Tagged: Analysis

California’s Constitution is Not the Longest

California’s Constitution is Not the Longest

Californians sometimes complain about the length of their state constitution and the frequency of its amendments. For example, on June 18, 2014, California Assembly member Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) wrote in a Los Angeles Times editorial: “[o]f the more than 200 written constitutions in the world, California’s is the third-longest.”[1] That’s not true. It’s not merely untrue, it’s wrong for several reasons. First, there are far more than 200 written constitutions currently in force worldwide. According to the Constitute Project, there are 191 active national charters. But there are even more subnational constitutions. Besides the 50 state constitutions in the...

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....

Vergara: Teacher Tenure Is Not Necessarily an Equal Protection Issue

Vergara: Teacher Tenure Is Not Necessarily an Equal Protection Issue

This week a petition for review was filed in Vergara v. State of California (S234741), potentially setting the stage for SCOCA to settle the great matter pending in education law today. The issue in that case is framed as whether teacher tenure violates students’ right to an effective education. As we explain below, that is not the real question, and teacher tenure is only one factor in evaluating an education right claim based on equal protection. The California constitution protects an individual right to an education. As our colleague Anne Gordon explained in her article, California Constitutional Law: The Right...

Opinion Analysis: Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

Opinion Analysis: Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

In response to a request from the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court provided definitive guidelines for interpretation of the “suitable seats” requirement of California’s wage orders. Although not as frequent a subject of litigation as overtime and misclassification, the provision is the subject of several pending class actions, which should benefit from the new decision. The “Suitable Seats” Requirement All but two of the seventeen California Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders contain the following requirement: “(A) All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats. (B) When...

Argument Analysis: People v. Franklin

Argument Analysis: People v. Franklin

On March 1, 2016, the California Supreme Court heard argument in People v. Franklin (S217699). Tyris Franklin was convicted of murder at the age of sixteen and sentenced to a mandatory fifty years to life in prison. The briefing in People v. Franklin sought a fundamental change in the sentencing of juveniles tried in adult courts to make parole dates turn on the individual characteristics of the defendant and not on the prison term set by the applicable statute. The March 1 oral argument, however, seemed to suggest that little will change. The issue stems from a 2005 decision by...

Advisory Measures and the Legislature’s Power to Investigate

Advisory Measures and the Legislature’s Power to Investigate

In a recent decision, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. v. Padilla, the California Supreme Court considered the validity of Proposition 49, which would have asked the electorate whether Congress should propose, and the legislature ratify, a federal constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm. (2010). The court held that the legislature’s investigative power permits it to place advisory measures on the ballot for the electorate’s consideration. For what it’s worth, we concur. The court’s order that the measure be taken off the ballot seemed dramatic enough, as the general rule is that the...

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...

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...

SCOCA grants review in pivotal anti-SLAPP case

SCOCA grants review in pivotal anti-SLAPP case

On May 13, 2015, the California Supreme Court granted review in Baral v. Schnitt to resolve the divide among lower courts regarding whether anti-SLAPP motions can strike so-called “mixed” causes of action. In 2003, Defendant David Schnitt formed a new business entity, IQ BackOffice (“IQ”). Schnitt operated the company as a single member single manager LLC from its inception until 2010, when the company was put up for sale. In 2005, Plaintiff Robert Baral made an investment in IQ and became an economic interest holder. At Baral’s request, his son was made a bookkeeper at IQ. In preparation for the...

Arbitrators may decide Pitchess motions

Arbitrators may decide Pitchess motions

A recent California Supreme Court decision raises questions about the extent to which nonjudicial officers should decide disclosure questions. In Riverside County Sheriff’s Department v. Stiglitz, the court ruled that an arbitrator deciding an appeal from disciplinary action against a peace officer could inspect confidential personnel records of other peace officers and determine whether they should be disclosed in the arbitration proceeding. The statutes in question establish a qualified privilege for peace officer personnel records and prescribe a procedure for determining whether they should be disclosed, commonly called Pitchess rights. Under the facts of Pitchess v. Superior Court, Peter Pitchess...