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Name: People v. Saetern
Case #: C066929
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/17/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 10/1/2014: S220790
Summary

Any constitutional error in juvenile offender’s 100-years-to-life sentence was rendered harmless with the enactment of Penal Code section 3051, which provides him a parole hearing after 25 years. Saetern was sentenced to a total term of 100 years to life for a murder of a pregnant woman that he committed at age 14. On appeal, Saetern argued that the sentence was the functional equivalent of life without possibility of parole, and the trial court failed to consider the factors of youth set forth in Miller v. Alabama (2012) 132 S.Ct. 2455. Respondent countered that consideration of the factors in Miller is only required where the sentence is life without possibility of parole or the functional equivalent, and that recently enacted Penal Code section 3051 (SB 260) resolves any constitutional infirmity because it offers the possibility of parole after 25 years. Held: Affirmed. Under section 3051, Saetern will be eligible for a youth offender parole hearing once he serves 25 years of his sentence. Because section 3051 offers a meaningful opportunity to obtain parole and affords Saetern more favorable relief than he could obtain on remand, any constitutional error in the sentence was rendered harmless. The court declined to follow People v. Garrett (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 675, a recent decision by another panel of the Third District. [Editor’s Note: The appellate court acknowledged the “ephemerality” of this opinion, as the issue is pending in the California Supreme Court. (See In re Alatriste (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1232, review granted 2/19/2014 (S214652/B248072); In re Bonilla (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 1232, review granted 2/19/2014 (S214960/B248199).)]