May 8, 2012

Cramming for finals: the last two calendars before the summer

The Supreme Court normally hears oral arguments on two or three days in one week at the beginning of each month. There are two exceptions. The court does not hear any arguments in July or August and it schedules arguments during two consecutive weeks before its summer “break.”

This year, the court will be working overtime during those last two pre-summer calendars. Following an unusually heavy calendar last week, the court will hear a total of another 25 arguments — 18 in San Francisco on May 29, 30, and 31, and 7 in Los Angeles on June 5 and 6. Continuing a trend, most of the cases (19 of the 25) are criminal matters, including 5 automatic death penalty appeals.

The court will hear the following cases (with the issues presented as stated on the court’s website):

Pinnacle Museum Tower Assn. v. Pinnacle Market Development (US), LLC: (1) Is a homeowners association bound by an arbitration provision contained in the covenants, conditions, and restrictions for a common interest development that were executed and recorded prior to the time the association came into existence? (2) Did the Court of Appeal err by applying the state law doctrine of unconscionability only to the arbitration provision, and not to other provisions in the covenants, conditions and restrictions, in light of federal law prohibiting the application of state law to treat arbitration provisions differently from other provisions of the same agreement? (See Allied-Bruce Terminix Cos. v. Dobson (1995) 513 U.S. 265.)

Parks v. MBNA America Bank N.A.: (1) Is Civil Code section 1748.9, which requires credit card issuers to make certain disclosures on checks issued to cardholders for cash advances from the cardholders’ credit card accounts, preempted by the National Bank Act (12 U.S.C. section 21 et seq.)? (2) Is 12 Code of Federal Regulations section 7.4008, which was promulgated under the National Bank Act by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and which provides that state laws that impair a nationally chartered bank’s non real-estate banking powers are not applicable to nationally chartered banks, a valid regulation?

Leung v. Verdugo Hills Hospital: Should the common law rule that a release for consideration of one joint tortfeasor operates as a release of the joint and several liability of all joint tortfeasors be abandoned in light of statutory and case law modifications of the joint and several liability rule?

People v. Valdez: [This is an automatic appeal from a June 1997 judgment of death. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

People v. Duenas: [This is an automatic appeal from a January 1999 judgment of death. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

People v. Gonzales: [This is an automatic appeal from a January 1998 judgment of death. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

State of California v. Continental Insurance Co.: (1) When continuous property damage occurs during the periods of several successive liability policies, is each insurer liable for all damage both during and outside its period up to the amount of the insurer’s policy limits? (2) If so, is the “stacking” of limits – i.e., obtaining the limits of successive policies – permitted?

In re W.B.: Is Welfare and Institutions Code section 224.3, which requires tribal notification under the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. section 1901 et seq.) of a juvenile delinquency proceeding (Welf. & Inst. Code, section 602) when a juvenile is charged with an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult, preempted because it expands jurisdiction to proceedings expressly excluded from the Act?

People v. Runyan: Did the trial court err in awarding restitution to a manslaughter victim’s estate as a “direct victim” of the crime within the meaning of Penal Code section 1202.4, subdivision (k)(2)?

People v. Turnage: (1) Does Penal Code, section 148.1, subdivision (d), violate equal protection principles because a violation is punishable as an alternative felony-misdemeanor without a finding that a person was placed in sustained fear? (See Pen. Code, section 11418.1.) (2) If so, what is the proper remedy?

In re Bacigalupo: The court issued an order to show cause limited to claims that the prosecution withheld potentially mitigating evidence that may have affected the penalty determination in a death penalty case.

People v. McKinzie: [This is an automatic appeal from an August 1999 judgment of death. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

Coito v. Superior Court: Is the statement of a witness that is taken in writing or otherwise recorded verbatim by an attorney or the attorney’s representative entitled to the protection of the California work product privilege?

People v. Aranda: Is the trial court’s failure to give a standard reasonable doubt instruction (CALJIC No. 2.90) reversible per se or is such failure subject to harmless error review? If so, should harmless error be assessed under People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 818, or Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18?

People v. Sauceda-Contreras: (1) After defendant had been given his Miranda rights, did his statement – “If you can bring me a lawyer . . . that way I can tell you everything that I know and everything that I need to tell you and someone to represent me” – constitute a clear invocation of his right to counsel that required questioning to cease and did not permit the interrogating officers to attempt to clarify what defendant meant? (2) Was any error in the admission of defendant’s subsequent statements harmless beyond a reasonable doubt?

People v. Caballero: Does a sentence of 110 years to life for a juvenile convicted of committing non-homicide offenses constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment on the ground it is the functional equivalent of a life sentence without the possibility of parole? (See Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. __ , 130 S.Ct. 2011, 176 L.Ed.2d 825.)

People v. Gonzalez: (1) Was the evidence sufficient to convict defendant of first degree provocative act murder? (2) Was the instructional error in failing to tell jurors that defendant had to personally premeditate an attempted murder in order to be guilty of first degree provocative act murder harmless beyond a reasonable doubt?

People v. Houston: [This is an automatic appeal from a September 1993 judgment of death. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

In re Greg F.: Can a juvenile court dismiss a juvenile wardship petition in the interests of justice and commit a juvenile ward to the Department of Juvenile Justice on the basis of a prior sustained petition, even though Welfare and Institutions Code section 733 prohibits such a commitment of a juvenile ward unless “the most recent offense alleged in any petition and admitted or found to be true by the court” is a offense specified in subdivision (c) of that section and the offense alleged in the dismissed petition was not one of those specified offenses?

People v. Lara: Does a trial court have discretion to dismiss or strike a prior serious felony conviction under Penal Code section 1385 in order to award the defendant additional presentence credits under Penal Code section 4019?

LeFiell Manufacturing Co. v. Superior Court: Can the spouse of an injured worker claim damages for loss of consortium in an action at law brought by the injured worker under Labor Code section 4558 for damages allegedly caused by an employer’s knowing removal of or failure to install a safety guard on a power press?

People v. Lopez: (1) Was defendant denied his right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when the trial court admitted into evidence the results of blood-alcohol level tests and a report prepared by a criminalist who did not testify at trial? (2) Was the error prejudicial in light of the testimony of a supervising criminalist about testing procedures at the lab? (3) How does the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 2527, 174 L.Ed.2d 314, affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 Cal.4th 555?

People v. Dungo: (1) Was defendant denied his right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when one forensic pathologist testified to the manner and cause of death in a murder case based upon an autopsy report prepared by another pathologist? (2) How does the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 2527, 174 L.Ed.2d 314, affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 Cal.4th 555?

People v. Rutterschmidt: (1) Was defendant denied her right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when a supervising criminalist testified as to the result of drug tests and the report prepared by another criminalist? (2) How does the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 2527, 174 L.Ed.2d 314, affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 Cal.4th 555?

In re Coley: Does defendant’s sentence of 25 years to life under the three strikes law for failing to update his sex offender registration within five days of his birthday constitute cruel and unusual punishment?

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