What Happens When a Criminal Defendant Dies While His Case is Pending Before the Supreme Court?

The tombstone of William Rogers, died March 11, 1873. 

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In People v. Arriaga, case no. S149898 (June 2, 2008), the Supreme Court explains the general scheme in a footnote:

After oral argument in this case, we were informed that defendant Arriaga died on March 14, 2008. Although defendant’s death will abate his appeal (see e.g., In re Sheena K. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 875, 879; People v. Anzalone (1999) 19 Cal.4th 1074, 1076; People v. Dail (1943) 22 Cal.2d 642, 659), we exercise our inherent authority to retain this case for an opinion in order to resolve the recurring conflict in the Courts of Appeal regarding whether prohibited firearm enhancements should be stayed or stricken under section 12022.53. (In re Sheena K., supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 879.)

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