August 7, 2013

Death penalty, immigration/plea opinions filing tomorrow

The Supreme Court tomorrow will file two criminal law opinions.

People v. Maciel, argued on the June calendar, is an automatic direct appeal from a May 1998 judgment of death.

In People v. Martinez, which was argued on the late-May calendar, the court will address these issues: (1) Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion to withdraw his 1992 guilty plea based on the failure of the trial court at the time of the plea to advise him of the immigration consequences of his plea, as mandated by Penal Code section 1016.5? (2) In ruling on such a motion, should a court consider in addition to the defendant’s prospects at trial, factors such as the possibility that had the defendant been properly warned, he might have obtained an immigration-neutral disposition or might have preferred his chances at trial over the certainty of deportation if he entered the plea?

When these opinions are filed, 10 of the 15 cases argued in late May and early June will still be pending without a decision. Because of the requirement that opinions be filed within 90 days of the oral argument, and because the court normally issues its decisions on Mondays and Thursdays, expect to see those 10 opinions come out within a 17-day span before the end of the month.

We believe that, besides the remaining late-May, early-June cases, there is only one other argued case without an opinion — Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno. Although Sonic-Calabasas was argued in April, well more than 90 days ago, the Supreme Court after argument asked for supplemental briefing and resubmitted the case less than three weeks ago. Expect an opinion in that case by October 21.

There are no other cases in the pipeline because, as usual, the court did not hear any arguments in July or August. The next arguments should be heard right after Labor Day. The court will likely announce that calendar within the next seven days.

The Maciel and Martinez opinions can be viewed online tomorrow beginning at 10:00 a.m.

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