The Myth about Car Dealer Sales Tax in California.

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

You often hear people talking about how car dealers bring sales tax revenue to cities from the sale of vehicles.  While there is some truth to it, there are special rules for the allocation of a portion of the tax that discourages shoppers from choosing an out-of-town retailer with a lower sales tax rate.

Further, Government Code section 53084 has discouraged local entities from providing financial assistance, including sales tax rebates to car dealers and big box retailers that are in another jurisdiction: “. . . a local agency shall not provide any form of financial assistance to a vehicle dealer or big box retailer, or a business entity that sells or leases land to a vehicle dealer or big box retailer, that is relocating from the territorial jurisdiction of one local agency to the territorial jurisdiction of another local agency but within the same market area.”

Further, people think that all the sales tax revenue goes to a local agency, when just a portion of the sales tax goes to a local entity.  Of the 7.5 percent base rate in California, the Board of Equalization states:

“Local Tax” is the general term for sales and use taxes imposed under the Bradley-Burns Uniform Sales and Use Tax Law. The basic statewide sales and use tax rate is 7.50% and is divided as follows:

  • 6.50% State

  • 0.75% Local Jurisdiction (City or county of place of sale or use)

  • 0.25% Local Transportation Fund (County of place of sale or use) [Emphasis added]

In addition to the “Local Tax,” many California local entities have special taxing districts which impose a sales and use tax by adding to the current 7.5 percent.  In the California Board of Equalization Publication 34, dated January 2013, entitled Motor Vehicle Dealers, Pages 28-29:

If you sell or lease a vehicle to a customer who registers the vehicle in a special tax district, you are considered “engaged in business” in the district. As a result, you must report and pay the applicable special district tax.
Examples:
You are located in Alameda County, where there are three districts, each funded by a 0.50 percent rate. You sell or lease a vehicle to a customer who will register the vehicle in the same county. You report and pay the standard statewide rate of 7.50 percent plus 1.50 percent for the three special tax districts in effect in the county, for a total rate of 9.00 percent.
You are located in Los Angeles County and sell a vehicle that will be registered in Kings County, where there are no special tax districts. You report and pay only the statewide rate of 7.50 percent.
You are located in Kern County and sell a vehicle that will be registered in Alameda County, where there are three special tax districts. As with the first example, you will report and pay tax at the total rate of 9.00 percent (the standard statewide rate of 7.50 percent plus 1.50 percent for the three districts).

Leases are a little different.  Revenue and Taxation Code section 7205.1 says that a California lessor, other than a new motor vehicle dealer or a leasing company, for a lease exceeding four months, the local tax is allocated from the California dealer’s sales location.

Certainly, even without certain sales tax revenue on sales, vehicle dealers are attractive to local California entities because they provide jobs, services for residents, and both local and special district taxes on parts, for example.  However, since motor vehicles are big ticket items, people mistakenly think that the special district taxes are based on the location of the dealer, when in California it is based on registration.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

How To Use A Court Interpreter in San Bernardino Superior Court

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

As long-time readers know, I am a member of the Hon. Joseph B. Campbell American Inn of Court.  Last night was a monthly meeting, and the program was one of the best since I became a member in the earlier part of the last decade.  The program included a skit that showed how interpreters were used in a criminal trial, both with American Sign Language interpreters and Spanish interpreters.  When I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, the court interpreters were invaluable in communicating with primarily monolingual Spanish speakers in code enforcement cases.  While the performers in the skit provided a great deal of information, here is some information derived from the hand outs:

How To Use a Court Interpreter

The interpreter is your voice in court.

So, it is important to . . .

Listen carefully to the interpreter.

Wait for the interpreter to finish talking before your answer.

Do not speak in English, even if you speak a little.  It is confusing for the judge.

Do not interrupt, even if someone in court says something bad about you.  You will get a chance to speak.

Take notes. If someone says something untrue, write it down.  Then when it is your turn to speak, you can tell the judge your side.

Source: How to Use a Court Interpreter, Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino, pamphlet in English and Spanish, undated.

Additionally, a handout with the title of the presentation, “Lost in Translation” dated January 2013 says:

Our guest Spanish Language Interpreters ask that we, as attorneys and judicial officers, always keep the following things in mind . . .

- Don’t speak fast.

- Don’t use humor or figures of speech. [Note: The examples given were, "you're really in a pickle" or "bird of a different feather"]

- Don’t give the jury instruction on interpreters or modify it.

[Note: The interpreter referred to CALJIC Instruction 121 which reads:

"Some testimony may be given in <insert name or description of language other than English>. An interpreter will provide a translation for you at the time that the testimony is given. You must rely on the translation provided by the interpreter, even if you understand the language spoken by the witness. Do not retranslate any testimony for other jurors. If you believe the court interpreter translated testimony incorrectly, let me know immediately by writing a note and giving it to the (clerk/bailiff)."  The notes state: "The committee recommends that this instruction be given whenever testimony will be received with the assistance of an interpreter, though no case has held that the court has a sua sponte duty to give the instruction. The instruction may be given at the beginning of the case, when the person requiring translation testifies, or both, at the court's discretion. If a transcript of a tape in a foreign language will be used, the court may modify this instruction. (See Ninth Circuit Manual of Model Jury Instructions, Criminal Cases, Instruction No. 2.8 (2003).) If the court chooses, the instruction may also be modified and given again at the end of the case, with all other instructions."

The interpreter presenting strongly objected to the part of the instruction which states: "If you believe the court interpreter translated testimony incorrectly, let me know immediately by writing a note" undermined the certified interpreter's training and experience and emphasized that the instruction was not mandatory, and that the judicial officer could leave that objectionable line out of the instruction.]

- Always speak directly. [Note: attorneys should speak to the witness, and the witness should answer the attorney.  Do not speak to the interpreter directly].

- Beware of false cognates.

- Spanish is 30% longer than English.

- The Only person who never stops speaking during proceedings is the interpreter.

The American Sign Language interpreters said that they are required to provide a translation that included emotions such as shouting or sarcasm.  The Spanish language interpreters said that it was a matter of style for them to provide the translation in the same tone or volume.

Thank you to the leaders of the Inn for providing such an educational program, particularly Judge John Pacheco and Donna Connally, and to the court interpreters that helped us understand the process.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374

California Personal Injury Litigation and Proof of Service for Electronic Service

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law.

Electronic service is a cost-effective manner of service, whether done in Federal cases with CM/ECF, or in California superior courts by stipulation, or in conjunction with electronic filing.  For California superior court cases, the Judicial Council has created an optional proof of service for electronic service, FORM POS-050/EFS-050, which needs to be used in conjunction with Form POS-o50(P).  However, if you follow the requirements of California Rules of Court Rule 2.251(g) the practitioner does not need to use the optional Judicial Council form.

California Rules of Court Rule 2.251(g) requires the following information:

(1)Proof of electronic service may be by any of the methods provided in Code of Civil Procedure section 1013a, except that the proof of service must state:

(A)The electronic service address of the person making the service, in addition to that person’s residence or business address;

(B)The date and time of the electronic service, instead of the date and place of deposit in the mail;

(C)The name and electronic service address of the person served, in place of that person’s name and address as shown on the envelope; and

(D)That the document was served electronically, in place of the statement that the envelope was sealed and deposited in the mail with postage fully prepaid.

(2)Proof of electronic service may be in electronic form and may be filed electronically with the court.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104
                   Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

Garage Sales and Yard Sales (and permits) in the Cities of Highland, Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Redlands, Yucaipa and unincorporated San Bernardino County

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

People want to know how to get yard sale and garage sale permits in the East Valley, and they find this site because of this article about the City of San Bernardino’s yard sale ordinance.  Therefore, here is a chart to give a basic (but not complete) understanding of the rules and regulations regarding yard sales in the East Valley, here defined as the Cities of Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Highland, Redlands, Yucaipa and unincorporated San Bernardino County such as Muscoy, Mentone, Oak Glen, Devore, Arrowhead Suburban Farms, Devore Heights, and Del Rosa.  Per the City Clerk of Loma Linda, there is no yard sale ordinance in the City of Loma Linda as of 10/17/2012.  Note also that homeowners associations (HOAs) probably have additional restrictions (particularly East Highlands Ranch) which you should look into.

City/Unincorporated Permit Required Permit Cost Where? Duration
Colton Yes $2, except charity, nonprofit, religious Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Grand Terrace Yes (Except Exemptions) $5 Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Highland Yes $7 Finance Department 3 d, 8am-8pm
Loma Linda N/A N/A N/A N/A
Redlands Yes $2.50 Treasurer 3 d or 2d each over consecutive weekends; 8 am-8pm
Rialto Yes (Except Exemptions) $5.40 Finance Department 3d, daylight
San Bernardino No (anomoly regarding Estate Sales) N/A N/A 3d, daylight
Yucaipa After 1st sale $2.50 (sales 2-4) Front Desk, City Hall 3d, 8am-8 pm
Unincorporated San Bernardino County No (See SBCC section 84.25.030(e) unless exceed standards of 84.10. N/A N/A 3d, 8am-5 pm
City/Unincorporated Frequency Display Signage Exemptions Ordinance Codified At Violation
Colton 1/quarter Not in PROW During, onsite Court sales Ord 1483 (1975); 0-3-1989 (1989) Colton Municipal Code Chapter 5.45 Misdemeanor
Grand Terrace 2/yr Not in PROW 2 onsite, unlit, 4ft area, 5 day limit, not on PROW, trees, fences, utility poles, removed at end Court sales, charitable, nonprofit, religious Ord 35 (1980) Grand Terrace Municipal Code Chapter 5.40 Infraction
Highland 3/12 mo Safety 1 onsite doublesided, 6 ft area, 5′ tall, 24 hours before until end. Court sales Ord 239 (1998) Highland Municipal Code section 5.04.370 Infraction
Loma Linda N/A N/A N/A N/A None N/A N/A
Redlands 3/12 mo Not in PROW, safety, only during sale Court sales Prior Code secs 24001-10; Ord 2684 (2007), 2779 (2012), Redlands Municipal Code Chapter 5.68 Infraction
Rialto 4/calendar yr only first weekend in March, June, September and December Not in PROW, front or side yards 2 onsite, 4ft area, 4directional signs, prohibited in PROW, >864 sq in., with permission of property owner. Nonprofits, Ord 1416 (2008) Rialto Municipal Code Chapter 5.69 Infraction; misdemeanor for <3/yr
San Bernardino 12/yr only on 3rd weekend of mo Not in PROW, safety, only during sale 3 onsite unlit 24 hr prior until end; 4 Directional 2 sq ft  on private property w/consent Estate sales as to frequency nonprofits as to frequency Ord MC-1344 (2011) San Bernardino Municipal Code Chapter 8.14 Infraction/misdemanor (woblette)
Yucaipa 4/12 mo Not in PROW 1 onsite, not in PROW Court sales Ord 102 (1992) Yucaipa Municipal Code Chapter 5.22 Infraction
Unincorporated San Bernardino County 4/yr Not in PROW 2 onsite, 4ft area, 4 directional signs, prohibited in PROW, 864 sq in., w/permission of property owner. None Ord. 411 (2007) San Bernardino County Code  Chapter 84.10 Infraction; misdemeanor for >3/yr

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. BE SURE TO CHECK WITH THE INVOLVED CITIES FOR CURRENT LAW AND FEES.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Fireworks in the City of San Bernardino, California (2012 Update)

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Happy Independence Day!

“Safe and Sane” fireworks are legally sold in the City of San Bernardino.  All fireworks are generally prohibited above the 210 Freeway in San Bernardino and near Perris Hill.  The City of San Bernardino Fire Department has a map and information about fireworks in this brochure.   Of course, all fireworks not approved by the State Fire Marshal are illegal in California.  Misusing legal fireworks (for example, making bottle rockets) is illegal in San Bernardino.

The San Bernardino Fire Department, particularly the Fire Prevention,  is out in force during the Fourth of July.  They have a variety of San Bernardino Municipal Code and California laws to enforce.  Even if you are not afraid of prosecution, fireworks are a leading cause of injury and property damage.

The San Bernardino City Fire Blog has some tips about fireworks.

A version of this post was published in 2011.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Releases for Gross Negligence In the Context of Sports or Recreational Programs or Services are Void In California

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Most people have been asked to sign releases at various times, particularly for participation of their children in youth activities.  Are they valid?  They can be in many cases.  But in certain cases, they may be void if there is a public policy reason or statute.  For example, Civil Code section 1668 prohibits contracts which “have for their object, directly or indirectly, to exempt anyone from responsibility for his own fraud, or willful injury to the person or property of another, or violation of law, whether willful or negligent, are against the policy of the law.”  Further, case law in California has prohibited releases of future gross negligence as being void against public policy.  City of Santa Barbara v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal.4th  747, 758.

There is an entire inquiry into whether a release is valid, which I won’t discuss here today.  Suffice it to say, you should consult with a personal injury attorney even if there is a release, because it is a technical question.  Most, if not all, personal injury attorneys provide a free consultation in personal injury cases.

In the City of San Barbara case, mentioned above, the mother of a developmentally disabled 14 year-old signed a release purporting to release the City of Santa Barbara and its employees from liability for “any negligent act” related to the child’s participation in a summer camp, run by the City, for developmentally disabled children.  The child drowned, and the parents filed suit.

We conclude . . . that an agreement made in the context of sports or recreational programs or services, purporting to release liability for future gross negligence, generally is unenforceable as a matter of public policy. Applying that general rule in the case now before us, we hold that the agreement, to the extent it purports to release liability for future gross negligence, violates public policy and is unenforceable.

My Torts Professor, Kenneth Manaster, drummed in our heads that “gross negligence” was not a term that we should bandy about, and of course he said it in 1995 or 1996, eleven years before City of Santa Barbara. There is a sort of “folk law” idea of what gross negligence is, perhaps informed by the law of other, non-California states.  In the City of Santa Barbara case, the California Supreme Court distinguishes between ordinary negligence and gross negligence:

We begin by defining the terms that underlie the issue presented. “Ordinary negligence”—an unintentional tort—consists of a failure to exercise the degree of care in a given situation that a reasonable person under  similar circumstances would employ to protect others from harm. (See, e.g., Donnelly v. Southern Pacific Co. (1941) 18 Cal.2d 863, 869, 118 P.2d 465 (Donnelly ).)
 “Gross negligence” long has been defined in California and other jurisdictions as either a “want of even scant care” or “an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct.” (Eastburn v. Regional Fire Protection Authority (2003) 31 Cal.4th 1175, 1185–1186, 7 Cal.Rptr.3d 552, 80 P.3d 656 (Eastburn ), and cases cited; accord, Colich & Sons v. Pacific Bell (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 1225, 1240, 244 Cal.Rptr. 714 (Colich ); Kearl v. Board of Medical Quality Assurance (1986) 189 Cal.App.3d 1040, 1052–1053, 236 Cal.Rptr. 526; see also, e.g., Prosser & Keeton, The Law  of Torts (5th ed.1984) § 34, pp. 211–212 (Prosser and Keeton); 57A Am.Jur.2d (2004) Negligence, § 227, p. 296.)  City of Santa Barbara v. Superior Court, 41 Cal. 4th 747, 753-54, 161 P.3d 1095, 1099 (2007).
The procedural posture of the City of Santa Barbara was somewhat unusual.  The City moved for Summary Judgment, lost, and appealed immediately.  The case was set for trial, and then the City settled before the trial started for $2,000,000.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

What Municipal (Local City and Town) Offices are Up for Election in San Bernardino County in November 6, 2012?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

In short, it is an election year for everyone except the City of San Bernardino.  Many local cities consolidate their election to either the Presidential election and the Congressional Midterm Elections, because it costs less.

Starting with the High Desert, the City of Adelanto is electing two Council Members; Apple Valley, two Town Council Members; Barstow is electing the Mayor, the City Clerk, City Treasurer, and two City Council Members, Hesperia, two Council Members, Needles is electing two Council Members and the Mayor, Twentynine Palms is electing two Council Members. Rounding out the High Desert is Victorville, electing three Council Members, and Yucca Valley electing two Town Council Members.
In the San Bernardino Mountains, the City of Big Bear Lake is electing two City Council Members

In the Southwest of San Bernardino County, Chino is electing two City Council Members, and Chino Hills, the same number.

In the East-end of San Bernardino, the City of Colton is electing City Council Members in two districts, 3 and 5; the City Clerk and City Treasurer, and the Blue Mountain City, Grand Terrace, is electing three Council Members.  Fontana, which either is the western part of the East Valley, or the Western part of the West-end, is electing two City Council members.  Highland is electing two Council Members, the adjoining City of Redlands has two Council Member seats up for election, and City Clerk and City Treasurer.  Rialto has a mayoral election, City Clerk, City Treasurer, and two Council Member seats.  Lastly, Yucaipa is electing three Council Members.

In the West-end, Montclair is electing two Council Members; Ontario is electing Mayor, City Clerk, City Treasurer, and two Council Members; Rancho Cucamonga, land of Victoria Gardens, is electing its City Clerk, City Treasurer, and two Council Members; Upland, is electing one Council Member, the Mayor and Treasurer.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Don’t Believe Extrajudicial Nonsense In Fighting Code Enforcement: “Constitutionalist” Extremism

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I represent individuals and corporations in code enforcement disputes with local cities and counties.  Longtime readers of this site and my friends and colleagues know that I was a municipal (code enforcement) prosecutor for more than nine years from February 2001 to June 2010.  In that time, I not only prosecuted, criminally and administratively, code enforcement violators, I also defended the City of San Bernardino (it never came up in the City of Redlands) against people who didn’t think the law applied to them, either corporations (or much worse) individuals.  These individuals believed what they read in newsletters, and later, on the internet.  Broadly, they can be labeled as “constitutionalists,” a term I have long heard, but ill-defined.

“Constitutionalism” is related to a variety of movements in the far reaches of today’s political spectrum.  One of them is sovereign citizen movement, which the FBI defines as “a loose network of individuals living in the United States who call themselves “sovereign citizens” and believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally. Some of their actions, although quirky, are not crimes. The offenses they do commit seem minor: They do not pay their taxes and regularly create false license plates, driver’s licenses, and even currency.”  “Sovereign Citizens A Growing Domestic Threat to Law Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI’s Counterterrorism Analysis Section, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, September 2011, found online on April 19, 2012 at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/september-2011/sovereign-citizens .

There are ways of dealing with code enforcement departments that are not following the rules: you may be able to defeat the charges in a criminal or administrative case (or an appeal of an administrative case to Superior Court), you may be able to convince Code Enforcement that they are not following the rules; you can comply with the request even if it is not technically correct.  Sometimes, you can sue for a violation of your civil rights, and possibly for inverse condemnation in the right circumstances.  “Constitutionalism” is always the wrong answer.

As a case example, in 2005, I defeated (in U.S. District Court, plaintiff attempted to appeal to the Ninth Circuit but failed to follow procedure after I became the Assistant City Attorney in Redlands) what may or may not have been a Complaint in United States District Court.  Here are some issues that I dealt with, in pertinent part from that Complaint:

Plaintiff claims the City is a corporation or political division of the State of California.  Complaint, Pg. 2, Para. 4.  Plaintiff claims the individual defendants lacked “standing to be officers, agents or employees of the City”  Id. at Para. 24.

Plaintiff claims his property is outside the regulatory authority of the City of San Bernardino.  Complaint, Pg. 9, Para. 13.  However, plaintiff does not claim that it is outside the corporate limits of the City of San Bernardino.

Plaintiff claims that the individual defendants have failed to prove that they had jurisdiction over his property.  Complaint, Pg. 9, Para. 15.  Plaintiff objected to the City’s enforcement of its laws by giving the City an “Abundant Due Process Notice.”  Plaintiff claims that the defendants did not respond to plaintiff’s “Notice.”  Complaint, Pg. 17, Para. 28.

Plaintiff alleges that code enforcement is void under California law.  Complaint, Pgs. 10-11, Para.18.  Plaintiff also claims that the defendants have failed to swear an oath.  Plaintiff states that the defendants “lack . . . competent jurisdiction to regulate the subject private land.”  Complaint, Pg. 17, Para. 30.

Though plaintiff alleges no facts regarding what the City did (or did not do) that caused him to serve the “Abundant Due Process Notice,” plaintiff states that “on or about March 1, 2005, the City again threatened an Administrative Law action against the subject private land.”  Complaint, Pg. 17, Para.29.  Much later, plaintiff alleges that “on March 5, 2005, the City of San Bernardino again attempted to have him bring the use of his private land into compliance of the San Bernardino City Municipal Code.”  Complaint, Pg. 20, Para. 37.

Plaintiff alleges seven causes of action (there is no sixth cause of action), including six Fifth Amendment Due Process causes of action, and one combination First Amendment “Right to Seek Redress of Grievance” and Fifth Amendment Due Process cause of action.

The first cause of action alleges that plaintiff has a right to “peaceful ownership, enjoyment and use of the subject private land.”  Complaint, Pg. 19, Para. 35.  The individual defendants have a duty to place “into the record such contractual information or documentation which they allege brought the private land and chattels under such City of San Bernardino Administrative Law.”  Id., Pg. 19, Para. 36.  The individual defendants conspired to “perpetrate their custom, policy and practice of dealing with [Plaintiff] under the mere ‘color of state law’” in violation of 42 U.S.C. sections 1983 and 1985.  Id., Pg. 20, Para. 39.

The second cause of action states that plaintiff had a “primary right” to rely on a repealed Penal Code section.  Complaint, Pg. 21, Para. 42.  Plaintiff states that defendants had a duty to know that there was no authority to obtain demolition orders, but maliciously commenced several legal actions against private land.  Id. at Para. 43.  The individual defendants conspired in the same manner as in the previous cause of action.  Id. at Para. 45.

The third cause of action states that plaintiff had a right to challenge jurisdiction which would require the government to prove jurisdiction before any further action could be taken.  Plaintiff claims he made the challenge and no “proof of jurisdiction [was] placed into the record.”  Complaint, Pg. 22, Para. 48.  The defendants “again met and gathered together and conspired to ignore the plaintiff’s written challenges to their competent regulatory jurisdiction and again attempted their regulatory actions.”  Id. at Para. 49.

Plaintiff alleges in the fourth cause of action that he had a right to be free of government action.  Complaint, Pgs. 23-24, Para. 53.  Defendants had a duty to refrain from “private Administrative Law actions against the subject private land.”  Id., Pg. 24. Para. 55.  Defendants then conspired in the same way alleged in the first cause of action.

In the fifth cause of action, plaintiff alleges that on March 1, 2005, plaintiff served his “Abundant Due Process – Notice” to the defendants that his land was not subject to the City’s regulatory control because it was sovereign allodial title.  The defendants never made a response, thus defaulting on the jurisdictional challenge.  Complaint, Pg. 25, Para. 60.

Plaintiff alleges in the next cause of action, denominated the seventh cause of action, that he had a right to justifiably rely on the presentation on the City’s seal that the City was founded in 1810.  Complaint, Pgs. 25-6, Para.62.  The City had a duty to know the actual founding date and change the claimed founding date to 1905.  Id., Pg. 26, Para. 64.  Plaintiff again claims that the individual defendants conspired.  Id. at Para. 65.

The eighth cause of action states that none of the “named defendants” have sworn nor subscribed to the oath of office, and that the oath of office is a requirement to occupy any official office.  Complaint, Pg. 27, Para. 68.  Plaintiff had a due process right “to expect that all officers, agents and employees of the City” swore to an oath before they had any official standing to take action against private land.”  Id. at Para. 69.  The individual defendants had a duty to swear to the oath before they took actions.  Id. at Para. 70.  The individual defendants then conspired in the same way alleged in the first cause of action.  Id. at Para. 72.

Plaintiff claims that the defendants were “private persons merely claiming to be governmental officers, agents or employees.”  Complaint, Pg. 30, Para. 80.

So, as you can see, I was dealing with a variety of issues, including the legendary founding of San Bernardino in 1810, even though the 1905 date is not correct, either (the 1905 Charter was not the incorporation of the City; the City incorporated in 1854; it disbanded in 1863; it reformed as a Town in 1869, and reincorporated as a City in 1886.

My discussion of the alleged Complaint from the Motion to Dismiss:

There is nothing unique about this case that would justify a sixty-seven (67) page complaint with ninety-two (92) paragraphs, an “Affidavit of Historic Background Research,” a “Memorandum of Law and Authorities,” a document titled “Fourteen Good-Faith Discovery Negative Averments And Demand For Answers” (in violation of Rule 26(d)), and a “Declaration.”

As to the issue that the City lacked jurisdiction over him and his property:

The California Constitution provides that “[a] city may make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws.”  California Constitution Art. XI, § 7.  Complaint, Pg. 10, Para. 18.  State law specifically does not preempt the City’s nuisance laws.  Health and Safety Codesection 17951 provides in pertinent part as follows: “The governing body of any city . . . may enact ordinances or regulations imposing restrictions equal to or greater than those imposed by this part . . . .”The City of San Bernardino’s Charter and Municipal Code gives the City authority to define and abate nuisances.  The City’s ordinances have been codified, pursuant to Government Code section 50022.1 et seq.

There is no such thing as allodial title in California.  All Mexican government lands became United States government lands upon the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848.  Lux v. Haggin (1886) 69 Cal. 255, 335.  “But existing private titles were recognized, and so were the rights of pueblos (Spanish and Mexican towns).”  Witkin, Summary of California Law (9 ed.) Real Property § 4.  Therefore, the premise of plaintiff’s complaint, that his land is somehow above the law, is false.

Here are some hallmarks of Constitutionalism, from my experience with it (not all cases show all the hallmarks):

  • An American flag (in a courtroom) with yellow fringe is an admiralty flag, and thus the court lacks jurisdiction to hear cases against them.
  • The oaths taken by officer holders are invalid for some reason.
  • For some reason, their land was owned before California was admitted into the Union, therefore, all laws don’t apply.
  • The 14th Amendment is invalid, therefore, the law doesn’t apply to them.  (See also, the 16th Amendment is invalid, therefore they don’t have to pay taxes).
  • Misuse of the Uniform Commercial Code.
  • The use of legal terms from other states or jurisdictions that make no sense in California (or United States District Court).
  • A misconception about the term “common law.”
  • The Gold Standard, the Federal Reserve, Corporations, and capitalization,  and punctuation are all involved.

Looking at the San Bernardino Superior Court records, I also criminally prosecuted the plaintiff before he filed the complaint, for an inoperable vehicle, which he was convicted.  There is no online record that he ever paid.  Part of the suit was against the Code Enforcement Officer in that case, the Director of Code Enforcement, and Deputy City Attorneys.

The moral of the story is that magical thinking does not divest a City of its police powers.  Cities have an enormous responsibility not to abuse their inherent powers, which are restrained by the U.S. Constitution to some degree.  However, what some people think the Constitution says is not relevant to what the Constitution actually says and actually protects.  Don’t fall victim to anyone who tells you your problems will go away by removing your license plates, recording fake deeds or liens, or not swearing to an admiralty flag.  The internet lacks enough electrons to prove these tactics incorrect, illegal and immoral, but they are each a combination of these.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Codification of the San Bernardino Municipal Code: A 2012 Update

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

In 2011, I wrote two pieces on codification of the San Bernardino Municipal Code, and an update on the situation.

From the second piece:

To recap, The Mayor and Common Council, at their November 7, 2011 meeting, passed Resolution 2011-299 Authorizing the issuance of a Request for Proposals for Municipal Code Codification Services.  The staff report to the Resolution painted this unflattering picture of how behind the City is in codification:

Table 1.1 Code Supplement Distribution History from 2008 through 2011

Time Period Distribution Date Note
1/2008 to 3/31/2008 4/2008 on schedule
4/2008 to 6/30/2008 7/2008 on schedule
7/2008 to 9/30/2008 11/2008 1 month behind schedule
10/2008 to 12/31/2008 9/2009 8 months behind schedule
1/2009 to 3/31/2009 9/2009 5 months behind schedule
4/2009 to 6/30/2009 9/2009 2 months behind schedule
7/2009 to 9/30/2009 10/2009 on schedule
10/2009 to 12/31/2009 1/2010 on schedule
1/2010 to 3/31/2010 3/23/2010 1 week ahead of schedule
4/2010 to 6/30/2010 2/2011 7 months behind schedule
7/2010 to 9/30/2010 2/2011 4 months behind schedule
10/2010 to 12/31/2010 Not yet distributed 9 months behind schedule
1/2011 to 3/31/2011 Not yet distributed 6 months behind schedule
4/2011 to 6/30/2011 Not yet distributed 3 months behind schedule
7/2011 to 9/30/2011 Not yet distributed Due this month

What that means is that it is difficult for the lay observer and the outside professional to find out the state of the law.

The Mayor and Common Council will consider, at the February 7, 2012 meeting, awarding  the Code Publishing, Inc. of Seattle, Washington.  However, in the staff report and the resolution, you can see tension between the City Attorney’s Office and the City Manager’s Office:

Proposals were then evaluated by a selection committee comprised of City staff representing the City Clerk’s and City Manager’s offices, Public Works, Information Technology, and Community Development departments. The City Attorney’s Office was invited to participate and identified a representative from their office to take part in this process. The representative was present during one of the presentations; however, the City Attorney’s Office was unable to attend the other presentations and did not participate in the evaluation process.  [Emphasis added]

The selection committee recommends that Code Publishing, Inc., be awarded the contract. While all of the codification companies are qualified to provide the needed services, Code Publishing, Inc., received the highest ranking scores based on their flexible pricing, customer service-oriented approach, quality of electronic publishing and internet services, and legal publishing expertise.

. . .

Recodification and the regular distribution of supplement materials is a necessary undertaking to maintain transparency of the City’s Code. It is the City’s responsibility to maintain its laws in a current and comprehensive format. When the Code contains conflicts or discrepancies and outdated or incorrect references it cannot be an effective tool for residents and enforcement officials to follow and enforce the laws with consistency and accuracy. Moreover, the public, including property and business owners and developers, are poorly served by not having access to updated codes in order to assess information necessary when, for example, applying for business registrations, building permits, or planning new development options.

Outsourcing codification services is a standard practiced by most California cities. A recent survey conducted by staff shows that 91 percent of California cities outsource codification services. Of the 362 cities governed by general law, 332 or 92 percent of cities outsource codification services. Of the 120 charter cities in California, 105 or 88 percent of cities outsource codification services. Within the group of charter cities, 9 or 82 percent of the 11 charter cities that elect a city attorney outsource codification services. [Emphasis added]

By outsourcing services, the City will be able to promptly provide subscribers with quarterly supplements while reducing the time the City Attorney’s and Clerk’s offices and the Planning Division devote to codifying, indexing, proofreading, publishing, and distributing activities. While the City Attorney’s Office is responsible for drafting proposed ordinances and resolutions, the Planning Division is responsible for updating changes to the Development Code (Title 19). Title 19 is one of the most dynamic sections of the Code with the largest number of annual amendments (20 amendments in three years).

The mostly unexecuted version of the resolution says “decline to sign” and the initials “JFP.” City Attorney James F. Penman has declined to approve the resolution as to form.  From time to time, the City Attorney does not sign resolutions or agreements.  The reasons he declined to do might be found by examining the minutes and video of the November 7, 2011 Council Meeting.

Video on the discussion surrounding the item is available on the City’s website, and the item is about at the 3:37:00 mark. For context, the meeting was the day before the Primary Municipal Election. City Attorney Penman said that the first he heard about it was when it appeared on the agenda.  He said the situation was low priority and created by Council not fully funding the City Attorney’s Office, because the Legal Secretary II responsible has been taken off codification and placed on litigation.  He took issue with the cost of $40,000, and said it could be done for $10,000 using a part-time legal secretary without benefits.

Council member McCammack said that City Manager McNeely’s staff had politicized the issue.  She also said that it was more important to pay the $40,000 in defending the liability cases.

Council member Marquez asked about other cities contract with vendors, and City Clerk Rachel Clark said that the Clerk’s Office did a survey but that she didn’t have the numbers with her at the Council Meeting.

Council Member Jenkins said that the money could be better used on potholes, trimming trees or broken street lights.

Council member Kelley had concerns that sending out the RFP would start an unavoidable path to paying for outside codification.

City Attorney Penman said that the biggest request was to annotate the code and Charter with case law, and the codification company would charge extra. City Attorney Penman said that they were ahead of schedule a year before, but that staff had been taken off of it, and that it was not high priority.

Mayor Morris said that the City Attorney’s Office would be part of the RFP process.

Council member McCammack asked which staff would be involved with the codifier to make sure the codifier was making accurate changes to the code.  City Manager McNeely said that the City Attorney and City Manager and City Clerk’s Office would be involved, and that mostly the City Clerk’s Office would be involved.

City Clerk Clark highlighted the times that the City Attorney’s Office was late in the quarterly updates, but when confronted said that it had been on time before the highlighted period.  She also said that it was during Tom Minor’s administration that it came in-house.  Council member McCammack said the item was a political ploy to embarrass the City Attorney’s Office.
The first public speaker said that it was difficult to find the code online, particularly related to code enforcement.  The second speaker was then-City Clerk candidate Esther Jimenez discussed an issue regarding a proposed tobacco ordinance in the past which wasn’t really related to the discussion (and City Attorney Penman disputed her view of the events).
City Attorney Penman disputed the part of the RFP that there was a need to make corrective measures to the existing code, and he said that Council had blocked some moves already proposed by the City Attorney’s Office, and that his Office didn’t have the resources to make the needed changes.  City Attorney Penman said that all hands were defending lawsuits so that no one could participate in the selection process.

The Common Council voted on strictly partisan lines.  According to the minutes of November 7, 2011, Resolution 2011-299 was passed on a 4 to 3 vote with Council members Virginia Marquez (1st Ward), Tobin Brinker (2nd Ward), Fred Shorett (4th Ward) and Rikke Van Johnson (6th Ward) in favor; Robert Jenkins (2nd Ward), Chas Kelley (5th Ward) and Wendy McCammack (7th Ward) opposed.
Update:  The Common Council voted 5-2 (Shorett and Johnson opposed) to continue the item to March 19, 2012, where, given the new majority will most likely be defeated, if it even comes to a vote.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address : 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055

LAPD Legal Payouts By the City of Los Angeles

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

On January 22, 2012, the Los Angeles Times published a spreadsheet showing the amounts paid by (or collected in some rare cases) by the City of Los Angeles related to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).  The numbers are fascinating, and no doubt required a great deal of clerical work either by the employees of the Los Angeles Times, or by the employees of the City of Los Angeles.  This is a good illustration of the benefits of the California Public Records Act.

The cases run the gamut from minor traffic accidents to wrongful death suits to disability payouts to Federal civil rights cases, and even dangerous condition of public property.  I have a perspective on this data because I am a plaintiff’s attorney, both in the personal injury and the 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 civil rights arenas, and because I defended cities and police officers for about ten years, first as a Deputy City Attorney and then as as an Assistant City Attorney.

The information regarding the car accidents is not surprising.  In an accompanying article, reporter Joel Rubin writes:

The city has paid nearly $24 million in settlements or verdicts in about 400 LAPD traffic-related lawsuits over the last nine years and must contend with dozens more cases that remain unresolved, city records show. In all but a few of the closed cases, city officials opted to pay a negotiated settlement instead of taking their chances at a trial — a strong indication that the officers were in the wrong.

However, other interesting information can be gleaned from the data: the City of Los Angeles does not try as many cases as you would think for a City of that size or a City Attorney’s Office of that size.  I counted only 25 trials out of 921 cases with a listed disposition.   On the other hand, there were not that many outright $0 verdicts or settlements, 16 by my count.

Thirteen of those are what I would characterize as alleged Federal Civil Rights allegations: 4 were listed as Dismissal-Court, which I would take to mean a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.    There are 4 voluntary dismissals, though it is not clear if that means that there was a dismissal with a waiver of costs and a release, or whether the cases listed as Settlement (three cases).  Only one of the civil rights cases was listed as won on Summary Judgment.  One case does not give information about how the City of Los Angeles was not liable.

Federal Civil Rights cases are very fact dependent, so looking at the raw statistics without more information (the alleged conduct, the case number, stage of disposition), for example.

This is good investigative journalism by the Los Angeles Times.

 

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Address : 1255 W. Colton Ave., Suite 104
Redlands, CA 92374
Telephone: (909) 708-6055
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