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Denial of Timely Prelim Results in Dismissal

People v. Superior Court Court: California Courts of Appeal, Dockets: B306519 (Second Appellate District), B306520 (Second Appellate District), B306523 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: January 12, 2021. Penal Code section 859b permits a defendant to enter a limited waiver of time beyond the initial 60-day time period by agreeing the preliminary hearing be held by a date certain. Absent a further time waiver by the defendant, the court may not continue the preliminary hearing beyond the agreed-upon date based on a finding of good cause. The People petition for writs of mandate to compel the superior court to vacate its order dismissing amended complaints against real party in interest Arnold, Park, and Case. Although it is common in the superior courts for defendants to enter limited time waivers, agreeing, as here, to waive time to a new date as a "zero of 60" or "zero of 90" date, the People contend that under section 859b, if a defendant waives time beyond the initial 60-day period following arraignment, this constitutes a general time waiver, and defendant loses his or her right to demand the preliminary hearing take place by a date certain. The People also assert that there is a good-cause exception to the 60-day time limit allowing a continuance of the preliminary hearing to maintain joinder of the codefendants or to enable defendants' pending motion to disqualify the district attorney's office be heard before the preliminary hearing. The Court of Appeal rejected these contentions and denied the petitions. In this case, Arnold, Park, and Case did not enter general waivers of their right to a timely preliminary hearing; there is no good cause exception to section 859b's requirement a preliminary hearing be held within 60 days of the defendant's arraignment or plea; and defendants' disqualification motion did not toll the 60-day time limit.

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