Monday, October 31, 2011

Supremely Unpublished (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Oct. 31, 2011)

One of the things I like most about the California Supreme Court is that, busy as they are, they're not too busy to occasionally engage in pure error review; e.g., to grant review of the occasional unpublished opinion that's really wrong.  Sure, those opinions aren't precedential, so only affect the litigants.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that the opinions are unimportant, or unworthy of correction.  When you've got thousands and thousands of appellate decisions, some are bound to be wrong, and I think it's beneficial to step in on occasion and say so.

Moreover, since these opinions are (usually) pretty clearly wrong, it doesn't take up that much time to review them.  The California Supreme Court's decisions in these cases are (usually) short and unanimous.  Yes, they still have to write them and vote on them and have oral argument.  But that ain't that tough.  And I'm glad the Court's willing to put in the effort.

The two cases from the California Supreme Court today are like that.  Here and here.  Both unpublished opinions.  Both get reversed.

I say this, by the way, notwithstanding the fact that in today's cases, you actually have disagreement; in one case, by Justice Werdegar, and in the other, by Justice Kennard.  Even when there's not unanimity, I still am of the view that review is often proper.  Because even though three (appellate) judges are more likely to get things right that one (superior court) judge, the former are still far not perfect.  And that's true even when one or two California Supreme Court justices agree with 'em.