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 www.orangecountyda.org and select Reports under the Reports pull-down menu.
This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

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 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 !!!