February 18, 2011

“Special” opinion filings Tuesday

The Supreme Court normally files its opinions at 10:00 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. When a Monday is a court holiday, like it will be next week, the court usually waits until Thursday to file a ready opinion. However, in what the court’s website is calling a “special filing,” the court will issue opinions in two cases on Tuesday. One of them — People v. Murtishaw — was argued just 10 days ago.

Why the rush? The court will expedite opinions when a case presents an urgent issue. But that doesn’t seem to apply to Murtishaw, which is a death penalty appeal from a 2002 judgment and which has been fully briefed since December 2009. We’re guessing it has to do with Justice Carlos Moreno’s impending retirement and the fact that he will not serve as a pro tem justice. With only two more “normal” filing dates before Justice Moreno retires, the court may be trying to file as many opinions as it can this month to avoid six-justice opinions.

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