Some notable Supreme Court actions taken at yesterday’s conference include:

Pensions again. The court will hear another case about the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, this time apparently concerning PEPRA’s interpretation rather than its constitutionality. (See here.)

Canal immunity dissenting vote. The court denied review of the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s belatedly published opinion in Perez v. Oakdale Irrigation District, but Justice Leondra Kruger recorded a vote to grant. The Fifth District affirmed summary judgment for an irrigation district in an action for the death of a father and daughter who drowned when their overturned car landed in a drain. The appellate court held the action was barred by Government Code section 831.8(b), which provides irrigation districts are generally immune from liability “for an injury caused by the condition of canals, conduits, or drains used for the distribution of water if at the time of the injury the person injured was using the property for any purpose other than that for which the district or state intended it to be used.” It concluded that, even though the phrase “using the property” could reasonably be construed as “limit[ing] immunity to circumstances where the injured party volitionally interacted with the property,” the Legislature enacting the statute more likely was “evinc[ing] a concern with how foreseeable the injury was to the government, rather than how much responsibility the injured person assumed.” Horvitz & Levy was appellate counsel for the defendant District.

Racial Justice Act procedure. The court denied review in People v. Lashon, handing a renewed defeat to a defendant who has been claiming her murder convictions were tainted by the trial judge’s implicit bias in violation of the California Racial Justice Act (here and here). The First District, Division Three, published opinion came after the Supreme Court had granted review of an earlier opinion and sent the case back for reconsideration in light of new legislation, Assembly Bill 1118. (See here.) Pre-AB 1118, Division Three held the bias claim was forfeited by not filing a motion in the trial court before judgment. AB 1118 amended Penal Code section 745(b) to provide, “For claims based on the trial record, a defendant may raise a claim alleging a violation of [the CRJA] on direct appeal from the conviction or sentence” and “may also move to stay the appeal and request remand to the superior court to file a motion pursuant to this section.” Division Three stuck to its forfeiture decision, stating, “By the AB 1118 amendment, the Legislature did not include any language indicating a section 745 claim could be presented on direct appeal for the first time.” It also declined to remand the case, saying that “it appears the Legislature intended the stay and remand procedure to be available in cases that need further factual development” and that the defendant “both had the opportunity to raise a CRJA violation and develop the record in the trial court and fails to identify what factual development (if any) is now needed in the trial court.” The appellate court noted the defendant has also raised her CRJA claim in a pending Supreme Court habeas corpus petition. (See here.) The Supreme Court denied review in another CRJA case last month. (See here.)

Grant-and-hold disposal. The court dismissed review in Winick v. Noble LA Events, Inc., which had been a grant-and-hold (see here) for TriCoast Builders, Inc. v. Fonnegra (2024) 15 Cal.5th 766 (see here).

Criminal case grant-and-transfer. The court granted the prosecution’s petition for review (and denied the defendant’s) in People v. Browder and transferred the case back to the Second District, Division Eight, for reconsideration in light of People v. Clark (2024) 15 Cal.5th 743 (see here).

Criminal case grant-and-holds. Uncommonly there were none this week.

[April 24 update: Supreme Court won’t review State Bar Court opinion broadening availability of alternative discipline program for impaired attorneys.]