CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (June 1-30, 2013)
Provocation: Whether Average Person Would Have Reacted From Passions. People v. Beltran (6/3/2013, S192644) 56 CA4th 935: Provocation which is adequate to reduce murder to manslaughter focuses on whether a person of average disposition would be induced to react from passion, not whether such person would be induced to kill. Beltran claimed the voluntary manslaughter instruction (former CC 570) erroneously told the jurors to consider how “a person would react” to the provocation, focusing on whether it would induce a person of average disposition to kill, rather than to act rashly. The prosecution claimed the instruction did not go far enough and that the type of provocation sufficient to reduce murder to manslaughter must be of a kind that would cause a person of average disposition to kill. The court found the proper focus is not on whether the provocation would cause “the average person to act in a certain way: to kill. Instead, the question is whether the average person would react in a certain way: with his reason and judgment obscured.”
Voluntary Manslaughter Not LIO Of Second Degree Felony Murder. People v. Bryant (6/3/2013, S196365) 56 CA4th 959: A killing committed without malice in the commission of an inherently dangerous assaultive felony does not constitute voluntary manslaughter. A second degree felony murder may be based on commission of an inherently dangerous felony, but not an assaultive felony, because the offenses “merge.” (People v. Ireland (1969) 70 CA2d 522.) But that does not mean a killing committed without malice in the commission of an inherently dangerous assaultive felony is voluntary manslaughter, because voluntary manslaughter requires either an intent to kill or a conscious disregard for life.
CC 801: Prosecution Need Not Prove That Defendant Caused “Serious Bodily Injury.” People v. Santana (6/10/2013, S198324) 56 CA4th 999: CC 801 provides that “the people must prove that the defendant caused serious bodily injury when he unlawfully and maliciously disabled or made useless a part of someone’s body and the disability was more than slight or temporary.” This instruction was incorrect. PC 203 does not mention “serious bodily injury” and no cases have held that such an injury is an element of mayhem.
California Supreme Court (June 1-30, 2013)
Grants of Review:
People v. Lavender REV GTD (6/12/2013, S209975) 2013 WL 816522: Did the Court of Appeal err by reversing defendants’ convictions for juror misconduct and remanding for a new trial rather than remanding for an evidentiary hearing into the misconduct?
People v. Stevens REV GTD (6/12/2013, S209643) 213 CA4th 1301: May an expert’s testimony in support of a defendant’s commitment under the Mentally Disordered Offender Act (PC 2960 et seq.) that the defendant used force or violence in committing the commitment offense (PC 2962(e)(P)) and that he received treatment for at least 90 days in the year before being paroled (PC 2962(c)) be based entirely on hearsay?
People v. Ellis REV GTD (6/12/2013, S209408) 213 CA4th 1551: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Goldsmith REV GTD (5/9/2012, S201443) 203 CA4th 1515, which presents the following issue: Was photographic evidence obtained by use of a red light camera system properly admitted at trial in the absence of testimony from the contractor that installed the system?
People v. Centeno REV GTD (6/26/2013, S209957) 214 CA4th 843: Did the prosecutor commit misconduct in closing argument by misstating the state’s burden of proof?
People v. Prunty REV GTD (6/26/2013, S210234) 214 CA4th 1110: Is evidence of a collaborative or organizational nexus required before multiple subsets of the Norteños can be treated as a whole for the purpose of determining whether a group constitutes a criminal street gang within the meaning of PC 186.22(f)?
People v. White REV GTD (6/26/2013, S210702) 2013 WL 1444254: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Gonzalez REV GTD (2/27/2013, S207830) 211 CA4th 405, which presents the following issue: Was defendant properly convicted of both oral copulation of an unconscious person and oral copulation of an intoxicated person? (See People v. Craig (1941) 17 CA2d 453.)
California Courts of Appeal (June 1-30, 2013)
PC 273.5(e)(1): Stipulation To Prior. People v. Cross (6/7/2013, C070271) 216 CA4th 1403: Constitutional advisements and waivers are not required before a defendant stipulates to a prior conviction for domestic violence for purposes of PC 273.5(e)(1).
Prisoner’s Gang Association Finding Requires A “Direct Link.” In re Cabrera (6/11/2013, F059511) 216 CA4th 1522 [mod’d 7/1/2013 at 2013 WL 3328774]: Inmate’s possession of two photocopied drawings, which contained the partial names of gang affiliates as the artists, does not provide “some evidence” that the inmate had an “association” with the artists that constituted a “direct link” as required by California Code of Regulations, title 15, § 3378.
Cell Phone GPS And 4th Amendment. People v. Barnes (6/11/2013, A135131) 216 CA4th 1508: Use of a GPS device to determine the location of a stolen cell phone, thereby locating defendant, does not result in a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
PC 1387: Court Order Barring Further Prosecution. People v. Rodriguez (6/13/2013, G046899) 217 CA4th 326: Court order barring further prosecution of charges after second dismissal was proper because the judge previously stated that dismissal of the first indictment would qualify as a dismissal for purposes of PC 1387.
Double Jeopardy: Judge’s Duty To Receive Verdict On Substantive Charge Even If Jurors Are Deadlocked On Enhancement. People v. Sullivan (6/17/2013, B237734) 217 CA4th 242: Robbery conviction reversed because double jeopardy barred a retrial on a substantive offense when jurors reached a verdict on the substantive offense but deadlocked as to an enhancement. The judge could have taken a verdict on the substantive offense and declared a mistrial as to the enhancement only.
Expungement. People v. Parker (6/24/2013, B234010) 217 CA4th 498: Where a prison sentence is imposed but suspended in execution, a qualified defendant remains a “probationer” within the meaning of PC 1203.4, and is eligible for expungement of conviction.
Hearsay At Prelim. Curry v. Superior Court (Orange County) (6/25/2013, G047000) ___ CA4th ___, 2013 WL 3209532: Investigator may testify at preliminary hearing regarding experts’ findings on cause of death.
Duplicity: Possession Of Firearm. People v. Hernandez (6/25/2013, E054160) ___ CA4th ___, 2013 WL 3213052: Trial court prejudicially erred in failing to give unanimity instruction where prosecution relied on two separate instances to support a charge of felon in possession of a firearm.
Right To Post-Conviction DNA Testing. Jointer v. Superior Court of Orange County (6/28/2013, G047824) ___ CA4th ___, 2013 WL 3287612: Trial court abused its discretion in denying a PC 1405 motion for postconviction DNA testing because, assuming the test came back favorable for the defendant, there is a reasonable probability of a more favorable verdict.
9th Circuit Court of Appeals
(June 1-30, 2013)
Strike Prior: Right To Full And Fair Hearing. Dubrin v. California (6/20/2013, 9th Cir. No. 10-56548) ___ F3d ___, 2013 WL 3215521: Where defendant was denied a full and fair hearing on his challenge to the validity of a strike prior, he may challenge an enhanced sentence for a later offense on the ground the prior conviction was unconstitutionally obtained.
United States Supreme Court
(June 1-30, 2013)
DNA From Arrestee. Maryland v. King (6/3/2013, No. 12-207) ___ US ___ [___ LEd2d ___; 133 SCt 1958]: State law allowing police to take DNA sample from person arrested for violent crime based on probable cause is constitutional.
Credibility: Exclusion Of Extrinsic Evidence. Nevada v. Jackson (6/3/2013) No. 12-694 ___ US ___ [___ LEd2d ___; 133 SCt 1990]: State court did not unreasonably apply U.S. Supreme Court precedent addressing a defendant’s right to present a defense by holding that extrinsic evidence of specific instances of a witness’ conduct offered to challenge her credibility was properly excluded. The Constitution guarantees a defendant a right to present a defense. However, state courts have wide latitude to establish rules regarding the admission of evidence.