caclr_header_template1 California Criminal Law Reporter

Recent Defense Victories

The trial court erred during the post-verdict Marsden motion by failing to inquire into defendant’s claim that counsel prevented him from testifying. (618)
The trial court erred during a post-verdict Marsden hearing by failing to inquire into defendant’s claim that his counsel deprived him of the opportunity to testify in his defense, focusing instead on counsel’s performance. However, remand for a new hearing was not required given the overwhelming evidence of guilt.
People v. Winn ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 9740 (6th Dist. 2019) October 09, 2019 (H045147)
Auto search was not valid as an inventory search where the purpose was to search for criminal behavior rather than inventory the contents of the car. (408) (412)
Police searched defendant’s car after finding he possessed marijuana. The prosecution argued the police action was justified as an inventory search. However, the search served no community caretaking function. Police asked defendant and the passengers if there was anything illegal in the car rather than whether there were valuables in the car defendant needed to inventory. The trial court reasonably found the primary purpose of the search was not to inventory the contents of the car, but rather to investigate the defendant for possible criminal behavior.
People v. Lee ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 9528 (4th Dist. 2019) October 03, 2019 (D073740)
Legal possession of a small amount of marijuana did not provide probable cause to search the vehicle. (330)
Defendant was found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana, which is now legal and not considered contraband. The marijuana possession did not provide probable cause to search defendant’s car.
People v. Lee ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 9528 (4th Dist. 2019) October 03, 2019 (D073740)
The trial court erred by instructing that defendant, rather than the direct perpetrator, need be 18 years old in a prosecution for improper sex with a young child. (172)
Defendant instructed a mother to engage in sexual acts with her three year-old son. He was convicted of oral copulation of a child 10 years old or younger. (Penal Code section 288.7 (b).) However, the trial court erred by instructing the jury that defendant, instead of the mother who perpetrated the acts, had to be 18 years old or older at the time. The error was prejudicial where the evidence at trial did not establish the age of the mother.
People v. Vital ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 9564 (2nd Dist. 2019) October 03, 2019 (B288533)
The trial court erred in failing to declare a doubt as to defendant’s competency once it became clear he could not separate his delusion from his defense. (536)
Defendant was twice found incompetent due to his persistent belief that his actions were controlled by a “mind control project” run by the government. He was later found to competent due to his ability to compartmentalize any lingering delusion and separate it from his defense. At trial, he took the stand against counsel’s advice, admitted guilt and explained the “project” controlled his actions. The trial court erred by failing to declare a doubt as to defendant’s competency once it became clear he could not longer separate his delusion from his defense.
People v. Tejada ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 9461 (4th Dist. 2019) October 02, 2019 (D075364)
Work-product protection applies in capital habeas proceedings after an order to show cause. (558) (652) (860)
Defendant argued in his habeas petition that the jury in his capital case impermissibly considered the opinion of an alternate juror. The superior court later ordered that he produce the statements of any alternate jurors he interviewed. Contrary to defendant’s claim, discovery in habeas proceedings following an order to show cause may exceed the scope of the criminal discovery scheme. However, the qualified work-product protection applies to discovery beyond that scope, and at this juncture of the proceedings precludes the superior court’s discovery order.
Jimenez v. Superior Court ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2019 D.A.R. 9523 (2nd Dist. 2019) October 02, 2019 (B297595)