Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

by
North River and its bail agent, Bad Boys, appealed the trial court's conditional bond exoneration order. In this case, the criminal defendant was found and extradited from Washington state. At issue was a portion of the award of costs awarded to the County to recoup the wages and benefits owed to the two law enforcement officers who transported defendant. The Court of Appeal affirmed and held that Penal Code section 1306, subdivision (b), entitles counties, as agents of the State of California, to seek compensation for the costs of returning a defendant to custody. The court held that appellants failed to meet their burden of presenting legal authority describing why the language of section 1306, subdivision (b), would not allow for the costs associated with the wages and benefits of officers engaged in the extradition process. Accordingly, the court affirmed the award of costs under section 1306, subdivision (b). View "People v. The North River Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
Defendant Davonte Stinson and codefendant Dontae McFadden approached S.A. in his parked car and, at gunpoint, took several items from him including his wallet, keys, and cell phone. Still at gunpoint, they made S.A. move from the driver’s seat to the trunk, placed him in the trunk and closed it, and then continued to look through the car. Defendant and codefendant then fled, leaving S.A. in the trunk. Shortly thereafter, using S.A.’s keys, defendant and codefendant entered the apartment S.A. shared with his fiancé, A.L.G., and her two children. At gunpoint, they demanded that A.L.G. give them whatever guns and money that were in the apartment. After obtaining two guns and other items, they left. Defendant and codefendant were tried together. The jury found defendant guilty of kidnapping to commit robbery, robbery in the second degree, possession of a firearm by a felon, and robbery in the first degree. On appeal, defendant argued: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying the defense motion to sever count six (felon in possession of a firearm alleged against codefendant), charging only codefendant with being a felon in possession of a firearm based on the discovery of a handgun in codefendant’s backpack approximately three months after the robberies of S.A. and A.L.G; (2) the evidence was legally insufficient to support the conviction of kidnapping to commit robbery because it failed to establish that the movement of S.A. from the driver’s seat to the trunk of his car was more than incidental to the commission of the robbery and that it increased the risk of harm to S.A.; and (3) the court erred in the manner in which it modified CALCRIM No. 1203. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court did not err in instructing the jury with the modified version of CALCRIM No. 1203. In the unpublished portions of this opinion, the Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defense motion to sever; nor were defendant’s due process and fair trial rights violated by the joinder. Furthermore, the evidence was legally sufficient to support the conviction of kidnapping to commit robbery. However, finding merit to the contentions raised by defendant in his supplemental briefing, the Court remanded this case back to the trial court for a Franklin hearing and for the trial court to exercise its discretion under Penal section 12022.53 (h), to consider whether to strike the section 12022.53 (b), enhancement. Otherwise, the Court affirmed. View "California v. Stinson" on Justia Law

by
The Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA) provides the court with discretionary authority to involuntarily medicate an incompetent person placed with the State Hospital pre-commitment. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order finding that defendant lacked the capacity to refuse treatment and compelling him to undergo the involuntary administration of antipsychotic medication by the State Department of State Hospitals. In this case, although defendant has not been committed to the State Hospital, the trial court had the discretionary authority under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6602.5 to order his involuntary medication upon a proper finding he was incompetent to refuse medical treatment. Defendant was represented by counsel, provided with a full evidentiary hearing on request, and the trial court expressly found that defendant lacked the capacity to refuse treatment. View "State Department of State Hospitals v. J.W." on Justia Law

by
In 2006, police arrested defendant Daniel Marquez in Ventura County on a drug possession offense. Without his consent, authorities collected Marquez’s DNA sample and entered his DNA profile into a statewide database. Marquez was never charged with the drug offense. In 2008, investigators retrieved DNA evidence from an Orange County robbery, and that evidence matched Marquez’s DNA profile in the database. Police contacted Marquez, and with his consent they collected a second DNA sample, which matched the DNA evidence from the robbery. The State filed two robbery counts and a related offense. The trial court denied Marquez’s motion to suppress the DNA evidence, and a jury convicted him of the charged offenses. The court sentenced Marquez to 25 years to life in state prison, plus an additional 15 years for three alleged prior serious felony convictions. The Court of Appeal held that the 2006 collection of Marquez’s DNA sample was unlawful under the Fourth Amendment; the prosecution failed to prove that Marquez was validly arrested or that his DNA was collected as part of a routine booking procedure. However, the trial court properly admitted the 2008 DNA evidence under a well-established exception to the exclusionary rule: the attenuation doctrine. Additionally, due to a recent statutory change, the Court remanded for the trial court to consider striking the additional punishment for Marquez’s three prior serious felony convictions. The Court also ordered the trial court to modify Marquez’s custody credits. In all other respects, the judgment was affirmed. View "California v. Marquez" on Justia Law

by
In an earlier appeal, Indiana Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company (Lumbermens) challenged an order denying its motion to vacate summary judgment on a bail bond forfeiture and to exonerate the bail bond. The day after Lumbermens filed its notice of appeal, American Surety Company (American), the appellant here, filed an undertaking to stay enforcement of the summary judgment during the first appeal. In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeal affirmed the order denying Lumbermens’ motion to vacate the summary judgment and to exonerate the bail bond. Six days before the Court of Appeal issued the remittitur in the first appeal, American filed a motion in the trial court to exonerate the undertaking and to be released from liability on the undertaking. The undertaking was filed pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 917.1; because Lumbermens’ appeal was from a postjudgment order denying a motion to vacate the summary judgment, which was not a money judgment or an order directing the payment of money, American argued section 917.1 did not apply, and the undertaking was ineffective at all times. The trial court denied the motion, concluding American forfeited its challenge to the validity of the undertaking by waiting to file its motion until 57 days after the Appeals Court issued its opinion in the first appeal, and six days before the remittitur. In this case, American renewed its argument the undertaking it filed on behalf of Lumbermens was ineffective because Lumbermens appealed from a postjudgment order, and not from the summary judgment itself and, therefore, the stay provided for in section 917.1 was never triggered. In addition, American argued the undertaking never became effective because the trial court did not approve it as required by statute. The Court of Appeal determined American was correct that the undertaking it filed in the first appeal was never effective. Likewise, American was correct that, even if section 917.1 applied to Lumbermens’ appeal, the undertaking was not effective because the trial court did not approve of it pursuant to section 995.840 (a). Nonetheless, the Court agreed with the State that American forfeited its challenge to the validity of the undertaking by waiting until six days before the issuance of the remittitur to file its motion to vacate the undertaking. And, even if the Court concluded American did not forfeit its challenges to the undertaking, the Court agreed with the State that American was estopped from challenging the undertaking on appeal. View "California v. American Surety Co." on Justia Law

by
The trial court imposed a $950 sanction on Deputy Public Defender Raju, counsel for Landers in a two-defendant joint criminal trial, for violating a reciprocal discovery order. The court found that Raju failed to disclose to the prosecution the name and statements taken from Fletcher, a witness called by Landers’s co-defendant, Lemalie. Raju argued the sanction order was improper because he never intended to call Fletcher at trial, and in fact did not call her; he contends he relied on a state-of-the evidence defense for Landers, putting on no affirmative defense case and eliciting what he needed through cross-examination of various witnesses, one of whom was Fletcher. The court of appeal reversed. Raju did not violate the reciprocal discovery order. Raju had no general obligation to disclose exculpatory information he expected to come from witnesses called by Lemalie. A “sham cross-examination” theory relied on by the trial court is unsupported by substantial evidence, and as applied here, violates due process. View "People v. Landers" on Justia Law

by
Defendant was convicted of two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child and two counts of nonforcible lewd acts on a child. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal remanded the convictions for nonforcible lewd acts on a child and remanded for the trial court to hold a hearing to exercise its discretion to impose or strike the prior serious felony enhancements, to determine whether defendant was entitled to presentence conduct credits and, if so, to calculate and award those credits. View "People v. Busane" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Andy Hem fatally shot his brother, victim Sokorng “Sok” Hem in 2014. The State argued the shooting was first degree murder; defendant claimed self-defense. The jury found defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter and discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner, finding he personally used a firearm. Defendant was sentenced to prison for 16 years. On appeal defendant contended the prosecutor misstated the law in closing argument, the court improperly excluded evidence, the court failed to conduct an adequate (or any) inquiry into a claim of jury misconduct, and he was entitled to a sentencing remand under Senate Bill No. 620 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.), effective January 1, 2018, which gave trial courts new discretion to strike certain enhancements. The Court of Appeal determined the trial court did not adequately address jury misconduct, which as a matter of law, raised a presumption of prejudice. "The jury deliberations were difficult, as reflected by pointed written questions submitted by the jury, a reported deadlock, and what seems to have been a compromise verdict. In these circumstances, we cannot find that the presumption of prejudice was dispelled by the record and we must reverse the judgment." View "California v. Hem" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction of second degree murder. Defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol and collided with another vehicle on the freeway, killing the passenger and injuring the driver. The Court of Appeal held that defendant was not entitled to an instruction on gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as a lesser included offense; due process did not require the trial court to instruct on involuntary manslaughter; the trial court did not violate defendant's right to equal protection by refusing to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter; the prosecution was within its discretion to charge defendant with murder only and refuse to consent to an instruction on gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant access to a juror's contact information; and defendant failed to show that admission of a photograph depicting defendant smiling during his arrest for the charged crime resulted in a miscarriage of justice. View "People v. Munoz" on Justia Law

by
Chaz Nasjhee Pride was convicted by jury of robbery, which found true allegations he committed the robbery for the benefit of, or at the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang. In a bifurcated proceeding, Pride admitted two prior prison offenses and the court found true allegations Pride previously committed a strike offense and a serious felony prior. The court sentenced Pride to 21 years in prison based upon six years for the robbery (double the midterm of three years) plus 10 years for the gang enhancement and five years for the serious felony prior. The court struck one of the prison prior allegations and stayed punishment on the second prison prior because it arose from the same conduct that resulted in the serious felony prior. On appeal, Pride contended his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act were violated when a police detective viewed and saved a copy of a video Pride posted on a social media account shortly after the robbery depicting Pride wearing a chain taken in the robbery. The Court of Appeal concluded there was no violation of Pride's rights. In supplemental briefing, however, the State conceded the matter should have been remanded for the court to consider whether to exercise its newly conferred discretion to strike the five-year serious felony enhancement pursuant to recently enacted amendments to California Penal Code sections 667 and 1385. Accordingly, the matter was remanded for the limited purpose of allowing the trial court to consider whether to dismiss or strike the Penal Code section 667 (a) enhancement and, if so, to resentence Pride accordingly. In all other respects, the Court affirmed Pride's conviction. View "California v. Pride" on Justia Law