caclr_header_template1 California Criminal Law Reporter

Recent Defense Victories

In light of SB 260, defendant was entitled to a remand to give the trial court the opportunity to dismiss the firearm use enhancement. (856)
Defendant was convicted of first degree murder along with a firearm use enhancement. He was sentenced to 25 years-to-life for the murder and another 25 years-to-life for the enhancement. However, SB 620 became effective on January 1, 2018, and that law vests trial courts with discretion to dismiss firearm enhancements in the interest of justice. The law applies retroactively, and defendant was entitled to a remand because the record contained no clear indication that the trial court would not exercise its discretion to dismiss the firearm use enhancement.
People v. McDaniels ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2018 D.A.R. 3448 (1st Dist. 2018) April 17, 2018 (A149015)
Evidence was insufficient to support the competency findings for the mildly mentally retarded defendant who allegedly regained his competence after being drilled by hospital staff regarding basic relevant concepts. (536)
After the trial court found defendant was incompetent and committed him to a state hospital, psychologists found it was unlikely his competence could be restored due to his mild mental retardation, which limited his capacity for understanding. Hospital staff members thereafter drilled defendant until he could answer basic questions about the judicial system. He was then found competent and entered a guilty plea. However, his competency was again questioned before sentencing. A year later he was found competent again and sentenced to three years. However, the court’s finding of competence was based on the reports prepared nine months earlier that had simply been copied and failed to address any later concerns. The competency findings were not based on substantial evidence and the judgment was reversed.
People v. Jackson ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2018 D.A.R. 3396 (4th Dist. 2018) April 17, 2018 (E065757)
Minor was entitled to the benefit of a new statute requiring the sealing of all of petitions at issue. (528)
The juvenile court ordered that the minor’s records be sealed in a case dismissed as part of a plea bargain, but not in a related case following a juvenile adjudication or still another case where the minor was placed on probation. The Legislature later added subdivision (e) to Welfare and Institutions Code section 786 requiring the sealing of all records pertaining to a dismissed petition. The minor’s case was not final on appeal when the new provision was enacted, and so he was entitled to have all of his records sealed.
In re W.R. ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2018 D.A.R. 3319 (1st Dist. 2018) April 16, 2018 (A150435)
The trial court erred by denying defendant’s request to discharge his retained counsel. (618)
The trial court erred by denying defendant’s request to discharge his retained counsel. He had a right to counsel of his choice under People v. Ortiz (1990) 51 Cal.3d 975. The court erred in finding his request was untimely where it failed to inquire into the potential delay that would result from granting the motion, and the record did not show the request was made for an improper purpose.
People v. Lopez ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2018 D.A.R. 3179 (1st Dist. 2018) April 11, 2018 (A148539)
The trial court erred in granting the prosecution’s section 170.6 motion to challenge the judge that was made immediately after the dismissed case had been refiled and assigned to the same judge. (611)
The trial judge granted the defense motion to dismiss the case for insufficient evidence. The next day, the prosecution refiled the case under a new number and it was assigned to the original judge. The superior court then granted the prosecutor’s motion to disqualify the judge under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6. However, the court erred in allowing the challenge that was made solely to evade the effect of the judge’s rulings, and because the second case was merely a continuation of the first, the motion was untimely.
Birts v Superior Court ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2018 D.A.R. 3210 (1st Dist. 2018) April 11, 2018 (A152923)
The commitment of the minor to the DJF was not supported by evidence showing a probable benefit to the minor. (826)
The juvenile court erred by committing the minor to the Department of Juvenile Facilities because there was no showing in the record of a probable benefit to minor from the programs available at DJF.
In re Carlos J. ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2018 D.A.R. 3179 (1st Dist. 2018) April 10, 2018 (A151369)