Articles Posted in New Criminal Case Law

People v. Cooper (Cal., May 25, 2023, No. S273134) 2023 WL 3637806

Summary: Cooper  was convicted of first degree murder with gang and firearm enhancements. He appealed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction and the California Supreme Court granted review . The Supreme Court held that trial court’s error was not harmless in failing to provide jury instruction that alleged predicate offenses must have commonly benefited gang in more than reputational manner.

Assembly Bill 333

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. VONDETRICK CARR, Defendant and Appellant. (Cal. Ct. App., Apr. 7, 2023, No. E079368) 2023 WL 2820859, at *1

Summary: Carr drove drunk with four children in his car, hitting a pickup truck. One of the children was killed and Carr was convicted of second degree murder. Car was sentenced to a 51 years, 4 months to life in prison.

In 2021, Carr filed a petition to vacate the murder conviction under Penal Code section 1172.6. The trial court denied the petition because Carr was not convicted either on a natural and probable consequences theory or under the felony murder rule.

Estrada v. Superior Court of City and County of San Francisco (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 28, 2023, No. A166474) 2023 WL 2320352, at *1

 Summary:  Represented by the Office of the San Francisco Public Defender Petitioners sought  a writ of mandate or prohibition requiring respondent Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco to dismiss their cases for violating their speedy trial rights under Penal Code section 1382. Petitioners contend there was no good cause to continue their cases past the statutory deadline, maintaining the superior court can no longer rely on the “exceptional circumstances” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court of Appeal concluded the superior court did not abuse its discretion in finding good cause to continue their trial dates past the statutory deadlines.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Criminal Trial Delays

People v. Ornelas (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 30, 2023, No. A165333) 2023 WL 1097221, at *1–2

Summary: Ornelas was placed on probation in July 2021 for the maximum statutory term of two years. He failed to report to probation,  his probation was summarily revoked, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He was  arrested and admitted to violating the terms of his probation. In April 2022—still within his original two-year probationary term—the trial court reinstated him on probation, but this time with a new termination date in November 2023 to account for the days he had been “in warrant status” and his probation had been summarily revoked.

On appeal, Ornelas contends that the trial court exceeded its jurisdiction by extending his probation to November 29, 2023, which Ornelas argued is beyond the two-year maximum probationary period authorized by statute. The Court of Appeal ruled that when probation has been summarily revoked and then reinstated within the initial probationary term, the trial court has discretion to extend probation to account for the time when probation was summarily revoked so long as the total period of probationary supervision does not exceed the statutory maximum. Even with an extension to November 2023, Ornelas’s term of probation, not including the time he was on warrant status and his probation was summarily revoked, is less than two years.

People v. Silva (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 18, 2023, No. F083248) 2023 WL 240015, at *1

Summary:  Silva petitioned the superior court, under former section 1170.95 (now § 1172.6) of the Penal Code, for resentencing on his conviction for second degree murder arising from the murder of Bill James who was stabbed during an altercation with members of the Mongols motorcycle club, including Silva.   The superior court held an evidentiary hearing (§ 1172.6, subd. (d)(1)) and denied the petition after finding petitioner was guilty of murder under an implied malice theory.

On appeal, Silva  argued the order denying the petition must be reversed because Senate Bill No. 1437 eliminated implied malice as a valid theory of murder liability for aiders and abettors and substantial evidence did not support a finding petitioner acted with implied malice. The Court of Appeal held that implied malice remains a valid theory of liability for aiders and abettors to murder and affirmed.

People v. Superior Court of Santa Cruz County (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 12, 2023, No. H049188) 2023 WL 167078, at *1–2

 Summary: Is a suspected inmate “kite”—a written message sent in violation of jail rules— covered by the attorney-client privilege when it is contained in an envelope sent by an inmate to his attorney?  Because the inmate here did not establish the kites are a confidential communication to his attorney, the attorney-client privilege does not apply. The Court issued a peremptory writ of mandate requiring the Superior Court to vacate its order finding otherwise.


Box v. Superior Court of San Diego County (Cal. Ct. App., Dec. 30, 2022, No. D080573) 2022 WL 17999610

 Summary: Issue: The issue decided was: Are a prosecutor’s jury selection notes core work product shielded from disclosure in postconviction proceedings that raise a Batson claim?

The Court of AppeL held that where  a prima facie case of racial bias under Batson/Wheeler has been made, a defendant is entitled to discover the prosecution’s jury selection notes under section 1054.9. Those notes are not categorically shielded from discovery by the absolute work product privilege. (§ 1054.6; see Code Civ. Proc., § 2018.030, subd. (a).) When the  People maintain that those notes reflect the prosecution’s impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal research and theories about case strategy independent of conclusions or impressions about prospective jurors, they bear the burden to make that foundational proffer and seek appropriate redactions from the trial court.

People v. Ross (Cal. Ct. App., Dec. 28, 2022, No. A163242) 2022 WL 17974351, at *1

Summary: Ross appealed a conviction for battery on a non-confined person by a prisoner (Pen. Code, § 4501.5) and finding true two prior “strike” convictions (§ 667, subds. (b)–(i)). On appeal, he argues: (1) his attorney violated his Sixth Amendment rights by conceding his guilt; and (2) the matter should be remanded for resentencing due to Senate Bill No. 567. The Court rejected the  Sixth Amendment challenge. The Court agreed that a remand for resentencing is required due to postsentencing statutory amendments made by Senate Bill No. 567.

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