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  • Environmental: Riverside Superior Judge Raquel Marquez’s denial of writ of mandate partially affirmed, partially overturned in Paulek v. County of Riverside/Center For Biological Diversity v. County of Riverside (1800517 & RIC1800722/E079799)
    • Different environmental groups filed two lawsuits against The Villages of Lakeview development, between the cities of Perris and San Jacinto. The development would add 11,350 dwelling units and new schools over 3,000 acres. The suits argue the environmental impact report for the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act. The Court of Appeal agreed with the suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity that one of the mitigation measures in the EIR was inadequate, and that the EIR failed to address the environmental effects of supplying water to the development. The appellate opinion ordered the trial court to issue a writ of mandate to correct the environmental impact report, and to tell the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to set aside the certification of the report. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favor of the development in the case brought by Albert Paulek and Friends of the Northern San Jacinto Valley.
  • Bail: Riverside Superior Retired Judge Albert Wojcik’s writ of habeas corpus granted in In re Berthelotte (SWF2100454/E079251A)
    • The Court of Appeal ordered new bail to be set after a $1 million bail was found to be too high under recent precedent. Cole Berthelotte was charged with one count of pedophilia in April 2021. He pleaded not guilty, and asked to be released without having to pay bail. Wojcik denied the request, and found that releasing Berthelotte would not ensure the safety of the victim. He set bail at $110,000. Berthelotte posted bail. The District Attorney filed information charging additional pedophilic counts. The prosecutor asked for either no bail, under the Humphrey ruling, or for $1 million bail, the amount set for the bail schedule. Wojcik raised bail to $1 million, citing a potential flight risk and a danger to public safety. Barthelotte appealed, and has not posted bail. The Court of Appeal agreed that Berthelotte is entitled to a new, lower bail. “Here, the record of the bail review hearing contains no indication that the trial court considered either what bail Berthelotte could afford or the adequacy of nonfinancial conditions of release. It did not, for instance, weigh the concern that Berthelotte “is a threat to the alleged victim” against Berthelotte’s compliance with the protective order prohibiting any contact with her. It also did not expressly state why Berthelotte’s flight risk due to the “stakes being raised” would not have been reasonably addressed by electronic monitoring or supervision by pretrial services. Rather, it jumped from considering flight risk and public safety to a bare conclusion that $1 million bail was necessary, only concluding (by implication) that both nonfinancial release conditions and affordable bail were insufficient,” the ruling said.
  • Criminal: San Bernardino Superior Judge Bryan Stodghill’s verdict affirmed in People v. D.C. (J279005/E078193)
    • D.C., a 16-year-old who was not named, fatally shot someone inside of a Stater Bros. grocery store on Baseline Street, San Bernardino, in 2019. D.C. had pulled the gun on the victim, who left, then returned and tackled D.C. He was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. D.C. appealed the conviction, arguing that prosecutors failed to prove he was not acting in self-defense. The Court of Appeal disagreed. Since D.C. shot the victim five times, and only two shots were fatal, the court could conclude that the fatal shot was fired after D.C. was acting in self-defense, the Court of Appeal ruled. Justice Michael Raphael of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two, wrote a dissenting opinion. Raphael argued that D.C.’s shot to the victim’s heart, immediately after being tackled, was the cause of death, and that the later shots, fired after the victim fell and while D.C. was running out of the store, did not contribute to the death. The prosecutors failed to prove that the shot was not under self-defense, and the manslaughter verdict lacked substantial evidence, Raphael argued.
  • Criminal: San Bernardino Superior Judge John P. Vander Feer’s denial of removal of plea affirmed in People v. Ayala (FVI1500286/E079026)
    • Arife Ayala pleaded guilty to forcible rape in 2015. He filed a motion to withdraw his plea on the grounds that he did not know that a guilty plea could result in his deportation back to Mexico. The motion was denied, and he appealed. The Court of Appeal found that he had to have known about the immigration consequences of his plea considering he signed a form stating he was aware he could be deported, and Vander Feer told him that he could be deported.
  • Restraining order: San Bernardino Superior Judge John Tomberlin’s issuance of restraining order affirmed in Bilbao v. Shiloh (CIVSB2200198/E078608)
    • Kennard Shiloh appealed the granting of a restraining order against him. The order was issued after a hearing which he did not attend. Shiloh claimed on appeal that he could not appear because was homeless and had post traumatic stress disorder. He also claimed that the woman who got the restraining order against him had lied during her request. Because the record on appeal does not contain the woman’s request for a restraining order of a transcript of the hearing, the Court of Appeal found that Shiloh failed to prove any errors.
  • Criminal: San Bernardino Superior Judge Harold Wilson’s conviction affirmed in People v. Hernandez (FSB19001842/E078556)
    • Samantha Hernandez was convicted of first degree burglary after being caught stealing a bag from a San Bernardino mobile home. She appealed her conviction, arguing insufficient evidence to prove the home was inhabited at the time, because the owners were moving out to do repairs. If so her conviction could be reduced to second degree burglary. The Court of Appeal disagreed.
  • Family: San Bernardino Superior Judge Erin Alexander’s termination of parental rights affirmed in In re J.S. (J290872, J290873/E080105)
    • A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights, arguing that San Bernardino County failed to investigate the child’s Native American heritage as required by federal law. The Court of Appeal disagreed, finding that the county did adequately investigate the child’s heritage.
  • Family: San Bernardino Superior Judge Lynn Poncin’s denial of custody affirmed in In re J.J. (J289592/E079900)
    • A mother filed a petition to regain custody of her daughter, whom she had lost in 2008 after failing to feed and take care of her properly due to the mother’s learning disability. The petition was denied, and the mother appealed. She brought no arguable issues, the Court of Appeal ruled.
  • Criminal: San Bernardino Superior Judge Mary Fuller’s denial of resentencing affirmed in People v. Gonzalez (FVA09485/E075154)
    • Richard Gonzalez was convicted of first degree murder in 1999, after shooting a man. He was sentenced to 25 years to life for murder with an additional 25 years to life for the use of the firearm, with the sentences ran consecutively. He filed a petition to be resentenced under California’s Penal Code Section 1170.95. The section allows people convicted under California’s now-overturned natural and probable consequences rule, which allowed a person to be convicted of murder if they contributed to a crime that resulted in a murder, to be resentenced. The court denied his petition, since he directly murdered the man. Gonzalez appealed. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court.

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