Spolin Law successfully argued a client’s case in the Supreme Court of California, forcing the case back to the CA Court of Appeal for reconsideration.
On September 22, 2021, after nearly 10 months of review, the Supreme Court of California issued an order in a Spolin Law P.C. case that involved a client who was deprived of her Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. The client was convicted under the doctrine of natural and probable consequences, which is in direct violation of SB 1437, a Senate Bill that was passed in September 2018.
SB 1437 changed California Penal Code (PC) sections 188 and 189 to end the role of the “natural and probable consequences” doctrine in murder cases. It makes it harder for people to be convicted of felony murder with fewer exceptions. Many people have been released from prison for time served and had their sentences reduced under SB 1437.
After the passing of SB 1437, a groundbreaking case was decided in July 2021 — People v. Lewis 11 Cal.5th 952 (2021). That case held that the defendant is entitled to counsel, and there is no requirement for a distinct prima facie showing before the appointment of counsel.
In violation of Spolin Law client’s due process rights, the Superior Court did not appoint counsel as mandated by SB 1437 and related case law. Additionally, the Court did not give our client the opportunity to file a reply to the prosecution’s response to her petition.
Upon appeal, a Spolin Law attorney argued that our client could not be convicted under the current law. The Superior Court and Court of Appeal erred in determining that the client did not make prima facie showing of eligibility for resentencing. Our client was not only wrongfully convicted under the law, but she was not appointed counsel, nor given the right to file a reply in her case.
The Superior Court and the Court of Appeal failed to grant a hearing. If a hearing had taken place, Spolin Law attorneys argued that the prosecution would have been unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that our client was not convicted pursuant to the natural and probable consequences doctrine. As mentioned previously, SB 1437 made convictions under the natural and probable consequences doctrine invalid. Thus, our client could not be convicted under current law and her petition for resentencing pursuant to PC 1170.95 should have been granted.
The Supreme Court of California agreed that Spolin Law client’s case should be reconsidered in light of People v. Lewis. The case has been transferred back to the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division One, with directions to vacate its decision and reconsider.