The Supreme Court today posted “A Year in Review” report covering September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2018. The report offers some insights into the effect on the court of Proposition 66, the ballot measure designed to speed up executions in California. The initiative passed in 2016, but was stayed by the court and didn’t take effect until a year ago after the court mostly rejected challenges against it.
The report includes this about Proposition 66:
Although full implementation of the proposition’s changes is an ongoing process, the Supreme Court has already taken actions reflecting the proposition’s intent to move [death penalty] habeas corpus matters to the superior courts. For example, over the 2017-2018 year in 14 cases the court directed that proceedings historically taking place in the Supreme Court would instead be conducted in the superior court in which the trials were held.
In January, the Chief Justice, as chairperson of the California Judicial Council, appointed a council working group to develop rules, forms, and other measures to implement aspects of Proposition 66 that impact court functions. The working group will submit its recommendations to the council for approval, with implementation expected by spring 2019.
The court has reserved its option to transfer death penalty habeas petitions to the superior court. It has both transferred petitions (e.g., here) and exercised its authority to decide them itself (e.g., here).
The report does not mention whether the court is making a conscious effort to hear more death penalty appeals in light of Proposition 66.
There’s other interesting stuff in the report, too, including statistics showing why you shouldn’t feel alone when the court denies your petition for review.