Tag Archives: Appeal


CSC Neither Tightens Nor Lessens Standard of Prejudice for Alternate Theory Error
September 4th, 2020

People v. Aledamat (2019) 8 Cal.5th 1 a divided court held that the same standard of prejudice which applies to the misdescription or omission of elements of the charge applies to alternate theory error: i.e., instruction on both a correct and incorrect theory of guilt: “the same Chapman analysis of harmless error applies to alternative-theory […]


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SB 1437 and Attempted Murder
August 27th, 2020

A recurring issue in Court of Appeal opinions is whether SB 1437 applies to attempted murder liability under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, and there is currently a split in authority. The California Supreme will consider this issue in People v. Lopez (2019) 38 Cal.App.5th 1087, review granted 11/13/2019 (S258175/B271516). See this post: Two […]


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Deficiencies in Defense Evidence Cannot Make up for Shortcomings in Prosecution’s Evidence
August 13th, 2020

[Update of February 3rd, 2015 post] People v. Centeno (2014) 60 Cal. 4th 659 provides an important clarification of the presumption of innocence and the prosecution’s burden of proof: “…[D]eficiencies in the defense case [cannot] make up for shortcomings in [the prosecution’s case].” (Id., at 673.) For example, in People v. Brito (Sep. 19, 2019, […]


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Judicial Recognition That Juror Compromise May Produce Unreliable Verdicts When the Jury Is Given An All-Or-Nothing Choice Between Conviction and Acquittal
May 17th, 2020

The rationale for requiring courts to instruct on lesser-included offenses is to avoid forcing the jury into an ” ‘unwarranted all-or-nothing choice’ ” that creates the risk the jury will convict on the charged offense even though one of the elements remains in doubt because ” ‘the defendant is plainly guilty of some offense.’ ” […]


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Failure to Object Does Not Forfeit the Issue on Appeal When There Is a Change in the Law
May 12th, 2020

In People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 C4th 665 held that if an expert testifies to case-specific out-of-court statements to explain the bases for his opinion, those statements are necessarily considered by the jury for their truth, thus rendering them hearsay.   In People v. Perez (2020) ___ Cal5th ___ S248730; 2/27/20 defense counsel failed to […]


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Prosecution’s Constitutional Challenge to SB 1437 Rejected and CSC Review Denied
April 14th, 2020

SB 1437 bars liability for felony murder where the defendant wasn’t the actual killer, didn’t intend to kill, and wasn’t a major participant in the underlying felony. In Gooden, the C/A People v. Superior Court (Gooden); 42 CA5th 270 rejected the DA’s argument that SB 1437 unconstitutionally amended Proposition 7 or Proposition 115. Furthermore, People […]


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Two Issues Regarding Accomplice Liability for Attempted Murder Currently Before the CSC
March 17th, 2020

In 2018, the Legislature and the Governor signed into law Senate Bill No. 1437, (Penal Code which restricted the circumstances under which a person can be liable for felony murder and abrogated the natural and probable consequences doctrine as applied to murder. (Stats. 2018, ch. 1015.) It also established a procedure permitting qualified persons with […]


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Trial Counsel Has Duty to Request Clarification or Modification of “Otherwise Correct” Instruction but Instruction Which Is “Incorrect in Law” May Be Reviewed on Appeal Without Objection Below
September 12th, 2018

In People v. Capistrano (2014) 59 Cal.4th 830, 875, fn. 11 the attorney general contended that the defendant forfeited any objection to various instructions because he failed to object to them in the trial court. The CSC responded by differentiating between an instruction which is “incorrect in law” — which does not require an instruction […]


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Residential Robbery is a Lesser Included Offense of Home Invasion Robbery
July 2nd, 2018

Multiple convictions may not be based on necessarily included offenses based on one criminal act. (See, e.g., People v. Moran (1970) 1 Cal.3d 755, 763 [“If the evidence supports the verdict as to a greater offense, the conviction of that offense is controlling, and the conviction of the lesser offense must be reversed”].) In People […]


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Party With Burden of Proof Loses When the Fact Finder is “On the Fence”
March 12th, 2018

Placing any burden at all on the defense, however slight, can be a “game changer” because such a burden requires uncertain or undecided jurors to side with the prosecution instead of the defense. In other words, when the fact finder is uncertain the unburdened party “‘must win.'[Citation.]” (People v. Jackson (2014) 58 Cal. 4th 724, […]


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