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Name: People v. Oliver (2023) 90 Cal.App.5th 466
Case #: A161773
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/16/2023

The question of whether a defendant was a major participant who acted with reckless indifference to human life is a predominantly factual question reviewable for substantial evidence, and substantial evidence supported the trial court's findings in this case. Following a 1996 conviction for first degree murder with a felony-murder special circumstance for his role in a drug robbery/burglary resulting in death, Oliver filed a resentencing petition pursuant to former Penal Code section 1170.95 (now 1172.6) in 2019. The trial court denied the petition after a (d)(3) hearing, finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Oliver was a major participant in the…

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Name: People v. Arreguin (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 58
Case #: B304838
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 03/09/2023

People v. Strong (2022) 13 Cal.5th 698, does not permit a harmless error analysis when the trial court relied upon the felony-murder special circumstance to deny a Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage. In 1993, appellant was convicted of murder with a felony-murder special circumstance. In 2019, the trial court denied appellant’s section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage, finding he was a major participant who acted with reckless indifference. Held: Reversed. Strong concluded that a felony-murder special circumstance finding by a jury before Banks and Clark does not preclude a defendant from making a…

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Name: People v. Arias
Case #: D077778
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/22/2021

The trial court erred in denying a Penal Code section 1170.95 petition based solely on the existence of a robbery-murder special circumstance finding made prior to People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788 and People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522. A jury convicted Arias of first degree murder and found true a robbery-murder special circumstance allegation pursuant to Penal Code section 190.2, subdivision (a)(17)(A). The judgment became final in 2011. In 2019, Arias filed a resentencing petition pursuant to section 1170.95, which was summarily denied. Arias appealed. Held: Reversed. The special circumstance statute extends eligibility for death or LWOP…

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Name: People v. Pineda
Case #: H047709
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/19/2021

A Penal Code section 1170.95 petitioner with a felony-murder special circumstance finding made prior to People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788 and People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522 is entitled to judicial determination as to whether his conduct is proscribed under the current standards before the petition may be summarily denied. In 2005, Pineda and a codefendant were convicted of first degree murder and a felony-murder special circumstance allegation was found true. (Pen. Code, § 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(A).) In 2019, Pineda filed a resentencing petition pursuant to section 1170.95, which was denied on the basis that the felony-murder…

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Name: People v. Simmons
Case #: F079610
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/16/2021

Special circumstance finding made before the Supreme Court's decisions in People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788, and People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522, rendered the trial court's failure to appoint counsel or follow the procedures outlined in Penal Code section 1170.95, subdivision (c) harmless. In 1995, Simmons was convicted of first degree felony murder, with the special circumstance that he was engaged in the commission and attempted commission of a robbery (Pen. Code, §§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17), 211), and sentenced to LWOP. In 2019, Simmons filed petitions for resentencing under section 1170.95, which were denied on the ground…

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