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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of one count of first degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, and other offenses and sentencing Defendant to death, holding that no prejudicial error occurred during the proceedings. Specifically, the Court held (1) there was no error in the selection of the jury; (2) the trial court properly instructed the jury; (3) the trial court did not err in its evidentiary rulings; (4) the arguments raised by Defendant regarding special circumstances issues were unavailing; and (5) no prejudicial occurred during the penalty phase proceedings. View "People v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the convictions of Defendants Edgar Octavio Barajas and Jesus Manuel Rodriguez for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and participation in a criminal street gang, rendered by a jury after a joint trial. Each defendant was sentenced to mandatory terms amounting to fifty years to life. As to Barajas, the Supreme Court remanded with an order to enter a judgment of acquittal, holding that accomplice testimony was not sufficiently corroborated in light of People v. Romero and Self, 62 Cal.4th 1, 36 (2015). As to Rodriguez, the Court held that Rodriguez was not provided an adequate opportunity to make a record of information relevant to a future youth offender parole hearing and that he was entitled to a remand under People v. Franklin, 63 Cal.4th 261, 283-284, 286 (2016). The Court’s directive that Rodriguez receive a remand in this proceeding made it unnecessary to address his constitutional challenge to his sentence. View "People v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Imposing a criminal laboratory analysis fee and a drug program fee is appropriate for a conviction of conspiracy to transport a controlled substance, in violation of Cal. Health & Safety Code 11379(a). Defendant pleaded no contest to conspiracy to transport a controlled substance. As part of Defendant’s sentence, the trial court imposed a criminal laboratory analysis fee, pursuant to Cal. Health & Safety Code 11372.5(a), and a drug program fee pursuant to Cal. Health & Safety Code 11372.7(a). Defendant appealed, arguing that these fees were unauthorized because the fees were not “punishment” for purposes of the conspiracy sentencing statute - Cal. Penal Code 182(a). The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the fees at issue in this case constitute “punishment” for purposes of Penal Code section 182. View "People v. Ruiz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A direct contractor’s timely payment to its subcontractors may be excused under Cal. Civ. Code 8814(c) only when the direct contractor has a good faith basis for contesting the subcontractor’s right to receive the specific monies that are withheld. United Riggers & Erectors, Inc. (United Riggers) sued Coast Iron & Steel Co. (Coast Iron) alleging failure to make prompt payment of monies owed United Riggers for its work on a project. See Cal. Civ. Code 8814, 8818. Coast Iron paid United Riggers, but the payments did not moot United Riggers’s statutory claim because the statutory scheme imposes a penalty for delay. The trial court entered judgment for Coast Iron. The court of appeal reversed on the statutory claim for failure to make timely retention payments, holding that Coast Iron could not use the parties’ dispute over project mismanagement to justify withholding United Riggers’s pay. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Coast Iron did not present a good faith argument for why the withheld monies were no longer due to United Riggers. View "United Riggers & Erectors, Inc. v. Coast Iron & Steel Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Construction Law

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A defendant, who has been placed on probation in one county but permanently resides in another and whose whose probation case has been transferred, must file a petition for resentencing under Proposition 47 in the original sentencing court. See Cal. Penal Code 1170.18. Defendant was placed on felony probation by the San Diego County Superior Court. Defendant lived in Riverside County, and the court transferred his case there. Defendant later filed a petition in Riverside County to recall his felony sentence and impose a misdemeanor term under Proposition 47. The Riverside court granted Defendant’s petition. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, even in the case of a probationary transfer, the original sentencing court is the proper venue for a resentencing petition under section 1170.18. View "People v. Adelmann" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The State Water Resources Control Board’s adoption of a permit fee schedule was proper and violated neither Cal. Water Code 13260(d)(1)(B) or (f)(1) nor Cal. Const. art. XIII A. By statute, the Board has five members. At the time of the meeting at which the Board members voted to approve the fee schedule, two of those seats were vacant. Two of the three members voted to approve one of the proposed fee schedules, and the third member abstained. Based on that vote, the Board adopted emergency regulations retroactively revising the fee schedule. Plaintiff challenged the Board’s approval of the fee schedule. The trial court entered judgment for the Board. The court of appeal affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) procedural challenge; (2) the fee schedule did not violate section 13260(d)(1)(B) or (f)(1); and (3) the fees did not violate constitutional restrictions contained in article XIII A. View "California Building Industry Association v. State Water Resources Control Board" on Justia Law

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The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 (Proposition 36), under which an inmate sentenced under the Three Strikes law for a nonferrous, nonviolent felony may petition the trial court for resentencing, permits a trial court to find a defendant was armed with a deadly weapon and is therefore ineligible for resentencing only if the prosecutor proves this basis for ineligibility beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, the trial court’s eligibility determination may rely on facts not found by a jury. One of the criteria for resentencing eligibility under Proposition 36 is that the inmate must not have been armed with a deadly weapon during the commission of the current offense. The trial court determined that Defendant was eligible for resentencing. The court of appeal reversed on the grounds that Defendant was armed with a deadly weapon during the commission of his current offense. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence in support of Defendant’s conviction did not reasonably support any inference but that Defendant was armed with a deadly weapon during the commission of his current offense. View "People v. Perez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, the special circumstance of multiple murder, and various enhancements. The Court held (1) the prosecutor did not violate Defendant’s constitutional rights to equal protection and a jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community by peremptorily excusing five black prospective jurors at the guilt phase; (2) the trial court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment and his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment by denying his motion for a continuance; (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s convictions; (4) any error in the jury instructions related to eyewitness identification was harmless; (5) the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the penalty phase retrial jury on lingering doubt; (6) the trial court did not err in not offering supplemental instructions when it was clear that the jury’s verdict was not unanimous; (7) Defendant’s challenges to the penalty phase jury instructions were unavailing; and (8) Defendant’s remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "People v. Reed" on Justia Law

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At issue was what standard applies in determining whether workers should be classified as employees or as independent contract for purposes of California wage orders. Two drivers filed this purported class action alleging that Dynamex Operations West, Inc. had misclassified its delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The trial court ultimately certified a class action embodying a class of Dynamex drivers who, during a pay period, did not themselves employ other drivers and did not do delivery work for other delivery businesses or for the drivers’ own personal customers. The court of appeal upheld the trial court’s class certification order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly concluded that the “suffer or permit to work” definition of “employ” contained in the wage order may be relied upon in evaluating whether a worker is an independent contractor; (2) in determining whether, under the suffer or permit to work definition, a worker is properly considered the type of independent contractor to whom the wage order does not apply, it is appropriate to look to the so-called “ABC” test utilized in other jurisdictions; and (3) the trial court’s certification order was correct as a matter of law under a proper understanding of the suffer or permit to work standard. View "Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

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At issue was what standard applies in determining whether workers should be classified as employees or as independent contract for purposes of California wage orders. Two drivers filed this purported class action alleging that Dynamex Operations West, Inc. had misclassified its delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. The trial court ultimately certified a class action embodying a class of Dynamex drivers who, during a pay period, did not themselves employ other drivers and did not do delivery work for other delivery businesses or for the drivers’ own personal customers. The court of appeal upheld the trial court’s class certification order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly concluded that the “suffer or permit to work” definition of “employ” contained in the wage order may be relied upon in evaluating whether a worker is an independent contractor; (2) in determining whether, under the suffer or permit to work definition, a worker is properly considered the type of independent contractor to whom the wage order does not apply, it is appropriate to look to the so-called “ABC” test utilized in other jurisdictions; and (3) the trial court’s certification order was correct as a matter of law under a proper understanding of the suffer or permit to work standard. View "Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law