Thomas J. MacBride, Jr., Revised September 30, 20161

Since 1950 the California Supreme Court has issued 70 opinions in response to a Petition for Writ of Review2 of a Commission Decision or a Petition for Writ of Mandate directed at the Commission. Most of those decisions reversed the Commission decision in whole or in part. The balance affirmed the order, dismissed the matter as moot or otherwise disposed of the dispute in a manner leaving the Commission’s order undisturbed.

The Court of Appeal has issued 33 such opinions since the enactment of SB 1322 and SB 779 in the late 1990s. Most of the opinions affirmed the Commission order at issue in its entirety; the rest reversed the Commission’s order in whole or in part. None of the 33 opinions of the Court of Appeal have been accepted for review by the California Supreme Court.

The advent of review in the Court of Appeal has clearly resulted in a greater number of written opinions reviewing Commission decisions than was the case prior to the enactment of Calderon-Peace-MacBride Judicial Review Act of 1998 (SB779). By way of illustration, six opinions were issued in 2004 alone, more than any year since 1979 when the Supreme Court issued eight opinions reviewing Commission decisions. Four opinions were again issued in 2013 and three were issued in 2014. In the last ten years, the Court of Appeal has issued 14 opinions in Commission writ matters. By contrast, only eight opinions were issued by the California Supreme Court in the fourteen year period from 1983 to 1996 (and only one after 1995).3

The California Supreme Court has largely declined to review Commission decisions, whether review is sought by a petition for writ of review of a Commission decision or by a petition for review of a decision of the Court of Appeal. Only two written decisions, by the Supreme Court in a Commission writ of review matter have been issued in the last 21 years. (See Para. 2 and 35, infra).

Of course, California appellate courts also decide writ petitions by summarily denying them without a full written decision; those summary denials have res judicata, but not stare decisis, effect. (See Para. 46, infra).

In reverse chronological order, the published decisions rendered in those cases are summarized (briefly) below. A table of cases and other authorities is provided at the end of the Summary. All statutory references are to the California Public Utilities Code unless otherwise indicated.
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1This memorandum reflects court action on petitions for writs of review through September 30, 2016. It only addresses decisions that have been certified for publication. See e.g. S. Cal. Generation Coalition v. Cal. PUC, 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4023 (May 19, 2008). In addition to adding recent decisions, this update revises the text related to some of the older cases to reflect recent developments in the law addressed in those cases.

2The main portion of this memorandum only addresses decision arising from petitions for writs of review. The reader is advised to review other recent decisions construing important provisions of the Public Utilities Code. A past limitation of this document stems from the fact that decisions arising out of writ review of Commission decisions will, by their nature, not address the issue of the extent to which the Commission’s decisions bind the Superior Court pursuant to Section 1759. Accordingly, an Appendix to this document addresses the most significant of these. The reader is also advised to review the opinion of the California Supreme Court on questions certified to it by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in Edison v. Peevey, 31 Cal. 4th 781 (2003).

3The Constitutionality of the Legislature’s limitation of appellate review of Commission decisions was recently explained by the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Gerawan v. ALRB, 27 Cal. App. 4th 284 (May 9, 2016).

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246 Cal. App. 4th 784; 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 298 (April 19, 2016) 
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62 Cal. 4th 693 2016 Cal. LEXIS 45 (January 25, 2016)
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243 Cal. App. 4th 295 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 1150 (December 23, 2015)
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237 Cal. App. 4th, 812 (June 16, 2015); 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 512
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227 Cal. App. 4th 641, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 578 (May 29, 2014)
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227 Cal App. 4th 172; 2014 Cal App LEXIS 541 (May 28, 2014), modified and certified for publication on June 18, 2014.)
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223 Cal. App. 4th 945 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 119 (February 5, 2014)
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221 Cal. App. 4th 1436; 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS (December 11, 2013)
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218 Cal. App.4th 778; 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 617 (August 5, 2013)
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217 Cal. App. 4th 784, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 522 (June 13, 2013) 
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214 Cal. App.4th 566; 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 197 (March 14, 2013)
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197 Cal. App. 4th 1411; 2011 Cal. App. LEXIS 1019 (July 6, 2011)
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197 Cal. App. 4th 48; 2011 Cal. App. LEXIS 869 (July 5, 2011)
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187 Cal. App. 4th 668; 2010 Cal. App. LEXIS 1443 (August 17, 2010)
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166 Cal. App. 4th 522, 2008 Cal. PUC LEXIS 1376 (August 29, 2008)
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140 Cal. App. 4th 1085, 2006 Cal. PUC LEXIS 948 (June 26, 2006)
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140 Cal. App. 4th 718, 2006 Cal. App. LEXIS 905 (June 20, 2006)
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128 Cal. App. 4th 1, 2005 Cal. PUC LEXIS 520 (April 4, 2005)
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124 Cal. App. 4th 346, 2004 Cal. PUC LEXIS 1973 (November 22, 2004)
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121 Cal. App. 4th 1303, 2004 Cal. PUC LEXIS 1449 (August 31, 2004)
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120 Cal. App. 4th 644 (July 12, 2004), 2004 Cal. App. LEXIS 1102
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119 Cal. App. 4th 793 (June 21, 2004), 14 Cal. Rptr. 3d 713, 2004 Cal. App. LEXIS 970
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118 Cal. App. 4th 1174 (May 21, 2004), 13 Cal. Rptr. 3d 630, 2004 Cal. App. LEXIS 785 
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117 Cal. App. 4th 1039 (2004), 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 441, 2004 Cal. App. LEXIS 568
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112 Cal. App. 4th 881 (2003), 5 Cal. Rptr. 3d 503, 2003 Cal. App. LEXIS 1565
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108 Cal. App. 4th 246 (2003), 133 Cal. Rptr. 2d 343, 2003 Cal. App. LEXIS 632
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103 Cal. App. 4th 1324 (2002), 127 Cal. Rptr. 2d 736, 2002 Cal. App. LEXIS 5066
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101 Cal. App. 4th 982 (2002), 125 Cal. Rptr. 2d 211, 2002 Cal. App. LEXIS 4594
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101 Cal. App. 4th 384, 124 Cal. Rptr. 2d 281 (2002), 2002 Cal. App. LEXIS 4520
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