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December 13, 2007


Greg May

On what does Chief Justice George rest his rationale? I haven't seen his comments from Tuesday, but when the dismissal was first announced, he cited no rule regarding lesser (or lack of) precedential value for opinions by designated justices. In fact, I know of at least one Supreme Court opinion in which the panel was composed ENTIRELY of designated Court of Appeal justices.

This just seems like a way to kick the issue down the road to be dealt with later.

But I must say that those justices recusing themselves from the republication vote have a point. If they cannot be presumed neutral in deciding the case, can they be presumed neutral in deciding on republication?

And what about granting the petition for review in the first place? The order of dismissal states that the circumstances warranting dismissal arose since the grant of review. Does that mean none of the justices were aware they owned stock in these oil companies?

Finally, its hard to understand how the circumtances warranting dismissal did not arise until more than two and a half years after review was granted and the parties poured an untold amount of money and effort into the case before the Supreme Court.

Am I missing something?

Oops. Form your earlier coverage, I now see why circumstances warranting recusal developed after review was granted. The conflicts of three justices were apparently created when Chevron, in which they owned stock, merged into Unocal a few months AFTER review was granted.

As the Cal Law article notes, it's possible none of the three justices was aware that the conflict was created until much later. A shame they couldn't catch it earlier. All that work by the parties down the drain!

But why not republish? If the issue is so important it warrants review, isn't it better to have precedent out there as guidance for litigants?

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