District Attorney successfully argues SB 1437 as unconstitutional

On Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, during a hearing in the People v. Dejon Griffin and Aaron Jackson case, Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg L. Prickett heard arguments on the constitutionality of Senate Bill (SB) 1437, given that it lacks the two-thirds super majority of both bodies of the California Legislature.

The Court found the Legislature was not free to enact SB 1437 except under the parameters of Article II, Section 10 for amending Proposition 7, or by the supermajority requirement of Proposition 115. This legislation was not enacted by either procedure and hence is invalid, therefore the Court declined to enforce SB 1437. Additionally, SB 1437 was ruled unconstitutional because it imposed the same requirement for aiders and abettors for murder as the death eligible special circumstance.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case. Deputy District Attorney Seton Hunt handled the motion. To read the entire People’s Brief on Whether SB 1437 is Constitutional and Judge Prickett’s Ruling on the Constitutionality of the Enactment of SB 1437, please visit www.orangecountyda.org and select Reports under the Reports pull-down menu.

This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Editor’s Note:

From the text of SB 1437:

Existing law defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. Existing law defines malice for this purpose as either express or implied and defines those terms.

This bill would require a principal in a crime to act with malice aforethought to be convicted of murder except when the person was a participant in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a specified felony in which a death occurred and the person was the actual killer, was not the actual killer but, with the intent to kill, aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, solicited, requested, or assisted the actual killer in the commission of murder in the first degree, or the person was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life.

[…]

This bill would prohibit a participant in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of one of the specified first degree murder felonies in which a death occurs from being liable for murder, unless the person was the actual killer or the person was not the actual killer but, with the intent to kill, aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, solicited, requested, or assisted the actual killer, or the person was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life, unless the victim was a peace officer who was killed in the course of performing his or her duties where the defendant knew or should reasonably have known the victim was a peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties.

The full text of the bill is available here.