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Name: People v. Walker
Case #: B268475
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/18/2016

In the Proposition 47 context, a prior disqualifying conviction means a “super strike” offense that the defendant suffered at any time before the court’s ruling on a petition to have a felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. Walker pleaded guilty to two different drug possession offenses in 1988 and 1989 (Health & Saf. Code, § 11350, subd. (a)). In 1992, he was convicted of second degree murder (Pen. Code, § 182, subd. (a)). He petitioned for Proposition 47 relief on the two drug offenses in October 2015. The trial court denied relief because Walker’s murder conviction is a “super strike” disqualifying “prior” (Pen. Code, § 667, subd. (e)(2)(C)(iv)). He appealed. Held: Affirmed. In November 2014, voters passed Proposition 47, which in part reduced the penalties for certain drug-related offenses, reclassifying those felonies as misdemeanors. It added Penal Code section 1170.18, to allow defendants to petition for reduction of their felonies to misdemeanors. However, subdivision (i) of section 1170.18, provides that section does not apply to any person who has a prior “super strike” conviction (Pen. Code, § 667, subd. (e)(2)(C)(iv)), which includes murder. As used in section 1170.18, subdivision (i), the term “prior conviction” is somewhat ambiguous; it is unclear whether the disqualifying prior must occur before the conviction that is the subject of the Proposition 47 petition or before the application for relief is made. Based on the Voter Information Guide and comments of the Legislative Analyst, it is clear that “prior conviction” as used in subdivision (i) of section 1170.18 refers to a conviction suffered any time prior to the trial court’s ruling on a Proposition 47 petition. The holding in People v. Spiller (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 1014, is inapplicable here because it considered the meaning of “prior conviction” in the Proposition 36 context, concluding that Penal Code section 1170.126 is written so that eligibility determinations are made as of the date the defendant was sentenced to his life Three Strikes sentence.

The full opinion is on the court’s website here: