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Name: People v. Williams
Case #: E074162
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/17/2021

Before recalling a sentence under Penal Code section 1170, the court must give the parties notice and an opportunity to be heard, and set forth the reasons for its choice of sentence. In 2019, CDCR sent a letter to the sentencing judge and recommended that the judge recall defendant’s sentence under section 1170, subdivision (d), to consider striking the five-year enhancement originally imposed under Penal Code section 667 for a prior serious felony conviction, now that the law had been changed to restore the court’s discretion to do so. Copies of the recommendation and supporting documents were sent to the district attorney and the public defender. The trial court recalled the sentence and struck the enhancement without any parties present. The People appealed. Held: Sentence vacated and remanded. Due process requires that the parties be notified and be given an opportunity to be heard when the court intends to resentence a defendant. As section 1170, subdivision (d) sets forth no specific procedures, the Court of Appeal set forth procedures trial courts should follow. If the trial court is inclined to recall a defendant’s sentence for equitable reasons, it should prepare and serve on counsel for the parties its tentative response to the recommendation along with copies of all correspondence with CDCR. It should state the reasons for its sentence choice and provide counsel an opportunity to object and request a hearing. If defendant has no attorney, the court should appoint counsel. If no objection is received, the court should enter a minute order in accordance with its tentative ruling. If a party requests a hearing, an initial appearance to attempt an informal resolution is recommended. If an agreement is not reached, then the court must conduct a formal sentencing hearing. Further, whenever the court exercises its discretion to make a sentencing choice, it must state on the record the reasons for its decision, and the reasons for any dismissal under section 1385 must be entered in the minutes. [Editor’s Notes: (1) The court noted that on remand, the sentencing court should consider the issue now pending in the Supreme Court in People v. Federico (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 318, 322, review granted 8/26/2020 (S263082/E072620) and People v. Padilla (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 244, review granted 8/26/2020 (S263375/B297213), which is: When a judgment becomes final, but is later vacated, altered, or amended and a new sentence imposed, is the case no longer final for the purpose of applying an intervening ameliorative change in the law? (2) In the concurring opinion, Justice Menetrez agreed that there must be a hearing before a section 1170, subdivision (d)(1) resentencing, but did not agree with the imposition of procedural requirements on the trial courts, matters that were not raised or briefed by the parties.]