Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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Defendant was sentenced to eight months in prison for his conviction of violating the terms of his release from custody. Defendant had an ankle monitor and was not allowed to leave the county without permission. The GPS on his ankle monitor showed that defendant repeatedly left the county and went to other counties and states without asking for or receiving permission. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal found that the trial court properly admitted a report about the GPS signals sent by defendant's ankle monitor that showed defendant left the county at certain dates and times. View "People v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance and was initially placed on deferred entry of judgment for 24 months. Six years and 22 appearances later, the trial court terminated defendant's probation and ordered him to serve 120 days in jail. After defendant failed to appear, and following his arrest, the trial court then determined that it lacked jurisdiction to order defendant to serve the sentence. The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded to the trial court with directions to reinstate and execute the 120-day jail sentence. The court held that the termination of probation did not affect the trial court's power to enforce its lawful orders. In this case, the sentence was not imposed as a term of probation, and the trial court was not asked to adjudge him to be in violation of probation or to create or modify a probation term. The trial court was only asked to enforce a prior lawful sentencing order. Furthermore, defendant waived the right to object to the trial court's enforcement of the 120-day jail term given that he requested that the sentence be stayed and then failed to appear as scheduled. View "People v. Hahn" on Justia Law

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In December 2002, defendant Leonard Warmington worked a courtesy clerk at a Redding Walmart. He stole a television from the store, returned it for a $746.46 Walmart gift card, and used the card to purchase various items. Confronted by a police officer, defendant admitted stealing other items from the Walmart, including a recliner chair. Defendant was ordered to return the items he stole. The value of the items stolen by defendant and subsequently returned was $851. Defendant pleaded no contest to embezzlement in October 2003 and was placed on three years’ formal probation in November 2003. In February 2016, defendant filed a Penal Code section 1170.18 petition to redesignate his offense as a misdemeanor. The trial court denied the petition without prejudice to filing a new petition, on the ground that defendant’s crime was not eligible for relief. Defendant appealed, arguing the trial court erred in finding his crime was not subject to section 1170.18 relief. Since the record clearly shows defendant embezzled less than $950 from Walmart and he was not otherwise disqualified, his crime was eligible for section 1170.18 relief, and the trial court was required to “designate the felony offense . . . as a misdemeanor.” View "California v. Warmington" on Justia Law

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Guanill, a 60-year-old disabled, homeless man who takes pain medication, abuses alcohol, and is known to be abusive to medical staff, arrived at San Francisco General Hospital emergency department at 3:27 a.m. on November 3, 2014, several hours ahead of a scheduled appointment. He was in extreme pain and wanted medication. Triage nurse Coyle screened Guanill, who became agitated and angry, but eventually fell asleep on a bench. The nurses decided to follow department policy and have Guanill escorted out of the waiting room. Deputy Lewelling, who was on duty at the hospital, confronted Guanill, who verbally and physically resisted. The officers used additional force and eventually placed Guanill under arrest. After an investigation, Lewelling was charged under Penal Code section 149,1 which criminalizes a ““public officer who, under color of authority, without lawful necessity, assaults or beats any person. Because there is no CALCRIM instruction for that charge, the court prepared a jury instruction. The court of appeal reversed Lewelling’s conviction, finding that instruction inaccurate and misleading with respect to the element “without legal necessity,” allowing the district attorney to present and argue a case on a basis that allowed Lewelling to be wrongfully convicted. View "People v. Lewelling" on Justia Law

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T.F., then a 13-year-old special education student, was accused of possessing a weapon on school grounds (Penal Code 626.10(a)) and committing a lewd act on a child under age 14 (Penal Code 288(a)). Before and during his wardship proceeding under Welfare and Institutions Code 602, T.F’s defense counsel moved to exclude inculpatory statements he made to the police. The court suppressed the pre-Miranda statements T.F. made when questioned at his school, but admitted the post-Miranda statements he made at the police station. The court sustained the petition, finding true the allegation that T.F. had touched the victim’s vagina when she was three years old. T.F., then 16 years old, was declared a ward of the court and placed on probation in his mother’s home. The court of appeal reversed, finding that T.F.’s statements were made in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. T.F.’s Miranda admonition was “rapidly rattled” off without taking time to determine whether T.F. understood, after T.F. had already undergone a nearly hour-long interrogation by two detectives while confined in a school conference room, which culminated in his arrest. T.F. was sobbing and clearly distraught at school and remained so during the subsequent interrogation. View "In re T.F." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction for first degree murder, first degree burglary, and conspiracy to commit murder. In the published portion of the opinion, the court held that Proposition 57 does not apply retroactively to defendant's case, and thus rejected defendant's claim that retroactivity to juvenile offenders with life without the possibility of parole sentences was required under Montgomery v. Louisiana. View "People v. Navarra" on Justia Law

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Christopher Drew petitioned under Penal Code section 1170.126 to recall a sentence pursuant to the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012. The trial court denied the petition because it was untimely and the court found Drew failed to show good cause to excuse the delay. In this case, the delay was lengthy and the reason for Drew's inactivity was unexplained except by the absence of a lawyer proactively advising him regarding his rights and remedies. Therefore, the Court of Appeal could not conclude it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to find that Drew did not show "good cause" for his late-filed recall petition. View "California v. Drew" on Justia Law

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Garcia was dating Delgadillo’s ex-wife when Delgadillo’s daughter suffered bruises and complained that Garcia had hit her. Delgadillo called the police. Three weeks later, as Delgadillo was watching football with Lanford, Lanford questioned Delgadillo about calling the police and invited him out to smoke. Outside, Delgadillo saw Garcia, Pettie, and another man. Someone called Delgadillo a “cop caller” and Delgadillo was attacked. Delgadillo saw Garcia point a pistol at him, but otherwise did not specifically identify which men personally participated in the attack. After suffering injuries, Delgadillo ran away. He heard gunshots as he fled. Garcia, Lanford and Pettie were convicted of attempted murder, assault, and witness dissuasion, with gang and firearm enhancements. The court of appeal reversed, first rejecting claims of failure to bifurcate, Brady violation, juror bias, prosecutorial misconduct, and insufficient evidence, including a claim of insufficient evidence that the defendants belonged to a unitary gang. Defendants’ claim that the admission of testimonial hearsay through the prosecution’s gang expert violated their confrontation rights required reversal of the findings on gang enhancements; did not require reversal of the Garcia and Lanford convictions for attempted murder and assault; required reversal on all counts as to Pettie. The court also failed its sua sponte duty to give the “mere presence” portion of CALCRIM No. 401 with respect to Pettie’s role in aiding and abetting and failed to instruct the jury on the requisite mens rea for witness dissuasion View "People v. Pettie" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of defendant's motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct. In this case, the jurors' comments concerning defendant's decision not to testify did not show that the jurors conducted their own investigation or based their decision on anything other than the evidence introduced at trial. The court reasoned that, in general, a jury's consideration of the defense's failure to call logical witnesses was proper and did not impermissibly shift the burden of proof, the jury's consideration of defendant's failure to testify likewise could not have impermissibly shifted the burden of proof—he was a logical witness, so the same rule should apply. Furthermore, the trial court had no sua sponte duty to instruct the jury that it could not consider defendant's failure to testify. View "People v. Alaniz" on Justia Law

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Defendant Demetrius Mays and several of his relatives went with Charles Williams to confront Marcel Hatch, who had previously beaten Williams. When the group arrived, Williams shot and killed Hatch. A jury convicted defendant of voluntary manslaughter, with an enhancement that a principal was armed, and the trial court sentenced him to 12 years in state prison. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court improperly ordered him to pay restitution to the estate of the victim’s mother for the victim’s funeral and burial expenses paid by the mother before her death. The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluded the restitution order was proper because (1) the victim’s mother was, herself, a victim under the restitution statute and (2) the funeral and burial expenses were incurred before she died. View "California v. Mays" on Justia Law