Latest from CEB

In a 5-4 per curiam opinion issued late Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that California’s restrictions on private gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely unconstitutional and should be enjoined, overturning the Ninth Circuit’s finding to the contrary at the end of last month. “This is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise,” the high court’s majority noted in the 6-page opinion. The case arises from a lawsuit brought by a pastor, a congressional candidate, and a group of business owners arguing that California’s restrictions on private…
When was the last time you read your engagement letter line by line, from beginning to end? No, really, when did you do this last? Do you recall the last time you updated your engagement letter? You can answer honestly, because you’re probably reading this in the comfort of your office. Maybe updating your engagement agreement has been at the top of your to-do list for a while. Well, now is as good a time as any. My general advice to clients and friends is to read your template engagement letter from beginning to end, line by line, at least…
The Ninth Circuit held Thursday that the current version of a federal sentencing guideline isn’t the proper legal standard for motions criminal defendants file under the First Step Act, a 2018 law that among other criminal justice reforms expanded prison inmates’ opportunities to have their sentences reduced. The defendant in this case, Patricia Aruda, pled guilty to a drug charge in 2015 and was sentenced to 130 months in prison and five years of supervised release. In June 2020, Aruda filed a motion for compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), which was amended by the First Step Act. She…
It was 2018, and one of Asher Waite-Jones’ clients was making minimum wage working part-time in a warehouse when he was assessed about $2000 in fines and fees for a DUI conviction. To pay those, the client, a young man in his 20s, dropped out of school so he could pick up additional work hours. But not long afterward, he was laid off. The client spent a couple of years looking for other work, but his criminal record made it hard to find steady employment. And when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, his options narrowed even more. When Congress passed the…
With over 200 languages and dialects spoken in California, court interpreters are essential to breaking down the language barriers that inhibit many Californians from accessing our courts. According to the statewide Language Access Plan Report adopted by the Judicial Council of California in 2015, approximately 40% of Californians speak a language that isn’t English at home, and approximately 20% have English language limitations. Given this significant need, the high demand for court interpreters in California family law departments comes as no surprise. But requesting and working with court interpreters in family law proceedings can be tricky, especially if you’re not…
The California Supreme Court unanimously held Monday that a group of workers contracted at a county sanitation district are covered by the state’s prevailing wage law, finding that their work falls within the definition of “public works” under an applicable Labor Code provision. In a separate concurrence, three justices invited the California Legislature to revisit that statute to address its “seeming incongruity.” The case involves a contract between Barrett Business Services Inc. and the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, in which Barrett provided belt sorters to staff two of the district’s warehouse-style sanitation facilities. The belt sorters were under Barrett’s…
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Tuesday named members to an ad hoc working group that will determine which of the practices California courts adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic should remain in place after the pandemic is over. “At the beginning of the pandemic, in what we now call Phase 1, the Judicial Council used emergency powers given to us by the Governor to help court users and our court family to be safe while keeping our doors open, both virtually and physically,” Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement. “Phase 2 of pandemic planning is reflected in…
In a case arising from a wrongful death action related to an automobile collision, the Ninth Circuit on Monday certified to the California Supreme Court a question about how long commercial insurance policies remain in effect under the state’s Motor Carriers of Property Permit Act. Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain phrased the question in the court’s certification order as follows: Under California’s Motor Carriers of Property Permit Act, Cal. Veh. Code §§ 34600 et seq., does a commercial automobile insurance policy continue in full force and effect until the insurer cancels the corresponding Certificate of Insurance on file with the California Department…
In 2020, the California courts of appeal published several cases with useful guidance for litigators claiming or opposing statutory attorney’s fees. In Department of Fair Employment & Hous. v. Cathy’s Creations, Inc. (2020) 54 Cal.App.5th 404, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued a bakery that denied services to a same-sex couple, but lost its suit for injunctive relief. The court held that the prevailing defendant was not entitled to attorney’s fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 because Government Code section 12974, a unilateral fee-shifting statute that provides fees to DFEH only, is the later…
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill expanding paid sick leave protections through Sept. 30 of this year for workers who contract COVID-19 or must care for family members who contract the virus. SB 95, authored by State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), entitles covered employees to up to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework for a reason related to COVID-19. The protections are retroactive to sick leave taken beginning Jan. 1, 2021. “Paid sick leave gives workers the time they need to care for themselves and loved ones…