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Name: People v. Guilford
Case #: C073329
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/31/2014

In making preliminary finding defendant was ineligible for Strike Reform resentencing, trial court may rely on facts from Court of Appeal opinion. In 1994 Guilford was convicted of spousal battery (Pen. Code, § 273.5) and it was proven he had three strike priors. He received a life three strike sentence. After passage of the Strike Reform Act of 2012 (Prop. 36) he sought resentencing. After reading the Court of Appeal opinion in his commitment offense, the court found him ineligible for sentence recall because the facts reflected that he intended to inflict great bodily injury, which is a disqualifying factor (Pen. Code, § 1170.126, subd. (e)). Guilford appealed. Held: Affirmed. There are two parts to the Strike Reform Act—the first is prospective, reducing the penalty for nonserious offenses, when two or more serious felony priors are proved, to a doubled term (absent disqualifying factors which must be pled and proved). The second part is retrospective, allowing a reduction in a life three strike term already imposed for a nonserious offense, absent disqualifying factors, if the defendant’s release does not pose a risk of danger. Under the Three Strikes law a trial court may look to the record of the prior conviction, including a prior appellate opinion, to determine whether the facts constitute a strike prior; that same procedure may be used to determine whether a defendant qualifies for Proposition 36 resentencing. To the extent the “prior appellate opinion [is] ‘hearsay,’ it is still admissible in the context of a Proposition 36 eligibility review,” just as hearsay is acceptable in probation/parole revocation proceedings. Given the fact no petition for rehearing was filed after the opinion issued, it may be reasonably inferred it correctly summarized the evidence against Guilford.

There is no requirement that ineligibility factors be pled and proved when the Act is retrospectively applied. The Act requires pleading and proof of disqualifying factors when it is applied prospectively to prohibit a life three strike sentence for a nonserious felony where the defendant has two or more strike priors. No such requirement applies to retrospective application of the Act to defendants serving a life three strike term for a nonserious felony. Rather, the burden falls on the trial court to determine eligibility for resentencing because, in retrospective application of the Act, a lawful life three strike term has already been imposed.

The prior opinion sufficiently establishes the disqualifying factor that Guilford intended to inflict great bodily injury. The evidence showed Guilford battered his wife, fracturing her nose. Other crimes evidence was introduced which showed that Guilford battered his wife on almost a daily basis. The trial court reasonably concluded Guilford intended to inflict great bodily injury when he punched his wife in the face.

Guilford is not entitled to a jury trial on Strike Reform resentencing eligibility factors. Sixth Amendment jury rights “do not apply to limits on downward sentence modifications due to intervening laws.” (Citing Dillon v. U.S. (2010) 560 U.S. 817.)