Supreme Court of California Decisions 2015

Gillette Co. v. Franchise Tax Bd.  
Date: December 31, 2015
Docket Number: S206587

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1974, the state of California joined the Multistate Tax Compact, which contained an apportionment formula and permitted a taxpayer election between the Compact’s formula and any other formula provided by state law. In...

People v. Sandoval  
Date: December 24, 2015
Docket Number: S115872

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of premeditated murder and attempted murder. The jury found that the murder was committed with the special circumstance that the victim was a peace officer engaged in the lawfu...

Cal. Building Ind. Ass’n v. Bay Area Air Quality Mgmt. Dist.  
Date: December 17, 2015
Docket Number: S213478

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2010, the Bar Area Air Quality Management District passed a resolution adopting new thresholds of significance for air pollutants and published new California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) air quality guidelines. T...

P. v. Goolsby
Date: December 17, 2015
Docket Number: S216648M
People v. Stevens  
Date: December 10, 2015
Docket Number: S209643

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant was convicted of petty theft with a prior-theft related conviction. Before Defendant was released from prison, the Board of Parole Hearings found that Defendant met the criteria for commitment as a Mentally Dis...

Hampton v. County of San Diego  
Date: December 10, 2015
Docket Number: S213132

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiff was seriously injured in a collision between his vehicle and another that occurred at an intersection in San Diego County. Plaintiff and his wife sued the County for maintaining an allegedly dangerous condition...

People v. Cage  
Date: December 3, 2015
Docket Number: S120583

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The trial court sentenced Defendant to death for the two murders. The Supreme Court affirm...

Quesada v. Herb Thyme Farms, Inc.  
Date: December 3, 2015
Docket Number: S216305

Justia Opinion Summary: This case was a putative class action challenging an herb grower’s (Defendant) marketing of its herbs as organic. Defendant sought judgment on the pleadings on federal preemption and primary jurisdiction grounds, arguing...

B.H. v. County of San Bernardino  
Date: November 30, 2015
Docket Number: S213066

Justia Opinion Summary: A private citizen called a 911 operator to report an incident of suspected child abuse during the child’s visit with his father. A deputy sheriff, who was dispatched to investigate the report, determined that the child w...

Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Cal. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife  
Date: November 30, 2015
Docket Number: S217763

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case was the adequacy of an environment impact report certified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) for a land development in northwest Los Angeles County. Plaintiffs challenged DFW’s...

People v. Cordova  
Date: October 26, 2015
Docket Number: S152737

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the delay in bringing charges against Defendant did not violate his due process rights; (...

Larkin v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd.  
Date: October 26, 2015
Docket Number: S216986

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case was whether Cal. Labor Code 4458.2, which provides workers’ compensation benefits to certain peace officers injured in the line of duty, applies to both volunteer peace officers and to regularly swo...

P. v. Romero and Self
Date: October 15, 2015
Docket Number: S055856M
People v. Goolsby  
Date: October 15, 2015
Docket Number: S216648

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of violating Cal. Penal Code 451(b), which forbids arson of “an inhabited structure or inhabited property.” Specifically, the jury found Defendant guilty of “arson of an inhabi...

People v. Romero  
Date: August 27, 2015
Docket Number: S055856

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendants Orlando Gene Romero and Christopher Self were convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, four counts of premeditated attempted murder, and numerous other crimes. The trial court entered judgments of dea...

People v. Prunty  
Date: August 27, 2015
Docket Number: S210234

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant was charged with attempted murder and assault with a firearm. The prosecution alleged that these offenses were committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang and were thus subject to a sentence enhancement...

Publication Order for B248654
Date: August 26, 2015
Docket Number: S217616
People v. Williams  
Date: August 24, 2015
Docket Number: S073205

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of attempted robbery and first degree murder, among other charges. The jury returned a verdict of death for the murder, and the trial court sentenced Defendant to death. The Su...

People v. Seumanu  
Date: August 24, 2015
Docket Number: S093803

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder. Defendant was sentenced to death for the murder. While this appeal was pending, the United States District Court for the Central District of California...

Poole v. Orange County Fire Auth.  
Date: August 24, 2015
Docket Number: S215300

Justia Opinion Summary: The supervisor of Plaintiff, a firefighter, maintained a “daily log” regarding the employees he supervised. The daily log consisted of notes that memorialized the supervisor’s thoughts and observations of employees, whic...

Fluor Corp. v. Superior Court of Orange County  
Date: August 20, 2015
Docket Number: S205889

Justia Opinion Summary: This case concerned an insured’s assignment of the right to invoke defense and indemnification coverage under a liability policy issued by Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company. The Supreme Court held in Henkel Corp. v....

Lee v. Hanley  
Date: August 20, 2015
Docket Number: S220775

Justia Opinion Summary: Client advanced Attorney funds to cover attorney’s fees in litigation. After Client terminated the representation, Attorney refused to return the unearned attorney’s fees. Attorney demurred on the ground that the lawsuit...

People v. Blackburn  
Date: August 17, 2015
Docket Number: S211078

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2006, Defendant was declared a mentally disordered offender and committed to Atascadero State Hospital as a condition of parole. In 2011, the Santa Clara County District Attorney filed a third petition to extend Defen...

People v. Tran  
Date: August 17, 2015
Docket Number: S211329

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1998, Defendant pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) to one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and was committed to Napa State Hospital. In 2011, the Santa Clara County District Attorney petit...

People v. Nguyen  
Date: August 13, 2015
Docket Number: S076340

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of murder and related charges. Defendant was sentenced to death for the murders. The Supreme Court struck the sentence enhancements under Cal. Penal Code 186.22(b...

Cordova v. City of Los Angeles  
Date: August 13, 2015
Docket Number: S208130

Justia Opinion Summary: The negligent driving of a third party driver caused another car to strike a magnolia tree planted on a center median owned and maintained by the City of Los Angeles. The collision with the tree resulted in the deaths or...

Hartford Cas. Ins. Co. v. J.R. Marketing, LLC  
Date: August 10, 2015
Docket Number: S211645

Justia Opinion Summary: A commercial general liability insurer initially refused to defend its insured against a third-party lawsuit but subsequently provided independent counsel under a reservation of rights (so-called Cumis counsel) to defend...

People v. Brown  
Date: August 6, 2015
Docket Number: S218993

Justia Opinion Summary: A police officer investigating an emergency call regarding a fight pulled behind Defendant’s parked vehicle and activated the emergency lights on his patrol car. The officer approached and spoke with Defendant, who was s...

Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co., LLC  
Date: August 3, 2015
Docket Number: S199119

Justia Opinion Summary: In this dispute over the sale of a car, Plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against Defendant, alleging, inter alia, that Defendant violated the Consumer Legal Remedies Act by making false representations about the co...

City of San Diego v. Bd. of Trs. of Cal. State Univ.  
Date: August 3, 2015
Docket Number: S199557

Justia Opinion Summary: At dispute in this case was an environmental impact report (EIR) certified by the Board of Trustees (Board) of the California State University (CSU) that concerned the Board’s project to expand the campus of San Diego St...

Publication Order for B241727
Date: July 30, 2015
Docket Number: S214150
In re Estate of Duke  
Date: July 27, 2015
Docket Number: S199435

Justia Opinion Summary: The testator in this case prepared a holographic will providing that, if he and his wife died at the same time, specific charities would inherit his estate and providing that his wife would inherit his estate if he prede...

Even Zohar Constr. & Remodeling v. Bellaire Townhouses  
Date: July 20, 2015
Docket Number: S210804

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiff sued Defendants for breach of contract and related claims. Defendants failed to file a responsive pleading, and the clerk entered Defendants’ default. The court then entered a default judgment. Defendants filed...

In re Marriage of Davis  
Date: July 20, 2015
Docket Number: S215050

Justia Opinion Summary: Cal. Fam. Code 771(a) provides that the “earnings and accumulations of a spouse…,while living separate and apart from the other spouse, are the separate property of the spouse.” On December 30, 2008, Wife filed for disso...

DKN Holdings LLC v. Faerber  
Date: July 13, 2015
Docket Number: S218597

Justia Opinion Summary: Roy Caputo, Wade Faerber, and Matthew Neel leased commercial space from DKN Holdings LLC and were each jointly and severally liable on this contract. Caputo later sued DKN for, inter alia, breach of contract. DKN cross-c...

People v. Johnson  
Date: July 9, 2015
Docket Number: S105857

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first degree murder by personal use of a firearm and second degree murder by personal use of a firearm. The jury further found true that Defendant committed the first deg...

People v. Banks  
Date: July 9, 2015
Docket Number: S213819

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case was under what circumstances an accomplice who lacks the intent to kill may qualify as a “major participant” in a felony murder so as to be statutorily eligible for the death penalty. Defendant Lovi...

People v. Superior Court  
Date: July 6, 2015
Docket Number: S221296

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this criminal case was whether the prosecution’s obligation under Brady v. Maryland and its progeny would be satisfied if it simply informs the defense that the confidential personnel records of police office...

People v. Cunningham  
Date: July 2, 2015
Docket Number: S051342

Justia Opinion Summary: After a bench trial, Defendant was convicted of the first degree murders of three victims. A jury was sworn for the penalty phase and returned a verdict of death. The trial court sentenced Defendant to death for the thre...

People v. Johnson  
Date: July 2, 2015
Docket Numbers: S219454, S219819

Justia Opinion Summary: In two separate cases in 1998, Defendants were convicted of criminal offenses. The jury sentenced them under the Three Strikes Law. In 2012, the electorate passed Proposition 36, which authorizes prisoners serving third-...

People v. Leon  
Date: June 29, 2015
Docket Number: S056766

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of murder, sixteen counts of robbery, and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and related charges. The jury sentenced Defendant to death. Defendant appe...

People v. Elizalde  
Date: June 25, 2015
Docket Number: S215260

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant was convicted of three first degree murders and of conspiracy to participate in a criminal street gang and to commit murder and assault with a deadly weapon. The jury found true several enhancements. Defendant...

People ex rel. Green v. Grewal  
Date: June 25, 2015
Docket Number: S217896

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case were devices that resemble traditional casino-style slot machines in certain respects and offer users the chance to win sweepstakes prizes. The five Defendants in this ran businesses using devices t...

In re Welch  
Date: June 22, 2015
Docket Number: S107782

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial in 1989, David Welch was found guilty of six counts of first degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. The trial court sentenced Welch to death. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Welch late...

People v. Le  
Date: June 15, 2015
Docket Number: S202921

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case was whether Cal. Penal Code 1170.1(f) precludes a trial court from imposing both a firearm enhancement under Cal. Penal Code 12022.5, former subdivision (a)(1), and a gang enhancement under Cal. Pen...

Cal. Bldg. Indus. Ass’n v. City of San Jose  
Date: June 15, 2015
Docket Number: S212072

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2010, the City of San Jose enacted an inclusionary housing ordinance that requires all new residential development projects of twenty or more units to sell at least fifteen percent of the for-sale units at a price aff...

People v. Scott  
Date: June 8, 2015
Docket Number: S064858

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, rape, and sodomy. Defendant also pleaded guilty to charges arising from separate burglaries committed after the charged murder. The trial court sentence...

People v. Charles  
Date: June 1, 2015
Docket Number: S076337

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of one count of first degree murder and two counts of second degree murder. There were four penalty trials in this case, and the fourth penalty trial jury returned a verdict of...

State Dep’t of State Hosps. v. Superior Court  
Date: June 1, 2015
Docket Number: S215132

Justia Opinion Summary: Before Gilton Pitre was paroled from state prison the State Department of Mental Health (DMH) assessed whether he should be civilly committed under the Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA). The DMH ultimately did not re...

People v. Trujeque  
Date: May 28, 2015
Docket Number: S083594

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial in 1999, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, second degree murder, and second degree robbery. Defendant stipulated to a 1971 prior second degree murder conviction alleged as a special circu...

Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley
Date: May 28, 2015
Docket Number: S201116M
People v. Ford  
Date: May 28, 2015
Docket Number: S212940

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant pleaded no contested in a negotiated disposition to felony hit and run. The plea agreement provided that Defendant would pay restitution directly to any victim. Defendant was later placed on probation and direc...

South Coast Framing v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd.  
Date: May 28, 2015
Docket Number: S215637

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2008, Brandon Clark fell ten feet while working as a carpenter for Employer. Clark’s workers’ compensation doctor prescribed various drugs to treat Clark’s injuries, and Clark’s personal doctor prescribed additional d...

People v. Cross  
Date: May 18, 2015
Docket Number: S212157

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant was charged with felony infliction of corporal injury in violation of Cal. Penal Code 273.5(a). The information further alleged that Defendant had suffered a prior conviction under section 273.5. At trial, Defe...

In re R.V.  
Date: May 18, 2015
Docket Number: S212346

Justia Opinion Summary: The District Attorney filed a petition to declare sixteen-year-old R.V. (“Minor”) a ward of the juvenile court. When the juvenile court determined there was substantial evidence raising a doubt regrading Minor’s competen...

In re Cipro Cases I & II  
Date: May 7, 2015
Docket Number: S198616

Justia Opinion Summary: Bayer AG and Bayer Corporation (collectively, Bayer) marketed Cipro, an antibiotic. In 1987, Bayer was issued a United States patent on the active ingredient in Cipro. Twelve years before the expiration of the patent, Ba...

Williams v. Chino Valley Indep. Fire Dist.  
Date: May 4, 2015
Docket Number: S213100

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiff, a firefighter, sued Defendant, his employer, alleging disability discrimination in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defen...

People v. Kopatz  
Date: April 30, 2015
Docket Number: S097414

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the first degree murders of Mary Kopatz and Carley Kopatz. The jury returned a verdict of death, and the trial court imposed that sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holdi...

P. v. Smith, Jr.
Date: April 27, 2015
Docket Number: S112442
People v. Smith  
Date: April 27, 2015
Docket Number: S112442A

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, with the special circumstance of torture, false imprisonment by violence, and conspiracy to commit murder. The jury recommended a sentence of death, and...

People v. Sasser  
Date: April 23, 2015
Docket Number: S217128

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant, a second-strike offender, was convicted of eleven offenses arising from sexual assaults on two separate victims. At issue in this appeal was the trial court’s imposition of an alternative sentence under the On...

Cal. Charter Schs. Ass’n v. L.A. Unified Sch. Dist.  
Date: April 9, 2015
Docket Number: S208611

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2000, California voters enacted Proposition 39, which provides that school districts must share their facilities with charter schools so that charter school students have access to facilities “reasonably equivalent” t...

People v. Diaz  
Date: April 6, 2015
Docket Number: S205145

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of one count of willful, deliberate, and premeditated attempted murder and three counts of threatening to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury. During tr...

Coffey v. Shiomoto  
Date: April 6, 2015
Docket Number: S213545

Justia Opinion Summary: After four chemical tests were administered to Plaintiff revealing her blood-alcohol concentration to be between 0.08 to 0.096 percent, Plaintiff’s license was suspended, and she was charged with drunk driving. Plaintiff...

Chang on Admission
Date: March 16, 2015
Docket Number: S223736
Tract 19051 Homeowners Ass’n v. Kemp  
Date: March 5, 2015
Docket Number: S211596

Justia Opinion Summary: A homeowners association and some of its individual members (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this suit against a homeowner alleging (1) their housing development tract, which included the homeowner’s property, was a co...

People v. Loper  
Date: March 5, 2015
Docket Number: S211840

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant pleaded guilty to violating Cal. Ins. Code 11880(a) and admitted various enhancements. Defendant was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Approximately one and a half years into the sentence, the Secretary of t...

People v. Mosley  
Date: March 2, 2015
Docket Number: S187965

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant engaged in conduct that led to a charge of committing a lewd act on a child. The jury convicted Defendant of the lesser misdemeanor offense of simple assault. The sentencing court exercised its discretion to or...

Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley  
Date: March 2, 2015
Docket Number: S201116

Justia Opinion Summary: The City of Berkeley approved a permit application to build a 6,478-square-foot house with an attached 3,394-square-foot garage. In approving the permit, the City relied on two class exemptions making the project exempt...

In re Taylor  
Date: March 2, 2015
Docket Number: S206143

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioners in this consolidated habeas corpus proceeding were registered sex offenders on active parole in San Diego County against whom Cal. Pen. Code 3003.5(b) was applied. Section 3003.5(b) imposed mandatory residenc...

People v. Johnson  
Date: February 26, 2015
Docket Number: S093235

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, first degree burglary, first degree robbery, and carjacking. The jury returned a verdict of death, and the trial court imposed that sentence. The Suprem...

State ex rel. Dep’t of Cal. Highway Patrol v. Superior Court  
Date: February 26, 2015
Docket Number: S214221

Justia Opinion Summary: Under the Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) Act, motorists receive emergency roadside assistance on California’s highways. The FSP program is administered by, among other agencies, the Department of the California Highway Pat...

State Dep’t of Pub. Health v. Superior Court  
Date: February 19, 2015
Docket Number: S214679

Justia Opinion Summary: The Center for Investigative Reporting filed a Public Records Act request for copies of all citations issued by the Department of Public Health (DPH) to the long-term health care facilities the Center was investigating....

People v. Cook  
Date: February 5, 2015
Docket Number: S215927

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant was convicted of three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, one count each for the three persons who died in the incident. The trial court enhanced Defendant’s sentence for “personally inflicting great bodil...

Richey v. Autonation, Inc.  
Date: January 29, 2015
Docket Number: S207536

Justia Opinion Summary: An Employee was terminated for engaging in outside employment in violation of company policy during his absence on approved medical leave. The Employee sued, arguing that the Employer violated his right to reinstatement...

Johnson v. Dep’t of Justice  
Date: January 29, 2015
Docket Number: S209167

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiff was convicted of nonforcible oral copulation by an adult over twenty-one years with a person under sixteen years of age in violation of Cal. Penal Code 288a(b)(2). Plaintiff’s conviction resulted in mandatory s...

People v. Aguilar  
Date: January 12, 2015
Docket Number: S213571

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of one count of corporal injury on a spouse. The trial court placed Defendant on probation and, without objection, imposed various fees, including probation-related costs and a...

People v. Trujillo  
Date: January 12, 2015
Docket Number: S213687

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of buying, receiving, concealing, or withholding stolen property. The trial court placed Defendant on probation and imposed probation supervision and presentence investigati...

Mendiola v. CPS Sec. Solutions  
Date: January 8, 2015
Docket Number: S212704

Justia Opinion Summary: Security guards employed by CPS Security Solutions, Inc. filed two class action lawsuits - which were later consolidated - alleging that CPS’s on-call compensation policy violated minimum wage and overtime obligations im...

People v. Grimes  
Date: January 5, 2015
Docket Number: S076339

Justia Opinion Summary: After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of one count of murder with burglary and robbery special circumstances and other offenses. The trial court sentenced Defendant to death for the murder. The Supreme Court affirm...

Hudec v. Superior Court  
Date: January 5, 2015
Docket Number: S213003

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioner was found not guilty by reason of insanity of killing his father in 1981. Petitioner was committed to state hospital for a period reflecting the maximum term for voluntary manslaughter. In 2012, the district a...

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