The Supreme Court yesterday denied a pro per’s habeas corpus petition in In re Diaz. The denial was by a bare majority, however. Three justices — Goodwin Liu, Joshua Groban, and Kelli Evans — recorded votes to issue an order to show cause. Also, Justice Groban filed an explanatory separate statement, in which Justices Liu and Evans concurred, “to highlight the troubling nature of this case.”

After the superior court found Diaz fit to be tried as an adult despite a probation report that concluded the opposite, he pleaded no contest to a seven-year-to-life sentence for committing witness intimidation when he was 16. He has been in custody for over 16 years. Citing two Court of Appeal opinions, Justice Groban writes that “Diaz’s sentence is particularly concerning because there is existing case law indicating that the seven-year-to-life sentence he received does not apply to the offense to which he pled no contest.”

The separate statement also “highlight[s]” four sources of “relief [Diaz might obtain] at some point in the future” despite the court’s denial of his habeas petition.

In 2015, Justice Liu revived a long-dormant practice of issuing separate statements when the court denies review, and he and other justices — including Justices Groban and Evans — have done so on numerous occasions since then.