The Supreme Court today denied review in People v. Superior Court (Alexander C.), where the First District, Division Four, Court of Appeal rejected in a published opinion the Solano County District Attorney’s challenge to the validity of a new law — Senate Bill 1391 — that severely restricts prosecutions in adult criminal court of crimes committed by anyone under 16 years old. The DA claimed SB 1391 could not stand because it conflicts with Proposition 57, the 2016 initiative sponsored by then-Governor Jerry Brown that, among other things, limited — but did not eliminate — prosecutors’ ability to charge 14- and 15-year-olds in criminal court with court permission.
An interesting aspect of the case is the split among law enforcement about the new law. While the Solano DA attacked SB 1391, as a number of DA’s around the state have done in other cases (see, e.g., here), California’s Attorney General defended the statute’s validity, filing a brief for the respondent superior court in the writ proceeding.
Because a few superior court judges have ruled against SB 1391, some have predicted the Supreme Court will resolve the issue. Today’s denial of review shows that might not be true, however. As long as the Courts of Appeal and the Attorney General all agree that the law is valid, there is no particular urgency for high court review. It would be another story if a Court of Appeal struck down the law.