At its conference yesterday, the Supreme Court turned down a challenge to the lack of in-person schooling in Los Angeles.  Other actions of note included:

  • The court agreed to hear People v. Hendrix, where a divided Second District, Division Six, Court of Appeal published opinion affirmed a burglary conviction.  The appellate court held it was error to instruct the jury that a mistake of fact must be objectively reasonable to be a valid defense, but concluded the error was harmless.  The majority said, “There is no reasonable probability appellant would have obtained a more favorable result” in absence of the error.  The dissent, on the other hand, applied the “harmless beyond a reasonable doubt” standard and asserted the error was prejudicial.

[January 29 update:  On Wednesday, the court limited the issues in Hendrix to:  “Did the Court of Appeal err in holding an instructional error on the defense of mistake of fact harmless?  In the circumstances of this case, which standard of prejudice applies to an error in instructing on the defense of mistake of fact:  that of People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 818 or that of Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18?”]

  • The court almost decided to review Wood v. Superior Court, with Justices Goodwin Liu, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, and Leondra Kruger recording three of the four votes needed to hear the case.  The published opinion of the Fourth District, Division One, held that the attorney-client privilege does not protect from discovery in a gender-identity discrimination case a prelitigation email the  plaintiff sent to lawyers at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing about a complaint she had made to the Department.  The appellate court concluded that Department lawyers have an attorney-client relationship with the State, but they didn’t have such a relationship with the plaintiff.  The appellate court had previously summarily denied the plaintiff’s writ petition, but the Supreme Court granted-and-transferred (see here), leading to the decision of which review was almost granted yesterday.
  • The court denied review in People v. Frazier, but Justice Joshua Groban recorded a vote to hear the case.  In a published opinion, the Second District, Division Seven, affirmed the superior court’s discretionary summary refusal, without appointing counsel, to recall the defendant’s sentence, a recall that had been recommended by the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  The appellate court held that there was no abuse of discretion and that the recommendation “does not trigger a due process right to counsel for an indigent defendant.”
  • In In re Rodriguez, a pro per’s habeas corpus petition, the court issued an order to show cause in the superior court why the petitioner is not entitled to resentencing under Senate Bill 620 (Stats. 2017, ch. 682), which gives courts discretion to strike what had been mandatory firearms sentencing enhancements.
  • The court transferred to the superior court under Proposition 66 a death row inmate’s habeas corpus petition.  (See here and here.)
  • There were 14 criminal case grant-and-holds:  six more holding for a decision in People v. Lewis (see here), one more holding for People v. Lopez (see here), three more holding for both Lewis and Lopez, two more holding for People v. Raybon (see here), and two more holding for People v. Lemcke (originally People v. Rudd, although it probably should still be Rudd, because the court granted Rudd’s petition for review and denied Lemcke’s) (see here).