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Name: In re A.K.
Case #: F087085
Opinion Date: 06/18/2024
Attorney: Lauren K. Johnson

In an appeal from the probate court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the probate court and Family Court Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: People v. Villegas
Case #: F086751
Opinion Date: 06/18/2024
Attorney: Sylvia W. Beckham

The Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that the trial court improperly relied on police reports when denying appellant’s Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage. The order denying the petition was reversed and the matter was remanded with orders for the trial court to issue an order to show cause and conduct further proceedings as required by section 1172.6, subdivision (d).

Name: In re S.T. et al.
Case #: F087133
Opinion Date: 06/17/2024
Attorney: Susan M. O'Brien

The Court of Appeal found the juvenile court erred in denying mother’s request for family maintenance services for her three younger children. There was insufficient evidence on the record of clear and convincing evidence pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 361, subdivision (c) of substantial danger to the physical health, safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being of the children, and no reasonable means by which those children’s physical health could be protected without removing them from her care. Further, there was insufficient evidence on the record of whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the children from mother’s care, as required by section 361, subdivision (e), because the Department of Social Services failed to consider alternatives to removal of the children from her care, as required by California Rules of Court, rule 5.690(a)(1)(B)(i).

The Court of Appeal reversed the juvenile court’s order as to mother and her request for family maintenance. The matter was remanded for a new hearing in conformity with the statutes and California Rules of Court discussed above. On remand, the juvenile court must make its decision based on the facts existing at the time of the new hearing.

Name: People v. Avalos
Case #: F086715
Opinion Date: 06/04/2024
Attorney: Sylvia W. Beckham

The Court of Appeal held that Penal Code section 1172.75 applies to prior prison term enhancements (section 667.5, former subd. (b)) that have been imposed and stayed. The trial court erred in finding that the stay of appellant’s 667.5(b) enhancement made him ineligible for full resentencing under section 1172.75. The matter was remanded for the trial court to recall appellant’s sentence and resentence him in compliance with section 1172.75.

Name: People v. Dorius
Case #: F085882
Opinion Date: 06/04/2024
Attorney: William D. Farber

The Court of Appeal held that Penal Code section 1172.75 applies to prior prison term enhancements (section 667.5, former subd. (b)) that have been imposed and stayed. The trial court erred in finding that the stay of appellant’s 667.5(b) enhancements made him ineligible for full resentencing under section 1172.75. The matter was remanded for the trial court to recall appellant’s sentence and resentence him in compliance with section 1172.75.

Name: People v. Mayberry
Case #: F085869
Opinion Date: 06/04/2024
Attorney: William D. Farber

The Court of Appeal held that Penal Code section 1172.75 applies to prior prison term enhancements (section 667.5, former subd. (b)) that have been imposed and stayed. The trial court erred in finding that the stay of appellant’s 667.5(b) enhancements made him ineligible for full resentencing under section 1172.75. The matter was remanded for the trial court to recall appellant’s sentence and resentence him in compliance with section 1172.75.

Name: In re N.V.
Case #: F087619
Opinion Date: 05/30/2024
Attorney: Shaylah Padgett-Weibel

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and the Department of Human Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: In re E.C., et al.
Case #: C097741
Opinion Date: 05/24/2024
Attorney: Jesse F. Rodriguez

Mother appealed from the juvenile court’s termination of her parental rights pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivisions (b)(1) and (g). The termination was based in part on the the “tender years presumption” that a finding of substance abuse is prima facie evidence of the inability of a parent or guardian to provide regular care resulting in a substantial risk of physical harm to a child of “tender years.”

While the appeal was pending, the California Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re N.R. (2023) 15 Cal.5th 520, which disapproved the tender years presumption. The Court of Appeal accordingly held that the evidence did not support the finding that the minor was at risk due to mother’s substance abuse. The error was not harmless, as the secondary basis for sustaining the section 300 petition was also unsupported by the evidence. Because the juvenile court’s application of an incorrect legal standard prevented it from resolving factual disputes, the matter was reversed and remanded for a new hearing under the correct standard.

Name: People v. Larned
Case #: C098071
Opinion Date: 05/15/2024
Attorney: Laura R. Vavakin

The Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that the trial court erred by imposing a one-year term for possession of burglary tools (Pen. Code § 466) because the maximum term for that offense is six months. Given the trial court’s clear intent to impose the maximum term for the offense, the Court of Appeal modified the judgment to reflect the six-month term. (See § 1260; People v. Jefferson (2019) 38 Cal.App.5th 399, 409 [“remand is not appropriate when it would be an idle act”].)

Name: In re S.A.
Case #: C099361
Opinion Date: 05/13/2024
Attorney: Elaine Forrester

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and Department of Child, Family and Adult Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: C097623
Opinion Date: 05/09/2024
Attorney: Scott Concklin

The Court of Appeal held that appellant’s murder conviction and robbery-murder special-circumstance finding must be reversed for lack of sufficient evidence. Appellant was not the actual killer and there was no evidence he had the intent to kill. The fact that appellant planned an armed robbery of two participants in a drug deal involving a large sum of money without taking steps to minimize the risk of violence was insufficient to support a finding that he acted with reckless indifference to human life. The court remanded the matter for resentencing.

Name: People v. H.P.
Case #: F085895
Opinion Date: 05/02/2024
Attorney: Benjamin Adam Owens

The Court of Appeal held that pursuant to Penal Code section 288.5, subdivision (c), appellant could not be dually convicted of both continuous sexual abuse and specific-act sex offenses involving the same victim during the same period. It agreed with People v. Torres (2002) 102 Cal.App.4th 1053 and People v. Alvarez (2002) Cal.App.4th 1170 that the appropriate remedy is to vacate the conviction(s) that resulted in the lesser aggregate penalty.

Name: In re W.E.
Case #: F087333
Opinion Date: 05/02/2024
Attorney: Gregory M. Chappel

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and Department of Human Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: People v. Valdez
Case #: F085097
Opinion Date: 04/26/2024
Attorney: J. M. Malik

The Court of Appeal held the admission of certain out-of-court statements violated appellant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The parties on appeal disagreed only on whether the statements were testimonial. The court found that the primary purpose of the conversation between law enforcement and the declarants was to create an out-of-court substitute for trial testimony, and that the resulting statements were therefore testimonial. The error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt as to two of appellant’s counts. The court reversed the affected counts and remanded so as to give the prosecution the opportunity to retry appellant on those charges.

Name: In re S.J.
Case #: F086859
Opinion Date: 04/17/2024
Attorney: Jamie A. Moran

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and Department of Human Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: In re K.J. et al.
Case #: F087051
Opinion Date: 04/16/2024
Attorney: Susan M. O’Brien

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and the Department of Human Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: People v. Solorio
Case #: F085860
Opinion Date: 04/15/2024
Attorney: Karriem Baker

Appellant appealed following the denial of his petition for resentencing under Penal Code section 1172.6. The Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that the trial court erred in denying appellant’s petition at the prima facie stage of the statutory proceedings. Appellant’s conviction for voluntary manslaughter was not an absolute bar to eligibility as it did not require an admission that appellant acted with intent to kill. And although appellant admitted using a firearm in committing the offense (§ 12022.5, subd. (a)), he was not charged with nor admitted firing that weapon.

Name: People v. Garcia
Case #: F083387
Opinion Date: 04/09/2024
Attorney: Laura Schaefer

The Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that the trial court erred by instructing the jury that implied malice can support a conviction for attempted murder, and that the error was compounded by statements the prosecutor made during her comments in closing argument. The error was prejudicial and necessitated reversal of appellant’s convictions for attempted murder. Furthermore, Assembly Bill no. 333’s recent amendments to Penal Code section 186.22 require reversal of the gang enhancements. The matter was remanded to allow the prosecution the opportunity to retry appellant.

Name: In re A.C. et al
Case #: B326205
Opinion Date: 04/04/2024
Attorney: Keith Fox

The Court of Appeal agreed with appellant (mother) that substantial evidence did not support the juvenile court’s order requiring father’s visitations with the children to be monitored. Although neither parent objected to the order, the court did not reject appellant’s contention on forfeiture grounds or for lack of standing because the argument had merit and touched upon her fundamental interest in her children’s management and care.

Because the petition to declare the children dependents of the court only regarded mother’s parenting, whether father placed the children at risk of harm was not directly at issue in the juvenile court proceedings, and the juvenile court made no finding regarding that question. The record contained no evidence father’s behavior around the children was inappropriate or in any way created a risk of harm.

The order necessarily restricted visitation to times when a monitor is available. This would interfere with the family’s housing, as mother and father made plans for the family to live together. Furthermore, it would impede the duration and quantity of father’s interactions with the children and potentially create an environment during those interactions where father’s ability to bond with the children is unnecessarily constrained due to the presence of a formal supervisor.

The juvenile court’s order requiring father’s visits with the children to be monitored was vacated.

Name: People v. Wright
Case #: C096558
Opinion Date: 04/03/2024
Attorney: Scott Concklin

On appeal after his conviction for second degree murder, defendant argued he was denied a fair trial when the court failed to properly instruct the jury. The Court of Appeal agreed the jury was improperly instructed as to the wrongful conduct portion of CALCRIM No. 571 and that defendant was thereby prejudiced. There was not substantial evidence that defendant committed the sort of wrongful conduct that would preclude imperfect self-defense, i.e., that he was the initial aggressor as opposed to merely approaching the victim’s living area. By telling the jury that defendant’s approach of the victim was sufficiently wrongful to preclude self-defense, when the approach itself did not legally justify the victim’s use of force, the instruction as used by the prosecutor misstated the law and improperly removed defendant’s theory of self-defense from the jury’s consideration. The court reversed the judgment and remand for a new trial.

Name: In re A.F.
Case #: C099427
Opinion Date: 03/28/2024
Attorney: Neale B. Gold

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and Human Services Agency failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: People v. Ernst
Case #: C096758
Opinion Date: 03/19/2024
Attorney: Carl Fabian

In this resentencing appeal, the Court of Appeal agreed with appellant that the trial court should not have awarded conduct credits for time spent in CDCR after his initial sentencing. Determination of credits for behavior and worktime in prison is the responsibility of the CDCR. The court ordered the abstract of judgment amended.

Name: People v. J.K.
Case #: F084883
Opinion Date: 03/13/2024
Attorney: Victoria H. Stafford

The Court of Appeal agreed with the parties that pursuant to the California Supreme Court’s recent decision in In re Vaquera (2024) 15 Cal.5th 706, appellant’s 25-year-to-life terms on multiple counts must be reduced to 15-year-to-life terms. Vaquera held that a charging document’s allegation in the underlying substantive count that the victim was under 14 was insufficient to put defendant on notice that he might be sentenced under Penal Code section 667.61, subdivision (j)(2). (Vaquera, supra, at p. 724.) The prosecution must go further and expressly notify the defendant it intends to use that fact for purposes of One Strike sentencing. (Ibid.) According to Vaquera, failing to do so is a constitutional violation requiring appellate courts to strike the otherwise mandatory 25-year-to-life term(s) and replace them with 15-year-to-life term(s). (Vaquera, supra, at pp. 724, 726.) The Court of Appeal remanded the matter for resenetncing, and further ordered the trial court to pronounce judgment as to the individual fines and fees listed in the probation report and imposed on appellant.

Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: C097856
Opinion Date: 03/12/2024
Attorney: Brad J. Poore

The Court of Appeal agreed with appellant that changes made to Penal Code section 186.22 by Assembly Bill No. 333 require reversal of appellant’s gang participation conviction. The Court of Appeal remanded to the trial court to provide the prosecution with the opportunity to retry appellant on that count.

Name: In re J.L.
Case #: C098773
Opinion Date: 02/29/2024
Attorney: Brian C. Bitker

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and Human Services Agency failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: People v. Patterson
Case #: F086065
Opinion Date: 02/26/2024
Attorney: Kathy Moreno

Appellant filed a resentencing petition under Penal Code section 1172.6, and the trial court determined he was eligible for relief. The court redesignated his murder conviction as attempted robbery and first-degree residential burglary. The Court of Appeal concluded the murder conviction cannot be redesignated as a first-degree residential burglary because it was not the underlying felony  of appellant’s felony-murder conviction. The trial court’s order redesignating the murder conviction as a first-degree residential burglary conviction was reversed, and the matter remanded for the court to sentence appellant on the redesignated attempted robbery conviction.

Name: In re K.M.
Case #: F087236
Opinion Date: 02/23/2024
Attorney: Jack Love

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and Department of Family Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements

Name: In re K.M.
Case #: F087236
Opinion Date: 02/23/2024
Attorney: Jack A. Love

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the parties jointly stipulated to a conditional reversal based on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) because the juvenile court and Department of Family Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements. The Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with ICWA.

Name: In re M.W.
Case #: F086775
Opinion Date: 02/21/2024
Attorney: Liana Serobian

In an appeal from the juvenile court’s orders terminating parental rights, the Court of Appeal remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), because the juvenile court and Department of Human Services failed to comply with ICWA’s inquiry requirements.

Name: Conservatorship of C.M.
Case #: C097458
Opinion Date: 02/14/2024
Attorney: Arthur Bowie

C.M. appealled from an order issued after a bench trial appointing a conservator over her person and estate under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS Act) pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code section 5000 et seq. The Court of Appeal agreed with C.M. that the order should be reversed because she did not knowingly and intelligently waive her right to a jury trial.