So a couple of opinions that have crossed Legal Pad’s desk recently have got us wondering: What’s a court of appeal justice got to do to get a little love and attention from the Supreme Court?
Specifically, the kind of attention that would have the high court’s justices say, "Hmm, you’ve got a good point there. Maybe our own case law is so antiquated that we ought to take another look at it."
In the last two weeks, two First District panels have urged the high court to take another look at these cases: In re Mitchell P., 22 Cal.3d 946, People v. Orin, 13 Cal.3d 937, and People v. Superior Court (Romero), 13 Cal.4th 497. The 1978 Mitchell P. case dealt with how much weight should be given to an accomplice’s uncorroborated testimony in a juvenile case. The 1975 Orin and the 1996 Romero cases both discuss how, technically, a judge has to record his explanation when calling upon the Penal Code's broad Section 1385 to dismiss a charge.
The docket’s showing no signs that the First District panels have piqued the Supremes’ interest, but then, it’s early yet.
Santa Clara University School of Law professor and court watcher Gerald F. Uelmen says that, “by and large, I think those suggestions are taken quite seriously and very often do lead to a grant of hearing,” considering how few cases overall get taken up by the Supreme Court.
But of course, it may also be a question of the messenger. “I think the court probably will pay more attention to such recommendations from some justices on the court of appeal than from others,” Uelman said, probably favoring those who have had a lot of experience, or who have captured the high court’s confidence.
Who would Uelman say fits that bill? “I’m not going to go there.”
The opinion bagging on In re Mitchell P. was written by Timothy Reardon, and joined by Ignazio Ruvolo and Maria Rivera. The opinion taking issue with Orin and Romero was written by James Richman, and joined by Paul Haerle and James Lambden. How about you, Legal Pad readers? Got any guess at their chances?
— Pam Smith