February 27, 2012

Summary of February 22, 2012 conference report for civil cases

The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted, (2) review has been denied but one or more justices has voted for review, or (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal.

Review Granted

Grant on Discipline, S197503 – Petition for writ of review Granted – February 22, 2012

This attorney disciplinary proceeding grew out of an attorney’s guilty plea to felony possession of child pornography. The initial disciplinary hearing found that the offense involved moral turpitude and recommended the attorney be disbarred. In its opinion, the State Bar’s Review Department did not follow the hearing’s recommendation of disbarment, finding the State Bar did not carry its burden to show moral turpitude because there was no evidence that the attorney sought out the child pornography, displayed sexual attraction to children, or that the people in the images were actually under 18. Instead, the Review Department issued an opinion suspending the attorney’s license to practice law for three years. The suspension was stayed, and the attorney was given three years of probation. However, during the first two years of the probation period, it was ordered that the attorney will not be allowed to practice law. The Supreme Court granted the State Bar’s petition for writ of review.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)

Jaramillo v. County of Orange, S198559 – Review Denied [Kennard, J. and Baxter, J. voting for review] – February 22, 2012

This was an action by an assistant sheriff, who had been summarily dismissed, against his former employer. The plaintiff sought backpay for violations of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBRA). The question presented was whether the trial court erred by not affording preclusive effect to either the plaintiff’s felony conviction after termination or his waiver of POBRA protections in an employment termination case. The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three, affirmed because the felony conviction was unrelated to his summary termination, and the waivers at issue were ineffective.

Depublished

Gonzalez v. Southern California Gas Company, S199534—Depublished Court of Appeal Opinion—February 22, 2012

This was a wrongful death action brought by parents of a deceased motorist against a natural gas distribution company. The Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division One, held, under the Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Cabral v. Ralphs Grocery Co. (2011) 51 Cal.4th 764, that a natural gas distributor owes no legal duty to a driver killed after driving her car off a street and striking the natural gas distributor’s nearby gas meter assembly. (Full disclosure: Horvitz & Levy LLP was counsel for the natural gas distributor in Gonzalez.)

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