Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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A jury found defendant Armando Pineda, Jr. guilty of second degree murder for shooting the patriarch of a neighboring family, Rogelio Islas (Rogelio). Defendant was 17 years old at the time of the crime, and the district attorney directly filed the charge against him in a court of criminal jurisdiction, rather than a juvenile court. Owing to that filing and the subsequent repeal of “direct file” procedures effected by Section 4 of the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 (Proposition 57), the issue presented for the Court of Appeal was an issue still pending on the California Supreme Court‘s docket: whether the changes worked by Section 4 applied to defendant because his conviction was not yet final. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court also considered defendant‘s additional arguments on appeal: (1) that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion to continue the trial; (2) the court should have instructed the jury on third party flight as consciousness of guilt (both defendant and his father fled the scene of the crime, and the defense at trial was that the father was the shooter); and (3) the court should have given defendant‘s proposed pinpoint instruction on provocation as relevant to voluntary manslaughter. The judgment was conditionally reversed and remanded for the juvenile court to conduct a fitness hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 707. If, after a fitness hearing, the juvenile court determined that it would have transferred defendant to a court of criminal jurisdiction, the judgment of conviction would be reinstated as of the date of that determination. If no motion for a fitness hearing is filed, or if a fitness hearing is held and the juvenile court determined that it would not have transferred defendant to a court of criminal jurisdiction, defendant‘s criminal conviction, including the true findings on the alleged enhancements, would be deemed to be juvenile adjudications as of the date of the juvenile court‘s determination. In the event the conviction was deemed a juvenile adjudication, the juvenile court was ordered to conduct a dispositional hearing and impose an appropriate disposition within the court‘s discretion. View "California v. Pineda" on Justia Law

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Trever P. was found by the juvenile court to have committed acts of sexual molestation against his four-year-old cousin while babysitting him one day. Trever was twelve-years-old at the time of the offenses. The court committed Trever to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Trever argued on appeal that the primary evidence against him, an audio recording, surreptitiously made by the victim’s mother, of the conversation Trever and the victim had during the offenses, was inadmissible under Penal Code section 632.1, a part of the Invasion of Privacy Act. Trever also argued the trial court abused its discretion by committing him to DJJ. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that the evidence was admissible under an exception in section 633.5, allowing for admission of surreptitious recordings if one party consents to being recorded for the purpose of obtaining evidence of certain specified crimes. The victim’s mother reasonably suspected such a crime when she arranged to make the recording. Finding no other error, the Court affirmed the juvenile court’s judgment. View "In re Trever P." on Justia Law

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San Francisco officers, responding to a broadcast that someone in the area might have a firearm, saw individuals, known to have gang associations, on the corner in a rival gang area. Concerned that they might be trying to attract violence, the officers contacted them. Officer Solares smelled marijuana on D.W.’s clothes and breath. D.W. admitted he had just smoked some. Officer Ochoa told D.W. to put his hands on his head, and D.W. “tried to pull away . . . he didn’t want me to search him.” Ochoa put his hand underneath D.W.’s backpack, and felt a revolver. Officers handcuffed D.W. and retrieved the revolver. D.W. was 17 years old. The court denied D.W.’s motion to suppress, stating: there’s a big distinction [between probable cause] to arrest and [probable cause] to search. . . a strong smell can establish probable cause to believe contraband is present and the search is allowable and legal. The court of appeal affirmed a judgment declaring D.W. a ward of the court but, after remand by the California Supreme Court, reversed. Even if the officers could reasonably conclude that the smell of marijuana and D.W.’s admission that he just smoked some meant he had more, it would have been mere conjecture to conclude that he possessed enough to constitute a jailable offense. View "In re D.W." on Justia Law

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J.C.’s early years were marked by extreme neglect and abuse. He was removed from his mother at age five and placed in numerous foster homes until he was eventually adopted. J.C. would be adjudged a ward of the court when he was 12 years old, for a series of forcible lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. He would ultimately be placed on probation, and committed to the care and custody of his adoptive mother. The conditions of probation included participation in a sex offender treatment program. The following year J.C. admitted a violation of probation, being in the presence of minors under age 14 without the supervision of an adult. The court revoked and reinstated probation on the same terms. In 2012 it was reported that J.C. inappropriately touched his disabled minor sister. J.C.’s mother stated she could no longer adequately supervise J.C. The juvenile court granted a motion to modify custody and J.C. was placed with Martin’s Achievement Place group home. The People filed a new wardship petition, based on the same allegations that J.C. had committed two lewd and lascivious acts on his 12-year-old sister. A psychological evaluation reported that J.C. was not making progress at the sex offender’s program. J.C. admitted one lewd act; the second violation of probation and the petition were dismissed. The court committed J.C. to (level B) placement at Lakeside Academy in Michigan. An inappropriate touching incident was another probation violation, and prompted Lakeside Academy to move J.C. J.C.’s counsel suggested placement at the Victory Outreach Program, a one-year Christian program for recovery from addiction. The juvenile court found Victory Outreach was not a good fit and committed J.C. to DJF, with a maximum confinement of 10 years,3 not to exceed the statutory limitation of commitment to age 23. The court ordered J.C. to register as a sex offender. On appeal, J.C. contends lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In this case, the Court of Appeal concluded mandatory lifetime sex offender registration pursuant to Penal Code section 290.0081 for those adjudicated wards of the court based on the commission of certain sex offenses was not cruel and unusual punishment. The Court of Appeal came to this conclusion because appellant did not establish on the record that such registration was punishment. View "In re J. C." on Justia Law

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A juvenile court dismissed a delinquency petition and sealed the minor's records. A criminal defendant later filed a request for disclosure of the minor's sealed records; defendant was charged with the pimping, pandering, and human trafficking of the minor. The minor was likely to be a witness at defendant's upcoming trial. The juvenile court reviewed the minor's sealed file and ordered that a redacted portion of the file be released to defendant (under procedures appropriate to confidential, rather than sealed files). Defendant argued that his inability to access the minor's sealed file could compromise his discovery rights and his right to effectively cross-examine the minor. The minor filed a petition for writ of mandate to stop that release. After review, the Court of Appeal granted the petition and ordered the juvenile court not to release any information from the minor's sealed file: the Legislature has created no exception for the release of information from a sealed juvenile delinquency file to a third party criminal defendant and courts cannot create such an exception. View "S.V. v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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David participated in the armed robbery of an Oakland pawn shop in 1994 when he was 17 years old. The juvenile court sustained a robbery allegation and he was committed to the California Youth Authority, where he spent three and one-half years. He was honorably discharged from parole in 2002. Three times, the court denied his petitions to have the records pertaining to his robbery offense sealed pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 781. In 2016, at age 38, David filed an amended motion to set aside the robbery finding and dismiss the petition, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 782, and to seal his juvenile records, pursuant to section 781. The court set aside the robbery finding and dismissed the petition on the ground that it was “in the interest of justice and welfare to do so” but denied the request to seal his juvenile records. The court of appeal reversed. Because the order setting aside the robbery finding and dismissing the petition under section 782 erased the petition as if it had never existed, the court improperly denied David’s motion to seal his records under section 781 View "In re David T." on Justia Law

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In 1988, Palmer, then 17, pled guilty to kidnapping for robbery. Sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, Palmer has gone before the State of California Board of Parole Hearings 10 times, without success. In 2015 he was denied parole with a five-year denial. Palmer claims that the Board wrongfully refused to set a base term and an adjusted base term for Palmer‘s commitment offense, and applied the incorrect standard at Palmer‘s parole hearing by failing to give great weight to the youth offender factors. The court of appeal issued an order to show cause. Six days later, the Board calculated Palmer‘s base and adjusted base terms. The court of appeal then ordered the Board to hold a new hearing. The 2015 hearing did not comply with the requirement of setting a base term and an adjusted base term; the Board must take into account the adjusted base term‘s relationship to time served before deciding to deny parole. The issue of excessive punishment must be factored into the term of the Board‘s denial. The Board did not identify substantial evidence that Palmer is currently dangerous. View "In re Palmer" on Justia Law

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A 2012 wardship petition alleged that defendant, age 15, committed second-degree robbery by means of force or fear and possessed marijuana. He admitted grand theft. The court dismissed count two, declared defendant a ward of the court, and placed him on probation. During defendant’s probationary term, he sustained 21 referrals, prompting eight additional wardship petitions and resulting in four sustained felonies and eight sustained misdemeanors. Defendant was placed in residential treatment. Defendant’s placement ended in November 2014, days after his 18th birthday. In December 2014, the juvenile court found that defendant had successfully completed probation, terminated jurisdiction and wardship, and dismissed defendant’s probation violation petitions. Defendant asked the court to seal his juvenile records (Welfare and Institutions Code 781(a)). An April 2015 complaint charged defendant with attempted murder and robbery. The prosecutor sought disclosure of his juvenile records for purposes of impeachment. In response to a court order, the probation department recommended that the court deny defendant’s motion because “rehabilitation has not been attained.” The juvenile court denied defendant’s petition and granted the prosecution’s petition. The court of appeal reversed and remanded for consideration under section 786, in effect at the time of the adjudication, rather than under section 781, which was in effect when defendant filed his petition. View "In re I.F." on Justia Law

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Jose S., a former ward of the juvenile court, moved under Welfare and Institutions Code section 781 to seal juvenile records related to an admitted charge of lewd and lascivious conduct that occurred in 2002. The juvenile court denied the motion, finding Jose was precluded from relief under section 781 because of an additional admitted and disqualifying charge of assault with a deadly weapon in 2005. On appeal, Jose argued each offense constituted a separate case for purposes of section 781 and that the records related to his 2002 offense should have been sealed. Jose argued in the alternative that the court's denial of his motion to seal was improper because the 2005 assault did not fall within the list of disqualifying offenses set forth in section 707, subdivision (b). The Court of Appeal rejected both these contentions and found the juvenile court did not err in refusing to seal Jose’s records. View "In re Jose S." on Justia Law

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Voters passed Proposition 57 on November 8, 2016, effective the next day. As relevant here, the new law eliminated the State’s ability to directly file criminal charges against a juvenile defendant in a court of criminal jurisdiction (Adult Court). Jeremy Walker was charged with two counts of attempted premeditated murder and one count of active participation in a gang. He was seventeen at the time of the alleged crimes. A jury found Walker guilty as charged. The jury also found firearm and gang enhancements true. The trial court sentenced Walker to 80 years to life in prison. In May 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence at Walker's trial and reversed his convictions. In September 2015, the remittitur issued in Walker's appeal. Since the issuance of the remittitur, Walker waited for retrial. While waiting, Proposition 57 became effective, and Walker moved to transfer his case from Adult Court to Juvenile Court. Walker argued Proposition 57 applied retroactively to his case. The trial court agreed; the State appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed, finding Proposition 57 did not apply here. View "California v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law