Archive for August, 2012

No cases Monday…or Tuesday

August 31, 2012 Comments off

The Supremes have announced that there will be no posted cases on Monday; presumably this also means no cases Tuesday.


Supremes find no cruel and unusual punishment in 3-strikes life sentence but don’t decide when a life sentence would be unconstitutional

August 30, 2012 Comments off

Supremes find no cruel and unusual punishment in 3-strikes life sentence but don’t decide when a life sentence would be unconstitutional


In re Coley, S185303

Given that relationship and the extremely serious and heinous nature of petitioner’s prior criminal history, we conclude that, under Ewing, supra, 538 U.S. 11, the imposition of a 25-year-to-life sentence does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the circumstances of this case.  In light of the facts underlying the offense in this case as found by the trial court, we need not decide whether the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of a 25-year-to-life sentence under the Three Strikes law in a factual situation like that in Carmony II, in which a defendant had properly registered his current residential address and demonstrated a good faith attempt to comply with the sex offender registration law but due to a negligent oversight had failed to update his registration within five working days of his birthday.

Supremes articulate new rules governing habeas corpus petitions in death cases

August 30, 2012 Comments off

Supremes articulate new rules governing habeas corpus petitions in death cases


In re Reno, S124660:

We take this opportunity to establish some new ground rules for exhaustion petitions in capital cases that will speed this court’s consideration of them without unfairly limiting petitioners from raising (and exhausting) justifiably new claims.  Therefore, we direct that, in future cases, although a petitioner sentenced to death will still be able to file his or her initial habeas corpus petition with no limit as to length, second and subsequent petitions will be limited to 50 pages (or 14,000 words if produced on a computer), subject to a good cause exception. 

Partly in reliance on suggestions made by the parties and amici curiae, we adopt measures by which petitions may be streamlined, making preparation and review of the petition simpler and more efficient. 

Finally, in recognition of circumstances in which counsel wish to present issues purely to exhaust remedies in compliance with a federal exhaustion order, a petitioner may elect to submit for our consideration, in a table or chart and in a very summary way, some or all of the claims deemed unexhausted by the federal court.  This summary presentation may take the form of a brief statement of the issue and reasons procedural bars may not apply, and no presentation of this nature will be considered to be an abuse of the writ.

Coming tomorrow

August 29, 2012 Comments off

Coming tomorrow from the Cal. Supremes



S185303 (B224400)

Argued in Los Angeles 6-06-12

This case presents the following issue:  Does defendant’s sentence of 25 years to life under the three strikes law for failing to update his sex offender registration within five days of his birthday constitute cruel and unusual punishment?



Argued in San Francisco 5-01-12

In this case, which is related to the automatic appeal in People v. Memro (1995) 11 Cal.4th 786, the court issued an order directing petitioner Reno, also known as Harold Ray Memro, to show cause why the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in this case should not be considered an abuse of the writ (In re Clark (1993) 5 Cal.4th 750, 769–770) due to the failure to allege sufficient facts to explain why the claims are cognizable and why they are not procedurally barred.

Death penalty reversed for Brady violation

August 27, 2012 Comments off

Death penalty reversed for Brady violation

In re Bacigalupo, S079656:

On petitioner’s automatic appeal in this death penalty case, we affirmed the judgment.  Thereafter, petitioner filed a habeas corpus petition.  We ordered an evidentiary hearing on petitioner’s claim that the prosecution had failed to disclose evidence that would have supported a case in mitigation at the penalty phase that petitioner committed the two murders because of a Colombian drug cartel’s death threats against him and his family.  After hearing the testimony of 17 witnesses, the referee found merit to petitioner’s claim.  We uphold that determination by the referee, and we grant petitioner’s habeas corpus petition for relief from the judgment of death.

Failure to instruct about reasonable doubt is subject to harmless error analysis

August 27, 2012 Comments off

Failure to instruct about reasonable doubt is subject to harmless error analysis

People v.  Aranda, S188204:

With respect to the separate gang offense, the trial court’s predeliberation instructions to jurors failed to explain that defendant could not be convicted unless the prosecution proved the elements of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  We conclude that this omission constituted error under both state law and the federal Constitution.  Furthermore, we conclude that the error, like most instructional errors of federal constitutional dimension, is amenable to harmless error analysis under Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18 (Chapman), and is not reversible per se.  Our conclusion in this regard resolves a disagreement among the Courts of Appeal. 

Applying the Chapman harmless error standard to assess the error’s effect upon the jury’s verdict on the gang offense, we conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that in light of the particular circumstances of this case as revealed by the record, there is no reasonable possibility that the jury did not apply the reasonable doubt standard of proof when it found defendant guilty of the gang offense.

Juvenile court can dismiss current petition in order to commit a minor to DJJ

August 27, 2012 Comments off

Juvenile court can dismiss current petition in order to commit a minor to DJJ

In re Greg. F., S191868:

However, if the prosecution files a new section 602 petition (602 petition), the plain language of section [WIC] 733(c) will prohibit the court from ordering a DJF commitment if the allegation is admitted or found true because the new offense is the “most recent offense alleged in any petition” and is not DJF eligible.  The question arises whether, under these circumstances, the juvenile court may use its broad discretion under section 782 to dismiss the second petition so that the matter can be treated as a probation violation, allowing the ward to be committed to DJF.  Based on the plain language of the statutes, legislative history, and the policies served by the juvenile court law, we conclude the court has that discretion.