Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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There is no equal protection violation for the procedural difference between when a supervising agency files a petition to modify, revoke, or terminate a criminal defendant’s parole or postrelease community supervision, its petition must be accompanied by a written report containing information specified by statute and the California Rules of Court, and when a district attorney files such a petition, its petition need not be accompanied by such a report. Therefore, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court correctly overruled the demurrer in this case. View "People v. Castel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Toyota, for discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Gov. Code, 12900 et seq., as well as for wrongful discharge. The trial court granted summary judgment for Toyota. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that a substantial motivating factor for his termination was invidious sex or gender stereotyping related to his sexual orientation (the perception that he was "too gay"). However, the court held that plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of material fact to support his FEHA retaliation and related common law tort claim. Accordingly, the court remanded for the trial court to enter an order granting Toyota's alternative motion for summary adjudication as to these causes of action. View "Husman v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp." on Justia Law

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The Park and Malibu Bay petitioned the trial court to have Measure R, an initiative designed to limit large developments and chain establishments, declared invalid. The trial court granted the petition and defendants appealed. The Court of Appeal held that Measure R exceeds the initiative power because it invalidly annuls or delays executive or administrative conduct. The court also held that Measure R's conditional use permit (CUP) is illegal because it conditions the CUP on the character of the permittee or applicant rather than on the use of the land. The court declined to sever the invalid portions of Measure R and affirmed the judgment. View "The Park at Cross Creek v. City of Malibu" on Justia Law

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Jose S., a former ward of the juvenile court, moved under Welfare and Institutions Code section 781 to seal juvenile records related to an admitted charge of lewd and lascivious conduct that occurred in 2002. The juvenile court denied the motion, finding Jose was precluded from relief under section 781 because of an additional admitted and disqualifying charge of assault with a deadly weapon in 2005. On appeal, Jose argued each offense constituted a separate case for purposes of section 781 and that the records related to his 2002 offense should have been sealed. Jose argued in the alternative that the court's denial of his motion to seal was improper because the 2005 assault did not fall within the list of disqualifying offenses set forth in section 707, subdivision (b). The Court of Appeal rejected both these contentions and found the juvenile court did not err in refusing to seal Jose’s records. View "In re Jose S." on Justia Law

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Luis Alford pled guilty to possessing methamphetamine for sale. The court sentenced Alford to eight years in custody, plus three years four months on mandatory supervision. The court also imposed various fines and assessments. Alford's appellate challenge concerns the court's imposition of a monetary penalty based on two statutory assessments: (1) a criminal laboratory analysis fee (laboratory fee); and (2) a drug program fee. Alford acknowledged the court properly assessed him for the laboratory and drug program fees, but contended the court erred in concluding the penalty statutes applied to require an additional penalty on top of those fees. There was a split in authority in the Courts of Appeal on this precise issue. The Court of Appeal determined the court's assessment of the additional penalties was proper. View "California v. Alford" on Justia Law

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The Dissolution Law directed redevelopment agencies to continue making payments on enforceable obligations, but prohibited those agencies from incurring additional obligations, freezing all such activities. the day before the Dissolution Law was signed by Governor Brown and became effective, City of Big Bear Lake and its former redevelopment agency, knowing about the imminent change of law and the Legislature’s intent, signed the Cooperation Agreement, under which, the City agreed to transfer to City of Big Bear Lake $23.5 million and the city agreed to undertake specified public improvements. Also on that day, the City entered into an agreement with Matich Corporation for street and drainage improvements for about $2.5 million. The city also had a 2006 agreement with Wireless Consulting – Joseph A. Cylwik (also referred to as Cylwik Property Management) to provide engineering services on an as-needed basis. Under this contract, Cylwik Property Management provided services related to the Matich Corporation project. In this case, the issues presented centered on: (1) whether the Matich and Cylwik contracts (the contested transactions) did not create enforceable obligations of the former redevelopment agency; (2) whether the Dissolution Law’s invalidation of sponsor agreements (agreements between a city and its former redevelopment agency) did not violate the California Constitution; and (3) whether it was irrelevant that City of Big Bear Lake claimed it no longer possessed the funds it received from the former redevelopment agency. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court with respect to these issues, and concluded the statutory remedy of offsetting City of Big Bear Lake’s sales, use, and property taxes to capture a $2.6 million was unconstitutional. Therefore, the Court modified the trial court’s judgment to the extent it found the proposed sales, use, and property tax offsets constitutional. View "City of Big Bear Lake v. Cohen" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals concluded Jerome Wilford's challenge to his sentence on two counts of corporal injury to a cohabitant was well taken. For counts 5 and 6, the amended information alleged Wilford committed a violation of section 273.5(a), which carried a sentence range of two, three, or four years. In addition, the information included a special allegation under section 273.5(h)(1) as to counts 5 and 6. The information indicated the effect of the allegation was a minimum sentence of 15 days. Before sentencing, the prosecutor filed a sentencing brief requesting the court to sentence Wilford under counts 5 and 6 to a term of two, four, or five years under section 273.5(f)(1). This term could be doubled to four, eight, or 10 years based on Wilford's prior strike conviction. Wilford argues his sentence for counts 5 and 6 must be reversed because it was not properly pled in the information. Specifically, he contends that because the prosecutor pled an enhancement under section 273.5(h)(1) instead of section 273.5(f)(1), the court could not sentence him under the two, four, or five year triad. Due process requires that a criminal defendant be given fair notice of the charges to provide an opportunity to prepare a defense and to avoid unfair surprise at trial. The Court of Appeal reversed the sentence on those two counts and remanded this matter to the superior court for resentencing as to those two counts only. View "California v. Wilford" on Justia Law

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Defendants Kiesha Smith and Michael Mitchell appealed their convictions for the murder of Josephine Kelley. In a prior opinion, the Court of Appeal reversed both convictions due to prejudicial error in the joint trial before separate juries. The State petitioned the Supreme Court for review with respect to reversal of Mitchell's conviction on the grounds the trial court erred in admitting against Mitchell, as statements against interest, hearsay evidence of statements made by codefendant Smith in which she inculpated Mitchell in the murder. The Supreme Court granted review on this issue and remanded this case back to the Court of Appeal reconsideration in light of California v. Grimes (2016) 1 Cal.5th 698 (Grimes). After reconsideration, a majority of the Court of Appeal found no error in the admission of evidence of statements Smith made which inculpated Mitchell. The Court also rejected the other issues Mitchell raised on appeal. Accordingly, Smith's conviction was once again reversed, but Mitchell's affirmed. View "California v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The California Department of State Hospitals (department) designated two psychologists (Dr. Robert Karlsson and Dr. Marcia Asgarian) to evaluate petitioner Douglas Snyder to determine whether he was a sexually violent predator (SVP) as defined in the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA). Dr. Karlsson determined Snyder was an SVP; Dr. Asgarian determined he was not. Before the department deemed Dr. Asgarian’s report final, the department determined that her report did not meet minimum quality standards pursuant to the department’s quality assurance processes and could not be revised to meet those standards with the time available. The department “undesignated” her, revoked her report, and designated a third psychologist (Dr. Douglas Korpi) to take her place as the second evaluator. After Dr. Korpi determined Snyder was an SVP, the director of the department requested that the Sacramento County District Attorney file a petition for Snyder’s commitment under the SVPA, which the district attorney did. When Snyder’s attorney learned about Dr. Asgarian’s report during the course of the probable cause hearing on the SVPA petition, he moved to dismiss the petition based on the department’s failure to arrange for two independent professionals to evaluate Snyder under the Act. The Court of Appeals concluded the department’s quality assurance processes were not consistent with section 6601 because they were not part of the standardized assessment protocol mandated by the statute. Nothing in section 6601, or any other part of the SVPA, allowed an evaluator’s supervisor to undesignate an evaluator because the supervisor questioned the report's quality. However, the department’s failure to comply with the statute did not warrant dismissal of the SVPA petition and release of Snyder from custody. Rather, the proper relief here was to direct the department to follow the commands of section 6601 and appoint two independent professionals to evaluate Snyder. View "In re Snyder" on Justia Law

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Voters passed Proposition 57 on November 8, 2016, effective the next day. As relevant here, the new law eliminated the State’s ability to directly file criminal charges against a juvenile defendant in a court of criminal jurisdiction (Adult Court). Jeremy Walker was charged with two counts of attempted premeditated murder and one count of active participation in a gang. He was seventeen at the time of the alleged crimes. A jury found Walker guilty as charged. The jury also found firearm and gang enhancements true. The trial court sentenced Walker to 80 years to life in prison. In May 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence at Walker's trial and reversed his convictions. In September 2015, the remittitur issued in Walker's appeal. Since the issuance of the remittitur, Walker waited for retrial. While waiting, Proposition 57 became effective, and Walker moved to transfer his case from Adult Court to Juvenile Court. Walker argued Proposition 57 applied retroactively to his case. The trial court agreed; the State appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed, finding Proposition 57 did not apply here. View "California v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law