Friday, June 9, 2017
Proposition 57 Is Not Retroactive—Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Proposition 57—enacted by voters last November to preclude the filing of criminal charges against minors directly in adult court—is not retroactive, the Court of Appeal held yesterday.
This means that Jeremy Walker, who was 17 when he was charged in 2015 in adult court with two counts of attempted premeditated murder and was convicted, will be retried in adult court following a reversal of the convictions.
The decision by the First District’s Div. One is in accord with those of four other panels that have considered the question, and in conflict with one case in which retroactivity was found.
In yesterday’s opinion, Justice Cynthia Aaron said:
“We also… unpersuaded by Walker’s contention that Proposition 57 may be applied retroactively because ‘[n]othing in the language of the measure or the Legislative Analyst’s treatment of the measure suggested an intention to limit the applicability to those whose cases have been filed or who were at any specific stage of the proceedings.’ In light of the well-established presumption in favor of the prospective application of statutes…, the absence of language in Proposition 57 reflecting an intent to apply the proposition prospectively does not demonstrate that the voters intended for the law to be applied retroactively.”
She concluded that the court must apply Proposition 57 “unless an exception to the presumption in favor or prospective application applies.”
Aaron said her panel agrees with opinions that reject applicability of the principle set forth in In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740 that retroactivity is presumed where a new enactment reduces the penalty for a crime. Proposition 57, she pointed out, lessens the punishment for no specific offense.
A voter, she speculated, “might reasonably intend for the new law not to be applied to cases filed in Adult Court prior to the effective date of the proposition in order to avoid the procedural difficulties created by such an application.”
She said it does not make sense to require the transfer of a case from adult court to juvenile court, with the prosecution then moving that it be send back to the adult court.
“This court is not hostile to the policy changes effectuated by Proposition 57. However, as laudatory as the motivation behind the enactment of Proposition 57 may be, we conclude that the changes in the law that it enacted may not lawfully be applied to Walker’s case given the lack of any discernable intent on the part of the electorate to apply Proposition 57 to require transfer hearings in the Juvenile Court for those minors against whom charges were properly filed in Adult Court prior to the effective date of the proposition.”
A writ was issued directing the Riverside Superior Court to vacate an order transferring Walker’s case to the Juvenile Court.
The case is People v. Superior Court of Riverside County, D071461.
Justice Gilbert Nares concurred in the result only, but stated no reason.
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