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Man Eligible for SB 1437 Relief says Court of Appeal

People v. Harris Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: B300410 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: February 16, 2021. In 1997, a jury found defendant guilty of two counts of first degree murder and one count of arson, finding true special circumstance allegations that the murders had been committed while defendant was engaged in the crime of arson and by means of a destructive device, as well as finding true the multiple-murder special-circumstance allegation. Defendant, who was 17 years old at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to concurrent indeterminate terms of 25 years to life for the murders plus a consecutive term of seven years for arson. In 2019, defendant petitioned for resentencing under Penal Code 1170.95, which was denied. The Court of Appeal reversed the superior court's denial and remanded the matter with directions to issue an order to show cause and to proceed consistently with section 1170.95, subdivision (d). The Attorney General concedes that the superior court improperly engaged in factfinding without issuing an order to show cause and holding an evidentiary hearing. The court agreed with defendant that the jury’s arson-murder special-circumstance finding does not necessarily preclude relief in light of the Supreme Court's subsequent clarification in People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788, and People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522, of the requirements for finding a felony-murder special-circumstance allegation true. Furthermore, the record of conviction in this case does not establish defendant's ineligibility for resentencing as a matter of law.

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