The Supreme Court yesterday announced it will hear six oral arguments in March, the biggest calendar of the term. The Chief Justice predicted last month that the court’s opinion output would increase during the term’s second half. With four more calendars after March, the court is now on pace to issue 42 or 43 opinions for the term, a higher pace than previously, but still at an historic low (see here).

On Tuesday, March 5, in San Francisco (with an elevator detour possibly still in effect), the court will hear the following cases (with the issue presented as summarized by court staff or limited by the court itself):

Another Planet Entertainment, LLC v. Vigilant Insurance Co.: In March 2023, the court agreed to answer this big-money question for the Ninth Circuit — “Can the actual or potential presence of the COVID-19 virus on an insured’s premises constitute ‘direct physical loss or damage to property’ for purposes of coverage under a commercial property insurance policy?” More about the case here and here.

Prang v. Amen: Does the term “stock” in Revenue and Taxation Code section 62, subdivision (a)(2), which defines when certain transactions transferring real property will or will not result in a change of ownership calling for reassessment of the property, refer to all types of stock shares, or only voting shares? The court granted review in March 2021; it’s one of the oldest cases on the court’s docket. More about the case here.

Wheeler v. Appellate Division: (1) Can a trial court dismiss a strict liability offense pursuant to Penal Code section 1385 based in part on a defendant’s lack of knowledge concerning the offense? (2) Does state law preempt a local ordinance when both prohibit the same conduct and the state law has a mens rea component that the local ordinance does not? Just three weeks ago, the court asked for supplemental briefing to address the argument mentioned in this footnote of the appellate division’s opinion: “Given our disposition, we do not consider the People’s argument that the dismissal should be reversed because the court, in effect, granted defendant’s motion to dismiss under Penal Code section 1385.” The case concerns prosecution of an octogenarian landlord for violating city ordinances that prohibit renting to “any unlicensed Commercial Cannabis Activity.” The court granted review in March 2022. More about the case here.

People v. Burgos: The case was a grant-and-hold for a death penalty appeal. When the court unheld the case in October 2022, it limited the issue to: “Does the provision of Penal Code section 1109 governing the bifurcation at trial of gang enhancements from the substantive offense or offenses apply retroactively to cases that are not yet final?” More about the case here.

People v. Carter. The court granted review in March 2023 and limited the issue to: “Did the trial court deprive defendant of effective assistance of counsel by failing to appoint substitute counsel to evaluate and potentially argue defendant’s pro. per. motion to dismiss after appointed counsel refused to consider the motion based on an asserted conflict in arguing her own ineffective assistance of counsel?” More about the case here.

Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc.: Does an employer’s good faith belief that it complied with Labor Code section 226, subdivision (a) preclude a finding that its failure to report wages earned was “knowing and intentional” as is necessary to recover penalties under Labor Code section 226, subdivision (e)(1)? The court granted review in June 2023. It will be the court’s second opinion in the case. (See Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc. (2022) 13 Cal.5th 93; see here.) Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero is recused. Sitting in her place is First District, Division Three, Court of Appeal Justice (and former Supreme Court staff attorney) Victor Rodriguez. More about the case here.

The arguments will be live streamed, and opinions in the cases should file by June 3.