Articles Posted in New Case Law

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff & Respondent, v. MICHAEL DAMION JUDE MEDRANO, Defendant & Appellant, No. E070042, 2019 WL 4894333 (Cal. Ct. App. Oct. 4, 2019)

Medrano sentenced to life at age 19

Michael Damion Jude Medrano was 19 years old when he committed the crimes of one count of first degree murder (Pen. Code,1 § 187, subd. (a); count 1), two counts of second degree robbery (§ 211; counts 2 & 4), and one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury (§ 245, subd. (a)(4); count 3). Medrano was sentenced in December, 2017 to 25 years to life, plus seven years. His sentencing took place one and one-half years after the Supreme Court decided People v. Franklin (2016) 63 Cal.4th 261 (Franklin), which held that a juvenile offender who is sentenced to an indeterminate life sentence, must be “given adequate opportunity at sentencing to make a record of mitigating evidence tied to his youth.” (Id. at p. 269.) The Court remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether the juvenile offender had been given an adequate opportunity to make such a record. (Id. at pp. 286-287.)

People v. Gutierrez-Salazar, 38 Cal. App. 5th 411, 251 Cal. Rptr. 3d 178 (Ct. App. 2019), reh’g denied (Aug. 30, 2019)

Defendant Dionicio Gutierrez-Salazar was by a jury of two murders for homicides committed in 2013 and 2015. As to the 2013 homicide, defendant was convicted of first degree murder on a felony-murder theory.

SB 1427 Amends Felony Murder Rule in California

People v. Hall, No. 2D CRIM. B292330, 2019 WL 4267761 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 10, 2019)

Proposition 64 and reduction of marijuana convictions

Proposition 64, an initiative measure known as “the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” amended section 11360 and added new sections 11361.8 and 11362.1. (Stats. 2017, ch. 27 § 129.) It reduces or eliminates penalties for marijuana offenses.

People v. Force, No. G055482, 2019 WL 4071849 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 29, 2019)

Denial of Fair Trial

Appellant Steven Force, a sexually violent predator receiving treatment at a state mental hospital for pedophilia and exhibitionism challenged the trial court’s order denying his petition to be placed in a conditional release program known as CONREP that  includes daily monitoring with GPS technology, drug testing, polygraph assessments, weekly treatment, and job and housing assistance. The Court of Appeal ruled that he was denied a fair trial because the prosecutor interfered with his right to testify, and the trial court erroneously refused to admit his release plan into evidence.

People v. Millan Rodriguez, 2019 WL 3852665 (Cal.App. 4 Dist.)

Vacating a conviction because of inability to understand immigration consequences (Penal Code Section 1473.7)

On January 1, 2017, Penal Code section 1473.7 went into effect. It allows a defendant to challenge a conviction based on a guilty plea where prejudicial error affected the defendant’s ability to understand the immigration consequences of the plea.

(People v. Flores (Aug. 12, 2019, No. G055861) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 740, at *1].)

Gang Investigation Leads to Detention

A team of Huntington Beach police officers investigating the “Looney Tunes Crew,” also known as the “LTK” street gang, saw the defendant in an area where they knew criminal activity took place. Defendant was walking briskly and was not a suspect in a particular crime nor in the process of committing a crime.

People v. Cooper (July 18, 2019, No. B286201) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 648].

A jury convicted defendant and appellant Sheila Cooper of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury within 10 years of a prior driving under the influence offense. On appeal, Cooper contends the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress statements she made to police during field sobriety tests administered at the police station. Cooper claimed a violation of her Fifth Amendment rights under (Miranda).

The accident and Cooper’s demeanor

United States v. Haymond (2019) ___U.S.___ [139 S.Ct. 2369], 2019 U.S. LEXIS 4398; No. 17-1672


Supreme Court of the United States,, Decided June 26, 2019. 

Imposition of a new and higher mandatory prison term for a parole violation requires jury trial

People v. Montalvo, 2019 WL 2537611 (Cal.App. 3 Dist.), 1 (Cal.App. 3 Dist., 2019)

Did a man a woman posing as undercover police officers who took property from their victims commit a robbery?

The California Court of Appeal examined this issue in a case where a defendant and a female associate, posing as undercover police officers committed two robberies. They took money from a couple at a hotel and in another instance, under the ruse of conducting a prostitution sting operation they stole money from their victim. Defendant was arrested in a hotel room where police recovered rock cocaine and a glass smoking pipe.

Flowers v. Mississippi, Supreme Court of the United States, 2019 WL 25524892019 WL 2552489,June 21, 2019

Defendant, (Flowers) who is black, was indicted for the murder of four employees of a Mississippi furniture store, three of whom were white. Flowers was tried six separate times for the murders and was convicted on one of those counts and sentenced to death. Flowers appealed.

The Supreme Court, Justice Kavanaugh, held that trial court clearly erred in concluding that the State’s peremptory strike of black prospective juror was not motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent, in violation of Batson.