Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal
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Respondents are a group of college students, all of which face criminal charges for marching though San Luis Obispo in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Respondents sought recusal of the San Luis Obisbo District Attorney's Office on the basis that the District Attorney had a well-publicized association with critics of the Black Lives Matter movement. The trial court granted respondents' motion, appointing the Attorney General to the case, and the District Attorney and Attorney General appealed.On appeal, the Second Appellate District affirmed. Based on social media posts, public statements and targeted fundraising appeal to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement, the court concluded that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s determination that the San Luis Obisbo District Attorney's Office was not likely to treat respondents fairly. View "P. v. Lastra" on Justia Law

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Appellants Patricia Flores and Angelica Sanchez appealed after the trial court granted summary judgment in favor defendant City of San Diego (the City). Flores and Sanchez sued the City for wrongful death and negligence, respectively, in connection with the death of William Flores, who was operating a motorcycle that was the subject of a police vehicle pursuit when he crashed and was killed. The City moved for summary judgment on the ground that it was immune from liability under the grant of immunity provided for in Vehicle Code section 17004.7. The Court of Appeal concluded that the vehicle pursuit policy training required by section 17004.7 had to meet certain basic standards that were set forth in California Code of Regulations, title 11, section 1081, as adopted by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (the POST Commission), including an annual one-hour minimum time standard set out in that regulation, before a governmental entity was entitled to immunity under the statute. "Not only did the City fail to present undisputed evidence that the training it provided in the year prior to the incident at issue met the annual one-hour standard, but the City failed to dispute the fact, put forth by appellants, that the training implemented by the City comprised a single video of less than half the required one-hour duration." In the absence of training that met the standards imposed by Regulation 1081, as required by section 17004.7, the City was not entitled to immunity under that statute, as a matter of law. Summary judgment in favor of the City was therefore erroneously granted, and the judgment had to be reversed. View "Flores v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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After “one of the driest years in recorded state history,” in 2015 the Water Resources Control Board issued orders to curtail water use in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The trial court concluded that the Board’s curtailment notices violated the due process rights of irrigation districts and water agencies by failing to provide them with a pre-deprivation hearing or any other opportunity to challenge the bases for the notices. The court addressed the due process issue, even though it was technically moot.The court of appeal affirmed. The Board has no authority, under Water Code section 1052(a), to curtail the diversion or use of water by holders of valid pre-1914 appropriative water rights—a group with distinctive rights rooted in the history of California water law--on the sole ground that there is insufficient water to service their priorities of right due to drought conditions. This statutory language “subject to this division other than as authorized in this division” excludes the diversion or use of water within the scope of a valid pre-1914 appropriative right, even during times of limited water supply. Section 1052(a) provides the Board authority to enjoin a diversion or use of water that falls outside the scope of a right held by a pre-1914 appropriative right holder. View "California Water Curtailment Cases" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Steven Rodgers, a correctional sergeant employed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), appealed the denial of his writ petition seeking to set aside the State Personnel Board’s (SPB) decision to reduce his salary by 10 percent for two years as a penalty for an incident that occurred in July 2017 while he was supervising a contraband surveillance watch shift at Pelican Bay State Prison. Rodgers argued the factual findings the SPB adopted after his administrative hearing were: (1) not supported by substantial evidence; and (2) significantly different from those alleged in the notice of adverse action (NOAA), and as a result, SPB’s decision violated his due process right to notice of the charges against him. After review, the Court of Appeal agreed with his second contention and therefore reversed the decision. View "Rodgers v. State Personnel Board" on Justia Law

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Wong was a former patient of a mental health service provider at the Veterans Home called Pathway; in 2018 he went to the facility armed and dressed for combat and took hostage three Pathway employees. After exchanging fire with a Napa County Sheriff’s deputy, Wong shot and killed his hostages and then killed himself. Family members of the victims filed wrongful death actions naming multiple defendants, including the California Department of Veterans and related state defendants), Napa County, the Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Lombardi.The trial court dismissed the Napa County defendants from two of the wrongful death actions, finding that the plaintiffs failed to allege facts establishing a duty of care. The court of appeal affirmed. Oeace officers owe a duty to act reasonably when using deadly force, but the plaintiffs fail to allege facts showing that this duty encompassed an obligation to prevent Wong from shooting his hostages. The alleged connections between Lombardi’s actions and Wong’s crimes are little more than speculation. Allegations regarding Lombardi’s conduct at the crime scene do not show that he had a special relationship with the hostages. View "Golick v. State of California" on Justia Law

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The County of San Joaquin (County) petitioned for review of a Public Employment Relations Board (Board) decision in which the Board found the County interfered with and discriminated against the protected activity of the California Nurses Association (Nurses) and its registered nurse members (members). Specifically, the Board found the County’s policy prohibiting members from returning to work after a noticed strike based on the County’s contract with a strike replacement company containing a minimum shift guarantee for replacement workers was conduct inherently destructive to protected activity. The Board then announced and applied a new test providing for a defense to the County’s conduct of threatening and implementing the policy and determined the County could not meet the standard set forth in the test. The Board ordered several remedies, including that the County allow members to use accrued leave for the time they were prohibited from returning to work and for similar absences in the future. The Court of Appeal granted the County’s petition for writ of review relief, and issued the writ of review. After reviewing the County's challenges to several of the Board’s legal, factual, and remedial findings, the Court affirmed the Board’s decision in all respects. View "County of San Joaquin v. Public Employment Relations Bd." on Justia Law

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On April 10, 2017, Cedric Anderson entered his wife’s classroom at an elementary school, which was part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District (the district). Anderson shot and killed his wife, a student, and himself in front of a class of students. Plaintiffs-appellants C.I. (minor), J.I. (guardian ad litem), D.B. (minor), J.B. (guardian ad litem), B.E.Jr. (minor), B.E.Sr. (guardian ad litem), J.A.G. (minor), J.G. (guardian ad litem), M.M. (minor), M.T.M. (guardian ad litem), M.P. (minor), E.B. (guardian ad litem), M.R. (minor), and D.R. (guardian ad litem) filed suit against defendants-respondents district and Y.D. (the school’s principal), alleging, inter alia, negligence and dangerous condition of property. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds they owed no duty to plaintiffs because Anderson’s actions were unforeseeable, the school property was not a dangerous condition because there was no defect, and Anderson was not using the school property with due care. The trial court agreed, and judgment was entered in defendants’ favor. On appeal, plaintiffs contended defendants had a duty to take reasonable steps to protect students from criminal activity, and the district created a dangerous condition by failing to lock the front office door and equip classrooms with doors that locked. Finding no reversible error in the trial court judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "C.I. v. San Bernardino City Unified School Dist." on Justia Law

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N.G. (Mother) appealed a juvenile court’s order terminating parental rights to her children, Ricky R. and Jayden R. Mother argued the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) failed to discharge its duty of initial inquiry under state law implementing the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). DPSS did not dispute that it failed to discharge its duty of initial inquiry, but it argued that the error was harmless. DPSS also moved to dismiss the appeal as moot on the basis of postjudgment evidence, and it asked the Court of Appeal to consider that evidence under several theories. After review, the Court concluded DPSS prejudicially erred by failing to comply with its duty of initial inquiry under ICWA-related state law. The Court also denied DPSS’s motion to dismiss the appeal and declined to consider the postjudgment evidence of ICWA inquiries conducted while this appeal was pending. To this end, the Court held the juvenile court should consider that evidence in the first instance and determine whether DPSS discharged its duties under ICWA and related state law. View "In re Ricky R." on Justia Law

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One of the California Board of Registered Nursing (the Board) regulations stated: “An approved nursing program shall not make a substantive change without prior board authorization,” which included changes such as a change in location, a change in ownership, an addition of a new campus or location, and, for certain nursing programs, a significant change in the agreement between the nursing program and the institution of higher education with which it is affiliated. Here, the Board determined that West Coast University, Inc. (West Coast) made a substantive change under the regulation when it increased its annual student enrollment from 500 to 850 over a five-year period. After West Coast sought a writ of mandate, the trial court denied each of West Coast’s claims and entered judgment in favor of the Board and its executive officer. The Court of Appeal concluded the Board could consider the change in enrollment to be a substantive change under the regulation. View "West Coast University, Inc. v. Board of Registered Nursing" on Justia Law

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T.T. (Mother) challenged a juvenile court’s finding that the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) did not apply to the dependency proceedings concerning her son, Dominick D. She argued the juvenile court failed to ensure that San Bernardino County Children and Family Services (CFS) discharged its duty of initial inquiry into Dominick’s possible Indian ancestry under California Welfare & Institutions Code section 224.2(b). To this, the Court of Appeal agreed, but declined to address the parties’ arguments concerning harmlessness, because ICWA inquiry and notice errors did not warrant reversal of the juvenile court’s jurisdictional or dispositional findings and orders other than the finding that ICWA did not apply. The Court accordingly vacated that finding and remanded for compliance with ICWA and related California law, but otherwise affirmed. View "In re Dominick D." on Justia Law