Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff Family Health Centers of San Diego operated a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that provided various medical services to its patients, some of whom are Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act authorized grants to be made to FQHC’s. In addition, FQHC’s could seek reimbursement under Medi-Cal for certain expenses, including reasonable costs directly or indirectly related to patient care. Plaintiff appealed a trial court’s order denying its petition for writ of mandate seeking to compel the State Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to reimburse plaintiff for money it expended for outreach services. The Court of Appeal rejected plaintiff’s contention that the trial court and the DHCS improperly construed and applied applicable guidelines in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Publication 15-1, The Provider Reimbursement Manual (PRM). The Court concluded that the monies spent by plaintiff were not an allowable cost because they were akin to advertising to increase patient utilization of plaintiff’s services. View "Family Health Centers of S.D. v. State Dept. of Health Care Services" on Justia Law

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L.O. (Father) and Z.T. (Mother) were the parents of six-year-old L.L.O. (L.), a boy born in December 2014. Father appealed a juvenile court order adjudicating L. as a dependent of the court and removing L. from parental custody. Father contended there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court’s findings sustaining the petition against him under Welfare & Institutions Code section 300, subdivisions (b) and (d) and the order removing L. from his custody. The Court of Appeal found substantial evidence supported the juvenile court’s finding under subdivision (b) of section 300 and the order removing L. from Father’s custody. However, the Court agreed insufficient evidence supported the court’s finding under section 300, subdivision (d), and modified the order to strike the allegation under that subdivision. The order was affirmed in all other respects. View "In re L.O." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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Clark, a felon with multiple priors, was approached by a police officer and fled the scene, disposed of a loaded handgun by throwing it over a fence, and then resisted arrest, ultimately injuring the officer. Clark pleaded no contest possession of a firearm by a felon and to threatening a police officer; the prosecutor dismissed the additional counts. The San Mateo County Superior Court imposed a 42-month prison sentence, suspended execution of the sentence, and placed Clark on probation for five years, with standard conditions of one year in county jail, modifiable to residential treatment. Clark left residential treatment without permission. The court found that Clark violated the terms of his probation and ordered the original prison sentence into execution and orally pronounced that “[a] $300 probation revocation fine is imposed and all outstanding fines and fees.” In the abstract of judgment, the court listed: $300 fine, $300 suspended parole revocation fine, $300 probation revocation fine, $40 court operations assessment, and $30 conviction assessment. … Total Fine/Fees $570."While his appeal was pending, Assembly Bill 1869 repealed the statute authorizing the probation supervision fee, Penal Code 1203.1b. The court of appeal held that Assembly Bill 1869 applies, so the $100 fee must be stricken; the $470 “Criminal Violation Distribution” fine did not accurately reflect the oral pronouncement of judgment. The court vacated the sentencing order, subject to reinstatement on remand with an amended abstract of judgment View "People v. Clark" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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California has two statutory mechanisms for detaining, evaluating, and treating persons who have been declared incompetent to stand trial for a felony that entailed a threat of bodily harm, and who continue to pose a danger to others. When the reason is a "developmental disability," the applicable mechanism is civil commitment under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6500; when the reason is a "mental disease, defect, or disorder," the applicable mechanism is a so-called Murphy conservatorship under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS Act) (section 5000 et seq.), section 5008, subdivision (h)(1)(B). Under section 6500, the one-year recommitment period ends on the anniversary of the date of the recommitment order; for a Murphy conservatorship, the one-year period ends on the anniversary of the date of the initial commitment order. Because, as is common, recommitment orders under section 6500 are not fully litigated (and hence not issued) until after the anniversary of the date of the initial commitment order, the end dates for section 6500 recommitments typically get pushed out further and further with each recommitment.The Court of Appeal held that this "creep" of the end date under section 6500 does not violate equal protection in regard to Murphy conservatorships. The court explained that individuals civilly committed under section 6500 and Murphy conservatorships are not similarly situated for purposes of fixing the end date for a recommitment. Even assuming that persons civilly committed under section 6500 and in a Murphy conservatorship are similarly situated for purposes of the timetable for terminating a one-year period for a recommitment, the court concluded that there is a sufficient justification for that differential treatment that withstands rational basis scrutiny. Accordingly, the court affirmed the end date for the section 6500 recommitment in this case. View "People v. Nolasco" on Justia Law

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Before defendant was charged with ordering the kidnapping, rape, and killing of a 13-year-old girl, defendant made inconsistent statements to law enforcement—at first denying he ever saw the victim, but later admitting that he saw her just before she went missing and in the company of the gang members who kidnapped, raped, and killed her. Defendant made these statements pursuant to a proffer agreement with prosecutors, wherein they agreed not to use "any statements made" during the proffer session in any future case-in-chief as long as defendant was "completely truthful and candid" during the proffer session.In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal held that the prosecutorial agency that seeks to use these internally inconsistent (and hence untruthful) statements is not required to first demonstrate that it has standing to enforce the proffer agreement. The court explained that standing is necessary when a party seeks affirmative relief from a contract, but here it is defendant—not the prosecutors—who is seeking specific performance of the proffer agreement's promise of inadmissibility, and hence defendant who must establish that he met the agreement's condition precedent of truthfulness. The court noted that this holding differs in some respects from prior cases that have seemingly treated a defendant's untruthfulness as a breach of contract to be established by prosecutors. In this case, the court agreed with the trial court that defendant's statements were properly admitted because he failed to establish the truthfulness of his proffered statements. View "People v. Palacios" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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When part of a criminal sentence is ordered stricken by an appellate court, the trial court on remand "has jurisdiction to modify every aspect of the sentence" when resentencing. The Court of Appeal held that a trial court conducting such a resentencing is required to exercise that jurisdiction in order to correct a different part of the sentence that has become incorrect by the time of resentencing. In this case, the trial court conducted a resentencing to correct one sentencing enhancement while letting stand another enhancement that had become incorrect. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for plenary resentencing. View "People v. Walker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Defendant Johnny Lapenias committed multiple sex offenses against his stepdaughter. However, the stepdaughter did not disclose Lapenias’ sexual abuse to the police until years later, when she was 14 years old. At a jury trial, the trial court admitted expert testimony regarding Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS), a theory that identified typical behaviors of sexually abused children, including delayed disclosures. During the CSAAS expert’s testimony, a juror asked: “Is it common for children to make up a story that abuse occurred, when, in fact it did not?” Over Lapenias’ objection, the CSAAS expert testified: “No, that’s rare.” The jury later found Lapenias guilty of the charged sex offenses and the trial court imposed a life sentence. On appeal, Lapenias challenged the admission of the CSAAS evidence, the related jury instruction, the CSAAS expert’s testimony, and statutory fines and fees. The Court of Appeal found the trial court erred by allowing the CSAAS expert to testify that it is “rare” for children to make up stories about sexual abuse, but the Court did not find the error to be prejudicial. Finding no other errors, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "California v. Lapenias" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Brian Exline appealed an order granting defendant Lisa Gillmor’s special motion to strike under California's anti-SLAPP law. Exline filed a complaint against Gillmor alleging that, during her terms serving as a councilmember and then as the mayor of the City of Santa Clara (the City), Gillmor violated the Political Reform Act of 1974 (the Act) by failing to disclose on Form 700 filings her interest in, and income she received from, an entity known as Public Property Advisors. Exline argued his lawsuit was not subject to challenge under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 because it fell within the public interest exemption codified at section 425.17 (b). He contended the trial court erred by concluding that an exception to that exemption, set forth in section 425.17(d)(2) applied and rendered the exemption inapplicable. The Court of Appeal held the exception applied to completion of the Form 700, and the complaint in this case was therefore subject to the anti-SLAPP law. View "Exline v. Gillmor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Lisa Braganza sued defendant Albertson’s LLC (Albertson’s) for personal injuries and other damages she sustained as a result of slipping and falling on the floor of an Albertson’s grocery store. The trial court granted Albertson’s motion for summary judgment after denying plaintiff’s request to continue the hearing on the motion in order to allow plaintiff time to conduct discovery necessary to oppose the motion. The trial court later denied plaintiff’s motion for a new trial, based on her claim that the court abused its discretion in denying her continuance request. Appealing those judgments, plaintiff claimed the trial court abused its discretion: (1) in denying her request to continue the hearing on Albertson’s motion; and (2) in denying her new trial motion. The Court of Appeal found no abuse of discretion in either ruling, and affirmed the judgment. View "Braganza v. Albertson's LLC" on Justia Law

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San Francisco obtained fee title to an 80-foot strip of land by grant deed in 1951 from the plaintiffs' grandparents to construct an underground pipeline for the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System. The deed reserved to the plaintiffs’ family the right to use the surface of the property for pasturage and the right to construct roads and streets “over and across” the property “but not along in the direction of the City’s pipe line or lines.” The property has served since the 1960s as a paved parking lot for commercial uses on plaintiffs’ properties on either side of the pipeline. When a dispute arose about whether parking and related circulation was authorized under the deed versus under a revocable permit issued by San Francisco in 1967, the plaintiffs filed a quiet title action.On remand, the trial court concluded that the deed authorized plaintiffs to use the pipeline property for ornamental landscaping, automobile access, circulation, and parking. The court of appeal agreed that the deed authorizes ornamental landscaping, the three existing paved roads running across the pipeline property, and the use of the property to access auto mechanic service bays. While some degree of parking incidental to those authorized uses may be allowed, the express language of the deed does not allow the plaintiffs’ current use of the pipeline property as a parking lot. View "Pear v. City & County of San Francisco" on Justia Law