Part I begins with an overview of the separation of powers doctrine. Part II provides an overview of Proposition 66 and the California Supreme Court case that challenged its constitutionality. This section discusses Proposition 66’s statutory objective, the petitioners’ claim of unconstitutionality, the respondents’ claim about the initiative’s purpose, and the court’s separation of powers analysis. Part III discusses the state of California’s capital crisis by (1) examining the Briggs ruling’s effect on death-row inmates; (2) providing a brief background of California’s death-penalty system; and (3) evaluating the Briggs ruling in connection with the court’s duty to provide meaningful appellate review. Part IV evaluates the court’s separation of powers analysis regarding the constitutionality of the five-year time limit and addresses the problems with the court’s directive interpretation. To illustrate the inappropriateness of the court’s directive interpretation of the time limit, this section analyzes the language and purpose of the initiative, the intent of the voters, and the court’s cited case law. Finally, part V concludes that the California Supreme Court had a duty to invalidate an unworkable judicial time limit that was passed by voter initiative when it is evident that the voters intended for the time limit to place a mandatory requirement on the courts.
California’s Capital Crisis Continues: Voter-Initiated Time Limit on Capital Appellate Review Upheld Under Improper Directive Interpretation, 49 Golden Gate U. L. Rev. 169