Actions of note at yesterday’s Supreme Court conference — a double one — included:

  • Supreme Court denies writ petition against Court of Appeal for criminal case delay, but asks for Judicial Council study.
  • The court granted review in People v. Espinoza, where the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s unpublished opinion affirmed the denial of a motion under Penal Code section 1473.7(a)(1), which allows relief if there’s been “prejudicial error damaging the moving party’s ability to meaningfully understand, defend against, or knowingly accept the actual or potential adverse immigration consequences of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.”  The appellate court concluded the defendant provided insufficient evidence, even though it allowed that “his history presents a sympathetic case for relief:  He came to this country more than 20 years prior to the convictions in this case and deportation will presumably result in separation from his immediate family.”  In May, the Supreme Court reversed a relief motion’s denial in People v. Vivar (2021) 11 Cal.5th 510.  [September 24 update:  the court on Monday limited the issue in Espinoza to:  “Did the Court of Appeal err in ruling that defendant failed to adequately corroborate his claim that immigration consequences were a paramount concern and thus that he could not demonstrate prejudice within the meaning of Penal Code section 1473.7?”]
  • The court denied review in In re A.C., but Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar recorded votes to grant.  The Third District’s unpublished opinion upheld a juvenile court’s denial of visitation to a mother because it concluded a finding of detriment to the child from reunification could be based on “a child’s emotional well-being” and didn’t require a risk of physical injury.
  • Justices Liu and Cuéllar also recorded dissenting votes from the denial of review in People v. Villa, where the unpublished opinion of the Second District, Division Six, affirmed the superior court’s denial of a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recommendation that the defendant’s first-degree murder sentence be recalled for resentencing.  There have been earlier recorded dissenting votes in similar cases.  (See here and here.)  Interestingly, the appellate court modified its Villa decision to delete a concurring opinion that the lead opinion — in a footnote that was also deleted — called “masterful.”
  • The court granted and held in Poblete v. Specialized Loan Servicing, another case waiting for a decision in Sheen v. Wells Fargo Bank (see here), which involves the issue whether a mortgage servicer owes a borrower a duty of care to refrain from making material misrepresentations about the status of a foreclosure sale following the borrower’s submission of, and the servicer’s agreement to review, an application to modify a mortgage loan.  The Third District’s unpublished Poblete opinion noted the issue is pending in Sheen, but concluded a demurrer was properly sustained because no breach of duty had been alleged “[e]ven assuming a duty of care might hypothetically exist.”
  • The court granted and transferred in Hutcheson v. Superior Court, after the First District, Division Two, summarily denied a writ petition.  The issue for the appellate court to now decide concerns whether a plaintiff substituting into a Private Attorneys General Act case can seek civil penalties for labor law violations occurring before the substitution.
  • The court also granted and transferred in Pfeister v. Superior Court.  The First District, Division One, had denied a writ petition regarding a misdemeanor because it concluded that jurisdiction “lies in the appellate division of the superior court” and that a transfer of the matter from the appellate division would be improper since the petitioner didn’t “appl[y] for certification for transfer in the appellate division.”  Among other things, the Supreme Court cited for Division One’s consideration Code of Civil Procedure section 904.3, which provides, “An appellate court may, in its discretion, upon petition for extraordinary writ, review the [appellate division’s] judgment.”
  • One more grant-and-transfer was in People v. Reddy, the court directing the Fourth District, Division Two, to “reconsider the cause in light of Assembly Bill No. 1869 (Stats. 2020, Ch. 92, §§ 11 & 62),” which makes “unenforceable and uncollectible” various court-imposed costs.  In affirming a conviction for assault with a firearm, the appellate court’s unpublished opinion concluded the defendant had forfeited a challenge to various fines, fees, and assessments because he didn’t object to them in the trial court.
  • Yet another grant-and-transfer was in In re Vinson, where the court directed the Second District, Division Seven, to reconsider its summary denial of a habeas corpus petition in light of the 2018 opinion in People v. Superior Court (Lara) (2018) 4 Cal.5th 299, which held that Proposition 57 — the 2016 initiative requiring prosecutors to obtain juvenile court permission before charging minors with crimes in adult court — applies retroactively “to all juveniles charged directly in adult court whose judgment was not final at the time it was enacted.”
  • There were 13 criminal case grant-and-holds:  nine more holding for a decision in People v. Strong (see here), two more holding for People v. Lopez (see here), and two more holding for People v. Tirado (see here).
  • The court disposed of a number of former grant-and-holds:
  1. It transferred Melamed v. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (see here, here, and here) for reconsideration in light of the 2019 decision in Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc. (2019) 7 Cal.5th 871 and the July decision in  Bonni v. St. Joseph Health System (2021) 11 Cal.5th 995.  [Disclosure:  In Melamed, Horvitz & Levy represented an amicus curiae in the Court of Appeal and also filed an amicus curiae letter in the Supreme Court requesting a briefing schedule in the case.]
  2. The court dismissed review in Sujan v. Corona Regional Medical Center (see here), which, like Melamed, had been waiting for the July decision in Bonni v. St. Joseph Health System (2021) 11 Cal.5th 995.
  3. The court dismissed review in Conservatorship of D.P. (see here), which had been holding for the June opinion in Conservatorship of K.P. (2021) 11 Cal.5th 695.
  4. The court sent six cases back to the Courts of Appeal for reconsideration in light of the July decision in People v. Valencia (2021) 11 Cal.5th 818 and one was transferred for reconsideration in light of Valencia and the 2020 opinion in People v. Perez (2020) 9 Cal.5th 1.