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Investco and its promoters sold LLC memberships to the public. The Department of Business Oversight (DBO) believed those interests constituted “securities” but were sold without Department of Corporations qualification. Prospective investors were told that specific property would be purchased at a favorable price. The 443 investors ($22,725,000) were not told that other LLCs had purchased that property weeks earlier for a substantially lower price for sale to the Investco LLC, profiting Investco and the promoters. DBO filed a civil action. Under a confidential settlement agreement, a special master was appointed to oversee the sale of the properties. DBO sent notices to investors, including Respondents. Respondents filed civil actions; defendants moved to amend the interlocutory judgment to stay actions against them arising out of the settlement's subject matter. DBO joined the defendants’ objections, arguing that the suits would cause “bargain” sales to the detriment of other investors. Respondents filed a “special appearance,” opposing the motion to modify, arguing that they were involuntarily bound by the settlement. The court stayed Respondents’ actions as to the LLCs, but allowed suits against Investco and the promoters, and expanded the duties of the special master. The court of appeal affirmed an award of attorney fees against Investco and DBO. Respondents were successful parties; enforced an important right affecting the public and fraud victims; and provided necessary, non-duplicative, significant benefits, while incurring litigation expenses out of proportion to their personal interests. View "People v. Investco Management & Development LLC" on Justia Law

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In 1995, Raniere assigned all rights in the five patents to GTI. Raniere is not listed on GTI’s incorporation documents as an officer, director, or shareholder. GTI dissolved in 1996. In 2014, Raniere executed a document on behalf of GTI, as its “sole owner,” purportedly transferring the patents to himself. Raniere subsequently sued Microsoft and AT&T for infringement, identifying himself as the patents’ owner. Microsoft moved to dismiss for lack of standing, noting that the PTO’s records indicated that Raniere did not own the patents. Raniere produced documents that, according to the court, failed to indicate that Raniere had an ownership interest in GTI at any time or had the right to assign the patents. Raniere obtained documents from an attorney, showing the GTI shareholders’ consent to a transfer of shares from Raniere’s ex-girlfriend (75% owner of GTI) to Raniere. The documents did not indicate that any transfer was completed and did not establish that Raniere owned the patents. The district court held a hearing, found that Raniere’s testimony contradicted Raniere’s earlier representation that the shares had already been transferred and was “wholly incredible and untruthful,” concluded that Raniere was unlikely to be able to cure the standing defect, dismissed the case, and found that Raniere’s conduct demonstrated “a clear history of delay and contumacious conduct.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal and a subsequent award of prevailing parties attorney fees and costs, 35 U.S.C. 285. View "Raniere v. Microsoft Corp." on Justia Law

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Shapira sued his former employer, Lifetech, for breach of an employment contract. The parties presented their evidence at a bench trial and rested. Before Shapira submitted his closing argument brief, he requested that the court dismiss the case under Code of Civil Procedure, section 581(e), which provides, “After the actual commencement of trial, the court shall dismiss the complaint . . . with prejudice, if the plaintiff requests a dismissal.” The court denied Shapira’s request. After the parties filed their closing argument briefs, the court entered a judgment in Lifetech’s favor, held that Lifetech was the prevailing party under Civil Code section 1717, and awarded Lifetech costs and $137,000 in attorney fees. Shapira appealed the attorney fees award. The court of appeal reversed. The court should have dismissed the case under section 581(e), so the award of attorney fees was erroneous under Civil Code section 1717(b)(2), which states, “Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed or dismissed pursuant to a settlement of the case, there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section.” Section 581(e) provides a right to dismiss a case before the completion of trial. View "Shapira v. Lifetech Resources" on Justia Law

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Former Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio was referred for criminal contempt in August 2016. The government obtained a conviction on July 31, 2017. On August 25, 2017, the President pardoned Arpaio, noting that Arpaio’s sentencing was “set for October 5, 2017.” On August 28, 2017, Arpaio moved “to dismiss this matter with prejudice” and asked the district court “to vacate the verdict and all other orders” plus the sentencing. On October 4, the district court dismissed with prejudice the action for criminal contempt. No timely notice of appeal order was filed. The Ninth Circuit denied a late-filed request for the appointment of counsel to “cross-appeal” the dismissal. The district court denied Arpaio’s second request and refused to grant “relief beyond dismissal with prejudice.” Arpaio filed a timely notice of appeal. In response to a request for the appointment of counsel to defend the order denying Arpaio’s request for vacatur, the government stated that it “does not intend to defend the district court’s order” and intends to argue, as it did in the district court, that the motion to vacate should have been granted. The Ninth Circuit appointed a special prosecutor to file briefs and present oral argument on the merits. View "United States v. Arpaio" on Justia Law

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In 2012, a Pasadena officer shot and killed an unarmed man, resulting in multiple investigations, including by the Office of Independent Review Group (OIR). The Los Angeles Times made requests under the California Public Records Act (PRA), Gov. Code, 6250, seeking disclosure of the OIR’s 2014 report. Officers sought to enjoin the report’s disclosure. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of the officers' petition in 2015, finding that the report is a public document, and remanded for issuance of a new or modified judgment. The Times then sought attorney fees from the city under the PRA and from the two involved police officers and the Pasadena Police Officers Association, under the private attorney general statute (Code Civ. Proc., 1021.5). The trial court awarded the Times limited fees against the city and declined to award the Times any fees under section 1021.5. The court of appeal affirmed the award of limited fees under the PRA but reversed the order awarding no fees under the private attorney general statute, directing the trial court to award the Times reasonable fees against the officers and/or the Pasadena Police Officers Association. View "Pasadena Police Officers Association v. City of Pasadena" on Justia Law

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Birts was charged with several counts of felony domestic violence, with special allegations for use of a deadly weapon, serious felony enhancements, prior strikes and prison priors. Shortly after the trial judge, Buchwald ruled on several pretrial motions, the District Attorney successfully moved to dismiss the case for insufficient evidence. The following day, the case was refiled under a new case number. The prosecutor stated that “[t]he dismissal was based on in limine rulings that were made excluding certain evidence. The refiled case was assigned to Buchwald. The District Attorney successfully moved to disqualify him under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6. The court of appeal vacated, finding that the District Attorney’s peremptory challenge in the refiled case was untimely because the second action was a mere continuation of the first. View "Birts v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Appellant sought review of the district court’s post-judgment orders denying his various post-judgment motions, including motions for disqualification of the district judge, to void judgment, and for declaratory relief. The appeal of the district court’s orders was wholly without merit, and sought review of multiple district court orders over which the Ninth Circuit lacked jurisdiction. Moreover, the Ninth Circuit noted the underlying district court action and burdensome post-judgment motions were part of appellant’s ongoing efforts to alter or amend a bankruptcy court order entered on October 2, 1984, dismissing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. The motions panel filed a per curiam opinion granting in part and denying in part appellees’ motion for an award of sanctions against appellant following the panel’s partial dismissal of the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and partial summary affirmance of the district court’s post-judgment orders in a bankruptcy case. The motions panel held that the motion for sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 38 was timely because it was filed within the time limits for filing a request for attorneys’ fees under 9th Cir. R. 39-1.6(a). Granting the sanctions motion in part, the panel awarded appellees attorney’s fees under Rule 38 for defending the appeal, which it concluded was frivolous. The motions panel denied in part the sanctions motion with respect to appellees’ request for sanctions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1927. The Ninth Circuit found appellees filed the motion for sanctions on October 26, 2017, within the time prescribed by Ninth Circuit Rule 39-1.6. See 9th Cir. R. 39-1.6(a). The Court exercised its discretion and granted in part appellees' sanctions motion under Rule 38 for defending this appeal; the motion remained denied pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1927 (sanctions for filings which unreasonably and vexatiously multiply the proceedings). View "Westwood Plaza North v. Bodnar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court ordered that Respondent William Henry Shipley, a deputy commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, be publicly reprimanded for violations of Canons 1 and 2A of the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct and for conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-376. The Judicial Standards Commission recommended that Respondent be publicly reprimanded for engaging in conduct inappropriate to his office by wrecking his vehicle while driving under the influence of an impairing substance. The Supreme Court held (1) the Commission’s findings of fact were supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence in the record and supported the Commission’s conclusions of law; and (2) based upon these findings and conclusions and the Commission’s recommendation, Respondent should be publicly reprimanded. View "In re Inquiry Concerning a Deputy Commissioner, William Henry Shipley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court ordered that Respondent William Henry Shipley, a deputy commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, be publicly reprimanded for violations of Canons 1 and 2A of the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct and for conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-376. The Judicial Standards Commission recommended that Respondent be publicly reprimanded for engaging in conduct inappropriate to his office by wrecking his vehicle while driving under the influence of an impairing substance. The Supreme Court held (1) the Commission’s findings of fact were supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence in the record and supported the Commission’s conclusions of law; and (2) based upon these findings and conclusions and the Commission’s recommendation, Respondent should be publicly reprimanded. View "In re Inquiry Concerning a Deputy Commissioner, William Henry Shipley" on Justia Law

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This case concerned a recent law school graduate's application to sit for the Washington State Bar Examination. Tarra Denelle Simmons had a history involving long-term substance abuse, multiple criminal convictions, and two bankruptcies. However, in the approximately five and a half years preceding her application to sit for the bar exam, Simmons successfully engaged in treatment for her substance abuse and childhood trauma. She maintained her sobriety since September 2011 and was not accused of any criminal or unethical behavior since then. The Washington Supreme Court found Simmons was entirely candid about her past when she applied to sit for the summer 2017 bar exam, and she readily provided further information as requested by counsel for the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA). Bar counsel referred Simmons' application to the WSBA Character and Fitness Board (Board), which recommended by a vote of six to three that Simmons' application be denied. The Supreme Court then reviewed her application and the Board's recommendation, heard oral argument, and granted Simmons' application in a unanimous order later that day. In this opinion, the Washington Court explained the reasons for its decision. View "In Bar Application of Simmons" on Justia Law