Sorry to hear of his passing.
As to 851.8, I don't know anyone who has done them" great number." However I have done them and been successful. They are difficult but not impossible to win. In fact, in granting one of my petitions about a year ago, Judge Leversen, the supervising judge of the North Orange County Court, remarked that mine was the first petition he'd ever granted in all his years as a judge, and the first he'd seen granted including his years as a lawyer before that. What do you need to know? It's pretty simple; we have the burden of proving BRD that the petitioner is innocent of the charge.
Ms. Goodman's answer is correct. The legal standard is clear. It is how thorough the evidence is and how it is presented that wins these motions.
If you are looking for a replacement for Brian Dinday you won't find one. Nobody does these petitions in great numbers because the opportunity doesn't come along that often and because they inevitably take more time than the lawyer can bill in attorney's fees. You want someone who knows the process and will be determined to get a good result. Often it turns out that a client's belief in his factual innocence is not grounded in what the law considers innocence so client relations can also become tense. BTW Brian Dinday did not win all his petitions and did not face the stiffer burden that we face these days on what is proof of factual innocence.
I have done 851.8 petitions. The basic strategy is to privide the judge with overwhelming evidence of your innocence such that he/she has no choice but to grant the petition. I wish you the best of luck.
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