No new cases tomorrow

May 3, 2017 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new criminal cases tomorrow, Thursday.

No new cases Monday

April 28, 2017 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases Monday.

No new cases tomorrow

April 26, 2017 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases tomorrow, Thursday.

No restitution for losses incurred from hit and run where defendant gets prison

April 25, 2017 Comments off

No restitution for losses incurred from hit and run where defendant gets prison

After defendant Dennis Terry Martinez pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an injury accident in violation of Vehicle Code section 20001, subdivision (a) (Vehicle Code section 20001(a), commonly known as “hit and run”), the trial court sentenced him to three years in state prison. The trial court further ordered him to pay $425,654.63 to the victim as restitution for injuries suffered as a result of the accident. Defendant contends, and the Court of Appeal agreed, that the trial court erred in fixing the amount of restitution. We agree as well.

Where, as here, a criminal defendant is convicted and sentenced to state prison, section 1202.4 of the Penal Code (section 1202.4) provides that the defendant must pay restitution directly to the victim for losses incurred “as a result of the commission of a crime.” (§ 1202.4, subd. (a)(1); see People v. Giordano (2007) 42 Cal.4th 644, 651–652 (Giordano).) “To the extent possible,” direct victim restitution is to be ordered in an amount “sufficient to fully reimburse the victim or victims for every determined economic loss incurred as the result of the defendant’s criminal conduct.” (§ 1202.4, subd. (f)(3).) Application of these provisions depends on the relationship between the victim’s loss and the defendant’s crime. Here, defendant’s crime was not being involved in a traffic accident, nor does his conviction imply that he was at fault in the accident. Defendant’s crime, rather, was leaving the scene of the accident without presenting identification or rendering aid. Thus, under section 1202.4, the trial court was authorized to order restitution for those injuries that were caused or exacerbated by defendant’s criminal flight from the scene of the accident, but it was not authorized to award restitution for injuries resulting from the accident itself.

People v. Martinez


The recall provisions of Penal Code section 1170(d)(2) do not satisfy Miller

April 24, 2017 Comments off

The recall provisions of Penal Code section 1170(d)(2) do not satisfy Miller

In Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. ___ [132 S.Ct. 2455] (Miller), the United States Supreme Court ruled that under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution “a state may authorize its courts to impose [a sentence of] life without parole on a juvenile homicide offender [only] when the penalty is discretionary and when the sentencing court’s discretion is properly exercised . . . .”  (People v. Gutierrez (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1354, 1379 (Gutierrez).)  The proper exercise of discretion in this context requires the sentencing court to consider relevant evidence as may exist concerning factors that Miller identified as bearing on the “distinctive attributes of youth” and how these attributes “diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders.”  (Miller, at p. ___ [132 S.Ct. at p. 2465]; see also Gutierrez, at pp. 1388-1390.)

Petitioner Kristopher Kirchner committed murder as a 16 year old, for which he is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole (hereinafter life without parole).  The People have conceded that in imposing this sentence, the sentencing court did not give due consideration to the Miller factors.  The judgment in petitioner’s original criminal proceedings became final more than two decades ago, when petitioner did not pursue his appeal.  Through this proceeding for a writ of habeas corpus, petitioner seeks a resentencing hearing at which the court would properly integrate the Miller factors into its sentencing calculus, potentially leading to a new sentence that would offer the possibility of parole.  After the superior court granted habeas corpus relief, the Court of Appeal reversed.  The Court of Appeal determined that the existence of a statutory mechanism, Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d)(2) (hereafter section 1170(d)(2)), through which petitioner could seek recall of his sentence and resentencing to a term of life with the opportunity for parole, remedied any constitutional defect in petitioner’s sentence, and therefore precluded habeas corpus relief.

We hold that section 1170(d)(2) does not provide an adequate remedy at law for Miller error, and that petitioner may obtain a Miller resentencing as a form of habeas corpus relief.  Section 1170(d)(2) was not designed to address Miller error, and its recall of sentence and resentencing procedure is not well suited to remedy the constitutional error of which petitioner complains.  Specifically, as a process designed to revisit lawful sentences of life without parole, section 1170(d)(2) limits the availability of resentencing under its terms, and the resentencing inquiry it prescribes does not necessarily account for the full array of Miller factors in the manner that a proper resentencing under Miller would.  Even though petitioner conceivably could avail himself of the section 1170(d)(2) process, we conclude that his claim of constitutional error need not be pursued, either exclusively or in the first instance, through this statutory scheme.  Because petitioner cannot be required to exhaust the section 1170(d)(2) procedure prior to seeking habeas corpus relief from his sentence, let alone accept section 1170(d)(2) as his exclusive remedy, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

In re Kirchner


Coming Monday

April 21, 2017 Comments off

Coming Monday from the Cal. Supremes:

S233508 (D067920; San Diego County Superior Court – HC21807, CRN26291)
Argued in Sacramento 2-07-17

This case presents the following issue: When a juvenile offender seeks relief from a life-without-parole sentence that has become final, does Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d)(2), which permits most juvenile offenders to petition for recall of a life-without-parole sentence imposed pursuant to Penal Code section 190.5 after 15 years, provide an adequate remedy under Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. ___ [132 S.Ct. 2455], as recently construed in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) 577 U.S. ___ [136 S.Ct. 718]?

No new cases tomorrow

April 19, 2017 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases tomorrow.