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Name: People v. Superior Court (Burton)
Case #: E060210
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/06/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 3/25/2015: S223805

Trial court may not continue petitioner’s Proposition 36 resentencing hearing to later reconsider his dangerousness. Burton was sentenced in 2001 to a life sentence under the Three Strikes law. In 2012, he filed a petition to recall his sentence under the Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36). The prosecutor opposed the petition on the ground that Burton posed an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. After a hearing, the court agreed that Burton currently posed a danger to the community. However, the court continued the matter for two years, and recommended that Burton to be placed where he could get actual drug treatment. The prosecutor filed a petition for writ of mandate/prohibition arguing that the court had no jurisdiction to continue the matter for two years to reconsider Burton’s dangerousness. Held: Petition granted. Nothing in the plain language of the statute authorizes a court to continue or hold in abeyance a petition for resentencing for purposes of reexamining a prisoner’s dangerousness. The court was required to make a ruling based on Burton’s dangerousness at the time of the hearing. Further, in light of Burton’s record, the trial court could not reasonably find Burton no longer posed a danger to society even if he remained discipline free for the next two years. The trial court was directed to issue a new order denying the resentencing petition.