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Name: People v. Rodriguez
Case #: F067805
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/05/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 4/29/2015: S225047
Summary

Trial court did not err by failing to appoint an expert on the issue of current dangerousness for Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36) resentencing. In 2000, Rodriguez was sentenced to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law for possession of heroin for sale because he had two prior strikes. In 2012, after voters enacted Proposition 36, he petitioned for resentencing. The court denied the petition after concluding that resentencing Rodriguez would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety (Pen. Code, § 1170.126, subd. (f)). Although Rodriguez had a perfect prison conduct record since his incarceration in 2000, he had 8 felony and 11 misdemeanor convictions. On appeal, he compared the decisions whether to resentence under Proposition 36 and to grant parole to a life prisoner. When making the decision whether to grant parole, current psychological evaluations are generally most relevant to an assessment of current dangerousness. (See In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1181, 1223-1124.) Based on the similarities between the decisions, he argued that the trial court abused its discretion by not appointing an expert, sua sponte, to offer an opinion as to whether he currently poses a risk of danger to public safety. Held: Affirmed. While a trial court could appoint an expert, on its own motion, to conduct an evaluation concerning the risk of danger currently posed to public safety by an inmate seeking resentencing under Proposition 36 (see Johnson v. Banducci (1963) 212 Cal.App.2d 254, 260), the decision lies within the discretion of the court. Here, the trial court did not abuse its discretion. “[T]he court reasonably could make the required determination itself, without the input of an expert.”