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Since 1985
San Francisco Traffic Law Clinic
  • SF’s largest and longest running traffic law firm
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Since 1985 San Francisco Traffic Law Clinic

People v. Cooper (Cal., May 25, 2023, No. S273134) 2023 WL 3637806

Summary: Cooper  was convicted of first degree murder with gang and firearm enhancements. He appealed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction and the California Supreme Court granted review . The Supreme Court held that trial court’s error was not harmless in failing to provide jury instruction that alleged predicate offenses must have commonly benefited gang in more than reputational manner.

Assembly Bill 333

In the Supreme Court of CaliforniaMiguel Angel Estrada, Petitioner, v.The Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, Respondent; The People, Real Party in Interest. Andrew Kuhaiki, Petitioner, v. The Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco, Respondent; The People, Real Party in Interest. PETITION FOR REVIEW of the decision of the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District Division One, Nos. A166474, A166508

 Summary: Following the covid-19  lockdown, the San Francisco Superior Court reopened all of its criminal  trial courtrooms in June 2021. However, during  the thirteen months that followed, it operated these courtrooms at only 56 percent capacity. And in mid-2022, trial courtrooms  we’re closed on 176 occasions due to judges’ vacations, which  had become the leading cause for closed courtrooms. The superior court’s backlog grew by forty percent since reopening. The superior court held that the covid-19 pandemic justified continuing petitioners’ trials past their statutory deadlines in July and August 2022. On the days of the continuances,  multiple courtrooms were closed because of judges’ vacations and routine absences.  In denying a petition filed by the San Francisco Public Defender, thd Court of Appeal upheld the good cause finding.

Public Defender Files for Review in Supreme Court

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. VONDETRICK CARR, Defendant and Appellant. (Cal. Ct. App., Apr. 7, 2023, No. E079368) 2023 WL 2820859, at *1

Summary: Carr drove drunk with four children in his car, hitting a pickup truck. One of the children was killed and Carr was convicted of second degree murder. Car was sentenced to a 51 years, 4 months to life in prison.

In 2021, Carr filed a petition to vacate the murder conviction under Penal Code section 1172.6. The trial court denied the petition because Carr was not convicted either on a natural and probable consequences theory or under the felony murder rule.

People v. Vaca (Cal. Ct. App., Mar. 30, 2023, No. A164953) 2023 WL 2706473, at *1

Summary: Vaca successfully moved under Penal Code section 1473.7 to vacate his conviction and withdraw his no contest plea. He appealed from the trial court’s order denying his motion to dismiss the criminal complaint against him under the same statute. Vaca contends that, after the trial court granted his motion to vacate his conviction under section 1473.7, the statute required dismissal of the underlying criminal complaint filed against him. The Court of Appeal. disagreed and affirmed the court’s order.

Trial court proceedings and motion to vacate the conviction and withdraw the plea under Penal Code Section 1473.7

People v. Villalba (Cal. Ct. App., Mar. 8, 2023, No. B318353) 2023 WL 2595696, at *1

Summary: Villalba appealed the denial of his motion under Penal Code section 1473.7, subdivision (a)1 to withdraw his 2017 no contest plea to a violation of section 273.5 and to vacate his conviction. Villalba asserted that he did not meaningfully understand the actual adverse immigration consequences of the conviction because of misadvice from his lawyer and from the Court. He also maintained that he would not have agreed to the plea if he had understood, and the trial court erred in denying the motion. The Court of Appeal found undisputed evidence demonstrated a reasonable probability that if he had been properly advised of the immigration consequences of his plea, he would not have pled no contest to an offense requiring mandatory deportation. The Court we reversed the order and remanded with directions to the trial court to grant the motion and vacate the conviction pursuant to section 1473.7, subdivision (e).

Plea and conviction

Ramirez v. Superior Court of Kern County (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 9, 2023, No. F082588) 2023 WL 2399712

 Summary: A driver petitioned for writ of mandate ordering Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to set aside its driver’s license suspension order following his arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). The Superior Court granted the petition. DMV appealed as real party in interest. The Court of Appeal held that:

Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) provision, addressing when a presiding officer can conduct a hearing by telephone, applied to administrative per se (APS) adjudicative hearing conducted by DMV;  APA’s provision, stating that a presiding officer “may not” conduct a hearing by telephone if a party objects, and regulation adopted to implement the APA provision in context of DMV adjudicative hearings, are mandatory, substantive procedural protections; and substantial evidence supported implied finding that motorist was prejudiced by police officer testifying by telephone.

People v. Espinoza (2023) 14 Cal.5th 311 [303 Cal.Rptr.3d 670, 522 P.3d 1074]

Summary: After serving sentence, noncitizen filed statutory motion to vacate conviction pursuant to negotiated no-contest plea, because he had not understood immigration consequences of plea. The Superior Court denied the motion. Noncitizen appealed. The Court of Appeal, 2021 WL 2177264, affirmed. Review was granted by the California Supreme Court.

Holding: The Supreme Court held that noncitizen corroborated his claim that immigration consequences were a paramount concern when he entered negotiated no-contest plea.

Estrada v. Superior Court of City and County of San Francisco (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 28, 2023, No. A166474) 2023 WL 2320352, at *1

 Summary:  Represented by the Office of the San Francisco Public Defender Petitioners sought  a writ of mandate or prohibition requiring respondent Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco to dismiss their cases for violating their speedy trial rights under Penal Code section 1382. Petitioners contend there was no good cause to continue their cases past the statutory deadline, maintaining the superior court can no longer rely on the “exceptional circumstances” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court of Appeal concluded the superior court did not abuse its discretion in finding good cause to continue their trial dates past the statutory deadlines.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Criminal Trial Delays

People v. Ornelas (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 30, 2023, No. A165333) 2023 WL 1097221, at *1–2

Summary: Ornelas was placed on probation in July 2021 for the maximum statutory term of two years. He failed to report to probation,  his probation was summarily revoked, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He was  arrested and admitted to violating the terms of his probation. In April 2022—still within his original two-year probationary term—the trial court reinstated him on probation, but this time with a new termination date in November 2023 to account for the days he had been “in warrant status” and his probation had been summarily revoked.

On appeal, Ornelas contends that the trial court exceeded its jurisdiction by extending his probation to November 29, 2023, which Ornelas argued is beyond the two-year maximum probationary period authorized by statute. The Court of Appeal ruled that when probation has been summarily revoked and then reinstated within the initial probationary term, the trial court has discretion to extend probation to account for the time when probation was summarily revoked so long as the total period of probationary supervision does not exceed the statutory maximum. Even with an extension to November 2023, Ornelas’s term of probation, not including the time he was on warrant status and his probation was summarily revoked, is less than two years.

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