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Articles Posted in General Criminal Defense

People v. Williams (Cal. Ct. App., June 17, 2021, No. E074162) 2021 WL 2472953, at *1–4

 Summary: A trial court exercising its discretion pursuant to section 1170 of the Penal Code to recall a sentence and enter a reduced term must: (i) give the parties notice and an opportunity to be heard ; and (ii) set forth the reasons for its choice of sentence.

Discretion to strike prior serious felony conviction in 2019

People v. Marrero (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 896

 Summary: Armando Milan Marrero pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and causing bodily injury to another person (Veh. Code, § 23153, subd. (a)). The trial court suspended imposition of sentence for five years and granted formal probation. Two victims retained an attorney and paid him $375,000 in accordance with their contingency fee agreement, after a settlement was reached.

In Marrero’s criminal case, the prosecutor requested that the victims be awarded $375,000 in restitution based on the actual fee paid to the attorney.   The court ordered restitution in the amount of $358,047.79, covering $350,000 in attorney fees and approximately $8,000 in travel expenses.

People v. Valliant (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 14, 2020, No. G058568) 2020 WL 6054332, at *1–6

Summary: Valliant petitioned pursuant to Penal Code section 1170.91, subdivision (b),1  which authorizes  recall of sentencing for military veterans who suffer from military-related trauma and substance abuse, who did not have those factors considered as mitigating factors when they were originally sentenced. The court denied his petition on the basis that section 1170.91, subdivision (b)(1)(B) (subdivision (b)(1)(B)) authorizes resentencing relief only for persons who were sentenced before January 1, 2015. Valliant who was sentenced in March of 2015.

Valliant argued that resentencing relief is available to all veterans whose military-related trauma was not considered at their initial sentencing, without regard to when that sentencing took place. The Court of Appel affirmed  the order. Subdivision (b)(1)(B) clearly specifies that its resentencing relief is limited to cases in which “[t]he person was sentenced prior to January 1, 2015.” It further specifies that “[t]his subdivision shall apply retroactively, whether or not the case was final as of January 1, 2015” (italics added). The statutory limitation is unequivocal.

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.

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