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Name: Mosby v. Superior Court (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 106
Case #: E080924
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/25/2024
Summary

To make a prima facie showing of discriminatory charging under the Racial Justice Act (RJA), the defendant must offer evidence that, if believed, would show both a racial disparity in charging in the county and that nonminority defendants who were similarly situated and engaged in similar conduct faced lower charges. Mosby was charged in Riverside County with capital murder. He filed motions under the RJA seeking to bar the prosecution from pursuing the death penalty based on racially discriminatory charging practices in the county. (Pen. Code, § 745(a)(3).)  The trial court ultimately rejected the RJA claim at the prima facie stage and denied an evidentiary hearing. Mosby filed a petition for a writ of mandate in the Court of Appeal seeking an order that he had established a prima facie case. Held: Petition granted. After reviewing section 745 and the legislative history of the RJA, the Court of Appeal concluded that, to establish a prima facie case under section 745(a)(3) (discriminatory charging), the evidence must establish that Mosby “was similarly situated and engaged in similar conduct with other nonminority defendants who were charged with lesser crimes, and that there was racial disparity in the District Attorney’s capital charging system.” Mosby met this burden. He provided “the facts of several cases that shared many of the same characteristics as this case” and “presented ample [statistical] evidence that the District Attorney’s capital system more frequently sought convictions for more serious offenses against African-American defendants.” The trial court erred in requiring Mosby to also show, at the prima facie stage, that there were no “race-neutral reasons” for the disparate treatment. Instead, the trial court must hold an evidentiary hearing at which the prosecution must offer race-neutral reasons. [Editor’s Notes: (1) There were a number of amicus curiae briefs submitted in support of Mosby and they argued the court should determine that, in order to establish a prima facie case, a defendant need only show statistical and aggregate evidence under the RJA. Because Mosby presented the underlying facts of several cases in which the District Attorney did not seek the death penalty for nonminority defendants, the court declined to decide whether statistics alone could meet the  prima facie burden. (2) Justice Menetrez filed a concurring opinion agreeing with Mosby’s arguments that statistical evidence can be sufficient on its own to make a prima facie case of a violation of the RJA, and that his statistical evidence was in fact sufficient. (3) The court declined to interpret section 745(a)(4)(A) (which applies to persons who have been sentenced) because Mosby had only been charged in this case.]