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Name: In re Long
Case #: S249274
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 11/30/2020

Opinion By: Justice Liu (unanimous decision)
Trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to consult a time of death expert where the timeline was crucial to the defense theory of the case. In 2005, petitioner Long was convicted of the second degree murder of her boyfriend Conde. In response to Long's 911 call reporting that she just came home and something was wrong with Conde, paramedics found him dead. He had been killed by blunt force injuries to the head. There was no physical or direct evidence that linked Long to the crime. The prosecutor's theory at trial was…

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Name: Robinson v. Lewis
Case #: S228137
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/20/2020

Opinion By: Justice Groban (unanimous decision)
In response to a question from the Ninth Circuit regarding timeliness of state habeas petitions, the California Supreme Court determined that, if a habeas petitioner had otherwise presented a claim without substantial delay, a delay of up to 120 days between denial of a habeas petition in a lower court and the filing of a new petition in a higher court would never be considered substantial. Following his direct appeal, Robinson filed a pro se state habeas petition challenging his state court judgment in the trial court 94 days after the certiorari deadline…

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Name: In re Scoggins
Case #: S253155
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/25/2020

Opinion By: Justice Liu (unanimous decision)
Insufficient evidence supported robbery-murder special-circumstance finding where defendant (who planned an unarmed assault and robbery) did not act with reckless indifference to human life during a robbery that resulted in a death. In 2007 Scoggins planned an unarmed robbery and assault on Wilson to avenge being cheated by Wilson during the purchase of some flat screen TVs. Posing as potential buyers, his codefendants committed the offense in Scoggins' absence. One of the codefendants killed Wilson. Scoggins was convicted of first degree murder with a robbery-murder special-circumstance finding. His conviction was affirmed on…

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Name: In re Bolton
Case #: C088774
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/30/2019

Petitioner's 91-year sentence for juvenile offenses violates the Eighth Amendment and the issue was not moot because he is not eligible for a youth offender parole hearing. Bolton received a 91-year sentence for crimes committed when he was 16. When he was 30 years old, a sharp metal object was found in his cell. He was convicted of possession of a sharp instrument in prison and sentenced to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law. Bolton filed habeas petitions challenging his sentence as cruel and unusual punishment and seeking youth offender treatment. The California Supreme…

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Name: Jimenez v. Superior Court (People)
Case #: B297595
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/02/2019

A discovery order in habeas proceedings following an order to show cause may exceed the scope of the criminal discovery scheme, but qualified attorney work-product protection applies to discovery beyond that scope. In his petition for writ of habeas corpus, petitioner (a death-row inmate) argued the jury impermissibly considered at least one alternate juror's opinion in deciding guilt. The California Supreme Court issued an order to show cause in the respondent superior court. On the district attorney's motion, the superior court ordered petitioner to produce the statements of any alternate jurors he had interviewed. Petitioner sought a writ of mandate…

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Name: In re Sagin
Case #: H044767
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/30/2019

Newly available DNA evidence, which did not match the defendant and which was sufficient to have caused at least one juror to doubt defendant's guilt, requires reversal of 1986 conviction. In July 1985 a woman was found stabbed to death in her Monterey home. Two jail informants reported Sagin confessed to the killing. However, there was no physical evidence tying Sagin to the murder scene. Conflicting circumstantial evidence on both sides placed him either at or near the murder scene, or alternately, in a completely different county. Sagin's conviction of first degree murder with special circumstances was affirmed on appeal.…

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Name: People v. Allison
Case #: A153527
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/05/2019

Petitioner was not required to obtain certificate of probable cause (CPC) prior to filing a habeas petition in the superior court challenging his unlawful sentence. From 2000 to 2005, Allison pleaded no contest to multiple violent felonies in three different cases. He ultimately received an aggregate 51-year term in 2005 as part of his plea agreement in the third case. In 2017, he filed a habeas petition alleging multiple sentencing errors, which was granted (in 2015, CDCR had also written a letter to the trial court stating that Allison's abstract of judgment could be in error or incomplete for…

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Name: In re Rigsby
Case #: F075680
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/24/2019

Habeas petitioner challenging prison disciplinary action was not entitled to relief because there was "some evidence" that he possessed contraband that was found in a common area of the prison cell he shared with another inmate. Rigsby, who is serving a life sentence in prison, had shared a prison cell with the same inmate for six months. A search of the cell yielded a container of contraband "kicker" (a precursor ingredient for making "pruno," which is inmate-manufactured alcohol) on one of the shelves in the common area of the cell that was used exclusively by Rigsby's cellmate. Rigsby said it…

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Name: Bontilao v. Superior Court
Case #: H046157
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/24/2019

When a trial court assigns a judge for all purposes to consider a habeas petition challenging the denial of parole, the timeliness of a Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6 motion to disqualify the judge is governed by the criminal "all purpose assignment" rule. Bontilao filed a habeas petition challenging the denial of parole. His petition was initially assigned to Judge Weinstein "for all purposes," but later reassigned to Judge Zecher "for all purposes." Bontilao filed a section 170.6 challenge against Judge Zecher. It was denied as untimely. The Court of Appeal summarily denied Bontilao's petition for writ of mandate.…

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Name: In re Robinson
Case #: B293216
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/16/2019

Proposition 66 applies to habeas petitions filed before Proposition 66's enactment and pending on Proposition 66's effective date (October 25, 2017). In 1999, defendant was sentenced to death. In 2006, he filed a habeas petition in the California Supreme Court. In 2014, the Supreme Court issued an order to show cause why habeas relief should not be granted on three claims of juror misconduct. In 2015, the Court issued two orders referring the claims to the superior court for an evidentiary hearing and to issue a report and recommendation to the Supreme Court on how to resolve…

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