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Name: People v. Clark
Case #: A143378
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/15/2017
Summary

A defendant may not contest the constitutional validity of a strike prior in the context of a Proposition 36 (Three Strike Reform Act) petition for resentencing. In 1997, Clark was convicted of indecent exposure (Pen. Code, § 314.1) and received a life Three Strikes sentence based on his serious felony priors. In 2014, he filed a petition for resentencing (Pen. Code, § 1170.126) alleging that his 1974 conviction for lewd and lascivious acts on a minor (Pen. Code, § 288) was constitutionally invalid and he was therefore eligible for resentencing. The trial court denied the petition, finding it had no authority to consider the validity of the priors. Clark appealed. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 36 prospectively changed the Three Strikes law by reserving a life sentence for cases where the defendant’s new felony is serious or violent, or where enumerated disqualifying factors are pled and proved. It added section 1170.126 to the Penal Code, which provides a postconviction procedure whereby qualified defendants serving an indeterminate term for an offense not classified as serious or violent may petition to receive a two-strike sentence. An inmate is ineligible for resentencing if he has a prior conviction for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 years old. Clark argued in his Proposition 36 petition that his 1974 lewd and lascivious conduct conviction was invalid under Boykin/Tahl because he was not advised of his constitutional rights when he entered the plea. However, a trial court lacks jurisdiction to resentence a criminal defendant after execution of sentence has begun. A section 1170.126 proceeding is not a “plenary resentencing proceeding,” but provides only a limited mechanism whereby the trial court may reduce or leave intact the sentence originally imposed. It does not authorize a collateral attack on a strike prior.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A143378.PDF