The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order recusing the entire San Francisco District Attorney’s Office under PC 1424 from prosecuting defendants, the accused killers of the cousin of District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’s husband. The court finds that given Jenkins’s public statements about the case and animosity toward defendants, imposition of an “ethical wall” did not sanitize the conflict of interest because assistant district attorneys would consciously or unconsciously be more aggressive in prosecuting the case.
In an appeal from a PC 1172.75 (SB 483) resentencing at which the trial court struck a prior-prison-term enhancement (PC 667.5(b)) but did not conduct a full resentencing, the Court of Appeal remands the matter for a full resentencing at which defendant may seek relief under SB 1393, SB 81, and “any other legislation that may reduce his sentence.” The court also holds, however, that under People v. Stamps (2020) 9 Cal.5th 685, because defendant was convicted pursuant to a plea agreement with an agreed-upon term, the prosecution may elect to withdraw from the agreement if the trial court decides to further reduce the sentence.
The Court of Appeal found insufficient evidence that defendant’s movement of the victim from a public restroom’s small stall to its large stall “substantially increased the risk of harm to the victim over and above that level of risk necessarily inherent in the underlying offense,” as required by the asportation element of the One Strike law’s aggravated kidnapping circumstance (PC 667.61(d)(2)). The court reduced defendant’s sentence from 25 years to life under the aggravated kidnapping circumstance to 15 years to life under the simple kidnapping circumstance (PC 667.61(e)(1)).
The Court of Appeal holds that appellant received ineffective assistance of counsel in pleading no contest to a felony count of meeting with a minor for lewd purposes (PC 288.4(b)), based on an adult decoy posing online as an underage girl, because it is reasonably probable that had appellant gone to trial and asserted the defense of entrapment at least one juror would have voted to acquit him.
In an PC 1172.6 appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in concluding that it was bound by the terms of a 2019 plea agreement, such that the court had to leave the duration of appellant’s sentence unchanged upon resentencing or seek to withdraw the prior plea agreement and relitigate the resentencing process. The Court reasoned that PC 1172.6(a)(2) not only expressly permits resentencing when a defendant was convicted by “a plea offer in lieu of trial,” but the legislative history also shows that the Legislature intended for a defendant to “be entitled to resentencing in a manner commensurate with their culpability.”
In an appeal from the trial court’s denial of appellant’s motion for postconviction discovery (PC 1054.9), the Court of Appeal held that appellant had established a reasonable basis that recorded statements of accomplices existed. Trial counsel identified the dates the of interviews, the interviewing agency/individual, and location of one of the interviews. The Court of Appeal further directed that the trial court correct several errors in the abstract of judgment.
In support of an upper term sentence, the trial court relied on three aggravating factors: (1) the jury found true that appellant was armed with a weapon as part of his conviction; (2) appellant has prior convictions; and (3) appellant has served a prior prison term. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred by relying on the first factor because appellant was not convicted of assault with a deadly weapon; rather, he was convicted of assault by a prisoner by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and being armed with a weapon is not part of that offense. The Court also held that the trial court erred in concluding that appellant’s current prison sentence established the aggravating circumstance of appellant having previously served a prison term. Following the two-step approached outlined in People v. Lopez (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 459, the Court found this error was not harmless and remanded for resentencing.
The Court of Appeal reversed the prima facie denial of appellant’s PC 1172.6 petition, finding that the trial court erred by (1) engaging in premature factfinding and (2) concluding appellant was ineligible for sentencing relief based on the jury’s true finding that appellant personally used a firearm in the commission of the offense.
The Court of Appeal ordered the trial court to amend the abstract of judgment to reflect: (1) that the court reduced the firearm enhancement for the attempted murder count from 20 years to 10 years; (2) appellant’s updated custody credits; and (3) that the court stayed punishment for assault with a firearm under PC 654. Additionally, because the trial court erroneously stayed (as opposed to struck or dismissed) several firearm enhancements, the Court remanded the matter for the trial court to clarify whether it intended to strike or dismiss the firearm enhancements or the additional punishments under PC 1385.
The Court of Appeal held that appellant, who was 20 years old when he committed his offense and claimed he suffered trauma from a substance abuse disorder, was entitled to the benefit of the ameliorative amendments to PC 1170 when the trial court executed his previously imposed sentence after appellant’s probation was terminated. Additionally, the Court held that the trial court erred by failing to require an updated probation report before revoking probation and executing sentence. The court reached these issues, notwithstanding that trial counsel failed to rise them issues below, because the record affirmatively showed the trial court did not understand the now more limited scope of its discretion. . . .”