CALIFORNIA CASE LAW UPDATE – Selected California Cases
California Supreme Court (May 1-31, 2012)
Death Penalty. People v. Jones (5/7/2012, S076721) 54 CA4th 1: Death judgment affirmed. Rejected claims included jury selection errors, improper admission of evidence, improper refusal to give requested jury instructions, and the unconstitutionality of California’s death penalty scheme.
Appellate Review Of Lineup Motion. People v. Mena (5/31/2012, S173973) 54 CA4th 146: A trial court’s denial of a lineup motion is reviewable by either a pretrial writ or direct appeal.
NGI: Compelled Examination Of Defendant By Prosecution Experts. Sharp v. Superior Court (5/31/2012, S190646) 54 CA4th 168: In a sanity proceeding [NGI], under PC 1054.3(b), the prosecution may seek compelled evaluation of a defendant by prosecution experts.
Death Penalty: Death Judgment Affirmed. People v. Souza (5/31/2012, S076999) 54 CA4th 90: 1) The trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s pretrial motion for severance; 2) there was no error in various jury instructions, and other instructional errors were not prejudicial; 3) there was no error based on the prosecutor’s reference to assertedly false evidence; 4) there was no error based on exclusion of prospective jurors who disfavored the death penalty; 5) there was no error based on exclusion of mitigating evidence; and 6) the multiple-murder special circumstance and California’s death penalty scheme are not unconstitutional.
Death Penalty. People v. Myles (4/26/2012, S097189) 53 CA4th 1181: Judgment affirmed. Rejected claims included: 1) the denial of a motion to sever two murder counts; 2) denial of a defense motion for a “ski mask” lineup; 3) denial of a third request for substitution of counsel; 4) a sealed transcript of in camera hearings was not adequate for purposes of conducting a meaningful appellate review; 5) the defendant was prejudiced by admission of evidence of witness dissuasion; 6) courtroom presence of a murder victim’s wife; 7) circumstantial evidence instructions deprived the defendant of due process; 8) failure to instruct on voluntary intoxication; and 9) various sentencing challenges.
PC 288.7 Applies To Children Under Age 11. People v. Cornett (4/30/2012, S189733) 53 CA4th 1261: The phrase “10 years of age or younger” in PC 288.7 includes children who have not yet reached their 11th birthday.
California Supreme Court (May 1-31, 2012)
Grants of Review
People v. Goldsmith REV GTD (5/9/2012, S201443) 203 CA4th 1515: (1) What testimony, if any, regarding the accuracy and reliability of the automated traffic enforcement system (ATES) is required as a prerequisite to admission of the ATES-generated evidence? (2) Is the ATES evidence hearsay and, if so, do any exceptions apply?
People v. Mata REV GTD (5/9/2012, S201413) 203 CA4th 898: (1) Did the trial court err in reseating a challenged prospective juror following defendant’s successful Wheeler/Batson motion (People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 CA3d 258; Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 US 79)? (2) Did the defense impliedly consent to reseating the juror? (3) If defense counsel did not consent, was the error reversible per se or subject to harmless error analysis?
People v. Smith REV GTD (5/9/2012, S201186) 203 CA4th 1051: Should the trial court have instructed the jury, as requested, on misdemeanor resisting a peace officer (PC 148(a)(1)) as a lesser included offense of resisting an executive officer in the lawful performance of his duty (PC 69)?
People v. Borzakian REV GTD (5/9/2012, S201474) 203 CA4th 525: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Goldsmith REV GTD (5/9/2012, S201443) 203 CA4th 1515, which presents the following issues: (1) What testimony, if any, regarding the accuracy and reliability of the automated traffic enforcement system (ATES) is required as a prerequisite to admission of the ATES-generated evidence? (2) Is the ATES evidence hearsay and, if so, do any exceptions apply?
People v. Rivera REV GTD (5/9/2012, S200398) 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 969: 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 decision of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 557 US 305, affects this court’s decision in People v. Geier (2007) 41 CA4th 555.
People v. Wollett REV GTD (5/9/2012, S200871) 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1143: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Favor REV GTD (3/16/2011, S189317) 190 CA4th 770, which presents the following issue: In order for an aider and abettor to be convicted of attempted willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder by application of the natural and probable consequences doctrine, must a premeditated attempt to murder have been a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the target offense or offenses, or is it sufficient that an attempted murder would be reasonably foreseeable?
People v. Kidd REV GTD (5/16/2012, S200237) 2012 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 622: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Caballero REV GTD (4/13/2011, S190647) 191 CA4th 1248, which presents the following issue: Does a sentence of 110 years to life for a juvenile convicted of committing non-homicide offenses constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment on the ground it is the functional equivalent of a life sentence without the possibility of parole? (See Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 US ____ [176 LEd2d 825; 130 SCt 2011].)
People v. Rouse REV GTD (5/23/2012, S201479) 203 CA4th 1246: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Villatoro REV GTD (7/20/2011, S192531) 194 CA4th 241, which presents the following issue: Was the modification of CALCRIM 1191, which told the jurors they could consider evidence of a charged offense in determining defendant’s propensity to commit the other charged offenses (see EC1108), reversible error when the court also informed the jurors that all charged offenses must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt?
People v. Schoenbachler REV GTD (5/23/2012, S201241) 203 CA4th 1382: Briefing deferred pending decision in People v. Correa REV GTD (7/9/2008, S163273) 161 CA4th 980, which presents the following issue: Was defendant properly sentenced on multiple counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm where he was discovered in a closet with a cache of weapons?
In re Reno (5/2/2012, S124660) 2012 Cal. LEXIS 4573: The court invited the parties to file simultaneous letter briefs addressing the following questions: (1) Should the court impose page (or word) limits for second and subsequent (exhaustion) habeas corpus petitions in capital cases? (2) If so, what should the page (or word) limits be? (3) As a general matter, may financial sanctions be imposed on attorneys who file an abusive habeas corpus petition with the court? (See In re White (2004) 121 CA4th 1453.)
People v. Aranda REV GTD (1/26/2011, S188204) 188 CA4th 1490: The court ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefs on the following issue: Assuming the trial court’s failure to include the standard reasonable doubt instruction in its predeliberation charge to the jury constituted federal constitutional error, and that such error is subject to harmless error analysis, was the error harmless as to the conviction of active participation in a criminal street gang in violation of PC 186.22(a)?
Review in the following cases was dismissed in light of In re Lucas (2012) 53 CA4th 839:
People v. Superior Court (Gilbert) REV GTD (9/28/2011, S195336) 196 CA4th 1355
California Courts of Appeal (May 1-31, 2012)
Witness Unavailability: Deportation. People v. Roldan (5/1/2012, G044859) 205 CA4th 969: A witness who was deported to Mexico prior to trial was not “unavailable” in the constitutional sense because the prosecution’s efforts to make the witness available for trial did not constitute due diligence under the law.
Motion For New Trial: Failure Of Defense Witness To Appear. People v. Dunn (5/7/2012, D058407) 205 CA4th 1086: The trial court properly denied a motion for mistrial based on the failure of the defense expert to appear for trial because the witness’s absence did not irreparably damage the defendant’s ability to receive a fair trial.
Burglary: Building Defined – Fenced Wrecking Yard. People v. Chavez (5/11/2012, F061645) 205 CA4th 1274: Burglary requires evidence of entry into a building, with building defined as having four walls and a roof. Thus, a fenced wrecking yard is not a building for purposes of burglary.
Withdrawal Of Plea: Recanting Victim. People v. Breslin (5/16/2012, A132443) 205 CA4th 1409: Recantation by the victim does not support a motion to withdraw plea.
Corporal Injury Of Cohabitant: Multiple Acts – Juror Unanimity. People v. Lueth (5/22/2012, E053476) 206 CA4th 189: In a prosecution that included a count of inflicting corporal injury on a cohabitant, under People v. Johnson (2007) 150 CA4th 1467, a unanimity instruction was required. However, the error was harmless because the record showed that the jury unanimously found the defendant guilty based on one particular beating.
Defendant’s Right To Personal Presence: Reenactment By Jurors During Deliberations. People v. Singh (5/23/2012, C065808) 206 CA4th 366: Appellant was not denied his Sixth Amendment right to be present at a critical stage of the proceeding when he was not allowed to be present as the jury conducted a reenactment during deliberations.
Prior Felony Impeachment: Possession Of Assault Weapon Is Crime Of Moral Turpitude. People v. Gabriel (5/24/2012, B228244) 206 CA4th 450: Felony convictions for possession of an assault weapon and cultivation of marijuana are crimes of moral turpitude and may be used to impeach a witness.
Pitchess: Statements Made During Internal Affairs Investigation. Rezek v. Superior Court of Orange County (5/25/2012, G044915) 206 CA4th 633: Statements made by witnesses as part of an internal affairs investigation and placed in an officer’s personnel file are not immune from discovery via a Pitchess motion.
Whether Early Plea Bars Second Prosecution. People v. Barriga (5/30/2012, C068063) 206 CA4th 739: Absent a showing of due diligence in discovering evidence that supported additional criminal charges, the prosecution is precluded from pursuing a second prosecution against a defendant who entered an early plea.
Continuance Requested By Prosecutor: Another Trial As Good Cause. Burgos v. Superior Court (5/31/2012, A134928) 206 CA4th 817: Under PC 1050(g)(2), in the prosecution of a murder case, good cause for a continuance may be established where the prosecuting attorney has another trial in progress.
Juror Misconduct: Facebook Posts. Juror Number One v. Superior Court (Royster) (5/31/2012, C067309) 206 CA4th 854: Posting of entries on Facebook regarding the trial by a juror is misconduct and juror can be compelled to disclose the entries to the court to determine whether the misconduct is prejudicial.
U.S. Supreme Court
(May 1-31, 2012)
Partial Acquittal. Blueford v. Arkansas (5/24/2012, No. 10-1320) ____ US ____ [182 LEd2d 937; 132 SCt 2044]: Double jeopardy does not bar retrial where, prior to conclusion of deliberations, the jury foreperson announces the jury was unanimous against conviction for murder, but no verdict was rendered on this finding. The foreperson’s announcement the jury was unanimous in its vote against guilt of capital murder and first degree murder lacked the finality necessary to amount to an acquittal of murder as deliberations had not yet concluded.
Federal Habeas: Sufficiency Of Evidence Claim. Coleman v. Johnson (5/29/2012, No. 11-1053) ____ US ____ [182 LEd2d 978; 132 SCt 2060]: A federal court may not overturn a state court’s rejection of a criminal defendant’s sufficiency of the evidence challenge unless the state court’s finding was “objectively unreasonable.”
9th Circuit Court of Appeals
(May 1-31, 2012)
Sex Offender: Failure To Register – Cruel And Unusual. Crosby v. Schwartz (5/4/2012, 9th Cir. No. 10-17726) 678 F3d 784: Defendant’s 25 years-to-life sentence for failing to register an address change pursuant to PC 290(f) is not cruel and unusual punishment.
Federal Habeas: Procedural Default Not A Bar If Counsel Was Ineffective. Sexton v. Cozner (5/13/2012, 9th Cir. No. 10-35055) 679 F3d 1150: Where, under state law, IAC claims must be raised in an initial-review collateral proceedings, a procedural default will not bar a federal habeas court from hearing those claims if, in the initial-review collateral proceeding, there was either no counsel or counsel in that proceeding was ineffective. [Note: Companion case is Lopez v. Ryan (5/14/2012, 9th Cir. No. 12-99001) 678 F3d 1131.] Both cases here dealt with claims of ineffective assistance of trial and post-conviction counsel, where petitioner failed to meet procedural requirements. Under Martinez v. Ryan (3/20/2012, No. 10-1001) ____ US ____ [182 LEd2d 272; 132 SCt 1309], the U.S. Supreme Court held that where, under state law, claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel had to be raised in an initial-review collateral proceeding, a procedural default would not bar a federal habeas court from hearing a substantial claim of ineffective assistance of counsel if, in the initial-review collateral proceeding, there was no counsel or counsel in that proceeding was ineffective. In both cases here, the court found that the claims were not substantial and declined to grant relief.
Confrontation: Expert Reports. Flournoy v. Small (5/30/2012, 9th Cir. No. 11-55015) 681 F3d 1000: Admission of the testimony of a forensic analyst, which was based on the reports of other crime laboratory employees, did not violate the confrontation clause.