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Name: People v. Superior Court (Williams)
Case #: E060260
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/06/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 3/25/2015: S223807

Trial court may not hold Proposition 36 resentencing petition in abeyance to later reconsider petitioner’s dangerousness. Williams was convicted in 1998 of a third strike offense and sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. In January 2013, Williams petitioned for resentencing under the Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36). The prosecutor opposed the petition. Following a hearing, the trial court stated that if it had to rule on the petition that day, it would have to affirm the life sentence because it would have to find Williams was still a danger. Instead, the court stated that it could hold the petition in abeyance and hear it in a year, giving Williams a year in custody to show that he was no longer a danger to society. The prosecutor filed a petition for writ of mandate/prohibition, arguing that the court had no jurisdiction to make that order. Held: Petition granted. Nothing in the plain language of the Act authorizes a court to continue or hold in abeyance a petition for resentencing for the purpose of reexamining the inmate’s dangerousness, and the court has no inherent authority to do so. The trial court’s order exceeded its statutory authority. The court was required to make a ruling based on its assessment of Williams’ dangerousness at the time of the hearing. The trial court was directed to issue a new order denying the resentencing petition.