New CA Trial Case

Uncategorized Dec 13, 2022

To do the best job possible as a mediator, arbitrator and referee, I review and summarize every new published California civil case. In this blog post, I discuss a new civil case that was published last month. 

Wheeler/Batson Motions Regarding Jury Selection

Can a Batson/Wheeler motion address juror challenges based on factors other than race? Last month, the Second District Court of Appeal published a decision addressing this issue. To find out what they decided, watch the video above and read my summary of the case below. 

New CA Trial Decision  

Unzueta v. Akopyan (2022) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2022 WL 16748570: The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment for defendant, following a jury trial, in plaintiff’s medical malpractice action. This was the second appeal in the case. In the first appeal the Court of Appeal held the trial court had erred in denying plaintiff’s Batson/Wheeler motion under Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79 (Batson) and People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 258 (Wheeler) challenging defendant’s peremptory challenge of six Hispanic potential jurors, and not requiring defense counsel to offer nondiscriminatory reasons for his first four challenges. On remand, the trial court elicited the defense attorney’s justifications for the six prospective jurors at issue. As to two of the jurors, the defense attorney asserted they were excused because they had a family member who was disabled, and the attorney feared the family member’s disability would cause the juror to be biased in favor of plaintiff who alleged she became disabled due to defendant doctor’s professional negligence. The trial court found the justifications were “race-neutral,” and after analyzing all the challenges, it again denied the Batson/Wheeler motion and reinstated the judgment for defendant. In this appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled the trial court erred in denying the Batson/Wheeler motion upon remand as to the two prospective jurors because it was based upon protected characteristics. Historically Batson/Wheeler motion rulings were based upon whether the challenge was race neutral. However, in 2015 the Legislature expanded the scope of cognizable groups protected under Batson/Wheeler by its enactment of Assembly Bill No. 87 (2015-2016 Reg. Sess.) § 1 (Assembly Bill 87), effective January 1, 2017, which amended Code of Civil Procedure section 231.51 to specify by reference to Government Code section 11135 that peremptory challenges cannot be used to excuse prospective jurors on the basis of their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, age, mental and physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation. Nor can a peremptory challenge be based on the perception the juror possesses one of these characteristics or because of the juror’s association with someone perceived to have one of these characteristics. (C.A. 2nd, November 7, 2022.)

Mediation, Arbitration and Referee Services

I help attorneys and their clients throughout California serving as a mediator, arbitrator and referee at ADR Services, Inc., handling business, commercial, employment, insurance bad faith, insurance coverage, landlord-tenant (commercial and residential), legal malpractice, medical malpractice, personal injury, real property and wrongful death cases. I'm an expert in new California civil case law and using Zoom. I've been a California civil trial lawyer since 1980 and a member of ABOTA since 1995. I've represented both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of civil cases including the areas listed above. To schedule a new matter, please contact my case manager at ADR services, Ins., Haward Cho, [email protected], (213) 683-1600.  

California Case Summaries™

Since 2012, I've helped California lawyers easily keep up with the new case law in their practice areas by publishing California Case Summaries™ with one paragraph summaries, organized by legal topic, of every new CA civil case published in monthly, quarterly and annual subscription editions. December is a great time to subscribe to one of my annual publications because you'll get all of my 2021 summaries now, and in early January you'll get all of my 2022 summaries. That's a great two-for-one deal! 
Join Our Email List: To get my free summaries of the 22 new civil cases published by the California Supreme Court in 2021, click here. 

Until my next blog post, stay safe and healthy.

Best regards,
Monty A. McIntyre, Esq.
Mediator, Arbitrator & Referee
California Case Summaries™
Master Lawyer Mentoring™
CA Civil Trial Attorney Since 1980
ABOTA Member Since 1995
Past President San Diego County Bar Assn., SD ABOTA Chapter
Phone: (619) 990-4312. Email: [email protected]


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