CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (March 1, 2007-March 31, 2007)
People v. Giles (3/5/2007, S129852) 40 C4th 833: A prior statement made by the victim to this murder, was admissible despite the confrontation clause issue within the meaning of Crawford v. California (2004) 541 US 36 [158 LEd2d 177; 124 S.Ct.1354], because it was admissible under the rule of forfeiture by wrongdoing.
In re Jesus O. (3/8/2007, S140865) 40 C4th 859: Where the defendant, intending to steal from a victim, causes property to become separated from victim’s person, and then the victim leaves behind the property, the theft is “from the person of another” within the meaning of grand theft pursuant to PC 487(c).
Grants Of Review:
People v. Gonzalez REV GTD (3/14/2007, S149898)146 CA4th 327: When separate firearm enhancements under PC 12022.5 and subdivisions (b), (c), and/or (d) of section 12022.53 are found true and the longest enhancement is imposed, should the lesser enhancements be stricken, stayed or simply not imposed at all?
People v. Dunn (3/14/2007, S149332) 2006 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 10773: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Scott REV GTD (11/6/2005, S136498), which presents the following issue: Did the trial court err in instructing the jury that all employees have constructive possession of their employer’s property during a robbery, and, if so, what is the proper standard for determining whether an employee has constructive possession of the employer’s property during a robbery?
In re Raymond C. REV GTD (3/21/2007, S149728) 145 CA4th 1320 and People v. Hernandez REV GTD (3/21/2007, S150038) 146 CA4th 773: If a police officer sees that a motor vehicle lacks a rear or both license plates, may the officer make a traffic stop to determine if the vehicle has a temporary permit or if a displayed temporary permit is a valid one?
People v. Superior Court (Humberto S.) REV GTD (3/21/2007, S149123) 145 CA4th 32, mod. 145 Cal.App.4th 764a: Did the trial court err in recusing trial prosecutors and supervising attorneys after the father of a sexual abuse victim consented to disclosure of her medical and psychiatric records to the defense, but the prosecutors continued to block access to the records?
Review was also granted in numerous cases, which present issues relating to the effect of [NF] Cunningham v. California (1/22/2007) 549 US _____ [166 LEd2d 856; 127 SCt 856], on California sentencing law. The court ordered briefing deferred pending further order of the court in those cases.
People v. Salinas REV GTD (3/28/2007, S150293) 146 CA4th 958: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Geier (S050082) which includes an issue as to the admissibility of laboratory reports in light of the high court’s decision in Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36.
California Courts of Appeal (February 15, 2007-March 31, 2007)
People v. Guevara (2/28/2007, B182951) 148 CA4th 62: Where the custodian of records did not produce the entire personnel file for the court’s review in response to the discovery request and the record did not indicate that the court actually reviewed the list submitted by the city attorney in support of the custodian’s decision to produce no records for the court’s examination, (see People v. Mooc (2001) 26 C4th 1216, 1229 1232), a new Pitchess hearing is required in which custodian must establish on the record what documents or category of documents were included in the complete personnel file and explain the decision to withhold them.
People v. Matye (3/7/2007, C050332) 148 CA4th 345 [modified at 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 443]: There was sufficient evidence of “abuse” of a dependent adult within the meaning of PC 368(b)(1) and (f) where, even though the victim did not actually depend on the defendant for day to day activities, she had to wear a leg brace and use a cane or walker for walking and had impaired mental abilities, including memory and speech problems which restricted her ability to carry out normal activities or protect her rights. (See PC 368, subd. (h).) The Court of Appeal found that the word “restrict” is not synonymous with “preclude.”
People v. Matye (3/7/2007, C050332) 148 CA4th 345 [modified at 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 443]: A “dependent adult” is anyone between 18 and 64 whose ability to carry out normal activities is limited in some significant way.
People v. Sun (3/7/2007, G035328, G036443) 148 CA4th 374: The court acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it ordered 10 counts of PC 12020(a)(2) [possession of large capacity magazines] into one count in direct contradiction to the statutory authority of PC 12001(l).
People v. James (3/8/2007, B185745) 148 CA4th 446: There was sufficient evidence supporting defendant’s conviction for the aggravated kidnapping (PC 209(b)(1)) of a maintenance worker at the club the defendant robbed where the defendant forcibly moved the worker at gunpoint from parking lot, to front door of club to gain entry to club, made the victim get fellow employees to open door for him, forced worker inside of the club, and then threw him to the floor where he remained throughout the robbery. (See People v. Zurica (1964) 225 Cal.App.2d 25, 32.)
People v. Dixon (3/8/2007, E038509) 148 CA4th 414: There is no absolute right to have SVP proceedings open to the public. The trial court must consider various factors such as the sensitive information being presented and discussed. The issue of live televising or videotaping of proceedings is controlled by Rule 1.150, which lists 19 factors. The trial judge must consider these factors.
People v. Villa (3/9/2007, A111891) 148 CA4th 473: Ineffective assistance of counsel cannot be raised by petition for writ of error coram nobis as it amounts to a mistake of law not a mistake of fact. A writ of coram nobis lies to correct only errors of fact as distinguished from error of law. (People v. Sharp (1958) 157 CA2d 205, 207; see also People v. Casteneda (1995) 37 CA4th 1612, 1618,1619 [setting forth the three requirements for coram nobis].) Furthermore, a habeas corpus petition will not lie unless there is a showing that petitioner is in custody or otherwise deprived of liberty solely as a result of a California conviction. The Court of Appeal found that being in custody of immigration is not being in constructive custody for habeas purposes. (Contra, In re Azurin (2001) 87 CA4th 20.) Other cases where it has been found that the defendant is in constructive custody are In re Sturm (1974) 11 C3d 258, 265; In re Petersen (1958) 51 C2d 177, 181 182; In re Smiley (1967) 66 C2d 606, 611 614; In re Catalano (1981) 29 C3d 1, 8 9.)
People v. Catley (3/9/2007, G036876) 148 CA4th 500: There was sufficient evidence to support appellant’s (caretaker’s) conviction of theft by larceny by a caretaker (PC 368(e)), where defendant took $17,000 of victim’s money to buy herself a new sport utility vehicle from a 68 year old man suffering from cognitive impairment due to Parkinson’s disease and the medication taken to treat the disease. Appellant admitted taking money, but claimed she did so with the victim’s consent. The testimony of the victim and of his doctor showed that he was not capable of consenting to the transfer of money. The court did not err in instructing with CALCRIM 331, which tracts the language of section 1127g, which provides that a witness with a cognitive impairment is not deemed any more or less credible than any other witness. (See People v. Gilbert (1992) 5 CA4th 1372, 1393.)
People v. Myers (3/13/2007, G036169) 148 CA4th 546: Failure to object to the admission of evidence of the defendant’s violent character per EC 1101 and 1103 was IAC. However, since this was not a close case, prejudice prong of Strickland v. Washington (1984) 466 US 668, 687 [80 LEd2d 674; 104 SCt 2052] was not satisfied.
People v. Chaney (3/16/2007, G036049) 148 CA4th 772: Court did not violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross examine witnesses (per Crawford v. California (2004) 541 US 36 [158 LEd2d 177; 124 SCt1354], or Davis v. Washington (2006) ____ US ____ [165 LEd2d 224; 126 SCt 2266]) in admitting statements that a nontestifying witness/victim made to police officers when they arrived to execute a search warrant at the kidnapping site.
People v. Cooper (3/16/2007, B190720) 148 CA4th 731: Trial court erred in excluding evidence of the victim’s videotaped statements to police in their entirety where portions of the statements were admissible for nonhearsay purposes or under hearsay exceptions, and exclusion was based solely on erroneous conclusion that statements constituted testimonial hearsay in their entirety and were inadmissible under Confrontation Clause. (See Davis v. Washington (2006) ____ US ____ [165 LEd2d 224; 126 SCt 2266].)
People v. Plengsangtip (3/19/2007, E039985) 148 CA4th 825: Passive nondisclosure or refusal to give information isn’t enough to qualify under the accessory after the fact statute, PC 32. A statement that one knows nothing about a crime, even if that statement is false, isn’t enough. However, affirmative representations of positive facts and thus fall within the accessory after the fact statute.
People v. Burch (3/20/2007, D049604) 148 CA4th 862: Conviction and sentence for possession of methamphetamine and possession of fictitious bills is affirmed over claims that: 1) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied defendant’s request to bifurcate the trial on his prior conviction; 2) the trial court prejudicially erred by failing to sua sponte instruct the jury with CALJIC 2.02; and 3) defendant’s rights were violated per Cunningham v. California (1/22/2007) 549 US _____ [166 LEd2d 856; 127 SCt 856] when he was sentenced to the upper term without a jury finding the aggravating factors.
Porter v. Superior Ct. (People) (3/20/2007, H029884) 148 CA4th 889: In a criminal matter in which petitioner-defendant sought to avoid any further trial on premeditation and gang enhancement allegations against him, his petition for writ of mandate challenging a denial of motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds is granted. Even if the trial court’s limited grant of a new trial was not an implied acquittal, California’s constitutional protection against double jeopardy bars further prosecution of the greater offenses and precludes further trial of the allegations on which the trial court granted a new trial.
People v. Brown (3/21/2007, D047721) 148 CA4th 911: Convictions and sentence for attempted murder, attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and drug- and firearm-related offenses are affirmed over claims that: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support defendant’s conviction for being a felon in possession of ammunition; 2) the trial court violated the double punishment prohibition of PC 654 in imposing terms on his convictions for attempted murder, attempted robbery and assault; 3) the court violated his right to trial by jury in failing to require the jury make the factual finding necessary for the proper imposition of multiple terms; and 4) the court erred in imposing multiple PC12022.53 enhancements.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal (March 1, 2007-March 31, 2007)
United States v. Vartanian (9th Cir. 2/28/2007, No. 05-10581) 476 F3d 1095: Trial court did not err in dismissing juror who was seen talking with defendant’s family on several occasions, had said “things will be okay” to defendant’s sister (and then lied about it to the court). She also talked to defense counsel and to the defendant. She had also engaged in other “bizarre” (the trial court’s word) behavior, “bombarding” the parties and the Court with notes asking questions at inopportune times and bringing chocolates to the court reporter and insisting that she take them.