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  • Criminal: Retired Judge Thomas Kelly’s denial of resentencing affirmed in People v. Martinez (RIF095228/E080142)
    • Johnny Martinez was convicted of murder and attempted murder in 2003 after he was accused of fatally shooting the member of a rival gang who threw a beer bottle at Martinez’ car. He petitioned to be resentenced under Penal Code Section 1172.6, which eliminated murder convictions in some cases where the defendant did not directly kill the victim. The Court of Appeal, and the trial judge, ruled that the section did not apply to him because he directly murdered the victim. Appeal was out of Riverside Superior Court.
  • Default judgment: Riverside Superior Judge David Chapman’s default judgment reversed in Browne v. Hudson Insurance Co. (PSC1905983/E078177)
    • The company GreenGro was sued by Doug Browne of Environmental Engineering Enterprises, who claimed he had not been paid for construction services. GreenGro had answered and filed a cross-complaint, but lost its lawyers due to a dispute in mid-2020. The lawyers were relieved on Nov. 24, 2020, and GreenGro was told to find new counsel in 30 days. After the company failed to do so, Chapman found default judgment in favor of Browne. GreenGro finally found new counsel two months after their deadline, and requested their response be reinstated. The company had dealt with unresponsive firms and a lack of investor funding to hire new counsel, and their chosen attorney had fallen sick with COVID. Chapman denied the company’s request. The Court of Appeal ruled that GreenGro had searched for new counsel with reasonable diligence, and ordered the court to reinstate their response.
  • Criminal: San Bernardino Superior Judge Daniel Detienne’s denial of resentencing reversed with directions in People v. Guzman (FVA08536/E079284)
    • Nicolas Guzman pleaded guilty to second degree murder in 2000, and was sentenced to 15 years to life. He filed a petition to vacate his conviction under Penal Code Section 1172.6. He argued that the complaint against him would have led to a murder conviction under the felony murder rule, which Section 1172.6 removed from California’s laws. The rule would find people legally guilty of murder if they contributed to a crime that resulted in a murder, even if they did not directly murder someone. The Court of Appeal agreed with Guzman, because, it said, it was not clear that he was the actual killer in a shooting. The court ordered Detienne to hold a hearing to determine if his sentence should be reduced.
  • Criminal: Riverside Superior Judge John Molloy’s denial of resentencing reversed in People v. Lopez (CR34707/E078481)
    • Pepe Lopez and his three friends were involved in separate fatal homicides on Feb. 2, 1990: one outside a Corona McDonald’s and another outside a Temecula AM/PM. Lopez was found guilty on two counts of first degree felony murder. Lopez petitioned to be resentenced for the AM/PM murder under Penal Code Section 1172.6, which strikes murder convictions in some situations where the convict did not kill the victim himself. The AM/PM murder resulted from a beer theft gone wrong. Lopez had pushed the clerk who tried to stop him from stealing beer. His friend, John Howe, then shot the clerk multiple times. Lopez argued Molloy failed to consider his youth as a factor when determining if he had acted with reckless indifference to human life. The Court of Appeal agreed, and ordered a new evidentiary hearing.
  • Criminal: San Bernardino Superior Judge Lorenzo Balderrama’s approval of involuntary commitment affirmed in People v. D.T. (FELSB21000037/E078630)
    • The unnamed defendant, D.T., is intellectually disabled, and has a long history of arrests for violent crimes. He was arrested for assaulting his sister with a knife, but was found incompetent to stand trial. Balderrama granted the prosecutor’s motion to involuntarily commit D.T. In his appeal, D.T. argued there was insufficient evidence that he was dangerous, and that there was no evidence he had ever actually inflicted any serious physical injury. The Court of Appeal wrote that there was ample evidence that he was likely to inflict serious physical injury, and that that evidence was enough to commit him.
  • Criminal: Conviction in Riverside Superior Judge Samuel Diaz’s courtroom affirmed in People v. Garcia (RIF2004247/E078422)
    • Adrian Garcia was convicted of four counts of oral copulation or penetration of his step-granddaughter, who was under 10 years of age. He was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. He appealed, arguing his counsel was ineffective because he did not object to certain expert testimony.
  • Criminal: Conviction in San Bernardino Superior Judge Daniel Detienne’s courtroom affirmed in People v. Anderson (FWV21003849/E079027)
    • Broque Anderson was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder, and was sentenced to two years, eight months in prison. He had burgled PBK Architectural Firm on Oct. 6, 2021. He was identified through a security camera, and was caught in possession of the firm’s property. He also burgled Sola Salon on Oct. 25, 2021, after being released on bail. He was found after locking himself on the salon’s balcony, while holding an iced tea he had taken from the salon’s refrigerator. He appealed, arguing insufficient evidence that he entered PBK with the intent to steal. The Court of Appeal disagreed.
  • Family: Riverside Superior Judge Cheryl Murphy’s granting of reunification services affirmed in In re A.People (RIJ2000059/E079358)
    • A child appealed Murphy’s granting of an additional six months of reunification services to her mother. Riverside County separated the family after hearing a referral that the parents had sat outside their home in a car, abusing a controlled substance, while the 4-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a housemate. The child’s counsel argued the mother failed to resolve her substance abuse problem. The Court of Appeal found no abuse of discretion.
  • Criminal: Conviction in Riverside Superior Judge Rene Navarro’s courtroom affirmed in People v. English (RIF1702341/E078666)
    • Ronald English was sentenced to a life term plus 25 years after forcing a woman to finger herself anally at knifepoint. He was convicted of sexual penetration by force, first degree burglary and assault with the intent to commit sexual penetration by force. He appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence that he entered the victim’s bedroom with the intent to commit sodomy by force. The Court of Appeal disagreed.
  • Labor: Riverside Superior Judge Carol Greene’s denial of arbitration reversed in Lopez v. Pacific Dental Services (CVRI2103633/E078639)
    • Sabrina Lopez was hired as an oral surgery dental assistant with Pacific Dental Services. She agreed to a mutual binding arbitration agreement, and later a binding arbitration policy. She sued PDS and the medical provider Central Occupational Medical Providers-Ontario, claiming 10 causes of action, including violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act, wrongful termination and defamation. PDS requested the case be arbitrated. Lopez argued the agreement was unenforceable because it was a condition of employment, and Greene agreed, denying the motion. PDS appealed. The Court of Appeal said that Greene should have made a ruling on whether the claims should be arbitrated instead of denying the motion for arbitration on the grounds that the agreement was unconscionable.
  • Criminal: Conviction in San Bernardino Superior Judge Cheryl Kersey’s courtroom affirmed in People v. Perez (. FSB21002330/E079131)
    • Erik Perez was found guilty on one count of a lewd act against his niece in Colton. He appealed, claiming insufficient evidence his actions were made with lewd intent. The Court of Appeal disagreed.

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