SCOCAblog by the California Constitution Center and the Hastings Law Journal

SCOCA year in review 2019

SCOCA year in review 2019

Overview The effect a majority of four justices appointed by Governor Jerry Brown might have on the California Supreme Court has been a major question in the past few years. After all, the last time four Brown appointees controlled the court it endured its most chaotic period in the last century. With the fourth Brown appointee (Justice Groban) having completed his first year on the court, we examined the court’s opinions from February 2015 to December 2019 for evidence that such times are upon us again. We found little support for a conclusion that another ultra-partisan-liberal Rose Bird era is...

Event announcement: MLI Symposium 2020

Event announcement: MLI Symposium 2020

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER March 6, 2020 9:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. The Bar Association of San Francisco 301 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111 8:30-9:00 Registration 9:00-9:15 Welcome/Opening Remarks 9:15-10:15  The Impact of California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland on Tax Initiatives In 2017, the California Supreme Court issued a 5-2 decision in City of Upland expressing a decision on a narrow issue, that local measures introduced by voter initiative were not required to be presented in a general election, but could be presented in a special election instead. This panel will discuss this decision which sparked a...

Recapping Diversity Summit 2020: The Issues, Solutions, and What’s Next

Recapping Diversity Summit 2020: The Issues, Solutions, and What’s Next

Overview On January 21, I attended “Diversity Summit 2020,” a program convened by the Bar Association of San Francisco, Berkeley Law’s California Constitution Center, and California ChangeLawyers. The conference explored two questions to address the state of diversity in the legal profession: Where are the leaks in the pipeline? And what can we do to fix them? As I recently wrote in the Daily Journal, legal profession surveys show that the profession has a persistent, systemic inclusivity problem. This conference brought together key stakeholders — including California’s Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, leaders from the Bar Association of San Francisco,...

Happy trails, Justice Chin

Happy trails, Justice Chin

Justice Ming W. Chin today announced he will retire from the Supreme Court of California on August 31, 2020 after 25 years on the state high court. He served California well and he will be missed. We wish him a happy retirement. The 2019 SCOCA year in review article currently in the works will feature a retrospective of Justice Chin’s contribution to the court, and some thoughts on what his departure might mean. At the very least it means all eyes in the profession will turn to Governor Gavin Newsom, who now has the first opportunity to appoint a justice in the...

Event announcement: Diversity Summit 2020

Event announcement: Diversity Summit 2020

WHEN: Tuesday, January 21, 2020 LOCATION: 301 Battery Street Click here to register! 1:00 — Keynote Speaker Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye 2:00 — Current state of the profession Executive Director Yolanda Jackson (BASF) and Donna Hershkowiz (State Bar of California) will analyze recent data on the profession’s diversity and pipeline programs. 3:00 — Evaluating pipeline programs Executive Director Chris Punongbayan (Changelawyers) and Director of Programs for Academic and Bar Success Sara Berman (AccessLex) will will analyze issues across the legal education continuum from admission to licensure, and make recommendations to increase diverse law school matriculants, graduates, and...

Municipal taxes are (almost) always municipal affairs

Municipal taxes are (almost) always municipal affairs

Overview The California Supreme Court has avoided bright-line rules when analyzing local ordinances under the Article XI, section 5 municipal affairs doctrine.[1] For example, the most recent state high court case on municipal affairs endorsed an interest-balancing approach to determine whether an activity is a matter of local or statewide concern.[2] But while the court disavows a categorical approach, one factor reliably predicts results in municipal affairs decisions: the court rules for the city in nearly every case that concerns local finance, especially taxes. Analysis For this article we reviewed every California Supreme Court municipal affairs case from 1896 to...

Event announcement: State v. Local Control at Hastings

Event announcement: State v. Local Control at Hastings

SCOCA Symposium 2020 State and Local Control: California’s Battle Over Housing Thursday January 30, 2020 Hastings Alumni Reception Center Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/scoca-symposium-2020-state-local-control-cas-battle-over-housing-tickets-87740432997 Join Hastings Law Journal for our annual California Supreme Court symposium at UC Hastings College of the Law. Our theme this year is California’s state and local control battle over housing, including bills like SB 35, (proposed) SB 50, and related litigation. The symposium will feature a practitioner panel of attorneys discussing the background and impact of these legislative efforts today, and an academic panel covering the different dimensions of growth and housing in the state. Topics of...

The Attorney General’s Supervisory Power: Theory and Reality

The Attorney General’s Supervisory Power: Theory and Reality

Overview This article explains the legal principles involved in the debate about how much responsibility Senator Kamala Harris deserves for criminal convictions that occurred during her tenure as California’s attorney general. The basic answer is: very little.[1] She and her office were uninvolved in the overwhelming majority of individual trial court convictions that occurred during her tenure, because the attorney general has very little practical or legal responsibility for criminal trial matters. And that office has a statutory duty to defend those convictions on appeal, which may sometimes require taking positions that conflict with an attorney general’s personal policy preferences....

Proposition 13 is broken. Annually reassessing commercial properties will fix it.

Proposition 13 is broken. Annually reassessing commercial properties will fix it.

[Editor’s note: this is part one of a two-part series debating Proposition 13 in light of a possible ballot measure in 2020 to “split the tax roll” by changing the commercial property tax provisions and leaving residential tax assessments as is.] Overview Proposition 13’s promise of helping residential property owners remains unfulfilled 41 years after its passage. By freezing property tax rates on commercial properties, Proposition 13 shifted California’s property tax burden from commercial to residential properties. This has harmed consumers and contributed to tax inequality, while delivering windfalls to corporations. By reinstating annual reassessments on commercial properties, voters could...

Article I, Section 12 — Not Section 28 — Governs Bail in California.

Article I, Section 12 — Not Section 28 — Governs Bail in California.

Overview The California Supreme Court is currently considering how to reconcile the apparent conflict between the California constitution’s two bail provisions: Article I, section 12 and Article I, section 28. Under section 12, bail is an “absolute right” granted to criminal defendants with three narrow exceptions; under section 28, bail is discretionary and public safety is the primary consideration. Because constitutional provisions must be reconciled, the apparent conflict is a false choice: rather than choosing between them, the court is likely to harmonize these sections. When a defendant falls within one of section 12’s narrow exceptions (and so would be...