Duenas’ Reach Limited by the Sixth Appellate District.

The Second Appellate District held in People v. Duenas that it was a due process violation under the state and federal government for a judge to order defendant to pay certain court fees and fines without first holding an “ability to pay” hearing. The Duenas ruling is currently under review by the California Supreme Court. Until a Supreme Court ruling is issued, other appellate courts are free to rule on whether there exists a right to a hearing on one’s “ability to pay.” The Sixth Appellate District has criticized the Duenas ruling, as the following link to a short summary explains – https://www.greghillassociates.com/duenas-reach-limited-by-sixth-appellate-district.html

People v. Duenas Overruled by Sixth Appellate District.

People v. Duenas, a Second Appellate District ruling, held that is was unconstitutional to give a defendant a choice between serving time in jail or paying court fines and fees without first establishing defendant’s ability to pay such fines and fees. The gist of the ruling was that is was an Eighth Amendment violation, or cruel and unusual punishment, as well as a due process violation, to incarcerate someone based on being poor. The ruling implicated decades of standard practice within our state courts as being unconstitutional. The Sixth Appellate District, however, overruled Duenas. Why? To read a short summary of this ruling, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/people-v-duenas-overruled-by-sixth-appellate-district.html

What Are Some Post-Conviction Options to Consider?

So you or someone you know was convicted of a crime, either by a jury, judge or through a plea bargain – and now you wonder if there is anything you can do to remove this scar. The following article is an overview of just some of the options one should consider if applicable. Each option, in turn, can certainly have its own article written entirely about it, but this article presents many in one concise place. To read about some of the post-conviction options under California law, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/what-are-some-post-conviction-options-to-consider.html

Writ of Coram Nobis Denied When No New Fact Presented.

By definition, a petition for a writ of coram nobis seeks to reverse a judgment by showing a judge a new fact that was not known or available at the time the judgment was entered. Yet how is a fact determined to be a new fact? The following case is a good example of the court evaluating this, so to read a summary of the ruling, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/writ-of-coram-nobis-denied-when-no-new-fact-presented.html

What is a Writ of Coram Nobis? What is Required in It?

A petition for a writ of coram nobis seeks is a request that a judge correct a judgment due to a fact that was not known or fully understood, and if known or understood would have prevented the judgment. Coram nobis is Latin for “before us.” It is not to correct legal errors. For a further discussion of this writ, as well as examples of facts that allowed such a correction in the judgment, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/what-is-a-writ-of-coram-nobis-what-is-required-in-it.html

Does SB 1437 Include a Conviction for Manslaughter?

Senate Bill 1437, by its text, specifically states that it applies only to convictions for first- and second-degree murder convictions. However, there are legal scholars who have pointed out quite persuasively that if one is charged with first-degree or second-degree murder, but that person resolves the case for voluntary manslaughter, the intended scope of SB 1437 should allow resentencing for the person convicted of voluntary manslaughter, too. Moreover, the person should not be excluded from SB 1437 relief just because he or she pled to voluntary manslaughter. Did these academic arguments prevail in court? To find out, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/does-sb-1437-include-a-conviction-for-manslaughter.html

Does Inventory Search Allow Removal of Car Dashboard?

Strictly speaking, an inventory search cannot include removing a car’s dashboard to look for evidence of a crime, i.e. drugs, money, stolen property or a firearm. However, if while conducting a valid inventory search, officers find evidence of a crime, or develop reasonable suspicion of a crime, officers may conduct a more intrusive search of a vehicle, including the removal of a car dashboard that appeared fake and/or loose because it was used to hide drugs behind. To read a summary of a recent reported decision where this took place, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/does-inventory-search-allow-removal-of-car-dashboard.html

Inadmissible Gang Expert Testimony Allows Reversal.

The use of so-called gang experts by the prosecution in trial to testify to the jury with an opinion about whether certain conduct is to promote, further or assist a criminal street gang often involves the expert “straying” into giving testimony about the named defendant by reading field identification (FI) cards. Prior to the 2016 California Supreme Court ruling in People v. Sanchez, many would say that this was common practice, but after Sanchez, it was considered a Sixth Amendment violation and for some cases where judgment was not yet final, reversible error. To read about one such case out of the Torrance Courthouse, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/inadmissible-gang-expert-testimony-allows-reversal.html

Conviction Reversed for Ex-Girlfriend’s Tirade to Jury?

It is well-known or at least understood that judges are adverse to reversing a verdict for just any claim of undue prejudice. What if the ex-girlfriend of defendant loudly tells jurors outside the courtroom that her ex-boyfriend is a piece of poop and would do anything for money (while he is facing a charge of theft and possession of stolen firearms)? An appellate court denied such a motion, finding that defendant did not show that the tirade, even if heard by jurors, raised a credible risk of affecting the outcome of the case. To read more about this case and the decision on the motion for a new trial, please click the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/conviction-reversed-for-girlfriends-tirade-to-jury.html

Invalid Inventory Search of Car Vacates Conviction.

As most attorneys will tell you with a groan or rolling their eyes into their head, an inventory search is often the most abused warrantless search by police. While there are legal standards police must follow to prevent such a search from turning into an overbroad, limitless search, no one really controls police during such a search. So it is hugely refreshing to see a judge find an inventory search was invalid and that evidence seized in the search is suppressed. To read this opinion, please click on the following link – https://www.greghillassociates.com/invalid-inventory-search-of-car-vacates-conviction.html