In a ruling that was surprising to only a handful of law students, the Court of Appeals today made into controlling precedent its holding that the SAPD doesn't have to file all nonfrivolous claims. The case is here. I had previously blogged that they had said this in a non-precedential opinion, which is of course an oxymoron that means the opinion can't be cited to and thus isn't "precedent" even though its published and we all know damn well it means what it says.
The Court used what you might call a test case to do it, except of course the plaintiff bringing the action and appeal was the criminal defendant. The convict argued the SAPD should have pursued his motion to suppress evidence found in his car based on a search incident to arrest in a DUI case which, of course, the Court had already said was fine in its Cantrell opinion. Essentially, the Court is saying you're never going to convince us your lawyer wasn't effective because he didn't challenge existing law.
But that is, I'm sure, only part of the story. Likely, the convict's original attorney filed the motion because Cantrell is bad law. They also may have filed it because his case differed in ways that may have been important. Who the fuck knows, because his appellate attorney from the SAPD said, "nah, I'm too lazy and busy losing these other cases I evidently think are worth bringing before the Court." What's the worst that could have happened, you SAPD hack? The Court denies it? You somehow make bad law worse? Fuck, that's YOUR FUCKING JOB.
The real fuck of it is, the Court probably would have simply denied oral argument. Oh no, I had to write a brief! Damn it all!
Considering how fucking terrible the attorneys at the SAPD are at oral argument, that ought to have been an incentive.
I say, if the ACLU is paying any attention, now is the time for a massive lawsuit against this fucked up appellate system.