People v. Dickinson, H041091

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtGrover, J.
PartiesTHE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. JAMES LUIS DICKINSON, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date25 May 2016
Docket NumberH041091

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
JAMES LUIS DICKINSON, Defendant and Appellant.



May 25, 2016


California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

(Santa Cruz County Super. Ct. No. F24909, F25181)

Defendant James Luis Dickinson challenges the denial of his motion to dismiss a prior strike conviction under Penal Code section 13851 and People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal.4th 497 (Romero). Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying relief. For the reasons stated here, we will affirm the judgment.


On June 11, 2013, around 2:00 p.m., Santa Cruz Police Officer Michael Hedley responded to the Best Western Plus All Suites Inn (Best Western) to investigate a burglary of a hotel room. The victim reported that at some time between 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., someone had stolen a laptop computer, an iPad, and a bag of clothing from his room. Officer Hedley viewed the hotel security footage, which showed defendant and a woman, Jennifer Peterson, walking up the stairs. Four minutes later, they walked down the stairs carrying the victim's duffel bag.

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One day after the Best Western incident, Santa Cruz Police Officer Ken Deeg responded to the Santa Cruz Dream Inn to investigate a burglary of a hotel room. The victim reported that he and his family had left the room around 12:00 p.m., but returned to retrieve something they had forgotten. When the victim returned, he saw Peterson standing in the hallway outside his room. Peterson said "Maid" when the victim approached. The door to the room was open, and the victim saw defendant inside the room. Defendant and Peterson left together down the hall to the elevator.

In July 2013, the district attorney charged defendant with first degree residential burglary (§ 459) for the Santa Cruz Dream Inn incident (case No. F24909). The information in that case also alleged that defendant suffered a prior serious felony strike (§ 667, subds. (a), (b)-(i)) for a 1995 burglary (§ 459) conviction and five prison priors (§ 667.5, subd. (b)).

In August 2013, the district attorney charged defendant with first degree residential burglary for the Best Western incident (case No. F25181). As with the information in case No. F24909, the information in case No. F25181 also alleged a prior strike conviction (§ 667, subds. (a), (b)-(i)) and five prison priors (§ 667.5, subd. (b)).

In October 2013, the trial court consolidated the two cases, and defendant pleaded no contest to both charges of first degree residential burglary (§ 459). He also admitted a prior strike conviction (§ 667, subd. (b)). As to the prison prior allegations, defense counsel pointed out that although there were five different cases, there were only three prison commitments. Defendant admitted three prior prison terms (§ 667.5, subd. (b)).

A probation report prepared for the sentencing hearing summarized defendant's criminal history. From July 1989 to the current offenses in 2013, defendant was convicted of various misdemeanors and felonies in 24 different cases.

Before defendant's 1995 strike, he was convicted of one felony drug offense and two felony counts of unlawful taking and driving of a vehicle. He was also convicted of

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six misdemeanors, including several drug offenses, theft, receiving stolen property, and refusing to comply with an officer's orders.

In April 1995, defendant was convicted of his first strike, residential burglary (§ 459). He was sentenced to seven years in prison. The record does not include any other facts regarding the prior strike.

After committing the strike and serving the prison sentence, defendant was convicted of three counts of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses in 2001. From then on, defendant was convicted of nine more misdemeanors, including numerous drug offenses, theft, a counterfeit currency offense, receiving stolen property, resisting an officer, and defrauding an innkeeper. He was also convicted of a felony domestic violence offense (§ 273.5) in 2005, for which he was sentenced to four years in prison. He was convicted of two felony drug offenses in February and June 2012. He was granted probation for both those felony convictions, and he was on probation for those crimes when he committed the most recent offenses. The probation report notes that after he had been granted probation in February 2012, he violated probation three times; after he had been granted probation in June 2012, he violated probation once. The report also states that defendant had been noncompliant with the terms of probation, having failed to maintain contact with the probation department after his release from custody.

Defendant moved to dismiss the prior strike allegation under section 1385 and Romero. In support of his motion, defendant asserted that his present crimes were nonviolent in nature. He pointed out that the only time he was confronted by a victim, he walked away without touching the victim or taking any property. As to his prior strike offense, defendant pointed out that it was a residential burglary that occurred a long time ago, in 1995. Defendant asserted that his present crimes were motivated by his drug addiction, and that he had a desire to recover from his addiction. He stated that he was accepted into the Delancey Street Foundation drug treatment program, which was the toughest program. He argued that in light of his willingness to take responsibility for his

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actions and to participate in the hardest drug treatment program, the trial court should grant his Romero motion.

In opposition, the prosecution argued that defendant's willingness to complete a drug treatment program was too late. Defendant had been on parole and probation several times before, and he was on probation at the time he committed the underlying offenses. He thus had numerous opportunities to participate in a similar treatment program, but he had failed to do so. Moreover, defendant had poor performance on probation and parole and was a " 'revolving-door defendant.' " The prosecution argued that given defendant's poor performance on parole, his criminal history, and the seriousness of his offenses, the trial court should deny the Romero motion.

At the hearing, the trial court denied the Romero motion. In explaining its ruling, the court emphasized the fact that defendant's current offenses were the same as his prior strike offense (i.e., residential burglary). The court also recounted that defendant had multiple prison priors, including one for his strike in 1995 and then another one in 2005. Further, after the strike, defendant continued to commit numerous drug possession and sale offenses, a domestic violence offense, and a theft related offense. The court observed that there...

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