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People v. Anderson

July 22, 2010

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
ELI JORDAN ANDERSON, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



Ct.App. D050432 San Diego County Super. Ct. No. SCE262419 Judge: Allan J. Preckel.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Corrigan, J.

Defendant was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death,*fn1 and was placed on felony probation pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.1.*fn2 As a condition of probation, the court ordered defendant to pay restitution for the victim's final hospital expenses. After the prosecutor represented that the deceased had no "financial ability" to pay those expenses, the court ordered that restitution be paid directly to the hospital. The sole issue before us is whether the order of direct payment to the hospital was statutorily unauthorized under section 1203.1. Defendant argues that section 1203.1 expressly requires trial courts to apply the definitions of "victim" contained in section 1202.4, the statute implementing the constitutional right to restitution. Defendant asserts the hospital was not a victim as defined in section 1202.4. Defendant is incorrect that the victim definitions of section 1202.4 are incorporated into section 1203.1. Under the particular and narrow circumstances of this case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion under section 1203.1 by ordering that restitution be paid directly to the hospital.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND*fn3

Shortly after midnight on July 2, 2005, defendant was driving on the five-lane Fletcher Parkway in San Diego County. As he briefly took his eyes off the road to change the radio station, he heard a bang and his windshield shattered.

Defendant pulled into a mall parking lot to look at his car, believing someone had thrown a rock at his windshield. Seeing the significant damage to his car and blood at the top of the windshield, he realized he had struck either an animal or a person. Defendant drove slowly through a parking lot bordering the parkway, but did not see what he might have hit. He drove to the freeway and telephoned his girlfriend, who told him to meet her at a restaurant parking lot. He left his car there and they went to the girlfriend's house.

A passing motorist saw 50-year-old Robert Milligan lying across the fifth lane of traffic, trying unsuccessfully to lift himself from the pavement. Help was summoned, but Milligan died at the hospital from massive head and chest injuries.

Defendant's girlfriend and her brother drove back to the scene, spoke to a police officer and learned that a pedestrian had been struck. They then drove to the restaurant parking lot and saw blood on defendant's shattered windshield. When the girlfriend returned home and told defendant what happened, he appeared shocked and wanted to turn himself in. Nonetheless, he did not do so. The next day police learned his identity from anonymous tips.

Evidence indicated that Milligan had been running from the median toward the sidewalk when he was struck. The investigating police officer concluded the "primary collision factor" was the victim's jaywalking.

Defendant's first trial ended in a hung jury. His second trial produced a conviction.*fn4

At sentencing, the court noted that it had received and considered a written statement from the victim's mother, Nancy Milligan. The statement included a summary of expenses associated with the victim's death. Mrs. Milligan also addressed the court. She supported a grant of probation, but urged that defendant be ordered to pay the victim's medical expenses. Mrs. Milligan had been "harassed week after week for thousands of dollars in payment of medical bills." At the conclusion of the hearing, the court placed defendant on five years' formal probation and sentenced him to one year in the county jail. Regarding restitution, the trial court stated: "[A]ctual victim restitution is being ordered in favor of the surviving family members of Robert Milligan," in an amount to be set following a formal restitution hearing.

At the restitution hearing, the prosecutor presented receipts for out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Milligan's mother and sister for funeral expenses and related costs. The prosecutor also presented two pages of hospital bills totaling $31,397.55 for Milligan's treatment at Sharp Memorial Hospital. The prosecutor stated, "I understand that the family apparently is not liable for those amounts, but, nonetheless, from the People's perspective, [the hospital], who is going to have to eat those expenses in light of the decedent's lack of financial ability, . . . should be entitled to those, too." Defense counsel acknowledged the trial court's broad discretion to impose conditions of probation, but objected to restitution for medical expenses on the sole basis that the evidence supported the defense theory that Milligan committed suicide.*fn5 The trial court rejected counsel's argument. After reviewing the family's itemized expenses, the court ordered restitution of $31,397.55 to the hospital and $2,694.47 to the family members.

In the Court of Appeal, defendant argued that restitution to the hospital and family should be stricken. Defendant emphasized that he was not convicted of causing the accident, but only of improperly leaving the scene. He asserted that restitution was improper under the mandatory victim restitution statute, which requires a causal relationship between the criminal conduct and the loss. The gist of his argument was that he should not be ordered to pay restitution because Milligan was the cause of his own injuries. Defendant also urged that restitution was improper as an exercise of the court's discretion under section 1203.1.

The Court of Appeal upheld the restitution order under section 1203.1. It relied on People v. Carbajal (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1114 (Carbajal), in which we determined that a restitution order for property damage was proper because the loss was "reasonably related" to the defendant's crime of leaving the scene of the accident and because it served the goal of deterring future criminality. (Id. at p. 1123.) In applying the Carbajal principles, the Court of Appeal here observed: "Because the jury necessarily found, as an element of the crime of felony hit and run, that Anderson was involved in an accident that resulted in injury or death, the restitution order was reasonably related to the expenses related to Milligan's injuries and death. Further, the order serves the purpose of deterring future criminality."

Defendant petitioned for rehearing on the propriety of restitution to the hospital only, relying on People v. Slattery (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 1091 (Slattery), which was decided by the Third District Court of Appeal after defendant's appellate matter was submitted for decision. Slattery concerned a defendant sentenced to prison for assault and ordered to pay the deceased victim's hospital expenses under section 1202.4. The Slattery court determined that the hospital was not a direct victim for purposes of mandatory restitution required by that statute. Defendant argued the reasoning of the Slattery court was applicable to his circumstances. He asserted that section 1203.1 expressly provides that restitution orders imposed under its authority must comply with the requirements of section 1202.4.

The Court of Appeal denied defendant's petition for rehearing, with no change in the judgment, but modified its opinion to include a discussion of Slattery, supra, 167 Cal.App.4th 1091. Without addressing defendant's statutory ...


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