Actions of note at yesterday’s Supreme Court conference included:

  • Supreme Court signs off on commutation of LWOP sentence, with an older clemency recommendation request still pending
  • The court granted review in Tansavatdi v. City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  In a published opinion, the Second District, Division Four, Court of Appeal partially reversed a defense summary judgment, holding a statutory immunity that protected the defendant city from liability for designing an alleged dangerous condition did not necessarily preclude liability for failing to warn of the dangerous condition.  The plaintiff’s son was killed when, while bicycling, he collided with a truck on a portion of a street without a bike lane.  The appellate court relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in Cameron v. State of California (1972) 7 Cal.3d 318 for the conclusion that design immunity does not automatically eliminate failure-to-warn liability, and it disagreed with a brief, contrary interpretation of Cameron by the Sixth District in Weinstein v. Department of Transportation (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 52, 61.  [April 23 update:  Under a rule change that the court adopted on the same day it granted review in Tansavatdi, superior courts can now apparently follow Tansavatdi‘s interpretation of Cameron and not be required to follow Weinstein‘s.]  [April 29 update:  The court has now limited the issue — see here.]
  • The court denied two defendants’ petitions for review in People v. Jaimes, but it granted the Attorney General’s request to depublish the Fifth District’s divided, partially published opinion that held the superior court erroneously responded to a jury question about the meaning of a charged sentence enhancement for a person “convicted of a felony committed . . . in association with any criminal street gang.”  (See also People v. Renteria, below.)
  • The court refused to overturn a Court of Appeal writ blocking discovery sought by defendant pharmaceutical companies in litigation brought by the State alleging that the defendants’ marketing of prescription opioid medications caused an opioid abuse crisis in California.  Review was denied in Board of Registered Nursing v. Superior Court, where the Fourth District, Division One, issued a published opinion after a Supreme Court grant-and-transfer (see here).  Trial in the case is underway, as Blaise Scemama reports in today’s Daily Journal.  The article describes it as a “$50 billion virtual bench trial” that “will likely provide a roadmap for thousands of settlements of similar lawsuits throughout the nation.”
  • After granting review last week in People v. Renteria (see here), the court yesterday limited the issue in the case to:  “When a member of a criminal street gang acts alone in committing a felony, what evidence will suffice to establish the felony was ‘committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members’?  (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (b)(1); see People v. Albillar (2010) 51 Cal.4th 47, 59-60.)”  (See also People v. Jaimes, above.)
  • The court asked counsel in People v. Esquivel to address at oral argument in two weeks “the issue described in this court’s August 12, 2020 order granting review, not the remedy, if any, to which defendant may be entitled if the judgment is nonfinal.”  (Link added.)  That issue is:  “Is the judgment in a criminal case considered final for purposes of applying a later ameliorative change in the law when probation is granted and execution of sentence is suspended or only upon revocation of probation when the suspended sentence is ordered into effect?”  The change in the law is Senate Bill 136.
  • There were two criminal case grant-and-transfers after summary Court of Appeal actions, including in one case — People v. Batiste — where the Supreme Court directed the appellate court to “consider whether the summary reversal procedure used is appropriate in light of California Constitution, article VI, sections 3 and 14, People v. Brigham (1979) 25 Cal.3d 283, Government Code section 68081, and Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.200(a).”
  • There were 17 criminal case grant-and-holds:  two more holding for a decision in People v. Lopez (see here), seven more holding for People v. Lewis (see here), two more holding for Lopez and People v. Strong (see here), two more holding for Lewis and Strong, one more holding for Lopez and Lewis, one more holding for Lewis and People v. Delgadillo (see here) (that’s a total of 249 Lewis grant-and-holds), one holding for People v. Tacardon (see here), and one more holding for  People v. Lemcke (originally People v. Rudd, although it probably should still be Rudd, because the court granted Rudd’s petition for review and denied Lemcke’s) (see here), which was argued last month.