caclr_header_template1 California Criminal Law Reporter

Recent Defense Victories

A foil-lined bag is not a burglary tool within the meaning of section 466. (192)
Defendant used a foil-lined bag to shoplift several pairs of jeans from a department store. The evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for possession of burglary tools under Penal Code section 466 because a foil-lined bag is not a tool within the meaning of that provision.
People v. Shaw ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 11653 (1st Dist. 2017) December 07, 2017 (A148997)
Chiu error requires reversal unless the reviewing court concludes beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury actually relied on the legally valid theory. (147)
Defendant was convicted of first degree murder after the jury was instructed on both a direct aiding and abetting theory and a natural and probable consequences theory. The latter theory was later proved invalid in People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155. Chiu error requires reversal unless the reviewing court concludes beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury actually relied on the legally valid theory. The error was prejudicial and if the prosecution elects not to retry the defendant, the conviction will be reduced to second degree murder.
In re Martinez ____ Cal.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 11448 (2017) December 04, 2017 (S226596)
Codefendant’s statements minimizing his role and shifting blame to the other defendant did not qualify as declarations against penal interest. (722)
The trial court committed reversible error by admitting codefendant’s statements to jailhouse informants implicating the defendant in the shooting because the statements were hearsay. Because the statements served only to minimize the codefendant’s role in the shooting, and shift blame to the defendant, they did not qualify as declarations against his penal interest under Evidence Code section 1230.
People v. Gallardo ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 11555 (2nd Dist. 2017) November 21, 2017 (B269034)
Replacement of a juror outside of defendant’s presence while counsel was sick and another lawyer appeared to request a continuance violated defendant’s right to counsel. (616) (618)
The trial court lacked good cause to excuse Juror No. 4 who was 15 minutes late for the start of the evidence portion of trial. Moreover, excusing the juror outside of defendant’s presence and while he was represented by an attorney who was standing in for defendant’s temporarily ill counsel who was told she was appearing to agree to a continuance, violated defendant’s constitutional right to be present and represented by counsel at critical stages of trial. The stand-in lawyers’s failure to object did not forfeit the issue on appeal. And the error required reversal of the conviction as there was no way of determining whether the replacement of the juror contributed to the verdict.
People v. Young ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 10972 (3rd Dist. 2017) November 17, 2017 (C077483)
Juror misconduct required reversal where jurors discussed defendant’s decision not to testify after being admonished not to consider that topic. (640)
The trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct, after it was confirmed that deliberating jurors were questioning why the defendant didn’t testify. Prejudice is presumed and was not rebutted here where the misconduct went directly to the ultimate issue of defendant’s guilt.
People v. Solorio ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 10948 (4th Dist. 2017) November 07, 2017 (D070794)
The trial court erred by finding it couldn’t reweigh the evidence as part of a motion for new trial. (602)
Defendant filed a new trial motion based on the lack of evidence to support the gang enhancement. The trial court employed the incorrect test when reviewing the motion claiming that it wasn’t the court’s job to reweigh the evidence. When the new trial motion is based on insufficient evidence under Penal Code section 1181, subd.(6), the court must act as a 13th juror to review and independently evaluate the evidence. The matter was remanded for a new hearing.
People v. Watts ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 10848 (2nd Dist. 2017) November 14, 2017 (B270324)