Monday, April 14, 2008
Court’s Misspelling of Name Was Reversible Error—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A trial court committed reversible error when it issued a victim restitution order containing multiple variations on the intended recipient’s name, the Sixth District Court of Appeal held last week.
In an unpublished opinion released Thursday, the court reversed Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Ron Del Pozzo’s order of restitution to Vanny Uy and remanded the case to determine the correct recipient’s name because the order alternatively referred to Uy as “Danny Vuy,” “Vanny Uy” and “Vanna Uy.”
The order arose in connection with Louie Floyd Bucao’s plea of no contest to a charge of murder in relation to the death of Uy’s brother, Saran Uy.
Vanny Uy, one of Saran Uy’s two brothers, estimated that he had spent about $7,500 on funeral expenses and received $5,000 from the state Victim Compensation Program.
Bucao, at sentencing, stipulated to reimbursing $2,500 to the victim’s family and $5,000 to the state, and Del Pozzo orally ordered payment of $2,500 to “Danny Vuy,” which was reflected in the minute order and abstract of judgment.
He later issued a “Judgment and Victim Restitution Order,” which stated “Vanna Uy may recover…the sum of $7500.00, as and for unpaid balance of restitution”, but also indicated elsewhere that the sum of $2,500 was ordered as restitution to “Vanny Uy.”
Bucao appealed, arguing that the trial court’s orders were unclear and inconsistent, while the government, conceding that the amount of restitution due was $2,500, contended that Uy was due restitution regardless of the spelling of his name in the order.
Writing for the appellate court, Justice declined to adopt the government’s position.
Noting that the criminal judgment should be unambiguous, and that as an enforceable money judgment it should be “both accurate and internally consistent,” he wrote that remand was required because the court could not resolve the inconsistent references.
“Although it appears that the surname of the intended recipient is “Uy” and that the reference to “Vuy” by the court is an error, the first name of the brother is not apparent from the record,” he wrote.
“The victim’s brother was alternately referred to as Vanny, Vanna, and Danny and there is evidence that defendant had at least two brothers. The matter therefore must be remanded to the trial court to determine the correct recipient.”
Justices Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian and Wendy Clark Duffy joined Mihara in his opinion.
The case is People v. Bucao, H031455.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company