The Supreme Court has announced its January calendar, the first one to be presided over by Patricia Guerrero, who will be sworn in as Chief Justice days before the arguments.
There will be five cases heard. At its current pace, the court will issue only 48 or 49 opinions this term, on a par with last term’s historically low output. (Related: “What’s ailing the California Supreme Court? Its productivity has plummeted”.)
We wrote about one of the cases — Michael G. v. Superior Court — when the court granted review: Wait for it: issue percolation, right vehicles, and legislative inaction.
Uncommonly, the oral arguments will be heard on a Friday.
On January 6, in San Francisco, the court will hear the following cases (with the issue presented as summarized by court staff or limited by the court itself):
In re Lopez: (1) Does a true finding on a gang-killing special circumstance (Pen. Code, § 190.2, subd. (a)(22)) render Chiu error (People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155) harmless? (2) To what extent or in what manner, if any, may a reviewing court consider the evidence in favor of a legally valid theory in assessing whether it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury based its verdict on the valid theory, when the record contains indications that the jury considered the invalid theory? (See People v. Aledamat (2019) 8 Cal.5th 1.) The Chiu error was instructing the jury that the defendant could be convicted of first-degree murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. About Aledamat, see here. The court granted review in January 2020.
In re Jenkins: When the court granted review in April 2021, it limited the issues to these: “Where a habeas petitioner claims not to have received a fair trial because the District Attorney failed to disclose material evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 — and where the Attorney General has knowledge of, or is in actual or constructive possession of, such evidence — what duty, if any, does the Attorney General have to acknowledge or disclose that evidence to the petitioner? Would any such duty be triggered only upon issuance of an order to show cause?”
In re Ferrell: In April 2021, the court issued an order to show cause on a habeas corpus petition and stated the issue to be whether “the jury’s true finding on the Penal Code section 12022.53, subdivision (d) enhancement . . . render[ed] the People v. Chun (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1172 error harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.” (Link added.) In Chun, the court held “all assaultive-type crimes . . . merge with the charged homicide and cannot be the basis for a second degree felony-murder instruction.” (Id. at p. 1178.)
People v. Brown: Did the trial court err in granting the People’s motion under Penal Code section 1050 to continue the hearing on a motion to suppress evidence, when it was reasonably foreseeable that denying the continuance would result in a dismissal of the case but the People otherwise failed to show good cause for a continuance? The court granted review in December 2021.
Michael G. v. Superior Court: This is the case with the well-percolated issue. (See here.) The issue is whether juvenile courts are required to extend reunification efforts beyond the 18-month review when families have been denied adequate reunification services in the preceding review period. The court granted review in January 2022.