Monday, August 04, 2008

Ramirez v. Nelson (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Aug. 4, 2008)

The Court of Appeal has to follow precedent. The California Supreme Court has a little more flexibility. And, as a result, often does a little more "justice" than the lower courts.

So, for example, Justice Gilbert, reading a statute, feels contrained to say that a homeowner might well be liable per se for having a contractor electrocute himself when his polesaw hits an overhead high voltage line. A result that, as I mentioned here, seems profoundly unjust, and yet that seems to be the lay of the land.

But the California Supreme Court says, essentially: "Look, that's just too absurd and unfair. We don't like it." Which is exactly right. And, I imagine, was how Justice Gilbert may well have seen it as well. But when you're the California Supreme Court, on an issue of California law, you're the boss. There's no one higher than you. So you can do, essentially, what you want.

Which it does here.

I'm not especially complaining. I think the California Supreme Court's decision enhances justice. I just feel bad for Justice Gilbert. Or anyone else on the Court of Appeal that doesn't have a similar infallibility that arises from finality.