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South San Francisco approved a conditional-use permit allowing an office building to be converted to a medical clinic for use by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. The city determined that its consideration of the permit was categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code section 21000 (CEQA). Respect Life challenged the determination. The trial court and court of appeal upheld the determination, rejecting arguments that the permit’s consideration is not exempt from CEQA because the unusual circumstances exception to CEQA’s categorical exemptions applies. By pointing only to evidence that the permit will lead to protests, Respect Life failed to establish that the city prejudicially abused its discretion by making an implied determination that there are no unusual circumstances justifying further CEQA review. View "Respect Life South San Francisco v. City of South San Francisco" on Justia Law

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Defendant Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians (the Tribe) appealed a judgment after trial in favor of plaintiff Sharp Image Gaming, Inc. (Sharp Image), in plaintiff’s breach of contract action stemming from a deal to develop a casino on the Tribe’s land. On appeal, the Tribe argued: (1) the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Sharp Image’s action in state court was preempted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA); (2) the trial court erred in failing to defer to the National Indian Gaming Commission’s (NIGC) determination that the disputed Equipment Lease Agreement (ELA) and a promissory note (the Note) were management contracts requiring the NIGC’s approval; (3) Sharp Image’s claims were barred by the Tribe’s sovereign immunity; (4) the trial court erred in denying the Tribe’s motion for summary judgment; (5) the jury’s finding that the ELA was an enforceable contract was inconsistent with its finding that the ELA left essential terms for future determination; and (6) substantial evidence does not support the jury’s verdict on the Note. After the parties completed briefing in this case, the United States was granted permission to submit an amicus curiae brief in partial support of the Tribe on the questions of preemption and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal concluded IGRA preempted state contract actions based on unapproved “management contracts” and “collateral agreements to management contracts” as such agreements are defined in the IGRA regulatory scheme. Thus, the trial court erred by failing to determine whether the ELA and the Note were agreements subject to IGRA regulation, a necessary determination related to the question of preemption and the court’s subject matter jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Court concluded the ELA was a management contract and the Note was a collateral agreement to a management contract subject to IGRA regulation. Because these agreements were never approved by the NIGC Chairman as required by the IGRA and were thus void, Sharp Image’s action was preempted by IGRA. Consequently, the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction. View "Sharp Image Gaming v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians" on Justia Law

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At a special hearing, the juvenile court issued a permanent restraining order prohibiting the child's stepfather from having any contact with the child (C.M.). The child's mother, E.S., appealed an order the juvenile court issued at the same hearing, directing the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) to immediately remove her child from her care if there is "any evidence that the minor has been exposed to [his stepfather] or if mother violates the restraining order." While the Court of Appeal appreciated the juvenile court's assessment of the need to warn E.S. in no uncertain terms there would be serious consequences if C.M. has any contact with the stepfather, the Court concluded issuing a conditional removal order was not the way to warn her. “Removal, including a temporary detention, must be made on a timely assessment of risk to the child. Here, the court may have informed E.S. about the potential legal consequences of exposing C.M. to [the stepfather], including removal from her custody and termination of parental rights. The court may have directed the Agency to immediately bring to its attention any evidence of contact between C.M. and [the stepfather] and to set a hearing to address the issue. However, the conditional removal order disregards the dependency scheme, which is carefully calculated, not only to protect the child, but also to guarantee procedural and substantive due process to the child and the parent.” View "In re C.M." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal granted petitioner's habeas petition challenging the legality of his confinement under Penal Code 4024.2 for violating the terms of his work release program. The court held that there was no legal basis to detain petitioner in custody because his probation expired and because section 4024.2 did not provide authority to detain him. View "In re Jesse Barber" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the jury's verdict in favor of two officers in an action alleging that the Police Department discriminated against the officers. The court held that, while the evidence that the officers produced at trial might have been sufficient to support the theory of discrimination that they presented, that theory was legally flawed. In this case, the officers' theory was that the jury could and should consider whether the officers were treated differently, not simply because of their race, but because of the race of their victim. The court reasoned that this theory did not support the discrimination claim the officers brought. In deciding whether to return the officers to the field, the City could assess the political implications of doing so without violating employment discrimination laws. The City was not prohibited from assessing the risk management implications of returning officers of any race to the streets of Los Angeles who had been involved in a fatal shooting of an innocent, unarmed and autistic African-American man. Furthermore, the officers did not provide sufficient evidence to support their claim that the City retaliated against them for filing this action. The court remanded with instructions to enter judgment for the City. View "Diego v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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In September 2014, Andrew, less than one month old, was admitted to the hospital with a skull fracture, bilateral hematomas on both sides of the brain, diffused retinal hemorrhage in his right eye, and multiple old fractures of the ribs. Andrew and his five-year-old half-sibling were taken into custody. Andrew was placed with his maternal great-grandparents. After an extended contested hearing, the juvenile court concluded that Andrew’s father was responsible for the infant’s serious injuries and denied father reunification services. Father had admitted to causing Andrew’s injuries during a pretext phone call with Mother and had been arrested. Both parents subsequently continued to deny responsibility. Mother reunited with Father and claimed that she made the pretext call under duress. She sought to establish that Andrew’s injuries were congenital while Father asserted that the five-year-old might have hurt the baby. The juvenile court terminated mother’s reunification services with respect to Andrew and set a permanency planning hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that substantial evidence supported the court’s jurisdictional findings and dispositional orders. Neither parent was even willing to acknowledge that nonaccidental injury occurred, conduct amounting to “a willful denial of the injuries themselves.” View "In re Madison S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Defendant Anice Plikaytis appealed an order awarding her attorneys' fees in a breach of contract action brought by plaintiff Debra Roth. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal agreed with Plikaytis's contention that the trial court erred when it declined to consider previously filed documents she incorporated by reference as part of her motion. In the unpublished portions of the opinion, the Court discussed Plikaytis's arguments that: (1) the court failed to apply the lodestar method; (2) erroneously denied fees for equitable and cross-claims and for obtaining relief from bankruptcy stays; and (3) substantially reduced her award without explanation. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court erred by denying fees for obtaining bankruptcy stay relief that related to the breach claim and failing to provide an adequate justification for significantly reducing the number of hours allowed. Accordingly, the trial court was affirmed in part, reversed in part, and the matter remanded with directions. View "Roth v. Plikaytis" on Justia Law

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After the trial court denied a motion to suppress evidence, Megan Sandee pled guilty to possession for sale of a controlled substance and unauthorized possession of a controlled substance. The trial court granted felony probation to the court for a period of three years. Sandee appealed the trial court's denial of her motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of her cell phone. According to Sandee, although she was on probation at the time of the search and subject to a general search condition which allowed authorities to search her "property" and "personal effects" without a warrant, the scope of that search condition did not extend to a warrantless search of her cell phone. The Court of Appeal concluded the motion to suppress was properly denied, as a reasonable, objective person at the time of the search would understand a search of Sandee's cell phone to fall within the scope of the search conditions in her probation orders. View "California v. Sandee" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Jason Leonard of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run with injury, exhibiting a deadly weapon other than a firearm, vandalism, reckless driving while evading a peace officer, and two counts of possession of a leaded cane or baton. The trial court sentenced Leonard to six years eight months in prison. Leonard appealed, arguing: (1) the court erred by excluding impeachment evidence against a prosecution witness; and (2) the evidence did not support his conviction for reckless driving while evading a peace officer because he was not "assigned a traffic violation point" based on his conduct, within the meaning of section Penal Code 2800.2 (a). In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court properly excluded the proffered impeachment evidence under Evidence Code section 352. In the published portion, the Court concluded the statute defining reckless driving while evading a peace officer did not require evidence that Leonard was personally assessed traffic violation points. View "California v. Leonard" on Justia Law

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A child who seeks a declaration of paternity after her putative father is deceased presents a justiciable controversy when the child requests no financial remuneration. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's paternity lawsuit, holding that plaintiff had standing to bring her suit. The court held that Family Code section 7630 contains no conditional requirement that the child express a pecuniary interest as a condition of the paternity suit. Nor does it contain an age limitation. The court reasoned that plaintiff's interest in identifying her father was independent of a claim for financial remuneration, afforded her standing, and demonstrated a justiciable controversy. View "Dent v. Wolf" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law