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Articles Posted in New Criminal Case Law

People v. Collins (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 2, 2021, No. F076883) 2021 WL 343935

 Summary: Collins was convicted of two counts of murder as a result of driving while impaired

On appeal, he claims that  the trial court erred in denying his motion to challenge the prosecutor’s excusal of a black prospective juror during jury selection.

In re Palmer (Cal., Jan. 28, 2021, No. S256149) 2021 WL 279621, at *1

Summary: The California and federal Constitutions bar the infliction of punishment that is grossly disproportionate to the offender’s individual culpability. (U.S. Const., 8th Amend.; Cal. Const., art. I, § 17.) The courts, “as coequal guardian[s] of the Constitution, (are) to condemn any violation of that prohibition.” (In re Lynch (1972) 8 Cal.3d 410, 414 (Lynch).) When an inmate claims a sentence is excessive because of one or more parole denials is the question at the heart of this case.

William M. Palmer II first sought release on parole from the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) in 1995. Following the Board’s 10th denial, Palmer filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus claiming  that the 30 years he had already served on a life sentence for an aggravated kidnapping committed when he was a juvenile was constitutionally excessive. Before the Court of Appeal could adjudicate the habeas petition, the Board found him suitable for parole and ordered him released. (In re Palmer (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 1199, 1202–1203 (Palmer).) The Court of Appeal subsequently agreed with Palmer that his now-completed term of imprisonment had become unconstitutional. (Id. at pp. 1207–1222.) Because that term had already been served, however, the Court of Appeal focused its order of relief on a different target. The court reasoned that Palmer was “entitled to release from all forms of custody, including parole supervision.” (Id. at p. 1224.)

The People, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Alberto Beto Hernandez, Defendant and Appellant. (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 22, 2021, No. B302815) 2021 WL 221976, at *1–2

Summary: On January 1, 2019 the the law governing whether a defendant can be convicted of murder under a felony murder or natural and probable consequences theory was changed. The Legislature enacted Penal Code section 188, subdivision (a)(3),1 which provides that, (except as stated in section 189, subdivision (e)), to be convicted of murder a defendant must act with malice and that malice may not be imputed based solely on participation in a crime.

Section 189, subdivision (e), is an exception to the malice requirement for murder,  stating that an individual can be liable for first degree felony murder if the person (1) was the actual killer, (2) acted with the intent to kill in aiding and abetting the actual killer, or (3) was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life.

Favor v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County (Cal. Ct. App., Jan. 13, 2021, No. E075340) 2021 WL 118005 

Summary: The right to a preliminary hearing within 60 days of arraignment “is absolute absent a defendant’s personal waiver.” (Ramos v. Superior Court (2007) 146 Cal.App.4th 719, 729, 53 Cal.Rptr.3d 189.)

Here, Favor agreed to a limited waiver of this right and consented to a new deadline that was 76 days after arraignment. The preliminary hearing was not held by that date, so Favor moved for mandatory dismissal under Penal Code section 859b. The People argue that there can be no limited waiver of the 60-day deadline, so Favor’s waiver was a general one that allowed the preliminary hearing to be set later than he authorized, even without a further waiver.

In re Gadlin Supreme Court of California. December 28, 2020 — P.3d —- 2020 WL 7690154

 Proposition 57- nonviolent felony parole consideration

In 2009, a three-judge federal district court panel ordered the CDCR “to reduce the prisoner population to 137.5% of the adult institution’s total design capacity.” (Coleman v. Schwarzenegger (E.D.Cal. 2009) 922 F.Supp.2d 882, 962; see also Brown v. Plata (2011) 563 U.S. 493, 501–503, 131 S.Ct. 1910, 179 L.Ed.2d 969.) The California Legislature and electorate subsequently enacted several measures aimed to reduce the prison population, including Assembly Bill No. 109 (Stats. 2011, ch. 15, § 482 (2011–2012 Reg. Sess.); criminal realignment) and Proposition 36 (the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000). In February 2014 the federal district court ordered the Department to implement additional measures.

People v. Brooks (Cal. Ct. App., Dec. 22, 2020, No. A158988) 2020 WL 7586811, at *1

Summary: Jason Brooks appealed  the denial of a petition seeking recall of his sentence pursuant to Penal Code section 1170.91. Brooks agreed to a stipulated term of years in a plea bargain 13 years ago, and  sought recall of his sentence under section 1170.91, subdivision (b)(1), invoking an amendment to section 1170.91 enacted two years ago. The Court of Appeal upheld the summary denial of his petition.


People v. Gentile, Supreme Court of California, (S256698), December 17, 2020 — P.3d —- 2020 WL 7393491

Aider and abettors and liability under the natural and probable consequences doctrine

An accomplice who aids and abets a crime is liable  for both that crime and any other offense committed that is the natural and probable consequence of the aided and abetted crime. Liability under the natural and probable consequences doctrine can be imposed even if the accomplice did not intend the additional offense. (People v. McCoy (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1111, 1117, 108 Cal.Rptr.2d 188, 24 P.3d 1210 (McCoy).

David Peter Moore, Sr., Petitioner, V. The Superior Court of Riverside County, Respondent; THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest. Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 2, California. December 11, 2020 — Cal.Rptr.3d —- 2020 WL 7296513

Summary: Vehicle Code section 23640 and its predecessor, Vehicle Code former section 23202, have generally made DUI defendants ineligible for any form of pretrial diversion. In 2018, the Legislature enacted Penal Code section 1001.36, making defendants charged with “a misdemeanor or felony” and who suffer from a qualifying mental health disorder generally eligible for pretrial mental health diversion. (Stats. 2018, ch. 34, § 24.) The Legislature then amended Penal Code section 1001.36 to make defendants charged with murder and other specified offenses categorically ineligible for pretrial mental health diversion. (§ 1001.36, subd. (b)(2); Stats. 2018, ch. 1005, § 1.) But the Legislature did not amend Penal Code section 1001.36 to clarify that DUI defendants are eligible for pretrial mental health diversion, notwithstanding Vehicle Code section 23640.

The issue in this case is one of statutory interpretation: In light of Vehicle Code section 23640, are DUI defendants categorically ineligible for pretrial mental health diversion under Penal Code section 1001.36? In Tellez v. Superior Court (2020) 56 Cal.App.5th 439 (Tellez), the Court  addressed the same question and concluded, based on the legislative history of Penal Code sections 1001.36 and 1001.80 (military diversion), that the Legislature did not intend DUI defendants to be eligible for pretrial mental health diversion under section 1001.36. (Tellez, at pp. 447-448.)

People v. Hall (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 24, 2020, No. A157868) 2020 WL 6882240, at *1–7

Facts:  When Hall was pulled over for a vehicle-equipment violation in 2018, a San Francisco police officer observed in the car “a clear plastic baggie” of what appeared to be marijuana. Police officers the.  searched Hall’s car and found a gun in a closed backpack, resulting in criminal charges against Hall. The trial court denied Hall’s motion to suppress the evidence found in this search.

Proposition 64

In re Canady (Cal. Ct. App., Nov. 25, 2020, No. C089363) 2020 WL 6938325, at *1–3

 Summary: Canady filed a writ of habeas corpus in the superior court seeking early parole consideration under Proposition 57, also known as the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 (Prop. 57). Canady asserted the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) regulation implementing Prop. 57 was inconsistent with the Proposition. The CDCR regulation did not consider conduct credits inmates earned while incarcerated in the calculation of inmates’ nonviolent early parole eligible dates. The superior court agreed with Canady and invalidated the Department’s regulation as contradicting the stated purposes of the Proposition.

The Attorney General appealed from the superior court’s order, arguing that the regulation is consistent with and authorized by the plain language of Prop. 57, which grants broad discretion. The Court of Appeal agreed and reversed the order.

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