NewsLinks is a collection of recent news items relating primarily to the California judicial branch. NewsLinks does not verify nor endorse the accuracy or fairness of the news items, and the views expressed in opinions, editorials, and commentaries are those of the writers only.
The Judicial Council today received a report on how the state’s trial courts used additional funding included in this fiscal year’s judicial branch budget to expand hours, reopen closed locations, and invest in new technology to increase access and improve court efficiency for the public.
The court’s unanimous 143-page opinion by Justice Goodwin Liu vacates the death sentence for one count (conspiracy to commit murder) and vacates one special circumstance finding (lying in wait). Other than that, the court rejects a long list of appellate arguments. The court is negative not just about most of the defendant’s arguments, but also about a host of case law.
(Subscription required) Prosecutors can proceed with criminal conspiracy charges against two anti-abortion activists in connection with filming Planned Parenthood staff allegedly discussing the sale of fetal tissue after the state Supreme Court lifted a stay it previously imposed.
The Supreme Court yesterday announced its June calendar. You might ask, didn’t the court just announce an oral argument calendar last week? Why, yes it did. That’s because the end of the term has an extra argument session, in late May (the one announced last week), that is held the week before the June calendar.
The Veterans Court program offers resources to veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, contending with substance abuse issues or psychological problems stemming from their deployment to combat zones, or who had experiences that left them scarred at a young age, according to court officials.
When officials from the Superior Court of Alameda County in California began to notice growing vacancies in its courtroom clerk and legal processing assistant (LPA) roles, they believed it would be an ideal situation to look to the area’s community colleges to address gaps in public service employees.
(Subscription required) Locations in San Francisco and Culver City will test the proctoring software on about 130 applicants during next month’s First-Year Law Students’ Examination, or “baby bar.” The exam will use an artificial intelligence program to track eye and body movements and notify remote, behind-the-scenes proctors of any suspicious behavior.
The Supreme Court today lifted a stay it imposed last month on the prosecution of two anti-abortion activists who, according to a news report, “are charged by the California Attorney General’s Office with secretly filming abortion clinicians and biotech company employees without their permission at meetings in San Francisco, Los Angeles County and El Dorado County in 2014 and 2015.”
The state’s highest court denied a defense petition seeking its review of the case of John Lenzie Creech, who was found guilty in July 2017 of voluntary manslaughter for the May 2012 beating death of Gavin Smith, a 57-year-old married father of three who was missing for 2 1/2 years before his remains were found in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest in the Antelope Valley.
The courts are located on high school campuses, a real judge presides over the proceedings. The difference, the jurors are students. "The student jurors are sending that message 'We don't like your behavior it's wrong it could be dangerous to us."
According to data from the National Association of Law Placement, 24.9% of all lawyers in California law firms are minorities and 38.18% are women, a full seven percentage points higher than what The Recorder found in the state’s largest plaintiffs firms.
Raising court fees is not something to be taken lightly; those fees can add up, and there is a tendency to look to them to pay for all kinds of services without raising taxes. Court fees to pay for lawyers — in limited numbers of cases, for parties who cannot afford to pay — also, in the end, improves court for everyone.
(Subscription required) A survey of American lawyers found 25% of women who were questioned reported unwelcome sexual harassment. That survey was conducted by the American Bar Association and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association in 2016.
(Subscription required) Kris Becker realizes despite her best intentions, the system she works within sometimes is incapable of providing perfect results. Nevertheless, as the commissioner handling Imperial County’s child support calendar she said she strives to deliver equitable orders and preserve the children’s well-being, without soaking parents who are already in dire financial situations.
California’s notoriously difficult bar exam came under fresh scrutiny Tuesday as critics told a legislative committee that the high marks required to pass are hurting efforts to diversify the state’s legal profession and bench.
The courts got new money in the May budget revision and it was long overdue. The new money will fund 25 new judge positions and all that comes with adding judges. Currently, there are 20 Superior Court judgeships open, so Newsom will put his mark on the courts with nearly 50 appointments.
(Subscription required) If the board approves the proposed scaling model, and the Legislature approves it, attorneys making more than $90,000 annually would see a $95 increase, while attorneys under the threshold would not see a hike. About 24% of attorneys statewide would qualify for an exemption, according to a 2017 State Bar survey.
(Subscription required) On certain weekdays, Judge Xapuri Villapudua doesn’t wear her robe nor does she head to court. Instead, she commutes to a mental hospital in San Joaquin County to meet and interview people who have been committed that could pose a danger to themselves or the community because of mental illness.
Last year, Cantil-Sakauye introduced new rules barring retired judges from working more than 1,320 days — the equivalent of a six-year term limit of an elected superior court judge. The change was among a slate of new guidelines designed to limit spending and encourage courts to avoid requesting retired judges when their services are not needed. The adjustments were applauded in an April state auditor report stemming from an investigation into a whistleblower complaint about the program.
The Yolo Superior Court will celebrate Juror Appreciation Week, May 13-17, to recognize the service and participation of jurors from our community. “In recognition of this valuable service, the judicial branch has worked to make jury duty less burdensome with one-day or one-trial service, plain-language jury instructions and other improvements."
Assembly Bill 242 requires the Judicial Council by Jan. 1, 2021, and the State Bar by Jan. 1, 2022, to develop training on implicit bias, defined as positive or negative associations that affect their beliefs, attitudes, and actions toward other people. Court personnel must complete the course by Jan. 1, 2022. Lawyers would have to meet the requirement after Jan. 31, 2023.
A minor seeking resentencing based on a retroactive statutory change in the murder statute must, like an adult defendant, file a petition in the Juvenile Court, rather than seeking relief on appeal, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.
(Subscription required) Since he was elevated to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in 2016, a wave of criminal justice bills and voter initiatives have been passed, and Tangeman’s worldly perspective has helped him contribute a unique and profound perspective to the state’s rule of law.
Each year, millions of Californians serve their communities and put into practice a fundamental American ideal of justice: the right to trial by jury. Juror Appreciation Week is one way the courts thank these citizens for fulfilling their obligation and making the justice system work.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday pardoned seven former felons, including two Cambodian refugees the Trump administration wants to deport, in his first acts of clemency since the Democrat took office in January.
The Supreme Court made clear on Monday that Roe v. Wade may soon no longer be the law of the land. The decision, Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, actually has nothing to do with abortion; it concerns when one state may be sued in another state’s courts.
Retired California judges are suing the Judicial Council of California and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, claiming new limits on their ability to get temporary judicial assignments constitutes illegal age discrimination.