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Name: In re White
Case #: S248125
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/21/2020

Opinion By: Justice Cuéllar (joined by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justices Chin, Corrigan, and Groban). Justice Kruger filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Liu concurred.
When a trial court denies a request for bail under article I, section 12, subdivision (b) of the California Constitution, the appellate court applies the substantial evidence test when reviewing a trial court’s finding that an arrestee’s release would likely result in great bodily harm to others. White was accused of aiding and abetting an attempted kidnapping and assault with intent to commit rape on a minor. The trial court denied bail after finding he would be a danger if released. The Court of Appeal denied his habeas petition. The California Supreme Court granted review. Held: Petition denied. Defendants charged with noncapital offenses are generally entitled to bail. However, article I, section 12 of the California Constitution provides for exceptions in certain circumstances. One exception is when a defendant is charged with a felony offense involving violence on another person, or a felony sexual assault offense on another person, when the facts are “evident” or the presumption of guilt great, and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood the defendant’s release would result in great bodily harm to others. Here, the Supreme Court concluded that the danger posed by an arrestee if released on bail is a question of fact that an appellate court reviews for substantial evidence. On review, a court considers whether any reasonable trier of fact could find, by clear and convincing evidence, a substantial likelihood that the person’s release would lead to great bodily harm to others. Based on the record in this case, a reasonable trier of fact could find White guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, in light of the deferential standard of review, there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that White would cause great bodily harm to others if released. The trial court did not abuse its discretion. [Editor’s Note: In a concurring opinion, Justice Kruger concluded the case was moot because White’s pretrial detention was long over. She agreed with the majority’s decision to reach the standard of review issue, as well as with the majority’s decision affirming the standard of review articulated by the Court of Appeal in this case. However, she would not have decided whether the Court of Appeal correctly applied that standard to the facts here.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: