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People v. Lopez

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

October 25, 2016

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
RAUL ALBERTO LOPEZ, Defendant and Respondent. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
FREDDIE CHACON, Defendant and Respondent

          Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County, No. F209990001, No. F000210166, Michael L. Duffy, Judge.

Page 650

         COUNSEL

         Dan Dow, District Attorney, and Gregory J. Devitt, Deputy District Attorney, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Page 651

         Mark R. Feeser, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Respondent Raul Alberto Lopez.

         Sidley Austin, Jennifer N. Gaspar, Douglas A. Axel, Christopher S. Munsey, Matt Light and Jaime A. Bartlett for Defendant and Respondent Freddie Chacon.

         Gilbert, P. J., and Perren, J., concurring.

          OPINION

          [208 Cal.Rptr.3d 696] YEGAN, J.

          A criminal defendant should not be punished for exercising a constitutional right as declared by the United States Supreme Court. Here, defendants exercised their declared rights by obtaining habeas corpus relief. They should not be precluded from obtaining further relief pursuant to a subsequently enacted remedial statute which addresses vindication of the same constitutional right. Were we to do so, we would elevate form over substance. (Civ. Code, § 3528.)

         The People appeal from postjudgment orders granting probation to respondents Raul Alberto Lopez and Freddie Chacon after the trial court recalled their sentences pursuant to newly amended Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d).[1] In 1994, respondents were sentenced to life without possibility of parole (LWOP) plus nine years in state prison for crimes they committed as juveniles. They served almost a quarter of a century in prison. The People contend that the trial court was without jurisdiction to recall the sentences after the LWOP sentences were modified to simple life sentences in 2012 pursuant to Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. 48, 82 [176 L.Ed.2d 825, 130 S.Ct. 2011]. The People seek refuge under the plain meaning rule. We understand the People's point but we cannot, in good conscience, subscribe to the " 'dictionary school of jurisprudence.'" ( People v. Clayburg (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 86, 91 [149 Cal.Rptr.3d 414].) Application of the plain meaning rule would be unfair and penalize respondents because they exercised their constitutional rights as declared by the United States Supreme Court. We affirm.

         Procedural History

         In 1993, respondents, who were 16 years old, were confined in a California Youth Authority facility (CYA). They kidnapped a CYA librarian, Ava Goldman, in an attempt to escape from the facility in Paso Robles. Respondents took Goldman hostage and assaulted her. Roy Victorino, a CYA instructor, tried to rescue Goldman and was stabbed in ...


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