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Decisions in Juvenile Law, Criminal, Probate, Banking Law, and Anti-SLAPP Matters

By FindLaw Staff on September 17, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

V.C. v. Superior Court, H035602, concerned a father's petition for a writ of mandate challenging the juvenile court's order terminating reunification services for him and setting the matter for a permanency planning hearing.  In denying the petition, the court held that substantial evidence supports the juvenile court's finding that the father failed to make substantive progress in court-ordered treatment programs for substance abuse, and there was no substantial probability that the child could be returned to the father within six months.


Strong v. Sutter County Bd. of Supervisors, C063116, involved a county assessor's ex parte proceeding, seeking an order directing that the county engage a particular attorney as independent counsel for him in lieu of representation from the county counsel, in connection with his challenge to the county board of supervisors' decision to settle a refund claim.  In reversing the judgment of the trial court, the court held that the trial court erred because under the plain language of section 31000.6, the court has no authority to do anything other than determine whether a conflict of interest exists and determine whether an ethical wall can be created to remedy the conflict.  Further, to the extent the court found the assessor was acting within the performance of his duties and ordered the board to select and employee independent counsel for the assessor, the court acted beyond its limited authority in the ex parte proceeding before it.

People v. Lopez, E048655, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant of various crimes for threatening his daughter's mother with potato peeler and scissors.  In affirming the convictions, the court held that the trial court's imposition of a $30 assessment is not punitive and was properly imposed by the court.  However, the abstract of judgment and minute order is to be corrected to show the court ordered defendant to pay $30 assessment for each of his three convictions, making the total assessment $90.

Mallard v. Progressive Choice Ins. Co., G042527, concerned a challenge to the trial court's grant of an attorney's anti-SLAPP motion in dismissing the entire suit, in plaintiff's suit against an insurer and its attorney for invasion of privacy and abuse of process, based on defendants' conduct of seeking discovery of plaintiff's mental health records by subpoenaing third party health care providers in preparation of insurer's defense against plaintiff's uninsured motorist claim.

The court affirmed in part as trial court did not err in granting the anti-SLAPP motion as the defendant-attorney carried his burden of demonstrating the acts underlying the complaint arose from protected activity within the meaning of section 425.16(b)(1), and plaintiff did not carry her burden of establishing the probability she would prevail on the complaint.  However, the court reversed in part as the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiff's claims against the insurer, solely based on the attorney's successful anti-SLAPP motion.  Lastly, the court held that plaintiff has failed to show that the trial court abused its discretion in granting attorney's motion for attorney fees.

Gabriel v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., A125297, involved a plaintiff's suit against Wells Fargo, claiming that it failed to pay her the money in her deceased husband's accounts, and the plaintiff's attorney's qui tam action on behalf of the State of California, claiming that the bank violated the False Claims Act by failing to report the existence of the allegedly unpaid finds that should have been escheated to the state.  In affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the bank in both suits, the court held that Wells Fargo's evidence that no money remained in the accounts shifted to plaintiff the burden of presenting evidence sufficient to create a triable issue as to nonpayment, and her possession of the receipt and her testimony were insufficient to do so.  Further, the trial court properly dismissed the qui tam action because the adverse determination of plaintiff's action conclusively establishes that the attorney cannot prevail.

Austin v. Simpson, F058119, concerned a challenge to the probate court's conclusion that certain gifts given by the decedent to his former wife's daughter were valid.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that substantial evidence supports the trial court's conclusion that the transferee did not become decedent's care custodian as a result of the limited services she performed for him while he was not in a nursing home.  Further, the petitioner failed to carry her burden of proving the transferee was disqualified transferee as defined in section 21350(a)(6).

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