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Articles Posted in General Criminal Defense

People v. DelRio (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 31, 2020, No. B298637) 2020 WL 5104917

Facts:

DelRio and his cousin Raul Prieto had a gunfight in front of a house on a cul-de-sac. Prieto shot his nine-millimeter pistol 15 times but missed every time. DelRio fired his .40-caliber pistol twice and each bullet hit Prieto. Each shot was fatal.

People v. Ogaz, 2020 WL 4581253  (Cal.App. 4 Dist., 2020) 07/14/2020; Modified 08/10/2020

Summary: Ignacio Ogaz appealed his conviction for and argued that his Sixth Amendment right to confront adverse witnesses was violated by the admission of drug testing evidence. The Court of Appeal held that the confrontation clause requires that the defendant have an opportunity to cross-examine the scientist who performed the analysis.

Facts: During a search of Ogaz, a Police Officer found a large baggie in his pocket which contained a brown powder that looked and smelled like heroin and a white crystal substance that looked like methamphetamine. The Officer weighed the powder and crystals and determined they had a combined weight of 10.5 grams. A presumptive test he performed showed that the powder tested positive for heroin, and the crystals tested positive for methamphetamine.

People v. Barton (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 4, 2020, No. F076599) 2020 WL 4462790

Facts: Barton pleaded guilty to furnishing methamphetamine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379, subd. (a)) and maintaining a place for the sale of a controlled substance (id., § 11366). Barton admitted to having twice been convicted of violating section 11379. In her plea agreement, Barton waived her appeal rights and she received a stipulated prison sentence of eight years eight months, which included a pair of three-year enhancements for the drug-related priors.

Barton entered her plea on September 25, 2017 and was sentenced on October 23, 2017. On October 11, 2017, Governor Brown approved Senate Bill No. 180 (2017–2018 Reg. Sess.) which went into effect on January 1, 2018. The legislation amended section 11370.2 by eliminating its three-year enhancements for most drug-related prior convictions.

A Marin County Superior Court judge has ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to respond by August 4, 2020, in an expedited briefing schedule, to petitions requesting immediate release of 21 people at San Quentin State Prison. The petitions were filed by inmates at San Quentin in pro per and by and attorneys representing inmates, including the San Francisco Public Defender.

The petitions address the COVID 19 outbreak at San Quentin that has infected over  2,000 people living and working at San Quentin, resulting in staffing shortages, lockdown, and fear for those incarcerated  and their families. The  COVID-19 infection rate in San Quentin is 63% while California’s infection rate is 1%.

“Incarcerated people at San Quentin are scared to death,” said Marin County Public Defender Jose Varela. “Judge Howard has ordered CDCR to respond. And his seeking quick input from all parties reflects the important human rights issues at the heart of this litigation.”

People v. Stamps, 2020 WL 3525176 (California Supreme Court; S255843: June 25, 2020)

Summary:

Stamps agreed to a plea bargain that included a prior serious felony enhancement (Pen. Code, § 667, subd. (a)). While his appeal was pending, a new law went into effect that gave the trial court authority to strike a serious felony enhancement in furtherance of justice (Pen. Code, § 1385, subd. (a)), a power it did not previously have. The California Supreme Court held that a certificate of probable cause (Pen. Code, § 1237.5) was not necessary to claim on appeal that the new law applied to him retroactively;

People v. Rodriguez, 2020 WL 2563833 (Cal.) (Cal., 2020) Supreme Court of California; S251706; May 21,2020

Summary: The California Supreme Court held that a prosecutor impermissibly vouched for witness credibility by telling the jury in closing argument that two testifying officers would not lie because each would not put his “entire career on the line” or “at risk” and would not subject himself to “possible prosecution for perjury.” The Supreme Court found that the error was prejudicial and reversed the judgment of conviction.

Rodriguez charged with assault on a correctional officer

Summary:

Defendant was convicted in the Superior Court, San Francisco County, of domestic battery, and he appealed from denial of his motion to suppress evidence.

The Superior Court, Appellate Division, held the State could not rely on “collective knowledge” doctrine to justify the defendant’s warrantless detention. The trial court failure to suppress evidence discovered during an unconstitutional, warrantless stop of defendant was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The conviction was reversed.

People v. Mendoza, 2020 WL 562981 (Cal.App. 4 Dist., 2020)

Conviction for transporting cocaine reversed because of no reasonable suspicion to detain

Facts:  Blanca Luna Mendoza was convicted of transporting for sale more than four kilograms of cocaine based on evidence a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent acquired after a traffic stop on Interstate 15. Mendoza argued that  the agent did not have reasonable suspicion she was engaged in criminal activity when he stopped her and the evidence should be excluded.

Thomas Keel will have his 1987 conviction for Second Degree Murder vacated after San Francisco Assistant Deputy District Attorney Allison Macbeth stipulated that Mr. Keel was eligible for re-sentencing under SB 1437, at a hearing in San Francisco Superior Court held on February 7, 2009.   Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy will re-sentence Mr. Keel on February 21, 2020 to a residential robbery or burglary. At that time, Mr. Keel’s conviction for a second-degree murder, to which he pled guilty in a joint-deal with his co-defendant Ronnie Wingfield, will be vacated.

Re-sentencing under Penal Code section 1170.95

 Penal Code section 1170.95, subdivision (a) provides that , a person convicted of first degree or second degree murder under a theory of  “felony murder or under the natural and probable consequences theory  may file a petition with the court that sentenced the petitioner to have petitioner’s murder conviction vacated and to be re-sentenced on any remaining counts.”

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. CHARLES PATRICK ELLIS, Defendant and Appellant., 2019 WL 7161342 (Cal.App. 5 Dist.) (Cal.App. 5 Dist., 2019)

 SB 1393 gives trial courts discretion to strike five-year prior serious felony enhancements

On January 1, 2019, Senate Bill No. 1393 amended Penal Code sections 667, former subdivision (a)(1), and 1385, former subdivision (b), granting  trial courts the discretion to strike or dismiss the previously mandatory five-year prior serious felony conviction enhancement under section 667, subdivision (a)(1).1 (Stats. 2018, ch. 1013, §§ 1, 2 (Senate Bill No. 1393 or Sen. Bill No. 1393).)

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