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Name: People v. Robinson (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 133
Case #: A165379
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 03/01/2024

A certificate of probable cause is required for claims of error concerning pretrial mental health diversion (Pen. Code, § 1001.36) following a guilty plea, including ineffective assistance of counsel. Defendant pleaded no contest to two felonies. He appealed but did not obtain a certificate of probable cause (CPC). On appeal, he argued trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request pretrial mental health diversion, that the trial court violated its sua sponte duty to consider defendant’s eligibility for diversion, and that the claims were cognizable on appeal without a CPC because they were based on the “sentence or other matters occurring…

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Name: In re Duong (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 273
Case #: B325525
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/29/2024

Defendant whose death sentence was reduced to LWOP during habeas proceedings was not entitled to appeal the order denying part of his habeas petition under Proposition 66. A jury convicted Duong of multiple murders and the trial court imposed a death sentence. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. During habeas proceedings in the trial court, Duong and the district attorney stipulated to granting in part and denying in part his habeas petition. The trial court accepted the stipulation, vacated Duong’s death sentence, and resentenced him to LWOP. Duong appealed the order to the Court of Appeal based…

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Name: People v. Salazar (2023) 15 Cal.5th 416
Case #: S275788
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 11/20/2023

Remand was required where the sentencing court did not clearly indicate that it would have imposed the same sentence even if it had been aware of the scope of its discretionary powers under the current version of Penal Code section 1170. Defendant was sentenced to the middle term of three years for inflicting corporal injury plus a consecutive eight months for false imprisonment, with both terms doubled for a prior strike. While his appeal was pending, the Legislature enacted Senate Bill No. 567, which amended section 1170 to require a low term sentence if a qualifying trauma was a contributing…

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Name: People v. Ruiz (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 1068
Case #: B324477
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 12/13/2023

The resentencing court committed harmless error when it considered inapplicable aggravators to impose upper terms after Senate Bill No. 567 amended Penal Code section 1170. Ruiz was convicted of assault with a firearm with various enhancements, and this is his third appeal. His case had previously been remanded to the trial court for resentencing due to sentencing errors and new laws that applied in his case. At Ruiz’s second resentencing (which occurred after SB 567’s effective date), the trial court imposed a 4-year upper term on the assault with a firearm charge and the 10-year upper term for a firearm-use…

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Name: People v. Mitchell (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 1127
Case #: F084489
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/15/2023

Following remand for resentencing, appellant was entitled to the retroactive benefits of Assembly Bill No. 333. Mitchell was convicted felony offenses (including being an active gang member) and the jury found numerous gang enhancements true. Pursuant to Mitchell’s prior appeal, which occurred before AB 333 became law, his case was remanded for resentencing. By the time of the resentencing hearing, AB 333, which amended the law regarding the substantive gang offense and enhancement, had become effective. The trial court expressed concern whether the new law should be applied, but found itself bound by the scope of the remittitur and concluded…

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Name: People v. Escobedo (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 440 (and People v. Chavira)
Case #: B322608; B323765
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 09/12/2023

Trial court orders denying inmates’ petitions to strike their prior prison term enhancements pursuant to Penal Code section 1172.75 were nonappealable. The defendants, each currently serving consecutive terms for in-prison offenses, filed separate postjudgment requests to strike prior prison term enhancements. The petitions were denied and they appealed. Held: Appeals dismissed. After imposition of the prior prison term enhancements on these defendants, former Penal Code section 667.5(b) was amended (SB 136) to limit its application to prison terms served for sexually violent offenses. Later, SB 483 made SB 136 retroactive by creating a mechanism and timetable to strike such enhancements…

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Name: People v. Lashon
Case #: A163074
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/08/2024

Defendant's claim under the Racial Justice Act (RJA) was forfeited where she had an opportunity file an RJA motion in the trial court but instead raised the claim for the first time on direct appeal. Lashon was convicted of second degree and first degree murder, with true findings of multiple murders, and sentenced to LWOP. She appealed, contending in her opening brief for the first time that the judgment was the result of the trial judge’s implicit racial bias against her and her trial counsel in violation of the RJA (Pen. Code, § 745). In its first opinion, the Court…

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Name: People v. Mumin (2023) 15 Cal.5th 176
Case #: S271049
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 08/17/2023

Opinion by: Justice Corrigan, joined by Acting Chief Justice Jenkins, Justice Kruger, Justice Groban, and Associate Justice Robie from the Third District (assigned by the Chief Justice). Justice Liu filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Evans concurred.

The proper standard of review when a defendant challenges a trial court’s decision to instruct on a “kill zone” theory as applied to an allegation of attempted murder is whether substantial evidence supports giving the challenged instruction. Defendant was convicted of two counts of attempted murder of a police officer under the kill zone theory, among other charges. He appealed, and the Court…

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Name: People v. Superior Court (Mitchell) (2023) 94 Cal.App.5th 595
Case #: B326653
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 08/16/2023

A superior court’s order reducing a felony “wobbler” to a misdemeanor is unauthorized under Penal Code section 17(b) when made after the preliminary hearing and before trial. The first count in a felony information charged defendant with a wobbler as a felony—resisting an officer in violation of Penal Code section 69(a). On the day that trial was to begin, the superior court reduced the felony wobbler to a misdemeanor over the People’s objection. The People petitioned for a writ of mandate directing the superior court to vacate its order. Held: Petition granted. Section 17(b) permits the trial court to reduce a…

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Name: People v. Schuller (2023) 15 Cal.5th 237
Case #: S272237
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 08/17/2023

Opinion by: Justice Groban (unanimous decision). Justice Liu filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Evans concurred.

When a defendant presents substantial evidence of imperfect self-defense, the trial court’s failure to instruct on that theory precludes the jury from making a factual finding essential to prove the malice element of murder, and results in federal constitutional error. Schuller was convicted of first degree murder and found sane at the time of the killing. On appeal he argued the trial court’s refusal to instruct on imperfect self-defense was federal constitutional error. The Court of Appeal agreed the trial court erred in failing…

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