California v. PhungAnnotate this Case
Defendant Tom Phung was 17 years old when he and fellow Tiny Rascal Gang (TRG) members, riding in about five cars, chased a fleeing vehicle containing eight rival gang members. A TRG member two cars ahead shot and killed one rival and seriously wounded a second. A jury convicted defendant, as an aider and abettor, of the lesser included crime of second degree murder (count 1), attempted murder (count 2), shooting at an occupied motor vehicle (count 3), and street terrorism (count 4). With respect to the first three crimes, the jury found true the allegations that defendant committed them for the benefit of a criminal street gang, and vicariously discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury and death. Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate state prison term of 40 years to life. While defendant's appeal was pending, the electorate passed Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, which went into effect in November 2016. In March 2017, the Court of Appeal issued an opinion affirming the judgment against defendant. Defendant petitioned for review before the California Supreme Court. While that petition was pending, another panel of the Court of Appeal issued an opinion holding Proposition 57 operated retroactively under the rule announced in In re Estrada, 63 Cal.2d 740 (1965). Defendant’s counsel, however, was unaware of the filing of the concurrent appellate opinion, and did not raise the issue before the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied review, following which the Court of Appeal issued a remittitur. Defendant moved to recall the remittitur on the ground that his counsel had provided ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to raise the retroactivity of Proposition 57 to his own case. Defendant’s counsel admitted the error. The motion was granted, the remittitur recalled, and supplemental briefing was ordered. The Court of Appeal ultimately affirmed defendant's conviction, but concluded Proposition 57 applied retroactively to defendant. Therefore, the Court reversed and remanded this case for a transfer hearing and resentencing.