As part of its “Conversations With [State] Supreme Court Justices,” the State Court Report had a conversation with Justice Goodwin Liu.

Justice Liu responded to six questions, including one about which Supreme Court opinions during his tenure on the bench are the most memorable. He prefaced the answer by characterizing the query as “a classic ‘pick among your children’ kind of question.” But he then mentioned as “one example” the two decisions regarding William Richards’s murder conviction: In re Richards (2012) 55 Cal.4th 948 and In re Richards (2016) 63 Cal.4th 291.

In the first Richards opinion, a 4-3 court denied habeas corpus relief even though the conviction had been based in part on bite-mark testimony by a dental expert that, post-conviction, had been recanted by the expert himself and discredited by other experts based on newly available computer technology. Justice Liu dissented. The Legislature then effectively overruled the decision. In the second Richards opinion, the court unanimously vacated the conviction, noting “it is apparent that the Legislature agreed with the dissent’s conclusion in” Richards I.

Justice Liu singled out the Richards opinions in an earlier interview, as well.


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