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Judicial Reform States California

California Supreme Court

Pro Government
Total Judgeships: 

7 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 


San Fransisco
The Court has exclusive and direct appellate jurisdiction in all California state death penalty cases, although it has sponsored a state constitutional amendment to allow it to assign death penalty appeals to the California Courts of Appeal. It has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over all cases reviewed by the Courts of Appeal; the latter were created by a 1904 constitutional amendment to relieve the Supreme Court of most of its workload so the Court could then focus on dealing with non-frivolous appeals that involved important issues of law.



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Environmental Concerns Cannot Prevent a Business from Expanding

Thu, 08/07/2014

Tuolumne Jobs & Small Bus. Alliance v. Superior Court: A local Wal-Mart store in the city of Sonora sought to expand its facilities. The City Council did not itself okay the project; it instead circulated a voter initiative to decide whether or not the project should be allowed. The ordinance was adopted. The Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance opposed the Wal-Mart expansion and sought a writ of mandate for supposedly violating the requirement in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that ordinances undergo an environmental review. The Court of Appeals agreed and held that the environmental review should have been conducted.


The California Supreme Court reversed the Appeals Court’s decision and decided that an environmental review was not required for proposed ballot initiatives. The court sustained a private business’s ability to use its property as it sees fit.

Read the full decision here

Stores' Deregulated Concerning On-Site Medical Devices

Mon, 06/23/2014

Michael Verdugo, et al. v. Target Corp.: Plaintiffs filed suit against Target for not having an automated external defibrillator (AED) on site and accessible after Mary Ann Verdugo died having a heart-attack in the store. The lower courts asked the California Supreme Court for guidance on this case to determine whether Target owed a duty of care to its shoppers to have an accessible AED.


The Supreme Court of California ruled that Target does not have a common law duty of care to have an AED on-site. The Supreme Court determined that the obligation of the store to provide health equipment to its patrons in times of medical emergency does not extend to the requirement of this device.

Read the full decision here

Delusional Self-Defense Deemed Not an Excuse in Murder Trial

Fri, 06/06/2014

The People v. Charles Elmore: Elmore, who has a history of severe mental illness, approached and fatally stabbed Ella Suggs, who was completely innocent in the situation. Elmore was charged with first degree murder but appealed his conviction on the grounds that his delusional state of mind led him to believe that he was acting in self-defense.


The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower court by determining that Elmore does not have grounds to argue that he acted in self-defense or blame his delusional state of mind to result in a ruling of unreasonable self-defense. Elmore is not eligible for unreasonable self-defense because he has been deemed to be legally insane.

Read the full decision here

Medi-Cal "Affordable" Drug Price Settings Upheld

Fri, 02/28/2014

Keffeler et al. v. Partnership Healthplan of California: Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program requires that pharmacies set their drug prices to be accessible but competitive enough to provide quality care. A previous court ruling established the precedent that regulators can guarantee access in various ways not associated with price setting thus, a number of pharmacies have filed suit against the Medi-Cal required price rates.


The Supreme Court of California unanimously refused to review the case and thus affirmed the decision of the lower court, that the price setting by Medi-Cal in order to make drugs more accessible does not result in enough damages to pharmacies to warrant compensation.

Read the full decision here


The First District Court of Appeals, in a unanimous ruling, stated that even though the set rates were causing the pharmacies to lose money, it should not matter because the pharmacies are able to settle their reimbursement rates through the Medi-Cal program. In response, the pharmacies appealed to the California Supreme Court arguing that the reimbursement process has caused many pharmacies to go out of business.The choice of the California Supreme Court to refuse to give an opinion on this case extends the injustice that is happening through the continuation of the Medi-Cal program and the poor economic decisions being made to keep it afloat.