Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, August 10, 2017


Page 1


Restitution Order May Be Based on Estimate, Not Bill, Court of Appeal Says


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday that an order to a man to pay restitution to a woman whose car he vandalized was properly set at the amount of a particular garage’s estimate, without regard to the going rate, and without honoring the defendant’s offer to have a friend of his do the repairs.

Justice Laurie Zelon wrote the opinion, affirming an order by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John T. Doyle that ordered Jeffrey Lee Knight to pay $2,162.45 to the victim, Khristy S.. The opinion which was not certified for publication, came in People v. Knight, B271846.

Knight, who has been released from the California Institution for Men after serving time for the vandalism and other offenses to which he pled no contest, disputed $1,560.45 of the award. He did not take issue with the $220 bill to replace Khristy S.’s car rear window or the $382 she claimed in lost wages occasioned from being in court.

Zelon rejected Knight’s contention that Doyle should have considered what other garages would have charged for the repair work, and should not have inferred that the amount of the estimate was what was actually charged. She wrote:

“The trial court did not abuse its discretion by relying on the written repair estimate to measure restitution. The written estimate demonstrates that repair of Khristy S.’s car is possible; as a result, Khristy S.’s economic loss is measured by the actual cost of repair….Olympic Auto Center prepared the estimate with the express purpose of calculating how much it would charge Khristy S. to repair her car. As such, the estimate is prima facie evidence of Khristy S.’s actual cost of repair.”

Zelon added:

“Knight presented no evidence to the trial court showing the written estimate was inaccurate or unreliable. Absent such evidence, the court did not abuse its discretion in relying upon the estimate to calculate restitution.”

Knight also insisted that it was unreasonable not to let a friend of his do the work, explaining that the friend would have extended credit to him, collecting after he got out of prison.

The jurist responded:

“The court’s decision not to adopt Knight’s proposal was not arbitrary because the court could rationally decide it would be unreasonable to order Khristy S. to conduct business with friends of the man convicted of stalking her and vandalizing her car. However, even if Knight’s alternative proposal were considered reasonable, it is not an abuse of discretion to choose one reasonable way to calculate restitution over another.”

Knight was represented on appeal by appointed counsel, Jolene Larimore.

The Third District Court of Appeal yesterday ordered the Appellate Division of the San Joaquin Superior Court to appoint counsel for an indigent appellant contesting a restitution order in a misdemeanor case. It said that “an order requiring the payment of restitution is a “significant adverse collateral consequence” within the meaning of California Rules of Court, rule 8.851(a)(1)(A), requiring the appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant on appeal in a misdemeanor case.”

That case is Harris v. Superior Court, C083669.


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