Yesterday’s conference was the fourth one in row without a straight grant of review. There hasn’t been a straight grant since September 15, and then there was only one. Conference actions of interest include:
- In Rittiman v. Public Utilities Commission, the court granted review and transferred the case back to the First District, Division One, Court of Appeal with directions to vacate its order denying a writ petition and to hear the petition on its merits. According to a write-up by the First Amendment Coalition, which submitted an amicus letter in support of the petition for review, the case involves a so far unsuccessful Public Records Act request by reporters for emails between PUC officials and Governor Gavin Newsom staffers concerning the PUC’s oversight of Pacific Gas & Electric.
- The court denied review in People v. Morales, but Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar recorded dissenting votes to grant. In a partially published — and partially divided — opinion, the First District, Division Four, mostly affirmed a conviction for two counts of first degree murder and other felonies. Because the defendant raised six different issues and the dissenting votes are unexplained, it’s not certain what attracted Justices Liu’s and Cuéllar’s attention, but it’s probably the issue that was the subject of the appellate court dissenting opinion, which asserted a parole eligibility statute applicable to minors, but not to young adult offenders, sentenced to life without parole violates equal protection principles. Earlier this year, Justice Liu has twice issued separate statements on that constitutional issue. (See here and here.)
- The court granted-and-held In re M.K., which will wait for the court’s decision in In re D.P. Review was granted in D.P. five months ago and the issues were limited to: “(1) Is an appeal of a juvenile court’s jurisdictional finding moot when a parent asserts that he or she has been or will be stigmatized by the finding? (2) Is an appeal of a juvenile court’s jurisdictional finding moot when a parent asserts that he or she may be barred from challenging a current or future placement on the Child Abuse Central Index as a result of the finding?” The Second District, Division Three, unpublished opinion in M.K. dismissed an appeal as moot because the “[p]arents only can speculate about potential adverse consequences [jurisdictional] findings could have on hypothetical future proceedings.”
- The court granted review in People v. Polson and sent the case back to the Fourth District, Division One. The appellate court said in a very short unpublished opinion it was following unanimous appellate decisions in concluding a defendant who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter to avoid being tried for felony murder or murder under a natural-and-probable-consequences theory could not take advantage of 2018’s Senate Bill No. 1437, which allows resentencing of some defendants convicted under those murder theories. The Supreme Court directed reconsideration “in light of Penal Code section 1170.95, as amended by Senate Bill No. 775 (Stats. 2021, ch. 551).” (Link added; see also here.) The new legislation expands the category of defendants who are covered by the statute’s resentencing provisions.
- The court transferred another two capital habeas corpus petitions to the superior courts under Proposition 66. (See here and here.)
- There were six criminal case grant-and-holds: one more holding for a decision in People v. Strong (see here), two more holding for People v. Lopez (see here), one more holding for People v. Espinoza (see here), one more holding for People v. Delgadillo (see here), and one more holding for People v. Renteria (see here and here).
- The court dismissed review in two grant-and-hold cases concerning liability for injuries to employees of independent contractors that had been holding for the September decision in Sandoval v. Qualcomm Inc. and the August decision in Gonzalez v. Mathis: (1) the plaintiff prevailed on appeal over two and a half years ago in Strouse v. Webcor Construction, and (2) the plaintiffs lost on appeal (see here) in Horne v. Ahern Rentals, Inc.
- The court dismissed review in 18 more People v. Lewis grant-and-holds after deciding People v. Lewis (2021) 11 Cal.5th 952 in July. By our count, there are still 280 Lewis grant-and-holds left to be disposed of.