Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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Plaintiff-petitioner Jane Doe, a student-employee in the campus police department at Southwestern College, brought claims relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault against defendants-real parties Southwestern Community College District and three District employees. Her complaint also alleged sexual harassment of two other female District employees, which was presumably relevant to Doe's allegations because it provided notice to the District regarding similar misconduct by at least one of the involved employees, campus police officer Ricardo Suarez. Before her deposition could take place, one of those female employees, Andrea P., was contacted by one of Doe's lawyers, Manuel Corrales, Jr. When they discovered this contact, defendants moved to disqualify Corrales for violating Rule 4.2 of the California State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, which generally prohibits a lawyer from communicating with "a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter." The trial court granted the motion. Although the District offered to provide counsel for Andrea, the Court of Appeal found there was no evidence that at the time of the contact she had accepted the offer or otherwise retained counsel. The Court issued a writ directing the superior court to vacate its order disqualifying Corrales as Doe's counsel in this matter. View "Doe v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Christopher Ross appeals from a summary judgment granted in favor of the County of Riverside on Ross's claims for violation of Labor Code section 1102.5 and for violation of the provisions in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.; FEHA) prohibiting disability discrimination, failure to reasonably accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, and failure to prevent disability discrimination. Ross worked for the County as a deputy district attorney. He sought an accommodation with his work schedule based on a concussion syndrome he was experiencing from previous work in the Military. Supervisors there did not oblige, and Ross sued for violations of the Labor Code section 1102.5, but it was determined he could not establish his claim for disability discrimination because he could not prove he could perform the essential functions of his job. He could not establish his claim for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for the same reasons as well as because he could not prove he had any functional limitations requiring accommodation and his requested accommodation was not reasonable. He could not establish his claim for failure to engage in the interactive process because he did not interact in good faith. And, he could not establish his claim for failure to prevent disability discrimination because he could establish his claims for disability discrimination. Because the Court of Appeal concluded there were triable issues of material fact of the questions of whether Ross engaged in protected activity under Labor Code section 1102.5 and whether Ross had a physical disability under the FEHA, it reversed the judgment as to these claims and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "Ross v. County of Riverside" on Justia Law

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After the trial court awarded sanctions in the form of attorney fees against real parties in interest for filing a frivolous anti-SLAPP motion, real parties appealed the sanction order. The anti-SLAPP motion concerned allegations in a petition for writ of mandate against the Commission and City regarding a development in an area of Venice filed by several pro se petitioners. The Court of Appeal reversed the sanction order and held that there was a reasonable basis for real parties' anti-SLAPP motion. The court held that the anti-SLAPP motion was not devoid of merit where a reasonable attorney could have concluded that the petition asserted a claim against real parties, and a reasonable attorney could have concluded that the petition asserted claims against real parties arising from protected conduct. View "Rudisill v. California Coastal Commission" on Justia Law

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In a third amended complaint, plaintiff-appellant Luis Shalabi sued defendants-respondents Fontana City Police Officer Jason Perniciaro and others for a deprivation of civil rights (42 U.S.C. 1983). Shalabi alleged that on May 14, 2011, Perniciaro wrongfully shot and killed Muhanad Shalabi, who was Shalabi’s father. Shalabi filed his original complaint on December 3, 2013. The trial court dismissed Shalabi’s lawsuit due to it being filed one day beyond the statute of limitations. Shalabi contends the trial court erred by dismissing his lawsuit. The Court of Appeal determined The California statute for calculating the last day of the statute of limitations provided, “The time in which any act provided by law is to be done is computed by excluding the first day, and including the last, unless the last day is a holiday, and then it is also excluded.” Shalabi’s 18th birthday was the triggering event because that was the first day he could file his lawsuit. Shalabi’s 18th birthday was on December 3, 2011. Excluding that day, the Court found the last day for Shalabi to file his complaint was December 3, 2013. Shalabi filed his complaint on December 3, 2013. Therefore, Shalabi’s complaint was timely. The Court reversed the trial court's judgment. View "Shalabi v. City of Fontana" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (SAC) against the school district and six of its employees, alleging a pattern of harassment, discrimination and retaliation against her because she engaged in protected activities. The court held that the demurrer to the cause of action entitled, "Retaliation in Violation of Government Code Section 12940(h)" was properly sustained; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to add or amend the cause of action alleged for the first time in the SAC; failure to comply with the Government Claims Act bars the cause of action alleging violations of Labor Code section 1102.5; and the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied leave to amend despite plaintiff's PTSD. View "Le Mere v. Los Angeles Unified School District" on Justia Law

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McGhee pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary. He received a four-year prison sentence. In 2016, the electorate passed Proposition 57, amending the state Constitution, “[a]ny person convicted of a nonviolent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term" for his primary offense.” The Department of Corrections created regulations, including Section 3492, “Public Safety Screening and Referral,” which provides that eligible inmates will be screened by the department and referred for parole consideration only if the inmates satisfy eight criteria that require the absence of serious or multiple disciplinary violations while in prison. In 2017, McGhee was advised that although “eligible,” he would not be referred for parole consideration because he did not satisfy the criteria, having, during the past five years, served a Security Housing Unit term that was not “solely for the inmate’s safety” and been found guilty of a serious rule violation (possession of an inmate-manufactured weapon). The court of appeal granted McGhee habeas corpus relief. Creation of a screening and referral process that excludes from parole consideration more than a third of otherwise eligible inmates based on their in-prison conduct is inconsistent with the language of the constitutional amendment. Despite the department's policy considerations, the amendment mandates that these prisoners receive parole consideration if they were convicted of a nonviolent felony and have served the full term of their primary offense. View "In re McGhee" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the probate court's order striking her petition to enforce a no contest clause in a trust under the anti-SLAPP statute, Code of Civil Procedure 425.16, and denying her motion to recover attorney fees. The Court of Appeal agreed with the probate court, and with a recent decision by Division Five of this district, that the anti-SLAPP statute applies to a petition such as plaintiff's seeking to enforce a no contest clause. However, the court held that plaintiff adequately demonstrated a likelihood of success under the second step of the anti-SLAPP procedure. In this case, defendant's judicial defense of the 2007 Amendment to the Trust that she procured through undue influence met the Trust's definition of a contest that triggered the no contest clause. Furthermore, under sections 21310 and 21311, that clause was enforceable against defendant. The court also held that plaintiff provided sufficient evidence that defendant lacked probable cause to defend the 2007 Amendment. The court held that the findings of the probate court concerning defendant's undue influence, which this court affirmed, provided a sufficient basis to conclude that plaintiff has shown a probability of success on her No Contest Petition. Finally, the court held that plaintiff had the contractual right to seek reimbursement of her attorney fees incurred in resisting defendant's appeal of the probate court's ruling invalidating the 2007 Amendment. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Key v. Tyler" on Justia Law

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In the underlying actions, the People asserted claims under Business and Professions Code section 17501 against real parties in interest and alleged that real parties sold products online by means of misleading, deceptive or untrue statements regarding the former prices of those products. The trial court sustained real parties' demurrer without leave to amend on the ground that the statute was void for vagueness as applied to real parties. The Court of Appeal granted the petition for writ of mandate seeking relief from the ruling regarding the section 17501 claims, and held that real parties failed to demonstrate any constitutional defect on demurrer. Regarding real parties' challenge to section 17501 as an unconstitutional regulation of free speech, as a preliminary matter, the court rejected petitioner's contention that the statute targets only false, misleading or deceptive commercial speech; the plain language of the statute restricts protected commercial speech and thus, the statute was subject to the test for constitutional validity set forth in Central Hudson Gas & Elec. v. Public Serv. Comm'n (1980) 447 U.S. 557, 566; and, because the undeveloped record was inadequate to apply the test, real parties' "free speech" challenge necessarily failed on demurrer. The court also rejected real parties' contention that section 17501 was void for vagueness, and rejected the facial and as-applied challenges. View "People v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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In 1988, at age 17, Palmer pled guilty to kidnapping for robbery and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. He became eligible for parole in 1996 and, over the next 19 years, had 10 parole suitability hearings at which parole was denied. While challenging the denial of parole at a 2015 hearing Palmer also sought habeas corpus relief, citing the Eighth Amendment. On December 6, 2018, the Board held a new parole suitability hearing, as ordered by the reviewing court, and found Palmer suitable for release on parole. The court of appeal concluded that the serial denials of parole Palmer experienced resulted in punishment so disproportionate to his individual culpability for the offense he committed, that it must be deemed constitutionally excessive and that Palmer is entitled to release from all forms of custody, including parole supervision. The court noted that such challenges based on the length of prison time already served are rare. View "In re Palmer" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of defendants' special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute, because information about the views from a private residence affecting only those directly interested in buying or selling that house is not an issue of public interest. The court also held that plaintiff was entitled to attorney fees and therefore reversed the trial court's ruling on that issue. The court also granted plaintiff's motion for sanctions. View "Workman v. Colichman" on Justia Law