Justin Kloczko reports in the Daily Journal about last week’s Supreme Court order that requests an answer to the May 12 petition for review in Council for Education and Research on Toxics v. Superior Court, another case on the court’s pandemic docket of which we were previously unaware.  According to the article, the petition challenges on due process grounds the Los Angeles Superior Court’s refusal to allow civil matters (except for some emergency cases) to proceed by telephonic hearings.

The order “direct[s]” the Superior Court itself to file an answer and permits the real parties in interest to also file an answer.

The petitioner first filed an original writ petition in the Supreme Court at the end of March, but the court transferred the matter to the Second District Court of Appeal over two weeks later.  Division Four of the appellate court summarily denied the petition on May 8 “because petitioner has failed to demonstrate a prima facie case that it is entitled to extraordinary relief.  (Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois, Inc. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 953, 967; see also NBC Subsidiary (KNBC-TV), Inc. v. Superior Court (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1178, 1222, fn. 46.)”  In Rutherford, the Supreme Court said, “It is . . . well established that courts have fundamental inherent equity, supervisory, and administrative powers, as well as inherent power to control litigation before them,” but that, “regardless of their source of authority, ‘trial judges have no authority to issue courtroom local rules which conflict with any statute’ or are ‘inconsistent with law.’ ”  Footnote 46 of the NBC case discusses “overriding interests” justifying partial closure to the press and public of civil court proceedings.

Under the Supreme Court’s order, the answer or answers to the current petition for review are due Thursday and a reply may be filed by Friday.

[June 17 update:  the Supreme Court denied review on June 17.]