CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (August 1 – August 28, 2008)
People v. Mungia (8/14/2008, S060803) 2008 Cal. LEXIS 9773: The torture-murder special circumstance, saying that the mere fact that the defendant inflicted great pain on the victim doesn’t establish an intent to inflict great pain, the requirement for a torture murder.
People v. Chance (8/18/2008, S145458) 2008 Cal. LEXIS 10092: The California Supreme Court held that where evidence showed that the defendant, running from police, ran around a trailer and stopped, turned around, and held a pistol in shooting position but did not pull back slide to place a bullet in the chamber, and thus if he pulled the trigger, nothing would have happened, but the officer did not follow defendant’s path around trailer and instead went around the other way and approached the defendant from behind, after which defendant dropped his pistol, the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction of assault pursuant to People v. Williams (2001) 26 C4th 779, as the defendant had the “present ability” to commit the act.
People v. Chance (8/18/2008, S145458) 2008 Cal. LEXIS 10092: Appellant’s conduct was sufficient to establish the actus reus for assault where he had a weapon and could have used it immediately.
People v. Carasi (8/25/2008, S070839) 2008 Cal. LEXIS 10355: Severance may be required where the defendants have antagonistic defenses (Avila, 38 C4th 491, 575) but severance is required only where the conflict between the defendants is so prejudicial that the defenses are irreconcilable.
People v. Cross (8/28/2008, S139791) 2008 Cal. LEXIS 10431: Abortion itself is enough for GBI, but only if personally performed by the defendant. Jury instructions on abortion as GBI improper if defendant did not perform the abortion.
Grants Of Review:
People v. Albillar REV GTD (8/13/2008, S163905) 162 CA4th 935: Did substantial evidence support defendants’ convictions under PC 186.22(a), and the true findings with respect to the enhancements under PC 186.22 (b)?
People v. Kelly REV GTD (8/13/2008, S164830) 163 CA4th 124: (1) Does HS 11362.77 violate the California Constitution by amending the Compassionate Use Act without voter approval? (2) Were there alternative remedies to invalidating section 11362.77 in its entirety?
People v. Iraheta REV GTD (8/13/2008, S164168) 2006 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 750: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Chun REV GTD (12/19/2007, S157601) 155 CA4th 170, which presents the following issue: Does the offense of discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle in violation of PC 246 merge with a resulting homicide under People v. Ireland (1969) 70 C2d 522, if there is no admissible evidence of an independent and collateral criminal purpose other than to commit an assault?
People v. Johnson REV GTD (8/13/2008, S164388) 162 CA4th 1263 and People v. Riffey REV GTD (8/20/2008, S164711) 163 CA4th 474: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. McKee REV GTD (7/9/2008, S162823) 160 CA4th 1517, which presents the following issues: Does the amended Sexually Violent Predator Act violate appellant’s constitutional rights to due process of law, is it an illegal ex post facto law, and does it violate equal protection?
People v. Wood REV GTD (8/13/2008, S164211) 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3633: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Kelly REV GTD (8/13/2008, S164830) 163 CA4th 124, which presents the following issues: (1) Does HS 11362.77 violate the California Constitution by amending the Compassionate Use Act without voter approval? (2) Were there alternative remedies to invalidating section 11362.77 in its entirety?
In re Saade REV GTD (8/20/2008, S164595) 162 CA4th 1391: Briefing deferred pending decision in In re Gomez REV GTD (10/24/2007, S155425) 153 CA4th 1516, which presents the following issue: Is a habeas corpus petitioner whose conviction became final after Blakely v. Washington (2004) 542 US 296 but before Cunningham v. California (2007) 549 US 270, entitled to the benefit of the high court’s decision in Blakely?
California Courts of Appeal (August 1 – August 28, 2008)
People v. Dallas (8/4/2008, E043786) 165 CA4th 940: Where the defendant was charged with felony infliction of an injury on a child in violation of PC 273d(a), and he lived with the baby he was accused of abusing, his prosecution was not only for “child abuse” so that prior acts of child abuse were admissible under EC 1109(a)(3), but also for “domestic violence” so that prior acts of domestic violence were likewise admissible under EC 1109(a)(1). Because prior acts of child abuse were admissible in connection with the first count, the jury was also entitled to consider them in connection with second count of felony child abuse under PC 273a(a). The court also found that the amended verision of EC 1109, which was not enacted until after the offense was committed, did not violate ex post facto principles as established in Carmel v. Texas (2000) 529 US 513 [146 LE2d 577; 120 SCt 1620] [if the new evidentiary rule reduces the quantum of evidence for the prosecution to meet its burden of proof, it violates ex post facto principles; however, but by merely admitting evidence that evenhandedly, it does not violate ex post facto principles.]; see also Schroeder v. Tilton (9th Cir 2007) 493 F3d 1083.
In re Ricky S. (8/6/2008, C055215) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1344: Competency to stand trial must be based on present, not future, competency.
People v. Becerra (7/14/2008, G038851) 165 CA4th 1064 [ordered to be partially published on 8/7/2008] and is now reported at 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1208: To prevail on a post-trial claim that a grand jury indictment was wrongly procured through perjury, a defendant must show prejudice at trial.
People v. Garcia (8/8/2008, F052703) 165 CA4th 1120 [modified at 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1350]: The Sexually Violent Predators Act, as amended by Proposition 83, does not violate due process, the prohibition against ex post facto laws, double jeopardy, or the equal protection clause, and it does not result in cruel and unusual punishment.
People v. Renteria (8/8/2008, D050536) 165 CA4th 1108: California has territorial jurisdiction over an offense if the defendant, with the requisite intent, does a preparatory act in California that is more than a de minimis act, but not necessarily an attempt, toward the completion of the offense.
People v. Nelms (8/14/2008, C055100) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1241: Conviction for possession of a controlled substance is affirmed, but a conviction for smuggling controlled substance into a prison or jail is reversed where the jury was not properly instructed on the crime.
People v. Wyatt (8/19/2008, C056249) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1322: The trial court was not required to specifically instruct the jury that it had to find that each and every element of charged offense had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt where the instructions as a whole, (Victor v. Nebraska (1994) 511 US 1, 5 [127 LEd2d 538, 590]), including CALCRIM 220 (reasonable doubt), adequately informed the jury as to the standard of proof.
People v. Meneses (8/19/2008, A113017) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1327: (1) Court did not err by rejecting mistake of law and fact instructions where appellant claimed he did not know he was doing anything wrong. (2) Trial court had no duty sua sponte to instruct that the jury had to determine if single or multiple conspiracies existed.
People v. Wyatt (8/19/2008, C056249) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1322: Request for counsel at a disciplinary hearing five days prior to an interrogation did not invoke Edwards rights. (Edwards v. Arizona (1981) 451 US 477.)
In re Arthur V. (8/21/2008, D052215) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1336: Court applies People v. Bailey ((61) 55 C2d 514) to vandalism (PC 594) allowing aggregation of two acts of vandalism, each causing less than $400 damage.
People v. Bolton (8/27/2008, D050721) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1359: Relieving counsel and forcing the defendant to choose between his right to counsel and his right to a speedy trial was improper because counsel didn’t “know” the client was going to commit perjury. When counsel does know that the client is going to lie the solution is to present the client’s testimony in a narrative fashion.
People v. Morris (8/27/2008, A119162) 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1362: Receiving stolen property conviction reversed where conviction was based on possession of the very same property that formed the basis of his grand theft conviction.