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Governor Jerry Brown 2.0:  Judicial Appointments, Now New And Improved

Governor Jerry Brown 2.0:  Judicial Appointments, Now New And Improved

In this article we evaluate two points held by today’s conventional wisdom.  One posits that Jerry Brown has, in his second stint as governor, been slow to fill judicial vacancies, and that there is an unusually high number of open judicial seats.  The other is a suspicion that the judicial appointments by Governor Brown version 2.0 will be in the style of Governor Brown version 1.0.  Our evaluation is that both theories are empirically less than true. (Recognizing that the first Governor Brown was Jerry Brown’s father Pat Brown, for convenience we will ignore that fact.) To the first point about...

The role of a state high court at the intersection of federalism and state sovereignty

The role of a state high court at the intersection of federalism and state sovereignty

The Alabama Supreme Court was in the news recently, after it ordered a halt to same-sex marriage licensing in that state. It became the first state high court in the nation to challenge a federal court order to permit same-sex marriage in its state. Such an action by a state high court raises issues of state sovereignty and federalism. This country has a federal system, in which states as sovereign political entities joined together in a system of collective government and ceded some sovereignty to a uniting central government, while retaining a great measure of self-governance. Federalism describes the principles...

Opinion Analysis: Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley

Opinion Analysis: Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley

On March 2, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley, which addressed the meaning of the “unusual circumstances” exception to the California Environmental Quality Act’s (“CEQA”) categorical exemptions. Specifically, the Court “granted review to consider the proper interpretation and application” of section 15300.2, subd. (c) of the Guidelines for Implementation of CEQA (“Guidelines”), known as the “unusual circumstances exception.” That provision provides: “Significant Effect. A categorical exemption shall not be used for an activity where there is a reasonable possibility that the activity will have a significant effect on the environment...

Seek “Top Court” Review?

Seek “Top Court” Review?

* This posting is an excerpt from the forthcoming 5th Edition of Myron Moskovitz’s book, Winning an Appeal. The Problem Most jurisdictions have two levels of appellate courts: an intermediate appellate court, and what I call the “Top Court.” In New York, the Top Court is called the Court of Appeals. In most other states, it is called the State Supreme Court. And, of course, the “Toppest Court of All” is the U.S. Supreme Court. If you lost in the intermediate appellate court, you can then ask the Top Court to hear your case via a petition—called a “petition for certiorari,”...

Johnson v. Department of Justice – Equal Protection and Mandatory Registration for Sex Offenders

Johnson v. Department of Justice – Equal Protection and Mandatory Registration for Sex Offenders

This is the first of two SCOCAblog posts on the recent opinion of Johnson v. Department of Justice. Keep a look out for a second posting with further analysis early next week. Summary: California’s sex offender registration scheme, Penal Code section 290 et seq., treats defendants convicted of engaging in non-forcible oral sex with a minor differently than those who engage in vaginal sex with a minor. Most pertinent to this case, the statutes give judges discretion whether or not to impose registration on an adult who has non-forcible vaginal sex with a 16-year-old, but lifetime registration is mandatory for an...

SCOCA Chambers Staff:  Annual Clerks or Staff Attorneys – or Both?

SCOCA Chambers Staff: Annual Clerks or Staff Attorneys – or Both?

We revisit a conversation of ancient vintage about the relative merits of judicial staff attorneys versus annual law clerks in the chambers of California Supreme Court justices. The staff attorneys are long-term professionals, while the annual law clerks are typically recent law school graduates who serve just a year or so (thus the name). This is distinct from the related debate about the role these attorneys play in the court’s decisionmaking process. That discussion is for another day – today we only compare staff attorneys and annual clerks. This conversation has been going on for many years – most recently...

27 Jan 2015: SCOCA this week and next.

27 Jan 2015: SCOCA this week and next.

The week of 26 Jan 2015: The court has no arguments scheduled this week. The upcoming argument session is next week, on Wed 04 Feb 2015 in Sacramento. Next week’s argument calendar: The court’s argument calendar for Wed 04 Feb 2015 in Sacramento. The following cases are placed upon the calendar of the Supreme Court for oral argument at its courtroom in the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, California, on February 4, 2015. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 9:00 A.M. (1) S208611 California Charter Schools Association v. Los Angeles Unified School District et al. (2) S211596...