November 14, 2011

Five cases on the December calendar as the Supreme Court returns to Los Angeles

When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments next month in Los Angeles, it will have been six months since the court last sat in the Southland. But the justices won’t be sticking around for long. They will hear five cases all on one day — December 6. Then they will be gone until April.

The cases (and the issues presented, as stated on the court’s website) that will be argued in December are:

People v. Johnson: Should trial courts apply a higher standard of mental competence for self-representation than for competency to stand trial? (See Indiana v. Edwards (2008) 554 U.S. 164.)

People v. Mil: Is harmless error analysis appropriate when the trial court omits multiple elements from a jury instruction on special circumstance murder, and if so, was the error harmless in this case?

People v. Elliot: [This is an automatic appeal from a June 1992 judgment of death. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

People v. Superior Court and In re Lucas: (1) What constitutes “good cause” for the imposition of a 45-day hold and extension of a scheduled parole date under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6601.3 to permit evaluation of the defendant under the Sexually Violent Predator Act? (2) Is California Code of Regulations, title 15, section 2600.1, subdivision (d), which defines the term “good cause” as used in section 6601.3 as “some evidence” that the inmate has a prior qualifying conviction and is likely to engage in predatory criminal behavior, a valid regulation? (3) Does the “good faith mistake of law or fact” exception apply in these cases?

People v. Thomas: [This is an automatic appeal from an August 1995 judgment of death. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

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