At the Supreme Court’s conference yesterday, a double one, actions of note included:

  • Sentencing restriction. The court agreed to hear People v. Mitchell, a case involving year-old legislation — Senate Bill 567 — that precludes imposition of the highest of three possible sentencing terms unless the defendant has stipulated to, or a trier of fact has found, aggravating circumstances. The First District, Division Five, Court of Appeal, held in a published opinion that the legislation applied retroactively to the defendant, but that her upper term was appropriate because it was imposed under a plea agreement. The court reasoned that, “where there is a stipulated plea . . . , there is no occasion for the trial court to find any aggravating facts in order to justify the imposition of an upper term at sentencing.” SB 567 is prominent at the Supreme Court. In August, the court granted review in People v. Lynch to decide which prejudice standard applies when determining if a case should be remanded for resentencing under SB 567. There are several grant-and-holds for Lynch. (See, e.g., below.) Also, the court this year has granted-and-transferred a number of cases to have Courts of Appeal reconsider decisions in light of SB 567.
  • Another Covid insurance denial. The court denied review in Apple Annie, LLC v. Oregon Mutual Ins. Co., where the First District, Division Two, published opinion upheld judgment on the pleadings for an insurance company. The case involved what the appellate court called “[o]ne of the most momentous, in terms of the potential monetary liability,” of the Covid pandemic legal issues, i.e., “whether businesses ordered by government decree to close or suspend operations could get compensation under the business income coverage of the standard comprehensive commercial liability policy.” The Supreme Court has shown no interest in deciding the “momentous” issue, having declined to disturb similar decisions in the past, denying review in two cases — The Inns by the Sea v. California Mutual Insurance Company (see here) and Musso & Frank Grill Co. v. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance USA (see here) — and denying a depublication request in another — United Talent Agency v. Vigilant Insurance Company. (Related: The Supreme Court doesn’t decide all important issues.) It looks like the only way the court will address the issue is if the Ninth Circuit asks it to. At least one insured has asked for an ask, in French Laundry Partners v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co., Ninth Circuit case number 21-15927. [Update: Bob Egelko reports in the San Francisco Chronicle on the Apple Annie case and also on the settlement of another coverage case that resulted in what the insured’s lawyer said was a “substantial” payment.]
  • Transfer from juvenile court. The court granted review in In re I. Q. and sent the case back to the Fourth District, Division Two, for reconsideration in light of Assembly Bill 2361, legislation enacted three months ago to require a juvenile court to find by clear and convincing evidence that a minor is not amenable to rehabilitation under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction before transferring the minor to adult criminal court and to require a transfer order to state the reasons for the court’s determination of unamenability to rehabilitation.
  • Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were seven criminal case grant-and-holds: three more waiting for a decision in People v. Lynch (see here and above); two more holding for People v. Burgos (see here); one more holding for People v. Espinoza (see here), which was argued last month; and one more holding for People v. McDavid (see here).