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This page contains short summaries of recent published opinions issued by the California Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and Appellate Divisions and the U.S. Supreme Court in criminal, juvenile, and civil commitment cases. We endeavor to include summaries of all recent published opinions, and to post them within 1-3 workdays of issuance of the opinion. The summaries are being produced collaboratively by staff attorneys at Central California Appellate Program, Appellate Defenders, Inc., and the First District Appellate Project.

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Name: In re Jose R.
Case #: B326712
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 06/12/2024

The juvenile court did not err in applying pre-disposition custody credits to the maximum term of confinement. The minor was committed to a secure youth treatment facility after he admitted committing an assault with a deadly weapon. On appeal he argued the court erred in applying his precommitment custody credits to his maximum term of confinement instead of his baseline term. However, Welfare and Institutions Code, section 875, subdivision (c)(1)(C), clearly provides, “Precommitment credits for time served must be applied against the maximum term of confinement as set pursuant to this subdivision.”

The application of precommitment custody credits to the maximum…

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Name: People v. Graham
Case #: C097971
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/10/2024

A trial court can consider trial transcripts from the current case when on remand for a “pretrial” mental health diversion hearing under PC section 1001.36. After defendant was convicted of several felonies in 2018, the Court of Appeal conditionally reversed and remanded the case for a mental health diversion eligibility hearing pursuant to section 1001.36. At the hearing, defendant objected to the trial court’s consideration of the trial transcripts, arguing this was remand for a “pretrial” hearing so the court was limited to viewing the matter as it stood before trial. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that consistent with…

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Name: People v. Gefrerer
Case #: D082223
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/06/2024

Trial court properly declined to instruct the jury on grand theft as a lesser included offense of robbery, where there was no substantial evidence defendant took the property without force or fear. Defendant entered two banks, each time passing the teller a note stating, “Give me $5000. Don’t play.” The tellers were afraid and complied, and defendant departed with the money. The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's two robbery convictions, concluding that no substantial evidence supported giving the lesser instruction on theft. Even if the record contained substantial evidence, the doctrine of invited error would bar defendant’s argument that the…

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Name: People v. Rounds
Case #: G063593
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/05/2024

Trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant’s petition for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon (PC 4582.01 et seq) by relying “almost entirely” on two statutorily impermissible factors: the details of the underlying crime and the unfairness to the victims and their families of granting the petition. Further, although it is proper to consider whether the defendant has admitted culpability for the crime, here the trial court improperly relied on defendant’s plea to a reduced charge as evidence that he failed to accept responsibility.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: 

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Name: People v. Fish
Case #: A168087, A168088
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 06/05/2024

The Court of Appeal holds that the trial court’s failure to expressly instruct the jury that the unanimity instruction applied to the lesser included offense—and not just the charged offense—was harmless error under Chapman. The record did not provide a rational basis for the jury to have distinguished between the two acts offered in support of the lesser included offense. The court emphasizes that trial courts should expressly instruct the jury that the unanimity requirement applies both to the charged offense and any lesser included offenses when a guilty finding may rest on more than one act.

The full opinion is available…

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Name: People v. Mayberry
Case #: F085869
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/04/2024

The Court of Appeal holds that PC 1172.75 applies to stayed prior prison term enhancements, disagreeing with People v. Rhodius (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 38, review granted February 21, 2024, S283169

The Court of Appeal holds that PC 1172.75 applies to stayed prior prison term enhancements, disagreeing with People v. Rhodius (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 38, review granted February 21, 2024, S283169. When the Legislature enacted PC 1172.75, it is presumed to have been aware of existing laws that allowed former PC 667.5 enhancements to be stayed under certain circumstances, and it did not include language that limited legal invalidity to former PC 667.5(b) enhancements that were imposed and executed.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/F085869.PDF

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Name: People v. Burgos
Case #: S274743
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 06/03/2024

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, PC 1109 requires bifurcating gang enhancements from their underlying offenses upon defense request (PC 1109(a)) and requires a separate trial for any PC 186.22(a) offense charged with a non-gang crime (PC 1109(b)).  The California Supreme Court holds PC 1109 is not retroactive to cases where judgment is not yet final, as the text and legislative history do not overcome the presumption that new statues apply prospectively only.  Further, as a merely “prophylactic procedural rule” modifying the “sequence” of trials, PC 1109 does not qualify under Estrada.  The concurrence notes the ever-increasing resources devoted to litigating statutory…

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Name: In re A.M.
Case #: B329999
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 05/31/2024

The Court of Appeal holds that when a minor was sentenced as an adult prior to the passage of Prop 57 and the sentence is later vacated on habeas corpus, the judgment becomes nonfinal and the defendant is entitled to retroactive application of ameliorative laws, including SB 1391 and AB 333. The minor’s case only becomes final when the criminal proceeding as a whole has ended and the courts can no longer provide a remedy on direct review. Where AB 333's amendments to PC 186.22's gang-murder special circumstance provisions apply retroactively, Chapman harmless error review is appropriate.

The full opinion is available on…

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Name: Wheeler v. Appellate Division of Superior Court
Case #: S272850
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 05/30/2024

A trial court may consider a defendant’s reduced culpability in dismissing charges “in furtherance of justice” pursuant to PC 1385. The trial court dismissed the action against Wheeler, age 85, who had been charged with strict liability misdemeanors after leasing a storefront to another person who illegally sold cannabis on the property without Wheeler’s knowledge. In determining whether to dismiss a charge “in furtherance of justice” pursuant to PC 1385, a trial court may consider evidence indicative guilt or innocence and the nature of a defendant’s criminal activity. This includes a defendant’s reduced level of culpability within the statutory…

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Name: Thornell v. Jones
Case #: 22–982
Court: US Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 05/30/2024

A prejudice showing for a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel during the sentencing phase of a capital case requires a petitioner to show that absent counsel’s errors, the sentencer would have concluded that the balance of aggravating and mitigating circumstances did not warrant the death sentence. Jones was convicted in Arizona of the premeditated first-degree murders of two victims and the attempted premeditated murder of a third victim. He was sentenced to death. The Ninth Circuit granted habeas relief finding that there was a reasonable probability that Jones would not have received a death sentence if mitigating evidence of…

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Name: People v. Sup. Ct. (Riverside)
Case #: D082865
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/30/2024

After a high-speed chase, defendant intoxicated on opioids crashed her car, with the vehicle coming to rest mid-freeway. As police attempted to get unresponsive defendant to exit the car, obstructed traffic backed up behind them. Thirty minutes after defendant crashed, a distracted and speeding tractor-trailer driver rear-ended a stopped vehicle roughly one and a half miles away from crash site, ultimately killing an adjacent driver. The defense moved successfully under PC 995 to dismiss PC 187 (Watson) and VC 2800.3(b) charges, with the DA seeking writ review. The Court of Appeal held that no probable cause supported either charge. Regarding…

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Name: People v. Pritchett
Case #: A168411
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/28/2024

The good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies where a detective was unaware AB 1950 had terminated defendant’s probation, and relied on a criminal database that incorrectly indicated defendant was still on searchable probation. A detective searched defendant based on information from Crimnet, a database containing information directly from the judicial system, including probation status. While Crimnet indicated defendant was on searchable probation, probation had actually been terminated based on the automatic application of AB 1950. The detective admitted he was unaware of AB 1950. Considering the language of AB 1950 and the limited legal authority interpreting it, the…

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Name: People v. Koontzy
Case #: A167703
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 05/23/2024

Trial court erred in ordering victim restitution after defendant’s probation for violating VC 20001(a) had expired. The Court of Appeal notes it previously held (People v. McCune (2022) 81 Cal.App.5th 648, review granted Oct. 26, 2022, S276303) PC 1202.46 permits restitution order after probation expires when loss occurs “as a result of the commission of the crime” (PC 1202.4(a)(1)). Here, however, the loss was indisputably caused not by the defendant’s flight after the collision, but by the collision itself. Therefore, restitution was only authorized as condition of probation (PC 1203.1), and PC 1202.46 does not apply to PC 1203.1 restitution…

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Name: People v. Herrera
Case #: A165248
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/22/2024

The Court of Appeal holds that no juror misconduct occurred where the deliberating jurors watched surveillance video clips back-to-back on a loop and in slow motion. There was no evidence the jurors performed any editing, and viewing the videos in slow motion allowed for closer scrutiny. The court also finds no prejudicial juror misconduct occurred where a juror agreed to vote for guilt in exchange for the other jurors agreeing to sign a “we urge leniency” note. While consideration of punishment was improper, there was no prejudice because the juror believed the defendant was guilty when she asked for the…

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Name: People v. Carter
Case #: S278262
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 05/20/2024

Prior to an SVP trial, the superior court abused its discretion in denying Carter’s Marsden motion without an adequate inquiry and further deprived Carter of effective assistance of counsel by failing to appoint substitute counsel to evaluate his motion to dismiss. After waiting over 12 years, Carter sought to file a motion to dismiss the SVP petition against him, and requested to replace the Public Defender’s Office under Marsden. The trial court erred in conducting an insufficient Marsden inquiry and in instructing Carter to file his motion to dismiss pro se. The trial court should have considered Carter’s Marsden motion…

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Name: People v. Ellis
Case #: B325433
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 05/15/2024

The trial court struck two PC 667.5(b) priors at defendant's PC 1172.75 resentencing. Defendant argued on appeal that he did not receive a “full resentencing” because the trial court did not resentence to the middle term as generally required under amended PC 1170 (SB 567). The trial court and parties had not “expressly” mentioned SB 567 at resentencing, and the original sentence was a stipulated one. The Court of Appeal affirms, holding, among eight grounds for denying relief, that PC 1172.75(d)(4) precludes middle term resentencing when the original sentence imposed the upper term.

The full opinion is available on the court’s…

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Name: D.K. v. Office of Admin. Hrgs.
Case #: A167272
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/14/2024

Superior court erred in finding that writ relief was not available to individuals who have been subject to a temporary involuntarily medication order. D.K. was found incompetent to stand trial (IST) and committed to the Department of State Hospitals. D.K. was involuntarily medicated, pursuant to an administrative law judge order under PC 1370. D.K. appealed the denial of her petition for a writ of administrative mandate. In light of the compelling liberty interest against involuntary medication, and the failure to identify any alternative form of relief reasonably available to D.K., the superior court erred in concluding writ relief was categorically…

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Name: People v. Arias (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 1163
Case #: A164789
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/10/2024

Where the record failed to support the trial court’s unexplained third-stage ruling that the peremptory challenge of a juror was not discriminatory, reversal was required. In a child molestation case, the defense made a Batson/Wheeler motion as to the prosecutor’s striking of a Black prospective juror. The trial court accepted the prosecutor’s reasons for the striking, and denied the motion. However, the prosecutor’s first reason was unsupported by the record, the second reason was “deeply troubling,” and the third reason was of apparently minor significance to the prosecutor. The trial court’s uncritical crediting of these reasons was unreasonable given the record of voir…

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Name: People v. Palacios (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 942
Case #: B324572
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/03/2024

At defendant’s PC 1172.6(d)(3) hearing, the trial court did not err by declining to consider whether defendant’s confession was voluntary before admitting it into evidence, where the voluntariness issue was not raised in the underlying trial. Section 1172.6(d)(3) provides a general rule that admissibility of evidence at a resentencing hearing is “governed by the Evidence Code,” but it exempts evidence previously admitted at any prior hearing or trial that is “admissible under current law.” The court agreed with People v. Davenport (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 1150 that the most natural reading of the phrase “admissible under current law” is that the basis…

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Name: In re Randy C. (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 933
Case #: A167331
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 05/03/2024

A marijuana blunt on the passenger’s lap was an “open container” within the meaning of HSC 11362.3(a)(4), which provided probable cause for the officer to search the passenger compartment of the vehicle. A minor was stopped by police for driving a car with illegally tinted windows. During the stop, the officer smelled unburnt marijuana and saw a blunt on the passenger’s lap. The officer conducted a search of the vehicle and found a handgun in the glove compartment and an AR-15 rifle in the trunk. On appeal, the minor argued that the marijuana blunt was not an “open container” within…

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Name: People v. Flores (2024) 15 Cal.5th 1032
Case #: S267522
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/02/2024

Under the Fourth Amendment, detention was unauthorized where defendant’s odd behavior, while noteworthy, did not support a reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in illegal activity. Officers observed defendant, alone, in a known narcotics area around 10:00 p.m. Defendant ducked behind a vehicle and pretended to tie his shoe. Officers approached and detained defendant, subsequently locating drug paraphernalia and a revolver in his nearby vehicle. The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion to suppress evidence recovered during the detention. Defendant’s behavior, while odd, did not provide a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Defendant was…

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Name: People v. Patton (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 922
Case #: F085895
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/02/2024

Under PC 288.5(c), a defendant may not be convicted of both continuous sexual abuse and other overlapping discrete sexual-act counts. Defendant was convicted of continuous sexual abuse (PC 288.5(a)) and other counts of distinct sexual acts occurring within the same period. Section 288.5(c), by prohibiting multiple charges, also prohibits multiple convictions for continuous sexual abuse of a child and for the discrete sexual offenses underlying the continuous abuse conviction. Here, the remedy is to vacate the continuous abuse conviction because this is not a section 654 issue subject to sentencing discretion, and the defendant should be left with a sentence…

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Name: People v. Lovejoy (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 860
Case #: D080941
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/02/2024

Defendant was ineligible for relief under PC 1172.6 where her conviction for conspiracy to commit murder was necessarily based on a jury finding that she personally harbored an intent to kill. Following the passage of SB 775, defendant sought resentencing relief for her convictions of attempted murder and conspiracy to murder the same victim. The Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of resentencing for the attempted murder conviction. The jury instructions could not have permitted the jury to rely on the natural and probable consequence doctrine, as the jury…

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Name: People v. Garcia (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 848
Case #: B326131
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 05/01/2024

At an SB 483 resentencing hearing, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that a lesser sentence would endanger public safety under PC 1172.75(d)(1). At defendant’s resentencing, the superior court dismissed the prior prison term enhancements but resentenced defendant to the same sentence by imposing a firearm enhancement that had been previously stricken. The court’s determination that defendant continued to pose a threat to public safety was supported by the nature of the offense (an armed robbery in which defendant fired his gun), defendant’s multiple prior felony convictions of increasing seriousness, his failure to appear for sentencing,…

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Name: People v. Fay (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 767
Case #: B328209
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/29/2024

Judgment reversed where prosecutor’s misstatement of the mental state for implied malice murder was not harmless error. The prosecutor misstated the law regarding the mental state required for implied malice when it told the jury that the mental state element was met if the defendant did not “care if someone is hurt or killed.” This is inconsistent with the requirement that a defendant act with conscious disregard for human life. The trial court compounded this error by telling the jury that the prosecutor’s statement was based on “case law decisions.” Prior to the comment, the jurors had been divided on…

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Name: People v. McDavid (2024) 15 Cal.5th 1015
Case #: S275940
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/29/2024

After striking a PC 12022.53 enhancement in the interest of justice, a trial court has discretion to impose an uncharged, lesser included enhancement located elsewhere in the Penal Code. While PC 12022.53 applies to specified felonies involving the use of firearms, PC 12022 applies more broadly to personal use of a firearm during any felony, and PC 12022 casts an even wider net. In People v. Tirado (2022) 12 Cal.5th 688, the court held that PC 12022.53(h) gives the trial court discretion to, after striking a PC 12022.53 enhancement under PC 1385, impose a lesser included, uncharged PC 12022.53 enhancement when…

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Name: People v. Berlin (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 757
Case #: A166452
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 04/26/2024

The trial court erred in ordering restitution after the end of the statutory maximum two-year period of mental health diversion because Penal Code section 1001.36(f)(1)(D), only permits the trial court to order restitution “during the period of diversion.” The trial court dismissed criminal charges against Berlin after she successfully completed mental health diversion, but ordered her to pay over $17,000 in restitution. Berlin appealed, arguing the trial court erred in issuing a restitution order after the end of the two-year period of diversion. Held: Restitution orders reversed. The Court of Appeal concluded the statutory language of section 1002.36 compelled reversal…

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Name: People v. Foster
Case #: 30-2022-01298571, 30-2023-01309830
Court: CA Superior Court
Opinion Date: 04/26/2024

Penal Code section 1465.9, which was amended by AB 177 to provide that certain “court-imposed costs” are unenforceable and uncollectible, does not apply to interest accrued on the restitution amount owed to a victim under Penal Code section 1202.4, subdivision (f)(3)(G). Thus, defendant's motion to vacate interest accrued on victim restitution was properly denied.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here:

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Name: People v. Cunningham (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 678
Case #: B323640
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 04/23/2024

Provocative act murder remains a viable theory of culpability under Penal Code section 188, subdivision (a)(3). Cunningham, who was convicted of provocative act murder, unsuccessfully sought resentencing under section 1172.6. He argued that provocative murder is based upon the imputation of malice and is no longer a valid theory of murder liability. Held: Affirmed. The Legislature’s failure to mention “provocative murder” when revising section 188 reflects that it did not intend to invalidate this theory. Notwithstanding the prosecutor’s argument that Cunningham “started the ball rolling,” the jury was only instructed on the elements of “provocative murder.” This remains a valid…

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Name: People v. Reynoza (2024) 15 Cal.5th 982
Case #: S273797
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 04/22/2024

Where criminal charges have already been filed, post-charging witness dissuasion alone does not constitute an offense under Penal Code section 136.1(b)(2). Reynoza was found guilty of dissuading a witness under section 136.1(b)(2)). The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding there was insufficient evidence to support the witness dissuasion conviction because section 136.1(b)(2) requires proof that a defendant attempted to prevent or dissuade another person from causing a complaint to be filed and, in the present case, a complaint had already been filed when Reynoza and others confronted the witness in the underlying criminal case. The California Supreme Court granted review. Held:…

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