If you were to read the eight-page factual summary of the abusive juvenile in People v. S.O. (D3d2 May 7, 2021) no. E075778, you would be disappointed by the payoff in terms of application of those troubling facts to law. That is because the legal application consists entirely of just two sentences:
"We offered minor an opportunity to file a personal supplemental brief, which he has not done. Pursuant to the mandate of People v. Kelly (2006) 40 Cal.4th 106, we have independently reviewed the record for potential error and find no arguable issues."
Justice Raphael thinks this effort a waste, and dissents to say the appeal should have been dismissed as abandoned. While an appellate court must independently review the record in the first appeal of right in a criminal prosecution, this appeal was from a postconviction order. The court, Justice Raphael notes, was not required to take the trouble to write the opinion here.
As for the minor's lack of effort to raise appealable issues, Justice Raphael provides this pithy synopsis:
"Minor's counsel raises no issues. Today's opinion discusses no issues. The opinion is eight pages without a reason to exist. One can say nothing much more succinctly."
The Upshot: While this juvenile appeal has no direct application to ordinary civil appeals, Justice Raphael's dissent advises: justices do not appreciate impositions on their time. Fully develop the issues in your appeal with factual analysis, record citation, legal analysis, and legal citation. Do not expect the Court of Appeal to find reversible error on its own.
Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at www.CALPodcast.com, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at www.tvalaw.com/articles. Contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org or (714) 641-1232.