Thursday, March 14, 2019

SB 1437 Felony Murder rule heavily contested - as anticipated

 As a refresher on SB1437 -->

On 8/31/2018 inmates' families  (and all the advocates for the Bill) can claim a big victory (for  Lifers incarcerated via the old CA Felony Murder rule) --- as Senate Bill 1437 went to the Governor's desk for signature. Remember: The felony-murder rule is an exception to the normal rules of California murder law. Generally, you cannot be convicted of murder in California unless you acted with "malice aforethought" - which basically means intent to kill, or a reckless disregard for human life.

The SB1437 became effective January 1, 2019 and 100's of petition were filed in all CA Counties in all different Courts by pro-per, Public Defenders, and private attorneys to assist inmates.

As anticipated the District Attorneys from different Counties came out swinging to oppose this new law - challenging its Constitutionality! Orange County, LA County and San Diego County have vouch to oppose these SB1437 resentencing petitions.

So far one judge did "bite" at the OC DA's argument that SB1437 is unconstitutional as it is reported below in italic. Keep in mind that this decision is a single Superior Court Judge, so it cannot be used as authority in another case.  There is no doubt that this decision will be tested in higher courts.  The FUN question is: Which side will be represented by the Attorney General?  Both the People and the Legislature qualify for representation by the AG.  To Be Determined?

======================== Judge Gregg L. Prickett ========================

On Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, during a hearing in the People v. Dejon Griffin and Aaron Jackson case, Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg L. Prickett heard arguments on the constitutionality of Senate Bill (SB) 1437, given that it lacks the two-thirds super majority of both bodies of the California Legislature.

The Court found the Legislature was not free to enact SB 1437 except under the parameters of Article II, Section 10 for amending Proposition 7, or by the supermajority requirement of Proposition 115. This legislation was not enacted by either procedure and hence is invalid, therefore the Court declined to enforce SB 1437. 

Additionally, SB 1437 was ruled unconstitutional because it imposed the same requirement for aiders and abettors for murder as the death eligible special circumstance.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case. Deputy District Attorney Seton Hunt handled the motion. To read the entire People’s Brief on Whether SB 1437 is Constitutional and Judge Prickett’s Ruling on the Constitutionality of the Enactment of SB 1437, 

You can visit and select Reports under the Reports pull-down menu.
This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.


 Our law office has filed SB1437 Petitions for our clients in both Riverside County and Orange County - we are still waiting the Courts' responses.

Stay Tunes-- exciting times !!!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Youth Offender Parole Hearing - How do I get one?

The has been many different youth offender laws in the last 4-5 years, it is hard to keep track of them. Our law office continues to get phone calls about HOW do they bring their loved one to the Parole Board (for the Youth offender hearing) once they received their CDC-128 chrono with the YPED (Youth Parole Eligible Date) date. Sometime the date is in the past and sometime in the future.

As of January 1, 2018, Youth Offenders were augmented to include the Youth Offender that were under the age of 26 years old, on the day of the crime, NOT the conviction day. If you think your loved one is a Youth Offender and need an experienced attorney please contact ATTORNEY DIANE LETARTE @  619-233-3688 or via her Website

GETTING THE YOUTH OFFENDER HEARING: There is not action needed on the part of the inmate to be scheduled for his youth offender parole hearing, CDCR and BPH working together will schedule him/her at the appropriate time, UNLESS there is an obvious error in the date calculation.

If the Inmate feels his Sentence, MEPD, YPED or anything is incorrect (has an error), he has the options of submitting Appeals (CDCR 602’s) or Form 22’s – to Records and CDCR will answer any questions he may have about his term or MEPD. It is also noted that upon requesting a “Haygood Hearing”  - Haygood vs. Younger in his appeal, he will have a Supervisor come out and interview him to explain all issues of his appeal.

Be mindful that those YPED dates are NOT release date, the dates are a point in time when the inmate will be eligible to attend a Parole Suitability Hearing for a chance to be released to the free community. In looking at the logistics of scheduling 1000's of parole hearing the Board of Parole Hearings was given a certain time frame by the Youthful offender Laws. It is time consuming to schedule throughout the 35 State Prison, be patient, the inmate will get a NOTICE several months ahead of the Youth Offender Parole Hearing.

 In order to assist with this maze of dates see the EXCERPT from the BPH website below.  BPH YOUTH OFFENDER WEBSITE


Timing of a Youth Offender Hearing

Youth offenders sentenced to a fixed, determinate term are eligible for a parole hearing during their 15th year of incarceration unless previously released. Youth offenders sentenced to life with the possibility of parole (also called an indeterminate term) and who received a life term of less than 25 years-to-life are eligible for a parole hearing during their 20th year of incarceration unless previously released or entitled to an earlier hearing. Indeterminately sentenced inmates who received a life term of 25 years-to-life or longer are eligible for a parole hearing during the 25th year of incarceration unless previously released or entitled to an earlier hearing. And inmates who were under the age of 18 when they committed their controlling offense and who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole are eligible for a parole hearing during the 25th year of incarceration.

Youth offenders who became eligible for a youth offender hearing when the youth offender laws were enacted may not have a hearing until the end of 2019 or 2021, depending on their original sentence. Specifically, the board is required, by January 1, 2020, to complete all youth offender parole hearings for inmates sentenced to life with possibility of parole who became eligible for a youth offender hearing on January 1, 2018 (when Assembly Bill 1308 went into effect). And the board must complete, by December 31, 2021, all youth offender parole hearings for inmates sentenced to fixed or determinate sentences who became eligible for a youth offender hearing on January 1, 2016 (when Senate Bill 261 went into effect) or on January 1, 2018 (when Assembly Bill 1308 went into effect).

Editor's NOTE-- (DSL) Determinately sentenced inmates who are scheduled to be released before December 31, 2021, will not receive a youth offender hearing, because they will automatically be released based on their determinate sentence. BPH does not have the resource to provide a parole hearing for those inmates that will be released no matter what, within 2 years or so.

Youth offenders sentenced to life without the possibility of parole who were under the age of 18 when they committed their controlling offense, and who became eligible for a youth offender hearing before July 1, 2020 as a result of Senate Bill 394, will receive a parole hearing by July 1, 2020.

Factors considered at a Youth Offender Parole Hearing (YOPH)

The board is required at youth offender hearings to give great weight to factors specific to youth offenders. For example, the board is required to give great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the inmate. Moreover, if the hearing panel relies on a risk assessment in assessing a youth offender's growth and maturity, the risk assessment must also take into consideration these factors.

Editor's NOTE -- BPH is working on releasing the OVERDUE new Youth Offender Regulations, which will be under Title 15 Ca. Code of Regulations 2440-2446  (15 CCR 2440-2446). The regulations enumerate approximately 20 youthful factors to look for when showing Growth and Maturity, among other factors. These should be published very shortly and will start being used by the Commissioners at the Youth Offender Parole Hearings. We hope these factors will helps in defing the "great weight" factors that juveniles are suppose to be given at their YOPH.

This is in addition to the suitability factors the Board must consider at regular, non-youth offender parole hearings, defined under 15 CCR 2402 - Determination of Suitability.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2018 to the VSP - Day of Hope group





                                          A BIG THANK YOU
                       for a warm welcome we received at 
                         VALLEY STATE PRISON (VSP) 
                      as the Attorney Guest Speaker for the 

                   1st Annual (2018) Day of Hope (Youth Offender)  
                         [Attorney Letarte bottom row, near center] 

*Photo at the gym location, inside VSP