Articles Posted in Civil Rights

by
California law provides that the death penalty shall be inflicted by either lethal gas or by “an intravenous injection of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death, by standards established under the direction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.” (Pen. Code 3604 (a)). Death-row inmates and the ACLU challenged the law as impermissibly delegating the Legislature’s authority to nonelected agency officials. The court of appeal affirmed that section 3604 does not violate the doctrine of separation of powers. The statute’s purpose gives the Department adequate guidance. The Eighth Amendment prohibits governmental imposition of cruel and unusual punishments, and bars infliction of unnecessary pain in the execution of the death sentence. In developing a protocol for lethal injections, the Department must meet these standards: it may not inflict unnecessary pain and it must seek to avoid a lingering death. The Legislature did not need to provide more explicit standards and safeguards. View "Sims v. Kernan" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff appealed the trial court's denial of his petition for a writ of administrative mandamus to set aside his expulsion from USC for unauthorized alcohol use, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and rape of another student. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that plaintiff was denied a fair hearing where three central witnesses were not interviewed and thus the Title IX investigator was not able to assess the credibility of these critical witnesses during the interviews. The court also held that USC did not comply with its own procedures to conduct a fair and thorough investigation by failing to request that the student provide her clothes from the morning of the incident and her consent to release her medical records from the rape treatment center. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Doe v. University of Southern California" on Justia Law

by
In 2014, Wife was married to Andres Marin (the victim). Wife and the victim shared four children: Andres, Jazmyn, Christal, and Julyan. On March 1, 2014, at approximately 6:30 a.m., the victim left the Family’s residence in Corona to ride his mountain bike up Santiago Peak in the Cleveland National Forest. The bike ride would be approximately 55 miles. The victim was scheduled to arrive back home at 2:00 p.m. When he did not, his Wife called police. Wife was able to speak to her husband on the trail: he had been injured, and she was concerned about falling temperatures the later it took him to come home. Riverside County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Zachary Hall was the “Incident Commander” for the case. Lieutenant Hall was not trained in search and rescue techniques, and dismissed Wife’s concerns for her husband’s safety, particularly overnight when the temperatures dropped. The victim ultimately was found by volunteers trained to respond to wilderness emergencies; he died of hypothermia. The victim’s family sued the County of Riverside (the County) for: (1) wrongful death; (2) negligence; (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (4) a deprivation of constitutional rights (42 U.S.C. 1983). The trial court sustained the County’s demurrer to the complaint without leave to amend. The Family contended on appeal the trial court erred. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed as to the causes of action for wrongful death, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In all other respects, the judgment was affirmed. View "Arista v. County of Riverside" on Justia Law

by
In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal noted that effective January 1, 2019, Code of Civil Procedure section 998 will have no application to costs and attorney and expert witness fees in a Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) action unless the lawsuit is found to be "frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless when brought, or the plaintiff continued to litigate after it clearly became so." In regard to the litigation that predated the application of the amended version of Government Code section 12965(b), the court held that section 998 does not apply to nonfrivolous FEHA actions and reversed the order awarding defendant costs and expert witness fees pursuant to that statute. View "Huerta v. Kava Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Edward Manavian held a career executive assignment (CEA) position as chief of the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (Bureau), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Assignment by appointment to such a position does not confer any rights or status in the position other than provided in Article 9 . . . of [Government Code] Chapter 2.5 of Part 2.6.” The rights conferred by article 9 are the rights of all civil service employees relating to punitive actions, except that the termination of a CEA is not a punitive action. CEA positions are part of the general civil service system, but an employee enjoys no tenure. Manavian’s job description was to cooperate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to prevent terrorism and related criminal activity. However, Manavian’s relationships with state and federal decisionmakers were not good. The director and deputy director of the state Office of Homeland Security refused to work with Manavian. Richard Oules, Manavian’s superior, decided to terminate Manavian’s CEA position because of his dysfunctional relationship with federal and state representatives, and because of Manavian’s hostility toward Oules. Manavian sued, his complaint contained a long list of grievances. Manavian also claims that certain actions he took in liaising with other state and federal homeland security representatives, then reporting potentially illegal policy proposals, were protected by the California whistleblower statutes. The Court of Appeal concluded that the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBRA) protections were not triggered by the termination of Manavian’s CEA position, and that he was not protected as a whistleblower. View "Manavian v. Dept. of Justice" on Justia Law

by
Guerrero came from Mexico to the U.S. with his parents in 1990 at age 11. In 1995, he created a false Social Security number (SSN) to get a job. He secured a legitimate SSN in 2007. He became a U.S. citizen in 2011. He applied to become a correctional officer with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). He passed written and physical exams and was placed on the eligibility list. CDCR’s background questionnaire asked, “Have you ever had or used a social security number other than the one you used on this questionnaire?” Guerrero answered “yes” and explained. Based on that answer, CDCR informed Guerrero he was no longer eligible to become a correctional officer. The State Personnel Board upheld the decision. Guerro filed a federal suit, citing title VII; California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code, 12940); national origin discrimination in a state-conducted program (Government Code 11135); 42 U.S.C. 1983; and state equal protection and due process violations. The federal court dismissed the state law claims on Eleventh Amendment grounds, effectively limiting potential money recovery to backpay. To recoup damages, Guerrero filed suit in state court. After Guerrero won judgment in the federal action, the superior court dismissed his state claims under California claim preclusion principles. The court of appeal reversed, reasoning that federal law, not California law, governs the preclusive effect of the federal judgment, and provides an exception to claim preclusion where jurisdictional limitations in a prior suit blocked a request for complete relief. View "Guerrero v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation" on Justia Law

by
John Doe appealed the superior court's decision denying his petition for writ of administrative mandate to compel UCSB to rescind his suspension after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct in violation of the Student Conduct Code. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that John was denied access to critical evidence; denied the opportunity to adequately cross-examine witnesses; and denied the opportunity to present evidence in his defense. The court held that the accused must be permitted to see the evidence against him and, in this case, John was not permitted access to the complete Sexual Assault Response Team report. This error was prejudicial to John. Furthermore, cumulative errors occurred at the hearing, including the exclusion of John's evidence of the side effects of Viibryd, a prescription antidepressant, that Jane Roe was taking. The court held that neither Jane nor John received a fair hearing where the lack of due process precluded a fair evaluation of the witnesses' credibility. View "Doe v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Musclewood, alleging that defendants violated his rights under the Disabled Persons Act (DPA), by allowing their guard dog to interfere with and attack plaintiff's guide dog. Plaintiff, who is blind, had been trained to use a route that passed in front of defendants' business when he traveled to the market or bus stop. Defendants' guard dog was not trained, leashed, or otherwise controlled or restrained. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by sustaining a demurrer to his cause of action under the DPA without leave to amend where plaintiff stated a valid claim under section 54.3 of the DPA and plaintiff sufficiently alleged standing for damages. The court also reversed the trial court's order granting a motion to strike. In this case, the trial court committed reversible error by striking the first cause of action, the prayer for damages (including treble damages), and the prayer for attorney fees. View "Ruiz v. Musclewood Investment Properties" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal held that the evidence credited by the trial court was sufficient to support a Qawi order, which authorizes the California Department of State Hospitals-Atascadero (Hospital or ASH) to involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication to treat defendant's severe mental disorder. In this case, the trial court found that appellant lacked the capacity to refuse medical treatment and issued a Qawi order authorizing the Hospital to involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the finding that the order furthered a compelling government interest that outweighed any religious belief and there was no due process violation in defendant's case. View "California Department of State Hospitals v. A.H." on Justia Law

by
In 2014, Appellant pled guilty to felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a billy club. He also admitted the allegations in the motion to revoke probation in an earlier case. Appellant was sentenced to three years’ probation and a 180-day county jail term. When he entered his pleas the court explained, and Appellant acknowledged, the possible immigration consequences of his convictions. Counsel stated he had advised Appellant accordingly. Appellant was placed in removal proceedings but was granted cancellation of the removal. In 2015, Appellant was found in possession of methamphetamine for sale, resisted arrest, and attempted to destroy evidence; he was placed on probation for five years. In the new criminal case, Appellant pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was sentenced to 360 days in the county jail. In 2017, Appellant moved to vacate revocation of probation under Penal Code 1473.7(a)(1), alleging ineffective assistance of counsel regarding the immigration consequences of his admission and sentence. The court of appeal affirmed denial of the motion. Appellant, a convicted felon currently on formal probation, is not entitled to the relief under section 1473.7. He did not establish ineffective assistance; the trial court would not have tolerated any lesser sentence and it is unlikely Appellant would have gone to trial under the circumstances. View "People v. Cruz-Lopez" on Justia Law