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VACATED: Denial of Motion Under the 2020 Racial Justice Act

Young v. Superior Court of Solano County Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: A162850 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: May 26, 2022. Under the 2020 Racial Justice Act, “[t]he state shall not seek or obtain a criminal conviction or seek, obtain, or impose a sentence on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin” (Pen. Code 745 (a)). The Act's discovery provision allows a defendant, “[u]pon a showing of good cause,” to obtain evidence from the prosecution relevant to a potential violation. Based on evidence presented at his preliminary hearing, Young argued that racial profiling in a traffic stop led to his arrest for possession of Ecstasy for sale. He cited statistics showing that, statewide, blacks are more likely to be searched during traffic stops than others. He sought discovery relating to charging decisions for the past five years concerning others who were charged with or could have been charged with possession of Ecstasy for sale and related drug offenses. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeal vacated. Borrowing from the minimal threshold showing that is required to trigger an obligation to provide “Pitchess” discovery (Evid. Code 1043(b), Young may claim entitlement to discovery under the Act if he makes a plausible case, based on specific facts, that any of the enumerated violations of section 745(a) could or might have occurred. The court must engage in a discretionary weighing of the strength of Young’s factual showing, the potential probative value of the information he seeks, and the burdens of gathering the requested information.

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