Pending a recent appeal I have for the office, my client had an unfortunate motorcycle accident and passed away as a result of it. Normally, a criminal client’s death while his appeal is pending would terminate the proceedings and lead to an automatic vacating of the judgment of conviction. The case would then go back to the trial court so it could be dismissed. It is an otherwise good result for us, but for the circumstances that created it.
However, in my case, there is a good point of criminal law that my client and I really wished to have decided and published. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to see that the court may still choose to rule on our issue even though my client passed away. See, e.g. In re Sheena K. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 875, 879. I am pleased to pursue the issue and continue my client’s fight. In either event, the results should be the same resulting in the ultimate dismissal of my client’s case. It is just unfortunate he will not be able to enjoy it with me in person.