where the court will review whether, under the “natural and probable consequences” doctrine, an aider and abettor may be properly convicted on the charge of premeditated attempted murder.
  • People v. Garcia; where the court accepted review on the question of whether a trial court may properly impose a criminal laboratory analysis fee and a drug program fee based on a defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit certain drug offenses.
  • People v. Henderson; which will address the question of whether a trial court abuses its discretion by ordering defendant to pay restitution to cover the cost of the victim’s increased residential security measures, although defendant was not convicted of committing a violent felony.

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