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Name: People v. Beaudreaux (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1227
Case #: A166001
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 03/28/2024

Trial court erred when it denied second Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage without appointing counsel, but the error was harmless because the record established petitioner was the actual killer. After the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Lewis (2021) 11 Cal.5th 952 and the enactment of Senate Bill No. 775, Beaudreaux filed a second section 1172.6 petition for resentencing for his first degree murder conviction that was based on a felony murder theory. The trial court denied the petition at the prima facie stage without appointing counsel and Beaudreaux appealed. Held: Affirmed. The Court of Appeal agreed with Beaudreaux that, in light of Lewis and SB 775, the trial court erred at the prima facie stage by failing to appoint counsel, and by relying on substantive facts summarized in the Court of Appeal’s 2011 opinion affirming his conviction. However, the error was harmless. Under the doctrine of issue preclusion, Beaudreaux is bound by the jury’s findings that he personally and intentionally fired a weapon in the course of an attempted robbery that caused the victim’s death, and no equitable exception to issue preclusion applied in this case. After considering the charges, the jury instructions, the verdicts, and the findings as a whole, the Court of Appeal saw “no legal route Beaudreaux’s jury could have taken to convict him without finding he was [the victim’s] actual killer.”