SCOCAblog by the California Constitution Center and the Hastings Law Journal

What Does California’s Experience with Recall of Judges Teach Us?

What Does California’s Experience with Recall of Judges Teach Us?

Recently there has been much public discussion about whether Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky should be recalled. We thought it would be useful to provide an overview of the facts about judicial recalls in California, their history, and the issues involved.   This article takes no position on the merits question of whether Judge Persky should be recalled.   The Issues Involved   In general, the design of California’s judiciary is influenced by some competing policy alternatives, known as “value sets.” In a value set, favoring one alternative over another reflects a decision to advance a particular policy...

Event announcement: SCOCA Historical Society book launch

Event announcement: SCOCA Historical Society book launch

The California Supreme Court Historical Society is hosting an event to celebrate the publication of Constitutional Governance and Judicial Power: The History of the California Supreme Court. The event is Tuesday 15 November, 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Milton Marks Auditorium at 455 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco. 5:00 – 6:00 panel discussion with Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and former Chief Justice George 6:00 – 7:30 reception with drinks and snacks Click here to register!

Why Summary Reversals Are Not The Answer

Why Summary Reversals Are Not The Answer

Several months ago, Brandon Stracener wrote a post suggesting that the California Supreme Court (the “Court”) should use summary reversals instead of granting and transferring or depublishing erroneous Court of Appeal decisions. Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s summary reversal procedure and the Ninth Circuit’s use of memorandum dispositions, Mr. Stracener claims that the use of summary reversals will improve efficiency and eliminate miscarriages of justice. Mr. Stracener’s goal is certainly commendable. Procedures that help the Court manage its workload should always be welcome, and errors, as a general principle, should be corrected whenever possible. But the Court is not the...

2016 Ballot Propositions

2016 Ballot Propositions

In these YouTube videos, UC Hastings Professors Manoj Viswanathan, Hadar Aviram, Michael Salerno, Naomi Roht-Arriaza, and Marsha Cohen give detailed descriptions of the propositions on the November 2016 ballot. The explanations include some of the more substantial bill provisions and the arguments for and against each proposition.

Opinion Analysis: Laffitte v. Robert Half International Inc.

Opinion Analysis: Laffitte v. Robert Half International Inc.

On August 11, 2016, the California Supreme Court unanimously decided Laffitte v. Robert Half International, Inc., and, as we predicted, held that when an attorney fee is awarded out of a common fund preserved or recovered by means of litigation, the fee award is not per se unreasonable merely because it is calculated as a percentage of the common fund. Facts The following facts are summarized from the opinion. For additional background, see our argument analysis posted on June 4, 2016. Three related wage-and-hour class-action lawsuits were filed against staffing firm Robert Half and related companies in Los Angeles County...

SCOCA Conference 2017: Save The Date

SCOCA Conference 2017: Save The Date

Mark your calendar! On Friday 13 Jan 2017 the California Constitution Center will present its conference on the California Supreme Court, in partnership with the center’s friends at Hastings Law Journal, the Bar Association of San Francisco, and the Institute of Governmental Studies. This year the conference is at Hastings. Registration opens in October.

Postcard From The Ninth Circuit: “Please Help”

Postcard From The Ninth Circuit: “Please Help”

This week an LA Times article described a recurring problem in the relationship between SCOCA and the Ninth Circuit. The issue concerns the brevity of SCOCA orders denying state habeas petitions. When those cases reach the Ninth Circuit, that court must determine the basis for the SCOCA ruling: specifically, whether the petition was denied as untimely. According to the article, SCOCA decides most such petitions “with one-paragraph summary rulings that frustrate federal judges who later are asked to review them.” The issue stems from the SCOTUS decision in Harrington v. Richter (2011) 562 U.S. 86, holding that the prohibition in...

The California Supreme Court Should Consider Using Summary Reversal

The California Supreme Court Should Consider Using Summary Reversal

The California Supreme Court has a problem. There is tension between its mission to give each case due consideration, and the need to keep its docket under control. This piece proposes a possible solution: summary reversal.[1] On average, each year the court considers twenty capital cases, forty related habeas corpus petitions, 5200 petitions for review in civil and criminal matters, and 3400 writ petitions (primarily noncapital habeas corpus petitions). 2013 Court Statistics Report (2013) at 5. Except for oral argument weeks, the justices meet each week in conference to discuss and vote on between 150 and 300 petitions. Goodwin Liu,...

Argument Analysis: Laffitte v. Robert Half International Inc.

Argument Analysis: Laffitte v. Robert Half International Inc.

  Lafitte poses a deceptively simple question, which the California Supreme Court framed as: “Does Serrano v. Priest (1977) permit a trial court to anchor its calculation of a reasonable attorney’s fees award in a class action on a percentage of the common fund recovered?” After nearly forty years of judicial experience reviewing attorney’s fee award requests in light of Serrano, one might think that the question was settled and the answer is “yes.” The appellant, however, hopes to convince the court that the right answer is “no.” Having granted review, we will see if the court can be convinced....