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Name: People v. Strong
Case #: C033513
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/27/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 6/13/01

The striking of appellant’s prior strike for assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury was reversed on a People’s appeal where the trial court abused its discretion to conclude that a career criminal was “outside the spirit” of the Three Strikes Law. The trial court had found that the strike was “out of character” with the defendant’s nonviolent criminal record, and that he had reached an age where he statistically posed a reduced risk to society. The appellate court here reversed, noting that appellant had a 22-year criminal record, with six felonies within the last eight years. The strike, an unprovoked and violent assault on a bystander, occurred only three years before the current drug offense. Neither middle age, nor the fact that appellant qualified for sentencing under the Three Strikes Law as a habitual offender, took him outside the “spirit of the law” as discussed in People v. Williams (1998) 17 Cal.4th 148. The Three Strikes Law establishes a sentencing norm from which departures must be deemed “outside the scheme’s spirit” and hence treated as if he had not been convicted of one or more serious or violent felonies. In this case, appellant was the kind of “revolving-door criminal” for whom the law was devised.