A “straight grant” is when the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case and puts the case on track for briefing, oral argument, and an opinion.  It’s in contrast to grant-and-holds and grant-and-transfers (and, of course, denials), where an opinion is not anticipated.

There were no straight grants at yesterday’s conference.  And this was the fourth conference in a row without one.  There hasn’t been a straight grant since October 21, and even then there was just one, in a significant voting rights case.

There were nonetheless some actions of note, including:

  • The court denied review in People v. Williams, but Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar recorded votes to grant.  The justices don’t say why they dissented, but it’s probably because of the issue that divided the Second District, Division Six, Court of Appeal, in its unpublished opinion — an unsuccessful Batson/Wheeler claim of racial discrimination in jury selection (see, e.g., here).  The appellate court majority concluded, “The record supports the trial court’s ruling that the prosecutor’s peremptory challenge to prospective juror number 3 was not based on race.”  The dissent wasn’t convinced and, after citing two Justice Liu dissents (see here and here) and a recent UC Berkeley report (see here and here), said the prosecutor in the case should be required to further explain why he dismissed the last remaining Black prospective juror.  The majority testily responded, “To what end?  To invent a reason acceptable to the dissent?”
  • The court issued an order to show cause, returnable in the Court of Appeal, in In re Parks, a habeas corpus petition filed over a year ago by the California Innocence Project.  The Supreme Court said the issue is to be whether “petitioner’s conviction is lawful.”  According to the Project’s write-up on the case, Parks was convicted of setting a fire that killed her three children and she was sentenced to life without parole.  The Supreme Court denied a petition for review, presumably concerning Parks’s conviction, in 1995.  In March, Governor Gavin Newsom commuted her sentence to 27-years-to-life.
  • In In re Mendoza, a habeas corpus proceeding initiated in early 2018, the court issued an order to show cause, returnable in the superior court, “why petitioner is not entitled to relief based on her claim that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance at sentencing by failing to seek dismissal of the Penal Code section 209 enhancement for infliction of bodily harm under Penal Code section 1385.”  (Link added.)  Four years ago, the Supreme Court denied a petition for review without prejudice to filing the habeas petition.
  • The court granted review and transferred in Noble v. Superior Court, with instructions for the Fifth District to issue an order to show cause on a writ petition the appellate court had summarily denied.  The case might involve a domestic violence issue, because the Family Violence Appellate Project is co-counsel for the petitioner.  When it denied the writ petition, the appellate court said the petition “challenges a temporary order, and the dissolution matter is still pending.”
  • The court denied review in Albarracin v. Fidelity National Financial, Inc.  It’s a punitive damages case that Horvitz & Levy companion blog California Punitive Damages discussed here, here, and here.
  • There were eight criminal case grant-and-holds:  six more holding for a decision in People v. Lewis (see here) and two more holding for both Lewis and People v. Lopez (see here).