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Name: People v. Superior Court (Farley) (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 315
Case #: A168018
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 03/05/2024

The People satisfied their burden at the preliminary hearing to present evidence that Page Street is sufficiently “organized” to qualify as criminal street gang. The People alleged that defendant shot and killed four men in a drive-by shooting committed for the benefit of “Page Street,” which the People alleged is a “criminal street gang” under Penal Code section 186.22(f). In response to defendant’s 995 motion, the superior court ruled that the People had not satisfied their burden at the preliminary hearing to present evidence that Page Street is sufficiently “organized” to qualify as criminal street gang. Accordingly, the court dismissed a substantive gang offense and all gang-related special circumstances, enhancements, and allegations. The People filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal seeking to vacate the order granting the 995 motion. Held: Petition granted. As amended by Assembly Bill No. 333, section 186.22(f) defines a criminal street gang as “an ongoing, organized association or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal . . . .” (Italics added.) The term “organized” is not defined in the statute but the dictionary definition suggests it requires “having a formal organization to coordinate or carry out joint activities.” Relying on the California Supreme Court’s analysis of what constitutes an “organization, association, or group” under former section 186.22(f) (People v. Prunty (2015) 62 Cal.4th 59), this court determined that AB 333’s addition of “organized” to section 186.22(f) was “relatively modest in effect” and “arguably did nothing more than codify Prunty’s articulation of the existing state of the law.” The statute does not explicitly or implicitly require a gang to have any particular type of organizational structure, but instead provides generally that a gang structure may be formal or informal. Given this expansive statutory language, there is no single way to demonstrate the organizational structure section 186.22(f) requires. Applying this framework to the facts here, the court concluded there was sufficient evidence to establish that Page Street was “organized.” [Editor’s Note: In order to justify extraordinary writ relief, a petitioner must establish that there is no adequate remedy at law. The Court of Appeal noted that the People could have accomplished the same objective here by proceeding with their appeal of the trial court’s section 995 order and moving for calendar preference. However, review by writ obviated the need for multiple trials involving the same facts and avoided unduly delaying the matter, which satisfied the requirement that there was no adequate remedy available.]