Monday, June 08, 2020

People v. Whalum (Cal. Ct. App. - June 8, 2020)

As my kids would say, the defendant in this case really "Took the L" on appeal.

He's convicted of possessing a tiny amount of marijuana in prison (.4 grams), and gets sentenced to a little under three years in prison as a result.  After cannabis is decriminalized, he files a petition (as the statute allows) to vacate his conviction, but the trial court holds that making weed legal doesn't make it legal in prison.

So he appeals, and gets appointed counsel for the appeal.

He loses, with the Court of Appeal agreeing with the trial court.

Normally, that would just mean that the defendant is back where he was initially.  But, here, during the appeal, the Court of Appeal notices that the abstract of judgment says that the two-year, eight-month sentence for possession of cannabis was to be served concurrently to defendant's existing prison sentence, whereas the trial judge (and plea agreement) said the sentences would be served consecutively.  So, sua sponte, the Court of Appeal corrects the judgment.  Thereby adding nearly three years to defendant's sentence.

Given that result, I suspect that Mr. Whalum now wishes that he had just left well enough alone on this one.