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While more than half of the docket in 2003 comprised criminal matters, the court’s civil cases stood out. Among them: • Winter v. DC Comics, 30 Cal.4th 881, in which the court unanimously held that a comic book parody of rockers Johnny and Edgar Winter — as half-human, half-worm subterranean villains — was protected by the First Amendment. The ruling, by Justice Ming Chin, built on the court’s 2001 decision, involving a likeness of The Three Stooges, that said expressive works are protected as long as they transform the piece into more than an imitation. The vile images of the Winters — and their comic book nemesis Jonah Hex — will join that of the Stooges in the official “California Reports.” • Ferguson v. Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, 30 Cal.4th 1037, in which Justice Janice Rogers Brown led a unanimous court in ruling that lawyers are not liable for lost punitive damages. • DVD Copy Control Association v. Bunner, 31 Cal.4th 864, in which Brown, writing for a unanimous court, enjoined an Internet Web site operator from posting software that permitted the decryption and copying of DVDs. • Intel Corp. v. Hamidi, 30 Cal.4th 1342, in which a divided court voted 4-3 that a disgruntled ex-employee’s mass e-mailings to his old employers do not constitute a trespassing. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote the majority opinion. • Sharon S. v. Superior Court (Annette F.), 31 Cal.4th 417, in which the court voted 6-1 to uphold second-parent adoptions, the method most same-sex couples use to adopt their partners’ children. Werdegar again wrote the majority opinion. • Saint Agnes Medical Center v. Pacificare of California, 03 C.D.O.S. 10926, in which Justice Marvin Baxter held in a unanimous decision that health care organizations do not waive their rights to arbitration if they file a separate suit during a dispute over a health services contract. • Colmenares v. Braemar Country Club Inc., 29 Cal.4th 1019, a unanimous opinion in which Justice Joyce Kennard ruled that state law defines a disability as a condition that limits a major life activity. That’s a much lower threshold than federal law, which requires that a major life activity be “substantially” limited. • Little v. Auto Stiegler Inc., 29 Cal.4th 1064, a 4-3 ruling by Justice Carlos Moreno that held that whistle-blowers are entitled to the same arbitration protections as employees who claim their statutory rights were violated. • White v. Davis, 30 Cal.4th 528, in which Chief Justice Ronald George ruled for a unanimous panel that the state controller could not pay state employees’ salaries during budget impasses. The court said legislators could get around that, however, by enacting emergency appropriations.

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