Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lynch v. Cal. Coastal Commission, S221980


Waiver: Forfeiture: Estoppel:



“Waiver means the intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right.” (Bickel v. City of Piedmont (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1040, 1048; see Waller v. Truck Ins. Exchange, Inc. (1995) 11 Cal.4th 1, 31.) Waiver requires an existing right, the waiving party's knowledge of that right, and the party's “actual intention to relinquish the right.” (Bickel, at p. 1053.) “Waiver always rests upon intent.” (City of Ukiah v. Fones (1966) 64 Cal.2d 104, 107.) The intention may be express, based on the waiving party's words, or implied, based on conduct that is “so inconsistent with an intent to enforce the right as to induce a reasonable belief that such right has been relinquished.” (Savaglio v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (2007) 149 Cal.App.4th 588, 598; see Waller, at pp. 31, 33-34.)

Waiver differs from estoppel, which generally requires a showing that a party's words or acts have induced detrimental reliance by the opposing party. (See, e.g., Feduniak v. California Coastal Com. (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 1346, 1359.)

It also differs from the related concept of forfeiture, which results when a party fails to preserve a claim by raising a timely objection. (See In re S.B. (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1287, 1293, fn. 2.)

Although the distinctions between waiver, estoppel, and forfeiture can be significant, the terms are not always used with care. “As we have observed previously, forfeiture results from the failure to invoke a right, while waiver denotes an express relinquishment of a known right; the two are not the same.” (People v. Romero (2008) 44 Cal.4th 386, 411.)

Whether a waiver or forfeiture has occurred is often a factual question, typically reviewed for substantial evidence. (Bickel v. City of Piedmont, supra, 16 Cal.4th at pp. 1052-1053.) “When, however, the facts are undisputed and only one inference may reasonably be drawn, the issue is one of law and the reviewing court is not bound by the trial court's ruling.” (St. Agnes Medical Center v. PacifiCare of California (2003) 31 Cal.4th 1187, 1196.) Moreover, the determination whether a party's actions constitute forfeiture is essentially legal in nature, and thus subject to independent review. (Cf. Evans v. City of San Jose (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1123, 1136 [legal issues concerning administrative exhaustion are reviewed de novo].)



(Cal.S.C., July 6, 2017, Lynch v. Cal. Coastal Commission, S221980).



Waiver : renoncer ou abandonner intentionnellement un droit qui est connu de son titulaire. L'élément intentionnel est d'importance. L'intention peut être expresse, ou implicite, fondée sur une conduite à ce point inconsistante avec une intention de se prévaloir du droit qu'elle laisse raisonnablement penser que le droit est abandonné.

Forfeiture : Quand une partie manque à préserver ses prétentions en omettant de se manifester.


Estoppel : Implique de démontrer que les mots ou les actes d'une partie ont entraîné la prise de dispositions par l'adverse partie préjudiciable à ses intérêts.


(La présente affaire porte sur des oppositions de propriétaires fonciers contre des décisions autorisant des travaux de protection contre l'érosion (les propriétés sont sises en hauteur et en bordure de falaise surplombant l'océan pacifique). Les travaux sont autorisés, mais les décisions sont assorties de conditions, d'où les recours. Après le dépôt des oppositions et en cours de procédure, les propriétaires ont mis en œuvre les travaux. La Cour juge ici que par dite mise en œuvre, les propriétaires ont renoncé à leurs oppositions. Puis sont précisés les moyens de droit à disposition pour construire légalement des systèmes de protection provisoire (ici contre l'érosion), dans l'attente de l'issue de la procédure d'opposition).


Monday, July 3, 2017

P. v. Hopson, S228193


Sixth Amendment (confrontation right): Fourteenth Amendment: Hearsay: Civil-law mode of criminal procedure: Harmless beyond a reasonable doubt:


Defendant R. L. H. was tried on charges that she, along with her boyfriend, J. Thomas, was responsible for the 2011 murder of her housemate, L. B. In her trial testimony, defendant pinned the blame on Thomas, who had since died. In rebuttal, the prosecution introduced a confession Thomas had given to detectives following his arrest, in which he pinned much of the blame on defendant. Defendant argues that the admission of Thomas‘s confession violated her right under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution to confront the witnesses against her. The Court of Appeal rejected the argument, concluding that the claim fails because Thomas‘s confession was presented not to establish the truth of his account, but instead to undermine defendant‘s competing account of their joint crime.

We granted review to consider whether the admission of Thomas‘s confession violated defendant‘s Sixth Amendment confrontation right. Our review is de novo. (People v. Seijas (2005) 36 Cal.4th 291, 304.)

We conclude, contrary to the Court of Appeal, that the jury was in fact asked to consider Thomas‘s confession for its truth and that the admission of the confession thus violated defendant‘s Sixth Amendment right to confront her accusers. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is binding on the states under the Fourteenth Amendment, guarantees the right of a criminal defendant to be confronted with the witnesses against him. (U.S. Const., 6th Amend.; see Pointer v. Texas (1965) 380 U.S. 400, 406.)

The understanding of the clause‘s protections has shifted over time. Although the United States Supreme Court at one time interpreted the clause to bar admission of out-of-court statements that lacked adequate indicia of reliability (Ohio v. Roberts (1980) 448 U.S. 56, 66), the court reconsidered this approach in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (Crawford). Tracing the historical origins of the confrontation right, the court explained that the principal evil at which the Confrontation Clause was directed was the civil-law mode of criminal procedure, and particularly its use of ex parte examinations as evidence against the accused. (Id. at p. 50.) Interpreting the clause with this focus in mind, the court held that the Sixth Amendment bars admission of testimonial statements of a witness who did not appear at trial unless he was unavailable to testify, and the defendant had had a prior opportunity for cross-examination. (Id. at pp. 53–54; accord, Davis v. Washington (2006) 547 U.S. 813, 821.)

It is undisputed that Thomas‘s postarrest confession to police — which defendant had no opportunity to test through cross-examination — qualifies as testimonial within the meaning of Crawford.

Indeed, Crawford itself identified unconfronted accomplice statements to authorities as core testimonial statements that the Confrontation Clause plainly meant to exclude. (Crawford, supra, 541 U.S. at p. 63; see also, e.g., Michigan v. Bryant (2011) 562 U.S. 344, 358.) But in a portion of the opinion central to the case before us, the high court in Crawford also made clear that this rule of exclusion applies only to testimonial hearsay; the confrontation clause does not bar the use of testimonial statements for purposes other than establishing the truth of the matter asserted  that is, for nonhearsay purposes. (Crawford, at p. 60, fn. 9, citing Tennessee v. Street (1985) 471 U.S. 409, 414; see also People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665, 682 [describing the not-for-the-truth limitation on the confrontation right].) The principal question we confront here is whether Thomas‘s un-cross-examined confession was used for such a nonhearsay purpose, or whether it was instead used as evidence against the accused, in violation of defendant‘s Sixth Amendment rights. (Crawford, at p. 50.)

In People v. Sanchez, supra, 63 Cal.4th 665, we examined the development of the high court‘s Crawford jurisprudence and instructed courts addressing the admissibility of out-of-court statements to undertake a two-step analysis. The first step is a traditional hearsay inquiry: Is the statement one made out of court; is it offered to prove the truth of the facts it asserts; and does it fall under a hearsay exception? If a hearsay statement is being offered by the prosecution in a criminal case, and the Crawford limitations of unavailability, as well as cross-examination or forfeiture, are not satisfied, a second analytical step is required. Admission of such a statement violates the right to confrontation if the statement is testimonial hearsay, as the high court defines that term. (Id. at p. 680.) The primary question in this case centers on whether Thomas‘s confession was offered to prove the truth of the facts it asserted, and therefore qualified as testimonial hearsay for purposes of the confrontation clause.

(…) But the second and more fundamental problem with the argument is that the jury was never informed of the limited nonhearsay purpose for which Thomas‘s confession was ostensibly admitted, and, critically, the prosecution did not use Thomas‘s confession for any such limited purpose. The prosecution instead used Thomas‘s confession to establish the role that defendant had played in the murder — that is, for the truth of his out-of-court statements. If the prosecution had intended simply to impeach Thomas‘s credibility — that is, to demonstrate that Thomas was an unreliable witness — it would have sufficed to present his inconsistent statements.

Crawford makes clear that the prosecution may not ask the jury to credit an accomplice‘s out-of-court stationhouse confession shifting or spreading blame to the defendant unless the defendant has had the opportunity to test the accomplice‘s reliability in the crucible of cross-examination. (Crawford, supra, 541 U.S. at p. 61.) In this case, as the Court of Appeal observed, evidentiary rules were very loosely applied . . . and few restrictions were observed by either side, or by the trial court. The end result was that an accomplice‘s confession implicating the defendant was used as substantive evidence of her role in the crime, even though she had no opportunity to test his reliability through cross-examination. This violated defendant‘s right of confrontation.

The Attorney General argues that any violation of defendant‘s Sixth Amendment rights was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. (Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18, 24; see, e.g., People v. Pearson (2013) 56 Cal.4th 393, 463.) The Attorney General argues the evidence of defendant‘s guilt was sufficiently overwhelming that there was no reasonable possibility that the jury verdict could have been affected by the admission of Thomas‘s confession. Defendant, however, points out that Thomas‘s confession was both powerfully incriminating and provided the only direct evidence of defendant‘s role in the murder, which explains why the prosecutor relied on the confession so heavily in his arguments to the jury.

Because the Court of Appeal concluded that defendant‘s constitutional right to confront Thomas had not been violated, it did not address these arguments. We consider it appropriate to remand this matter to the Court of Appeal to permit that court to determine the question in the first instance. (People v. Mendoza (1998) 18 Cal.4th 1114, 1135; see Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.528, subd. (c).)



Secondary sources: McCormick on Evidence (7th ed. 2013) The Hearsay Rule, § 249, p. 189, fn. 2; Witkin, Cal. Evidence (5th ed. 2012) Hearsay, § 38, pp. 831–832; Wigmore on Evidence (Chadbourn ed. 1970) Specific Error (Contradiction), § 1000, pp. 956–958.



(Cal.S.C., July 3, 2017, P. v. Hopson, J. Kruger (concur.: JJ. Chin, Corrigan, Liu, Cuéllar. Diss.: C.J. Cantil-Sakauye, J. Werdegar, S228193).



Droit de l'accusé dans la procédure pénale de confronter les témoins comparant contre lui :

En l'espèce, l'accusée a soutenu en cours de procédure que l'homicide était le fait de son ami, entre-temps décédé.

L'accusation déposa alors dans la procédure une déclaration de l'ami, incriminant l'accusée.

Celle-ci s'opposa au dépôt de dite déclaration, au motif qu'elle portait atteinte à son droit d'interroger à l'audience les témoins déposant contre elle, droit déduit du Sixième Amendement de la Constitution fédérale, lequel s'applique aux Etats en vertu du Quatorzième Amendement.

La cour d'appel a rejeté cet argument, considérant que la déclaration n'avait pas été admise pour permettre au Jury d'apprécier la véracité de son contenu, mais bien pour décrédibiliser la version contraire présentée par l'accusée.

Saisie à son tour, la Cour Suprême de Californie juge, contrairement à la cour d'appel, qu'il a été demandé au Jury de considérer la conformité à la vérité de la déclaration de l'ami de l'accusée, en violation du droit de celle-ci de pouvoir interroger un témoin déposant contre elle.

La jurisprudence de la Cour Suprême fédérale relative aux limites du Sixième Amendement a varié au fil du temps. La Cour considère aujourd'hui que le droit de confronter le témoin adverse a pour but d'éviter l'admission au procès d'éléments contre l'accusé recueillis hors procédure et de se distancer à cet égard des pratiques des juridictions de droit civil. Ainsi, le Sixième Amendement prohibe la production au dossier des dépositions d'un témoin qui ne comparaît pas à l'audience, à moins qu'il ne soit dans l'impossibilité de comparaître et que l'accusé ait eu une opportunité antérieure de le questionner. (Pour être exclues, les dépositions doivent encore être de nature "testimoniale", le sens de ce terme n'étant pas l'objet de la présente espèce).

Par ailleurs, une déposition hors procédure ne pourra être exclue que si elle a nature de "hearsay", soit qu'elle a été donnée pour établir la véracité de son contenu. Il s'agit dès lors en l'espèce de déterminer si la déclaration hors procédure de l'ami décédé a été proposée pour un motif hors la limite de "hearsay" ou s'il a été proposé comme moyen de preuve contre l'accusée, en violation du Sixième Amendement. A cet égard, il est bien possible que la déclaration ait été admise à d'autres fins que celle d'incriminer directement l'accusée. Le problème est que le Jury n'a jamais été informé du but restreint, hors la limite de "hearsay", pour lequel la déclaration avait été admise. En outre, l'accusation n'a pas utilisé la déclaration dans le cadre de ce but restreint, elle l'a utilisée au contraire comme preuve directe de culpabilité.

La jurisprudence Crawford a clairement considéré que l'accusation ne pouvait pas demander au Jury de donner crédit à une déclaration d'un complice, donnée hors audience, par laquelle l'accusé était désigné comme coupable, à moins que ce dernier n'ait eu l'opportunité d'interroger le déclarant à cet égard. Tel n'a pas été le cas en l'espèce.


P. v. Valencia, S223825


Wobblers:



Wobblers are a special class of crimes involving conduct that varies widely in its level of seriousness, and may therefore be chargeable or . . . punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor. (People v. Park (2013) 56 Cal.4th 782, 789; see also People v. Kunkel (1985) 176 Cal.App.3d 46, 51, fn. 3). (cf. fn 2).

(…) In Robert L., 30 Cal.4th 894, we refused to presume that voters were aware of the legal meaning of the term wobbler (p. 34) (…) Although the term wobbler is commonly used by attorneys, judges, and law enforcement personnel who are familiar with criminal law, we observed that the word does not have a meaning defined by statute or commonly understood by the electorate.

(…) Unreasonable to presume that a lay voter would understand or give credit to a term of legal art.



(Cal.S.C., July 3, 2017, P. v. Valencia, S223825).



Le terme "Wobbler", qui réunit des infractions susceptibles d'être qualifiées de felony ou de misdemeanor, n'est pas défini dans la loi. Il n'est pas supposé être connu de l'électorat en cas de votation sur le texte d'une initiative.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

K.R. v. Super. Ct., S231709


Plea agreements: juvenile proceedings: waiver: mandate:



Plea negotiations and agreements are an accepted and integral component of the criminal justice system and essential to the expeditious and fair administration of our courts. Plea agreements benefit that system by promoting speed, economy, and the finality of judgments. (People v. Segura (2008) 44 Cal.4th 921, 929; see People v. Panizzon (1996) 13 Cal.4th 68, 79–80.) The same is true in proceedings involving juvenile offenders. Plea bargaining is a common feature in juvenile delinquency proceedings, just as it is in criminal proceedings in adult court. Similar principles apply in both settings. (In re Ricardo C. (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 688, 698; accord, In re Jermaine B. (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 634, 639 [plea bargaining is an accepted practice in juvenile delinquency proceedings].)

A plea agreement is a tripartite agreement which requires the consent of the defendant, the People and the court. Acceptance of the agreement binds the court and the parties to the agreement. (People v. Feyrer (2010) 48 Cal.4th 426, 436–437.) Although a plea agreement does not divest the court of its inherent sentencing discretion, a judge who has accepted a plea bargain is bound to impose a sentence within the limits of that bargain. (People v. Segura, supra, 44 Cal.4th at p. 931.) Should the court consider the plea bargain to be unacceptable, its remedy is to reject it, not to violate it, directly or indirectly. (See People v. Blount (2009) 175 Cal.App.4th 992, 997.)

A negotiated plea agreement is a form of contract and is interpreted according to general contract principles. (Doe v. Harris (2013) 57 Cal.4th 64, 69.) When enforcing such an agreement, courts will apply general contract principles to give effect to the mutual intention of the parties. (People v. Shelton (2006) 37 Cal.4th 759, 767.) Not all contract terms, however, are expressly stated in a contract. Experience and practice can, in some circumstances, lead courts to recognize the incorporation of implied terms to a contractual agreement. (Retired Employees Assn. of Orange County, Inc. v. County of Orange (2011) 52 Cal.4th 1171, 1178–1179.)

One such implied term of a plea agreement was recognized in People v. Harvey (1979) 25 Cal.3d 754. In Harvey, the defendant complained the trial court improperly sentenced him to the upper term for robbery by relying on the facts underlying a dismissed count to establish a circumstance in aggravation. We agreed. It would be improper and unfair to permit the sentencing court to consider any of the facts underlying the dismissed count three for purposes of aggravating or enhancing defendant‘s sentence. Count three was dismissed in consideration of defendant‘s agreement to plead guilty to counts one and two. Implicit in such a plea bargain, we think, is the understanding (in the absence of any contrary agreement) that defendant will suffer no adverse sentencing consequences by reason of the facts underlying, and solely pertaining to, the dismissed count. (Id., at p. 758.)

We recognized a different implied term for all plea agreements in Arbuckle, 22 Cal.3d 749, holding that a defendant‘s negotiated plea agreement necessarily included an implied term that the same judge who accepted his plea would preside at sentencing (…) Arbuckle reversed and remanded, explaining that he should be sentenced by the same judge who accepted his plea, or if internal court administrative practices render that impossible, then in the alternative defendant should be permitted to withdraw his plea. (Id. at p. 757.) We later applied the Arbuckle rule to a plea before a commissioner in juvenile court, where the parties impliedly stipulated that the judicial officer could act as a temporary judge. (Mark L., 34 Cal.3d 171.) The rule has since been extended to juvenile proceedings generally. (See In re James H. (1985) 165 Cal.App.3d 911, 917; In re Ray O. (1979) 97 Cal.App.3d 136, 139–140 [whenever a juvenile enters a plea bargain before a judge he has the right to be sentenced by that same judge].)

Even after Arbuckle, however, parties to a plea agreement—i.e., the pleading defendant and the prosecuting attorney—remained free to chart a different course by making explicit on the record that the defendant did not care if the same judge pronounced sentence. To do so, the prosecutor need only secure, at the time the plea is accepted, what has come to be known as an Arbuckle waiver. (See People v. Martinez (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1156, 1160).

(…) In sum, because of the plain meaning of the Arbuckle opinion, the contemporaneous understanding of that opinion by the Arbuckle dissenters, the understanding by the intermediate appellate courts and legal commentators in the years immediately following the case, this court‘s citation of Arbuckle with approval in both Mark L., 34 Cal.3d 171, and Rodriguez, 1 Cal.5th 676, and Mark L.‘s failure to question or undermine the basic reasoning of Arbuckle, we reject the appellate court‘s position below that it has been settled law for more than 25 years that an Arbuckle right to be sentenced by the judge who accepted a negotiated plea arises not as a matter of general principle, but only when the specific facts of a given case show that the plea was given in expectation of and in reliance upon sentence being imposed by the same judge. Instead, we adhere to the plain and original understanding of Arbuckle that in every plea in both adult and juvenile court, an implied term is that the judge who accepts the plea will be the judge who pronounces sentence. Should the People wish to allow a different judge to preside at sentencing (or, in juvenile cases, disposition), they should seek to obtain a waiver from the pleading defendant or juvenile.

(…) As a rule, trial courts accepting a plea always retain discretion over sentencing. Should the court later decide not to impose the negotiated sentence, the court can withdraw its prior approval of the bargain and allow the pleading defendant (or juvenile) to withdraw his or her plea.

(…) Conclusion: The judgment of the Court of Appeal denying K.R.‘s petition for writ of mandate is reversed, and the cause remanded with directions to grant the petition.



Secondary sources: Erwin et al., California Criminal Defense Practice (2016) Arraignment and Pleas, chapter 42.44[1], pages 42-154.8(5) to 42-154.9; California Criminal Law: Procedure and Practice (Cont. Ed. Bar 2015) Pronouncing Judgment, section 35.11, page 1028; Levenson, Cal. Criminal Procedure (2002–2003) Plea Bargaining, ¶ 14:17, p. 598; Witkin, Cal. Criminal Procedure (1985 Supp.) Proceedings Before Trial, § 265-O, p. 335 quoting Arbuckle; Seiser & Kumli, Cal. Juvenile Courts Practice and Procedure (1997) Delinquency, § 3.92[1], p. 3–94.



(Cal.S.C., June 29, 2017, K.R. v. Super. Ct., S231709, Diss. Op. by C.J. Cantil-Sakauye, J. Chin and J. Corrigan concur. with the dissent).



Plea agreement en droit pénal des adultes et des mineurs : les mêmes principes s'appliquent dans les deux cas.

Le plea agreement est un accord tripartite, qui lie le prévenu, l'accusation et le tribunal. Si un tel accord est soumis au tribunal et que celui-ci le trouve inacceptable, il devra le rejeter. Il ne pourra s'en distancer s'il l'a accepté (cf. toutefois ci-dessous in fine).

Le plea est négocié, il constitue une forme de contrat et il est interprété selon le droit général des contrats. Le cas échéant, le tribunal peut accepter l'incorporation de termes implicites dans l'accord.

La Cour a reconnu du contenu implicite dans le plea suivant : le prévenu avait plaidé coupable s'agissant des préventions une et deux. De la sorte, la prévention numéro trois avait été abandonnée. Le plea était ainsi entré en force. A la phase de fixation de la peine, le tribunal avait prononcé une aggravation de peine en se fondant sur des faits à la base de la seule prévention numéro trois. La Cour suprême, saisie, jugea que le plea contenait implicitement la notion selon laquelle le condamné ne souffrira nul préjudice des faits à la base de la seule prévention numéro trois (cf. People v. Harvey (1979) 25 Cal.3d 754).

La jurisprudence Arbuckle (22 Cal.3d 749) a en outre précisé que tous les plea agreements contenaient de manière implicite l'exigence que le juge qui a accepté le plea sera le juge qui présidera la phase de la procédure de fixation de la peine. Si les règles internes du tribunal ne permettent pas une telle organisation, l'accusé doit être autorisé à retirer son plea.

L'accusé peut renoncer à son droit à ce que le juge du plea soit le juge du prononcé de la peine. Dite renonciation doit être explicite et contemporaine au plea (Arbuckle waiver).

La présente espèce confirme que tous les plea, en droit pénal des adultes comme des mineurs, contiennent une clause implicite prévoyant l'identité du juge du plea et du juge du prononcé de la peine. Il est inexact de prétendre que cette clause n'est à retenir que si les faits de la cause démontrent que le plea a été conclu en considération de dite identité des deux juges.

Nonobstant ce qui précède, la cour pénale qui accepte un plea conserve ultérieurement son pouvoir d'appréciation de la peine à prononcer. Si la cour décide finalement de ne pas imposer la peine convenue, la cour peut retirer son approbation et permettre à l'accusé de retirer son plea.


Monday, June 26, 2017

P. v. Super. Ct., S232639


Common law v. statute:



(…) The general rule that we do not presume the Legislature intends to abrogate the common law unless it clearly and unequivocally says so. (Reynolds v. Bement (2005) 36 Cal.4th 1075 (Reynolds)). Reynolds, supra, 36 Cal.4th at p. 1086.) The Reynolds rule therefore applies when the common law test of employment would have been appropriate in the same context at common law. But as we explained in S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341, the common law test of employment is not always appropriate beyond the tort context in which it was originally developed. (Id. at pp. 350–351.) Outside of tort, rather than rigidly applying the common law test, we look to the history and fundamental purposes of the statute at issue to determine whether the Legislature intended the test to apply. (Ibid. [declining to apply the common law test in light of the history and purposes of the workers‘ compensation statute at issue]; Martinez v. Combs (2010) 49 Cal.4th 35, 64 [declining to apply the common law test in light of the full historical and statutory context of the statute at issue].) In Reynolds itself, we observed that the plaintiff in that case had not persuaded us that one may infer from the history and purposes of the statute at issue a clear legislative intent to depart . . . from the common law as to the question at issue. (Reynolds, at p. 1087, fn. 8.)

The rule of the common law, that penal statutes are to be strictly construed, has no application to this Code. All its provisions are to be construed according to the fair import of their terms, with a view to effect its objects and to promote justice.



(Cal. S.C., June 26, 2017, P. v. Super. Ct., S232639).



En règle générale, les Tribunaux de l'état de Californie présument que le législatif entend maintenir la Common law quand il légifère, sauf s'il indique clairement et sans équivoque vouloir l'abroger. Les travaux législatifs, l'analyse systématique et l'analyse téléologique sont d'importance.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466


Jurisdiction (personal): Standing: Class action: Res judicata:


The Court held that the defendant had standing to argue that the Kansas court had improperly exercised personal jurisdiction over the claims of the out-of-state class members because that holding materially affected the defendant’s own interests, specifically, the res judicata effect of an adverse judgment. Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, 472 U. S. 797, 803-806 (1985).


(U.S.S.C., June 19, 2017, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466, J. Alito (only J. Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion)).


Un défendeur qui fait face à plusieurs demandeurs, certains hors de l'état du for, est recevable à contester ("standing" – injury in fact, causation, redressability) la compétence de la cour pour connaître des prétentions des demandeurs hors de l'état du for. En effet, reconnaître la compétence pour connaître de ces prétentions est susceptible d'affecter les intérêts du défendeur, découlant en particulier de l'effet de chose jugée d'un jugement qui lui serait défavorable.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466


Specific Jurisdiction: Due Process Clause: Fourteenth Amendment: Fifth Amendment: Federalism:


Reverses and remands 1Cal. 5th 783, 377 P. 3d 874 (S221038, August 29, 2016, Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of San Francisco County).


(…) We granted certiorari to decide whether the California courts’ exercise of jurisdiction in this case violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 580 U. S. ___ (2017).

(California law provides that its courts may exercise jurisdiction “on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution . . . of the United States,” Cal. Civ. Proc. Code Ann. §410.10 (West 2004)).

(…) Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which “limits the power of a state court to render a valid personal judgment against a nonresident defendant,” World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U. S. 286, 291 (1980).

(…) The Due Process Clause, acting as an instrument of interstate federalism.

Our settled principles regarding specific jurisdiction control this case. In order for a court to exercise specific jurisdiction over a claim, there must be an “affiliation between the forum and the underlying controversy, prin­cipally, an activity or an occurrence that takes place in the forum State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S. A. v. Brown, 564 U. S. 915, 919 (2011).

(…) Even regu­larly occurring sales of a product in a State do not justify the exercise of jurisdiction over a claim unrelated to those sales.

(…) What is needed—and what is missing here—is a connection between the forum and the specific claims at issue.

(…) Walden, 571 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8): In that case, Nevada plaintiffs sued an out-of-state defendant for conducting an allegedly unlawful search of the plaintiffs while they were in Georgia preparing to board a plane bound for Nevada. We held that the Nevada courts lacked specific jurisdiction even though the plain­tiffs were Nevada residents and “suffered foreseeable harm in Nevada.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 11). Because the “relevant conduct occurred entirely in Georgia . . . the mere fact that this conduct affected plaintiffs with con­nections to the forum State did not suffice to authorize jurisdiction.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 14).

In today’s case, the connection between the nonresi­dents’ claims and the forum is even weaker. The relevant plaintiffs are not California residents and do not claim to have suffered harm in that State. In addition, as in Wal­den, all the conduct giving rise to the nonresidents’ claims occurred elsewhere. It follows that the California courts cannot claim specific jurisdiction.

(…) (Keeton held that there was jurisdiction in New Hampshire to consider the full measure of the plaintiff ’s claim, but whether she could actually recover out-of-state damages was a merits question governed by New Hampshire libel law).

(Rush v. Savchuk, 444 U. S. 320, 332 (1980); see Walden, 571 U. S., at ___ (slip op, at 8) (“A defendant’s relationship with a . . . third party, standing alone, is an insufficient basis for jurisdiction”)).

(…) In addition, since our decision concerns the due process limits on the exer­cise of specific jurisdiction by a State, we leave open the question whether the Fifth Amendment imposes the same restrictions on the exercise of personal jurisdiction by a federal court. See Omni Capital Int’l, Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff & Co., 484 U. S. 97, 102, n. 5 (1987).


(U.S.S.C., June 19, 2017, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty., Docket 16-466, J. Alito (only J. Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion)).


Notion de "specific jurisdiction", telle que limitée par la Clause "Due Process" du Quatorzième Amendement, en cas de procédure devant le Tribunal d'un état, impliquant plusieurs demandeurs, certains domiciliés hors de l'état du for.

La Cour rappelle sa jurisprudence : un Tribunal est compétent s'il existe un lien entre le for et la prétention déduite en justice, par exemple suite à une activité ou à un événement qui s'est produit dans l'état du for. (En l'espèce, action de classe en Californie contre un fabricant de médicament. Les demandeurs californiens peuvent invoquer un dommage subi en Californie, suite à un achat du produit en Californie. Ces éléments ne peuvent pas être invoqués par les demandeurs domiciliés dans un autre état).

Des ventes régulières dans un état ne suffisent pas à fonder la compétence des Tribunaux de cet état si la prétention n'est pas liée aux ventes.

Dans une décision Walden, des demandeurs domiciliés au Nevada avaient agi devant le Tribunal du Nevada contre un défendeur domicilié en Géorgie. Les prétentions en dommages-intérêts découlaient d'une fouille prétendument illégale subie en Géorgie juste avant d'embarquer un vol à destination du Nevada. La Cour a jugé que les Tribunaux du Nevada n'étaient pas compétents (absence de "specific jurisdiction"), même si les demandeurs étaient résidents du Nevada et même s'ils subissaient un dommage dans cet état. La conduite relevante s'était en effet produite entièrement en Géorgie.

En l'espèce, la connexion entre les prétentions des demandeurs hors de l'état du for et le for lui-même est encore plus ténue que dans Walden. Ces demandeurs ne résident pas en Californie et n'ont pas subi de dommage dans cet état. En outre, comme dans Walden, la conduite à la base des prétentions s'est entièrement déroulée hors de l'état du for. Dès lors, les cours californiennes ne sont pas compétentes au sens de la "specific jurisdiction".

(Si la compétence est admise s'agissant de prétentions de parties demanderesses domiciliées hors de l'état du for, la question de savoir si ces demanderesses peuvent récupérer la totalité de leur préjudice subi hors de cet état est une question qui se juge à la lumière du droit de l'état du for, cf. décision Keeton).

(Les relations du défendeur avec un tiers, domicilié, lui, dans l'état du for, sont insuffisantes à conférer compétence spécifique).

La Cour laisse ouverte la question de savoir si le Cinquième Amendement impose à la compétence d'une cour fédérale les mêmes limites que celles décrites ci-dessus, qui ne concernent que la compétence spécifique des cours d'un état sous l'angle du Quatorzième Amendement.