February 9, 2011

Shorthanded Supreme Court’s March calendar

The Supreme Court has announced its March oral argument calendar. It includes one case — Pooshs v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. — that was originally scheduled to be argued yesterday. That argument was postponed, possibly because Justice Carlos Moreno is retiring and will not serve as a pro tem justice on the cases in which he heard argument.

Interestingly, Court of Appeal justices have been assigned as pro tem justices for only four of the seven March arguments. Either more pro tem appointments will be announced later or a six-justice court will decide the remaining three cases. (We’re guessing it’s the former.) Until Governor Brown appoints, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments confirms, a replacement for Justice Moreno, the Supreme Court will be dealing with the headache of working shorthanded.

The March cases (and the issues presented, as stated on the court’s website) are:

Pooshs v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.: When multiple distinct personal injuries allegedly arise from smoking tobacco, does the earliest injury trigger the statute of limitations for all claims, including those based on a later injury?

Episcopal Church Cases: Did the Court of Appeal properly direct the entry of judgment on the pleadings in favor of the national Episcopal Church under Episcopal Church Cases (2009) 45 Cal.4th 467? [Disclosure: Horvitz & Levy is counsel for the petitioners.]

People v. Zambia (Jomo): (1) Does the offense of pandering require the specific intent to encourage another person to become a prostitute? (2) Can a defendant be convicted of pandering for offering to act as a pimp for a woman who appears to be already working as a prostitute?

People v. Anderson (Paul D.): Was defendant entitled to a jury instruction, without a request, on accident as a defense to robbery, and, if so, was the court’s failure to give the instruction prejudicial?

People v. Gonzales (Veronica Utilia): [This is an automatic appeal from a death sentence. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

In re V.V. and In re J.H.: Consolidated cases raising the issues, Was the evidence insufficient to support the finding that juvenile wards J.H. and V.V. committed arson in violation of Penal Code section 451, subdivision (c)? Does the “malice” element of arson require the intent to do harm?

People v. Vines (Sean Venyette): [This is an automatic appeal from a death sentence. The court’s website does not list issues for such appeals.]

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