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

  • Supreme Court will answer big-ticket COVID insurance question for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Effective counsel. The court agreed to hear People v. Carter and it limited the issue to: “Did the trial court deprive defendant of effective assistance of counsel by failing to appoint substitute counsel to evaluate and potentially argue defendant’s pro. per. motion to dismiss after appointed counsel refused to consider the motion based on an asserted conflict in arguing her own ineffective assistance of counsel?” The motion to dismiss was based on the defendant’s claim that his right to a speedy trial had been violated, for which he blamed in part his appointed counsel whom he also sought to replace. At the time of the motion, the defendant had spent 12 years in a state hospital awaiting the adjudication of a petition to commit him as a sexually violent predator. A divided Third District Court of Appeal, in a published opinion, affirmed an order committing the defendant, concluding that the trial delay resulted from his counsel’s “tactical decision . . . for defendant to complete sex offender treatment . . . before requesting trial” and that, “[b]y filing a Marsden motion [to disqualify his attorney] with a motion to dismiss, defendant attempted to create a conflict of interest by disagreeing with the tactic that the record indicates he had previously assented to.” The tactical decision did not support the Marsden motion, the majority held, and the defendant “may not obtain what he failed to achieve at the Marsden hearing by narrowing the request to appointment of new counsel solely to evaluate and potentially pursue a specific motion [to dismiss].” A limited-scope attorney means the “defendant would be simultaneously represented by two lawyers, one of whom is against the other.” The dissent asserted that “[t]he trial court violated defendant’s statutory right to counsel . . . when it left defendant unrepresented as to the motion to dismiss, even though he was otherwise represented by appointed counsel.”
  • Gun control. The court denied review in People v. Velez, but it depublished the Fifth District’s partially published opinion as requested by six county public defenders. The (previously) published part of the opinion, although rejecting a challenge to a charge of carrying a loaded firearm in public as an active gang participant, found to be “clearly unconstitutional” under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen (2022) 597 U.S. _ [142 S.Ct. 2111] California statutes that generally require a showing of “[g]ood cause,” among other things, before a local law enforcement officer may issue a concealed-carry firearm license. The appellate court concluded that “the ‘good cause’ condition is severable [and] California’s licensing scheme remains valid post-Bruen.” It then added that, by the way, the defendant had no standing to challenge the licensing scheme because he never applied for and was denied a license and, at the time of the crimes, he was too young to lawfully acquire a gun.
  • Another ICWA grant-and-holdIn re D.D. is another grant-and-hold for In re Dezi C., where the court agreed last September 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. The Second District, Division Eight, 2-1 unpublished opinion in D.D. found an inadequate inquiry was harmless error because “there is no reason to believe there is readily available information that is likely to bear meaningfully on whether the boys [who are the subject of the dependency proceeding] have Indian ancestry.”
  • Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were two criminal case grant-and-holds:  one more waiting for a decision in People v. Rojas (see here) and one holding for both People v. Lynch (see here) and People v. Salazar (see here).