CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (December 1-31, 2009)
People v. Butler (12/10/2009, S068230) 47 C4th 814: A pro per defendant’ s misconduct in jail which results in imposition of security measures that restrict his opportunity to prepare for trial, alone, is not a basis to revoke his pro per status.
People v. Taylor (12/24/2009, S054774) 2009 Cal. LEXIS 13168: California Supreme Court examines Indiana v. Edwards (2008) ____ US ____ [171 LEd2d 345;128 SCt 2379], where the U.S. Supreme Court held that a defendant can be competent to stand trial but incompetent to go pro per. After an exhaustive review of the law in this area, the ultimate holding is that it didn’t violate federal constitutional law to permit the defendant to go pro per even though he obviously had serious mental problems.
Grants Of Review:
People v. Dungo REV GTD (12/02/2009, S176886) 176 CA4th 1388: (1) Was defendant denied his right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when one forensic pathologist testified to the manner and cause of death in a murder case based upon an autopsy report prepared by another pathologist? (2) How does the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US ___ [174 LEd2d 314; 129 SCt 2527], affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 C4th 555?
People v. Gutierrez REV GTD (12/02/2009, S176620) 177 CA4th 654: (1) Was defendant denied his right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when (a) one nurse practitioner testified as to the results of a sexual assault examination and the report prepared by another nurse practitioner, and (b) a supervising criminalist testified as to the result of DNA tests and the report prepared by another criminalist? (2) How does the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US ___ [174 LEd2d 314; 129 SCt 2527], affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 C4th 555?
People v. Lopez REV GTD (12/02/2009, S177046) 177 CA4th 202: (1) Was defendant denied his right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when the trial court admitted into evidence the results of blood-alcohol level tests and a report prepared by a criminalist who did not testify at trial? (2) Was the error prejudicial in light of the testimony of a supervising criminalist about testing procedures at the lab? (3) How does the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US ___ [174 LEd2d 314; 129 SCt 2527], affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 C4th 555?
People v. Rutterschmidt REV GTD (12/02/2009, S176213) 176 CA4th 1047: (1) Was defendant denied her right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when a supervising criminalist testified as to the result of drug tests and the report prepared by another criminalist? (2) How does the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US ___ [174 LEd2d 314; 129 SCt 2527], affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 C4th 555?
People v. Engram REV GTD (12/02/2009, S176983) 2009 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7063: (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. Tran REV GTD (12/02/2009, S176923) 177 CA4th 138, mod. 177 CA4th1366a: Did the trial court abuse its discretion in allowing the prosecution to introduce evidence of defendant’s own uncharged criminal acts in order to prove a pattern of criminal activity for purposes of PC 186.22(a) and (e)?
Smith v. Superior Court REV GTD (12/23/2009, S177406) 178 CA4th 373: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Sutton REV GTD (10/28/2008, S166402) 165 CA4th 646, which presents the following issue: Were defendant’s statutory speedy trial rights violated when defense counsel announced ready but that he might be in another trial, and the court continued trial for six days over defendants’ personal objection, and if so, was the error prejudicial?
The following case was transferred for reconsideration in light of People v. Jones (2009) 47 C4th 566:
People v. Cruz REV GTD (6/13/2007, S152272) 2007 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2275
California Courts of Appeal (December 1-31, 2009)
In re J. H. (12/3/2009, B212635) 179 CA4th 1337: An arson conviction requires proof of a malicious mental state despite the fact that it is a general intent crime.
People v. Cason (12/7/2009, E047440) 179 CA4th 1419: A prostitute is not considered an accomplice to her pimp such that her testimony has to be corroborated at trial.
In re S.C. (11/23/2009, pub’d 12/8/2009, A123371) 179 CA4th 1436: PC 653k, which prohibits possession of a switchblade, is violated whenever an individual carries a switchblade on his person, regardless of where the possession occurs.
People v. $10,153.38 (12/11/2009, B205875) 179 CA4th 1520: Forfeiture proceedings pursuant to HS 11488.4(i)(5) must be tried in conjunction with the underlying criminal offense.
People v. Copass (12/14/2009, B211281) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2000: A conviction for VC 2800.2(a) does not require proof that the lights and siren of the pursuing peace officer’s patrol vehicle were continuously activated.
People v. Saleem (12/17/2009, B204646) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2011: PC 12370 is unconstitutionally void because the definition of body armor is vague.
People v. Hernandez (12/17/2009, D053807) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2020: To warrant a Mayberry instruction, there must be substantial evidence that the defendant honestly and reasonably, but mistakenly, believed the victim consented.
People v. Kennedy (12/18/2009, H034021) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2029: Mandatory sex offender registration as a result of a felony conviction for attempt to distribute harmful matter to a minor does not violate equal protection.
People v. Bejarano (12/21/2009, E046719) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2037: Severe depression is not available as a defense for the crime of failing to register as a sex offender because Penal Code section 290.012 is a general intent crime.
People v. Lowery (12/21/2009, E047614) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2044: PC 140(a) is not overbroad nor does it regulate speech protected by the First Amendment.
People v. Ulloa (12/21/2009, E045880) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2043: A property interest in a dwelling conveyed by a lease is not a complete defense to the crime of burglary unless possessory interest is also unconditional.
People v. Franco (12/22/2009, B211850) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2050: A jury convicted the defendant of, inter alia, maintaining a place for the use of controlled substances. (HS 11366.) Appellant challenged the conviction because the jury was instructed with an old version of CALCRIM 2440 which allowed him to be convicted for maintaining a place for his own personal drug use. Respondent countered that the statute allows that. The court reversed. The issue was not forfeited despite trial counsel’s approval of the instruction because it was an incorrect statement of the law.
People v. Johnson (12/22/2009, B207182) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2049: The court did not err in rejecting a proposed instruction on the use of force in a trespass situation. Appellant, a homeless man who at times was given permission to stay at a motel, stabbed a motel employee who told him to leave. At his trial for assault with a deadly weapon, appellant proposed an instruction partly based on CALCRIM 3475 (right to eject trespasser from real property) which would have told the jury that it is unlawful to use force to remove a trespasser who is not likely to injure the property or its owner or occupants. The court refused the instruction finding it did not add or detract from the issue of self-defense. The appellate court found no error. The principles explained in CALCRIM 3475 are for when the owner or occupant is charged with using excessive force to remove the trespasser, not for when the trespasser is accused of using excessive force to resist being ejected. The principles in CALCRIM 3475 might also apply when there is a question of whether the trespasser could defend himself from the use of force by the owner/occupant.
People v. Sanchez (12/23/2009, E048972) 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 2072: Following People v. Stevens (2009) 47 CA4th 625, panel concludes that security measures in place during defendant’s trial did not violate right to fair trial. Specifically, a deputy followed the defendant from counsel table to the witness stand and stood in the vicinity.
U.S. Supreme Court (December 1-31, 2009)
Porter v. McCollum (11/30/2009, No. 08-10537) ____ US ____ [175 LEd2d 398; 130 SCt 447]: Defense counsel’s decision not to investigate mitigating circumstances in this death penalty case because the defendant was uncooperative, did not reflect reasonable professional judgment.