November 14, 2013
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “[e]veryone has the right to rest and leisure.” For a while this week, however, it looked like the Declaration included some fine print saying that the right might not apply if your leisure conflicts with a California Supreme Court argument. But there is a happy ending after all.
In one pending case — People v. Infante — defense counsel four months ago filed with the court a “Notice of Planned Vacation” asking that oral argument not be scheduled between November 28 and December 17, which essentially meant the first week in December because that’s the only time during the period that the court will hear arguments. So, counsel must have been a bit surprised when the recently announced December calendar included his case, to be argued right in the middle of his vacation.
When asked about this, the court’s clerk said that the attorney’s vacation notice had been inadvertently overlooked. And today the court issued an amended calendar, stating that Infante will be continued to January.
This raises the general question of how counsel in a fully briefed, pending case should handle a planned vacation. The answer seems to be to do just what the attorney in the Infante case did — notify the court of vacation plans well before the court puts the case on its argument calendar. The court’s clerk tells us that, although the court does not have a formal policy on attorney vacation notices, it definitely takes such notices into account in setting its oral argument calendars and attempts to accommodate reasonable vacation plans. This is borne out by the Infante continuance.
Here’s what you don’t want to do: wait to tell the court about your vacation plans until after your case has been placed on calendar. We know of at least one case where that did not earn a continuance.
In addition to continuing the Infante argument, the amended December calendar adds one case to the December 5 session — People v. Jackson, an automatic direct appeal from a February 2000 death penalty judgment.