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Middle Term Consideration Ordered on Appeal

People v. Ross Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: A163242 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: December 28, 2022. Ross was charged with battery on a nonconfined person by a prisoner. Ross pleaded guilty to the administrative charge of battering the counselor. At trial, several officers and an intercepted letter corroborated the victim’s testimony about the attack. The defense presented no evidence. During discussions about jury instructions, Ross declared, “Man, you are fired” and “I will represent myself.” Ross cursed at the court, which had him removed. Defense attorney Fallman stated that he tried to talk with Ross, who refused and declined to return to the courtroom. Fallman noted that Ross had fired his previous attorney and that he knew of no “provocation.” The court continued without Ross. During closing arguments, Fallman admitted Ross touched the officer willingly, in a harmful or offensive manner, but argued there was no preplanning or weapon. Fallman asked the jury to find Ross guilty of the lesser included offense of misdemeanor battery. The jury convicted Ross, finding two prior strike allegations true. Finding six aggravating factors true and no mitigating factors, the court sentenced Ross to the upper term of four years, doubled to eight years under the Three Strikes Law. The court of appeal affirmed the conviction, rejecting Ross’s argument that his attorney violated his Sixth Amendment rights by conceding his guilt. There was no evidence that his claimed desire to maintain innocence to the exclusion of all other defense strategies was ever communicated to Fallman or the court. The court remanded for resentencing due to Senate Bill 567, which requires that when a statute specifies three potential terms of imprisonment, a court must presumptively impose the middle term.

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