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Name: People v. Otubuah
Case #: E047271
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/07/2010

The amendment to section 4019 is not retroactive. In deciding whether to apply the amendment to section 4019 prospectively or retroactively, the court noted that the California Supreme Court has consistently described the statute as a means of encouraging and rewarding behavior. As a result, it concluded “that increases in custody credits should not be considered a mitigation of punishment.” And so in retrospect, the court’s prior opinion in People v. Doganiere (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 237, applying Estrada principles to conduct credits, was flawed. The court further noted that despite numerous cases applying Estrada, the Supreme Court has never cited Doganiere, nor stated that increases to the custody credits scheme are a mitigation of punishment. Consequently, Estrada should not apply, and there is no presumption of retroactivity. Next the court considered the legislative intent of the amendment and decided it was just not clear. The Legislature could have been concerned with the fiscal impact of granting additional credits, and only that. It refused to infer any intent for retroactive application from section 59 of SB 18 because the bill was changing other credits statutes as well. In fact, another potential indicator of intent is the fact that the Legislature is now trying to undo the amendment. Because there is no clear and compelling indication that the Legislature wanted the amendment to apply retroactively, the presumption of prospective application in Penal Code section 3 is not rebutted.