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Name: In re T.A. (2023) 90 Cal.App.5th 347
Case #: E079346
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/23/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 4/11/2023

Although juvenile offender was entitled to the ameliorative benefits of amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, any error resulting from the application of the prior version was harmless under Watson and remand was unnecessary. In April 2020, the Court of Appeal conditionally reversed T.A.’s 2018 judgment for second degree murder and remanded for a transfer hearing in light of Proposition 57. In May 2022, the juvenile court granted the People’s motion to transfer T.A. to adult court and reinstate the judgment. On appeal, T.A. argued that remand was necessary to allow the juvenile court to reconsider its ruling in light of ameliorative changes to section 707 made by Assembly Bill No. 2361 (effective 1/1/2023). Held: Affirmed. Recent amendments to section 707 included increasing the prosecution’s burden from the preponderance of the evidence standard to clear and convincing evidence that a minor was not suitable for rehabilitation under the juvenile court system. The Court of Appeal held that the amended version applied retroactively to this case, but remand was unnecessary because it was not reasonably probable that the juvenile court would have reached a different decision under the clear and convincing standard of proof. The juvenile court found evidence that weighed heavily against a finding that T.A. was amenable to rehabilitation under its jurisdiction. In addition to the circumstances of the crime, T.A. was 26 years old at the time of the transfer hearing and, despite having been incarcerated for most of a decade, T.A. had not participated in any educational services or job training after earning his GED in 2013 and repeatedly engaged in violent behavior towards other inmates and prison staff. [Editor’s Note: The Court of Appeal disagreed with T.A.’s argument that the harmless error analysis articulated in People v. Gutierrez (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1354 should apply in his case.]

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