Led by Scotia Hicks, Ehlert Hicks won a complete victory for app developer Six4Three, Inc. on cross-appeals in California’s First District Court of Appeal. The trial court had denied Facebook’s anti-SLAPP motion, but granted the anti-SLAPP motion brought by individual Facebook executives who are also named defendants in the case. Ehlert Hicks succeeded in convincing the Court of Appeal to affirm the denial of Facebook’s motion, but reverse the grant of the individual defendants’ motion. The case will now return to the trial court where Six4Three will be able to litigate its claims on the merits.
Allison Ehlert litigated a habeas appeal on behalf of a criminal defendant who was sentenced–likely incorrectly–as an armed career criminal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed that the defendant’s case must go back to the district court for a merits determination of his armed-career-criminal challenge.
After Ehlert Hicks filed an opening brief challenging a federal district court’s calculation of its client’s sentence under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, the government conceded that the district court erred. The government agreed with the arguments asserted by Ehlert Hicks and filed a motion urging the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the sentence and remand the case for resentencing.
Ehlert Hicks has asked the California Supreme Court to grant review in a case involving the elimination of pension benefits for a former CSU professor. The case raises an important question of law concerning California’s acceptance-of-the-judgment doctrine.
Scotia Hicks is teaching Berkeley Law’s Appellate Advocacy class to 2L and 3L students for a second year, this fall. The class requires students to prepare an opening or answering brief on the merits, using an actual case pending before the California Supreme Court, and to present oral argument before a panel of three judges. This year’s case is People v. Lopez, which concerns Fourth Amendment limits on warrantless vehicle searches for identification. The primary issue is whether the California Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Arturo D. remains good law after the United States Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Gant.
Ehlert Hicks authored an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance and other public-health organizations and advocates in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Taylor, _ U.S. _; 139 S. Ct. 2449 (2019). The case concerned the constitutionality of a Tennessee regulation that made living in the State for a minimum of two years a prerequisite to qualifying for an alcohol-retail license. By a 7-2 vote, the Court held that the regulation ran afoul of the Commerce Clause and that it was not saved by the 21st Amendment — the amendment that ended Prohibition and left alcohol regulation to the States. Justice Gorsuch dissented and would have upheld the regulation as permissible under the 21st Amendment. Citing Ehlert Hicks’s amicus brief, Justice Gorsuch explained that the residency restriction could serve the legitimate purpose of increasing the price of alcohol (by reducing competition) and thereby moderating its use.
Scotia Hicks has been appointed as interim director of the James Patterson McBaine Honors Competition. The McBaine competition is Berkeley Law’s premier advanced-level moot court competition. The competition format is modeled after United States Supreme Court practice, and cases chosen for the competition involve issues of great public importance. This year’s case is Garco Construction v. Secretary of the Army. The case asks the Court to consider whether it was proper for a military base to make a unilateral and significant change to its policy concerning access to the base, to the detriment of a construction company contracted to build housing units on site. Judges for the final round of this year’s McBaine competition will be Judge David Tatel, United States Circuit Court Judge for the D.C. Circuit; Judge Michelle Friedland, United States Circuit Court Judge for the Ninth Circuit; and Justice Goodwin Liu, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court.
Scotia Hicks joined the faculty of Berkeley Law as a lecturer, where she taught Appellate Advocacy this fall. The class requires students to evaluate a real case pending before the California Supreme Court, and brief and argue the case as though they represent the actual litigants. This year’s case was Mathews v. Becerra, Case No. S240156. The case presents the issue of whether California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act violates therapy patients’ Constitutional right to privacy by requiring therapists to make a report when a patient discloses he has viewed child pornography.
Allison Ehlert is counsel to the plaintiff in Stewart v. San Luis Ambulance, Inc., Case No. S246255, which raises significant questions of law concerning what constitutes lawful meal and rest breaks for EMTs and paramedics who work 24-hour shifts. The case also raises questions that could affect all California non-exempt employees whose employers fail to pay them the “premium wages” they are owed for unlawful meal and rest breaks. The opening briefing in the case may be reviewed by clicking here, and the reply briefing can be reviewed by clicking here
Allison Ehlert and Scotia Hicks authored an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance and numerous public health researchers and organizations in the case of Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, Case No. 18-96. The question before the Court is whether the Twenty-first Amendment, which ended Prohibition, authorizes a Tennessee regulation that requires retailers who wish to sell alcohol to have first lived in the state for a specified period of time. The amicus brief focused on the proven benefits of state regulations, like Tennessee’s, in curbing alcohol misuse, which remains a leading cause of death and disease in the United States. The Court heard argument in January 2019, and a decision is expected by June. The brief can be read by clicking here.