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K.R. v. Superior Court (The People)

Supreme Court of California

June 29, 2017

K.R., Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Respondent; THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.

         Sacramento County Superior County No. JV134953, Ct.App. 3 C079548 James P. Arguelles, Judge

          Paulino G. Duran, Public Defender, Arthur L. Bowie, Patricia Beza Contreras and David Lynch, Assistant Public Defenders, for Petitioner.

          No appearance for Respondent.

          Kamala D. Harris and Xavier Becerra, Attorneys General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant Attorney General, Jesse Witt, Rachelle A. Newcomb, Michael A. Canzoneri and Eric L. Christoffersen, Deputy Attorneys General, for Real Party in Interest.

          Werdegar, J.

         In 1978, this court established a basic background rule applicable to plea negotiations in criminal cases, holding that “[a]s a general principle... whenever a judge accepts a plea bargain and retains sentencing discretion under the agreement, an implied term of the bargain is that sentence will be imposed by that judge.” (People v. Arbuckle (1978) 22 Cal.3d 749');">22 Cal.3d 749, 756-757 (Arbuckle).) We later found the same rule applied to pleas in juvenile court. (In re Mark L. (1983) 34 Cal.3d 171, 177 (Mark L.).) In the ensuing years, some intermediate appellate courts have perceived some leeway in the Arbuckle rule, and declined to recognize a right to the same judge at sentencing unless the record contained sufficient evidence that the defendant subjectively intended, as a condition of his or her plea, that the judge who accepted the plea would also pronounce sentence. (See, e.g., People v. Horn (1989) 213 Cal.App.3d 701, 707-708.) The Court of Appeal below joined in this view, denying petitioner K.R.'s petition for a writ of mandate because he “failed to show that he entered into the plea agreement in expectation of and reliance upon” having the same judge who took his plea also preside at sentencing.

         As we explain, neither Arbuckle nor its progeny support the notion that a defendant's ability to enforce the same-judge guarantee, a term implied in every plea agreement, is dependent on a defendant (or juvenile) first making a factual showing that he or she subjectively intended the judge taking the plea would also pronounce sentence. Because the Court of Appeal held otherwise, we reverse.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background[1]

         In March 2013, when petitioner K.R. was 13 years old, the People filed a delinquency petition against him pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 alleging he had committed the crimes of robbery and making criminal threats, both felonies (Pen. Code, §§ 211, 422), as well as brandishing a knife, a misdemeanor (id., § 417, subd. (a)(1)). In August 2013, Judge James P. Arguelles presided over a jurisdictional hearing on the petition in department 97 of the Sacramento County Superior Court, sitting as a juvenile court, and found the allegations true. In September 2013, Judge Arguelles presided at a disposition hearing and adjudged K.R. a ward of the juvenile court, committed him to the custody of his mother, and placed him on probation subject to a number of conditions, including 150 days in juvenile hall (less 76 days' custody credit).

         On March 10, 2014, the People filed a violation of probation (VOP) petition (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 602, 777) alleging K.R. had violated his probation by committing two counts of threatening school officials, both felonies (Pen. Code, § 71), two counts of issuing criminal threats against school officials, also felonies (id., § 422), and trespassing on a school campus, a misdemeanor (id., § 626.8). The next day, the People filed a second VOP petition, alleging the minor violated seven conditions of his probation stemming from his antisocial behavior in school and failure to complete court-ordered counseling. K.R. thereafter admitted one felony count of making criminal threats, as alleged in the first petition, and four probation violations, as alleged in the second petition. The court dismissed the remaining counts in the interest of justice, continued K.R. as a ward of the court, ordered him to serve 45 days in juvenile hall, and released him to his mother's custody and reinstated probation.

         On May 16, 2014, the People filed a third VOP petition, this time alleging K.R. had violated the terms of his probation by committing two new felonies: carrying a concealed firearm and carrying a loaded firearm. (Pen. Code, §§ 25400, subd. (a)(2), former 12031, subd. (a)(1).) The juvenile court later dismissed this petition as superseded by another VOP petition (also designated the third petition) alleging the same two counts. On June 18, 2014, K.R. admitted the first alleged violation (carrying a concealed weapon) and the court dismissed the second allegation; the court continued K.R. as a ward of the court and ordered him to serve 75 days in juvenile hall. His probation was then reinstated and he was released to the care and custody of his mother.

         On April 9, 2015, the People filed a fourth VOP petition alleging that K.R. had again violated the terms of his probation. This new petition alleged the minor had remained away from his home overnight without parental permission, failed to keep his probation officer informed of his address and telephone number, used marijuana, and had committed three misdemeanors: possession of marijuana on a school campus, falsely identifying himself to a law enforcement officer, and being a disruptive presence on a school campus. (Health & Saf. Code, § 11357, subd. (e); Pen. Code, §§ 148.9, subd. (a), 626.8, subd. (a).) A week later, on April 14, the People filed a fifth VOP petition, alleging that K.R. had violated his probation yet again by brandishing a firearm (Pen. Code, § 417, subd. (a)(2)), and brandishing a replica firearm (id., § 417.4), both misdemeanors.

         Judge Doris Shockley, sitting on assignment in department 92, presided over a hearing held on the fourth and fifth VOP petitions. Judge Shockley ordered K.R. detained at juvenile hall and set a settlement conference hearing for April 28, 2015, in department 97, Judge Arguelles's department. She also ordered the probation department to prepare and submit a memorandum with recommendations for that hearing.

         The probation department's subsequently prepared report indicated that although K.R. had been supervised for 20 months, his adjustment to probation continued to be poor. The report indicated that he refused to follow the directives of his mother, continued to incur numerous school infractions, and had been named as a suspect in a recent armed robbery. The department felt “a placement recommendation may be warranted, ” but noted, “the family [specifically, K.R.'s mother] has moved to the state of Nevada.” The department, therefore, recommended that K.R.'s probation be revoked and reinstated, that he be permitted to travel to Las Vegas to reside with his mother “pursuant to Interstate Compact protocol, ” and that the proceedings be transferred to the juvenile court of Clark County, Nevada, for final disposition.

         On April 28, 2015, the parties appeared in department 97 before Judge Jack Sapunor, a regular visiting judge in Sacramento County juvenile court. With Judge Sapunor presiding, the parties stipulated to continue the settlement conference hearing regarding the fourth and fifth VOP petitions to May 12. On that day, the parties again appeared in department 97. Judge Arguelles presided over the continued settlement conference hearing but, at the request of K.R.'s attorney, continued the hearing again, this time to May 28.

         On May 28, 2015, the parties again appeared in department 97 for the continued settlement conference hearing. Judge Sapunor was again presiding as a visiting judge. At that time, K.R.'s attorney told the court that the minor was prepared to admit two allegations (from the fourth petition, that he had remained away overnight without parental permission, and from the fifth petition, that he had brandished a replica firearm) “with an understanding that the disposition would be 54 days in custody of juvenile hall. He has 47 days as of today. [¶] The intention is in one week from today to recalendar this for proof that [K.R.'s grandmother] has purchased the plane ticket to Nevada as the minor's mother is currently a resident of the state of Nevada, and this case would be transferred out for [supervision] to Nevada.”

         Judge Sapunor confirmed with K.R.'s attorney that “[w]e're going to order the transfer today and then calendar it for a week to make sure that's been accomplished, ” and further confirmed with the prosecutor that this was the “recommended disposition.” The court advised K.R. of his constitutional rights and obtained his waiver of them, whereupon K.R. admitted the two probation violations and Judge Sapunor granted the prosecutor's motion to dismiss the remaining allegations. The court then revoked and reinstated all previous orders. Before Judge Sapunor could finish the disposition, however, the probation officer serving as the presenter to the court interrupted, stating: “Your Honor, just a thought real quick, I know we just took the admission. My only concern is if we come back a week from now and there's not a ticket bought and if we do the dispo[sition] today, we may have to unravel all that we're doing right now-not the admission necessarily, just the disposition.” The following colloquy then took place:

         “THE COURT: Maybe we ought to put this out for a week to make sure that the disposition goes as planned.

         “THE PRESENTER: That was just my thought that it all worked cleanly together. If for some reason it fell apart, we'll have to undo everything we're doing.

         “MS. CONTRERAS: I am fine with putting whatever we need necessary [sic]. My only request is that if we put the case over for one week, the time slots have to coordinate with the flight information. What is the quickest that he will be able to be processed to be released to get out to get on the plane?

         “THE PRESENTER: If we come in first thing in the morning, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, let's say the flight's purchased for 1:30, 2:00 in the afternoon, the later the better, we would be good to go.

         “MS. CONTRERAS: That's agreeable. We can continue putting dispo[sition] over for the final terms to one week from today in the morning.

         “THE PRESENTER: We can sign all the interstate [compact forms] on that date also.

         “THE COURT: You want to have disposition one week from today which is going to be the 4th of June?

         “MS. CONTRERAS: Yes. The intention is for him to be deemed time served at that time.

         “THE COURT: Yes. He's to be deemed time served on June 4th at 8:30. All the other conditions, this case would be transferred to Clark County, Nevada, for final disposition, and then he will be released to go to Las ...


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