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Decisions In Criminal, Family Law, Contract Law & Insurance Law Matters

By FindLaw Staff on July 30, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

People v. Perez, S167051, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for seven counts of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer and one count of premeditated attempted murder of a civilian.  The court reversed and remanded as the evidence was sufficient to sustain only a single count of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer as, on the facts such as those in this case, where the shooter indiscriminately fires a single shot at a group of persons with specific intent to kill someone, but without targeting any particular individual or individuals, he is guilty of a single count of attempted murder.

People v. Letner, S015384, involved a conviction of defendants for first degree murder, robbery, attempted rape, and theft of an automobile and sentence to death. The court affirmed the convictions in its entirety on automatic appeal over claims of error regarding: 1) court's failure to set aside burglary charges and burglary special circumstance allegations; 2) failure of the information to charge first degree felony murder; 3) denial of motions to sever defendants' trials at the guilt and penalty phases; 4) use of leg brace restraints during jury voir dire; 5) erroneous evidentiary rulings; 6) the sufficiency of the evidence; 7) prosecutorial misconduct; 8) instructional error; 9) sufficiency of the appellate record; 10) improper cross-examination of one of the defendants regarding letters he wrote concerning the crimes; 11) erroneous admission of unadjudicated prior offenses; 12) the constitutionality of California's death penalty statute; and 13) the cumulative effect of the asserted errors.

In re Prather, S172903, concerned a consolidated appeal challenging the appellate courts' conclusions that the Parole Board abused its discretion in denying the prisoners a parole date in habeas proceedings.  In reversing, the court held that, a decision granting habeas corpus relief challenging the Board's determination that a prisoner remains currently dangerous generally should direct the Board to conduct a new parole-suitability hearing in accordance with due process of law and consistent with the decision of the court and should not place improper limitations on the type of evidence the Board is statutorily obligated to consider.  Here, the appellate courts in the these two cases improperly restricted the Board's exercise of its discretion by directing that only certain evidence be considered at the parole suitability hearing of a petitioner, and by ordering the release of another petitioner without further proceedings.

Tucker v. Pacific Bell Mobile Serv., A126077, concerned plaintiffs' proposed class action, claiming that defendant cell phone providers violated the Unfair Competition Law by selling "bucket plans" without informing consumers how the length of each telephone call would be calculated.  The court affirmed for the most part the trial court's partial grant of defendants' motion for sanctions against plaintiffs and plaintiffs' counsel for certain conduct during a deposition.  However, the court held that the portion of the court's order that awards monetary sanctions related to anticipated costs of a future deposition is reversed and remanded as the court did not have the authority to award sanctions for further deposing the plaintiff at issue because defendants had not "incurred" those expenses within the meaning of section 2023.030(a).

People v. Busser, D055088, concerned a challenge to the trial court's order requiring defendant to pay restitution to his insurance carrier for the repair costs arising out of an accident, after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hit and run and presenting a materially false statement to his insurance company, a felony.  In reversing, the court held that based on the rule first stated in People v. Crow, 6 Cal. 4th 952 (1993), the repair costs insurer would have been obligated to pay if defendant had not presented a materially false statement are not losses resulting from the criminal offense under section 1202.4 because they are not attributable to defendant's criminal misrepresentation.

In re the Marriage of Nicholas, G042365, involved a petitioner's contention that the family court lacked jurisdiction to issue a revised sealing order because it was bound by the initial family law judge's ruling, in a highly contested marital dissolution proceeding, involving the co-founder of Broadcom Corporation and his spouse.  In rejecting the contention, the court affirmed the trial court's July 6, 2009 order as the new judge had continuing jurisdiction to modify the interim sealing orders and to control the court's record's in compliance with the law.

Essex Ins. Co. v. Heck, F058139, concerned an insurer's suit for indemnity against a doctor, who had treated the plaintiff in the underlying personal injury action.  In affirming the trial court's grant of the doctor's motion for summary judgment and an order of an award for expert witness costs, the court held that, applying the principle of implied waiver, the insurer's act of entering into a settlement of the three lawsuits without identifying its insured or apportioning the payment is so inconsistent with an intent to enforce its right to subrogation so as to induce a reasonable belief it had relinquished that right.  Also, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding expert witness fees under section 998 as a discretionary cost item.

Chapala Mgmt. Corp. v. Stanton, D055532, concerned a homeowners' petition for writ of supersedeas challenging the trial court's judgment against them for injunctive and declaratory relief and an order to pay attorney's fees and to post a bond or undertaking to stay the collection of the attorney's fee award, arising from a condominium association's suit against the homeowners for replacing two windows in their condominium with "sandtone" colored windows after the association denied their application for those improvements on grounds they were not an approved color.  In granting the petition, the court held that, under section 916(a), the trial court should have granted the stay of execution of the judgment in its entirety. However, the judgment  and postjudgment order awarding attorney fees are affirmed over homeowners' claims of error.

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