April 30, 2015
Coming up one vote short of the four needed to grant a petition for review doesn’t happen every day, but yesterday was one of those days. In People v. Almanza, Justices Kathryn Werdegar, Goodwin Liu, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar — and nobody else — voted for review, even though the Court of Appeal itself was certainly inviting that the case be taken up. (One caveat: three votes for review can happen more often than we know; justices don’t always make public their dissenting votes on petitions for review.)
Werdegar, Liu, and Cuéllar are the same solitary three justices who voted for a rehearing in different case last week. Also, Cuéllar and Liu were the only recorded votes for one petition for review at Cuéllar’s first Supreme Court conference. Analysts seem intent on determining whether Governor Brown’s three appointees — Liu, Cuéllar, and Leondra Kruger — will be a bloc and some expressed surprise when Kruger did not join Liu and Cuéllar in voting for the rehearing petition. It would be better to wait to see if any significant disagreements develop among the three in opinions the court files. By our count, there have been no such disagreements in any of the ten opinions in which Cuéllar and Kruger have participated, unless you count Liu’s concurring opinion in Coffey v. Shiomoto.