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SB 1437 Case Finds New Life

People v. Duchine Court: California Courts of Appeal Docket: A157980 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: February 9, 2021. Duchine was convicted of first-degree murder in 1987. His conviction was affirmed. In 2019, he filed a petition for resentencing under Penal Code section 1170.95 (Senate Bill 1437), with a declaration asserting he was charged and convicted of first-degree murder under a felony-murder theory, but that he did not, with intent to kill, aid, abet or assist the actual killer in the commission of murder, and that he could not be convicted of first-degree murder under the newly reformed murder statutes (amended Penal Code sections 188 or 189). After appointing counsel for Duchine and reviewing briefs, the trial court denied the petition. On appeal, the Attorney General agreed with Duchine that the trial court erred by denying relief at the prima facie stage on the ground that there was substantial evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could reach a guilty verdict of first-degree murder and by engaging in judicial fact-finding at the prima facie stage rather than holding an evidentiary hearing. The court of appeal reversed and remanded with instructions to the trial court to issue an order to show cause and conduct an evidentiary hearing on Duchine’s petition.

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