Manduley v. Superior Court

Decision Date07 February 2001
Docket NumberNo. D036356.,No. D036456.,D036356.,D036456.
Citation104 Cal.Rptr.2d 140,86 Cal.App.4th 1198
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesMorgan Victor MANDULEY et al., Petitioners, v. The SUPERIOR COURT of San Diego County, Respondent; The People, Real Party in Interest. Michael Rose et al., Petitioners, v. The Superior Court of San Diego County, Respondent; The People, Real Party in Interest.

William J. LaFond, Kerry L. Steigerwalt and Charles M. Sevilla, San Diego, for Petitioner Morgan Victor Manduley.

Haus & Damiani and Lisa J. Damiani, for Petitioner Steven James DeBoer.

Patrick Q. Hall, San Diego, for Petitioner Kevin Scott Williams.

Timothy A. Chandler, Alternate Public Defender, and Jose H. Varela, Deputy Alternate Public Defender, for Petitioner Adam Mitchell Ketsdever.

Michael D. McGlinn, for Petitioner Jason Wayne Beever.

Steven J. Carroll, Public Defender, Gary Nichols, Stewart Dadmun and Jo Pastore, Deputy Public Defenders, for Petitioner Michael Anthony Rose.

Marc B. Geller, San Diego, for Petitioner Nicholas Paul Fileccia.

Bardsley & Carlos, Francis J. Bardsley, San Diego, and Judith A. Litzenberger, for Petitioner Bradley Hunter Davidofsky.

Jordan Budd for American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, Palo Alto, Steven L. Mayer, San Francisco, Kimberly Proctor; Robert Kim and Margaret C. Crosby for American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Inc. as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

Mark D. Rosenbaum, Los Angeles, for ACLU Foundation of Southern California as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioners.

John T. Philipsborn, San Francisco, for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice as Amicus Curiae in support of Petitioners.

No appearance for Respondent.

Paul j. Pfingst, District Attorney, Thomas F. McArdle, Hector M. Jiminez and Anthony Lovett, Deputy District Attorneys, for Real Party in Interest.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, David P. Druliner, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Raquel M. Gonzalez and Patti W. Ranger, Deputy Attorneys General, for County as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Real Party in Interest.


At the March 7, 2000, California general election the voters approved Proposition 21, the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Initiative (Proposition 21). Section 26 of Proposition 21, which became effective the day after the election, amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 707.1 The amendment replaced the former section 707, subdivision (d) in its entirety with a new provision that permits the prosecuting authority, in its discretion, to file certain criminal accusations against juveniles in either the adult criminal court or the juvenile court. As a result, Proposition 21 permits the prosecuting authority to determine in its discretion not only whether a crime should be charged, what crime should be charged and who should be charged, but also which of two legislatively authorized sentencing schemes the court may use to impose sentence if the charges are found true. We conclude that by placing within the discretion of the prosecuting authority the determination of which of two legislatively authorized sentencing schemes is available to the courts, Proposition 21's amendment to section 707, subdivision (d) violates the constitutional principle of the separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches of government.

Briefly summarized, section 707, subdivision (d), as amended by Proposition 21 (hereafter section 707(d)), provides that if a juvenile is 16 years old or older at the time he or she is alleged to have committed a specified qualifying offense identified by section 707(d), or is 14 years old or older at the time he or she is alleged to have committed a specified qualifying offense identified by section 707(d), the district attorney is given discretion to either (1) file a petition against the juvenile in juvenile court or (2) prosecute the juvenile as an adult in criminal court. If the district attorney elects to file a petition in juvenile court, the court must on motion conduct a fitness hearing to determine whether the juvenile, if found guilty of the charge, is subject to adult or juvenile penalties. However, if the district attorney elects to prosecute the juvenile as an adult in criminal court and the juvenile is found guilty, the court does not have the option to prescribe a juvenile court disposition; instead, the court must sentence the juvenile as an adult to adult penalties. (Pen. Code, § 1170.17, subd. (a).)

In this case, the San Diego District Attorney filed accusatory pleadings in adult court under section 707(d) against juveniles Rose, Manduley and others (collectively Petitioners). Petitioners challenged the constitutionality of section 707(d) below by demurring to the accusatory pleading (Pen.Code, § 1004), a proper vehicle for asserting the criminal statute under which they were prosecuted is unconstitutional. (Velasco v. Municipal Court (1983) 147 Cal.App.3d 340, 195 Cal.Rptr. 108.) The trial court overruled the demurrers and Petitioners filed with this court petitions for writs of mandate seeking review of the trial court's orders. Petitioners Rose and Manduley have each joined in the petition for extraordinary writ filed by the other, and petitioners DeBoer, Williams, Fileccia, Ketsdever, Beever and Davidofsky have joined in the petitions filed by Rose and Manduley. All petitions have been consolidated for oral argument and decision. Petitioners argue section 707(d) is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers provision of the California Constitution. In addition, they argued below and reassert in this writ proceeding that section 707(d) is invalid because it deprives them of due process, equal protection and the uniform operation of laws, and because Proposition 21 violates the single subject rule. We conclude that section 707(d) is unconstitutional under the separation of powers doctrine, and it is therefore unnecessary to examine in detail Petitioners' other constitutional arguments.

Although Petitioners acknowledge the Legislature is constitutionally entitled to define crimes and to prescribe the punishments for crimes, they argue that when the Legislature has prescribed that sententing alternatives be available on conviction it is the judiciary's role to select from the legislatively-prescribed menu of sentences the disposition appropriate for the individual. Petitioners contend that section 707(d) violates this principle because it gives the executive branch the unchecked authority to prescribe which legislatively-authorized dispositional scheme will be available to the court if the charges are found true.

A. Separation of Powers Principles

Both the California and United States constitutions follow the principle of separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. This principle precludes one branch from exercising, or interfering with the exercise of, the functions or powers of either of the other branches. (Cal. Const., art. Ill, § 3 [explicit declaration]; Springer v. Government of the Philippine Islands (1928) 277 U.S. 189, 48 S.Ct. 480, 482, 72 L.Ed. 845 [separation of powers implicit in United States Constitution].) Although we address here the provisions of a statute enacted through the initiative process, the separation of powers principles are applicable and essentially treat a voter-enacted statute as an act of the Legislature. (See, generally, People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal.4th 497, 53 Cal.Rptr.2d 789, 917 P.2d 628 [applying separation of powers analysis to statute enacted by initiative]; cf. Bagley v. City of Manhattan Beach (1976) 18 Cal.3d 22, 26, 132 Cal.Rptr. 668, 553 P.2d 1140 [electorates power to enact law through initiative subject to same limitations applicable to legislative body].)

The separation of powers doctrine allocates discrete functions to each of the three branches of government. In the arena of criminal law, the power to define crimes and fix penalties is vested solely in the legislative branch, subject to applicable constitutional prohibitions. (Keeler v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 619, 629, 87 Cal.Rptr. 481, 470 P.2d 617.) The power to determine whether to bring charges, against whom to bring charges, and what charges to bring among those potentially available is vested in the prosecuting authority as a member of the executive branch. Separation of powers principles prohibit the judiciary from supervising or interfering with that prosecutorial discretion (People v. Birks (1998) 19 Cal.4th 108, 134-135, 77 Cal.Rptr.2d 848, 960 P.2d 1073) even though a decision to charge one offense rather than another may on conviction require the court to impose a harsher sentence. (United States v. Batchelder (1979) 442 U.S. 114, 122-125, 99 S.Ct. 2198, 60 L.Ed.2d 755.) After the charging decisions have been made and the proceedings instituted, the process leading to conviction or acquittal and the choice of the sentence or other disposition is a judicial function (People v. Tenorio (1970) 3 Cal.3d 89, 94, 89 Cal.Rptr. 249, 473 P.2d 993), and the court's authority to select from the legislatively-prescribed sentencing options cannot be controlled by the prosecution. (People v. Superior Court (Romero), supra, 13 Cal.4th at p. 516, 53 Cal.Rptr.2d 789, 917 P.2d 628.) Although the Legislature (or the electorate by way of initiative) may restrict the sentencing options available to the court (ibid.), the courts have repeatedly held that after the Legislature has prescribed the dispositions available to the court, separation of powers principles preclude the Legislature from giving to the prosecutor the power to control the court's selection of the disposition. (See People v....

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