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The Biggest Court Cases of California in the Last Decade

California Court House



The US has received its fair share of big cases, and California Court Law is no exception. A big case is defined as such due to the big number of following, perhaps a big amount of money involved, and the sensitivity of the issue in question. Issues such as abortion tend to divide the public down the middle. One’s stand on abortion depends on various factors such as religion, culture, socialization, and one’s beliefs on what liberty is.

Similarly, issues such as racism are complex and deep rooted. For example, a white person could easily be accused of racism when as a matter of fact, he is not. Similarly, black people have been disenfranchised and have historically been excluded from the economic and social mainstream opportunities. The Tuskegee experiment is a testimony to how deep racism and social injustice can go.

California is a favorable state to live in. The people are generally liberal. People come from all over the US, and all over the world, to try their luck. Hollywood and Los Angeles is a symbol of rising from an ordinary status to a global icon. In addition to that, the state is known for having immense business opportunities in different sectors of the economy. Some such as agriculture and entertainment do particularly well.

With the immense educational, business, and social opportunities, comes the possibility of conflict. Individuals and businesses in California, upon not agreeing on various critical issues, go to court. Now days in Los Angeles you can simply hire a Los Angeles ADR attorney and keep yourself out of court, but that has not always been the case. In other words, going to court signifies the failure of dialogue.

This article will look at the biggest court cases in California in the last decade.

Courts in California

Courts in California

The California Supreme Court is known for being diverse and conscious of different demographic and cultural groups. Variables that define the diversity of the court include political preferences, race, and sexual orientation. The California Supreme Court has been credited for coming up with a significant number of unanimous decisions. This gives the outcomes of such court cases more legitimacy and less controversy.

Besides the Supreme Court, the court case in California is generally strong. An increasing number of people trust the court system in seeking justice and compensation. In short, people who feel aggrieved can fairly seek the intervention of the court.

The Biggest Court Cases of California in the Last Decade

People vs. George Diaz

People v. Diaz

The People v. Diaz was decided on July 30, 2008 by the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 6, CA. The main argument of the court case is on legality, or lack of it thereof, of getting information from phone text messages when a person is arrested.

In the case, a person is arrested and taken to the nearest police station. When the arrested person is being interrogated, an officer reads the text messages from the phone of the arrested person. He finds an incriminating message written 6 4 80 (an informed officer interprets this as the sale of ecstasy).

With that scenario then, there are a number of issues which arise from this particular case, and these include the following:

-Diaz invoked the Fourth Amendment stating that the search and seizure was unreasonable.

-There were feelings that a mobile phone could contain very person information which is of personal nature (and not related to crime)

The argument of the Supreme Court, California, was that the seizure of the mobile phone was not unlawful. The court stated that there were other incidences where a person was arrested, and the objects confiscated in order to preserve evidence. In other words, an arrest could as well allow a search.

California Mortgage Fraud

United States v. Ronald Rodis

Two men from Orange County, California, duped the public by stating that they could modify their mortgage terms, and they did this by posing as a successful and reputable law firm. The two men were Ronald Rodis and Charles Wayne Farris.

By the end of the court case, Ronald Rodis had no option but to surrender his practice license. He had lost any legitimacy any way and with his image tainted, he had not met the minimum standards required for practice. In addition to that, he was sentenced to 41 months in prison. Moreover, Rodis had to pay a restitution amounting to $3.8 million.

Charles Wayne Farris received a 47 months prison sentence and was ordered to pay a restitution amounting to $3.5 million. Farris was working as the Managing Director of the law group. Because Farris is not a lawyer, he had to rely on the credentials of Rodis who was a lawyer, and had a valid license.

The two defendants had set up Rodis Law Group. They had realized many people were struggling with mortgage payments in the year 2008 and 2009. The two offered home owners an opportunity to negotiate their terms of payment in order to ease their burden of payment. Little did they know that they were creating more problems.

Depending on the severity of the case, the defendants would charge a cost in the range of $3,500 and $5,500. In the year 2008 and 2009, many home owners were facing the harsh reality of foreclosure, and they needed urgent assistance in order to save their property.

Rodis made use of radio adverts in order to reach out to as many homeowners as possible. He stated that his law group had experienced attorneys who would help in lowering the interest rates of the home owners and in some cases, lower the principal amount.

The reality on the ground was that they were not in a position to assist the struggling homeowners, and they were just defrauding them. It was just a tele-marketing operation. It was all a lie, all along. It is estimated that by the end of the scheme, 1500 people had fallen victim to their fraud, losing a total of $9 million.

The defendants did not disclose the name of the true owner of the scheme, even after much persistence from the authorities. The mastermind and the true owner of the scheme was Bryan D’Antonio who had previously carried out a medical billing fraud. He received a jail time of 97 months after pleading guilty to the fraud.

California vs. Conrad Murray

California v. Murray

The court cases revolving around celebrities receive a lot of attention. In fact, such celebrities record an increase in sales at that particular time of the court case, and when the case is fresh in the minds of the people. Such court cases are followed, not just in the US, but also globally.

The court cases revolving the fans are compounded by the influence of fans that stand in support of their celebrity. In most cases, such fans wait outside the court case and wait for the outcomes of the proceedings. The fans expect a judgment in the favor of the celebrity and they try to influence the outcomes through sensationalism. Whereas American judges can survive the onslaught of the fans, it is not the same in some countries where judges are threatened.

On June 25. 2009, the world came to a shock when it was reported that Michael Jackson had died. In that night, Michael Jackson was intoxicated with benzodiazepine and propofol. The medics arrived at the scene, treated the celebrity, but he soon died at Ronald Reagan, UCLA Center.

The person of interest in that case was Conrad Murray, his personal doctor. A computer forensic expert from the DEA obtained some evidence from Murray’s iphone. It was found out that Michael Jackson had a lot of trust in Conrad Murray to an extent of trusting him with his life, and could let him make any decision he deemed fit.

Michael Jackson had a very busy life. He was booked for shows, not just in the US, but all over the world. His life was full of rehearsals. Whereas the success in his music career was not in doubt, it took a heavy toll on his personal life. For example, he faced many nights of insomnia.

This is where Conrad Murray came in. He had to make the pop star sleep and get enough rest for the purpose of upcoming engagements. Murray told the court that Michael Jackson had to take drugs in order to sleep, and depended on this as much. In the aftermath of the death of Michael Jackson, Murray was taken to a court in Los Angeles, California.

Murray defended himself by stating that he had made attempts to wean off Michael Jackson from depending on sleeping pills. The jury deliberated for 8 hours. Consequently, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was to serve 4 years in jail. His license in Texas was revoked, and his licenses in Nevada as well as California were suspended. Murray served two years of the four, thereby benefiting from parole. Joseph Jackson, Michael Jackson’s father, filed charges against Murray claiming wrongful death, but would later drop the charges.

Attempts to protect Murray were made by his attorney throughout the proceedings. Whereas the attorney thought of appealing the court verdict, a lot of emphasis was placed in reducing the jail term that Murray was facing, and the attorney succeeded in this.

The death of Michael Jackson continues to elicit a lot of emotions to the present day, with the American and global community torn down the middle. On one hand, there are those who argue that Murray was simply doing his work, and that it is Michael Jackson, himself, who asked for sleep aid. On the other hand, there are those who cry foul over the possibility that Conrad Murray behaved unprofessionally.

Golden State Killer Trial

The Golden State Killer

The investigations started way back in 1970s when California received various complains involving crime. By this time, the crime incidents were attributed to different people. As it is the case anyway, a suspect is going to make a mistake, and his name will start popping up in the list of suspects that authorities prepare and update. The following were the characteristics that define the most likely suspect:

-White male

– 5 ft 10 or thereabout

-Blood type: Type A

-Strong physical agility

-Brutal sex

-Preference for prostitutes

-Hates women

-Probably understands how the law enforcement works

In most cases, serial killers start their crimes at a time when the technology is not overly sophisticated. But by the time they mature in their acts, the technology is advanced. In the case of Joseph DeAngelo, the authorities uploaded a DNA profile, and Joseph DeAngelo was the main suspect. With authorities strongly suspecting him, they collected his DNA sample from a garbage can, and another DNA sample from his door’s handle.

The arrest of Joseph DeAngelo would come in 2018 after years of dodging the authorities. Joseph DeAngelo made a deal with the prosecutors to admit to murders in order to be saved from a death penalty. For his cooperation, he received life in prison instead. The judgement was read by Judge Michael Bowman. In his case, there is no possibility of applying for parole. Joseph DeAngelo apologized to “everyone Ive hurt.”

The case of Judge Michael Bowman is an example of the many cases in the US which involve serial crimes. Such crimes are difficult to manage as they often involve a sociopath. Such individuals have mastered the art of getting away with crime.

Such crimes are described as being performed by people who are without a soul. For example, in the case of Joseph DeAngelo, he blamed an inner person known as Jerry who pushed him to commit the murders. He says that he tried to get him out of his life, without any success. The acts of serial killers gravely affect the lives of individuals, and by extension, their families.


The significance of landmark and big court cases is that they set precedence. The cases that come after often cite such cases. Another significance of the landmark court cases as that the sanctions given as a result of wrong action are an act of deterrence. In other words, future crimes are prevented. Overall, big cases in California offer a research and learning platform of the issues which affect the people of California the most.


What’s the difference between a DWI and a DUI?

driving while drunk


One obvious difference between DWI and DUI is the acronym. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. DUI stands for driving under the influence. In a few states, the terms OUI for operating under the influence or OWI operating while intoxicated are used. But what are other differences between DUI and DWI?

The Threshold

The standard for DUI is set by the state. For example, in the state of Texas, a DUI ticket can only be issued to someone under the age of 21. And it will be issued to any “minor” under 21 who has blood alcohol levels below the legal limit of 0.08 but over 0.02. In zero tolerance states, anyone under 21 with a breathalyzer value over 0.0 can be charged with DUI.

In Dallas, Texas, a DWI refers to someone over 21 who is either driving while clearly impaired or has a blood alcohol level over 0.08, and you would need a Dallas DWI attorney.  First time offenders may even see a driving while intoxicated charge downgraded to DUI so that their lives aren’t ruined. Fortunately, a driving while intoxicated charge cannot be compounded by a DUI offense.

In many states, you can get a ticket for DUI based on symptoms rather than evidence. For example, you could get a DUI ticket if you fail a field sobriety test or were witnessed driving erratically. If you’re just tired or had trouble seeing, a blood test taken shortly after your arrest may exonerate you. Yet you could still be charged with reckless driving.

Note that refusal to take a breathalyzer or blood test can result in suspension of driving privileges. This is especially true in “implied consent” states like California. In California, refusal to take a breath test when ordered will result in a mandatory, twelve month driver’s license suspension.

The Wider Definition

While DWI or driving while intoxicated may include drunk driving, the category was created to allow for the arrest of those who were impaired by something other than alcohol. For example, someone who is driving while high on cannabis could be charged with driving while intoxicated. The impairment could be due to legal or illegal substances. It doesn’t matter to the courts if you’re impaired by prescription painkillers, medical marijuana or too much cold medication. The point is that you were driving while incapable of safely operating the vehicle.

Note that you can be charged with drug offenses if you were found to be impaired due to illegal drugs. That means you could be hit with both DWI and criminal drug possession charges or a related charge. If you’re suspected of being under the influence, police may call in a drug recognition expert or DRE to determine if you are indeed under the influence of something. You’re legally required to cooperate with their additional tests. Test positive for a controlled substance, and you can be charged with DWI and a variety of other charges.

It is almost impossible for police to prove a DWI without physical evidence, and that is one reason why it is generally considered worse than DUI. That’s why a DWI never leaves your driving record, though it may no longer drive up your auto insurance rates after a few years.

Driving while intoxicated

The Penalties

In many states, a DUI is less severe than a DWI. In Texas, the penalties for DUI include a fine of up to five hundred dollars, being ordered to to forty hours of community service, sent to mandatory alcohol awareness classes and suspension of their driver’s license for up to sixty days. However, juveniles under the age of 18 could be charged with both a DUI and given additional penalties for under-aged drunk driving.

Penalties for DWI in Texas include larger fines, suspension of one’s driver’s license for several months, and even prison time. Think six months without driving instead of two. In other states, DUI and DWI penalties are similar. But if you’re both drunk and high, expect additional penalties.

Know that there are aggravating factors that can result in more serious penalties. For example, driving drunk with a child in the car can result in additional penalties. Driving with a blood alcohol level over .15 percent can result in additional penalties. And prior DUI and DWI convictions will result in a harsher sentence. Know that the judge can take DWI and DUI offenses committed in another state into account when sentencing you.

The Long-Term Consequences

Both DUI and DWI result in a number of consequences. You could be ordered to install an ignition interlock device that prevents you from starting the car without going through a breathalyzer test. In both cases, your conviction will increase your auto insurance rates. However, in jurisdictions where DWI is more severe than DWI, your auto insurance rates will skyrocket because of the perceived greater risk you pose as a driver.

If you are in an accident and found to have been DUI or DWI, the accident will be considered your fault. This means your insurance company will not pay for any property damage or medical bills caused by the accident. That is why a car accident caused by driving intoxicated or drunk can wipe you out financially. If you’re in an accident and found guilty of a more severe charge of DWI, your insurance company may simply drive you, especially if it is a repeat offense.

Driving while intoxicated

The Process of Getting Your License Back

In many states, DUI and DWI will result in loss of your driver’s license. A second offense will likely result in jail time and/or probation. Once you complete your sentence and pay your court costs and fines, you can work toward getting your driver’s license back. Expect to attend defensive driving courses. And if you’ve had two offenses or a DWI conviction, you may be forced to attend treatment sessions for your addiction. That’s especially true if you’ve had other drug or alcohol offenses or are under 21. This could be anything from attending AA meetings to being ordered into a residential treatment program.


In general, driving while intoxicated is as bad if not worse than DUI. A driving while intoxicated offense has similar penalties like fines and jail time, but they are generally more severe.