caclr_header_template1 California Criminal Law Reporter

Recent Defense Victories

The prosecutor committed misconduct by referring to jurors’ voir dire comments to bolster the prosecution’s theories and inflame the jury’s passions during rebuttal arguments.
The prosecutor committed misconduct when she referring to prospective jurors’ comments in her rebuttal arguments to bolster the prosecution’s factual theories and inflame the jury’s passions and biases. However, the misconduct was not prejudicial in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt adduced at trial.
People v. Lima ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 4986 (2nd Dist. 2020) May 26, 2020 (B293030)
Defendants did not waive their right to have the information filed within 15 days of being held to answer, based on their agreement to an arraignment outside of that timeframe. (588)
The trial court erred in refusing to dismiss the information that was filed more than 15 days after the superior court’s holding order as required by Penal Code sections 739 and 1382(a)(1). There was no express waiver and the defendants did not impliedly waive the 15-day deadline where they agreed to a later arraignment date.
Sulari v Superior Court ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 4863 (2nd Dist. 2020) May 22, 2020 (B295511)
The prosecutor committed improper vouching by arguing the testifying officers would not put their careers on the line or risk a perjury prosecution by lying. (634)
The prosecutor impermissibly vouched for witness credibility by asserting in closing argument that the two testifying officers would not lie because each would put his “career on the line” or “at risk,” and would not subject himself to a possible perjury prosecution. The error required reversal of the conviction.
People v. Rodriguez ____ Cal.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 4748 (2020) May 21, 2020 (S251706)
Defendant’s delusional letter suggesting the prosecutor had been sentenced to death in Moscow did not constitute a “true threat” for purposes of section 69. (221)
Defendant was convicted of resisting an officer in violation of Penal Code section 69. The conviction was based on a threat where he wrote in a letter that the deputy district attorney who handled his parole violation case had been “sentenced to death in Moscow for the crime of kidnapping a solder of the armed forces of Russia.” However, a reasonable person would not have considered the delusional letter to constitute a true threat. The conviction was reversed.
People v. Smolkin ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 4761 (1st Dist. 2020) May 20, 2020 (A155891)
Probation condition prohibiting defendant’s access to “communication devices” was overbroad and had to be modified. (810)
Defendant was convicted of making harassing electronic communications in violation of Penal Code section 653m(b), a misdemeanor. He harassed the victim using email, text messages and Facebook. The probation condition prohibiting him from accessing social media websites was not improperly overbroad. However, the condition that prohibited his access to “communication devices” (rather than “electronic storage devices”) was overbroad and needed to be modified.
People v. Prowell ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 4486 (3rd Dist. 2020) May 12, 2020 (C086156)
Minor’s admission of vandalism alone was insufficient to support the vandalism finding as there was insufficient proof of the corpus delicti. (220)
Evidence was insufficient to support the finding that the minor committed vandalism. While he admitted the act to another person, the corpus delicti of the offense must be established independently from the defendant’s admission. There was no other evidence to support the finding here and so the finding was reversed.
In re I.A. ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 4297 (2nd Dist. 2020) May 04, 2020 (B296549)