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Archive for June, 2016

Automatic 3-Strikes Prop. 36 relief does not apply to cases on appeal

June 30, 2016 Comments off

Automatic 3-Strikes Prop. 36 relief does not apply to cases on appeal

Under the “Three Strikes” law as originally enacted in 1994, an individual convicted of any felony offense following two prior convictions for serious or violent felonies was subject to an indeterminate term of life imprisonment with a minimum term of no less than 25 years.  (Pen. Code, former §§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12, subd. (c)(2).)  In 2012, the electorate passed the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 (Reform Act or Act) (Prop. 36, as approved by voters, Gen. Elec. (Nov. 6, 2012)), which amended the law to reduce the punishment prescribed for certain third strike defendants.  The electorate also authorized persons “presently serving” an indeterminate term of life imprisonment imposed under the prior version of the law to seek resentencing under the amended penalty scheme by filing a petition for recall of sentence.  (Pen. Code, § 1170.126, subd. (a).)  Under the Act, a court must grant a recall petition unless it determines that resentencing the petitioner “would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.”  (§ 1170.126, subd. (f).)

The Reform Act took effect on November 7, 2012.  The question in this case is whether third strike defendants who were sentenced under the Three Strikes law before November 7, 2012, but whose judgments were not yet final as of that date, are entitled to automatic resentencing under the revised penalty provisions of the Reform Act.  We conclude that these defendants are not entitled to automatic resentencing, but instead may seek resentencing by petitioning for recall of sentence under section 1170.126.

People v. Conley

S211275

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S211275.PDF

Prosecution gang expert’s hearsay violates Crawford

June 30, 2016 Comments off

Prosecution gang expert’s hearsay violates Crawford

In Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36 (Crawford), the United States Supreme Court held, with exceptions not relevant here, that the admission of testimonial hearsay against a criminal defendant violates the Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross-examine witnesses.  Here we consider the degree to which the Crawford rule limits an expert witness from relating case-specific hearsay content in explaining the basis for his opinion.  In addition, we clarify the proper application of Evidence Code sections 801 and 802, relating to the scope of expert testimony.

We hold that the case-specific statements related by the prosecution expert concerning defendant’s gang membership constituted inadmissible hearsay under California law.  They were recited by the expert, who presented them as true statements of fact, without the requisite independent proof.  Some of those hearsay statements were also testimonial and therefore should have been excluded under Crawford.  The error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Accordingly, we reverse the jury findings on the street gang enhancements.

People v. Sanchez

S216681

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S216681.PDF

Coming tomorrow from the Cal. Supremes

June 29, 2016 Comments off

 

Tomorrow the Cal. Supremes will issue opinions in the following cases:

 

PEOPLE v. CONLEY (PATRICK)

S211275 (C070272; Yolo County Superior Court – CRF113234)

Argued in Los Angeles 4-07-16

 

This case presents the following issue: Does the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 (Pen. Code, §§ 667, subd. (e)(2)(C), 1170.12, subd. (c)(2)(C)), which reduces punishment for certain non-violent third-strike offenders, apply retroactively to a defendant who was sentenced before the Act’s effective date but whose judgment was not final until after that date?

 

 

PEOPLE v. SANCHEZ (MARCOS)

S216681 (G047666;Orange County Superior Court – 11CF2839)

Argued in Los Angeles 4-07-16

 

This case presents the following issue:  Was defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation violated by the gang expert’s reliance on testimonial hearsay (Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36)?

Supremes affirm another death penalty case

June 27, 2016 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes affirm another death penalty case

People v. Clark

S066940

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S066940.PDF

Supremes reverse death penalty case for Faretta error

June 27, 2016 Comments off

Supremes reverse death penalty case for Faretta error

 

In this automatic appeal, defendant contends the trial court erroneously terminated his right to self-representation in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal Constitution.  (See Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806, 807, 835 (Faretta).)  We agree.  The court’s rationale, that defendant had been “dilatory” and had been “stalling,” is not supported by the record.  Faretta and its progeny require reversal of the judgment in its entirety.

People v. Becerra

S065573

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S065573.PDF

Coming Monday

June 24, 2016 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue the following cases Monday:

PEOPLE v. BECERRA (FRANK KALIL)

S065573 (Los Angeles County Superior Court – BA106878)

Argued in Los Angeles 4-06-16

 

This matter is an automatic appeal from a judgment of death.

 

 

PEOPLE v. CLARK (WILLIAM CLINTON)

S066940 (Orange County Superior Court – 94CF0821)

Argued in Los Angeles 4-07-16

 

This matter is an automatic appeal from a judgment of death.

Another death penalty affirmed

June 23, 2016 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes affirmed another death penalty case today.

 

People v. Sanchez

S045423

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S045423.PDF