CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (August 1-31, 2012)
Miranda. People v. Sauceda-Contreras (8/13/2012, S191747) 55 CA4th 203: An officer may clarify the defendant’s intent to invoke or waive Miranda after there is a conditional, ambiguous, and equivocal statement about bringing him a lawyer.
Cruel And Unusual Punishment: Life Sentence For Juvenile. People v. Caballero (8/16/2012, S190647) 55 CA4th 262: Sentence of 110-years-to-life for nonhomicide juvenile offender is cruel and unusual punishment.
Death Penalty: Duress As Mitigation. In re Bacigalupo (8/27/2012, S079656) 55 CA4th 312: The prosecution committed Brady error by failing to disclose evidence that would have supported a case in mitigation at the penalty phase that petitioner committed the two murders because of a Colombian drug cartel’s death threats against him and his family.
Failure To Give Reasonable Doubt Instruction. People v. Aranda (8/27/2012, S188204) 55 CA4th 342: Resolving a conflict in the Courts of Appeal, the court concluded that the omission of the standard reasonable doubt instruction is a violation of federal constitutional principles which is subject to harmless error review.
Three Strikes: Cruel And Unusual Punishment. In re Coley (8/30/2012, S185303) 55 CA4th 524: Twenty-five-year-to-life sentence under “Three Strikes” law is not cruel and/or unusual punishment for a defendant who intentionally failed to comply with sex offender registration law.
California Supreme Court (August 1-31, 2012)
Grants of Review
People v. Johnson REV GTD (8/08/2012, S202790) 205 CA4th 594: Is there a crime of conspiracy to commit the offense of active participation in a criminal street gang in violation of PC 186.22(a)?
People v. Chiu REV GTD (8/15/2012, S202724) 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3044: Does a conviction for first degree murder as an aider and abettor under the natural and probable consequences doctrine require that premeditated murder have been a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the target crimes or only that murder have been such a consequence?
The following cases were transferred for reconsideration in light of People v. Jones (2012) 54 CA4th 350:
People v. Atencio REV GTD (3/16/2011, S189461) 190 CA4th 695
People v. Torres REV GTD (11/16/2011, S195870) 198 CA4th 329
People v. Schoenbachler REV GTD (5/23/2012, S201241) 203 CA4th 1382: Review in this case was dismissed in light of People v. Correa (2012) 54 CA4th 331.
California Courts of Appeal (August 1-31, 2012)
Competency: Involuntary Medication. People v. Coleman (8/1/2012, A133226, ordered pub’d 8/15/2012) 208 CA4th 627: Substantial evidence supported the trial court’s order authorizing the defendant’s involuntary medication for purposes of restoring him to competency to stand trial. The court order was not fatally deficient even though it did not include limitations on the medications, maximum dosages, or the duration of treatment.
Misuse Of Public Funds (PC 424): Required Mental State. People v. Bradley (8/1/2012, B175564) 208 CA4th 64: Stark v. Superior Court (2011) 52 CA4th 368 held that PC 424 requires “that the defendant knew, or was criminally negligent in failing to know, the legal requirements that governed the act or omission.” Here, the court failed to instruct the jury on the required mental state for a violation of section 424. As to Bradley, the error was prejudicial because he presented evidence that, if believed, would negate wrongful intent.
Misuse Of Public Funds (PC 424): Restitution Not A Defense. People v. Bradley (8/1/2012, B175564) 208 CA4th 64: The court properly instructed the jury that restitution was not a defense. A violation of PC 424 is complete when the public money is willfully misappropriated. While offers to restore improperly misappropriated funds may be considered in mitigation of punishment, it is not a defense.
Legislative Intent: Testimony Concerning The Author’s Intent. People v. Bradley (8/1/2012, B175564) 208 CA4th 64: Testimony concerning an author’s intent in drafting a city council resolution constituted improper and irrelevant lay opinion. A city controller’s testimony regarding her intent in drafting a resolution that provided for issuance of city credit cards was improper because “[s]tatements by a bill’s author as to its intended purpose are not cognizable evidence of the legislative intent.”
Improper Conviction Of Both Greater And Lesser Offenses. People v. Martinez (8/6/2012, B235011) 208 CA4th 197: Defendant’s convictions and sentences for assault with a firearm are reversed and remanded, as defendant cannot be convicted of both semiautomatic firearm assault and the lesser included offense of firearm assault.
Defendant’s Extrajudicial Statement: Cautionary Instruction (CC 358) Required Sua Sponte. People v. Diaz (8/16/2012, H036414) 208 CA4th 711: In a criminal threats case, the trial court has a sua sponte duty to instruct jury that defendant’s extrajudicial statements should be viewed with caution.
CC 1203:Aggravated Kidnapping – Asportation Element. People v. Robertson (8/21/2012, F061058) 208 CA4th 965 (mod’d at 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 959): Aggravated kidnapping does not require proof that the movement substantially increased the risk of harm to the victim.
PC 288.5(a): Definition Of Lewd Or Lascivious. People v. Cuellar (8/22/2012, B233089) 208 CA4th 1067: CALCRIM 1120 is problematic because of its potential for negating the requirement of intent. On appeal following his conviction for violating PC 288.5(a) (continuous sexual abuse of a child), appellant argued that the second sentence of the definition of lewd or lascivious conduct in CALCRIM No. 1120 (which states that the touching need not be done in a lewd or sexual manner) is inconsistent with the first and negates the requirement that the touching be done in a lewd and lascivious manner, i.e., accompanied by the intent for sexual gratification. The Court of Appeal agreed that the instruction was problematic and recommended that the language be reconsidered to simply state that the touching need not be of an intimate part of the victim’s body as long as it is with the required intent.
Gang Enhancement: Threat Element. People v. Lopez (8/22/2012, F062740) 208 CA4th 1049: The gang enhancement pursuant to PC 186.22(b)(4)(C) authorizes a life sentence on a conviction for PC 136.1 (witness intimidation) only if a jury finds that the act was accompanied by an express or implied threat of force.
PC 12022.1: Conviction Of Primary Offense Not An Element. People v. Johnson, Jr. (8/22/2012, C067148) 208 CA4th 1092: Proof of conviction of the primary offense is not an element of PC 12022.1 and is only required before penalty for the enhancement can be imposed.
PC 12022.1: No Right To Jury Trial. People v. Johnson, Jr. (8/22/2012, C067148) 208 CA4th 1092: Because PC 12022.1 is an enhancement that penalizes recidivist behavior, akin to the prior prison term enhancement, there is no constitutional right to a jury trial.
Judge May Read Overview Of Facts Prior To Voir Dire. People v. Sorrels et al. (8/24/2012, B224166) 208 CA4th 1155 (mod’d at 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 989): The defense contended that the trial court committed misconduct by reading a statement over defense objections describing the offense to prospective jurors at the beginning of voir dire. According to appellants, the statement amounted to a second opening statement on behalf of the prosecution, focused on details favorable to the prosecution, and allowed the jury to prejudge the case. The Court of Appeal found no error. The California Standards for Judicial Administration direct the giving of such a statement. The statement serves as an introduction to the case, encourages prospective jurors to serve, assists the parties in conducting voir dire, and instructs the jurors as to legal principals they must observe. Further, under People v. Rodriguez (1986) 42 CA3d 730, the trial court has discretion to summarize evidence with no limitations on content or timing, as long as the summary is accurate, temperate, nonargumentative, and scrupulously fair. Here, the trial court did not err by reading an overview of the facts of the case.
Concealed Dirk Or Dagger: Second Amendment Challenge. People v. Mitchell (8/28/2012, D059254) 208 CA4th 1213: Former PC 12020(a)(4) [now PC 21310], which prohibits the carrying of a concealed dirk or dagger, does not violate the Second Amendment right to possess weapons for self-defense. (See District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) 554 US 570.) PC 12020(a)(4) also is not unconstitutional as applied to the defendant.
Possession Of Dirk Or Dagger: Intent Component Of General Intent. People v. Mitchell (8/28/2012, D059254) 208 CA4th 1213: Former PC 12020(a)(4) [now PC 21310] does not include a specific intent to conceal the item from onlookers as an element of the offense and, as such, the court has no sua sponte duty to instruct on specific intent. However, a requirement that the defendant intentionally commit the act of concealment is encompassed within the principle of general intent. Allowing a defendant to avoid culpability based on accidental/unintentional concealment does not mean that the prosecution has the burden to prove an additional element of specific intent to conceal.
PC 654: Single Objective. People v. Atencio, Jr. (8/28/2012, C063710) 208 CA4th 1239: Under PC 654, if all the offenses are incident to one objective, defendant can be punished only once.
Kidnapping During Carjacking: Required Intent. People v. Ortiz et al. (8/29/2012, D058348) 208 CA4th 1354: The crime of kidnapping during carjacking (PC 290.5) requires proof that the intent for the kidnapping was to facilitate the carjacking. CALCRIM 1204 correctly instructs that one of the requirements to find a defendant guilty of a violation of section 290.5 is that the kidnapping is done to facilitate the carjacking. Contrary to appellants’ contention, there is no requirement that the sole or primary purpose of the kidnapping be to facilitate the carjacking.
PC 654: Judge Not Constrained By Verdicts. People v. McCoy (8/29/2012, C0674980) 208 CA4th 1333: In determining whether PC 654 applies, absent any circumstances foreclosing sentencing discretion, the trial court may base its decision on any facts that are in evidence at trial, without regard to the verdicts.
No Restitution After Abatement. People v. Schaefer (8/29/2012, A131539) 208 CA4th 1283: Trial court had no jurisdiction to order restitution after appellate court ordered abatement of all proceedings following appellant’s death. Schaefer was convicted of second degree murder and other offenses as a result of a motorcycle crash that killed a nine-year-old girl.
9th Circuit Court of Appeals
(August 1-31, 2012)
Miranda: “Davis” Rule No Applicable To Pre-Miranda Situation. Sessoms v. Runnels (8/16/2012, 9th Cir. No. 08-17790) 691 F3d 1054: The “Davis” rule (Davis v. United States (1994) 512 US 452), which requires that a defendant unambiguously request an attorney before police questioning must cease, does not apply in the pre-Miranda context.