San Diego appeals court upholds new felony murder law

November 22, 2019

In a pair of rulings a San Diego-based appeals court determined that SB 1437, the new law that revised the state’s felony-murder rule and opened the door for possibly hundreds of inmates to get reduced sentences, is constitutional.

The decisions are the first from state appeals courts on whether the law violated two previous voter-approved initiatives, as opponents, prosecutors and some judges have held. Opposition from district attorneys and conflicting rulings from Superior Court judges in different counties had largely slowed — and in some courthouses stopped — hearings for inmates seeking a lower sentence under the new law.

The decisions can be cited as precedent across the state, advocates noted, and may accelerate hearings for some inmates. However, prosecutors could still ask the state Supreme Court to review the case.


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