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Name: People v. Pineda
Case #: H047709
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/19/2021

A Penal Code section 1170.95 petitioner with a felony-murder special circumstance finding made prior to People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788 and People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522 is entitled to judicial determination as to whether his conduct is proscribed under the current standards before the petition may be summarily denied. In 2005, Pineda and a codefendant were convicted of first degree murder and a felony-murder special circumstance allegation was found true. (Pen. Code, § 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(A).) In 2019, Pineda filed a resentencing petition pursuant to section 1170.95, which was denied on the basis that the felony-murder special circumstance finding precluded relief. Pineda appealed. Held: Reversed. Banks and Clark clarified the meaning of the felony-murder special circumstances statute, which mirrors the post-Senate Bill No. 1437 requirements of felony murder. The California Supreme Court has granted review on whether a felony-murder special circumstance finding under section 190.2, subdivision (a)(17) made before Banks and Clark precludes a defendant from making a prima facie showing of eligibility for relief under section 1170.95. (People v. Strong (Dec. 18, 2020, C091162) [nonpub. opn.], review granted 3/10/2021 (S266606).) This court agreed with the “middle-ground approach” adopted in People v. Secrease (2021) 63 Cal.App.5th 231, 255, review granted 6/30/2021 (S268862/A158342), which held that “where a petitioner facing a felony-murder special-circumstance finding has never been afforded a Banks and Clark sufficiency-of-the-evidence review—by any court, at the trial or appellate level—section 1170.95 courts have an obligation to undertake such an analysis at the prima facie entitlement-to-relief stage of a resentencing proceeding under subdivision (c) of the statute.” Thus, the case was remanded for determination of whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the felony-murder special circumstance finding under Banks and Clark.