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Name: People v. Myers
Case #: C078277
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/17/2016
Subsequent History: Review granted 5/25/2016: S233937
Summary

Definition of “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” set forth in Proposition 47 does not apply to resentencing assessments under Proposition 36. Myers was convicted of being a felon in possession of ammunition (former Pen. Code, § 12316, subd. (b)(1)) and other offenses and enhancements. Four strike priors were found true. Myers received a life Three Strikes sentence. In March 2014, Myers petitioned for recall of his sentence under Proposition 36 (Pen. Code, § 1170.126). The prosecution opposed his release, arguing that he posed an unreasonable risk of danger to the public (Pen. Code, § 1170.126, subd. (f)). The trial court denied relief. Myers appealed. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 36 ameliorated the Three Strikes law by requiring the current conviction to be a serious or violent felony before a life Three Strikes sentence could be imposed. In 2014, Proposition 47 was passed, which reduced a number of drug and theft-related felonies to misdemeanors. Both initiatives contain procedures whereby qualified defendants may petition for resentencing; both are designed to preclude relief for sentenced defendants who pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. While Proposition 36 does not specifically define “unreasonable risk of danger,” Proposition 47 defines this term as a risk the defendant will commit a “super-strike” (Pen. Code, § 1170.18, subd. (c); see Pen. Code, § 667, subd. (e)(2)(C)(iv)), and states this definition should apply “throughout this Code,” which plainly refers to the whole Penal Code. However, this is a drafter’s error and must be read as “throughout this act” to avoid illogical and unintended consequences. The court listed a number of factors that supported its conclusion. It further stated that applying Proposition 47’s definition of “unreasonable risk of danger” to Proposition 36 assessments would diminish the finality of judgments subject to Proposition 36, contrary to section 1170.18, subdivision (n). [Editor’s Note: This issue is currently pending in the California Supreme Court. (See People v. Valencia (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 514, review granted 2/18/2015 (S223825/F067946), People v. Chaney (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 1391, review granted 2/18/2015 (S223676/C073949).)]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C078277.PDF