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Name: People v. McGee
Case #: S123474
Opinion Date: 05/22/2006
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Citation: 38 Cal.4th 682
Summary

A defendant does not have a federal constitutional right to have a jury, rather than a judge, examine the record of conviction to determine whether his out of state convictions qualify as strikes under California law. Defendant requested a jury trial on the prior conviction allegation, which alleged his Nevada robbery convictions constituted a strike under California law. But the trial court made the determination itself, finding no federal constitutional right to have the jury make this decision. The Supreme Court affirmed. Apprendi does not change the rule that a court, rather than a jury, determines sentence enhancements that are based upon a defendant’s prior convictions. Apprendi’s recidivism exception is not limited simply to the bare fact of a defendant’s prior conviction, but includes the nature of that conviction. The Supreme Court recognized that last year in Shepard, the high court read the prior-conviction exception narrowly. Nevertheless, that case was resolved on statutory grounds, and the court did not decide whether a state is constitutionally prohibited from allowing a court to conduct the inquiry at issue here.