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In re Anthony

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Seventh Division

April 27, 2015

In re OBIE STEVEN ANTHONY III on Habeas Corpus.

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Super. Ct. No. BA097736 Kelvin D. Filer, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Lacy, District Attorney, Phyllis Asayama and Scott D. Collins, Deputy District Attorneys, for Appellant The People.

Northern California Innocence Project, Linda Starr and Paige Kaneb for Respondent Obie Steven Anthony III.

OPINION

ZELON, J.

Obie Steven Anthony III filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging his 1995 murder conviction. Following a 10-day evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the petition and Anthony’s criminal charges were dismissed. Anthony subsequently filed a claim pursuant to Penal Code section 4900 seeking compensation for his allegedly erroneous conviction and incarceration. At the time he filed his claim, Anthony was required to prove his factual innocence in an administrative hearing before the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. While his claim was pending, the Legislature adopted Penal Code section 1485.55, allowing any person who has prevailed in a habeas corpus proceeding to file a motion in the trial court for a finding of factual innocence, and requiring the board to

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accept such a finding and approve the section 4900 claim without any further hearing. Anthony filed a motion pursuant to the newly-added statute which the trial granted.

The district attorney appeals, arguing that: (1) applying Penal Code section 1485.55 to Anthony’s compensation claim violates principles of retroactivity; and (2) there is insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding of factual innocence. We dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the court’s order granting Anthony’s section 1485.55 motion is not appealable by the People.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Summary of Anthony’s Habeas Corpus Proceedings

In 1995, a jury found Obie Anthony guilty of murder and other crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On April 7, 2010, Anthony filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus based on: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) prosecutorial misconduct; (3) the presentation at trial of materially false evidence; and (4) actual innocence. After issuing an order to show cause, the trial court held a 10-day evidentiary hearing. Anthony and 12 other witnesses testified at the hearing, including the lead detective on his criminal investigation and an individual who had provided eyewitness testimony against him at trial.

On September 30, 2011, the trial court issued a 24-page order granting Anthony’s habeas corpus petition. The trial court found that Anthony had established “his conviction was based on material false testimony, ” explaining that the evidence showed the prosecution’s “key witness” had “specifically lied to the jury” and subsequently recanted his identification of Anthony. The court also found Anthony had established “there was prosecutorial misconduct at... trial because the deputy district attorney did not correct false testimony and... suppress[ed]... favorable evidence.” The court found the district attorney had, among other things: failed to correct the “key witness’s” statement that he had not received special treatment in exchange for his testimony; withheld from the defense statements from additional persons who had allegedly witnessed the crime; and failed to inform the defense that a trial witness had “incorrectly picked a ‘filler’” the first time he was shown a photographic lineup of suspects.

On the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel, the court concluded that Anthony’s attorney committed multiple “errors of omission [that]―taken together―constitute a deficiency of performance that theoretically deprived petitioner of competent representation.” The court declined, however, to

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determine whether there was a reasonable probability that counsel’s errors had affected the jury’s decision. The court also ruled that Anthony had failed to establish actual innocence. The court noted that, to prevail on such a claim, the petitioner had the “heavy burden” of showing “that newly discovered evidence ...


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