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Name: People v. Rojas (2023) 15 Cal.5th 561
Case #: S275835
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 12/12/2023

Assembly Bill No. 333, which narrowed the definition of “criminal street gang,” did not unconstitutionally amend Proposition 21, and the new definition of “criminal street gang” properly applies to the gang-murder special circumstance added by that proposition. Rojas was convicted of first degree murder, and the jury found true gang and firearm enhancements and the gang-murder special circumstance (Pen. Code, § 190.2(a)(22)). On appeal, Rojas argued that all gang allegations should be reversed because AB 333 narrowed the definition of “criminal street gang” on which these charges relied. (See Pen. Code, § 186.22(f).) The Court of Appeal held the new…

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Name: People v. Campbell (2023) 98 Cal.App.5th 350
Case #: A162472, A162488, A162623, A163277
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/28/2023

Opinion on rehearing. In a previous opinion in Campbell (see below for summary), the Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by denying defendants’ Penal Code section 1172.6 petitions at the prima facie stage based on the jury’s intent to kill findings in the special circumstances verdicts. The Court of Appeal relied on the reasoning in In re Lopez (2023) 14 Cal.5th 562, which concluded, in the context of a harmless error analysis, that a jury’s gang-killing special-circumstance verdict finding of “intent to kill” did not “necessarily establish all of the elements of directly aiding and abetting first…

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Name: People v. Oliva (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 76
Case #: E073979
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/09/2023

Retroactive application of AB 333 to the gang murder special circumstance does not violate Proposition 21. Oliva was convicted of first degree murder with a gang special circumstance and gun use enhancement found true. On appeal he urged retroactive application of changes in the law regarding proof of a gang crime (AB 333). Held: Reversed. Under section 190.2(a)(22), the punishment for first degree murder is death or LWOP if the defendant intentionally killed the victim while he was an active participant in a criminal street gang, and the murder was carried out to further the activities of the gang. AB…

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