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Name: People v. Navarra
Case #: F071142
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/16/2017

Proposition 57 does not apply retroactively to juvenile homicide offenders who were tried, convicted, and sentenced before the Act’s effective date. A jury convicted Navarra of the 2008 first degree murder of Pike and other offenses, and found a lying-in-wait special circumstance true. Navarra, who was 16 years old at the time of the offense, was sentenced to LWOP. In its original opinion, the Court of Appeal affirmed. Navarra petitioned for rehearing, arguing that Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) 577 U.S. __ and In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, mandated retroactive application of Proposition 57 to her case to afford her a juvenile court fitness hearing. Held: Affirmed. On November 8, 2015, voters enacted Proposition 57, which became effective the next day. The Act eliminated the prosecution’s ability to initiate criminal cases against minors anywhere but in juvenile court and removed the presumption of unfitness that previously attached to the alleged commission of certain offenses. The purposes of the Act are to emphasize rehabilitation for juvenile offenders and to require a judge, rather than a prosecutor, to decide whether a juvenile should be tried in adult court. The Act is presumed to operate prospectively only absent an express declaration of retroactivity or indication the electorate intended otherwise. As pertains to juvenile offenders, Proposition 57 contains no retroactively provision. Nor does the reasoning of Estrada require retroactive application, as that case concerns a contextually specific qualification to the presumption that statutes operate prospectively, i.e., where the Legislature has amended a statute to reduce the punishment for a particular crime, the ameliorative effect of the reduction in punishment applies to all nonfinal judgments. Proposition 57 does not mitigate the punishment for a particular crime and is not retroactive to nonfinal cases.

The holdings in Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. 460 and Montgomery v. Louisiana, do not mandate retroactive application of the juvenile offender provisions of Proposition 57. Miller requires that before a juvenile offender may be sentenced to LWOP the sentencing court must consider the distinct attributes of youth. Because Miller established that LWOP is excessive punishment for all but the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption, it rendered LWOP an unconstitutional sentence for that class of juveniles whose crimes reflect only transient immaturity. Thus, it announced a substantive rule of constitutional law and is retroactive (Montgomery). However, contrary to Navarra’s argument, neither Miller nor Montgomery suggest that a juvenile offender is constitutionally entitled to have her case adjudicated in juvenile court. Therefore, these cases do not mandate retroactive application of the juvenile offender provisions of Proposition 57 to nonfinal judgments.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: