CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (January 1-31, 2012)
Death Penalty: Voir Dire – Improper Cause Challenge Of Scrupled Juror. People v. Pearson (1/9/2012, S120750) 53 CA4th 306: Judge prejudicially erred in granting the prosecution’s challenge for cause to a potential juror where that juror made no conflicting or equivocal statements about her ability to vote for a death penalty in a factually appropriate case.
Miranda: Requirement Of Request For Counsel Applies To Minor. People v. Nelson (1/12/2012, S181611) 53 CA4th 367: A clear invocation of right to counsel under Davis v. United States (1994) 512 US 452, 459 applies to a minor tried as an adult.
Felony Murder Special Circumstance For Non-Killer: Judge Must Instruct On Elements. People v. Mil (1/23/2012, S184665) 53 CA4th 400: The judge prejudicially erred by failing to instruct on the elements of felony murder special circumstance for a non-killer defendant. Mil was convicted of first degree murder with the special circumstances of burglary-murder and robbery-murder. The special circumstances instructions were correct for a defendant who is the actual killer. However, the jury was not instructed that for non-killer culpability, the defendant must either have had the intent to kill, or must have acted with reckless indifference to human life and be a major participant in the commission of the underlying felony. (PC 190.2(d).)
Implied Malice: Post-Crime Behavior. People v. Cravens (1/30/2012, S186661) 53 CA4th 500: A defendant’s behavior before, during, and after a deadly assault may provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the mental component of implied malice for second degree murder.
Is A Single Punch Resulting In Death Enough To Establish Implied Malice? People v. Cravens (1/30/2012, S186661) 53 CA4th 500: Is one punch which kills the victim sufficient for implied malice? People v. Spring (1984) 153 CA3d 1199 says no. However, while not overruling Spring, the single punch thrown under the circumstances in Cravens was sufficient for implied malice.
Faretta: Competence. People v. Johnson (1/30/2012, S188619) 53 CA4th 519: A defendant can be found competent to stand trial but not competent to present his own defense. In Indiana v. Edwards (2008) 554 US 164, the United States Supreme Court held that states may, but are not required to, deny self-representation to defendants who, although competent to stand trial, lack the mental health or capacity to represent themselves at trial. In this case, the California Supreme Court concluded that California courts may deny self-representation when the United States Constitution permits them to do so, as it does in Edwards, supra, without violating the right to self-representation under Faretta v. California (2008) 554 US 164, and, because California law provides no statutory or constitutional right of self-representation, such denial does not violate state law.
Grants of Review
People v. Davis REV GTD (1/11/2012, S198434) 200 CA4th 205: Did substantial evidence support defendant’s convictions for possession and sale of a controlled substance even though MDMA/Ecstasy is not expressly listed as a controlled substance subject to HS 11377 and 11379, and the prosecution did not present expert testimony that MDMA/Ecstasy contains a controlled substance or is an analog of a controlled substance?
People v. Davis REV GTD (1/11/2012, S198061) 199 CA4th 1254: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Dungo REV GTD (12/2/2009, S176886) 176 CA4th 1388, People v. Gutierrez REV GTD (12/2/2009, S176620) 177 CA4th 654, People v. Lopez REV GTD (12/2/2009, S177046) 177 CA4th 202, and People v. Rutterschmidt REV GTD (12/2/2009, S176213) 176 CA4th 1047, which present issues concerning the right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when the results of forensic tests performed by a criminalist who does not testify at trial are admitted into evidence and how the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US ___ [174 LEd2d 314; 129 SCt 2527], and Bullcoming v. New Mexico (6/23/2011, No. 09-10876) 564 US____ [180 LEd2d 610; 131 SCt 2705] affect this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 CA4th 555.
In re Gonzalez REV GTD (1/18/2012, S197838) 2011 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7580: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Beltran REV GTD (6/15/2011, S192644) 2011 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2425, which presents the following issues: (1) Was the jury misinstructed with former CALCRIM 570 on provocation and heat of passion as a basis for a conviction of voluntary manslaughter? (2) Did the prosecutor misstate the applicable law on the subject in argument? (3) Did the trial court accurately respond to a jury question on the subject? (4) If there was error, was defendant prejudiced?
People v. Reese REV GTD (1/25/2012, S198269) 2011 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8095: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Dungo REV GTD (12/2/2009, S176886) 176 CA4th 1388, People v. Gutierrez REV GTD (12/2/2009, S176620) 177 CA4th 654, People v. Lopez REV GTD (12/2/2009, S177046) 177 CA4th 202, and People v. Rutterschmidt REV GTD (12/2/2009, S176213) 176 CA4th 1047, which present issues concerning the right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment when admitted into evidence and how the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US ___ [174 LEd2d 314; 129 SCt 2527] affects this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 CA4th 555.
People v. Le REV GTD (12/21/2011, S197493) 198 CA4th 1031: In this case in which review was previously granted, the court ordered briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Davis REV GTD (S198434, 1/11/2012) 200 CA4th 205, which presents the following issue: Did substantial evidence support defendant’s convictions for possession and sale of a controlled substance even though MDMA/Ecstasy is not expressly listed as a controlled substance subject to HS 11377 and 11379, and the prosecution did not present expert testimony that MDMA/Ecstasy contains a controlled substance or is an analog of a controlled substance?
Review in the following case was dismissed in light of People v. Sanchez (2011) 53 CA4th 80:
People v. Mayhan REV GTD (6/8/2011, S192245) 2011 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3298
The following cases were transferred for reconsideration in light of People v. Sanchez (2011) 53 CA4th 80:
People v. Bradley REV GTD (12/13/2006, S146985) 142 CA4th 247
People v. Aldana (8/19/2009, S174836) 174 CA4th 1025
Review in the following case was dismissed in light of People v. Ahmed (2011) 53 CA4th 156:
People v. Robinson REV GTD (7/13/2011, S193289) 194 CA4th 672
California Courts of Appeal (January 1-31, 2012)
SVP: Effect Of Invalid Evaluation. Davenport v. Superior Court of San Francisco (1/5/2012, A131008) 202 CA4th 665: Use of an invalid evaluation protocol in an SVP proceeding does not result in dismissal of the SVP petition when the court has obtained jurisdiction.
Judicial Plea Bargains vs. Indicated Sentence. People v. Clancey (1/10/2012, H036501) 202 CA4th 790: Judicial plea bargaining is prohibited but the court is permitted to give an indicated sentence.
EC 352: Inadequacy Of Appellate Record. People v. Holford (1/10/2012, C063540) 203 CA4th 155: When a contention is made on appeal that evidence is more prejudicial than probative, the issue is forfeited unless the record provides a basis for comparison.
Lesser Included Offenses Within Assault With Intent To Commit Rape During A Burglary. People v. Dyser (1/13/2012, C064558) 202 CA4th 1015: Both first degree burglary and assault with intent to commit rape are lesser included offenses of assault with intent to commit rape during the commission of first degree burglary.
Collateral Estoppel And Probation Violations. People v. Quarterman (1/24/2012, A130065) 202 CA4th 1280: The prosecution is not permitted to re-file a petition to violate probation on the same ground asserted in the first violation of probation hearing, which was not sustained due to insufficient proof.
Use Of Firearm: Emboldening Co-Defendant. People v. Thiessen (1/25/2012, C065896) 202 CA4th 1397: Within the meaning of PC 12022.53(b), a defendant “uses” a firearm when his use emboldens another to shoot, regardless whether the victim observes defendant’s weapon.
Grand Theft Person: Property Must Be On Victim’s Person. People v. Geter (1/26/2012, C066487) 202 CA4th 1430: The crime of grand theft person requires proof that the property taken was on the victim’s person when the assault began.
Post-Filing Delay And Presumed Prejudice. Leaututufu v. Superior Court (11/8/2011, No. 2453306p, posted 1/26/2012) 202 CA4th Supp. 1: Delay after charges are filed may violate a defendant’s speedy trial rights. (Barker v. Wingo (1972) 407 US 514.) Prejudice is presumed if the delay exceeds the statute of limitations for the crime; one year for most misdemeanors.
Instruction On PC 311.4 Correctly Stated That There Is No Requirement That The Defendant Direct The Child To Pose Or Model. People v. Haraszewski (1/30/2012, D0569540) 203 CA4th 924: PC 311.4(c) does not require that the defendant directed the minors as a element of the offense involving the use of minors to engage in posing or modeling for the purpose of preparing any image involving sexual conduct by a minor.
U.S. Supreme Court
(January 1-31, 2012)
Eyewitness Rules Not Applicable Unless The Police Arranged The Identification. Perry v. New Hampshire (1/11/2012, No. 10-8974) ___ US ___ [181 LEd2d 694; 132 SCt 716]: Due process does not require a preliminary assessment of reliability of eyewitness identification made under suggestive circumstances not arranged by police.
IAC May Toll Federal Habeas Statute Of Limitation. Maples v. Thomas (1/18/2012, No. 10-63) ___ US ___ [181 LEd2d 807; 132 SCt 912]: Lawyers who abandoned their capital habeas client without notice to the court or to the client provided extraordinary cause to grant relief from default.