Martinez v. Stratton O’Hara: What you say (to the Court of Appeal) can and will be used against you

By Brian I. Hamblet In Martinez v. Stratton O’Hara et al. decided on February 28, 2019, the California Court of Appeal (Fourth Appellate District) concluded that the “Plaintiff’s attorney committed misconduct on appeal, including manifesting gender bias” in his comments about the trial court judge (which included calling the female judge’s actions “succubustic”) and reported…

The Supremes Strike Again: the Qualified Immunity Iron is Hot

Qualified immunity is a strong affirmative defense for officers and officials in cases where constitutional violations are alleged.  But despite repeated exhortations by the Supreme Court that the analysis about whether a person would be on notice that his/her conduct was unlawful must be highly specific, district courts and even the Ninth Circuit continue to…

Inmate Safety Concerns Put Constitutional Rights to Bed

On January 11, 2019, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the case of Olivier v. Baca, finding that former Sheriff Lee Baca did not violate an inmate’s civil rights when he was detained for three days without a bed due to exigent circumstances. Factual Background Maurice P. Olivier was arrested in July 2006 for burglary. Following his…

How a Government Shutdown Impacts the Federal Courts

One major entity that was affected by the longest-ever government shutdown was the federal court system, where civil rights cases and prisoner petitions make up a substantial part of the docket.  Although federal employees have returned to work, it is possible a shutdown may occur again and once again have an impact on the courts….

How One Prisoner’s Persistence Paid Off: The Tale of Inmate Barry Jameson

Despite the best efforts of the Legislature to limit frivolous prisoner lawsuits by enacting the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), which requires exhaustion of administrative remedies, proof of a physical injury that is more than de minimis in order to recover emotional distress damages, and limits attorney fee recovery to 150% of the verdict, the…

A School Yard Lesson on the Fourth Amendment and Qualified Immunity

On September 10, 2018, in Scott v. County of San Bernardino, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of qualified immunity to a police officer who arrested a group of middle school girls accused of fighting and bullying to “prove a point” and to “teach them a lesson.”  The Court held that because…

No Longer Confidential: An Advanced Look at SB 1421

Commencing January 1, 2019, California law regarding the confidentiality of certain police records will undergo a significant change.  Records of officer-involved shootings and certain uses of force will become accessible to the general public, as will records relating to sustained findings of dishonesty or sexual assault by a police officer. Earlier this month, we presented…

More Than Just Body Camera Footage: An Advanced Look at AB 748

On July 1, 2019, video and audio relating to critical police incidents, which are defined as officer-involved shootings and certain uses of force, will no longer be confidential under California law.  In our October 2018 webinar on AB 748 and SB 1421 issues, we discussed the basics of AB 748 and how it will impact…