New Second Appellate District Court of Appeal Opinion Upholds the Constitutionality of Senate Bill No. 1437, Petition for Resentencing Under Penal Code section 1170.95

On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill No. 1437 which made important amendments to Penal Code sections 188 and 189.[1] Senate Bill No. 1437 also added Penal Code section 1170.95 to the Penal Code and permits a person convicted of felony murder or murder under a natural and probable consequence theory to file a petition with the court to have the murder conviction vacated and to be resentenced under certain conditions. Newly amended Penal Code sections 188 and 189 and the post-conviction petition procedure outlined in Penal Code section 1170.95 took effect on January 1, 2019.[2]

Since its enactment, prosecutors have argued, and judges have ruled, that Senate Bill No. 1437 is unconstitutional. Unsurprisingly, the denials have been appealed to the appellate districts for further review. In fact, the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal has taken up this exact issue and has previously upheld the constitutionality of Senate Bill No. 1437 in two companion cases: People v. Superior Court (Gooden) (2019) 42 Cal. App. 5th 270 and People v. Lamoureux (2019) 42 Cal. App. 5th 241.

The Second District Appellate District Court of Appeal was asked to yet again review the constitutionality of Senate Bill No. 1437 in People v. Maria Lissette Urena Bucio, 2020 S.O.S. 1985. In this matter, Ms. Bucio was found guilty of robbery and first-degree murder when she aided and abetted her nephew in a robbery which resulted in the death of a person. In this matter, the jury found not true the allegation that Ms. Bucio aided and abetted the robbery with reckless indifference to human life. Ms. Bucio was sentenced to 25 years to life on the murder conviction and had stayed the five-year sentence on the robbery conviction.

After Senate Bill No. 1437 was enacted Ms. Bucio sought relief under the resentencing provision of Penal Code section 1170.95. In these proceedings, the trial court found that Senate Bill No. 1437 was unconstitutional in that it conflicts with Propositions 7 and 115, conflicts with Marsy’s Law, and violates the separation of powers doctrine by infringing upon the governor’s exclusive power of clemency and the judiciary’s power to resolve specific controversies.  

Like in the cases of Gooden and Lamouoreux, the appellate court in Bucio upheld the constitutionality of Senate Bill No. 1437, finding that Senate Bill No. 1437 deals with related by “distinct” subject matter than do Propositions 7 and 115, and found the arguments relating to Marsy’s Law and the separation of powers doctrine lacking merit.

Thus, Senate Bill No. 1437 has yet again survived an appellate review finding in favor of its constitutionality.  

If you need assistance with filing a Penal Code section 1170.95 Petition or you have any questions, please our office at 626-577-7700.


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[1] Visit the following link for the full text:

[2] For more information on the underlying qualifications for Penal Code section 1170.95 relief, visit the following link for our previous blog posts on this matter.: and