CALIFORNIA CASELAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (February 1-28, 2010)
Sex Offenders: Jessica’s Law. In re E.J. (2/1/2010, S156933) 47 C4th 1258: PC 3003.5 (Proposition 83 (Jessica’s Law)) which restricts where certain sex offenders subject to lifetime registration of PC 290 may live is not impermissible even though it was applied retroactively. Whether the statute is vague and overbroad is remanded to courts of appeal to decide.
Weapons: Metal Knuckles. In re David V. (2/8/2010, S167716) 48 C4th 23: A bicycle footrest is not a metal knuckle within meaning of PC 12020(c)(7) because it is not “worn … in or on the hand.”
Grants Of Review:
People v. Glenn REV GTD (2/10/2010, S178140) 178 CA4th 778: Briefing deferred pending finality of the decision in People v. McKee REV GTD (1/28/2010, S162823)160 CA4th 1517, which concerns constitutional challenges to the Sexually Violent Predator Act as amended by Proposition 83 in 2006.
People v. Jaimes REV GTD (2/10/2010, S178358) 2009 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8480: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Cobb REV GTD (3/12/2008, S159410) 157 CA4th 393, and People v. Lara REV GTD (9/25/2007, S155481 )2007 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5780:, which involve whether a defendant is denied due process and a fair trial when a petition for continued involuntary treatment was prosecuted after the defendant’s release date.
People v. Minjarez REV GTD (2/10/2010, S179307) 2009 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9671: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Engram REV GTD (12/02/2009, S176983) 2009 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7063, People v. Hajjaj REV GTD (9/30/2009, S175307) 175 CA4th 415, and People v. Wagner REV GTD (9/30/2009,S175794) 175 CA4th 1377, which include the following issues: (1) Did the trial court err in dismissing this case for violation of defendant’s statutory right to a speedy trial on the ground no criminal courtroom was available? (2) Should criminal cases facing dismissal on speedy trial grounds be given precedence over civil cases pursuant to PC 1050(a), either as a matter of law or under the circumstances of this case?
People v. Hernandez REV GTD (2/24/2010, S178823) 178 CA4th 1510: Did the trial court’s gag order, which precluded defense counsel from discussing with defendant a sealed declaration of a testifying prosecution witness and a transcript of that witness’s plea-agreement proceedings, so completely deprive defendant of his right to counsel as to constitute structural error reversible without a showing of prejudice or did the gag order implicate defendant’s right to counsel in a manner requiring a showing of prejudice before reversal would be required?
California Courts of Appeal (February 1-28, 2010)
Witness Reference To Excluded Confession: Inability Of Curative Instructions To Cure. People v. Navarrete (2/1/2010, B210691) 181 CA4th 828: Where police officer testified that he did not have DNA testing conducted because of something defendant had told him, which essentially amounted to a confession, and the officer’s testimony was in deliberate violation of a court order suppressing defendant’s statement, the trial court’s curative instruction could not undo damage (see People v. Williams (1997) 16 C4th 153, 211), since the instruction did not address the inference that the jury reasonably could have drawn that the defendant’s statement was incriminatory. A jury’s belief that a defendant may have confessed eviscerates the presumption of innocence. (Arizona v. Fulminante (1991) 499 US 279, 311.) Ordinarily, a curative instruction to disregard improper testimony is sufficient to protect a defendant from the injury of such testimony, and, ordinarily we presume a jury is capable of following such an instruction. (See People v Allen (1978) 77 CA3d 924, 934-935.) However, incriminating statements from the defendant’s own tongue are most persuasive evidence of his guilt. (People v. Matteson (1964) 61 C2d 466, 470; see also People v. Ledesma (2006) 39 C4th 641, 683.) But a single reference to an inadmissible confession can be the sort of exceptional circumstance that supports granting a mistrial.
Venue For Sex Offense: Ex Post Facto. People v. Delgado (2/1/10, G041561) 181 CA4th 839: PC 784.7 allows prosecution of sex offenses in any county in which any of the offenses occurred. Applying the statute to crimes committed before enactment does not violate ban against ex post facto laws.
Brady Violation Triggers Right To Discovery. Eulloqui v. Superior Court (2/4/10, B218578) 181 CA4th 1055: Petitioner made a sufficient showing under Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 US 83 to require the trial court to examine the detective’s personnel file and disclose prior complaints that the officer had concealed payments or incentives to an informant. The petition asserted that the prosecution had failed to disclose that the witness was a paid informant. Pertinent inquiry for Brady materiality is whether the petitioner’s trial was unfair in the absence of possible evidence from the officer’s personnel file.
San Diego Curfew Ordinance Found Unconstitutional. In re A.G. (2/4/10, D053991) 181 CA4th 989: Using intermediate scrutiny standard of Central Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Public Service Commission of New York (1980) 447 US 557 (whether governmental interest is substantial, whether law directly advances that interest, and is no more extensive than necessary), court holds that ordinance sweeps too broadly and includes innocent and legal conduct undertaken even with parental permission. San Diego Municipal Code section 58.0102 is unconstitutional.
Competency: Counsel, Not Defendant, Decides Whether Defendant Testifies. People v. Bell (2/4/2010, E047068) 181 CA4th 1071: Counsel representing a defendant whose competency is in doubt should be in charge of the trial proceedings, including whether the defendant should testify as to his own competency.
Pitchess: Denial Of Wrongdoing Not Sufficient To Trigger. People v. Sanderson (2/9/2010, E047284) 181 CA4th 1334: In a Pitchess motion to initiate discovery of information in the personnel files of police officers, a defendant must present a specific factual scenario of officer misconduct that is plausible when read in light of the pertinent documents. Assertions denying the elements of the crime, alone, are not sufficient.
Attempted Homicide: Two People In One Car. People v. Trujillo (2/9/2010, E045598) 181 CA4th 1344: Defendant who fired numerous shots into moving car that had two occupants could be convicted of two counts of attempted murder even if defendant did not actually see backseat passenger.
Transitory Possession Of Drugs. People v. Paz (2/10/2010, G041327) 181 CA4th 1413: A defendant who disposes of contraband because of threat of bodily injury or of police apprehension cannot claim the defense of transitory possession.
Natural And Probable Consequences: Escalation Of Gang Attack. People v. Ayala (2/11/2010, A122412) 181 CA4th 1440: Substantial evidence supported the defendant’s murder conviction where the defendant joined five fellow gang members in a planned physical attack upon a perceived rival gang members during which the defendant’s companion shot and killed one of the intended victims. Other cases have indicated that the shooting is a natural and probable consequence of the gang confrontation. (See People v. Gonzalez (2001) 87 CA4th 1, 10-11; People v. Montes (1999) 74 CA4th 1050, 1053-1056; People v. Medina (2009) 46 C4th 913, 917; People v. Olguin (1994) 31 CA4th 1355, 1376.)
Admissibility Of Compelled Statement By Police Officer-Defendant. People v. Singleton (2/22/2010, B211975) 182 CA4th 1: Defendant, a former police officer charged with assaulting an arrestee and filing a false police report, gave a compelled statement after being advised it would not be used against him criminally, under Lybarger v. City of Los Angeles (1985) 40 C3d 822. The DA called the investigating officer, but only to opine whether defendant had control of the arrestee during part of arrest portrayed in video. This testimony did not violate Kastigar v. U.S. (1972) 406 US 441 (testimony of witnesses exposed to compelled statements) because witness relied on independent sources to base opinion.
Sex Offender Registration: Hofsheier. People v. Travella (2/23/2010, H033992) 182 CA4th 161: Subjecting the defendant convicted of oral copulation under PC 288a(b)(2), to mandatory sex offender registration requirement violated his constitutional right of equal protection where the defendant convicted of the similar crime of voluntary sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years of age would not necessarily have been subject to the registration requirement. (People v. Hofsheier (2006) 37 C4th 1185.) Where the defendant’s conviction and sentence, including sex offender registration requirement, were final over 20 years ago, he could not seek relief by postjudgment motion, but could do so by bringing declaratory relief action against state Department of Justice, and courts had discretion to treat the purported motion as a petition for such relief. (See Minor v. Municipal Court (1990) 219 CA3d 1541, 1549.)
Prejudicial Juror Misconduct. People v. Cissna (2/26/2010, D053464) 182 CA4th 1105: Juror violated admonition not to discuss case by talking about it daily with nonjuror friend. See People v. Bradford (2007) 154 CA4th 1390, 1413-1414. Presumption of prejudice established by misconduct was not rebutted by prosecution. If record shows substantial likelihood that even one juror was impermissibly influenced to the defendant’s detriment, it does not matter if unbiased jury would have reached same result. Here misconduct was pervasive (occurring every day) and substantive (involving discussions about merits of case). In addition, juror’s failure to comply with admonitions not to discuss case “casts serious doubts on his willingness to follow the court’s other instructions.” The friend to whom juror spoke became in effect a 13th juror, who had not been vetted through voir dire.
Theft: No Double Convictions For Theft And Receiving. People v. McPike (2/26/2010, A122030) 182 CA4th 426: Petty theft reversed and receiving allowed to stand. “It is well-established that, subject to exceptions not relevant here, a defendant may not be convicted of stealing and receiving the same property. (People v. Allen (1999) 21 C4th 846, 853 (Allen); People v. Garza (2005) 35 C4th 866, 874-875 (Garza); People v. Jamarillo (1976) 16 C3d 752, 757.)”
Melendez-Diaz. People v. Benitez (2/24/2010, G041201) 182 CA4th 194: Trial court erred in admitting analyst’s laboratory notes as a business record without affording defendant an opportunity to cross-examine analyst within the meaning of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US ____ [174 LEd2d 2314; 129 SCt 2527]. The fact that those notes were made contemporaneously with analyst’s observations in the regular course of business, pursuant to standardized scientific procedure, did not eliminate their testimonial nature. The opportunity to cross-examine the lab supervisor who did not sign laboratory notes and did not participate in or observe testing process did not satisfy defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights under Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. Since that testimony was crucial to establish defendant’s possession of drugs, the error was not harmless.
Statute Of Limitations: Sex Offenders With Life Imprisonment. People v. Perez (2/24/2010, H033386) 182 CA4th 231: The statute of limitations did not bar prosecution where sex offenses were punishable by life imprisonment.
Aiding And Abetting: Repeating Mental State Element When Defining Substantive Offense. People v. Hernandez (2/18/2010, F056015) 181 CA4th 1494: CALCRIM Nos. 968 and 401 together adequately instruct jurors as to the mental state requirement for aiding and abetting, and need not be repeated in conjunction with the instruction for the underlying offense. Appellant was charged with discharging a firearm from a vehicle at another person (PC 12034(c)). At trial, the prosecution argued that appellant was guilty of the offense as an aider and abettor. According to the evidence presented, appellant was the driver of the vehicle and Ruiz was the actual shooter. Appellant testified he knew Ruiz had a gun but did not know that Ruiz intended to shoot anyone and when he realized Ruiz was going to shoot, he thought he would shoot into the air. Instead, Ruiz fired multiple rounds, hitting the victim, who was at the side of the car and killing him. The jury was instructed with CALCRIM No. 968 which informed that the elements for PC 12034(c) were acting willfully and maliciously and shooting from the vehicle at a person outside the vehicle – a general intent offense. They were also instructed with CALCRIM No. 401, informing that an aider and abettor must act with knowledge of the criminal purpose of the perpetrator and with an intent to aid the perpetrator in the commission of the offense, etc. The appellate court held that these two instructions together adequately instructed as to the requisite intents for each offense.
U.S. Supreme Court (February 1-28, 2010)
Invocation Of Counsel Permits Reinterrogation After A Two-week Break. Maryland v. Shatzer (2/24/2010, No. 08-6800 ____ US ____ [175 LEd2d 1045; 130 SCt 1213]: Where a suspect has asserted his right to counsel and his right to remain silent and questioning ceases but he is then recontacted after a period of 14 days, during which he was no longer in Miranda custody, and now waives Miranda, there is no presumption that a statement obtained following the waiver is involuntary.
Miranda: No Script Required. Florida v. Powell (2/23/2010, No. 08-1175) ____ US ____ [175 LEd2d 1009; 130 SCt 1195]: Although Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 US 436 requires that prior to custodial questioning, a suspect be clearly informed that he has a right to consult with an attorney and have the attorney with him during questioning, there is no precise required script. The issue is whether the rights have been adequately conveyed.
9th Circuit (February 1-28, 2010)
Voluntariness Of Confession:Totality Of Circumstances. Doody v. Schriro (2/25/2010, 9th Cir. No. 06-17161) 596 F3d 620: The Arizona Court of Appeals unreasonably concluded that advisements made to defendant under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 US 436, were clear and understandable, when the detective downplayed the warnings’ significance, deviated from an accurate reading of the Miranda waiver form, and expressly misinformed defendant regarding his right to counsel. The court further held that the state court made an unreasonable determination that the defendant, a sleep-deprived teenager, voluntarily confessed to a tag team of detectives after nearly 13 hours of overnight police interrogation. The court held the state court unreasonably applied clearly established federal law in failing to consider the totality of the circumstances to determined whether the defendant’s will was overborne by the interrogation. The court concluded the coerced confession was inadmissible and the error was not harmless.