Supreme Court actions of note at its conference yesterday included:

  • Supreme Court clears the way for two more gubernatorial pardons.
  • Undisclosed hospital fee. The court granted review in two cases alleging that failures to adequately disclose hospital emergency room “Evaluation and Management Services” fees violated the state’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law. In an unpublished opinion, the Sixth District Court of Appeal in Capito v. San Jose Healthcare System (the Supreme Court granted two separate petitions for review by the plaintiff (here and here)) found no UCL or CLRA violations. The Fifth District’s published opinion in Naranjo v. Doctors Medical Center of Modesto came to the opposite conclusion based on that court’s earlier decision in Torres v. Adventist Health System/West (2022) 77 Cal.App.5th 500. Naranjo and Torres are at odds with opinions Capito followed — the First District, Division One, decision in Gray v. Dignity Health (2021) 70 Cal.App.5th 225 and the First District, Division Four, decision in Saini v. Sutter Health (2022) 80 Cal.App.5th 1054. The Supreme Court denied three depublication requests in Torres, it denied review and a depublication request in Gray, and it also denied review and a depublication request in Sani. As of now, both Capito and Naranjo are straight grants, but one might later become a grant-and-hold for the other.

[August 12 update: One of two hospital fee cases converted to a grant-and-hold.]

  • ICWA. The court said it would hear another case concerning the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and complementary California law. In In re Ja.O., the Fourth District, Division Two, published opinion held a county’s child services department conducted an appropriate initial inquiry required by state statute. The department didn’t need to check with extended family members and others who have an interest in the appellant mother’s children about the children’s possible Indian status, Division Two concluded, because that “expanded duty of initial inquiry” is required only when children are taken into the department’s temporary custody in emergency situations. The Supreme Court also made another Division Two case — In re Robert F. — a grant-and-hold for Ja.O. The Ja.O. opinion cites and follows the earlier Robert F. published opinion. Ja.O. is apparently a better vehicle than Robert F. (See: Wait for it: issue percolation, right vehicles, and legislative inaction.) The court has previously agreed to decide two other ICWA cases — In re Dezi C. (see here) and In re Kenneth D. (see here).
  • Fourth Amendment detention. People v. Flores had been a grant-and-hold waiting for People v. Tacardon (2022) 14 Cal.5th 235, which was decided last December. The Supreme Court has now un-held Flores and ordered the parties to brief, “Was defendant’s detention supported by reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in criminal activity?” A 2-1 published opinion by the Second District, Division Eight, said “yes.” The defendant was detained behind his parked car on a street the majority said was a “narcotics hangout” after he, in one officer’s words, “ ‘went over to the passenger side rear fender area, appeared to be ducking down as if trying to hide or conceal something from us’ ” and he stayed in a crouching position. Division Eight said there were “[c]ertainly . . . innocent possibilities,” but “a reasonable officer had a reasonable basis for investigating further to resolve this ambiguity, because nervous and evasive behavior is a pertinent factor in determining whether suspicion is reasonable.” The strong dissent claimed the majority opinion “threatens to allow police detention based on commonplace conduct subject to interpretation” and “ignores applicable law and the realities of twenty-first century America.” The defendant taking some time to rise from his crouch was not suspicious, the dissent said; “some even might instruct their children remaining still is a prudent course of action (and even then, it may not work. #BlackLivesMatter.)” “[W]e know for some populations, to stand up from a bent position as the police approach would effectively be suicidal,” the dissent continued, “as it would likely be interpreted as a threatening act.”
  • Gun control. The court denied review and a depublication request in People v. Alexander, where the Fourth District, Division Two, published opinion rejected a claim that California statutes prohibiting felons from possessing firearms and ammunition violate the Second Amendment in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (2022) 597 U.S. __ [142 S.Ct. 2111]. (Related: Throwing shade at SCOTUS?)
  • COVID insurance. The court denied a request to depublish the opinion of the Second District, Division Seven, in Starlight Cinemas, Inc. v. Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company that found the plaintiff had not stated a claim for insurance coverage “for losses sustained when it was compelled by government orders to suspend operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Supreme Court has agreed to decide two COVID insurance cases and it has granted-and-held three others. (See herehere, here, and here.) But it has also denied review in one case and — besides Starlight Cinemas — denied depublication in another, both of which rejected COVID insurance claims. (See here and here.)
  • Minors in criminal court. The court granted review in In re T.A., vacated the Fourth District, Division Two, decision (which depublishes the appellate court’s belatedly published opinion that affirmed a juvenile court grant of a motion to transfer the defendant from juvenile court to a court of criminal jurisdiction), and remanded the matter for reconsideration “in light of In re F.M. (2023) 14 Cal.5th 701, 712-716 [see here] and In re E.P. (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 409, 416 [‘under the previous version whether the minor is amenable to rehabilitation while under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court was one of five factors for the court to consider in determining whether the case should be transferred to criminal court. The amendment states it as the ultimate question for the court to decide’].”
  • Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were two criminal case grant-and-holds: one more waiting for a decision in People v. Lynch (see here), and one on hold for both People v. Mumin (see here), which was argued on the late-May calendar, and People v. Salazar (see here).