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Articles Posted in New Criminal Case Law

Valderas v. Superior Court of San Diego County (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 30, 2021, No. D078735) 2021 WL 5575569, at *1

Summary: Valderas, facing several felony charges, did not appear at a status conference/trial call on October 20, 2020. It was the second consecutive court appearance that Valderas missed. The trial court issued a bench warrant for Valderas but ordered the warrant to be held until December 8, 2020, the date on which the court had set a readiness conference. The court sent notice to Valderas by mail to his last known address. When Valderas did not appear at the December 8 hearing, the court lifted its hold on the bench warrant.

Valderas seeks a writ of mandamus to recall the December 8 bench warrant. The court denied Valderas’s  relief.

People v. Williams (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 23, 2021, No. A159914) 2021 WL 5460724, at *1–2

Summary: Williams,  was convicted of murder in 1995 and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison and was released on lifetime parole in 2018. In 2019, he was charged with two misdemeanors, and the district attorney filed a petition to revoke his parole. The  trial court determined that Williams had committed one of the charged offenses and remanded him to prison, the required sanction whenever a court finds that a lifetime parolee has violated parole. (Pen. Code, § 3000.08, subd. (h) (section 3000.08(h).)

Williams appealed claiming that the trial court erred by refusing to refer the matter to the parole agency for a written report before ruling on the petition. Under the plain terms of section 1203.2, subdivision (b)(1) (section 1203.2(b)(1)), a court is required to receive a parole agency’s written report before ruling on a parole revocation petition initiated by a district attorney. There is no implied exception to this requirement when such a petition is filed against a lifetime parolee such as Williams, because the report is not pointless even though a court has no discretion to impose intermediate sanctions.

People v. Schuller (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 10, 2021, No. C087191) 2021 WL 5228434, at *1

Summary: Schuller, shot his long-time friend, W.T., nine times in the head and set the body on fire.  Schuller testified, claiming self-defense, but his trial testimony about suggested he was delusional and hallucinating. Following a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, a jury found Schuller guilty of first degree murder in the guilt phase. He was found legally sane and sentenced to a term of 50 years to life.

On appeal, Schuller contends the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter based on imperfect self-defense. He argues that evidence demonstrates he had an actual, albeit unreasonable, belief in the need for self-defense that was not entirely delusional. The Courtnof appeal agreed but find the error harmless.

People v. Davenport (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 10, 2021, No. A161954) 2021 WL 5230876, at *1–3

Summary: In 2007, Davenport pled no contest to second degree murder with a firearm enhancement and was sentenced to  18 years to life. Davenport appealed the denial of his petition for resentencing pursuant to Penal Code section 1170.95. Davenport contends that the   trial court erroneously concluded he failed to make a prima facie showing of entitlement to relief by  relying on facts stated in the preliminary hearing transcript in the absence of any stipulation from him that the facts supplied a basis for his plea. The Court of Appeal agreed  and reversed the order summarily denying His  petition and remanded this case for further proceedings.

Facts: Davenport was charged by information with murder (§ 187), alleging he committed the murder “unlawfully and with malice aforethought.” The information included an enhancement for personal and intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death as well as personal and intentional discharge and personal use of a firearm. (§ 12022.53, subds. (b)–(d).)

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. OSCAR CUADRA, Defendant and Appellant. (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 5, 2021, No. B310554) 2021 WL 5149775, at *1–3

Summary:  Cuadra was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of Penal Code section 29800, subdivision (a)(1).   Before pleading no contest, Cuadra  filed a motion to suppress the firearm evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5 as the fruit of an unlawful detention. On appeal Cuadra  argued that the trial court erred when it denied the motion.The Court of Appeal agreed and reversed.


People v. Greeley (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 19, 2021, No. H047281) 2021 WL 4889494, at *1

Summary: Greeley was convicted by jury trial of first degree burglary (Pen. Code, § 460, subd. (a)).1 The trial court suspended imposition of sentence, placed defendant on probation for three years, and imposed various fines and fees, and restitution. On appeal, Greeley claimed that the three-year term of probation is now unauthorized; and the court should strike the criminal justice administration fee and the probation supervision fee. The court of appeal agreed that the term of probation should be reduced to two years and that the unpaid portions of the criminal justice administration and probation supervision fees should be stricken. The court reversed the judgment and remand with instructions.

Fines and Fees

RICHARD J. CRANE, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. JOSEPH CLAY DOLIHITE, Defendant and Respondent. (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 22, 2021, No. F079877) 2021 WL 4929340, at *1

 Summary: Crane, a prisoner representing himself, appealed  from the dismissal of his personal injury action against an inmate who stabbed him in the neck with a pencil. The dismissal was based on Crane’s failure to serve the summons and complaint on the inmate who stabbed him within the time prescribed by statute. (See Code Civ. Proc., §§ 583.210, subd. (a) [plaintiff must serve a defendant within three years], 583.250.)

Crane was unable to serve the summons and complaint on the prisoner because;  (1) the defendant was transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison in Monterey County; (2) Crane was unable to identify the defendant’s location; (3) the superior court advised Crane to use the sheriff’s office to effect service but, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office refused to serve the summons and complaint; and (4) the litigation coordinator at Salinas Valley State Prison refused to accept service on behalf of the defendant inmate. The litigation coordinator’s refusal is contrary to  Penal Code section 4013, subdivision (a) and Code of Civil Procedure section 416.90, which have been interpreted as authorizing litigation coordinators at state prisons to accept service on behalf of inmates. (Sakaguchi v. Sakaguchi (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 852, 858–859 (Sakaguchi).)

People v. Cepeda (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 18, 2021, No. B307000) 2021 WL 4843561, at *1

Summary: In 2018, Cepeda pled guilty to carjacking as a second strike, and admitted he sustained a prior serious felony conviction. The trial court sentenced him to 15 years in state prison, which included a five-year enhancement for the prior serious felony conviction. At the time of Cepeda’s plea and sentence, courts were prohibited from striking serious felony enhancements under Penal Code section 667, subdivision (a)(1).

CDCR Recommendation for Resentencing

People v. Sands (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 12, 2021, No. A160973) 2021 WL 4739531, at *1–2

Summary: Sands was 24 years old when he committed a special circumstance murder (Pen. Code §§ 187, 190.2, subd. (a)(10)), and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He filed a motion in the superior court, seeking to develop a record of mitigating circumstances for an eventual youth offender parole hearing (see People v. Franklin (2016) 63 Cal.4th 261, 202 Cal.Rptr.3d 496, 370 P.3d 1053 (Franklin)). The trial court denied Sands’s motion, and he appeals. Having been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for a crime he committed after the age of 18, he is statutorily ineligible for a youth offender parole hearing (§ 3051, subd. (h)) but argues that the statutory exclusion violates his rights to equal protection.  The Court of Appeal  disagreed and affirmed.

Youth Offender Parole Hearings

People v. Pillsbury (Cal. Ct. App., Sept. 30, 2021, No. C089002) 2021 WL

Summary: Pillsbury was convicted of one count of robbery in the second degree with firearm enhancement and one count of commercial burglary. The Secretary of Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) submitted a letter to trial court recommending that defendant’s aggregate sentence of 13 years be recalled and that defendant be resentenced under statutory amendment authorizing courts to strike or dismiss firearm enhancements in interest of justice. The Superior Court, Sacramento County, summarily declined to recall and resentence Pillsbury without providing him notice or opportunity to provide additional information. Pillsbury appealed.

The Court of Appeal held that:

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