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Monday, May 16, 2022

California v. Delgado (4/29/22) Youth offenders who are not eligible (i.e. 3X’er) for Early Parole Consideration are still entitled to Franklin Hearings to preserve evidence

California v. Delgado Docket: G059650 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: April 29, 2022.  

The Fourth Appellate District reversed a trial court order and remanded. The court held that youth offenders who are not eligible for early parole consideration under Penal Code §3051 are nonetheless entitled to Franklin hearings to preserve evidence for their eventual, non-§3051 parole hearings. Although Delgado's Three Strikes (3X) sentence rendered him ineligible for a youth offender parole hearing (YOPH), he was nonetheless entitled to an opportunity to preserve evidence of mitigating. 

The issue presented by this appeal was whether youthful offenders who are statutorily ineligible for early parole consideration were nevertheless entitled to a "Franklin" proceeding to preserve evidence for their eventual parole hearing. 

 During his early 20’s, appellant was involved in three separate criminal incidents. s a result of those incidents, appellant was convicted of kidnapping for robbery and multiple counts of robbery, burglary, false imprisonment and illegal gun possession. He was also found to have personally used a firearm during the offenses and suffered a prior strike conviction. The trial court sentenced him to 59 years to life in prison under the “Three Strikes” law. 

 In 2020, appellant requested a Franklin proceeding to present mitigation evidence in anticipation of his youth offender parole hearing (YOPH). However, the trial court correctly determined appellant was not eligible for a YOPH because he was sentenced under the Three Strikes law. Therefore, it denied his request for a Franklin proceeding. Appellant admitted he was statutorily ineligible for a YOPH because he was sentenced under the Three Strikes law. However, he contended he is entitled to a YOPH – and a concomitant Franklin proceeding – as a matter of equal protection. Although the Court of Appeal rejected appellant’s equal protection argument, both parties concluded he was entitled to a Franklin proceeding under the standard rules applicable to all parole hearings. The trial court's judgment was reversed and the case remanded for such a proceeding. 

BOTTOM LINE: The Legislature's reference to the above statute made clear that it intended the criteria set forth in §4801(c) to apply broadly to all parole hearings, not just youth offender parole hearings under §3051. Consequently, even though Delgado is not entitled to a youth offender parole hearings, the parole board will still---someday---have to consider his diminished capacity and subsequent maturation in assessing his suitability for parole.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Franklin Hearing for youth offender : People v. Benzler (12/2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 743

Case Name: People v. Benzler (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 743, District: 3 DCA, Case #: C092779 Opinion Date: 12/21/2021 

FRANKLIN HEARING (in General): 

A Franklin hearing is a supplemental sentencing hearing for defendants who were convicted for a controlling offense when they were under 26 years of age (Youth Offender in California). The hearing gives these inmates an opportunity to provide additional mitigating evidence related to their youth to the court. Franklin proceeding: the purpose of which is to allow the offender to assemble evidence at or near the time of the crime rather than years later when it may prove difficult to reconstruct. That evidence can then be used by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH a.k.a. BPT) when it holds the eventual Youth Offender Parole Hearing (YOPH).

NOTE: The Public Defender will normally do the Franklin Hearing for the inmate. Different Counties execute this process differently. On occasion a Psychologist or a Social Worker will interview the inmate and/or the family to gather background information. A report will be produced and attached to a Motion for a Franklin Hearing, filed with the Court. If your Love One was a Youth Offender, s/he may qualify for this hearing. Call the Local Public Defender for free representation.  You can also hire a private attorney but it seems like the Public Defender for a specific County may have more free resources at their disposal to assist.

The name for a Franklin hearing comes from the California Supreme Court case, People v. Tyris Lamar Franklin. 

 Evidence provided during Franklin Hearings (FH) often deal with the inmates’: 

  1.      young age at the time of the offense and related factors, 
  2.      upbringing and any negative influences in the defendant’s early years, 
  3.      mental and emotional state, 
  4.      maturity, 
  5.      juvenile record, 
  6.      ability to understand that the offense was wrong, 
  7.      diminished culpability, when compared to adults, 
  8.      hallmark features of youth at the time of the offense, and 
  9.      subsequent growth and increased maturity while in prison 

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CASE HOLDING: 

Trial court erred in summarily denying defendant’s petition for a Franklin proceeding, as it set forth a prima facie case for a hearing. In 2011, when defendant was 18 years old, he killed the victim. The jury hung on whether defendant committed second degree murder and he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. “In 2020, defendant filed a ‘Motion for Franklin Hearing’ in the trial court, under the original caption and case number, seeking a Franklin hearing under [Pen. Code] section 1203.01, and citing [In re Cook (2019) 7 Cal.5th 439].” The request was summarily denied. Defendant appealed. Held: Reversed. 

Senate Bill No. 260 (effective 1/1/2014), created statutes regarding parole eligibility for offenders who committed their crimes at a young age. The statutes have been amended to apply to offenders who were under the age of 26 at the time of the offense. “In Cook, our Supreme Court explained the proper avenue to seek a Franklin proceeding for a final conviction is through a motion under section 1203.01,” bearing the original caption and case number. Defendant “was sentenced before section 3051 had been extended to his age group and before Franklin was decided, and thus had no opportunity or reason to place the relevant information on the record. This made him eligible for a Franklin proceeding,” the purpose of which is to allow the offender to assemble evidence at or near the time of the crime rather than years later when it may prove difficult to reconstruct. 

“Here, defendant’s motion met the initial requirements for eligibility.” There is no evidence defendant has had an opportunity to place evidence relevant to a Franklin hearing on the record, and the passage of time since his conviction cannot be the sole reason for disqualifying him from a Franklin proceeding, absent affirmative evidence supporting disqualification on this ground. The trial court did not provide any rationale for denying defendant’s motion, so there is no indication why it felt defendant was ineligible for a hearing. The denial of defendant’s motion was reversed. 

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The full opinion may still be available on the court’s website: 

https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C092779.PDF 

 

A Big Thank you to CCAP for the summary of People v. Benzler case. It is re-published here for education purpose.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Elderly Parole law AB3234: new Regulations for Elderly Parole finally enacted [by BPH] under 15 CCR 2449.40

Even though the Elderly Parole law AB3234 became effective last year. BPH is finally getting around to enacting Sections 2449.40 - 2449.43 [of Title 15], governing parole consideration hearings for elderly inmates. 

It may take CDCR a while to review all the inmates that qualify under AB3234 Elderly Law becasue CDCR recently received the Regulations from the Board Of Parole Hearings (BPH). 

The important sections of the new regulations enumerating the Elderly Inmate Factors are under Section 2449.43. The factors will be given Special Considerations during the Elderly Parole Hearings.

They are in summary as follows: 

§ 2449.43. Elderly Inmate Factors. 

 (a) Age. Consideration of an elderly inmate’s age includes the following: 

(1) Cognitive decline and its impact on an elderly inmate’s ability to process information, convert thought to action, the ability to learn, the ability to plan, recall or reorganize information, organize information, control impulses, execute a task, incorporate feedback, alter a strategy, sustain complex attention, or to calm down when emotionally aroused; 

 (2) Physiological changes that decrease the motivation to commit crime or be violent. 

 (b) Time Served. The impact of long term confinement of elderly inmates includes, consideration of the following: 

 (1) Reduced criminal propensity; 

(2) Alteration of attitudes and beliefs over time; 

(3) Evidence of prosocial routines; 

 (4) Social conformity; 

 (5) Detachment from crime producing environments and peers. 

(c) Diminished Physical Condition. The diminished physical condition of elderly inmates includes, consideration of the following: 

(1) The capability of an inmate to physically commit crimes and violence; 

(2) Chronic or terminal illness; 

 (3) Evidence of sensory impairment due to visual, hearing or speech impairment; 

 (4) Inability to ambulate or difficulty in ambulating without an ambulation assistive device; 

(5) Nursing Care Acuity; 

 (6) Diminished mental capacity; 

(7) Assistance with daily living activities that includes but is not limited to, feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, or communication; 

(8) Permanent incapacitation due to medical, physical, or mental health condition, or any other condition that results in permanent incapacitation; and 

 (9) Other evidence of diminished physical condition. 

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PENDING CHANGES TO THE BOARD OF PAROLE HEARINGS DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS can be seen at: the CDCR website

 

Pursuant to the requirements of Government Code section 11346.8 (c). and section 44 of Title I of the California Code of Regulations, the Board of Parole Hearings is providing notice of changes made to Regulation Number 21-04, proposed sections 2449.40, 2449.41, 2449.42, and 2449.43. Additionally. pursuant to the requirements of Government Code sections 11346.8( d). 11346. 9( a)( 1), and 11347.1. the Board of Parole Hearings is providing notice of the addition of a document to the rulemaking file to make available for public comment and inspection. 

The document added to the rulemaking file is as follows: 

Supplement to the Initial Statement of Reasons  

Regulatory Text Document is available for public inspection at the Board's office located at 1515 K street, 6th Floor, Sacramento. California 95814, from March 10, 2022, through March 25. 2022 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. This document is also available to view on the board's website at: Regulatory Changes - Board of Parole Hearings (ca.gov). 

If you have any comments regarding the proposed changes or the Supplement to the Initial Statement of Reasons. the Board will accept written and electronic email comments between March 11, 2022 and March 25, 2022. 

All written and electronic email comments must be submitted to the Board no later than March 25, 2022, and addressed to: 

Chancellor Veal, Staff Attorney 
Board of Parole Hearings 
P.O. Box 4036 Sacramento, CA 95812-4036 
E-mail: BPH.Regulations@cdcr.ca.gov 

All written comments received by March 25,2022, which pertain to the indicated changes or the Supplement to the Initial Statement of Reasons will be reviewed and responded to by the Board's staff as part of the compilation of the rule making file. Please limit your comments to the modifications to the text and the Supplement to the Initial Statement of Reasons.