The Supreme Court was again stingy with its review grants at its weekly conference yesterday. Here are the highlights:
- In People v. Baker, the court denied the petition for review, but Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar recorded votes to grant. The Fourth District, Division One, Court of Appeal, in a published opinion, found constitutional a 15-year-to-life prison sentence for the defendant’s oral copulation of his 6-year-old niece even though the superior court “expressed its view that the sentence was ‘absolutely disproportionate to the crime that was committed’ and encouraged [the defendant] to appeal on Eighth Amendment grounds.”
- The court issued two grant-and-hold orders. One is another pension case — McGlynn v. State of California. The case is holding for Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Assn. v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Assn. Alameda County and other pension cases are a big deal. McGlynn concerns the pensions of six superior court judges. The judges lost in a published opinion by the First District, Division One.
- The second grant-and-hold — Chambers v. Superior Court — is now waiting for an opinion in People v. Superior Court (Smith), in which review was granted more than three years ago. The issues in Smith are: “(1) Is an expert retained by the prosecution in a proceeding under the Sexually Violent Predator Act allowed to review otherwise confidential treatment information under Welfare and Institutions Code section 5328? (2) Is the district attorney entitled to review medical and psychological treatment records or is access limited to confidential treatment information contained in an updated mental evaluation conducted under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6603, subdivision (c)(1)?” In Chambers, the Fourth District, Division Three, summarily denied the defendant’s writ petition.
- In In re Snow, the court referred to the superior court for findings on specified issues a habeas corpus petition filed by a condemned prisoner whose 1990 death sentence the court affirmed on direct appeal in 2003, the same year the habeas petition was filed. The issues concern the defense lawyer’s competency during the penalty phase of the trial.
- At the Governor’s request, the court recommended clemency for a murderer serving a life-without-parole sentence. (See here.)
- In a case already on review where the parties’ briefing was otherwise complete, the court ordered supplemental briefing. It’s one of the Facebook cases, Facebook v. Superior Court (Touchstone), and the court wants the parties to address the effect of the recent opinion in the other Facebook case, Facebook Inc. v. Superior Court (Hunter), in which the court opened the door to criminal defendants obtaining from social media service providers “communications configured by a social media user to be public.”
- The court granted and transferred in two criminal cases following summary denials of writ petitions by the Sixth District and by the Fourth District, Division Three.
- It transferred back to the Court of Appeal one fully briefed, review-granted criminal case.
- The court dismissed review in or transferred back to the Court of Appeal one civil and five criminal grant-and-hold cases.