Here are some of the notable actions at yesterday’s day-early conference, a double one:

Three-justice separate statement about defendant who “has spent over 27 years in prison for stealing a pair of jeans”

“[T]he law is not ‘a ass.’ ” The court agreed to hear People v. Superior Court (Guevara), where a divided Second District, Division Six, Court of Appeal published opinion granted a prosecution writ petition and overturned a superior court order reducing to eight years a three strikes sentence of 25-years-to-life, the third strike having been a non-serious, non-violent felony. The defendant had 10 years earlier unsuccessfully sought relief from his sentence under Proposition 36, the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012; unsuccessful because the superior court found resentencing would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. The Division Six majority held the finding precluded relief under later legislation — 2021’s Senate Bill 483 — that invalidated sentence enhancements that had been imposed on the defendant for prior prison terms, required resentencing, and provides for application on resentencing of “any other changes in law that reduce sentences,” changes, perhaps, made by Proposition 36. The case presents intricate issues involving the wording and the interplay of the initiative and SB 483, including whether the defendant’s interpretation of SB 483 would be an unconstitutional amendment of Proposition 36. At the end of the court’s opinion, the majority responds to one dissent contention, “If the Legislature intended to reward defendants serving a prior prison term and not those who had not served prior prison terms, we would agree with Mr. Bumble in Dickens’s Oliver Twist that ‘the law is a ass — a idiot.’ We in the majority wish to state on the record the law is not ‘a ass.’ ”

Sentencing factors not found by a jury. The court also granted review in People v. Wiley. In a published opinion, the First District, Division Four, affirmed an upper term sentence imposed in part based on aggravating factors — the increasing seriousness of the defendant’s convictions and his prior poor probation performance — that had not been found true by a jury. Rejecting the defendant’s claim that the superior court had violated his jury trial right under the Sixth Amendment, Division Four held the aggravating factors “were proved by a certified record of Wiley’s convictions, and they fall within [Penal Code section 1170(b)’s] prior conviction exception to the heightened proof requirements that apply to other types of aggravating factors.” The appellate court considered itself bound by prior Supreme Court decisions — People v. Scott (2015) 61 Cal.4th 363, People v. Towne (2008) 44 Cal.4th 63, and People v. Black (2007) 41 Cal.4th 799 — despite the defendant’s contention that the cases were obsolete because of the Supreme Court’s opinion in People v. Gallardo (2017) 4 Cal.5th 120, which overruled a different Sixth Amendment case in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent (see here). It also chose sides in an existing Court of Appeal split about the interpretation of section 1170(b), which was amended by Senate Bill 567 in 2021. This isn’t the first SB 567 case on the Supreme Court’s docket. (See here.)

Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were seven criminal case grant-and-holds: one more is waiting for the finality of last week’s decision in People v. Hardin (see herehere, and here), one more on hold for for People v. Lynch (see here), one more holding for People v. Mitchell (see here), one more waiting for People v. Patton (see here), one more on hold for People v. Emanuel (see here), and two more waiting for People v. Rhodius (see here). Another case, which had been a grant-and-hold for November’s opinion in People v. Salazar (2023) 15 Cal.5th 416 (see here) was not disposed of (see below), but is now holding for People v. Lynch.

Grant-and-hold disposals. The court sent eight former grant-and-holds back to the Courts of Appeal to reconsider their decisions in light of November’s opinion in People v. Salazar (2023) 15 Cal.5th 416 (see here). Another was returned for reconsideration in light of Salazar and last summer’s decision in People v. Mumin (2023) 15 Cal.5th 176 (see here). And one more is to be reconsidered in light of both Salazar and People v. Aledamat (2019) 8 Cal.5th 1 (see here).