Besides clearing the way for two more clemency grants, the Supreme Court at its Wednesday conference took the following actions of note:

  • The court granted review in Rivera v. Kent and limited the issues to:  “Does the state have a mandatory duty to complete Medi-Cal eligibility determinations for all completed applications within 45 days, or does the existence of a performance standard nullify that duty?  Does the Department of Health Care Services have a mandatory duty to ensure adherence to Medi-Cal’s timeliness requirement, even where it has delegated responsibilities to the counties?”  Calling the statutory interpretation issues “highly complex,” the published opinion of the First District, Division Four, Court of Appeal ruled against applicants for Medi-Cal benefits, concluding that the Department does not have a duty to make all Medi-Cal eligibility determinations within 45 days, just 90 percent of them.  The appellate court held that a 45-day deadline provided by state and federal statutes and regulations “is merely a target, not an absolute requirement.”
  • There were four criminal case grant-and-transfers.  In two, Davidson v. Superior Court and Lopez v. Superior Court, the court directed the Third District to address whether Senate Bill 1437 — the new felony-murder legislation — unconstitutionally amended two initiatives passed by the voters.  The court has at least a couple of SB 1437 cases pending before it, but they don’t involve the constitutional issue (at least not yet), an issue the court hasn’t seemed in any rush to decide.  (See here, here, here, and here.)
  • The court also granted and transferred in Wood v. Superior Court, directing the Fourth District, Division One, to consider an “issue of the application of the attorney-client communication privilege to the disputed discovery.”  The appellate court had summarily denied a writ petition.
  • The court denied review in Metoyer v. Farahan, but Justices Goodwin Liu and Joshua Groban recorded votes to grant.  In a 2-1 unpublished opinion, the Second District, Division Eight, affirmed the dismissal on statute of limitations grounds of a pro per’s case alleging legal malpractice in the mishandling of his federal habeas corpus petition.  A concurring and dissenting opinion says the appeal “brings to the fore the uncomfortable challenges California courts confront when dealing with individuals who ineptly represent themselves in civil litigation.”  The opinion concludes that, “[i]f the courts of the State of California are going to allow civil litigants to represent themselves, we should be prepared to cut them some slack.”
  • The court denied review in People v. Chen, but it depublished the opinion by the First District, Division Three.  Moreover, Justices Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar recorded votes to grant review and transfer the case to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration.  The appellate court rejected a defendant’s attempt to vacate a marijuana cultivation conviction on grounds “trial counsel failed to properly advise her of the adverse immigration consequences of her plea agreement.”
  • There were five criminal case grant-and-holds.