SCOTUS Agrees to Hear California-Related Cases, Including ‘Gang Enhancements’ and State’s ‘Racial Justice Act’

By The Vanguard Staff

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court dealt with a myriad of cases, including gang enhancements and racially-biased prosecutions, this week at SCOTUS’ conference, according to the Horvitz and Levy LLP “At the Lectern” blog by David Ettinger.

Ettinger wrote, “The court agreed to hear People v. Lopez, limiting the issue to: “Is defendant entitled to retroactive application of Assembly Bill No. 333 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.) where he appeals for a second time after his judgment was conditionally reversed and the Court of Appeal issued a limited remand to the trial court to address sentencing issues?”

 The blog added the “legislation amended the law regarding gang enhancements. Disagreeing with the Fourth District, Division Three, Court of Appeal decision in People v. Salgado (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 376, the Fourth District, Division Two, in a 2-1 partially published opinion, held that, even though AB 333 applies retroactively, because the earlier appellate reversal and remand only concerned enhancements other than gang enhancements, “the trial court did not have jurisdiction to reconsider the [defendant’s] gang enhancement.” 

“The dissent says the prior appeal doesn’t preclude application of AB 333 to the defendant — ‘this case has not reached a final judgment, so A.B. 333 applies retroactively to it,’” Ettinger said, adding there was no petition for review in Salgado. 

He noted the Supreme Court heard argument last month in People v. Rojas, regarding AB 333’s constitutionality, and “next month it will hear People v. Clark about the legislation’s application. Lopez already has its own grant-and-hold.”

SCOTUS also granted review of the California Racial Justice Act in People v. Lashon, “vacated the First District, Division Three, decision (which depublished the appellate court’s opinion (see here)), and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of Assembly Bill 1118, which was enacted last month,” wrote Ettinger. 

The author said “defendant challenged her murder convictions on appeal claiming implicit bias by the trial judge in violation of the California Racial Justice Act. Division Three held that, under the Act as then written, the claim was forfeited by not filing a motion in the trial court before judgment. 

“AB 1118 changes the Act to allow a claim to be raised ‘on direct appeal from the conviction or sentence’ and to permit a motion ‘to stay the appeal and request remand to the superior court to file a motion.’ Division Three didn’t consider the then-pending bill because, it said, ‘we cannot consider amendments that may or may not be made at a future date.’”

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