Two 13-year-old girls who were dependents of the San Diego County juvenile court (under Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300) were detained in juvenile hall pending further proceedings after juvenile wardship petitions (under Welf & Inst. Code, § 602) were filed alleging the girls had knocked over a vending machine and taken items from inside. The Court of Appeal granted the girls’ habeas corpus petitions and ordered their immediate release. The court held there was no “urgent necessity” justifying detention under Welfare and Institutions Code sections 635 and 636, and that the evidence strongly suggested that the girls were wrongfully detained in juvenile hall based on their status as juvenile dependents and because their social workers weren't available to find suitable placements.
People v. Hill, 236 Cal.App.4th 1100 (2015) (co-counsel)
Defendant Rosa Hill and her mother, defendant Mei Li, were convicted of the attempted murder of Hill’s ex-husband, Eric, and first degree murder of the Eric’s grandmother. The evidence suggested that Li arrived after Hill had already killed the grandmother. The Court of Appeal found the Alameda County trial court erred in not instructing the jury that Li could only be found guilty of first degree felony murder under an aider and abettor theory if Li was jointly engaged in the target felony with Hill when the fatal wound was inflicted. Li’s first degree murder conviction was reversed.
The three-month-old minor, S.F., was removed from her parents after the parents brought her to the hospital with various injuries that, according to doctors, were likely the result of abuse. San Diego County juvenile court declared S.F. a dependent of the juvenile court after finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the parents committed, knew about, or reasonably should have known about the abuse (under Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300, subd. (a)), and by clear and convincing evidence that the parents failed or were unable to protect the child from serious physical harm (under Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300, subd. (b)). The juvenile court then denied both parents family reunification services under Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.5, subdivisions (b)(5) and (b)(6). The Court of Appeal reversed, finding that the parents couldn’t be bypassed for reunification services because the abuse findings were made only by a preponderance of the evidence rather than the higher clear and convincing standard.
In 1982, Ernesto Juarez was convicted of second degree murder in San Mateo County after causing a fatal collision while driving under the influence of drugs. At 22 years old, Juarez was sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison. While in prison, Juarez acknowledged his substance abuse issues, participated in various self-help programs, and acquired job skills. He had realistic parole plans and good family support. His prison disciplinary record and psychological evaluations were also favorable to his release. However, in July 2008, the Board of Parole Hearings denied Juarez parole. The Board’s decision was based on Juarez’ inability to remember the details of his commitment offense (due to being in a drug-induced blackout), the heinousness of his offense, and Juarez’ criminal history. The Court of Appeal granted Juarez’ petition for writ of habeas corpus and reversed, finding that the factors relied on by the Board didn’t show that Juarez’ release on parole would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society.