The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted, (2) review has been denied but one or more justices has voted for review, or (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal.
P. (F.) v. Monier, S216566—Review Granted (issues limited)—April 16, 2014
The court limited the issue on review to be whether a trial court’s error in failing to issue a statement of decision upon a timely request is reversible per se.
After a bench trial regarding allegations that the defendant molested the plaintiff, the trial court found for the plaintiff and ordered the defendant to pay economic and noneconomic damages. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to issue a statement of decision, which made it impossible to tell whether the court properly allocated general damages under Proposition 51. Defendant claimed the error was reversible per se. In a published opinion, F.P. v. Monier (2014) 222 Cal.App.4th 1087, the Third District held that the erroneous failure to issue a statement of decision was not reversible, because the defendant failed to timely request an allocation of general damages at trial.
Gaines v. Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, S215990—Review Granted [Baxter, J., not voting for review]—April 16, 2014
The case presents the issue whether, instead of dismissing an action for failure to bring it to trial within five years, the trial court should have excluded from the five-year period the time during which the action was stayed for purposes of mediation. In a published opinion, Gaines vs. Fidelity National Title Insurance Company (2013) 222 Cal.App.4th 25, the Second District, Division Eight, held that the trial court did not err in dismissing the action as to all the defendants named in the original complaint, but did err in dismissing the action as to one later-named defendant. In rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that additional days should have been excluded from the five-year period, the Court of Appeal found controlling the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruns v. E-Commerce Exchange, Inc. (2011) 51 Cal.4th 717.
Review Denied (with dissenting justices)
Law School Admission Council v. State of California, S216650—Review Denied [Baxter, J., voting for review]—April 16, 2014
The test sponsor of the LSAT challenged the constitutionality of Education Code section 99161.5, which addresses testing accommodations for applicants with disabilities and limits the reporting of those accommodations to law schools. The trial court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the enforcement of section 99161.5 pending trial. In a published opinion, Law School Admissions Council, Inc. v. State (2014) 222 Cal.App.4th 1265, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed, holding section 99161.5 does not violate equal protection, is subject to intermediate scrutiny for commercial speech, does not constitute an invalid special statute, and does not constitute an invalid bill of attainder. Additionally, the court held that the trial court was required to deny the preliminary injunction because section 99161.5 doesn’t as a matter of law violate the First Amendment and the California Constitution’s liberty of speech provision. The petition for review presented the following issues: (1) Did the court of appeal err in reversing the lower court’s equal-protection based preliminary injunction, where section 99161.5 singles out the LSAT for regulation? (2) Did the Court of Appeal err in evaluating the liberty of speech claim, by failing to subject section 99161.5 to strict scrutiny, and then failing to properly apply the factors that must be considered when evaluating restrictions on commercial speech?
None. At least, no civil cases. But the court did depublish two criminal law opinions this week.
Additional Briefing Requested
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department v. Stiglitz, S206350.
The Supreme Court granted review 15 months ago and limited the issue to whether the hearing officer in an administrative appeal of the dismissal of a correctional officer employed by a county sheriff’s department has the authority to grant a motion under Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531. On Wednesday, the court ordered supplemental briefing — on a tight schedule, possibly indicating that the court wants to put the case on its late-May or June calendar — (1) Assuming that a motion for discovery of officer personnel records may be filed in an administrative proceeding (Evid. Code, § 1043, subd. (a)), and a hearing officer has authority to determine that the motion states good cause for discovery (Evid. Code, § 1043, subd. (b)(3)), is there any existing statutory mechanism that would allow the matter to be transferred to the superior court for an in camera review of the records by a judicial officer (Evid. Code, § 1045, subd. (b))? (2) If no existing statutory mechanism applies, do we have the authority to create such a transfer mechanism?