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In re Coleman

California Court of Appeals, First District, Fifth Division

May 14, 2015

In re DAMIEN COLEMAN on Habeas Corpus.

Superior Court of Marin County, No. SC188320A, Hon., Judge James T. Chou.

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COUNSEL

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Jennifer A. Neill, Assistant Attorney General, Phillip J. Lindsay and Brian C. Kinney, Deputy Attorneys General, for Appellant the People.

Marc Eric Norton, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Respondent Damien Coleman.

OPINION

SIMONS, Acting P.J.

When a state prison inmate commits a felony, Penal Code, section 1170.1, subdivision (c) (“Section 1170.1(c)”), [1] provides that any consecutive sentence for such felony “shall commence from the time the person would otherwise have been released from prison.” This case requires that we interpret Section 1170.1(c) to determine whether an inmate serving a life term who commits a custodial offense is entitled to have his consecutive sentence for that offense begin on the date he completes his base term or on the date he is found suitable for parole. The trial court adopted the former interpretation, granted the petition for habeas corpus filed by Damien Coleman (petitioner), and ordered that petitioner be released from prison on the ground that California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) miscalculated his release date. Kevin Chappell (appellant), warden at San Quentin State Prison, appeals from the superior court’s order and contends the superior court erred in its construction of Section 1170.1(c). Appellant argues the term for the custodial offense did not commence until the Board of Parole Hearings’ (Board) determination that petitioner was suitable for parole became effective in 2013. Because the superior court’s order is contrary to the plain language of Section 1170.1(c), we reverse.

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BACKGROUND

Petitioner pled guilty to second degree murder (ยง 187) in April 1990 and in September received an indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life in prison; he ...


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