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New California Criminal Laws in 2018

We’ve already touched on four of them: Recreational pot. A ban-the-box law for employers. An overhauled sex-offender registry beginning in 2021. New rules for picking juries in civil and criminal cases. Here are five more this week, with five more to come next week. Lawyers can advise clients on cannabis. This is Assembly Bill 1159. It amended the Read More

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The New Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Now that Neil Gorsuch has been sworn in, we’ll begin to find out how he wields the law as a member of the highest court in the land. Some say he’s a natural successor to the Justice whose seat he fills, Antonin Scalia. Here is a profile of Mr. Gorsuch that compares his views to those of Mr. Scalia Read More

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Throwing Pitches in a Civil Case

Make that Pitchess with an extra s—as in Pitchess motions. In California, they’re how you ask a court to order the production of a police officer’s personnel file in litigation. We’ve written about them in the context of criminal cases, but the procedure’s the same in civil cases, as a court of appeal recently explained in an employment case. A Read More

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Murder, Manslaughter, or Self-Defense?

True story. One homeless man killed another in a street fight, and they charged him with first-degree murder. He was convicted at trial, but last week, the California Court of Appeal reversed that conviction and sent the case back. Why? The defendant had pleaded self-defense, but the trial court didn’t let him present expert testimony that homeless Read More

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California Supreme Court Revisits the Law of Access to Police Personnel Files

Police officers are human beings who are capable of making mistakes or behaving badly, just like anyone else, and if they testify in a criminal case, their credibility is always at issue, just like any other witness. So what do you do if you believe that an officer previously lied, behaved violently, used excessive force, or otherwise acted in ways that Read More

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A Riff on California Grand Juries

The Grand-Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment applies only to the federal government, not the states, but even so, about half of the states choose to require a grand-jury indictment in order to prosecute a felony case. In other states, like California, prosecutors have the discretion to decide whether to proceed by indictment or by complaint, preliminary hearing, Read More

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Why Are We Punishing This Man?

Here’s a set of facts for you. It appears that an Iowan jury has convicted a 48-year-old man of felony drug charges for growing marijuana that he uses to treat his terminal cancer. It appears the jury was not permitted to hear one word about why the man was growing the marijuana because there was no medical-marijuana law Read More

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