After four conferences in a row without a straight grant, the Supreme Court added some substance to its docket. At today’s conference, a double one, actions of note included:
- Student housing. The court agreed to review a First District, Division Five, Court of Appeal published opinion in Make UC a Good Neighbor v. Regents of University of California. Division Five found some defects in an environmental impact report concerning what the appellate court described as UC Berkeley’s “immediate plan to build student housing on the current site of People’s Park, a historic landmark and the well-known locus of political activity and protest.” That court also rejected some of the plaintiffs’ challenges to the EIR, but the Supreme Court granted the Regents’ petition for review and denied the one filed by the plaintiffs. The review grant was urged by the Governor. (See Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle: Newsom asks state Supreme Court to let UC Berkeley build housing in People’s Park; related: Justice Jenkins indicates interest in . . . environmental issues.)
- Government employment liability. The court also granted review in Stone v. Alameda Health System, where the First District, Division Five, published opinion allowed to proceed most of an action brought against a county-created hospital authority by a medical assistant and a licensed vocational nurse, who allege wage and hour violations. The case raises various issues regarding whether the public authority is either exposed to or protected from liability for the claims. Justice Kelli Evans is recused.
- No clemency briefing. The court denied a district attorney’s motion for briefing and argument regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for the court’s permission to commute the life-without-possibility-of-parole sentence of Tyson Atlas. (See here.)
- Standing to challenge LGBT rights legislation. In November 2021, the court granted review in Taking Offense v. State of California to evaluate constitutional challenges to two provisions of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, enacted by Senate Bill 219 in 2017. One provision prohibits staff at a long-term care facility from “[w]illfully and repeatedly fail[ing] to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.” The case was fully briefed, including six amicus curiae briefs, as of last year. Today, however, the court indicated it might not reach the merits. It ordered supplemental briefing about “[w]hether California recognizes a common law taxpayer standing doctrine to bring actions against state officials” and, if so, “whether the plaintiff in this case has established any such standing.”
- Conservatorship. The court denied the habeas corpus petition in In re S.V. over the recorded dissenting votes of Justices Carol Corrigan and Kelli Evans. The docket doesn’t indicate what the petition was about, but a reply to the informal response, available on Westlaw, says “Petitioner believes that he has been deprived of his due process rights to have timely trials and have his appeals timely resolved on the merits rather than being declared moot” in “the last six conservatorship procedures.”
- Criminal case grant-and-holds. There were 15 criminal case grant-and-holds: uncommonly, one is waiting for decisions in two death penalty appeals — People v. Bankston and People v. Hin; one more is holding for In re Vaquera (see here), which has been fully briefed for almost three years; another one on hold for People v. Reynoza (see here); one more holding for People v. Braden (see here), which was argued in March; four more waiting for People v. Lynch (see here); two more on hold for People v. Rojas (see here); one more holding for People v. Mitchell (see here); three more waiting for People v. Hardin (see here); and one case with a docket that doesn’t say what the lead case is, but it’s likely People v. Catarino (see here), which was argued in April. [May 24 update: a Supreme Court summary says the Bankston and Hin death penalty appeals “include an issue involving the retroactivity of the provision in Assembly Bill No. 2799 (Stats. 2022, ch. 973) limiting the admissibility of creative expressions (Pen. Code, § 352.2).” (Link added.) In other cases, instead of grant-and-hold orders, the court has remanded with directions for the Courts of Appeal to reconsider in light of AB 2799. (See here.)]
- More Delgadillo grant-and-hold disposals. The court continued its disposal of grant-and-holds that had been waiting for the December decision in People v. Delgadillo (2022) 14 Cal.5th 216. Ten cases were transferred with orders stating, the “matter is transferred to the Court of Appeal . . . with directions to vacate its decision and reconsider whether to exercise its discretion to conduct an independent review of the record or provide any other relief in light of People v. Delgadillo (2022) 14 Cal.5th 216, 232-233 & fn. 6.”