There were no straight grants at yesterday’s Supreme Court conference, but here are some actions of note:

Tax vote requirement. With oral argument two weeks away in a case that will determine whether November’s ballot will include an anti-tax initiative claiming that prior similar measures “have been weakened and hamstrung” by, among others, the Supreme Court (see here and here), the court denied review in County of Alameda v. Alameda County Taxpayers’ Association. The First District, Division Five, Court of Appeal’s partially published opinion in the case rejected a challenge to a citizen’s tax initiative to fund early childhood education and pediatric health care. One unsuccessful argument was that, because the initiative didn’t quite receive a two-thirds approval vote, the initiative failed under part of Proposition 13 and part of Proposition 218. After its decision in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland (2017) 3 Cal.5th 924 (see here), the court has regularly declined to hear tax-voting cases. (See hereherehere, and here.)

Dog attack grant-and-transfer. The court granted review in Long v. City of Exeter and transferred the case to the Second District, Division Six, for reconsideration. The appellate court’s unpublished opinion reversed a multi-million dollar award against a city and city employees for a former police dog’s attack that killed one person and severely injured another. The city had sold the dog to the dog’s officer-handler when that officer left the police force. Division Six held the defendants owed the victims no duty to warn the former officer about how to care for the dog, concluding the defendants had no special relationship with the victims or the former officer. It also concluded, “[e]ven if appellants had a special relationship with [the former officer], the Rowland factors do not support recognition of a duty to warn under these circumstances.” The Supreme Court’s remand order appears to focus only on Division Six’s no-special-relationship holding. The order states Division Six is to “reconsider the cause in light of Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, Inc. (2023) 14 Cal.5th 993, 1015 [‘The assertion that a special relationship is required misapprehends our case law’].” Regarding Kuciemba, see here.

Dependency depublication. The court denied review in In re L.B., but it depublished the Fifth District’s belatedly published opinion. The juvenile court had removed five children from their parents’ custody and ordered reunification services for the parents. Based on Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.5(b)(13), the Fifth District found error in the juvenile court’s ruling that it had to order reunification services. The statute states the otherwise-required services need not be provided if there’s a finding by clear and convincing evidence that a parent “has a history of extensive, abusive, and chronic use of drugs or alcohol and has resisted prior court-ordered treatment for this problem during a three-year period immediately prior to the filing of the petition that brought that child to the court’s attention.” The appellate court held, “A parent’s engagement in treatment at the time of the disposition hearing does not prevent a juvenile court from denying reunification services pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(13). The bypass provision only requires proof of the parent’s resistance during the three-year period prior to the filing of the petition.”

Forum selection grant-and-holds. Lockton Companies LLC — Pacific Series v. Superior Court (Canales) and Lockton Investment Advisors v. Superior Court (Kaufman) are grant-and-holds for EpicentRx, Inc. v. Superior Court (see here), which is expected to decide whether a forum selection clause is enforceable when a party’s right under California state law to a jury trial for their civil claims would not apply in the exclusive forum identified by the clause. Writ petitions were summarily denied in both Canales (denied as untimely by the Second District, Division Five) and Kaufman (by the Second District, Division Two). The Supreme Court previously granted-and-held in Lockton Companies v. Superior Court (Giblin), also after a Division Two writ petition summary denial (see here). Another pending review-granted case about forum selection clauses is Zhang v. Superior Court (see here).

Civil commitment grant-and-transfer. The court granted review in Cole v. Superior Court and sent the case back to the First District, Division Three, with instructions to vacate its order summarily denying mandate or habeas corpus and to hear the petition in the case on its merits. In its denial order, Division Three cited People v. Nolasco (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 209, where the Second District, Division Two, rejected an equal protection challenge to the scheme for ending the civil commitment of a person who has been declared incompetent to stand trial for certain felonies and who continues to pose a danger to others because of the person’s “developmental disability.” The Supreme Court denied review (with Justice Goodwin Liu dissenting) and a depublication request in Nolasco. (See here.)

Sexual offense sentencing grant-and-transfer. The court granted a pro per’s petition for review in In re Cross and returned the matter to the Fourth District, Division Three, which had summarily denied the habeas corpus petition in the case. The appellate court is to determine whether the petitioner is entitled to relief on the ground that his conviction’s abstract of judgment erroneously fails to “reflect the jury’s findings under Penal Code section 667.61, subdivisions (d)(4) and (e)(2), nor does it reflect petitioner was sentenced pursuant to subdivision (a) of that section.” (Link added.) The statute provides a 25-years-to-life sentence for various sexual offenses during the commission of certain burglaries.

Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were three criminal case grant-and-holds:  one more on hold for a decision in People v. Arellano (see here), which will be argued next month; another one waiting for People v. Patton (see here); and one holding for People v. Superior Court (Guevara) (see here).

Grant-and-hold dispositions (see here). The court dumped 20 cases that had been grant-and-holds. Balistreri v. Balistreri (see here) was remanded for reconsideration in light of February’s trust-modification opinion in Haggerty v. Thornton (2024) 15 Cal.5th 729 (see here); Haggerty disapproved Balistreri. Of 17 cases that were waiting for November’s murder-resentencing decision in People v. Curiel (2023) 15 Cal.5th 433 (see here), the court dismissed review in 4 and remanded for reconsideration in 13. One case, in which the petition for review was filed in September 2020, was remanded for reconsideration in light of both Curiel and People v. Lewis (2021) 11 Cal.5th 952 (see here and here). And the court dismissed review at the defendant’s request in a case that had been waiting for a decision in the probation-time case of People v. Faial (see here).