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

  • Supreme Court will answer Ninth Circuit questions about PG&E liability for power shutoffs.
  • Clemency for two approved, including commutation of an LWOP sentence.
  • Employment arbitration. The court granted review in Ramirez v. Charter Communications, Inc., where the Second District, Division Four, Court of Appeal, in a published opinion, affirmed the denial of a motion to compel arbitration of a fired employee’s lawsuit alleging violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. The opinion found the arbitration agreement at issue to be unenforceable because it “contained a high degree of substantive unconscionability based on the restriction of the statute of limitations for FEHA claims, the provision granting an award of attorney fees for a prevailing party in compelling arbitration, the lack of mutuality, and the limitation on discovery.” In finding the attorney fee provision unconscionable, Division Four disagreed with the Division Seven opinion in Patterson v. Superior Court (2021) 70 Cal.App.5th 473, which had concluded the provision was enforceable if interpreted as incorporating the employee-favorable asymmetric fee rule for FEHA cases in general (see here). There was no petition for review in Patterson.
  • Disbarment. The court went along with the State Bar’s recommendation to disbar Tom Girardi. Besides disbarment, the court ordered Girardi to make restitution of over $2,200,000 and to pay $5,000 in sanctions to the Bar. (See Cheryl Miller in The Recorder and Craig Anderson in the Daily Journal.)
  • Sports betting initiative. The court summarily denied an original writ petition in Stone v. Weber, another attempt by card clubs to keep off the November ballot an initiative to allow limited sports betting and, among other things, to give American Indian tribes standing to seek civil penalties and injunctive relief for various gambling violations. The petition challenged a 2020 superior court order granting a pandemic-based second extension of the period to collect petition signatures to qualify the initiative. (Writ petition here; real parties in interest preliminary opposition here.) In February, the court turned down a writ petition that challenged the initiative as violating the state constitutional single-subject rule.
  • PUC cases consolidated. Two weeks ago, the court issued writs of review in California-American Water Company v. Public Utilities Commission and Golden State Water Company v. Public Utilities Commission. Yesterday, the court consolidated the cases on the PUC’s motion.
  • Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were 15 criminal case grant-and-holds: six more waiting for a decision in People v. Strong (see here), which was argued last week, two more waiting for People v. Curiel (see here), three more holding for People v. Delgadillo (see here), one holding for People v. Faial (see here), two more holding for People v. Prudholme (see here) (one was a grant on the court’s own motion after a depublication request, but no petition for review, was filed), and one more holding for In re Vaquera (see here).
  • Proposition 66 transfers. The court transferred two more capital habeas corpus petitions to the superior court under Proposition 66.  (See here and here.)