Skip to content
Name: People v. Mares (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 1158
Case #: E080611
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/23/2024
Summary

Trial court properly denied Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage because the record of conviction unambiguously precluded petitioner’s assertion that he could not be convicted today because of the changes made by Senate Bill No. 1437. Mares pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter after admitting he stabbed a person during a one-on-one fight. He later filed a section 1172.6 petition, which was denied at the prima facie stage. Mares appealed, arguing the trial court erred by relying on the preliminary hearing transcript to engage in factfinding to determine he was the actual killer and by requiring him to state facts to justify holding a (d)(3) hearing. Held: Affirmed. The uncontradicted facts in the record (including the preliminary hearing transcript) only supported a theory of murder where Mares was the actual killer who acted alone and refuted his allegation that he could not presently be convicted of murder because of the changes made by SB 1437. The Court of Appeal reviewed relevant case law and concluded that considering information in Mares’s preliminary hearing transcript did not violate the prohibition on factfinding at the prima facie stage because no factfinding was needed—no facts in the record supported a theory that Mares was an accomplice to a murder committed by some other person. The court explained that its approach “leaves open the possibility (unlikely on most sets of facts) that a petitioner like Mares could replace his conclusory assertion with a declaration creating a factual issue by explaining there was another killer whom he assisted in a crime from which the murder resulted.” [Editor’s Note: The following issue is currently pending in the California Supreme Court in People v. Patton (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 649, review granted 6/28/2023 (S279670/B320352): Did the trial court engage in impermissible judicial factfinding by relying on the preliminary hearing transcript to deny defendant’s Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage?]