Thursday, May 27, 2021

3d DCA Delay

Today's DJ has Jon Eisenberg's Criminal Appeals Languish in 3rd District

  • delay has been mostly with criminal appeals. Of 400 or so 3rd District decisions in cases since 2018 that have languished between two and eight years, some 250 are in criminal appeals.
  • at least 70 more long-delayed 3rd District criminal appeals currently remain unadjudicated and unscheduled for oral argument -- appeals filed as far back as 2015.

  • Code of Civil Procedure Section 44 requires California's appellate courts to hear oral argument in civil appeals "next after cases in which the people of the state are parties," so that criminal appeals -- in which "the People" are the plaintiffs -- must be given calendar preference. For years now, the 3rd District has been systemically violating this statutory mandate. More troubling, however, is that these delays violate the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.
  • "if a State has created appellate courts as 'an integral part of the ... system for finally adjudicating the guilt or innocence of a defendant,' [citation], the procedures used in deciding appeals must comport with the demands of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution." Evitts v. Lucey, 469 U.S. 387, 393 (1985).
  • federal courts follow a bright-line rule that delay in adjudicating a criminal appeal for more than two years after filing of the notice of appeal, including more than 11 months from the completion of briefing to the filing of the opinion, gives rise to a rebuttable presumption that the State's appellate process is ineffective, making the appeal a "meaningless ritual." Harris v. Champion, 15 F.3d 1538, 1555-58 (10th Cir. 1994). Every one of the 3rd District's 250 long-delayed criminal appeals has crossed that line.