SCOCAblog by the California Constitution Center and the Hastings Law Journal

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,”...

Opinion Analysis: Richey v. AutoNation

Opinion Analysis: Richey v. AutoNation

On January 29, 2015, a unanimous California Supreme Court issued its opinion in Richey v. AutoNation, Inc., an important clarification on when a court can overturn an arbitration award. Facts Plaintiff Richey worked as an at-will employee for defendant Power Toyota. His employment terms included acceptance of (1) a company policy that prohibited outside work while on approved medical leave and (2) an agreement to resolve any employment dispute through arbitration. The arbitration agreement provided that any decision would be “final and binding.” The agreement did not expressly provide that courts could review any arbitration award for legal error. Richey...

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...

Submit Your Questions for Justice Cuéllar

Submit Your Questions for Justice Cuéllar

Next Wednesday, February 18, La Raza is hosting a Q&A with newly-appointed California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. If you have any questions you’d like to submit, email them to SCOCAblog@hastingslawjournal.org — the moderator may have time to bring them up! The first immigrant Latino appointed to the highest court in California will make a special appearance at UC Hastings to speak about his journey and experiences as an attorney, professor, and now a Supreme Court justice. UC Hastings Professor Leo Martinez will lead the Q&A session. Date: February 18, 2014 Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm Where: Alumni Reception Center (ARC),...

Waste of Space: S208611 California Charter Schools Association v. Los Angeles Unified School District et al.

Today, the California Supreme Court is hearing arguments in California Charter Schools Association v. Los Angeles Unified School District. In this case the court will decide whether the Court of Appeal adopted an incorrect methodology for determining what facilities a school district must afford to a charter school under the Education Code.  The case touches on statutory interpretation, a voter-enacted charter school law, and principles of fairness in an overcrowded and underfunded school district. Proposition 39 was enacted in 2009 as an initiative measure.  It requires school districts to provide to charter schools “facilities sufficient for the charter school to...

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...

12 Jan 2015:  SCOCA this year, this month, this week.

12 Jan 2015: SCOCA this year, this month, this week.

In 2015: We can expect some interesting new trends to develop at the court this year. As of this month, two new members have taken seats on the SCOCA bench:  Justice Cuéllar, replacing Justice Kennard, and Justice Kruger, replacing Justice Baxter. Along with Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Liu, who both joined the court in 2011 (replacing Chief Justice George and Justice Moreno, respectively), that makes four new or relatively-new members of the seven-member bench – a majority of the court has served less than four years. At the time he joined the court in August 2011, Justice Liu was...

What can we learn from Justice Leondra Kruger’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court?

What can we learn from Justice Leondra Kruger’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court?

California’s newest Supreme Court Justice, Leondra R. Kruger, served from 2007 to 2012 as an Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. Hired initially by Republican Solicitor General Paul Clement, Kruger served under six different confirmed or acting Solicitors General. When Neal Katyal was elevated to Acting Solicitor General in 2010 he appointed Kruger as his Acting Principal Deputy, the second-highest position in that office. Kruger’s appointment as Principal Deputy in 2010 capped an unusually fast rise, indicative of Kruger’s innate skills as well as her ability to command respect from peers and, indeed, experienced colleagues much older...