This is only a partial report. (Here’s why.) It will be updated later with additional information and links.

It was a heavy Supreme Court conference today, with some notable rulings and actions, and at least one significant non-action. Justice Leondra Kruger was absent.

Two-justice concurring statement in a Batson case.

No ruling on anti-death-penalty writ petition. The lack of a ruling on a matter is normally not news, but the absence of action on the writ petition in Office of the State Public Defender v. Bonta is significant because the case was on the conference list. (See here.) The petition claims the State’s death penalty system, because it is “administered in a racially discriminatory manner,” violates the State Constitution’s equal protection provisions. The last time I remember a high-profile case being listed for consideration at a conference but not ruled on at the conference, there was a ruling and five separate statements less than a week later. (See here and here.) In that other matter, however, time was running out on when the court could rule on a petition for review, but there is no time limit for ruling on the State Public Defender writ petition. Nonetheless, one or more separate statements accompanying whatever the ruling might be would not be surprising.

Should attorney discipline include restitution? For the second time this year, the court granted a petition for review by the State Bar’s Chief Trial Counsel claiming the State Bar Court’s Review Department did not sufficiently discipline a lawyer. The case is In re Spielbauer. The petition claims the Review Department “imposed inappropriate categorical limits on the availability of restitution in attorney discipline cases.” The Review Department’s opinion recommended a suspension for the attorney’s fraudulent conduct that led to a civil judgment against him of over $800,000, but it declined to order restitution to the fraud victim because “the matter involves a civil judgment in tort, which cannot serve as the basis for restitution.” The Supreme Court denied the disciplined attorney’s petition for review that asserted he did not have a fair hearing before the State Bar Court and its Review Department. In May, when the court granted review in In re Bradshaw (see here), we wrote, “This might be the first straight review grant in a Bar discipline matter since the court rejected a Review Department suspension/probation recommendation and ordered disbarment of an attorney who had pleaded guilty to possession or control of child pornography. (In re Grant (2014) 58 Cal.4th 469.)”

[July 13 update: Here are the opinion, the Chief Trial Counsel’s petition for review, and the attorney’s petition for review.

Here’s the issue as summarized by court staff — “If a victim of attorney misconduct suffers damages recoverable in tort and incurs attorney fees as a result of the misconduct, under what circumstances may the State Bar Court order restitution based on such damages and fees as a condition of the attorney’s probation? (See Sorensen v. State Bar (1991) 52 Cal.3d 1036.)”]

[Additional July 13 updates:

Another ICWA grant-and-holdIn re M.R. is another grant-and-hold for In re Dezi C. (see here), where the court agreed to decide what constitutes reversible error when a child welfare agency fails to make the required inquiry under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and state statutory law concerning a child’s potential Indian ancestry. Dezi C. was argued last month. The unpublished Second District, Division Four, M.R. opinion found harmless any ICWA error, applying the test stated in the Dezi C. Court of Appeal opinion.

Arbitration forfeiture grant-and-hold. Doe v. Lawyers for Employee and Consumer Rights is a grant-and-hold for Hohenshelt v. Superior Court (see here), in which the court is expected to address whether the Federal Arbitration Act (9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.) preempts state statutes prescribing the procedures for paying arbitration fees and providing for forfeiture of the right to arbitrate if timely payment is not made by the party who drafted the arbitration agreement and who is required to pay such fees. Finding no federal preemption, the Second District, Division Six in Lawyers, in an unpublished opinion, held arbitration of a wrongful termination action was forfeited by the employer defendant’s failure to timely pay arbitration fees.

COVID insurance grant-and-hold dispositions. (See here.) Four cases that had been grant-and-holds for Another Planet Entertainment, LLC v. Vigilant Ins. Co. (2024) 15 Cal.5th 1106 (see here) were taken off the docket. The court dismissed review in Endeavor Operating Company v. HDI Global Insurance Company (see here) and Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians of the Santa Ynez Reservation California v. Lexington Insurance Company (see here). JRK Property Holdings v. Colony Insurance Company (see here) and Shusha v. Century-National Insurance Company (see here) were sent back to the Second District, Division Seven, for reconsideration in light of the Another Planet opinion. JRK and Shusha were disapproved by Another Planet.

Civil case grant-and-transfers. After summary denials of writ petitions by the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court granted-and-transferred in three cases. With Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero and Justice Carol Corrigan recused and Justice Kruger absent, the remaining four justices sent Montrose Chemical Corp. v. Superior Court back to the Second District, Division Three, to consider “whether the existence of a prior judicial construction of an insurance policy’s form exclusion that found it to be unambiguous precludes a trial court from considering extrinsic evidence in determining whether the exclusion is ambiguous.” The discovery dispute in Thatcher School v. Superior Court was returned to the Second District, Division Six, after the superior court, at the appellate court’s suggestion, required notice to the third-party victims and an opportunity to object to the disclosure, before the third-party victims’ names and contact information are released to plaintiff. (Justice Joshua Groban was recused.) Valla v. Superior Court is going back to the Second District, Division One, “with directions to vacate its order denying mandate and to reconsider the timeliness of the petition for writ of mandate.” (Horvitz & Levy represents the real parties in interest.)

Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were ten criminal case grant-and-holds:  four more waiting for a decision in People v. Walker (see here), which was argued in May; three more holding for People v. Emanuel (see here); one more on hold for two death penalty appeals — People v. Bankston and People v. Hin (see here); one more waiting for People v. Patton (see here); and one more holding for People v. Antonelli (see here).]