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Articles Posted in New Case Law

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. Brown (2020) 52 Cal.App.5th 899, 904–910 [267 Cal.Rptr.3d 79, 84–89, 52 Cal.App.5th 899, 904–910], review filed (Sept. 8, 2020)

 Brown was convicted by jury of murder and at his sentencing, the trial court resentenced him for a  cocaine possession case. He was sentenced to  consecutive terms and the court  and applied Penal Code section 2933.21 (which prohibits defendants convicted of murder from earning presentence conduct credits) and Brown received no presentence conduct credits. It then awarded 923 days of actual custody credits.

Brown challenges the application of section 2933.2 to the period of custody following his cocaine possession charge and preceding his murder charge. He also challenges the award of actual custody credits. The Court of Appeal  addressed these issues.

People v. McCallum (Cal. Ct. App., Sept. 30, 2020, No. B301267) 2020 WL 5810212, at *1

Resentencing under Penal Code 1170(d)(1)

Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d)(1) authorizes the trial court to modify a defendant’s sentence upon a recommendation from the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Department), the Board of Parole Hearings, or the district attorney to “recall the sentence and commitment previously ordered and resentence the defendant in the same manner as if they had not previously been sentenced ….”

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.

Robinson v. Lewis, 2020 WL 4045925, Supreme Court of California, S228137, July 20, 2020

A challenge to a state judgment of conviction through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in state court must present each claim in a timely fashion. However,  California law does not fix a determinate deadlines. An indeterminate ‘reasonableness’ standard is used to assess whether a claim was presented in a timely manner.  In this case, Robinson, a prison inmate filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his state court judgment in the superior court. Sixty days after the  court denied the petition, he filed a new petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Appeal raising the same claims. The Court of Appeal denied the petition and he filed a new original petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court. After a denial by the Supreme Court, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court challenging the same judgment. The petition was denied, and Robinson appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Federal time limits and timely filing in state courts-Ninth Circuit Request for clarification.

People v. Shumake (Cal. App. Dep’t Super. Ct., Dec. 16, 2019, No. 6093) 2019 WL 8128736

Stop by Specialized Dui Patrol Officer: Admission that driver had marijuana in the car

While on specialized DUI patrol Berkeley Police Officer Megan Jones stopped a Hyundai with no front license plate, a violation of Vehicle Code Section 5200. Officer Jones testified that she stops cars for traffic violations, to see if the driver might be impaired. She testified that Shumake’s driving was normal, and that he immediately and safely pulled to the curb when she activated her lights and siren, and that he was cooperative. Officer Jones testified that she has conducted about 800 DUI investigations, with about 500 involving marijuana.

People v. Medellin (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 20, 2020, No. F076022) 2020 WL 830758

The Court of Appeal reversed Samuel Medellin’s convictions for assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and their accompanying enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury. The Court found that the prosecutor prejudicially misstated the law during closing arguments. The Court found fault in the CALCRIM instructions defining great bodily injury and reversed the convictions

The incident and the injuries to the vcitims

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.

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. KEANDRE DION WINDFIELD et al., Defendants and Appellants. (Cal. Ct. App., Dec. 20, 2019, No. E055062) 2019 WL 6974388

Facts: Defendants Harquan Johnson and KeAndre Windfield were each convicted of one count of murder and one count of attempted murder, and assault with a semi-automatic firearm, along with gun discharge and gang enhancement allegations as to the murder and attempted murder counts. The charges arose from the shooting of two members of their own gang, the Ramona Blocc Hustlas, resulting in the death of one of them. Both were sentenced to prison for 90 years to life. They appealed raising various claims. In the original opinion, filed August 19, 2014, we affirmed the convictions for both defendants, but reversed Johnson’s sentence pursuant to People v. Gutierrez (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1354, because, as a juvenile at the time of the crime, his sentence of 90 years to life was the functional equivalent of a term of life without possibility of parole and we directed other modifications of the sentence and abstracts of judgment.

On May 26, 2016, the Supreme Court issued its decision in People v. Franklin (2016) 63 Cal.4th 261 (Franklin), and retransferred this case to our court with directions to reconsider Johnson’s sentence in light of Franklin. We reconsidered Johnson’s sentencing claim in light of Franklin.

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