Maura Dolan reports in today’s Los Angeles Times about Governor Brown’s appointees to the Supreme Court and how they could change the results in various areas of the law, and in specific cases, like People v. Grimes, a 4-3 death penalty affirmance issued hours before Justices Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar and Leondra Kruger joined the court.  (The headline for the online version of the article is “Brown appointees to Supreme Court renew hopes in death penalty cases.”)  We explained why the new justices could lead to a very rare rehearing and then a reversal of the death sentence in Grimes.

Professor Gerald Uelmen is quoted as saying that he “would not be surprised if they decide to reconsider” the Grimes decision and that he “base[s] that on the precedent.  It has happened before.”  We noted two rehearings in civil cases caused by court turnover.  Additionally, in a comment to that blog post, Uelmen identifies a case in which a newly constituted court granted rehearing of a decision that had reversed a judgment of death and then affirmed the sentence.  (People v. Wade (1987) 233 Cal.Rptr. 48; People v. Wade (1988) 44 Cal.3d 975.)

A rehearing petition was filed in Grimes last week.  Grimes’s attorney — veteran appellate lawyer Cliff Gardner — says in the Times article, “I am never optimistic,” but, “[o]n the other hand, it was a 4-3 decision, and the court is changing.”

The day after Gardner filed the rehearing petition, the court extended its time to rule on the petition until April 3.  The extension was routine.  The ruling on the petition might be anything but.