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Name: People v. Thomas
Case #: S118052
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/18/2005
Subsequent History: Rhrg. den. 6/8/05

Appellant was 15 years old when he committed an armed robbery. He was tried as an adult pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (d)(2). Appellant entered into a negotiated plea agreement, under the terms of which he could not be sentenced to more than 13 years in prison. Appellant asked for a disposition under juvenile court law, and the prosecutor objected. Under Penal Code section 1170.19, the objection barred the trial court from considering a juvenile disposition. Appellant contended that the requirement for prosecutorial consent violated the separation of powers provision of the California Constitution. The trial court concluded that it had no authority to impose a juvenile disposition under Welfare and Institutions Code section 1732.6. The appellate court affirmed, but struck the prison sentence and remanded for the trial court to exercise its discretion on whether to order a juvenile disposition. The Supreme Court granted review and returned the matter to the appellate court with directions to reconsider in light of Penal Code section 1732.6, which limits the court’s discretion to order a juvenile commitment when a minor is found to have personally used a firearm. The appellate court held that the prosecutorial consent provision in 1170.19 violates the separation of powers provision, and that section 1732.6 had been impliedly repealed by section 602.3, so it did not limit the court’s discretion. The Attorney General’s petition for review was granted on the latter issue. In this opinion, the Supreme Court held that the prosecutorial consent provision is invalid because it violates California’s separation of powers doctrine. However, the trial court’s disccretion under section 1170.19, subdivision (a) to commit a minor to the Youth Authority applies only when the minor meets the eligibility requirements of section 1732.6. Here, the minor admitted the robbery and personally using a firearm, which made him ineligible for a Youth Authority commitment under section 1732.6, and therefore the judgment of the appellate court was reversed with directions to affirm the trial court’s judgment.