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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Effective May 1, 2021, CDCR is changing the Good Conduct Credit (GCC) by increasing the credit rate (Prop 57)

Given the many questions our law office has received on the new CDCR standardizing the amount of Good Conduct Credit (GCC) by increasing the credit rate for eligible incarcerated people; we provide the explanation below and a refresher of the November 2016, California voters passing Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016.

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In November 2016, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016. Under Proposition 57, CDCR has incentivized incarcerated people to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation by providing credit-earning opportunities for sustained good behavior, as well as in-prison program and activities participation. Under Proposition 57, incarcerated people increased their Good Conduct Credit earning, and have been given time credits for participation in Milestone Completion Credits, Rehabilitative Achievement Credits, and Educational Merit Credits. Earning additional credits can move up parole consideration of people convicted of nonviolent crimes who have served the full-term of the sentence for their primary offense, and who demonstrate that their release to the community would not pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community.

As a Reminder: Proposition 57 included three major components designed to improve the juvenile and adult criminal justice system in California.

1) Establishes a parole consideration process for determinately-sentenced and indeterminately-sentenced people convicted of nonviolent crimes, as defined by California Penal Code, who have served the full term for their primary criminal offense and who demonstrate they no longer pose a current, unreasonable risk to the public.

2) Gives incarcerated people the opportunity to earn additional credits for good behavior and participation in rehabilitative, educational, and career training programs so they are better prepared to succeed and less likely to commit new crimes on the outside.

3) Requires judges, rather than prosecutors, to determine whether juveniles charged with certain crimes should be tried in juvenile or adult court.


Effective May 1, 2021, CDCR is standardizing the amount of Good Conduct Credit (GCC) by increasing the credit rate for eligible incarcerated people based on their conviction pursuant to emergency regulations. GCC incentivizes incarcerated people to comply with departmental regulations and prison rules, and to perform the duties assigned on a regular and satisfactory basis.

Gov. Newsom’s administration explains the goals of the new policy, “The goal is to increase incentives for the incarcerated population to practice good behavior and follow the rules while serving their time, and participate in rehabilitative and educational programs, which will lead to safer prisons… Additionally, these changes would help to reduce the prison population by allowing incarcerated persons to earn their way home sooner.”


Good Conduct Credit

GCCs are awarded to eligible individuals who comply with all the rules within a prison and perform their duties as assigned on a regular basis. Increasing the amount of GCC provides a compelling reason for individuals to positively program, as GCC may be forfeited due to disciplinary action.

Effective May 1, 2021, CDCR will increase the rate of GCC earned for individuals serving time under Penal Code 667.5(c) from 20% to 33%, and from 33.3% to 50% for nonviolent second and third strikers.

Minimum Security Credit

Under the emergency regulations, CDCR is establishing the Minimum Security Credit (MSC), which will be awarded to all eligible incarcerated people who work in conservation (fire) camps, are trained as firefighters, or who are assigned to minimum custody status. Effective May 1, 2021, incarcerated people will be awarded 30 days of credit for every 30 continuous days served.

Milestone Completion Credits

MCC is awarded for successful completion of rehabilitative or educational programs designed to prepare participants to find employment upon release.
MCC is awarded in increments of not less than one week, but no more than 12 weeks, in a 12-month period.

Rehabilitative Achievement Credits

RAC is awarded to those who complete specified hours of approved self-help and volunteer public service activities.
10 days of credit may be awarded to someone who completes 52 hours of approved programming in a 12-month period.


Educational Merit Credits

 EMC is awarded for completion of high school diploma or equivalency programs, higher education degrees, or the Offender Mentor Certification Program (OMCP).
 90 calendar days may be awarded for completion of a high school diploma or high school equivalency approved by the Department of Education, while 180 days may be awarded for successful completion of associate, bachelor’s and post-graduate degrees, and the OMCP.

Extraordinary Conduct Credits

An award of up to 12 months of credit may be awarded to those who have performed a heroic act in a life-threatening situation or who have provided exceptional assistance in maintaining the safety and security of a prison.

Under Proposition 57, CDCR increased credits for Good Conduct and Milestone Completion Programs, and introduced credits for Rehabilitative Achievement and Educational Merit. Credit-earning opportunities incentivize incarcerated people to actively participate in their rehabilitation, while earning time off of their sentence.

All people in state prison, except those condemned to death or sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. A Big Thank you for CDCR and BPH for updating their website to provide the latest updates.

We suggest that inmates can contact their counselors or the Case Records department [at their institutions] to ask for a recalculation of their Release Date, if  they believe they have accumulated these credits, that are not reflected in their Central-file.


 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

BPH's emergency Regulations state the Board is not required to give Comprehensive Risk Assessments (CRA) under certain grounds

 Our law office is getting  many questions regarding the Board of Parole Hearings adopting emergency  regulations regarding Title 15 Ca. Code of Regs. Section 2240 (d); the code that solidified the Comprehensive Risk Assessments (CRA, a.k.a. Psychological evaluation) and its use in parole suitability hearings.  

The increase in the number of people eligible for a parole hearing and number of postponements due to COVID-19 have created an overwhelming demand for parole hearings. This increase in the demand for hearings has also resulted in an overwhelming demand for Comprehensive Risk Assessments (CRAs).

In an effort to provide the most people with parole hearings, the Board has adopted emergency regulations. The Board's emergency regulations explain that risk assessments will not be required for all parole consideration hearings. The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) recognizes the inmates’ right to a timely parole hearing. The new Regulations DO NOT change the current Parole Hearing schedule nor does it exclude any Lifers (or Long-Term Offender) from having their set Parole Hearing held.

Specifically, these regulations state the Board is not required to prepare a Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA) for parole hearings scheduled to occur between April 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 if the inmate:

1) is  designated by the department (CDCR) to be Security Level IV   and
2) have received two or more serious 115s between January 1, 2018 and Jan 1, 2022.

Will it automatically mean a denial for those impacted by the change? Not necessarily.
This means that if a Lifer who fits the criteria has received a HIGH-risk rating on a past CRA s/he will not receive a new CRA. Keep in mind that less than 1% of those individuals up for parole who present with a HIGH-risk rating are granted parole.

In short, one would need to have 2 serious RVRs within 3 years; the likelihood of  a FAD (BPH) clinician reducing their risk rating (whether from high to moderate or moderate to low) is, almost impossible.  So, while those who fall under these new Regs will not get a new CRA, even if that current document is older than 3 years, they will still get a parole hearing at the scheduled date and time. And they still have the opportunity, uphill battle though it may be, to convince the parole panel of their suitability.

IN SHORT: if you are a Security Level IV inmate, with 2 or more serious RVRs between January 2018 and January 2021 in your jacket, you won’t be getting a new free CRA from BPH! Your hearing will go forward UNLESS the inmates waive or postpone their hearing.

If the inmate believes there was an error and s/he does not meet the grounds for not getting a CRA you or your attorney may challenge the decision not to prepare a CRA, by writing a letter to the Board Chief Counsel; PO BOX 4036; Sacramento, CA 95812-4036. Your letter must be received by the Board at least 30 days before the scheduled hearing to allow time for a pre-hearing response.   

If there is a change in your physical or mental health condition since your last RVR that would be relevant to determining your suitability for parole, you or your attorney may request a CRA. The written request must explain the change and how it is relevant to determining your suitability for parole.

Remember that California prisoners who are housed out of state for reasons ranging from accommodation for various health/family reasons to their own protection, do not receive a CRA either, prior to their California hearings, as the FAD forensic psychologists are not licensed to practice in states other than California.

Just like the out-of-state inmates, there is NOTHING stopping the inmate from hiring their own private Psychologist to administer different actuarial instruments, used by FAD psychologists to mimic the CRA that are used at a Parole Hearing.

Friday, March 12, 2021

In re JOHNNIE HOZE 2/25/21: Elderly Parole, no need to serve Thompson "prison" terms.

Congratulation to attorney Marc Norton for this great published case to assist in the Elderly Parole Hearings.

 In Short, the Board determined that Hoze must serve additional sentences for two offenses he committed in prison.  The trial court stated he was entitled to immediate release under the Elderly Parole Program.  Hoze is not required to serve his sentences for in-prison offenses because a grant of parole under section 3055 supersedes section 1170.1(c).

 

This is a straight forward decision and  some Court Excerpt are described below: 

For the FULL case see:  https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20110228632

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COURT FINDING:

When Johnnie Hoze was 67 years old, and after he had served nearly four decades in state prison on an indeterminate life sentence, the Board of Parole Hearings ("Board") found him suitable for parole under the Elderly Parole Program (Pen. Code, § 3055). Before he could be released, however, the Board determined that Hoze must serve additional sentences for two offenses he committed in prison, consistent with section 1170.1, subdivision (c) (hereafter, section 1170.1(c)). Hoze filed a habeas corpus petition alleging he was entitled to immediate release under the Elderly Parole Program. The trial court granted the petition. We agree with the trial court: Hoze is not required to serve his sentences for in-prison offenses because a grant of parole under section 3055 supersedes section 1170.1(c). We affirm.  

BACKGROUND:

Hoze began serving an indeterminate life sentence in 1980, after he was convicted of attempted kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, vehicle theft, oral copulation, kidnapping with intent to commit robbery, and battery by means of force and violence. While incarcerated, he was convicted of weapon possession in 1981 and again in 1987. Hoze was sentenced to two additional, consecutive prison terms, known as Thompson terms, for the in-prison offenses—three years for the first conviction, and one year for the second. (See In re Thompson (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 256 (Thompson); § 1170.1(c).) In 2018, the Board granted Hoze parole under the Elderly Parole Program. The Board considered the nature and gravity of Hoze’s offenses, including the in-prison weapons violations. It concluded that based on “the positive adjustments you’ve made over the last decade for sure . . . it was our opinion that based on the positives that you no longer pose a risk of danger to society.” 

While in prison, Hoze participated in vocational training and self-help programs including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and he received positive work reports from prison staff. The Board explained, “[t]here’s no question in our mind that today as you present in front of us you have matured and that you have grown” and that “your current age of 67 does reduce your recidivism risk.” 

Although the parole decision became final on September 4, 2018, Hoze was not released immediately because the Board concluded that his parole grant did not excuse him from serving his Thompson terms.

 

DISCUSSION:


The issue here is whether the Elderly Parole Program (§ 3055) overrides the requirement, under section 1170.1(c), that an inmate must serve his Thompson term when he would otherwise be released on parole. In its briefs, the Board argued that the program does not override section 1170.1(c). At oral argument, the Board informed us that, in light of the recent legislative amendments to the program (discussed further below), it has modified its position. While the Board does not concede defeat, it agrees that Hoze’s position is reasonable, and it looks to this court for guidance on the issue.

We hold that a parole grant pursuant to section 3055 overrides section 1170.1(c). Hoze is not required to serve his Thompson terms.

 

 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

AB 2942 revised California Penal Code (PC) Section 1170(d)(1) - Resentencing - Who can ask?

In February 2018, Assembly member Phil Ting introduced Assembly Bill 2942 (AB2942) along with the bill sponsor, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. In October 2018, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2942, which became law on January 1, 2019. AB 2942 amended Penal Code section 1170(d)(1) in order to allow the District Attorney (DA) to revisit past sentences to determine whether further confinement is no longer in the interest of justice. When the District Attorney makes this finding, they can now recommend to the court to recall the case and issue a lesser sentence.

In short, Under the revised law, elected DAs now have the right to reevaluate past sentences. If the DA determines that the length of the sentence no longer serves the interests of justice, then they may request and support resentencing for that inmate. A DA in the county in which the inmate was sentenced may bring the request to the county court. The court can then deny or allow the request. (See our prior  BLOG for the LA DA Gascon, which has special directives for resentencing)

If the court agrees to resentence the defendant, it will hold a resentencing hearing. It may provide a new sentence, so long as that term is shorter than the initial sentence. The court is required to follow the Judicial Council’s sentencing rules to mitigate the risk of disparity among sentences.

Who has  Rights to Seek Recalls? (DA, BPH, CDCR, YOU?)


California legislature gave prosecutors (DAs) the power to seek recalls and resentencing.  DAs are normally in the best position to seek fair and effective sentences from the beginning. They also are in a good position to identify inmates who are potentially eligible for resentencing.

The DA will look at the factors (below) to decide which inmates and/or defendants are good candidates.

The LA DA’s Office commits to a comprehensive review of cases where the defendant received a sentence that was inconsistent with the charging and sentencing policies in force after Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at 12:01 AM. In such cases, this Office shall use its powers under Penal Code section 1170(d)(1) to recommend recall and resentencing. While priority shall be given to the cases enumerated below, the ultimate goal shall be to review and re-mediate every sentence that does not comport with the new Sentencing, Enhancement and Juvenile Policies. Specifically, the LA DA’s Office commits to an expedited review of the following categories of cases, which are themselves a subset of a universe of 20,000-30,000 cases with out-of-policy sentences.

● People who have already served 15 years or more;
● People who are currently 60 years of age or older;
● People who are at enhanced risk of COVID-19 infection;
● People who have been recommended for resentencing by CDCR;
● People who are criminalized survivors;
● People who were 17 years of age or younger at the time of the offense and were prosecuted as an adult.

The LA DA  specifically offers the following: At all types of resentencing hearings, filing deputies shall assist the Resentencing Court by setting forth any and all post-conviction factors that support resentencing, including, but not limited to: mitigation evidence; CDCR disciplinary records and record of rehabilitation and positive programming while incarcerated; evidence that reflects whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition, if any, have reduced the risk for future violence; evidence that reflects that circumstances have changed since the original sentencing so that continued incarceration is no longer in the interest of justice; and post-release reentry plans, demonstrating any family or community support that is available upon release. (See e.g. Assembly Bill 1812, Pen. Code § 1170, subd. (d).)

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In addition to the DA,  the Board of Parole Hearings for state prison inmates (BPH - the Board), the county correctional administrator for county jail inmates, and the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) may recommend to the court that an inmate’s sentence be reviewed.

If you or a loved one believe YOU should have a new sentence, you may petition CDCR. In June 2018, Governor Jerry Brown instructed CDCR to receive petitions from inmates who believed they deserve to be resentenced based on exceptional conduct during incarceration or a disproportionate punishment for their offense.

The following section describes the four categories that CDCR will review for the potential referral to the Court.

California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Section 3076 -- Recall of Commitment Recommendation Circumstances.

Pursuant to Penal Code (PC) Section 1170(d)(1), the Agency Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) or designee may, at any time, recommend that the sentencing court recall an inmate's sentence and commitment previously imposed and resentence an inmate, provided the new sentence is no greater than the initial sentence.

There appears to be currently four (4) categories reviewable for referral to the court for possible recall of sentence: Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) Referrals, Retroactive Changes in Law, Sentencing Discrepancy, and, Exceptional Conduct.

Below are the pertinent sections with the Cal. Code Regs or Penal code reference.

Category 1: Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) Referrals
Responsible Unit: Classification Services Unit (CSU)
Referrals from an outside law enforcement agency (i.e. local or federal law enforcement agency, district attorney's office, judicial officer, etc.).
 

---Legal Authority; Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 15, § 3076.2 - Recommendation Based on a Law Enforcement, Prosecutorial, or Judicial Referral

    (a) No more than 10 business days after receiving a request from the head of a law enforcement agency, head of a prosecutorial agency, or judicial officer asking that the Secretary consider recommending an inmate to a sentencing court pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, the Classification Services Unit shall prepare a Cumulative Case Summary as described in subsection (b)(3)(D) of Section 3076.1 and forward the request and the summary to the Secretary for consideration.

    (b) If the Secretary elects to recommend the inmate for recall and resentencing pursuant to subsections (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(3) of Section 3076.1, the Secretary shall, no more than 10 business days after receiving the Cumulative Case Summary, notify the District Attorney of the county that prosecuted the inmate resulting in his or her current incarceration in state prison and forward a copy of the recommendation and Cumulative Case Summary to the District Attorney.

    (c) If the District Attorney indicates his or her intent to recommend the inmate to the sentencing court pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, then the matter shall be considered closed. If the District Attorney does not respond to the Secretary within 10 business days of the Secretary's referral or indicates that he or she will not recommend the inmate to the sentencing court, then the Secretary shall independently recommend the inmate for recall of sentence and resentencing unless any information presented by the District Attorney in response causes the Secretary to reconsider.

Category 2: Retroactive Change-in-Law Referrals
Responsible Unit: Office of Legal Affairs (OLA)
Referrals from the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) based on new legislation or case law with retroactive application.

Category 3: Sentencing Discrepancy Referrals
Responsible Unit: Case Records
Referrals from Case Records for sentencing discrepancies based on statutory or case law authority. Can be brought by an inmate Appeal, information submitted through the Legal Processing Unit, or OLA.

Category 4: Exceptional Conduct Referrals
Responsible Unit: Classification Services Unit (CSU)
Referrals based on behavior beyond simply complying with all regulations and procedures that demonstrate they have changed as a person and would be a positive asset to the community. Any institution staff or volunteer may provide an inmate's name and CDCR number to the (CSU) for consideration for referral to the court.

Sentencing Impact: Potential for inmates with exceptional behavior to have their sentences recalled, resulting in possible reduction in sentence or release.

 ---Legal Authority: Title 15, Division 3, Section 3076, subdivision (a)

Description: The department's regulations specify that that the Secretary may refer an inmate to the court for resentencing under penal code 1170 (d), when it is evident from the inmate's exceptional behavior that they have changed as a person and would be a positive asset to the community.  The court within 120 days of the date of commitment or anytime upon recommendation of the secretary may recall the sentence and commitment previously ordered and resentence the defendant in the same manner, provided the new sentence is no greater than the original sentence.

 CDCR Screening Criteria Used:

 
    • No condemned inmates
    • No LWOP
    • No 290 registrants
    • No PED or EPRD date within 18 months
    • No Serious RVR's (Rules Violation Report) in the past 5 years
    • No SHU terms in the last 5 years
    • Must have served 10 years or 50% of sentence
    • Laudatory Chrono's and support letters
    • Self-help participation (Vocation, Educational Programs,etc)
    • Education/PIA/Vocational/Work Review
    • County of commitment will be noted
    • 3rd Strike Inmates are eligible
    • Staff and volunteer referral (NOT family members nor Attorneys)
    • Plea agreements may be eligible




COMMENTS:
Despite of it all - It does appear that CDCR has been pro-active. Back at the end of July 2019 CDCR reported, it had made 1,105 recommendations, including over 1,000 in the “retroactive changes in the law” and “sentencing discrepancies” categories. Courts had responded in 670 cases and reduced sentences in 336 cases. The rate of responses and sentence reductions has varied widely from county to county. But it seems clear that a CDCR recommendation for resentencing does not necessarily guarantee that a court will reduce a person’s sentence.

Approximately 1-year ago, (after the Secretary for CDCR was contacted), it was relayed to an attorney by a Captain that cases were being reviewed. Specifically the Captain relayed that between April, 2018, and November, 2019, 127 cases had been submitted by the staff to the Secretary for CDCR. The Secretary had given approval, and sent letters to the Superior Court, in 107 cases, had denied 15 cases, and was still considering the other cases. The Captain further stated that CDCR had set up a special unit to handle staff referrals and that the process was ongoing and the numbers would increase. He also stated that the only referrals that were being accepted by the Special Unit at that time were those coming from staff.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A pro-active strategy may be to present to the DA a resentencing application in conjunction with the Franklin Hearing. Some judges are suggesting to the DAs that they should consider a reduction of sentence (youth offender factors considerations). Thus, the attorney should make sure to obtain the CDCR records as part of the presentation to the Court in conjunction with the Franklin Hearing for a Sentencing recall decision.   

Having the proper CDCR records  may be  a  more productive avenue for resentencing instead of asking CDCR for a recommendation. See CDCR’s own "added" resentenceing factors - as listed above in this Blog.   



Monday, January 25, 2021

People v. Gentille 12/17/20: SB 1437 Bars 2nd degree Murder Under Natural and Probable Consequences Doctrine

 In 2018, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law Senate Bill No. 1437 (Senate Bill 1437), legislation that prospectively amended the mens rea requirements for the offense of murder and restricted the circumstances under which a person can be liable for murder under the felony-murder rule or the natural and probable consequences doctrine.   Specifically, SB1437  established a procedure permitting certain qualifying persons who were previously convicted of 1) felony murder or 2) murder under the natural and probable consequences (NPC) doctrine to petition the courts that sentenced them to vacate their murder convictions and obtain re-sentencing on any remaining counts.

In the last two years many cases have been filed in all different California Jurisdictions regarding the application of SB1437. In a recent California Supreme Court case [12/17/2020 People v. Gentile, case number S256698] SB 1437 was found to Bar Second degree Murder  convictions Under the Natural and Probable Consequences (NPC) Doctrine.  A unanimous decision: Justice Liu authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justices Corrigan, CuĂ©llar, Kruger, Groban, and Grimes concurred.


 FACT AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND:

The case before the CA Supreme Court involves the murder conviction of Joseph Gentile, who was charged in the beating death of a restaurant caretaker in Indio. At trial, the court instructed the jury on three separate theories of first-degree murder, one of which was that he aided and abetted his ex-wife in a felony assault whose natural and probable consequence was death.

In Gentile I, the Court of Appeal observed that the superior court “instructed the jury at length that it could convict defendant of first degree murder” under a natural and probable consequences theory. (Gentile I, supra, E064822.) The court said “[t]he fact the jury did not find that the defendant used a deadly or dangerous weapon in the commission of the offense supports an inference that the jury convicted him on [a natural and probable consequences] theory” instead of viewing him as the direct perpetrator of the crime……….

……The jury then convicted Gentile of first degree murder and found not true that he personally used a deadly weapon. The prosecution dismissed the prison prior, and the court sentenced Gentile to 25 years to life in prison.



The Court of Appeal reversed Gentile’s first-degree murder conviction, and on remand the prosecution reduced his charge to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

The court found it “probable that the jury convicted
defendant on an unauthorized legal theory” because the trial
court had instructed the jury on the natural and probable
consequences theory…….

….The Court of Appeal remanded the case for the prosecution to decide whether to “retry [Gentile] for the first degree murder under theories other than natural and probable consequences” or to accept reduction of Gentile’s conviction to second degree murder. (Ibid.) It did not reach Gentile’s other claims. On remand, the prosecution elected to accept a reduction to second degree murder, and Gentile was sentenced to a prison term of 15 years to life.


After the governor signed SB 1437, Gentile appealed again, arguing the bill applied retroactively to his conviction and eliminated second-murder liability under a natural and probable consequences doctrine. An appeals court rejected Gentile’s argument, and the Supreme Court granted review.

COURT’S REASONING:

Under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, an accomplice is guilty not only of the offense they directly aided or abetted, but also of any other offense the direct perpetrator commits that was the “natural and probable consequence” of the crime the accomplice aided and abetted.

Culpability under the doctrine doesn’t require the accomplice to share the direct perpetrator’s intent. SB 1437 thus aimed to make it harder to convict someone for murder when that person didn’t intend to kill or didn’t act with conscious disregard for human life.

The “most natural meaning” of the SB 1437 provision at issue, construed in the context of the bill as a whole and of the Penal Code, “bars a conviction for first or second degree murder under a natural and probable consequences theory,” Justice Goodwin Liu wrote for the Supreme Court.

With SB 1437, the Legislature intended to restrict murder culpability outside the felony murder rule “to persons who personally possess malice aforethought,” Liu wrote, and the natural and probable consequences doctrine “is incompatible with this requirement because an aider and abettor need not personally possess malice, express or implied, to be convicted of second degree murder” under that theory.


“Apart from the Court of Appeal decision in this case, every published Court of Appeal opinion to address the issue has concluded that Senate Bill 1437 eliminates natural and probable consequences liability for murder regardless of degree,” Liu wrote, citing seven appellate cases. “We agree with these authorities.”

SB 1437’s ameliorative provisions, however, don’t apply on direct appeal to nonfinal convictions obtained before the law became effective, such as Gentile’s, the court held. It concluded that such convictions can be challenged on SB 1437 grounds only through a petition filed in the sentencing court under Penal Code section 1170.95.

The court remanded Gentile’s case to the lower court to affirm Gentile’s second-degree murder conviction without prejudice to any petition for relief that he may file under section 1170.95.

Going forward, the parties agree that Gentile has made “a
prima facie showing that he . . . is entitled to relief” (§ 1170.95,
subd. (c)) in light of the Attorney General’s concessions and the
Court of Appeal’s determination in Gentile I that it is “probable”
the jury relied on a natural and probable consequences theory
in finding him guilty of murder. In their section 1170.95 briefing, the parties are free to litigate what bearing, if any, doctrines of estoppel or preclusion may have in light of those prior concessions and the Court of Appeal’s determination in Gentile I.



CONCLUSION"


The judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed. The matter is remanded to that court to affirm Gentile’s second degree murder conviction without prejudice to any petition for relief that Gentile may file under section 1170.95.


Editor’s OPINION: This is a great outcome from the Published California Supreme Court case. It is a very significant case becasue it determines  that liability for the crime of second degree murder in California under the natural and probable consequences (NPC) doctrine has been eliminated.