Redwood City attorney Paul Carroll has a good issue that might get him in front of the California Supreme Court. But the way he’s presenting it probably won’t win him any friends at the Third District Court of Appeal.
Carroll’s Nov. 6 petition in People v. Wooten, S206473, points out that the Third District’s opinion in the case sets up a direct conflict with a 2001 opinion from the First District. So far, so good.
But, Carroll continues, the court’s discussion of the case is “with respect, wildly inaccurate. Indeed, it is so confused that we believe there has been some sort of inadvertent error.”
That may not sit well with Third District Justice Andrea Hoch, the author of Wooten -- especially given that Carroll did not petition for rehearing at the Third District before going to the state’s high court.
Carroll said Wednesday that he had not discovered the error until after the time to petition for rehearing, and “I should have.” But he had no regrets about his critique, saying the law clerk or judge who drafted the opinion “made an incredible error.”
On appeal, Carroll, who represents Wooten by court appointment, argued that only one enhancement could apply because the injuries arose from the same course of conduct. He relied on People v. Reeves, the 2001 case from the First District, plus People v. Moringlane and People v. Culton. But Hoch ruled that all of Carroll’s cases trace to a line of authority that the Supreme Court has since disowned.
Under the headnote, “The Lower Court’s Confusion,” Carroll argues that this characterization is “wildly incorrect” and the likely result of "some sort of accidental error."
He may well be right on the merits. It appears that Hoch was incorrect -- though “wildly” is debatable -- when she described two of the cases Carroll cited as involving gun use enhancements. By so doing, Carroll argues, Hoch was able to tie them to the discredited line of authority, which likewise involved gun enhancements.
“I honestly thought that this was an error of inadvertence,” Carroll said Wednesday, “rather than someone looking at these cases and thinking they could be legitimately cited.”
Update: It appears Carroll was correct. On Jan. 16 the Supreme Court issued an unusual order transferring the case back to the Third District with directions "to make any changes in its opinion it considers appropriate in light of the points made in the petition for review."