May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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Quote of the Day - If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life. - James A. Michner
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Finally, Some Sanity In CEQA Land Use Decisions

One of my favorite cities, Carmel-by-the-Sea (isn't that a great name for a city?) decided to sell the Flanders Mansion (a historical mansion it owned) because it was tired of paying the upkeep.  True to California law, it completed an Environmental Impact Report (here known as a Final Environmental Impact Report).  As part of that FEIR, the City determined that it did not need to analyze the low-income housing componet because the mansion was subject to certain land use restrictions that would prevent use as a low-income house.

Think about that one logically.  It's a mansion, not a project

The Flanders Foundation is trying to raise money to buy the house from the City, but they have been unable to reach an agreement with the City.  So, when the City decided to sell the mansion, the Foundation did what everyone in California does when they are trying to stop development:  they filed a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit, challenging the City's failure to analyze the low-income housing component required by EIRs. 

At the trial Court, the Foundation won.  The trial court ruled that since CEQA requires analysis of low-income housing and that component was missing in the FEIR, the City had to redo the FEIR.  That apparently bought the Flanders Foundation time to raise more money to buy the mansion.

As with many trial court wins, that ruling wasn't the final decision.  You can read the Court of Appeal's opinion here.  The Court of Appeal looked at the case and essentially said, "Get real."  Given the multiple historical restrictions on the use of the mansion, it could not be used for low income housing, so what was the sense in forcing the City to review the low-income housing component in the FEIR?

Logic won, and that translates into a valid FEIR, allowing the City to sell the mansion.

Anybody got multiple millions?  I don't know what it's worth, but it is surrounded by parkland and in a beautiful area.  If you won the lotto, you may be in business.

 



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 04, 2012 at 16:30. Comments Closed (0) |

Font Row Seats For The Rose Bowl Parade

The sun is rising oh-slow-slowly on the far East side of Colorado Boulevard with the palm trees silhoutted against the pale blue sky with twiges of light orange.  Behind me the sky is still dark blue and black.  A fire crackles in a rusted-out half drum on the grass, and people are still sleeping on tarps and air mattresses nearby. Some enterprising company has erected stadium-style seats just across the street and the liquor store down the street is pedaling coffee and donuts.  Surprisingly cars are driving up and down the street and carts are pushing horns, blow-up characters and stuffed toys.

The street is littered with silly string, marshmellows and tortillas.

Tortillas. You have to have cruised Colorado Boulevard (not at all related to the Rose parade) as a kid to understand the tortillas and marshmellows.  As it has been explained tome, they were used as "weapons" against other cuisers who had the temerity to roll their car windows down.  Go figure.  It's Pasadena.  Home of the newly wed and nearly dead.

 A quiet plan flys overhead and suddenly the conversation turns to the Stealth figher flyby at 8:00 a.m., hours from now.  The sun is up high enoughthat the neon signs are flickering off, but it's still so dark that it can't read the signs.  Half the street lights are off, half still on. In case you've got your map browser handy, MIPTC is at the corner of Colorado Boulevard and San Marino.

Most of the plastic chairs are empty, still waiting for people.  The nearby Volvo dealership has cleared out its inventory of cars and rented out its lot to big, rock-star recreational vehicles.

I've seen the after-effects of the parade before, but never the parade itself.  For several days afer the parade, they display the floats on certain side streets in Pasadena, and it's really cool to see and touch them up close and personal.  This time, there will be no toching, just looking.  Plus there will be bands and dancers.

Maybe I'lleven be able to see Stephanie Edwards, the -on-the-street reporter for KTLA channel 5.  The other co-host on the TV, Bob Eubanks, will be gushing over the horses in the parade.  A stick of cotton candy just walked by with green and pink spun sugar in plastic bags.  The American RedCross pickup truck drove by. Where's the disaster?  Some 30,000 feet overhead, a jet leaves abright pink contrail in the sky.  People are startingto wake up.  Me?  I've been up since 3:30 a.m. to get ready to drive here.

Parade time is getting closer.  A young man in a white suit on a red scooter with a Rose parade sticker quietly scooted by, followed by a pickup truck towing a horse trailer.

The parade is waking up.  A group of runners ran by, followed by my fiance's shouted question to them: "Why are you running?  There's no one chasing you.  After all, we have a bus system and cars." Humor this early in the morning is lost on me.  I'm still not awake.

That's about it for the on-site report so far.

The rest you already know.  You've seen it on TV. 



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, January 02, 2012 at 05:56. Comments Closed (0) |

Happy New Year!

May your New Year be happy, prosperous and recession-proof!

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, January 01, 2012 at 05:11. Comments Closed (0) |

A Remote Wipe May Strand You Without Data: What Now?

While you're flying back from a business trip to a remote corner of Eastern Europe - where you don't speak the language - imagine this:  your mobile phone boarding pass disappears, and your interpreter just spun his heels and waved goodbye when you reached the security line.  No problem, you say, I'll just call <insert name of airline here> and get the boarding pass sent by email.

Then you check your email, and nothing's there.  Nor are your contacts, calendar or any other information on your cell phone.  It's blank, and so is the stare on your face.

Although you didn't know it, your phone just got (accidently) remotely wiped by your company's IT department.  Wiped.  As in erased.  Gone.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zippo.  Dead in the water.  You are suddenly stuck far, far away from help in an inhospitable place with none of the data that you've become dependent upon to live your life.

Think this secenario isn't possible?  Then ask this woman, whose phone was accidently wiped by her employer while she was on a trip from Silicon Valley to Los Angeles.  I just changed the location of the story to highlight the dangers.

She was surprised that her company was able to erase the data stored on her telephone because she owned the phone, the phone number and paid the bills.  Plus, her company hadn't told her that they had the power to wipe all data from her cell phone.

A quick search turned up no cases where employees have sued their employers over such practices, but you can bet there's one in the wings. 

It's not a hard thing to do.  Check out these easy-to-follow instructions on Microsoft's website.  If you have an iPhone, it's just as easy (provided you clicked on the right settings on your phone before you lost it).  Google claims it has the same feature, although many find it hard to use.  Blackberry does the same thing.

This feature may be new to you, but not to many corporate IT departments.

So, if you own a company and have employees who use cell phones, then you might want to consider a cell phone use policy.  Inc. Magazine offers a few tips to consider.  If you're adventurous, you can use LegalZoom to write one for you.  (In fact, I hope you do.  I get a lot of work from entrepreneurs who try to be lawyers). 

If you haven't thought about these issues, it's about time.  Someone's going to sue as this remote wipe feature is used more and more as people continue to lose their cell phones

But first, backup your cell phone.  Then call me.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 11:09. Comments Closed (0) |

The Fight For Legal Rights Of War Dogs

Lawyer2Lawyer Internet Radio Podcast

War dogs serve bravely alongside the men and women of the U.S. Military.  Their handlers consider them heroes, but the military still classifies military working dogs as equipment.  Up until recently, these canine soldiers were left behind or even euthanized after the fighting stopped.  Please join me and my fellow Lawyer2Lawyer co-host and attorney Robert Ambrogi as we welcome Ron Aiello, the president and co-founder of The United States War Dogs Association, and Carter Dillard, the director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and discuss what laws need to change so that war dogs get the respect that they deserve from the U.S. military.



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 12:06. Comments Closed (0) |

Merry Christmas To All....

And to all a good night.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 17:32. Comments Closed (0) |

Hope on a Holiday Freeway: The Guy on the 405

Driving back from LA on Friday, traffic was stopped: dead stopped.  You know, the kind of stopped you just know will turn you and several thousand of your nearest friends into a 30-second segment on the 6:00 evening news.  While the rest of us watching groan with an at-too-well understanding of your plight.

Traffic started to move slowly on both sides of the freeway, but not in the middle.  Fortunately, I was on one of the the sides that was moving, not too far from the start of the traffic jam.  Within a car length or two, I saw what was going on.

One 6x6x8 piece of lumber lay askance in the middle lane, blocking traffic.  It looked like it had already been run over; a couple of chunks of lumber (the size of 2x4's) were scattered nearby.

Perhaps realizing the futility of his position, the guy driving - ok, well parked - in the middle lane immediately behind the offending tree trunk, was getting out of his car.  

On the 405 freeway.

In Los Angeles.

One of the busiest freeway in the world. 

As he got out of his car, his intent became clear.  That tree trunk was going into the back seat so he could go forward. It became apparent that the lumber was too big for the back seat, so he finagled it forward into the passenger seat.  Good thing for bucket seats.

And all without a weaving California Highway Patrol car to create a traffic stop, we all waited behind him, stopping the rest of the traffic behind us. 

On our own.  Cooperating.  Without talking.

In the hustle and bustle of the season, we took a moment and by stopping, paid our respects to a honorable citizen doing his duty to all of us on the freeway - at great danger to himself.

Once the lumber was in the car and the back door shut, he got back in the driver's seat and drove off.

I have no idea who you were, but my thanks go out to you for reaffirming my faith in California freeway drivers.

Thanks.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 17:03. Comments Closed (0) |

Private Parking Lot Owners Cannot Issue Citations With Fines

Our somewhat new attorney general, Kamala Harris, has give us this Christmas present:  a private parking lot owner can't issue a ticket with a monetary fine.  Even if the private parking lot owner towed your car (something they are allowed to do if the appropriate signs are posted), that owner cannot require you to pay a fine in order to get your car out of hock with the towing company.  If you would like to read the opinion, it should be uploaded here on the Attorney General's website (at the time of this article, Opinion 07-804, filed December 22, 2011, hadn't been uploaded).

Apparently, issuing tickets on private property has become the latest revenue-generating idea.  If police can issue tickets to raise revenue for towns and cities, then .... whoops!  DId I just use my outside voice?  That, along with my other favorite:  "Why aren't the cops out catching real criminals?"  That one always seems to me to miss the point of the ticket. 

But back to our regularly scheduled program:  the parking lot ticket.  If you think about it, the ruling makes a lot of sense.  The California Legislature has already authorized private parking lot owners to tow cars, so if they have that drastic remedy, there is no reason to also "pile on" with more fines. 

And for a bonus round, the Attorney General has also given us this gem:  a parking lot owner can't "boot" a car in the parking lot becuase it constitutes vehicle tampering.  Like the opinion before this one, it is only available on a private search engine, but the citation is:  87 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 114.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, December 23, 2011 at 14:56. Comments Closed (0) |



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