Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, March 14, 2002


Page 3


S.C. Agrees to Rule on Statute Restricting Bail Following Sentencing


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The California Supreme Court agreed yesterday to resolve a conflict over whether a statute limiting the ability of judges to release convicted defendants on bail pending sentencing applies following guilty pleas.

At issue in People v. Seneca Insurance Company,  115 Cal.Rptr.2d 109, and People v. Ranger Insurance Company, 113 Cal.Rptr.2d 759, is the application of Penal Code Sec. 1166. The section requires that a convicted felon be remanded without bail unless the court expressly finds that he or she is unlikely to flee the jurisdiction or to endanger public safety.

Both appeals followed rulings on appeals by bail-bond sureties who argued that bonds securing appearance by convicted defendants who absconded should have been exonerated because the judges released the defendants without making the required findings, following guilty pleas.

Div. Three of this district’s Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Seneca, saying a Los Angeles Superior Court judge was in error when he allowed a  defendant to remain free following a plea of guilty to multiple counts of receiving stolen property.

Sec. 1166 implicitly applies following a guilty plea, Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein wrote, because such a plea is equivalent to a verdict of guilty by a jury.

A contrary conclusion was reached by this district’s Div. Six in Ranger. Justice Stephen Perren wrote in that case that a Santa Barbara judge was not required to make findings before releasing a defendant who later failed to show for sentencing and was correct in ordering forfeiture.

The statute Perren noted, expressly mentions verdicts but makes no mention of pleas.

In other actions taken at yesterday’s conference, the high court:

Agreed to decide whether a San Francisco area anti-abortion activist was the victim of a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP, based on claims that he caused the false arrest of a Planned Parenthood employee while demonstrating outside a clinic. The court deferred briefing in Gehrs v. Planned Parenthood Golden Gate pending its consideration of Balser v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A, which the court agreed to hear in December.

Both cases involve the applicability of the Civil Code Sec. 47 litigation privilege to police reports sought to be used in false-arrest cases.

Agreed to decide whether a defendant who pleads guilty in exchange for a specified prison term, then unsuccessfully requests commitment to the California Rehabilitation Center, needs to obtain a certificate of probable cause in order to appeal that denial.

A divided panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Div. Three, answered that question in the affirmative in People v. Buttram, 115 Cal.Rptr.2d 59.

Agreed to decide whether a court, having stayed an on-bail enhancement pending prosecution for the underlying offense, may lift that stay after the defendant is convicted of that offense in another county. The First District Court of Appeal said it could, in People v. Melony, 94 Cal.App.4th 442.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company