Wednesday, November 02, 2016

People v. Scott (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 1, 2016)

You're rarely able to look at what happens behind closed doors, in chambers, as the justices draft a published opinion.  But what happens here pulls back the curtain a tiny bit.  In an unexpected -- and somewhat embarrassing -- way.

It's one of the many recent cases that's forced to navigate around the various new cases and statutes that govern LWOP sentences given to minors.  Justice Ramirez writes the opinion.  In two places, he responds directly to arguments made by the dissent, saying things like:

"Although the dissent cites Graham as mandating an individualized sentencing decision by the trial court, this requirement is in fact nowhere to be found in Graham."


"We disagree with the dissent’s conclusion that Miller requires the trial court to make an individualized sentencing decision as to juvenile offenders before imposing a de facto LWOP sentence in a nonhomicide case."

There's just one problem.  There's no dissent.  The opinion is unanimous.


So, later, Justice Ramirez amends the opinion to take out all references to the alleged dissent.

Now, there was a dissent back in 2015 in the same case.  But that was the prior appeal; thereafter, the California Supreme Court granted review and remanded the case for reconsideration based upon the Court's intervening decision in Franklin.  That's what this appeal is about.  And in this appeal, there's no dissent.  Justice McKinster, who dissented back in 2015, is now on board for the majority opinion -- which is edited very slightly -- given the California Supreme Court's intervening decision.

But the opinion wasn't edited carefully enough.  Since the cut-and-paste didn't catch the two prior references to the dissent.

But it's all fixed now.