California Sues Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law

Law is scheduled to go into effect beginning in 2026

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta and California Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced on Monday the state will be suing the city of Huntington Beach over their recently passed voter ID law, which requires a valid state ID to be presented before voting.

In March, voters in Huntington Beach voted on Measure A, which stated that, beginning in 2026, voter identification would be needed before any election. The measure also came with provisions for more in-person voting locations and to monitor ballot drop-boxes. The measure ultimately passed with 53.4% of the vote. However, both Bonta and Weber vowed to challenge the new law in court, citing that it could potentially disenfranchise many voters, including minorities, the elderly, and younger voters, all of whom may not have a valid ID.

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Speaking from the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles on Monday, both Bonta and Weber announced that state would be suing the city over the measure, saying that a lawsuit had been filed in the Orange County Superior Court. Bonta specifically noted that the measure goes against state voter registration and election integrity laws. He also noted that the suit, the People of California v. The City of Huntington Beach, would address all worries over the current system.

“The photo identification requirement is not only misguided, it is blatantly and flatly illegal,” said Bonta at the press conference. “They have greatly overstated the authority they think they have. They have willfully violated the law, they have brazenly violated the law. They know exactly what they are doing, and they are doing it anyway.

“The right to freely cast your vote is the foundation of our democracy and Huntington Beach’s voter ID policy flies in the face of this principle. State election law already contains robust voter ID requirements with strong protections to prevent voter fraud, while ensuring that every eligible voter can cast their ballot without hardship. Imposing unnecessary obstacles to voter participation disproportionately burdens low-income voters, voters of color, young or elderly voters, and people with disabilities. We’re asking the court to block Huntington Beach’s unlawful step toward suppressing or disenfranchising voters. The California Department of Justice stands ready to defend the voting rights that make our democracy strong.”

Weber added that “This voter ID measure conflicts with state law. Not only is it a solution in search of a problem, laws like these are harmful to California voters, especially low-income, the elderly, people of color, those with disabilities, and young voters.”

Huntington Beach to challenge suit

However, city officials defended the voters decision last month, saying that they would fight against the lawsuit and uphold it in time for the 2026 election.

“The people of Huntington Beach have made their voices clear on this issue,” said Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates. “The people’s decision on the March 5th ballot measures for election integrity is final. To that end, the City will vigorously uphold and defend the will of the people.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Musk trying what may be his most audacious flip-off to regulators yet

Facing NLRB charges, Musk targets agency itself

Few business leaders have taken to heart more than Elon Musk the old lawyer’s saw that if you don’t have the facts or the law on your side at trial, pound the table.

Damian Dovarganes Associated Press

Musk has truculently flouted regulatory standards of all varieties as the guiding spirit of companies such as Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX — keeping factories open despite pandemic shutdown orders, allegedly committing securities fraud by issuing misleading tweets about his investment plans and ignoring government safety recommendations for self-driving automotive technologies.

As I’ve reported, Musk has gotten his way with regulators and municipal officials “through bluster and intimidation.”

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Now he’s trying what may be his most audacious flip-off to regulators yet:

Faced with an accusation by the National Labor Relations Board that SpaceX improperly fired nine employees in 2022, among other illegal acts, the company, which is controlled by Musk, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Texas to declare the NLRB’s action — indeed, the board itself — unconstitutional.

There’s more to it than that, however. The SpaceX lawsuit takes direct aim at the very enforcement structure of the NLRB, through which appointed administrative law judges weigh unfair labor practice charges laid against employers and recommend penalties to be imposed by the board itself.

The company’s argument is that because the judges are largely immune from being fired other than “for good cause,” their role in enforcement deprives accused parties of their constitutional right to trial by jury.

It also asserts that the board’s power to act as judge and jury in employment cases and the members’ immunity from being removed by the president violates the separation of powers principle in the Constitution. In sum, SpaceX claims that it’s being held “subject to unlawful proceedings before an unconstitutionally structured agency.”

More such claims are in the offing from businesses facing regulatory scrutiny. According to a transcript obtained by Bloomberg, grocery chain Trader Joe’s made the same argument at a Jan. 16 NLRB hearing on charges that it engaged in illegal union-busting by retaliating against unionization advocates among its workers.

What are these companies up to? The SpaceX claims are unusual, but they’re not unique in recent regulatory litigation. Similar claims have been brought against the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“This is an effort by a group of lawyers who are foes of the administrative state and the New Deal-era legislation that created the NLRB and the SEC to essentially end enforcement of those statutes,” says Catherine Fisk, an employment and labor law authority at UC Berkeley law school.

Unable to challenge the laws themselves — they’ve been upheld by Supreme Court decisions dating to the 1930s — or the regulations directly, Fisk told me, “they’re arguing that the administrative structure is in some part unconstitutional.”

Before delving into the details of the SpaceX lawsuit, let’s examine the NLRB’s enforcement case. The agency says SpaceX illegally fired the nine workers for circulating an open letter complaining about Musk’s “repeated conduct of issuing inappropriate, disparaging, sexually charged comments on Twitter,” which he owns. The silence of SpaceX management about Musk’s conduct, the letter said, allowed a “culture of sexism, harassment and discrimination” to “pervade … the workplace.”

The NLRB filed a formal complaint against SpaceX on Jan. 3, encompassing not only the firings but charges that it illegally interrogated workers and conducted illegal surveillance of their activities. The agency scheduled a hearing on the charges before an administrative law judge for March 5 in Los Angeles.

The very next day, SpaceX filed its lawsuit.

By some measures, SpaceX’s response to the NLRB charges might be interpreted as overkill. Even if it’s found to have committed all the violations, the consequences are meager. The NLRB can’t levy monetary fines.

It can order back pay and reinstatement for workers who have been wrongly discharged, but those wouldn’t make much of a dent in the finances of a company that was reported to have brought in $8 billion in revenue last year from government and commercial contracts.

Moreover, SpaceX hasn’t yet come before an administrative law judge over the NLRB charges, nor have they been voted on by the full board. Its lawsuit, then, looks like a shot across the NLRB’s bow. The company asks the trial judge in Texas to block the NLRB’s case against it, declare that the NLRB’s structure is unconstitutional, and permanently prohibit the agency from pursuing unfair labor practice charges via administrative law judges.

That points to the conclusion that this case, and others like it, aim to exploit the veer to the right seen throughout the federal judiciary generally and the Supreme Court in particular.

This variety of attack on regulations went out of fashion in the 1930s, Fisk observes. The Supreme Court, which had overturned a sheaf of New Deal initiatives as well as state minimum wage laws, turned back to the middle in the face of rising public disdain and the court-packing scheme of Franklin Roosevelt.

FDR ultimately abandoned his proposal, but after 1936 the court ceased ruling against the New Deal — upholding the National Labor Relations Act, which created the NLRB, in 1937.

“For 85 years, those arguments weren’t made,” Fisk says, “because lawyers knew that they would get nowhere with them — they might even get sanctioned. The Supreme Court signaled that it was up to Congress to design regulatory structures.”

But today’s Supreme Court isn’t your great-grandfather’s Supreme Court. “The Supreme Court has given lawyers reason to think that they might be able to invalidate part or all of these statutes as being unconstitutional.”

As recently as last month, a majority of justices appeared ready to overturn or at least pare back the so-called Chevron doctrine, the nearly 40-year-old principle that courts should defer to agencies’ interpretations of their governing laws as long as those interpretations aren’t plainly unreasonable.

Overturning the doctrine, as industry litigants urged the court to do during oral arguments Jan. 17, could sap regulatory agencies’ ability to base their rule-making on expert advice.

Although Congress could theoretically overcome any regulatory problems created by an adverse court ruling by amending the laws in question, that’s not a good bet given the profound dysfunction reigning these days on Capitol Hill. The industries will have achieved their goals for years into the future.

That brings us to Musk’s litigation strategy. SpaceX filed its lawsuit against the NLRB not in Southern California, where the company is headquartered, or Washington, D.C., where the NLRB maintains its main office, but in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, a judicial outpost on the Mexican border. This reflects the practice of filing anti-government lawsuits in remote federal courtrooms in Texas, where plaintiffs have a good chance of drawing a right-wing judge.

On the face of it, that tactic may have failed in this case, because the Brownsville court has two judges, one of whom was appointed by Donald Trump and the other by Barack Obama, and the SpaceX case was assigned to Rolando Olvera, who was Obama’s appointee.

SpaceX, however, is playing a longer game. Any appeal from the Texas federal court would go to the extremely conservative U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which I’ve described in the past as “the hackiest of hack-ridden federal courts.”

The New Orleans-based appellate court upheld Texas’ malevolent SB 8 antiabortion law in 2022, for example, after which the Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect.

Last year it partly endorsed a ruling by federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas narrowing access to the abortion drug mifepristone. Kacsmaryk’s ruling was based on a tendentious and long-abandoned reading of an antique 1873 law, but that was enough for the issue to come before the Supreme Court, which has the case on its docket this year.

More to the point, the 5th Circuit has implicitly endorsed the practice of challenging regulations by taking aim at the constitutionality of regulatory agencies. It did so in a case targeting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau brought by the payday lending industry, which has long been in the CFPB’s crosshairs.

A 5th Circuit panel composed of three Trump-appointed judges ruled the bureau’s funding mechanism unconstitutional; the government appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on Oct. 3 but hasn’t yet ruled.

The most important 5th Circuit case from the standpoint of SpaceX and Trader Joe’s, and any other businesses that chose to follow in their wake, is Jarkesy vs. SEC.

That case was brought by a hedge fund operator who was hit with $1 million in fines and penalties for fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2013. The 5th Circuit ruled against the SEC in 2022, finding that it was an unconstitutional breach of Jarkesy’s right to trial by jury for an administrative judge at the SEC to have ruled on Jarkesy’s crime and imposed the penalties, even though they were later approved by the commission itself.

The government appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on Nov. 30 but hasn’t issued a decision. SpaceX’s position draws closely from the 5th Circuit’s ruling in Jarkesy, which is cited no fewer than 13 times in SpaceX’s 25-page lawsuit.

The NLRB has called foul on SpaceX’s choice of venue, calling the company’s rationale for filing in Brownsville “less than paper thin.” The allegedly unlawful conduct of SpaceX took place entirely at the company’s headquarters in the Southern California enclave of Hawthorne, and nothing actually happened in Texas. The government has asked Olvera to transfer the case to federal court in Los Angeles, but he hasn’t yet ruled.

Put it all together, and the SpaceX lawsuit bears watching.

Click here to read the full article in LA Times

San Jose’s proposal to allow non-citizens to vote could be in trouble after San Francisco ruling

San Jose is considering whether to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, but the controversial proposal could be in legal jeopardy before it even makes its way to the ballot box.

The idea was proposed earlier this year by council members Magdalena Carrasco and Sylvia Arenas as a way to give a voice to residents who play a critical role in the community but are unable to participate in the democratic process and select their representatives. The move could affect non-citizens such as undocumented immigrants and legal non-citizens who are green card holders or have the right to study or work in the U.S.

More than a dozen cities in the U.S. currently allow non-citizen voting in local elections — most of them in Maryland. But locally, the concept is facing legal challenges.

San Francisco voters approved a measure in 2016 that allowed non-citizens — both undocumented and legal residents — to vote in school board elections if they had a child in the district. But two conservative nonprofits, the United States Justice Foundation and the California Public Policy Foundation, sued the city, arguing it was unconstitutional.

On July 29, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard B. Ulmer, Jr. struck down the law, citing a portion of the California Constitution that says, “A United States citizen 18 years of age and resident in this state may vote.” The city had argued that “may vote” isn’t restrictive — a notion that Ulmer rejected.

Litigation in Oakland has followed suit, with the same groups suing the city to try to keep a similar measure off the November ballot.

San Jose city attorney Nora Frimann said she believes San Francisco intends to file an appeal.

The uncertainty around the legality of non-citizen voting is enough for Mayor Sam Liccardo to want to hit the pause button on the issue.

“There’s going to be a lot of courts weighing in on this over the next year and a half or so,” he said. “It seems to me for us to be spending a lot of time on this issue before we even know whether or not it’s lawful is probably not the best use of our time.”

While no decision was made during a study session of the issue at Tuesday’s San Jose City Council meeting, Carrasco indicated her desire to move forward.

“It’s up to local jurisdictions to decide and create an environment where those who are contributing, who are participating and who want to engage have an opportunity to do so safely and legally,” she said. “And what we’re seeing throughout the country is that there is a real move towards voter suppression of folks who have previously been disengaged, who have previously been disenfranchised and when we have opportunities to truly bring them into the conversation, there’s a sense of threat.”

The proposal garnered an overwhelming amount of support on Tuesday from residents — many from immigrant communities.

Jose Servin, the advocacy director for immigrant rights group SIREN, called it an “opportunity to take a step forward and expand the American imagination.” He said many residents who are barred from voting because of their citizenship status have fought for worker protections, canvassed and helped register individuals to vote despite their own inability to do so.

“We’re not talking about giving anybody a handout,” he said. “I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with some of these people back here, countless members of the undocumented community, DACA recipients like me, TPS holders, people awaiting visas and many other people defined by the legal limbo that they’re stuck in to make our voice heard one way or another.”

Many of those speaking out in opposition argued that voting is a right, not a privilege.

“I believe it devalues the value of citizenship,” said Shane Patrick Connolly, the chair of the Santa Clara County Republican Party. “It was hard-earned by many of our great citizens here in San Jose.”

Allowing non-citizens to vote could be costly to the city of San Jose. The city of New York, which recently had its law struck down by a judge as well, estimated that it would add $4 million to its 2023-2024 fiscal year election costs to have an additional 900,000 non-citizen voters.

City clerk Toni Taber was unable to provide an exact number of how much it would cost but said they would need to factor in ballot design and printing, mailing, staff time, outreach, translations and postage. With an estimated number of possible non-citizen voters of 97,847, that base cost would be $260,274. The city would also need to budget an additional $600,000 to conduct outreach.

San Jose spent $2.2 million on the June 2022 election, but that included shared printing costs with other cities. A non-citizen ballot would have to be printed separately, with the city bearing the full costs.

Councilmember Dev Davis, who was the sole individual who voted against studying the proposal back in January, continued to vehemently oppose the idea on Tuesday.

“We are the most thinly staffed police department of any big city in America,” she said. “We are the most thinly staffed city in all of the United States. I can’t justify spending more than double what we already spend on elections when we don’t have enough police officers to keep everybody safe.”

Click here to read the full article at Mercury News

San Fran Lawsuit Challenges CA Cash Bail System

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

The procedure of charging and posting cash bail has prompted a historic lawsuit out of San Francisco.

Evidence has been mounting for years that the bail system places the poor in an untenable position when they are arrested. As the Economist noted, “around 1,800 San Franciscans every year are detained before their trials because they are poor.” But a new case with unusual details has resulted in a class action suit that strikes at the heart of the practice. “Crystal Patterson didn’t have the cash or assets to post $150,000 bail and get out of jail after her arrest on an assault charge in October,” as the Associated Press recounted. “So Patterson, 39, promised to pay a bail bonds company $15,000 plus interest to put up the $150,000 bail for her, allowing her to go home and care for her ailing grandmother.”

That’s where things took a turn for the absurd. “The day after her release, the district attorney decided not to pursue charges,” the AP observed. “But Patterson still owes the bail bonds company. Criminal justice reformers and lawyers at a nonprofit legal clinic in the District say that is unconstitutionally unfair.”

According to the lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit group Equal Justice Under Law, “the due-process and equal-protection guarantees” contained in the 14th Amendment “have long prohibited imprisoning a person because of the person’s inability to make a monetary payment.”

Bail on trial

“Yet that is just what San Francisco’s bail schedule does,” the Economist added. “Even the city’s former sheriff, Ross Mirkarimi, laments the injustice and inefficiency of its bail policy. Most inmates in its jails have been charged with minor crimes or misdemeanors like public urination or petty larceny and are at scant risk of ducking their trials and compounding their legal woes. Jailing these people before their trials costs the city. It would be cheaper and more humane, he suggests, to use pre-trial services like electronic monitoring to usher defendants back to court.”

The EJUL lawsuit was filed in October. “A judge will decide in next month whether to temporary suspend San Francisco’s bail system until the lawsuit is resolved,” according to the AP. The organization’s attorneys have suggested that the legal argument they have trained on San Francisco would have to apply across California as well if it is accepted in court. “Center lawyer Phil Telfeyan says if a judge strikes down San Francisco’s bail system, similar policies in the state’s 57 other counties will also have to be changed,” the wire reported.

Nationwide concern

As dismaying anecdotes have accumulated, cash bail has begun to encounter organized opposition outside California as well. “When Miguel Padilla landed in jail for driving with a suspended license, his fiancée scrambled to raise $1,000 in bail to get him out of New York City’s Rikers Island. They couldn’t come up with the cash,” as Take Part reported. “So the 35-year-old decided to plead guilty, rather than fight his case, to get back to his three kids as fast as possible. In the five days Padilla spent behind bars, he lost both of his low-wage jobs. After his release, he struggled to find another job — thanks to his new criminal record.”

Years of data has suggested Padilla’s problem is endemic. “In a 2011 report by the city’s Independent Budget Office, 79 percent of pretrial detainees were sent to Rikers because they couldn’t post bail right away,” wrote Maya Schenyar in a 2015 editorial at the New York Times. “Across the United States, most of the people incarcerated in local jails have not been convicted of a crime but are awaiting trial. And most of those are waiting in jail not because of any specific risk they have been deemed to pose, but because they can’t pay their bail.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA: Worst Place For Business, 11th Year In A Row

California’s economic recovery might be a little over stated, at least according to the people who actually create jobs.

Chief Executive Magazine has released its annual Best and Worst States for Business Survey and California ranked last – for the 11th year in a row. In the annual survey, completed by 511 CEOs across the United States, states are measured across three key categories to achieve their overall ranking: taxes and regulations, quality of the workforce and living environment, which includes things like, quality of education, cost of living, affordable housing, social amenities and crime rates.

California again placed 50th on the list, joining New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts at the bottom. Texas remained in the number one slot followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

One CEO was quoted as saying, “the good states ask what they can do for you; the bad states ask what they can get from you.” Another CEO was quoted, “California and Oregon are essentially anti-business, whereas Texas and Tennessee do everything possible comfortable and more successful.”

Litigation and a state’s legal climate are one of the things weighing on the minds of CEOs as they consider states in which to do business and create jobs. California continues to be a “Judicial Hellhole,” and is tepid at best in its willingness to stop lawsuit abuse. Businesses will be discouraged from expanding and creating jobs in a state in which the lawsuit system mainly serves the interests of lawyers rather than ordinary people.

A single abusive lawsuit can cost a business tremendously. California’s leaders need to make this connection and make it a priority to enact meaningful reforms to our lawsuit system.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

xecutive director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

SF Disability Discrimination Case Could Hobble Law Enforcement Nationwide

adaThe Americans with Disabilities Act, passed by Congress in 1990, was the product of good intentions. Its proponents — President George H.W. Bush chief among them — wanted to eliminate arbitrary barriers to the physically disabled. “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” Bush solemnly declared at the legislation’s signing ceremony. The ADA sailed through Congress with little resistance. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with federal do-goodery, those good intentions produced a poorly drafted statute full of vague definitions, ambiguous obligations, and complicated enforcement schemes, made even worse by byzantine enabling regulations and far-fetched judicial interpretations.

Twenty-five years later, the true consequences of the ADA are still unfolding. Hijacked by trial lawyers, government bureaucrats, and activist judges, the noble goals of the ADA have brought instead a host of other absurdities: costly and ubiquitous (and largely unused) curb cuts and ramps in public areas; Braille buttons on drive-through ATMs; alcoholic pilots and truck drivers, deaf lifeguards, and one-legged firefighters; drug-addicted employees who can’t be fired, lest employers “discriminate” against a “protected class”; and serial litigants — some of whom have filed thousands of lawsuits — who make a cottage industry out of fly-specking small businesses’ compliance with arcane and prolix structural requirements for bathrooms and parking lots. Much to the likely chagrin of the ADA’s proponents, the definition of “disabled” is not limited to people in wheelchairs — it includes those suffering from morbid obesity, drug addiction, phobias, allergies, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and dyslexia. Of the estimated 43 million “disabled” Americans protected by the ADA, fewer than 2 percent are in wheelchairs, the vast majority of whom reside in nursing homes.

Employers must “reasonably accommodate” this thicket of disabilities by restructuring job duties, granting leaves, providing technological support, hiring assistants, granting reassignments, making “individualized determinations,” and entering into “interactive dialogues,” all while ignoring “discriminatory customer preferences” and, of course, “traditional stereotypes” (no matter how well-founded). The ADA essentially requires employers to function as social workers and ignore the economic burden unless it constitutes an “undue hardship.” In short, the ADA has short-circuited common sense.

Alas, critics have railed against the asininity — and astronomical compliance costs — of the ADA, to no avail. Despite their most dire predictions about the law’s nonsensical potential those critics had no inkling of the ridiculous extremes that were yet to come, thanks to an inventive ruling of the San Francisco-based U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last year, in Sheehan v. San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit held that the ADA applies to law-enforcement officers, and requires them to “accommodate” armed, violent suspects if they are “mentally ill” (and therefore “disabled”). The case arose from an incident in 2008 involving two female police officers who were responding to a call for assistance by a social worker at a group home for the mentally ill. The social worker had been threatened with a knife by one of the residents under his care, a middle-aged woman with schizophrenia named Teresa Sheehan (whose condition had deteriorated because she refused to take her medication). The social worker wanted to have Sheehan involuntarily committed for 72 hours for evaluation and treatment, and requested that the police transport her to the mental health facility for that purpose. When the officers arrived, Sheehan became violent, grabbed a knife, and threatened to kill the officers. The officers drew their weapons and unsuccessfully attempted to subdue Sheehan with pepper spray. In the course of trying to arrest Sheehan (who was still brandishing the knife), the officers shot her several times. Sheehan survived, and sued the officers (and the City of San Francisco) in federal court for various claims, including violation of the ADA. Sheehan did not dispute that she was armed and violent. She alleged, however, that “the officers should have respected her comfort zone, engaged in non-threatening communications and used the passage of time to defuse the situation.” The federal district judge, Charles Breyer (younger brother of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer), dismissed the case before trial on summary judgment. Sheehan appealed.

The Ninth Circuit ruled, as a matter of first impression, that the ADA applies to all arrests, even those involving violent confrontations, and that a jury should decide whether the officers “reasonably accommodated” the violent, knife-wielding suspect “by employing generally accepted police practices for peaceably resolving a confrontation with a person with mental illness.” The city appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard the case on March 23. The city contends that the ADA should not apply to police conduct when public safety is at risk. According to the FBI, about 400 people are killed each year by police—as justifiable homicides in the exercise of deadly force. Sadly, at least half the people killed by the police have mental health problems of some sort, according to a 2013 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Do we want juries second-guessing hundreds of police encounters each year to determine if armed, violent suspects were mentally ill and if the police “reasonably accommodated” the suspects? Police officers are not psychiatrists. They cannot be expected to diagnose whether a violent suspect is mentally ill or merely mean and aggressive. People who threaten to kill the police are by definition unreasonable and even irrational. Some social scientists believe that all criminals are emotionally disturbed; should this entitle them to special treatment by law enforcement? Hamstringing the police endangers public safety. Split-second decisions made in violent confrontations with armed suspects are not suitable for Monday morning quarterbacking. If the Supreme Court does not reverse the Ninth Circuit’s ludicrous decision in Sheehan v. San Francisco, the errant intentions of the ADA will have succeeded in disabling the police.

AB588 Could Save California Businesses Millions

California needs to make major progress when it comes to preventing abusive lawsuits. The state earned the title of “Judicial Hellhole” again this year, calling attention to the fact that California’s legal climate is out of balance, and things are getting worse each year.

California earned this title because of laws like the Private Attorney General Act of 2004 (PAGA), which allows employees to bring lawsuits directly against their employer for a variety of California Labor Code violations – no matter how trivial. No harm or damages must be shown in order for an employee to sue under PAGA, enabling trial lawyers to file expensive and abusive lawsuits against employers seeking quick settlements over trivial mistakes, such as typos on documents. These abusive lawsuits make California an even more difficult place to own and operate a business.

The current law allows trial lawyers to file multimillion dollar lawsuits over trivial paycheck violations, such as not listing the complete employer’s name and address on pay stubs properly. These minor mistakes have statutory penalties that can go back four years at a cost of $100/$200 per paycheck violation.

A handful of lawyers are currently making a killing finding minor mistakes on an employee’s paycheck stub to file multimillion dollar lawsuits. These lawsuits are not protecting the citizens of California as the law intended. Instead, the law benefits greedy personal injury lawyers who are jeopardizing California’s economy.

For instance, a recent story on KGET-TV in Bakersfield highlighted the case of B and L Casing, a local company that was hit with one of these lawsuits and settled for $1.5 million. The company is now planning to move out of California – taking jobs with it.

Thankfully, California has an opportunity to reverse some of the damage done by PAGA. AB 588 by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove would give businesses a chance to correct a paycheck error within 33 days before getting hit with a lawsuit. Currently, the law does not give businesses a chance to fix insignificant mistakes on their paychecks before getting hit with such penalties.

AB 588 is a reasonable and fair approach that would help stop shakedown PAGA lawsuits against California businesses while still encouraging them to fix issues of minor noncompliance with the California labor board. AB 588 will be heard in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on April 22nd.

Tom Scott is executive director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Sheriffs From Multiple States Sue Colorado Over Marijuana Legalization

On Thursday, a group of sheriffs announced that Colorado is facing yet another suit over its experiment with marijuana legalization.

“Big Marijuana must be feeling the heat, and I’m sure they are lawyering up,” Kevin A. Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said in a statement.

This time, the suit’s been filed in federal court by a group of sheriffs in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska. They want Colorado’s Amendment 64 to be struck down. Medical marijuana will be left untouched, but if the suit is successful, every single recreational shop in Colorado will have to close. Additionally, the sheriffs want protections for marijuana possession and use removed, distinguishing the suit from past attempts. The Colorado sheriffs claim that Amendment 64 has placed them in a precarious situation: In their day-to-day duties, they’re being forced to choose to violate either the Colorado Constitution or the Constitution of the United States.

Amendment 64 stands directly opposed to the Supremacy Clause in the United States Constitution, the sheriffs argue. Justin Smith, a sheriff from Larimer County in Colorado, wondered about the possibility that the crafters of Amendment 64 understood the legal contradiction but decided to mislead voters and forward it to the public, anyway.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is named as a defendant. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has confirmed that she will battle the lawsuit.

“While a growing majority of Americans supports replacing failed prohibition policies with legalization, there will always be some people who desperately try to cling to what’s familiar,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The people of Colorado and other states have spoken, and now these prohibitionists who lost at the ballot box on Election Day are trying to overturn the will of the voters by making a last-ditch attempt in the courts. They are wrong about marijuana policy and they are on the wrong side of history.”

The action follows on the heels of an earlier lawsuit from neighboring states Nebraska and Oklahoma, and in both cases, the legal argument is almost exactly the same: the Supremacy Clause entails that the federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce, so reserves the right to strike down any policy that contradicts federal drug policy. (RELATED: Nebraska And Oklahoma Join Forces To Strike Down Colorado’s Legal Marijuana)

Safe Streets, an organization in Washington, D.C., joined the fray in late February with a slightly different legal approach, namely by going after marijuana industry leaders under federal racketeering laws. These companies, according to Safe Streets, are the operational equivalent of a “commercial drug conspiracy.” (RELATED: Anti-Marijuana Group Wants Legalization Gone, Sues Colorado And Businesses)

“This is just another case of the Arrest and Prosecution industry teaming up with marijuana prohibition groups to roll back the progress that has been made in Colorado,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told TheDCNF. “Marijuana is legal for adults in Colorado, regulation is working, and it’s time for these law enforcement officials need to get over it.”

“We cannot fathom why these guys would prefer marijuana cultivation and sales go back to being completely uncontrolled in Colorado. If they want to maintain a system of marijuana chaos in their states, that’s their choice. But they shouldn’t be trying to drag Colorado down with them.”

While Sabet argues that the current jail sentence for smoking a joint is too heavy-handed, he opposes the Big Marijuana becoming a new of Big Tobacco.

“This is now the latest in a series of lawsuits against legalization, and we support this action because Colorado’s decisions regarding marijuana are not without consequences to neighboring states, and indeed all Americans,” Sabet said. “The legalization of marijuana is not implemented in a vacuum. Dealers and traffickers are openly bragging about how they have been able to smuggle state-sanctioned marijuana out of Colorado.”

But pro-marijuana attorney Adam Scavone argues that these suits are not legally sound.

“It’s another baseless lawsuit, just like the one filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma, that fails Constitutional Law 101,” Scavone told TheDCNF. “Amazingly, the sheriffs and prosecutors recognize and admit in their brief that nothing in federal law requires — or could require — Colorado to march in lockstep with the federal government’s foolish, wasteful, and outdated marijuana policy.”

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

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