California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, First Division
for writ of mandate from the Superior Court of Riverside
County No. RIF1201399 Becky L. Dugan, Judge. Petition
Michael A. Hestrin, District Attorney, and Donald W.
Ostertag, Deputy District Attorney for Petitioner.
M. Dumanis, District Attorney, Peter J. Cross, Deputy
District Attorney, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioner.
appearance for Respondent.
J. Booher, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Real
Party in Interest.
Public Defenders Association, Law Offices of the Public
Defender and Laura B. Arnold, as Amicus Curiae on behalf of
Real Party in Interest.
November 8, 2016, the voters passed Proposition 57,
and the new law became effective the following day. As
relevant to this writ proceeding, Proposition 57 eliminated
the People's ability to directly file criminal charges
against a juvenile defendant in a court of criminal
jurisdiction (Adult Court). We must determine whether
Proposition 57 applies to a pending case that the People
directly filed in Adult Court against real party in interest,
Jeremy Walker, several years prior to the effective
date of the new law. We conclude that Proposition 57 does not
apply to Walker's case and that the trial court's
transfer of Walker's case from Adult Court to the
juvenile court (Juvenile Court) pursuant to the new law was
erroneous. Accordingly, we grant the People's
writ petition and direct the trial court to vacate its order
transferring Walker's case from Adult Court to Juvenile
February 2012, the People filed a complaint against Walker in
Adult Court, alleging two counts of attempted premeditated
murder (Pen. Code, §§ 664, 187, subd. (a)) and one
count of active participation in a gang (Pen. Code, §
186.22, subd. (a)). With respect to the attempted murder
counts, the People alleged two firearm enhancements (Pen.
Code, § 12022.53, subds. (d), (e)) and a gang
enhancement (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (b)). The record
indicates that Walker was 17 years old at the time of the
events giving rise to the charges.
People filed the complaint pursuant to former section 707,
subdivision (d) of the Welfare and Institutions
Code. That statute permitted the direct
filing of criminal charges in Adult Court against a person
who was under 18 years of age at the time the crime was
allegedly committed, under certain specified circumstances.
found Walker guilty as charged. The jury also found the
firearm and gang enhancements true. The trial court sentenced
Walker to 80 years to life in prison.
2015, this court ruled that the trial court erred in
admitting certain evidence at Walker's trial and reversed
his convictions. In September 2015, the remittitur issued in
Walker's appeal. Since the issuance of the remittitur,
Walker has been awaiting retrial.
November 8, 2016, the voters passed Proposition 57, which
became effective the following day.
November 2016, Walker filed a motion to transfer his case
from Adult Court to Juvenile Court, in light of Proposition
57. In his motion, Walker argued that Proposition 57
"applies retroactively to direct file cases which are
not yet final." (Formatting omitted.)
People filed an opposition to the motion in which they argued
that Proposition 57 did not apply retroactively to cases
filed in Adult Court prior to the effective date of the new
trial court held a hearing on Walker's motion on December
12, 2016. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court granted
the motion, ruling in relevant part:
side is, it goes to [J]uvenile [C]ourt, because Prop 57 is to
be broadly construed. It doesn't speak to retroactivity
at all, which of course is the People's argument, if it
doesn't speak to it, that means it's prospective.
these cases are going to have to be adjudicated again by
eventually the Supreme Court, I'm sure, but my order
right now is I'm going to grant the motion and order it -
put it in [J]uvenile [C]ourt, because I think that's what
the intent of the proposition is."
trial court stayed its order to permit the People to seek
same day, the People filed a petition for writ of
mandate/prohibition in the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate
District, Division 2. In their petition, the People requested
that the Court of Appeal order the trial court to vacate its
order granting Walker's motion. Three days later, the
Administrative Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal,
Fourth Appellate District, transferred the matter to this
December 22, this court issued an order to show cause,
directed Walker to file a return, permitted the People to
file a traverse, and stayed all further proceedings in the
trial court. Thereafter, Walker filed a return, the People
filed a traverse, and this court heard argument in the
trial court's order granting Walker's motion to
transfer the case from Adult Court to Juvenile Court is
premised on an improper retroactive application of
their petition, the People argue that this court should order
the trial court to vacate its order granting Walker's
motion. In support of this contention, the People argue that
Proposition 57 does not apply retroactively to cases properly
filed in Adult Court prior to the effective date of the
proposition, and that the trial court's order
transferring Walker's case to Juvenile Court is premised
on an improper retroactive application of the law.
contends that Proposition 57 applies retroactively to cases
filed in Adult Court prior to the effective date of the
proposition. In the alternative, Walker contends that the
trial court's order constitutes a prospective application
of the new law. Walker also argues that the Adult Court lacks
jurisdiction over his case pursuant to a section of the
Welfare and Institutions Code (§ 602) as amended by
Proposition 57. Finally, Walker maintains that to fail to
apply Proposition 57 to his case would constitute a denial of
equal protection of the law.
first provide a summary of Proposition 57, before considering
whether the proposition may be applied retroactively to cases
properly filed in Adult Court before the effective date of
the statute. After concluding that Proposition 57 may not be
applied retroactively, we next consider whether the trial
court's order is premised on a prospective application of
the new law. We conclude that the trial court's
application of Proposition 57 to Walker's case
constitutes an improper retroactive application of the law.
We further conclude that the Adult Court does not lack
jurisdiction over Walker's case under section 602 and
that failing to apply Proposition 57 to Walker's case
would not deny him equal protection of the law.
Summary of Proposition 57
People v. Cervantes (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th
569 (Cervantes), review granted May 17, 2017,
S241323, the Court of Appeal summarized the state of the law
governing the filing of criminal charges against juveniles
prior to the enactment of Proposition 57.
California required a judicial determination of unfitness for
juvenile court before a minor could be prosecuted in adult
court. [Citations.] Beginning in March 2000 [with the passage
of Proposition 21 and continuing until the adoption of
Proposition 57, however, the district attorney was
authorized, as a matter of executive discretion, to file a
criminal action against a juvenile in certain defined
circumstances, rather than filing the case in juvenile court,
a practice known as 'direct filing' or
'discretionary direct filing.' [Citations.] Some
crimes... were considered so serious by the voters that, if
committed by a minor age 14 or older, juvenile court was not
an option; filing in adult criminal court was mandated by
statute ('mandatory direct filing')."
(Cervantes, at pp. 595-596, fn. omitted.)
noted previously, the electorate adopted Proposition 57 on
November 8, 2016, and it became effective the following day.
The proposition eliminated the People's ability to
directly file charges against a juvenile defendant in Adult
Court. (See Cervantes,
supra, 9 Cal.App.5th at p. 596; People v.
Superior Court (Lara) (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 753,
758 (Lara), review granted May 17, 2017, S241231.)
The Cervantes court summarized Proposition 57 as
57 was designed to undo Proposition 21. After the passage of
Proposition 57, the charging instrument for all juvenile
crimes must be filed in juvenile court. (See Welf. &
Inst. Code, § 602.) While prosecuting attorneys may move
to transfer certain categories of cases to criminal court
(Welf. & Inst. Code, § 707, subd. (a)(1)), they have
no authority to directly and independently file a criminal
complaint against someone who broke the law as a juvenile,
even by committing the crimes that previously qualified for
mandatory direct filing. In cases where transfer to adult
court is authorized (§ 707, subd. (b)) (and not all
cases qualify), the juvenile court now has sole authority to
determine whether the minor should be transferred. (Welf.
& Inst. Code, § 707, subd. (a)(2); see Brown v.
Superior Court (2016) 63 Cal.4th 335, 340-341...
[describing history and general provisions of the initiative
measure].) Thus, Proposition 57 effectively guarantees a
juvenile accused felon a right to a fitness hearing before he
or she may be sent to the criminal division for prosecution
as an adult." (Cervantes, at pp. 596-597, fn.
Proposition 57's amendments of sections 602 and
suggested by the Cervantes court's summary,
Proposition 57 amended sections 602 and 707. As amended by
Proposition 57, section 602 provides:
as provided in Section 707, any person who is under 18 years
of age when he or she violates any law of this state or of
the United States or any ordinance of any city or county of
this state defining crime other than an ordinance
establishing a curfew based solely on age, is within the
jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge such
person to be a ward of the court."
amended by Proposition 57, section 707, subdivision (a)(1)
In any case in which a minor is alleged to be a person
described in Section 602 by reason of the violation, when he
or she was 16 years of age or older, of any felony criminal
statute, or of an offense listed in subdivision (b) when he
or she was 14 or 15 years of age, the district attorney or
other appropriate prosecuting officer may make a motion to
transfer the minor from juvenile court to a court of criminal
jurisdiction. The motion must be made prior to the attachment
of jeopardy. Upon such motion, the juvenile court shall order
the probation officer to submit a report on the behavioral
patterns and social history of the minor. The report shall
include any written or oral statement offered by the victim
pursuant to Section 656.2."
57 also added section 707, subdivision (a)(2), which
specifies certain criteria that the Juvenile Court shall
consider in "decid[ing] whether the minor should be
transferred to a court of criminal jurisdiction [(i.e., Adult
Court)]." (§ 707, subd. (a)(2).) The
criteria include the degree of criminal sophistication
exhibited by the minor (§ 707, subd. (a)(2)(A)(i)), the
minor's prospects for timely rehabilitation (§ 707,
subd. (a)(2)(B)(i)), the minor's history of delinquency
(§ 707, subd. (a)(2)(C)(i)), the success of prior
attempts by the Juvenile Court to rehabilitate the minor
(§ 707, subd. (a)(2)(D)(i)), and the circumstances and
gravity of the commitment offense (§ 707, subd.
57 also amended section 707, subdivision (b) to state as
(a) shall be applicable in any case in which a minor is
alleged to be a person described in Section 602 by reason of
the violation of one of the following offenses when he or she
was 14 or 15 years of age: [list of numerous offenses
including attempted murder]."
and importantly for this case, Proposition 57 repealed former
section 707, subdivision (d), which permitted the People to
directly file criminal charges against minors in Adult Court
under certain specified circumstances. As applicable to this
case, former section 707, subdivision (d)(1) provided in
district attorney or other appropriate prosecuting officer
may file an accusatory pleading in a court of criminal
jurisdiction against any minor 16 years of age or older who
is accused of committing an offense enumerated in subdivision
57 also eliminated various presumptions to be applied by the
Juvenile Court in determining whether a minor is "a fit
and proper subject to be dealt with under the juvenile court
law, " (former § 707, subd. (c)) by amending
section 707, subdivision (a)(2) and repealing former section
707, subdivision (c).
Proposition 57's uncodified sections
57 contains a number of uncodified sections, three of which
Walker cites in his brief. Section 2 of Proposition 57
provides in relevant part:
enacting this act, it is the purpose and intent of the people
of the State of California to:
Stop the revolving door of crime by emphasizing
rehabilitation, especially for juveniles.
Require a judge, not a prosecutor, to decide whether
juveniles should be tried in adult court."
5 of Proposition 57 provides, "Amendment. This act shall
be broadly construed to accomplish its purposes. The
provisions of Sections 4.1 and 4.2 of this act may be
amended so long as such amendments are consistent with and
further the intent of this act by a statute that is passed by
a majority vote of the members of each house of the
Legislature and signed by the Governor."
section 9 provides, "Liberal Construction. This act
shall be liberally construed to effectuate its
The distinctions between the prosecution of offenses in
Adult Court and in Juvenile Court
differences between the juvenile and adult offender laws
underscore their different goals: The former seeks to
rehabilitate, while the latter seeks to punish." (In
re Julian R. (2009) 47 Cal.4th 487, 496.) The court in
People v. Vela (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 68
(Vela) outlined some of these differences:
prosecutor charges a minor with an offense by filing a
juvenile petition, rather than a criminal complaint.
[Citations.] Minors 'admit' or 'deny' an
offense, rather than plead 'guilty' or 'not
guilty.' [Citation.] There are no 'trials, ' per
se, in juvenile court, rather there is a 'jurisdictional
hearing' presided over by a juvenile court judge.
[Citation.] The jurisdictional hearing is equivalent to a
'bench trial' in a criminal court. [Citation.]
Although a juvenile court judge adjudicates alleged law
violations, there are no 'conviction[s]' in juvenile
court. [Citation.] Rather, the juvenile court
determines-under the familiar beyond the reasonable doubt
standard and under the ordinary rules of evidence-whether the
allegations are 'true' and if the minor comes within
its jurisdiction. [Citation.]
is no 'sentence, ' per se, in juvenile court. Rather,
a judge can impose a wide variety of rehabilitation
alternatives after conducting a 'dispositional hearing,
' which is equivalent to a sentencing hearing in a
criminal court. [Citations.] In the more serious cases, a
juvenile court can 'commit' a minor to juvenile hall
or to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), formerly known
as the California Youth Authority (CYA). In order to commit a
minor to the DJJ, the record must show that less restrictive
alternatives would be ineffective or inappropriate.
[Citation.] The DJJ, rather than the court, sets a parole
consideration date. DJJ commitments can range from one year
or less for nonserious offenses, and up to seven years for
the most serious offenses, including murder. [Citation.] A
minor committed to DJJ must generally be discharged no later
than 23 years of age." (Id. at pp. 73-74.)
The electorate did not intend for Proposition 57 to apply
People contend that the electorate did not intend for
Proposition 57 to apply retroactively. "Whether the
voters intended Proposition 57 to apply retroactively is a
question of law to which we apply our independent
judgment." (P ...