Archive for the ‘California Courts’ Category

Judge Takes Election Fire over Marriage Ruling

November 6, 2006

Brian Leubitz knows he doesn’t have much hope, but nevertheless is making a last-minute push to get William McGuiness voted off San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal.

On his “No on McGuiness” Web site, Leubitz, a non-practicing lawyer and a blogger on, urges voters in the 12 counties served by the First District to reject McGuiness for authoring the Oct. 5 ruling against same-sex marriage.

McGuiness is up for retention.



State Supremes Tune Out Shock Jock’s Petition

October 27, 2006

Former radio shock jock Jason Antebi will have to be satisfied with suing Occidental College and its general counsel for defamation.

On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court refused to review his broader claims that the private college in Los Angeles violated a state law protecting students’ speech rights.

In August, L.A.’s Second District Court of Appeal threw out (.pdf) invasion of privacy and emotional distress claims Antebi had filed against Occidental College, which he attended from the fall of 2000 until the spring of 2004.

Antebi had been a shock jock on the school’s student-run radio station, and routinely mocked people of all persuasions. After three students filed complaints accusing him of making racist and sexist comments, Antebi fired back on-air.

College administrators eventually removed Antebi from the show and officially censured him. General Counsel Sandra Cooper, however, allegedly made the mistake of confronting Antebi in a public hallway in March 2004 and supposedly calling him a racist, sexist, misogynist, anti-Semite homophobe who was “unethical” and “immoral trash.”


Kline’s Strange Route to Gay-Marriage Panel

October 23, 2006

When the First District handed down its ruling in California’s marriage cases a few weeks back, more than a few cynics marveled at the (relative) good fortune of the pro-gay-marriage folks. After all, Justice J. Anthony Kline only wound up hearing the case after two of the justices who normally would have been tapped recused themselves. Then Kline turned out to be the only champion on the panel — and a particularly vociferous one at that — for the notion that the state should be forced to allow same-sex marriage.

Kind of curious ourselves, we put in a few calls to the AOC to find out how Kline got in on the case. Turns out, he wasn’t the first choice for a sub.


City’s Strategy: Settle for a Cheaper Loss

October 20, 2006

Just imagine the outrage San Francisco taxpayers would direct at city leaders if they believed the city handed off a couple hundred thousand dollars to Macy’s Department Stores. There’d be picketing, long rants at the next Board of Supervisors hearing, maybe even calls for impeachment.

Well, Macy’s is likely to get a nice six-figure payment from the city sometime soon, a move that will finally end a long-running dispute over taxes the retailer paid in the late 1990s. Depending on how you read it, that payment is either a slick move by city lawyers to avoid losing millions or a failure to fight for every last dollar.


Judge Defends Google’s Anti-SLAPP Legal Bill

October 11, 2006

When Google appealed a much-reduced award of attorneys fees as too low, it couldn’t have found a more sympathetic ear than Justice Miriam Vogel. Too bad there was only one of her hearing the case.

Google wound up losing its argument 2-1 before the Second District Court of Appeal, which decided today that an L.A. Superior Court judge was within bounds when he awarded Google only $23,000 in fees and costs for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges’ efforts.

But Justice Vogel, who according to her court bio long ago practiced civil litigation and appellate law at L.A.’s Maiden, Rosenbloom, Wintroub, Vogel & Fridkis, went to great lengths to argue that Google should have gotten the $112,289 it asked for. Her 16-page dissent was longer than the majority opinion (.pdf).


Going Hollywood Gets Prosecutor Booted

October 10, 2006

Last week the Second District Court of Appeal made one thing clear to prosecutors: Don’t get your open case mixed up in the entertainment biz. Unless, of course, you want to get kicked off of it.

First the appeal court took Santa Barbara County Deputy DA Joyce Dudley off a rape prosecution, saying the crime novel she’d written and was promoting bore too much resemblance to her real-life case. Then, in another published opinion the same day, the court kicked Ronald Zonen, a prosecutor in the same county, off a capital murder case for cooperating too much with filmmakers.


Gay Marriage Judge Faces November Ballot

October 6, 2006

An overlooked tidbit regarding the First District’s ruling against gay marriage: William McGuiness, author of the majority opinion, is on the ballot for retention this November.

Appellate justices must run for retention every 12 years, meaning they must secure a majority of “yes” votes to stay on the bench. Few issues fuel as much passionate disagreement as gay marriage, and so with yesterday’s ruling, McGuiness just inserted himself in the middle.


Marriage Decision’s Most Infuriating Passages

October 5, 2006

Three passages from Justice William McGuiness’ opinion in In re Marriage Cases [*pdf] guaranteed to infuriate gay rights supporters: 

1)  “While same-sex relationships have undeniably gained greater societal and legal acceptance, the simple fact is that same-sex marriage has never existed before. The novelty of this interest, more than anything else, is what precludes its recognition as a constitutionally protected fundamental right.”

2) “Indeed, because registered domestic partners enjoy nearly all the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, to the extent California has the power to provide them, the quarrel here is largely symbolic, albeit highly significant.” 


Kline Doesn’t Mince Words in Marriage Dissent

October 5, 2006

First District Justice J. Anthony Kline did not get cheated in his dissent today in the same-sex marriage cases. By the end of his 51-page opinion, he had compared his majority colleagues, William McGuiness and Joanne Parrilli, to the U.S. Supreme Court majority in Bowers v. Hardwick, the dissenting (and blatantly racist) dissenting judges in Perez v. Sharp and the Virginia appellate justices in Loving v. Virginia.

Bowers was the 1986 ruling — since overruled — upholding a law criminalizing sodomy. Perez is the California Supreme Court case establishing the right to interracial marriage, and Loving was a case in which the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals had said the state could prevent a mixed-race couple from marrying. The U.S. Supreme Court overruled it.


Majority: Heterosexual-Only Marriage Rational

October 5, 2006

Justice William McGuiness’ majority opinion today upholding opposite-sex only marriages largely followed the path taken by state courts in New York and Washington, concluding that the right to same-sex marriage is not fundamental — and therefore not subject to heightened scrutiny — and that it survives a rational-basis review.

The key issue on whether the right is fundamental is how it is defined. The city of San Francisco had argued on behalf of same-sex couples that it is the right to marry the person of one’s choice. But McGuiness and Justice Joanne Parrilli disagreed.