Past Amicus Advocacy Highlights
When deemed appropriate by LAAC’s Board pursuant to LAAC’s Advocacy Policy, LAAC will become involved in litigation, primarily as amicus curiae. LAAC is always open to hearing from its member programs and interested community members regarding the potential for amicus advocacy.
If you have any questions regarding LAAC’s amicus advocacy or are interested in discussing amicus opportunities, please contact Lorin Kline at email@example.com.
Sai v. United States Postal Service, United States Supreme Court Case No. 14-646
LAAC joined with Western Center on Law and Poverty to file a brief in this case in support of review of the lower court’s decision. In this case, the petition sought review of a decision that applicants for in forma pauperis status under 28 U.S.C. 1915(a) must disclose their private financial information when the documents get publicly filed. While California law is generally favorable, there is a circuit split on whether to include financial information in a fee waiver request.
Estate of Ida McQueen v. Carol Veres Reed, Cal. Supreme Court No. S209376
LAAC is proud to report that we joined with California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, The Impact Fund, The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty in support of Plaintiff and Respondent Estate of Ida McQueen in McQueen v. Reed. The case involved a denial of attorney’s fees that were expended as the plaintiff sought enforcement of the original judgement. Specifically, the case addresses the availability statutorily-mandated fees and costs incurred on appeal where the statutory authority underlying the award is the Elder Abuse Act (Welf. & Inst. Code §15600 et seq.). Here’s an interesting article, which originally appeared in the SANDALL newsletter, explaining why we should be watching this issue closely. You can read a copy of the brief here.
Our brief was accepted and oral argument was held on for May 7, 2014. Richard Pearl, formerly of California Rural Legal Assistance, participated in oral argument on behalf of the amici.
On July 7, 2014 the court agreed with amici and held that statutory appellate fees incurred defending or obtaining reversal of a judgment are not subject to the limitations set out in the Enforcement of Judgments Act. You can read the full opinion here.
Fraley v. Facebook, Case No. 13-16919
In Fraley v. Facebook, one issue before the Ninth Circuit Court is what organizations can and should receive cy pres awards of un-distributed class action settlement funds and how that decision should be made. LAAC joined with many of its member organizations in seeking to file an amicus brief to support the position that legal services organizations are appropriate recipients of cy pres awards, even where the subject matter of their work does not exactly match the subject of the lawsuit.
The brief was filed and accepted in early July, 2014. You can read the brief here.
On January 6, 2016, the Ninth Circuit upheld the settlement in the case in the face of all of the objections raised. Unfortunately our amicus argument that legal services organizations are appropriate recipients of cy pres awards was not recognized. The decision was designated not appropriate for publication and “not precedent.” You can read the opinion here.
Velasquez v. Centrome, Inc., Case No. BC370319
This case addresses the admissibility of immigration status. Here a litigant’s immigration status was admitted during his case regarding the recovery of medical expenses for his workplace injury. LAAC joined with the National Immigration Law Center, the National Employment Law Project, the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, and with some of its other member organizations, as amicus in this brief that argues an individual’s immigration status is not relevant, is prejudicial, and should not be admissible.
The brief was filed and accepted. You can read a copy of the brief here. The California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District reversed the decision and found that the lower court erred when it informed the jury of the litigant’s immigration status. The Court held that immigration status was irrelevant to liability and the potential prejudice was strong. You can read the opinion here.
K.I. v. Wagner, Case No. S219252
The California Appellate Court in this case held that attorneys fees are not available for representation during underlying administrative proceedings challenging the denial of state or local social services that precede superior court litigation. LAAC wrote and filed an amicus letter to the California Supreme Court in support of a petition for review this case regarding the availability of attorneys fees. LAAC supports review of the appellate court’s decision which limited attorneys fees that can be collected and often are collected by its member organizations. The lower court held that attorneys fees are not available for representation during underlying administrative proceedings challenging the denial of state or local social services that come before superior court litigation.
The California Supreme Court accepted our amicus letter. You can read LAAC’s letter here. Unfortunately, the Court denied the Petition for Review.
C.S. v. W.O., Case No. BF036276
In this case the court denied a fee waiver to a low-income litigant because she had borrowed money from family and friends to request a transcript in her case. LAAC has joined with the efforts of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice and other organizations as amicus in support of the availability of fee waivers to low-income litigants.
The brief was accepted in July in the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District and went to oral argument on September 15, 2014. You can read the brief here.
On September 26, 2014 the court agreed with amici and held that because C.S. is a recipient of public benefits, she is statutoirily entitled to a fee waiver (under Government Code Section 68631) and that the trial court did not have discretion to deny that initial request. You can read the full opinion here .
Kim v. De Maria
LAAC has recently joined other legal nonprofits in a collaborative effort to support the publication of a few cases. In the most recent one, Kim v. De Maria, (read decision here) the Appellate Division found that a court clerk could not partially grant and partially deny a proper fee waiver request.
Briefly, what happened was that a tenant has requested waiver of additional fees on his initial fee waiver request. The judge in the UD case found that the tenant had neither paid the $150 jury trial deposit, nor had he requested a waiver of those additional fees. The court clerk had failed to check the “additional fees” box, and the judge did not consider that a request to waive the jury fees. Some court clerks were not allowing requests for waiver of additional fees unless the initial fee request had already been granted. LAAC has heard from attorneys that many of you had to very closely calendar your UD cases because there was such a tiny window in which to ask for waiver of additional fees.
Thankfully, the court found that the initial fee waiver request was sufficient. This will help all attorneys who practice in the fast-paced world of UDs. In an earlier case, Nivo 1 LLC v. Atuenez, which was recently certified for publication, we joined with others in the request for publication of a case involving a renter’s failure to secure renters insurance. The landlord argued that that breach in the rental agreement was grounds for eviction. The Appellate Division found that trial courts should consider whether the breach was substantial. LAAC has been happy to join with our member programs and other nonprofits in our publication advocacy work.
Miles v. Wesley
LAAC joined several legal services and civil rights organizations and several law professors as amicus in Miles v. Wesley, Ninth Circuit Case No. 13-55620. The case dealt with the closure of housing courts in Los Angeles County and has not yet been decided. Read the brief.
Hendelman v. Los Altos Apartments
LAAC has also joined in many amicus efforts for petitions for review. In Hendelman v. Los Altos Apartments, California Supreme Court S213598, our joint amicus letter argued for a reversal of the Court of Appeals’ decision in a habitability case. In brief, the Court had denied class certification for tenants in one complex because not all tenants knew of the defect. Although the California Supreme Court did not accept the case for review, it did order depublication of the opinion.
Munoz v. Silva
LAAC joined several of its members in supporting the publication of the decision in Munoz v. Silva. The case involved an indigent litigant’s right to a jury trial. The decision was published. You can read the comments in support of publication here.
NIVO 1, LLC v. Amiteria Antunez
LAAC joined several nonprofits in supporting the publication of the decision in Nivo 1, LLC v. Amiteria Antunez, which involved the interpretation of a provision of a form lease used widely throughout Southern California. You can read the comments in support of publication here.
Pich v. Lightborne
LAAC wrote an amicus letter to the California Supreme Court in support of review of Pich v. Lightborne. The case addressed the availability of a writ of mandate, and LAAC supported review of a Third Appellate District decision which made these writs unavailable in certain situations even where the agency at issue did not meet its legal duties. You can read LAAC’s letter here.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now v. Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc.
LAAC identified an issue of interest in this case and organized several of its members to join in an amicus effort. The case dealt with organizational standing requirements to sue under California Business & Professions Code Section 17200. Amici argued against a narrowing of standing that would prevent many public interest legal organizations from being able to address unfair business practices. You can read the amicus brief here.