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People v. Williams

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

July 16, 2019

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS, Defendant and Appellant.

          APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. YA095655, Edmund Willcox Clarke, Jr., Judge. Appeal dismissed.

          Christopher Love, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Steven D. Matthews, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, and Ryan M. Smith, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          WILEY, J.

         We confront a direct and widening court conflict over whether defendants who made a plea deal must obtain a certificate of probable cause before asking, on appeal, for a remand for resentencing under Senate Bill No. 1393 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.), which we call SB 1393. The Supreme Court has taken up but not yet decided this conflict. We join with the courts ruling a certificate of probable cause is necessary. We dismiss this appeal because Christopher Williams never tried to obtain a certificate of probable cause. All statutory citations are to the Penal Code.

         I

         We summarize some factual background.

         As part of a plea deal, Williams pleaded no contest to two felony counts of robbery. Williams admitted a strike offense conviction. In May 2018, the trial court sentenced Williams to 30 years and four months in prison. Five of these years were due to a prior serious felony conviction enhancement under section 667, subdivision (a)(1). Without requesting or receiving a certificate of probable cause, Williams filed a notice of appeal on May 31, 2018.

         The law changed later in 2018. At the time of sentencing, section 1385(b) prohibited the court from striking any prior conviction of a serious felony for enhancement purposes under section 667. On September 30, 2018, the Governor signed SB 1393 into law. Effective January 1, 2019, this bill amended section 1385 to grant courts discretion either to impose or to strike section 667, subdivision (a)(1) enhancements.

         II

         The parties correctly agree the changes enacted by SB 1393 apply retroactively to Williams. (See In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, 744-745 (Estrada).)

         Courts of Appeal have divided over whether a defendant sentenced before SB 1393 must obtain a certificate of probable cause before seeking a remand for resentencing under the new law. (Compare People v. Galindo (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 658, petn. for review pending, petn. filed June 26, 2019 (Galindo) [dismissing appeal for defendant's failure to obtain certificate of probable cause] and People v. Kelly (2019) 32 Cal.App.5th 1013, review granted June 12, 2019, S255145 (Kelly) [dismissing appeal for defendant's failure to obtain certificate of probable cause] with People v. Stamps (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 117, review granted June 12, 2019, S255843 [remanding for resentencing given SB 1393] and People v. Alexander (June 25, 2019, A151809 & A152247) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ [2019 WL 2590700] [remanding for resentencing given SB 1393].) A similar split concerns Senate Bill No. 620 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) (SB 620), which granted trial courts new discretion to strike or dismiss firearm sentencing enhancements. (Compare People v. Fox (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 1124 (Fox) [dismissing appeal for defendant's failure to obtain certificate of probable cause] with People v. Hurlic (2018) 25 Cal.App.5th 50 [remanding for resentencing given SB 620] and People v. Baldivia (2018) 28 Cal.App.5th 1071');">28 Cal.App.5th 1071 [remanding for resentencing given SB 620].)

         We agree with the courts in Galindo, Kelly, and similar cases and therefore dismiss the present appeal for Williams's failure to obtain a certificate of probable cause.

         There is no sign the Legislature meant SB 1393 to apply to cases with ...


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