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Since 1985 San Francisco Traffic Law Clinic

We are happy to announce that we have resumed normal office hours from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Thursday, to assist you with your essential legal matters and needs. For the short term we will remain closed on Fridays. We encourage clients to try and communicate with us by phone and email. If you do need to come into the office, we require face masks and we are maintaining social distancing

People v. Stewart (Cal. Ct. App., July 9, 2021, No. E074907) 2021 WL 2883176, at *1

Summary: Stewart was honorably discharged from the Army in 1976 and suffers from schizophrenia related to his military service. In 1986 and a1992, he was convicted of first degree burglary. In 2001, after being convicted on two counts of spousal battery, he was sentenced, as a third-striker, to two consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison.

In 2018, the Legislature amended section 1170.911 to allow  convicted veterans who suffers from a specified disorder as a result of their military service to petition for resentencing, so that that disorder may be considered as a mitigating factor when imposing a determinate term.

In re Matthew W. (Cal. Ct. App., July 8, 2021, No. A159931) 2021 WL 2850407, at *1

Summary: Matthew W. appealed  from the juvenile court’s jurisdictional findings and dispositional order, in which the court sustained an allegation of assault with a deadly weapon and placed him on probation.

On appeal, Matthew W. contended that  the jurisdictional findings must be reversed because the juvenile court improperly admitted defendant’s pre-arrest statements to police made during a custodial interrogation, in violation of Miranda v. Arizona(1966) 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (Miranda).

People v. Kasrawi (Cal. Ct. App., June 16, 2021, No. D077139) 2021 WL 2451095

Summary: Kasrawi was stopped and ultimately arrested by a police officer who acted on no more than a hunch. The officer detained  Kasrawi after watching him  cross the street to his legally parked car. The officer later learned that Kasrawi had an outstanding arrest warrant. Supreme Court precedent compels the conclusion that despite the Fourth Amendment violation, the evidence need not be suppressed.

This case is an exception to the exclusionary rule that applies where a law enforcement officer discovers the defendant’s outstanding warrant after an illegal stop but before a search yields evidence of a crime. Under these limited circumstances, discovery of the warrant  attenuates the taint of the original detention.

People v. Williams (Cal. Ct. App., June 17, 2021, No. E074162) 2021 WL 2472953, at *1–4

 Summary: A trial court exercising its discretion pursuant to section 1170 of the Penal Code to recall a sentence and enter a reduced term must: (i) give the parties notice and an opportunity to be heard ; and (ii) set forth the reasons for its choice of sentence.

Discretion to strike prior serious felony conviction in 2019

Corona v. Superior Court for the City and County of San Francisco (Cal. Ct. App., June 21, 2021, No. A161369) 2021 WL 2525651, at *1

Summary: San Francisco police arrested Corona after he entered a freestanding garage located on the same property as a house. The People charged him with first degree burglary, which applies to the burglary of “an inhabited dwelling house.” (Pen. Code, § 460, subd. (a).)

Corona argued that an uninhabited outbuilding, such as a detached garage, is not an inhabited dwelling house. The Court of Appeal agreed and found  Corona’s position was consistent with the text and legislative history and over six decades of case law, and our Legislature’s acquiescence in longstanding precedent.

People v. Brewer (Cal. Ct. App., June 7, 2021, No. C089676) 2021 WL 2309551

 Summary:  Brewer  was convicted of second degree robbery, attempted second degree robbery, and felon in possession of a firearm, and sentenced to a determinate term of 63 years. Brewer appealed and contended that  his sentence, which he characterized as the functional equivalent of a life sentence without parole imposed on a developmentally disabled person, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 17, of the California Constitution.

The Court of Appeal held that:

People v. Esquivel (Cal., June 17, 2021, No. S262551) 2021 WL 2461206, at *1–2

Summary: The California Supreme Court held that the judgment is not final in a  case where defendant is placed on probation with imposition of sentence suspended if the defendant may still timely obtain direct review of an order revoking probation and imposing sentence. (People v. McKenzie (2020) 9 Cal.5th 40, 259 Cal.Rptr.3d 224, 459 P.3d 25 (McKenzie).)

Therefore, the  Estrada Presumption, that new legislation reducing the punishment for an offense, is  presumed to apply to all cases not yet final as of the legislation’s effective date. (In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, 48 Cal.Rptr. 172, 408 P.2d 948 (Estrada) applies to cases when a defendant is placed on probation with a suspended sentence that may be appealed if probation is revoked.

In re Palmer (2021) 10 Cal.5th 959

Summary: The California Supreme Court  held that prisoners may challenge their continued incarceration as constitutionally excessive when the Board repeatedly denies parole. The Court had granted review in the case of Palmer who in 1988, was 17 years old when he pleaded guilty to kidnapping for robbery and sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, consecutive to a two-year term for use of a firearm.

Palmer was eligible for parole in 1995 but was repeatedly denied parole by the Board. Following his 10th denial, Palmer filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Palmer alleged 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. The California Supreme Court agree with Court of Appeal that habeas corpus relief is available to inmates whose continued incarceration has become constitutionally excessive, but who have been denied release by the Board.

 People v. Tousant (Cal. Ct. App., May 26, 2021, No. A156044) 2021 WL 2134389

 Summary: Tousant challenged the denial of his motion to suppress evidence downloaded from his cellphone, seized after an allegedly illegal search of his car left at the scene of an Oakland shooting. Tousant claimed the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress evidence obtained after the Oakland shooting and in violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. (U.S. Const., 4th Amend.) The Court of Appeal held that the trial court properly denied the motion to suppress.

Warrantless search is presumptively unreasonable

People v. Escareno (Cal. Ct. App., May 24, 2021, No. A160209) 2021 WL 2069434, at *1–4

Summary: Escareno pleaded no contest to two felonies, four misdemeanors and an infraction arising from a single incident of driving under the influence of alcohol and without a valid license. The  trial court refused  to dismiss the misdemeanor and infraction counts pursuant to Vehicle Code section 41500 after sentencing him to prison on the felony counts. Escareno appealed and the Court affirmed.

Escareno was charged with felony driving under the influence of alcohol after two prior felony convictions for the same (Veh. Code,1 §§ 23152, subd. (a), 23550.5) (count 1); felony driving with .08 percent or higher blood alcohol after two prior felony convictions for the same (§§ 23152, subd. (b), 23550.5) (count 2); misdemeanor unlawful operation of a vehicle not equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device (§ 23247, subd. (e)) (count 3); misdemeanor driving when privilege suspended for driving under the influence, with priors (§ 14601.2, subd. (a)) (count 4); misdemeanor driving while license suspended or revoked, with priors (§ 14601.5, subd. (a)) (count 5); misdemeanor driving without a valid license (§ 12500, subd. (a)) (count 6); and possession of an open container of alcoholic beverage while driving, an infraction (§ 23222, subd. (a)) (count 7).

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