Author: California Constitution Center

Municipal taxation is now interesting

Municipal taxation is now interesting

Overview Last week the California Supreme Court decided City and County of San Francisco v. UC Regents (S242835 docket and opinion), and in unanimously ruling for the city the court reshaped the local finance landscape and employed a clear new vision for resolving state–local conflicts. The case involved a mundane matter of whether a city can tax private users of parking lots owned by state universities. The universities argued that, as sovereign state entities, their real property operations could not be taxed by local governments.[1] The city argued that the core municipal taxation power was paramount here, and taxing private...

A Governor Probably Can Stop Capital Cases by Executive Order

A Governor Probably Can Stop Capital Cases by Executive Order

Overview The New York Times recently reported that Governor Gavin Newsom is “considering several new steps to dismantle the state’s capital punishment system” and “discussing with the attorney general’s office what role the state could play in blocking prosecutions of new death sentences.” The Times quoted experts who argued that a governor lacks authority to order an attorney general or local prosecutors to stop pursuing capital judgments, and that taking cases from local prosecutors would be “unprecedented.”   No California governor has ever tried to direct state prosecutors to this degree. But that does not mean a governor lacks such...

Liberate the capital docket by sending it to the Court of Appeal

Liberate the capital docket by sending it to the Court of Appeal

Overview California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin H. Liu recently wrote that “the promise of justice in our death penalty system is a promise that California has been unable to keep.”[1] He’s right. The state has struggled for decades to resolve the policy debate over capital punishment after the California Supreme Court banned it in 1972.[2] The electorate reinstated capital punishment by passing Proposition 17 in 1972;[3] the legislature re-enacted the death penalty statute in 1977; the electorate expanded its application with Proposition 7 in 1978; and the voters attempted to accelerate executions by enacting Proposition 66 in 2016.[4] After forty...

In Which We Profile and Analyze the Current SCOCA Justices

In Which We Profile and Analyze the Current SCOCA Justices

Overview Joshua Groban, Governor Jerry Brown’s final appointment to the California Supreme Court, was confirmed today by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Court watchers will be very curious to see how the new justice develops as an individual and how he interacts with the existing members. To establish a baseline for answering those questions, and to see if a larger dataset changed the results, we decided to expand on our recent analysis. Previously, we tabulated the court’s opinion and vote records during the thirteen months pro tem justices filled the vacant seat. We evaluated the impact those temporary justices had...

Governor Brown Nominates Joshua Groban to SCOCA Seat

Governor Brown Nominates Joshua Groban to SCOCA Seat

The Recorder reports that (after a head-fake to the Court of Appeal) in a surprise announcement Governor Brown has nominated the man in charge of searching for someone to fill Justice Werdegar’s empty seat to himself be that replacement: judicial appointments adviser Joshua Groban. Accordingly, our “days since Justice Werdegar’s retirement” countup clock has stopped at eighteen months.

Announcement: The Concurrence Matrix

Announcement: The Concurrence Matrix

Announcing a new data analytics tool for SCOCA watchers: a justices voting relationship matrix, available here: SCOCA Justices Concurrence Matrix Similar to the SCOTUSblog voting relationships chart on its statistics page (scroll to the bottom), this tool tracks the agreement rate of the justices relative to each other as a percentage value. The methodology is simple: any justice who concurs in the judgment counts as an “agree” in a given case even if that justice writes separately. SCOTUSblog does the same, counting agreement “in full, in part, or in judgment.” You will note that the “KW” values are grayed out....

Balancing Judicial Independence Against Public Confidence

Balancing Judicial Independence Against Public Confidence

Overview The voters delivered a mixed message regarding judicial independence in the June 2018 primary election. The phalanx of coordinated challengers to four sitting San Francisco Superior Court judges were soundly defeated, but Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was recalled by a large margin. Those ballot box contests were examples of the conflicting public policy values of judicial independence and public confidence. Today we examine that conflict in the judicial discipline context. The competing policy concerns The value-set tradeoff in the judicial discipline context is between judicial independence and public confidence. “An impartial and independent judiciary is indispensable...

Opinion Analysis: Briggs v. Brown (2017) Part 2

Opinion Analysis: Briggs v. Brown (2017) Part 2

Introduction This is the second of three articles about the California Supreme Court’s recent decision in Briggs v. Brown (2017) 3 Cal.5th 808. The first article focused on the changes made by Proposition 66 to capital appeal and habeas procedures in California. This article considers the various separation of powers approaches in the opinions.[1] The court’s resolution of that issue—whether Proposition 66’s mandatory five-year deadline for resolving direct capital appeals and habeas petitions violated the California constitution’s separation of powers doctrine—was noteworthy in that all seven justices agreed that the mandatory deadline violated the separation of powers doctrine and was...

SCOCA Year in Review 2017: (Almost the) Brown Court

SCOCA Year in Review 2017: (Almost the) Brown Court

SCOCA Year in Review 2017: (Almost the) Brown Court With Justice Werdegar’s retirement (her last day was August 31), Governor Brown has a rare opportunity to appoint a fourth justice to the California Supreme Court. That will create a Brown-appointee majority on the seven-member court. To provide some perspective on what that could mean, in this article we analyze the court’s recent performance. Of course, no one but Governor Brown knows when a new justice will be appointed, and no one knows for sure what effect that person will have on the court. Rather than speculate about those unknowns, this...

Event announcement: Federalism Now conference

Event announcement: Federalism Now conference

FEDERALISM NOW UC Berkeley School of Law Friday 03 November 2017 9:00 to 5:30 Free admission, registration required. Click here to register! This full-day conference will bring together a diverse set of scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to explore what federalism means now. In this era of shifting state and federal policy positions, what constraints and opportunities does federalism present? Can people of different views agree on rules and principles to guide us going forward? The day is divided between a framing panel and two topical panels, one focusing on federalism and environmental law (climate change, specifically) and the other focusing...