Tomorrow morning, the Supreme Court will file its opinions in People v. Superior Court (Jones) and People v. Gonzalez.  (Briefs here; oral argument videos here and here.)

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar sat on both cases, which were argued in September, but he retired a month ago.  Thus, the opinions will either be issued by just the six remaining permanent justices or former Justice Cuéllar will participate as a pro tem.  (See here.)  My guess is that they will be shorthanded opinions because the court would prefer to not use a pro tem justice who is currently privately employed (Cuéllar is now the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace).  (Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to 50-50 questions, I’m right only about 20 percent of the time.)

Jones raises the issue whether Penal Code section 1054.9 entitles an eligible defendant to discovery of a trial prosecutor’s notes about jury selection with respect to a claim of Batson/Wheeler (Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79; People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 258) error at trial.  The court granted review in July 2019.

Gonzalez is an automatic direct appeal from a May 2008 judgment of death.  The court’s website does not list issues for death penalty appeals, but the court did ask counsel to address at oral argument whether there was a Sixth Amendment violation under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36 and whether a wiretap warrant was improperly issued.  Counsel was appointed in December 2011.  Briefing was completed in December 2015.

The opinions can be viewed tomorrow starting at 10:00 a.m.


Only one of three opinions filing tomorrow in cases on the September calendar, Justice Cuéllar’s last