SCOCAblog by the California Constitution Center and the Hastings Law Journal

Examining the Ninth Circuit’s View on Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC: An Update on California’s Enforcement of Arbitration Clauses

Examining the Ninth Circuit’s View on Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC: An Update on California’s Enforcement of Arbitration Clauses

In Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America, Inc., No. 3:12-cv-00436-GPC-KSC, 2015 WL 5667912 (9th Cir. 2015), the Ninth Circuit held last month in a 2–1 decision that the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) does not preempt the California Supreme Court’s decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal.4th 348, 359 (2014), which held, among other things, that an employer’s arbitration agreement cannot require employees to waive representative claims under California’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”), Cal. Labor Code §§ 2698–2699.5 (2004), as a condition of employment. Because both opinions are extensive and complex—Iskanian’s three opinions total...

Oral Arguments Preview: People v. Safety National Casualty Insurance Co.

Oral Arguments Preview: People v. Safety National Casualty Insurance Co.

Today, the Supreme Court of California will hear oral arguments in People v. Safety National Casualty Insurance Co.  That case involves the interplay between California Penal Code (the “Code”) sections 977 and 1305, and whether a defendant’s failure to appear at a scheduled court proceeding can be the basis for an order of bail forfeiture.  Ultimately, the court’s decision will likely hinge on exactly what constitutes a required hearing, while balancing statutory requirements against criminal defendant’s due process and fair trial rights. Section 977 requires a felony defendant to appear at certain court proceedings unless he or she signs a waiver...

Upcoming Oral Argument:  Can the California Public Utilities Commission Regulate Local Government User Fees through Utility Bills?

Upcoming Oral Argument: Can the California Public Utilities Commission Regulate Local Government User Fees through Utility Bills?

On November 3, 2015, the Supreme Court of California will hear arguments in Monterey Peninsula Water Management District v. CPUC. The case will address whether the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) has the authority to review and regulate a user fee imposed by a local government entity that is collected through a public utility’s bills to ratepayers. The court’s decision in this case will affect government entities’ autonomy in assessing taxes and fees through utility bills and the CPUC’s power to review and determine whether such taxes are reasonable to ratepayers. The CPUC has the authority to regulate public utility...

Petitions for Review: A Long-Odds Gambit

Petitions for Review: A Long-Odds Gambit

Here we review and analyze the grant rate data for SCOCA review petitions. Our conclusion is that, on average, any given petition has a 4% chance of being granted. The Court’s Role in the California Judiciary We begin with context. The Supreme Court of California is the state’s highest court, and its primary role is to resolve the big questions, settle appellate court splits, and ensure uniformity in the law. California Rules of Court, Rule 8.500(b)(1). Granted, capital cases (discussed below) are an exception to this, but the fact remains that in the majority of the cases SCOCA hears, the...

Stephen Johnson Field: Near-Great Justice, or Near-Greatest Justice?

Stephen Johnson Field: Near-Great Justice, or Near-Greatest Justice?

Let us set the playing field. Stephen Johnson Field is no John Marshall. Nor is he Holmes, nor Brandeis, nor Story. He lacks the weight of Warren, the influence of Black, the force of Rehnquist. We do not argue otherwise. This is our modest proposal: When considering the vast tier of second-rate justices, Justice Field deserves to be at the top.[1] Field set the pace for the also-rans; of those justices whose ideas were discarded, Field’s had the most force. He is the most distinguished of the indistinguishable, as measured by numbers, substance, or more subjective qualifications. David S. Terry,...

A Brief Look at SCOCA’s October Oral Arguments

A Brief Look at SCOCA’s October Oral Arguments

On the calendar for hearing on October 6, 2015: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association et al. v. Padilla The California legislature passed a bill that would have placed an advisory question, in the form of Proposition 49, on the November 2014 ballot for voters to determine whether to call upon the U.S. Congress to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010). The issue is whether the California legislature had the authority to place a nonbinding measure on the ballot seeking the views of the electorate. The court issued an order to show cause for why the relief prayed for in...

Opinion Analysis: People v. Seumanu

Opinion Analysis: People v. Seumanu

Last year a federal district court judge ruled in Jones v. Chappell that the long delays from conviction to execution render California’s death penalty cruel and unusual punishment. An appeal of that ruling is now pending before the Ninth Circuit, with oral arguments scheduled for this coming Monday, August 31. In People v. Seumanu, the California Supreme Court was presented with the first so-called “Jones claim” in a California court—that is, a claim that long delays result in unconstitutionally arbitrary enforcement of capital punishment. (Id. at pp. 91­-92.) In the 2001 case of People v. Anderson, the court had rejected...

Opinion Analysis: Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Company, LLC

Opinion Analysis: Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Company, LLC

The California Supreme Court has continued its dialogue with the U.S. Supreme Court about arbitration agreements in a recent ruling that affirmed the use of California unconscionability law to determine the validity of arbitration agreements, but declined to invalidate the agreement before it. In the course of this years-long dialogue, the California Supreme Court has tended to apply principles of California law to invalidate arbitration provisions, while the U.S. Supreme Court has tended to invoke the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) to uphold arbitration provisions. Prior Decisions Over thirty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ban on arbitration imposed...

SCOCA seeks comment

SCOCA seeks comment

The California Supreme Court has released a proposal seeking comment on whether to: (1) amend the rule on publication of appellate opinions to eliminate the automatic depublication of opinions when the Supreme Court grants review; and (2) amend the rule on citation of opinions to address the citation of published appellate opinions while they are under review and following decision on review. The proposal and detailed background materials are available here; click on “Supreme Court” on the Invitation to Comment website.

Opinion Analysis: People v. Banks

Opinion Analysis: People v. Banks

In the 1980s, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down two important decisions about whether and when a defendant can get the death penalty for felony murder when the defendant did not personally kill or intend to kill. In Enmund v. Florida (1982), the Court held that a man who served as the getaway driver for a robbery, and who was not present when the unplanned killing occurred, was ineligible for the death penalty. Five years later in Tison v. Arizona (1987), the Court upheld a death sentence for two men who conducted an armed breakout of two convicted murderers after...