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Name: In re Duong (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 273
Case #: B325525
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/29/2024

Defendant whose death sentence was reduced to LWOP during habeas proceedings was not entitled to appeal the order denying part of his habeas petition under Proposition 66. A jury convicted Duong of multiple murders and the trial court imposed a death sentence. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. During habeas proceedings in the trial court, Duong and the district attorney stipulated to granting in part and denying in part his habeas petition. The trial court accepted the stipulation, vacated Duong’s death sentence, and resentenced him to LWOP. Duong appealed the order to the Court of Appeal based on a provision of the Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016 (Prop. 66, as approved by voters, Gen. Elec. (Nov. 8, 2016)) that permits an appeal from the denial of a habeas corpus petition “filed by a person in custody pursuant to a judgment of death.” (Pen. Code, § 1509(a); see § 1509.1(a).) Held: Appeal dismissed. Proposition 66 implements the goal of expediting death penalty cases and its reforms are directed exclusively at “death penalty cases.” The Court of Appeal reviewed Proposition 66 and the voter information and held that “that a person who files a petition for writ of habeas corpus while the person was in custody pursuant to a judgment of death and who, at the time of filing an appeal from a ruling on the petition, is no longer in custody pursuant to a judgment of death, is not entitled to appeal under section 1509.1.” Because Duong was not in custody pursuant to a judgment of death when he filed his appeal, the habeas appellate process Proposition 66 enacted was not available to him.