Actions of note at the Supreme Court’s conference yesterday included:

  • Judge disqualification. The court agreed to hear North American Title Co. v. Superior Court to review a trial judge’s striking of a defendant’s statement of disqualification as untimely, insufficient, and successive. The statement was based on remarks the judge had made about a year earlier that were harshly critical of the defendant. The Fifth District Court of Appeal’s published opinion disagreed with the striking. It concluded “a statement of disqualification for bias, prejudice, or appearance of impartiality cannot be found to be impliedly waived as untimely under [Code of Civil Procedure] section 170.3, subdivision (b)(2). (§ 170.3, subd. (b)(2) [‘There shall be no waiver of disqualification if . . . [t]he judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.’].)” (Link added.) The appellate court also found the defendant “had never filed a prior statement of disqualification [but a codefendant had] and the statement was not insufficient on its face.”
  • Section 998 costs. The court also granted review in Madrigal v. Hyundai Motor America, and it limited the issue to: “Do Code of Civil Procedure section 998’s cost-shifting provisions apply if the parties ultimately negotiate a pre-trial settlement?” (Link added.) A 2-1 Third District published opinion held they do “[u]nder the facts of this case,” where the plaintiffs settled for less than what the defendant had earlier proffered in a second section 998 offer.
  • Clemency approved. The court issued a constitutionally required recommendation allowing Governor Gavin Newsom to pardon Beverly Taylor for 1998 and 1999 drug-related felony convictions.  (See here for more about the court and clemency.) Except for one request that was withdrawn, the court has now approved all 61 of Newsom’s clemency recommendation requests.
  • Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were two criminal case grant-and-holds:  Another one waiting for a decision in People v. Reynoza (see here) and another one holding for People v. Burgos (see here).
  • Grant-and-hold disposals.  The court rid its docket of two cases that had been waiting for the May decision in People v. Catarino (2023) 14 Cal.5th 748. Review was dismissed in one and the other was remanded to the Court of Appeal to reconsider in light of the Catarino opinion.