The big news at the Supreme Court’s Wednesday conference was the decision to hear on the merits, and on a very expedited basis, the California Republican Party’s state constitutional challenge to the Legislature’s new law requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.  Other actions of note included:

  • The court granted review in People v. Raybon, where the Third District Court of Appeal held in a published opinion that Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that generally legalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, extends to prison inmates, allowing them to possess — but not smoke or ingest — a little bit of pot.
  • The court also granted review in Han v. Hallberg and limited the issues to:  “Can a trust be a partner in a partnership?  Does the death of a partner who has transferred his partnership interest into a trust trigger the buyout-on-death term in the partnership agreement?” [Disclosure:  Horvitz & Levy is appellate counsel for defendant Hallberg.]  The Second District, Division Eight, disagreed with a 2009 decision by the Fourth District, Division Three, and held in a published opinion that, “[w]hile a trust cannot act in its own name and must always act through its trustee, a trust is a ‘person’ that may associate in a partnership” and that the trust continues to be a partner in the partnership after the former partner/trustee’s death.
  • In yet another grant, the court agreed to hear Molina v. Superior Court, which has some procedural aspects of interest:
  1.  The Fourth District, Division Three, held in a published opinion that, although the petitioner was apparently entitled to have his conviction for a gang-related crime vacated, he picked the wrong procedure for getting that relief.  He filed a mandate petition in the superior court, which the appellate court concluded was improper — “A superior court judge cannot mandate another superior court judge to vacate a judgment because the superior court judge who pronounced judgment is not an inferior tribunal.”
  2.  Nor was the Court of Appeal interested in pointing the petitioner in the right direction:  “It is not our role to weigh in on what may be the proper vehicle for relief.”  (Cf. here and here.)  This despite the appellate court having specifically asked for briefing on whether a writ of error coram nobis was the proper way to go.
  3.  The Supreme Court not only granted review, but depublished the Court of Appeal opinion.  The combined grant/depublication is a rarity; it has happened only once that we can remember since the rule change to eliminate automatic depublication when review is granted.  (It could have happened other times that escape memory.)
  4.  The Supreme Court earlier granted and transferred this case after the Court of Appeal summarily denied the writ petition the petitioner had filed in that court.
  5.  The Court of Appeal made similar rulings in five other cases, all of which the Supreme Court made grant-and-holds yesterday.
  • The court denied review in People v. Carter, but Justice Goodwin Liu recorded a vote to grant.  It’s not clear what issue piqued Justice Liu’s interest, but it could have been the one that divided the Fourth District, Division One, in its published opinion.  One defendant argued that, under Penal Code section 654, he could not be punished for both robbery and murder because the jury based its murder verdict on a felony-murder theory.  Rejecting the argument’s premise, the majority held the verdict could have been based on a premeditation theory, which would allow multiple punishments, even though the jury made a finding that the defendant had not personally discharged a firearm.
  • There was also a recorded vote, by Justice Leondra Kruger, in People v. Ibanez.  Again, the reason for the vote is not stated, but the Court of Appeal was divided on one issue.  The majority unpublished opinion by the Fourth District, Division Two, found there was substantial evidence to support a gang enhancement in an attempted murder case and the dissenting justice asserted there was not.
  • Besides the five Molina grant-and-holds (above), there were four other criminal case grant-and-holds.  There were also two criminal case grant-and-transfers.