CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (July 1-31, 2012)
Speedy Trial: PC 1382. Smith v. Superior Court (7/2/2012, S188068) 54 CA4th 592: When the circumstances of one defendant cause a trial to be continued beyond the 60-day period of Penal Code section 1362, there is good cause to continue a codefendant’s trial to a date within section 1382’s 10-day grace period to permit the defendants to be tried jointly.
Provocative Act Doctrine. People v. Gonzalez (7/5/2012, S189856) 54 CA4th 643: Where defendant escalated a fight by handing her accomplice a loaded gun, sufficient evidence supports her conviction for first degree murder under the provocative act doctrine.
Premeditated Provocative Act Murder: Defendant Must Personally Form The Required Mental State. People v. Gonzalez (7/5/2012, S189856) 54 CA4th 643: When instructing the jury on the mental state required for premeditated murder, the court erroneously cross-referenced the instruction on attempted murder, which provided that the mens rea requirement could be met if either the defendant or her deceased accomplice acted with premeditation. To sustain a first degree murder under the provocative act doctrine, there must be proof that the defendant personally deliberated and premeditated the attempted murder that provoked a lethal response.
Self-Representation: Competency To Stand Trial. People v. Lightsey (7/9/2012, S048440) 54 CA4th 668: Trial court committed reversible error by permitting defendant to represent himself during proceedings to determine whether he was mentally competent to stand trial.
LIO: Attempted Escape. People v. Bailey (7/12/2012, S187020) 54 CA4th 740: Because attempted escape is not a lesser included offense of escape, the appellate court, after finding insufficient evidence to support the escape conviction, cannot modify the conviction to attempted escape.
Aider And Abettor: Attempted Premeditated Murder As Natural And Probable Consequence Of Robbery. People v. Favor (7/16/2012, S189317) 54 CA4th 868: Under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, to be liable for attempted premeditated murder, there is no requirement that an aider and abettor reasonably foresaw an attempted premeditated murder as the natural and probable consequence of the target offense. Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, attempted murder, and robbery. The prosecutor’s theory was that appellant was guilty of first degree murder under the felony-murder rule; of robbery, as an aider and abettor; and of attempted murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. Appellant argued that the trial court erred by not instructing the jury that it had to determine whether a reasonable person in defendant’s position would have known that premeditated attempted murder, not just attempted murder, was a natural and probable consequence of the robbery. Disapproving People v. Hart (2009) 176 CA4th 662, and upholding People v. Cummins (2005) 127 CA4th 667, the Supreme Court affirmed. PC 664(a) (attempted murder) does not create a greater degree of attempted murder, but rather constitutes a penalty provision increasing the punishment for attempted murder beyond the maximum otherwise prescribed when the murder attempted was willful, deliberate, and premeditated. People v. Lee (2003) 31 CA4th 613 held that an individual could be convicted of premeditated attempted murder, as an aider and abettor, even if he did not personally act with deliberation and premeditation. The law only requires that the attempted murder has to be committed by one of the perpetrators with the requisite state of mind. With its opinion in this case, the Court extended the Lee rationale to the natural and probable consequences doctrine. Under this holding, it is sufficient that attempted murder is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the crime aided and abetted, and the attempted murder itself was committed willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation.
Erroneous Instruction On Burglary And Multiple Murder Special Circumstances. People v. Riccardi (7/16/2012, S056842) 54 CA4th 758: The trial court did not properly instruct the jury on the burglary special-circumstance finding and one of the two multiple-murder special circumstances.
Burglary: Entry Of Unenclosed Balcony. People v. Yarbrough (7/19/2012, S192751) 54 CA4th 889: An unauthorized entry onto a second-floor apartment’s private balcony with the requisite criminal intent constitutes burglary. The second floor balcony was only accessible from inside the apartment and was surrounded by a railing.
Commitment Proceeding: Waiver Of Jury Trial. People v. Barrett (7/30/2012, S180612) 54 CA4th 1081: In a commitment proceeding under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6500, neither due process nor equal protection require that the committee be personally advised and waive the right to a jury trial.
Use Of Charged Crimes To Show Propensity. People v. Villatoro (7/30/2012, S192531) 54 CA4th 1152: EC1108 is not limited to uncharged crimes and the jury may consider crimes charged in the present case to prove propensity. A modified version of CALCRIM 1191, which permitted the jury to use evidence of appellant’s guilt in one of the charged sexual offenses as evidence of propensity to commit the other charged sexual offenses, did not lessen the prosecution’s burden to prove the charged crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. The court did not decide whether courts should give such an instruction in the future.
California Supreme Court (July 1-31, 2012)
Grants of Review
People v. Wright REV GTD (7/18/2012, S202433) 204 CA4th 1084: (1) Did the trial court misapply People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 CA3d 258 and Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 US 79 by granting a prosecution motion claiming the defense was selectively excluding prospective Caucasian jurors when defense counsel, asked his reason for excluding a particular female Caucasian juror, acknowledged that one of his reasons for the challenge was to achieve a more gender-balanced jury? (2) Did the trial court err by reseating the juror and then refusing to allow the defense to exercise a peremptory challenge after acknowledging that defense counsel had provided a legitimate gender-neutral reason for challenging that particular female Caucasian juror? (3) If the trial court erred by reseating the juror, is that error reversible per se or subject to a harmless error analysis?
People v. Le REV GTD (7/25/2012, S202921) 205 CA4th 739, mod. 205 CA4th 1528a: Does PC 1170.1(f), as interpreted by People v. Rodriguez (2009) 47 CA4th 501, preclude a trial court from imposing both a firearm use enhancement under PC 12022.5(a), and a gang enhancement under PC 186.22(b)(1)(B), when the offense is a serious felony as a matter of law?
Review in the following case was dismissed in light of People v. Mena (2010) 54 CA4th 146:
People v. Pasillas REV GTD (3/18/2010, S179190) 2009 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9386
Review in the following cases was dismissed in light of People v. Mesa (2010) 54 CA4th 191:
People v. Duarte REV GTD (2/23/2011, S189174) 190 CA4th 82
People v. Ballard REV GTD (3/2/2011, S190106) 2010 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 10024
People v. Tauch REV GTD (8/31/2011, S194385) 2011 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4022
The following case was transferred for reconsideration in light of People v. Mesa (2010) 54 C4th 191:
People v. Nunes REV GTD (2/15/2012, S198392) 200 CA4th 587
People v. Dowl REV GTD (7/21/2010, S182621) 183 CA4th 702: The court requested the parties to file supplemental briefs addressing: (1) whether petitioner’s failure to object at trial to Officer Williamson’s testimony precludes him from asserting on appeal that, because Officer Williamson was not qualified to opine as to the purpose of petitioner’s marijuana possession, his testimony does not constitute substantial evidence to support the verdict; and (2) whether the record, including the preliminary hearing transcript, shows that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in permitting respondent’s expert to opine at trial that defendant possessed marijuana for purpose of sales.
California Courts of Appeal (July 1-31, 2012)
CC 560: Provocative Act Doctrine. People v. Baker-Riley (7/2/2012, B233733) 207 CA4th 631: CC 560 is correct where the underlying felony is robbery and the felony-murder rule applies and the defendant committed acts beyond those necessary to commit the underlying felony of robbery.
PC 288.4. People v. Yuksel (7/11/2012, B231571) 207 CA4th 850: Despite references to both child and minor, PC 288.4 (arranging a meeting with minor for lewd and lascivious behavior) applies to any child under the age of 18 years.
Admissibility Of Hearsay Relied Upon By Expert. People v. Yuksel (7/11/2012, B231571) 207 CA4th 850: An expert’s reliance on hearsay in formulating his opinion does not necessarily make the hearsay admissible. The judge retains the discretion to exclude such hearsay under EC 352.
Public Trial: Exclusion Of Defendant’s Family. People v. Pena (7/13/2012, E052558) 207 CA4th 944: The Sixth Amendment right to a public trial was not violated when the defendants’ family was excluded from the final portion of the trial based on reports from two jurors that the family was following them outside of court.
Civil Commitment: Must Be Based On Evidence Beyond The Filed Charges. People v. O.P. (7/13/2012, C066319) 207 CA4th 924: Due Process concerns require that WI 6500 (civil commitment) be construed to contain a requirement of a finding of current dangerousness based on evidence beyond the charges filed against a minor and the minor’s incompetence to stand trial by virtue of mental retardation.
PC 69: Threats By E-Mail. People v. Nishi (7/13/2012, A129724) 207 CA4th 954: Substantial evidence supports a PC 69 (resisting an executive officer) conviction when a person e-mails a threatening message with the intent to deter officials from performing their duties and it may be inferred that he intended that the message would be conveyed to the intended targets.
Confrontation: Forfeiture By Wrongdoing. People v. Jones (7/23/2012, B233204) 207 CA4th 1392: The forfeiture by wrongdoing doctrine is not limited to statements by victim witnesses who were murdered to prevent their testimony. The doctrine applies to statements by corroborating witnesses whose testimony was prevented by means other than murder.
SVP: Equal Protection. People v. McKee (7/24/2012, D059843) 207 CA4th 1325: Equal protection principles are not violated because of disparate treatment of sexually violent predators who have a higher burden to obtain release as compared with mentally disordered offenders or those having been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Hearsay: State-Of-Mind Exception – Exclusion Under EC 352. People v. Anderson (7/26/2012, B197737) 208 CA4th 851: Hearsay statements were not admissible to establish state of mind, as part of adoptive admissions, or to impeach adoptive admissions and the evidence was properly excluded under EC 352.
Multiplicity: Continuous Sexual Abuse. People v. Anderson (7/26/2012, B197737) 208 CA4th 851: Continuous sexual abuse (PC 288.5) may be charged with separate and discrete violations of PC 288(a) that occurred outside the period of the alleged continuous abuse.
EC 1108: Preponderance Standard. People v. Anderson (7/26/2012, B197737) 208 CA4th 851: The preponderance standard applied to uncharged offenses admitted to prove propensity did not lower the prosecution’s burden of proof on the charged offenses. The instructions adequately explained that the People have the burden of proving defendant guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” (People v. Reliford (2003) 29 CA4th 1007.) Further, the uncharged offenses were not in the “direct chain of proof.” Appellant’s propensity to commit a lewd act was a type of collateral fact that the People were not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt even though one of the uncharged offenses marked the start of appellant’s continuous course of conduct.
Miranda. In re Z.A. (7/26/2012, D060033) 207 CA4th 1401: Minor’s statements are inadmissible where police resumed interrogation after the minor invoked her right to remain silent and did not obtain a renewed waiver.
Restitution: Double Jeopardy. People v. Daniels (7/31/2012, B235157) 208 CA4th 29: Double jeopardy prohibits trial court from increasing restitution fine following retrial.