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Name: People v. Arreguin (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 58
Case #: B304838
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 03/09/2023
Summary

People v. Strong (2022) 13 Cal.5th 698, does not permit a harmless error analysis when the trial court relied upon the felony-murder special circumstance to deny a Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage. In 1993, appellant was convicted of murder with a felony-murder special circumstance. In 2019, the trial court denied appellant’s section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage, finding he was a major participant who acted with reckless indifference. Held: Reversed. Strong concluded that a felony-murder special circumstance finding by a jury before Banks and Clark does not preclude a defendant from making a prima facie case for relief. Moreover, Strong held that it is inappropriate for any court to evaluate whether substantial evidence now supports the jury’s finding after Banks and Clark. Instead, the matter must proceed to an evidentiary hearing. [Editor’s Note: Justice Yegan concurred, as bound by Strong, but expressed disagreement, encouraging the Supreme Court to declare that a “harmless error” analysis should be applied.]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B304838.PDF