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Los Angeles County Bar Association • daily ebriefs • Monday, July 1, 2013
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D A I L Y   C A S E L A W   S U M M A R I E S
The following caselaw summaries are provided as a courtesy to Los Angeles County Bar Association members by the Metropolitan News-Enterprise http://www.metnews.com. Summaries from the past 90 days are archived and searchable on the LACBA Web site at http://www.lacba.org/dailyebriefs.
-Government Law-
California Water Code Sec. 11460 does not require the Bureau of Reclamation to provide Central Valley Project contractors priority water rights, where contracts between local water agencies and bureau contain provisions that specifically address allocation of water during shortage periods.
     Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority v. United States Department of the Interior - filed July 1, 2013
     Cite as 11-17199
     Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0713//11-17199
-Individual Rights-
District court properly denied police officers’ motions for judgment as a matter of law where jury found, by special interrogatory, that the officers used an unreasonable amount of force, and the officers failed to meet the relevant burden necessary to overturn the finding. District court abused its discretion where it reduced the amount of fees awarded to plaintiff’s attorneys without explaining why a 40 percent reduction would be an appropriate remedy. District court abused its discretion by denying post-judgment interest because such an award is mandatory. To the extent the district court denied prejudgment interest because it thought such interest is unavailable for non-economic damages, the district court abused its discretion.
     Barnard v. Theobald - filed July 1, 2013
     Cite as 11-16625
     Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0713//11-16625
Under Alaska state law, an employee’s immunity from tort liability precludes an employer from being held vicariously liable for the employee’s negligence, so where tribal police officer was immune from individual liability for plaintiffs’ tort claims, both under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the tribe’s sovereign immunity, city delegating its law enforcement responsibilities to tribe could not be held vicariously liable for the torts of the officer.
     M.J. v. United States - filed July 1, 2013
     Cite as 11-35625
     Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0713//11-35625

     Perry v. Brown - filed June 28, 2013
     Cite as 1016696o
     Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0713//1016696o
-Criminal Law and Procedure-
Gang enhancement findings had to be vacated where trial court committed prejudicial error by instructing the jury on the elements of the substantive crime of participation in a criminal street gang--Penal Code Sec. 186.22(a)--when they were not charged with that crime, but were charged with the gang enhancement, which is 186.22(b)(1). The error was prejudicial because the instruction might have caused jurors to find the enhancement allegation true based on defendants’ participation in a gang, without finding that the crimes for which they were being tried were gang-related. Vacating of gang enhancements required that firearm enhancements be vacated as well, since misinstruction might have caused jurors to find the enhancement allegation true based on a defendant’s participation in a gang-related crime in which another person possessed a firearm, rather than on that defendant’s personal possession of a firearm. Instruction that each principal in a crime is "equally guilty" of that crime was not error in the absence of evidence that one defendant might have had lesser culpability than the other. Instruction on multiple-murder special circumstance was erroneous to extent it permitted jury to find the allegations true as to a defendant who was not the actual killer without finding that the defendant acted with the intent to kill. Error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt where both victims were killed by multiple shots fired from a moving vehicle, and there was no assertion or evidence from which jury could have reached any conclusion other than that the shooter and any accomplice acted with the intent to kill. Trial court was not required to instruct sua sponte on the implied-malice theory of second-degree murder as a lesser-included offense of first-degree murder, where prosecution’s sole theory was that defendants committed deliberate, premeditated murder, and there was no evidence to support an implied-malice theory.
     People v. Nunez - filed July 1, 2013
     Cite as S091915
     Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0713//S091915
-Criminal Law and Procedure-
Plea agreements do not have the effect of insulating the parties from changes in the law--such as amendments to sex offender registration requirements--that the legislature has intended to apply to them.
     Doe v. Harris - filed July 1, 2013
     Cite as S191948
     Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0713//S191948
-Criminal Law and Procedure-
Trial court abused its discretion by denying motion for post-conviction DNA testing of a water bottle containing fingerprints identified as defendant’s. The sole disputed issue at defendant’s robbery trial was identity, and the only physical evidence tying defendant to the crime was the water bottle, so that a favorable DNA test would cast serious doubt on the validity of the conviction. Identification of defendant by eyewitness at trial, after the witness failed to positively identify him at a lineup, did not constitute sufficient independent evidence to justify denial of the motion.
     Jointer v. Superior Court (People) - filed June 28, 2013, Fourth District, Div. Three
     Cite as G047824
     Full text http://www.metnews.com/sos.cgi?0713//G047824
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