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State courts to hear cases in King Hall

9.21.2012

By Dave Jones

Photo: 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in the Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom. Milan D. Smith Jr., William A. Fletcher and George H. Wu.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the first federal or state appellate court to use King Halls Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom. Pictured in March 2011 are, from left, Milan D. Smith Jr., William A. Fletcher and George H. Wu. (Bob Durell/UC Davis)

EARLIER COVERAGE

“Law school hosts 9th circuit court for six hearings,” Dateline UC Davis (March 11, 2011)

Photo slide show from the 9th circuit court session

UC Davis School of Law celebrates $30 million expansion, news release (Sept. 3, 2010)

“King Hall receives $1 million gift for new courtroom,” Dateline UC Davis (Feb. 23, 2009)

King Hall expansion and renovation (video)

It was built for students, of course, but, as the name implies, the School of Law’s 2-year-old Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom is perfectly suited for actual appellate proceedings.

Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals became the first appellate panel to use the courtroom, and next week and the week after a state appellate court and the state Supreme Court will use it, too, both for the first time.

Built as part of a $30 million King Hall expansion, the courtroom “greatly enhances the student learning experience at the School of Law,” Dean Kevin R. Johnson said.

“The addition of this state-of-the-art facility provides students the wonderful educational experience of hearing oral arguments in real-life cases before federal and state court judges, as well as an opportunity to interact with the judges and justices in question-and-answer sessions.”

Not to mention the pride that comes in seeing UC Davis alumni return to their alma mater as judges. One of them, Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye B.A. ’80, J.D. ’84, is chief justice of the Supreme Court, which will hear three cases in the Kalmanovitz courtroom.

The state’s 3rd District Court of Appeal is sending a three-judge panel to hear two cases. Two of the assigned judges are UC Davis alumni: Kathleen Butz B.A. ’72, J.D. ’81; and Louis Mauro J.D. ’87. The third member of the panel is Vance Raye, presiding justice of the 3rd District appeals court.

Law students are expected to comprise a good part of the spectator seating for the state courts, but the proceedings are open to the public as well — provided there is room. The law school will provide overflow seating in King Hall where people can watch the court sessions via closed-circuit television. 

3rd District Court of Appeal

The court, which covers 23 counties stretching north from San Joaquin, Calaveras and Alpine counties, to the Oregon border, ordinarily hears oral arguments at court headquarters in Sacramento.

The law school announced the following schedule for the court's Sept. 24 "field trip" to the Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom: doors open 8:30 a.m.; first case, 9:30 to 10; second case 10 to 10:30; and question-and-answer session with the audience, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Case No. 1: People v. Joanna Lorraine Peterson, Shasta County — In which Peterson is appealing a Superior Court decision that nullified her plea agreement in a murder case for not being completely truthful in testifying against her co-defendant, even though he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

Peterson originally received a sentence of 15 years to life in return for a guilty plea to second-degree murder. After the court threw out her plea agreement, she negotiated a new one that gave her 15 years to life for second-degree murder and two years for second-degree robbery.

• Case No. 2: Albert Garland v. Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Butte County ­— In which Garland and Tehama Market Associates are appealing the basis for a $250,000 fine for the discharge of sediment-laden storm water (from land in the process of being developed) into “ephemeral drainages and ditches.”

The appellants assert that the water board relied on a “flawed understanding” of the reach of the federal government’s Clean Water Act — with the appellants saying it covers only “navigable” waters. The water board, however, declared the ephemeral drainages to be “waters of the United States” in that they eventually discharge into a navigable waterway.

California Supreme Court

The law school announced that doors will open at 9 a.m., and introductions and welcoming remarks will begin at 10.

A question-and-answer session is scheduled from 10:20 to 10:40, followed by the morning calendar (Case No. 1) at 10:40 a.m.

The justices have a private conference at 11:40 and lunch at noon, followed by the afternoon calendar (Case Nos. 2 and 3) at 1:10 p.m.

Court adjourns at 3:15 p.m., and a reception follows in the King Hall courtyard.

Case No. 1: Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 8 — In which the union is appealing an injunction that barred picketing on the sidewalk in front of the nonunion, Ralphs-owned Foods Co. store in Sacramento’s College Square shopping center.

Sacramento County Superior Court had denied the injunction, declaring that the sidewalk qualified as a “public forum.” The 3rd District Court of Appeal approved the injunction, saying a private sidewalk is not a place where the public is invited to congregate and socialize.

The case also raises the question of whether state law violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantee by giving speech about labor disputes more protection than speech about other topics.

Case No. 2: Nalwa (Smriti) v. Cedar Fair L.P.  — In which the amusement park company Cedar Fair is appealing a decision that allows Nalwa to sue for a broken wrist suffered in a bumper car accident.

Santa Clara County Superior Court had rejected the lawsuit, under the doctrine known as the primary assumption of the risk; i.e., Nalwa assumed the risk when she got on the ride. The 6th District Court of Appeal reversed, saying the doctrine did not apply to amusement park rides.

Nalwa’s appellate filing states the case squarely presents an issue that has been troubling the California courts for years: Whether the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk applies only to active sports, or whether it applies more broadly to a variety of activities that present inherent risks to the participants.

Case No. 3: Sargon Enterprises Inc. v. University of Southern California et al. — This case arises from a contract under which USC agreed to do clinical testing of a dental implant from Sargon. The company successfully sued for breach of contract and won a $433,000 verdict.

But Sargon believes the amount should be higher, based on an expert witness who claims the company would have earned from $200 million to more than a $1 billion, if not for the broken contract.

The problem is, the trial court barred this witness’s testimony, finding it impermissibly speculative.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed, declaring that the jury should have been allowed to assess the testimony.

The Supreme Court granted review to determine under what circumstances, if any, a trial court may exclude expert testimony regarding lost profits, and whether the trial court properly did so in this case.

IF YOU'RE GOING ...

Each court has its own rules (Court of Appeal and Supreme Court). Here they are, combined:

  • Security screening will be in effect. No weapons or other dangerous or illegal items are allowed in the courtroom.
  • Appropriate attire is required. For spectators, that means business or casual business attire, such as slacks-khakis and modest skirts, with long- or short-sleeved shirts or blouses, or polo-golf shirts.
  • The following articles of clothing or attire are not permitted: T-shirts with slogans or pictures, shorts, tank tops, hats, caps and sunglasses. Please do not display political buttons.
  • No hats are to be worn in court; please remove them before entering the courtroom.
  • No electronic devices of any kind are allowed in the courtroom. These items include but are not limited to cell phones, laptop computers and cameras, even remote-control car door openers.
  • Please refrain from bringing books, newspapers, magazines, backpacks and briefcases (unless you are an attorney with a case before the court).
  • Please remember to give full attention to the bench, as these are actual court sessions. Out of respect for the courts and counsel, please keep movement in and out of the courtroom to a minimum, and refrain from any conversations during oral arguments.
  • Entry and exit will be prohibited during the actual hearings.

Reach Dateline UC Davis Editor Dave Jones at (530) 752-6556 or dljones@ucdavis.edu.

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