There were no straight grants at today’s conference, uncommonly held on a Tuesday, but there were some actions of note, including:
- Slip-and-fall depub. The court denied review in Perez v. Hibachi Buffet, but it depublished the Second District, Division Eight, Court of Appeal opinion that reinstated a $850,000 damage award to a slip-and-fall plaintiff after the superior court had granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict and, in the alternative, a new trial. The superior court had found no evidence the defendant restaurant’s employees were responsible for the spilled water on the floor that caused the plaintiff’s fall, but Division Eight concluded evidence supported the plaintiff’s “commonplace explanation for how the floor got wet: a Buffet employee spilled the liquid taking dishes to the kitchen for washing.” The appellate court also held, “It is an abuse of discretion to grant a new trial on the ground of insufficient evidence without mentioning a pertinent discovery admission.”
- Civil right to counsel. Justice Joshua Groban recorded a dissenting vote from the denial of review in Espinoza v. Superior Court after the Second District, Division Three, summarily denied a writ petition. The petition for review asked the court to find a right to counsel for indigent parents who are at risk of losing parental rights in contested probate guardianship proceedings. In what it said is called the “hidden foster care system,” the petition claimed that child welfare agencies will sometimes threaten to remove a child in a dependency proceeding — where there is a right to counsel — unless custody is relinquished to a relative or friend through the guardianship process. The petition was supported by two amicus letters (here and here) on behalf of numerous organizations, law professors, two retired Court of Appeal justices, and a retired superior court family law judge. The Supreme Court’s order says the denial of review is “without prejudice to petitioner raising the issues on direct appeal.”
- Prisoner medical care. The court granted review in In re Devon and transferred the case to the Sixth District — which had summarily denied a habeas corpus petition — with directions to order a superior court evidentiary hearing on whether the refusal to grant petitioner’s request for spinal decompression surgery violates the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and article I, section 17 of the California Constitution. Justice Groban did not vote for review.
- Sexually violent predator commitment. After the Fourth District, Division Three, summarily denied a habeas corpus petition, the Supreme Court granted review in In re Russo and ordered the appellate court to decide whether the petitioner is “entitled to relief on the ground insufficient evidence supported the Orange County Superior Court’s February 20, 2020, finding that a reasonable person could entertain a strong suspicion petitioner ‘has a diagnosable mental disorder’ that ‘makes it likely he . . . will engage in sexually violent criminal conduct if released . . . .’ (Cooley v. Superior Court (2002) 29 Cal.4th 228, 236.)”
- Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were five criminal case grant-and-holds: two more waiting for People v. Lynch (see here); one more holding for People v. Delgadillo (see here), which was argued last month; one holding for People v. McDavid (see here); and one more holding for People v. Prudholme (see here).
- Grant-and-hold disposals. The court took 31 criminal case grant-and-holds off its docket. Review was dismissed in one that was waiting for the August decision in People v. Aguayo (2022) 13 Cal.5th 974. The other 30 were all on hold for the August decision in People v. Strong (2022) 13 Cal.5th 698 — the court dismissed review in 11 and sent the remaining 19 back to the Courts of Appeal for reconsideration in light of Strong.