The Supreme Court’s 2023-2024 term is getting off to a slow start. As with last week’s September calendar, the court will hear arguments in only three cases in October. (Related: “What’s ailing the California Supreme Court? Its productivity has plummeted”.)

Also, the October calendar again doesn’t include any death penalty cases. The court hasn’t heard an automatic capital appeal since the one on the February calendar. In 2017, when it mostly upheld Proposition 66, which was designed to speed California executions, the court said that the initiative’s deadlines for court action on capital cases “must be deemed directive rather than mandatory,” but also that the deadlines are “properly construed as an exhortation to the parties and the courts to handle cases as expeditiously as is consistent with the fair and principled administration of justice.” (Briggs v. Brown (2017) 3 Cal.5th 808, 823, 859.) (Related: “High court hears more death penalty appeals after Proposition 66”.)

The October arguments will be live streamed, and opinions in the cases should file by December 28.

On Wednesday, October 4, in San Francisco (if you’re attending, don’t forget about the elevator detour), the court will hear the following cases (with the issue presented as summarized by court staff or limited by the court itself; additional information about a case can be found at the link showing when the court agreed to hear the case):

People v. Rojas:  When the court granted review in October 2022, it limited the issue to, “Does Assembly Bill No. 333 (Stats. 2021, ch. 699) unconstitutionally amend Proposition 21, if applied to the gang-murder special circumstance (Pen. Code, § 190.2, subd. (a)(22))?” (Links added.) This case is moving quickly; there are still two weeks left to file a response to amicus curiae briefs.

Rodriguez v. Superior Court: Does an incompetency commitment end when a state hospital files a certificate of restoration to competency or when the trial court finds that defendant has been restored to competency? The court granted review in January 2022.

In re N.R.: (1) What is the definition of “substance abuse” for purposes of declaring a child a dependent under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b)(1)? (2) Where a child is under the age of six, does a finding of parental substance abuse alone provide sufficient evidence to warrant juvenile court jurisdiction? The court granted review in August 2022. Unusually, the court sent its oral argument letter only three days ago, a letter which gives counsel seven days to state good cause for not scheduling argument on a particular upcoming date.