Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in California Court of Appeal
Shaw v. Super. Ct.
Petitioner filed suit against her former employers, alleging violation of Health and Safety Code section 1278.5 and a violation of public policy. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging the denial of a jury trial. The court concluded that denial of a jury trial in this case is a proper matter for writ relief. The court also concluded that the statutory language and legislative history of section 1278.5 reflect an intent to permit a jury trial. Even apart from this evidence of legislative intent, the court concluded that a jury trial is appropriate as the gist of plaintiff's cause of action sounds in law rather than equity. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for writ of mandate. View "Shaw v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
Kaufman v. Diskeeper Corp.
Diskeeper appealed the trial court's denial of a contract-based award of attorney fees following the confirmation of an arbitration award. The trial court denied the award because Diskeeper filed no memorandum of costs in seeking the award. The court held that a party seeking attorney fees under Civil Code section 1717 need not, in addition to filing a noticed motion, file a memorandum of costs. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Kaufman v. Diskeeper Corp." on Justia Law
California v. Sanchez
A jury convicted Defendant-appellant Jose Sanchez of grand theft of copper wire. He was sentenced to three years in county jail. On appeal, defendant argued that four statements made by the prosecutor during closing argument deprived him of his constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial in two respects: (1) the prosecutor erred by implicating defendant’s failure to testify; and (2) the prosecutor made inflammatory statements about defendant and the jurors. The Court of Appeal held that one comment constituted error and another amounted to prosecutorial misconduct. However, the Court held that the errors, individually and cumulatively, were harmless. The Court therefore affirmed the judgment. View "California v. Sanchez" on Justia Law
California v. Adair
The trial court denied Appellant-defendant Ronald James Adair's petition for certificate of rehabilitation and pardon and motion for reconsideration of the denial of his petition for certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. Defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his motion because the timelines set forth in section 4852.03. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "California v. Adair" on Justia Law
McLean v. California
Plaintiff Janis McLean, a retired deputy attorney general, appealed a judgment of dismissal after the trial court sustained the demurrer of defendants the State of California and the California State Controller’s Office to her class action seeking waiting time penalties under Labor Code section 2031 for the failure to comply with the prompt payment requirements of section 202. She argued the trial court erred in ruling that the term "quits" in sections 202 and 203 did not apply to employees who quit in order to retire. The Court of Appeal agreed that in the context of sections 202 and 203, requirements applying to employees who quit also apply to employees who quit to retire. The Court therefore reversed the judgment as to the State of California. However, because the Court held that it was unnecessary to name the California State Controller’s Office as a defendant, and affirmed the judgment of dismissal as to the controller’s office. View "McLean v. California" on Justia Law
In re J.S.
A.S. (mother) and P.B. (father) appealed orders asserting dependency jurisdiction over their children, N.S. and J.S., and removing the children from their custody. In a partially published opinion, the Court of Appeal held that there was sufficient evidence to support the removal of the children from both parents based on domestic violence. Furthermore, the Court held that, even though the father’s 1997 Kentucky conviction for second degree sexual abuse was a misdemeanor under Kentucky law, it constituted a "violent felony" for purposes of the denial of reunification services under California law. The Court modified the jurisdictional findings, and affirmed the jurisdictional and dispositional orders of the trial court. View "In re J.S." on Justia Law
Hager v. County of Los Angeles
Plaintiff filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit under Labor Code section 1102.5(b) against the County. The County subsequently appealed from a judgment entered after a substantial jury verdict in plaintiff's favor and plaintiff appealed from the postjudgment order denying his request for attorney fees. The court initially affirmed in part and reversed in part, concluding that the trial court did not err in excluding evidence of past conduct and there was no substantial evidence to support the economic damages awarded to plaintiff. Both the County and the plaintiff petitioned for rehearing. The court granted the petitions and concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of undisclosed reasons for terminating plaintiff where the record contained affirmative indications that the trial court considered and understood that the introduction of undisclosed reasons for the decision to terminate plaintiff was not relevant and was prejudicial. The court also concluded that there was no substantial evidence to support the jury's award of economic damages. Accordingly, the court reversed in that respect but affirmed in all other respects. The court also affirmed the order denying plaintiff's motion for attorney fees. View "Hager v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law
City of Pasadena v. Cohen
In the summer of 2011 the Legislature enacted legislation primarily within the Health and Safety Code, that barred any new redevelopment agency obligations, and established procedures for the windup and dissolution of the obligations of the nearly 400 redevelopment agencies then existing. This case stemmed from a dispute arising out of a process the Court of Appeal called the “Great Dissolution.” Defendant Department of Finance disapproved two items included in the “Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule” (ROPS) of plaintiff City of Pasadena. It was determined that these were not enforceable obligations of the Pasadena redevelopment agency. Both obligations were set to expire in 2014; the first involved reimbursement for pension bonds and the other for subsidized housing bonds. The Department previously had approved these two items in ROPS I and II. The City filed this suit seeking injunctive and declaratory relief against defendant Ana Matosantos in her official capacity as director of the Department. The trial court granted the City’s application for a preliminary injunction, finding that the City had some likelihood of prevailing on the merits, and had a significant risk of irreparable harm otherwise. The trial court ordered defendant Auditor-Controller of Los Angeles County (L.A. Auditor-Controller) to sequester the funds for the two disapproved obligations pending a trial on the merits, and to refrain from distributing them to the taxing entities that are otherwise entitled to the remainder of the property tax proceeds payable to the successor agency. Defendant Matosantos alone filed the notice of appeal in this case. On plenary review, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court was incorrect to yoke declaratory and injunctive relief together. The Court vacated the order with directions either to dismiss the action (with or without leave to amend) or to construe the City’s pleading as one for traditional mandate and proceed accordingly. View "City of Pasadena v. Cohen" on Justia Law
California v. Hubbard
In the November 2012 General Election, voters prospectively amended recidivist sentencing provisions for a defendant with two or more previous felony convictions. If a commitment conviction was not for a “serious” or violent felony (subject to a number of qualifications), the prescribed sentence now was double the term otherwise provided, instead of the formerly prescribed indeterminate term of life with varying minimums (generally 25 years). The voters simultaneously created a retrospective process for a qualified recidivist defendant who was “presently serving” a former indeterminate life term. A defendant could petition the original sentencing court for a recall of the sentence, and be resentenced to a determinate sentence of double the term that would otherwise apply to the commitment convictions (i.e., what a trial court would impose under the prospective amendments to the recidivist sentencing statutes) if this would otherwise not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to the public. Defendant Sidney Scott Hubbard filed a recall petition in December 2012. He alleged that in September 1996, a jury had found him guilty of attempted robbery and reckless evasion of a police pursuit, and sustained multiple allegations of prior convictions for serious felonies. The trial court sentenced defendant to consecutive indeterminate terms of 25 years to life for the convictions, along with six years for the enhancements. Defendant requested that the trial court resentence him on his conviction for reckless evasion because it was not a serious or violent felony and did not otherwise come within an exception. The trial court denied the recall petition without a hearing, finding defendant did not qualify for relief because one of his two commitment convictions was a serious and violent felony. On appeal, defendant challenges this interpretation of section 1170.126. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court’s interpretation of the statute. As a result, the Court affirmed the order, or in the alternative treated the appeal as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and denied it. View "California v. Hubbard" on Justia Law
In re Jayden M.
After his father left Jayden with his paternal grandmother with an eye infection and no provision for support, the Department of Health and Human Services petitioned the juvenile court alleging that Jayden comes within the jurisdiction of the court because of the father’s untreated substance abuse problem and history of domestic violence, and the mother’s prostitution and substance abuse. The court sustained the petition and placed Jayden with his paternal aunt and uncle. Reunification services were offered to both parents, but father failed to use the offered services, and mother only partially engaged in services. After several months of services both parents expressed a desire to waive reunification services. Their reunification services were terminated at the six-month review hearing based on the Department’s recommendation. Neither parent appealed this decision. When Jayden was placed with his paternal aunt and uncle, they expressed an interest in adopting Jayden. Several months later, based on an assessment that the paternal aunt and uncle were meeting Jayden’s needs and aiding him in his speech and motor skills development, a permanency plan suggested that Jayden remain with them to be adopted. However, on the day of the scheduled selection and implementation hearing, Jayden’s counsel requested ex parte that the court change its order requiring a noticed petition to move Jayden from his placement with his paternal aunt and uncle because the Department had developed concerns about the caregivers and no longer believed the placement was in Jayden’s best interest. The court continued the selection and implementation hearing to investigate other potential relative placements to ensure that the Department could locate a suitable home for Jayden. At the continued selection and implementation hearing, counsel for the Department said Jayden was going to be placed in an adoptive home that same day. Jayden’s counsel was supportive of terminating parental rights and of removing him from his aunt and uncle’s home. Father’s counsel entered “general objections,” and specifically objected to the finding that the child was likely to be adopted and the recommendation that father’s parental rights be terminated. Mother’s counsel objected to the termination of mother’s parental rights and to the court’s finding of Jayden’s adoptability. On appeal, the parents contended: (1) the Department and the juvenile court erroneously removed Jayden from his prospective adoptive parents without complying with the statutory procedures; (2) there was insufficient evidence Jayden was adoptable; and (3) the juvenile court violated parents’ rights to effective assistance of counsel and a fair hearing and abrogated its duty to make an independent decision when it denied mother’s request for a continuance of the hearing in light of the Department’s failure to provide an updated assessment of potential adoptive placements to the court. The Court of Appeal disagreed with the parents' allegations and affirmed the juvenile court’s orders. View "In re Jayden M." on Justia Law