Here are some notable Supreme Court actions at its conference yesterday:
Public records retention. The court granted review in both City of Gilroy v. Superior Court and Law Foundation of Silicon Valley v. Superior Court, consolidated the cases, and made City of Gilroy the lead case. In a published opinion resolving both writ proceedings, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled for a city regarding its response to requests under the California Public Records Act for disclosure of some videos, including police body-cam videos, of officers clearing homeless encampments. Among other things, the appellate court concluded that statutes other than the CPRA govern record retention and, although recognizing “public records that are potentially responsive to a public records request may be deleted while the request is pending,” the court held the CPRA neither requires the retention of potentially responsive records nor does it “impose a duty on public agencies to advise persons requesting public records of the existence of retention statutes.” Additionally, an appellate procedural issue the Supreme Court might or might not address is whether the Sixth District was correct when it modified its opinion to say “[t]he parties shall bear their own costs on appeal” [sic: these were original proceedings, not appeals] instead of awarding costs to the city as the original opinion did, and yet stated the modification effected “no change in the judgment.”
Prior prison enhancements. The court also agreed to hear People v. Rhodius, where a Fourth District, Division Two, published opinion upheld the partial denial of resentencing. Penal Code section 1172.75 invalidates many sentence enhancements for prior prison terms if the enhancements were “imposed prior to January 1, 2020.” Division Two held the statute applies only to those enhancements that were “imposed and executed,” not “imposed and stayed.” Rhodius already has its own grant-and-hold. (See below.)
Early parole. Justices Goodwin Liu and Martin Jenkins recorded dissenting votes from the denials of review in In re Hicks and In re Koenig. Published opinions by the Second District, Division Two (here) and the Third District (here), respectively, rejected claims of entitlement to early parole consideration under California Constitution article I, section 32(a)(1) (adopted by 2016’s Proposition 57), which requires parole consideration for “[a]ny person convicted of a nonviolent felony offense and sentenced to state prison . . . after completing the full term for his or her primary offense.” Both petitions were before the Courts of Appeal after the Supreme Court issued orders to show cause. (Hicks — here and here; Koenig — here and here.) Both orders followed the Supreme Court’s decision in In re Mohammad (2022) 12 Cal.5th 518 (see here), which upheld regulations making early parole off limits to an inmate who is incarcerated for both nonviolent and violent felonies. In Mohammad, Justice Liu wrote a concurring opinion for himself and Justice Leondra Kruger saying there were a number of “[l]urking” questions that weren’t ripe for decision in that case. (12 Cal.5th at p. 542.)
Newspersons’ shield law. The court denied a request to depublish the partially published Fifth District opinion in The Bakersfield Californian v. Superior Court and it declined to review the case on its own motion. The appellate court upheld a murder defendant’s subpoena for a reporter’s unpublished materials from a jailhouse interview she conducted with a codefendant. This despite article I, section 2(b), of the California Constitution, which protects reporters who “refus[e] to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.” (See also Evidence Code section 1070.) Quoting a Supreme Court case, the Fifth District said, “as held in Delaney v. Superior Court (1990) 50 Cal.3d 785, 793 . . . , shield law immunity ‘must yield to a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial.’ ” The newspaper said it would seek depublication, but not review, “weighing the likelihood of the Supreme Court granting review and the costs involved, likely exceeding $100,000 after already spending roughly the same to take the case this far. Only about 3% of cases filed in the California Supreme Court are actually reviewed, and in this case, the Court of Appeal wrote a detailed, 57-page response, making it unlikely to be a case the California Supreme Court would hear.”
Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were seven criminal case grant-and-holds: two more waiting for a decision in People v. Hardin (see here and here), which was argued over two months ago (video here); one more holding for People v. Mitchell (see here); one more waiting for People v. Emanuel (see here); another one on hold for People v. Lopez (see here); one more waiting for In re Hernandez (see here); and one holding for People v. Rhodius (see above).