Franklin Proceedings available to juvenile lifers sentenced after People v. Franklin (2016) was decided.

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.)

Motion under PC Section 1203.01 for a Franklin proceeding

Medrano, on appeal, asks for the same relief that was granted in Franklin. The Court denied remand to the trial court for because Medrano was sentenced one and one-half years after Franklin, and nothing in the record indicates that he lacked an adequate opportunity at sentencing to make a record of mitigation related to his youth. The Court noted the recent Supreme Court decision (In re Cook (2019) 7 Cal.5th 439, 446-447 (Cook).) that held that a juvenile offender whose conviction and sentence are final may file a motion under section 1203.01 for the purpose of making a record of mitigating youth-related evidence. It, therefore affirmed without prejudice to Medrano’s filing a motion “for a Franklin proceeding under the authority of section 1203.01” and Cook. (Id. at p. 460.)

Medrano and Youth Offender Parole Hearings

Because Medrano was 19 years old when he committed the offenses and received an indeterminate sentence of 25 years to life, he will be entitled to a youth offender parole hearing during his 25th year of incarceration. (§ 3051, subd. (b)(3).)

“A youth offender parole hearing is a hearing by the Board of Parole Hearings [the Board] for the purpose of reviewing the parole suitability of any prisoner who was 25 years of age or younger … at the time of his or her controlling offense.” (§ 3051, subd. (a)(1).) At the youth offender parole hearing, the Board “shall give great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the prisoner in accordance with relevant case law.” (§ 4801, subd. (c).)

Franklin and mitigating evidence tied to youth

In Franklin, the Supreme Court held that when a juvenile offender receives an indeterminate life sentence, the offender must be “given adequate opportunity at sentencing to make a record of mitigating evidence tied to his youth.” The case was remanded to the trial court “for the limited purpose of determining whether [the offender] was afforded an adequate opportunity to make a record of information” relevant to his eventual youth offender parole hearing.

Medrano claimed that he is entitled to the same relief that the Supreme Court granted in Franklin. He notes that “defense counsel did not present evidence on [Medrano’s] level of maturity, cognitive ability, [or] other youth[-]related factors or mitigating factors.” He argues that “[b]ecause the record is undeveloped on the issue and it is unclear whether defense counsel understood the need and opportunity to develop the record type contemplated by the Court in [Franklin], the case should be remanded so the trial court can follow the procedures set forth in Franklin to ensure that such opportunity is afforded to appellant.” The People agreed with this argument but the court reject it.

Medrano was given an adequate opportunity to make a record of mitigating youth-related evidence

The record showed that Medrano was given an adequate opportunity to make a record of mitigating youth-related evidence as contemplated in Franklin. Effective January 1, 2016, Section 3051 was amended to require youth offender parole hearings for offenders who were 25 years old or younger at the time of the controlling offense. (Stats. 2015, ch. 471, § 1.) The Supreme Court decided Franklin in May 2016. Medrano was sentenced in December 2017 for offenses he committed when he was 19 years old. The Supreme Court decision establishing Medrano’s right to present mitigating youth-related evidence at sentencing was in place for one and one-half years before Medrano was sentenced. Medrano failed to exercise his right to present youth related mitigating evidence at the time of sentencing.

Remedy for Medrano is a habeas petition for a Franklin Proceeding

In addition, the Supreme Court recently held that a petition for writ of habeas corpus is an inappropriate procedural vehicle for obtaining a Franklin proceeding, at least in the first instance, because a juvenile offender whose conviction and sentence are final may file a motion under section 1203.01 (and the trial court’s powers under Code of Civil Procedure section 187) for the purpose of making a record of mitigating youth-related evidence.8 (Cook, supra, 7 Cal.5th at pp. 446-447.) Cook is of course distinguishable because it is a habeas corpus case, and Medrano’s case is before us on direct appeal. But given the availability of the motion hearing described in Cook, we see no basis to order the same relief that was granted in Franklin. Instead, we affirm without prejudice to Medrano’s filing a motion “for a Franklin proceeding under the authority of section 1203.01” and Cook. (Id. at p. 460.)9

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed without prejudice to Medrano’s filing a motion “for a Franklin proceeding under the authority of section 1203.01” and Cook. (Cook, supra, 7 Cal.5th at p. 460.)