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Name: In re Martinez
Case #: D063719
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/30/2014

Under Penal Code section 1170.126 (Three Strikes Reform Act), the trial court must consider all felonies that led to any indeterminate life sentence under the Three Strikes law and, if any one of the felonies is disqualifying under the Act, section 1170.126 does not apply. In 2008, Martinez was convicted of, inter alia, spousal abuse (Pen. Code, § 273.5, subd. (a)) and spousal rape (Pen. Code, § 262, subd. (a)(1)). The jury found that Martinez had two prior “strike” convictions and the trial court sentenced Martinez as a third strike offender to two consecutive 25-years-to-life terms. In 2012, Martinez filed a petition for resentencing under recently enacted section 1170.126, which the superior court denied. Martinez appealed, arguing that he was not statutorily ineligible for resentencing as to the spousal abuse conviction. Held: Affirmed. Initially, as a matter of judicial economy, the appellate court elected to treat Martinez’s appeal as a petition for writ of habeas corpus because the issue presented is novel and of general concern. Section 1170.126 applies to a petitioner who is serving an indeterminate life sentence for a third strike offense under the Three Strikes law based on offenses that are not defined as serious and/or violent felonies. The petitioner’s prior two strikes cannot be one of certain enumerated serious and/or violent felonies. Here, Martinez’s spousal abuse conviction and two prior strikes did not disqualify him from resentencing. His current conviction for spousal rape, however, would have rendered him ineligible for resentencing because it is a serious and violent felony. While section 1170.126, subdivision (e) does not clearly address whether the trial court is required to consider all the felonies that led to the current indeterminate life sentence, the Court of Appeal concluded that it is consistent with the public safety rationale of the Act and the text of the statute to consider all the felonies. A petitioner will not be eligible for resentencing if any one of those felonies is disqualifying under the Act.