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

  • Supreme Court will answer Ninth Circuit products failure-to-warn questions
  • Justice Liu separate statements on parole, sentencing rights.
  • Time to appeal. The court granted review in Meinhardt v. City of Sunnyvale and limited the issue to: “Did the Court of Appeal correctly dismiss the appeal as untimely?” Justice Patricia Guerrero is recused because she concurred in the Fourth District, Division One, Court of Appeal published opinion now under review. Division One held a notice of appeal was two days late because the time to appeal started when the superior court entered an order denying a petition for writ of administrative mandamus, not on the later filing of a judgment that restated what was in the order. The appellate court relied in part on the Supreme Court’s decision in Dhillon v. John Muir Health (2017) 2 Cal.5th 1109, which concerned appealability, not timeliness (see here). It disagreed with the Fifth District’s opinion in Protect Our Water v. County of Merced (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 362, 368, fn. 2, review denied. [June 17 update: Horvitz & Levy partner Mitchell Tilner and then-appellate fellow Anna Goodman wrote an article for Los Angeles Lawyer on a similar topic: ” ‘One shot’ appeals.”]
  • Housing discrimination. The court denied review in Crenshaw Subway Coalition v. City of Los Angeles, but it depublished the partially published opinion of the Second District, Division Two. A neighborhood advocacy group unsuccessfully challenged approval of a project the group said would gentrify an area and push low-income residents, who are mostly Black and Latinx, out of their homes. Relying on a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Division Two held the disparate impact claim could not be stated — “recognizing the group’s gentrification theory would obligate the City to ‘use[ ] and consider[ ]’ race in making local planning decisions, and thus the group’s gentrification theory is not cognizable under the [federal] Fair Housing Act (and, by extension, the [California] FEHA).” In dismissing the fair housing claims, the superior court had relied on the opinion in AIDS Healthcare Foundation v. City of Los Angeles, which was itself later depublished (see here).
  • Speedy trials and the pandemic. The court denied review in Hernandez-Valenzuela v. Superior Court, but Justice Goodwin Liu recorded a vote to grant. The First District, Division Three, 2-1 published opinion rejected two defendants’ claims that their statutory speedy trial rights were violated, the majority concluding, “The District Attorney adequately showed respondent court’s backlog resulting in the delay of petitioners’ trials was attributable to exceptional circumstances connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, not chronic conditions in respondent court.” The dissenter said she was “confounded by [the superior court’s] failure to try more [felony trials for in-custody defendants] after fully reopening in June 2021.” Because Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Carol Corrigan were recused (probably because they are, respectively, the chair and a member of the Judicial Council, which issued pertinent jury-trial-suspension orders during the pandemic), the denial of review was by a four-justice minimum.
  • Youth offender parole. Over another Justice Liu recorded dissenting vote, the court denied review of the Sixth District’s unpublished opinion in People v. Fonseca, which rejected an equal protection challenge to a statute making youth offender parole hearings unavailable for defendants sentenced to life without parole for offenses committed between the ages of 18 and 25. It’s an issue that Justice Liu has shown a continuing interest in. (See here and here.)
  • Trial pause and the pandemic. The court denied review in People v. Breceda, where the Fourth District, Division Three, published opinion concluded the defendant’s due process rights were not violated by a 72-day pause in his murder trial, a hiatus caused by three ill jurors and then statewide and local orders suspending jury trials because of the Covid pandemic. As in Hernandez-Valenzuela (see above), the Chief Justice and Justice Corrigan were recused.
  • More masked witnesses. As it did in April (see here), the court denied review in a case where a criminal defendant unsuccessfully claimed his constitutional confrontation rights were violated by the superior court requiring witnesses to wear masks because of the Covid pandemic. This week’s case was People v. Edwards, where the Second District, Division Eight, issued a brief published opinion.
  • Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were 11 criminal case grant-and-holds: five more waiting for a decision in People v. Strong (see here), which was argued three weeks ago; two more waiting for People v. Curiel (see here); one more holding for People v. Delgadillo (see here); one more holding for People v. Espinoza (see here); one more holding for In re Vaquera (see here); and one holding for the finality of the last month’s 4-3 opinion in People v. Padilla (see here).