caclr_header_template1 California Criminal Law Reporter

Recent Defense Victories

Counsel rendered ineffective assistance in the capital trial by obtaining the appointment through fraudulent means, counseling defendant to confess to a series of robberies and failing to interview helpful witnesses. (622)
Defendant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. However, it was determined in habeas corpus proceedings that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by obtaining his appointment to represent the defendant by fraud, counseling defendant to confess to a series of other robberies without safeguards to insure the confessions would not be used without a plea deal, and by failing to conduct a timely investigation of eyewitnesses who could have exculpated defendant and police officers who would have inculpated the codefendant. The murder conviction was reversed.
In re Gay ____ Cal.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 1154 (2020) February 13, 2020 (S130263)
Defendant’s prior prison term enhancement was stricken pursuant to SB 136. (851)
Defendant’s prior prison term enhancement under Penal Code section 667.5, subd. (b) was stricken due to the recent legislation (SB 136) which applied to defendant’s case that was not final on the date the law became effective.
People v. Petri ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 1052 (6th Dist. 2020) February 10, 2020 (H045990)
Officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop a driver acting suspiciously near the border. (358)
The Border Patrol agent stopped the defendant who was driving in a well-known smuggling corridor in a car that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border within the week. Defendant slowed and changed lanes after the officer pulled along side her in an unmarked car, rolled down his window and stared at her. She drove about 50 miles per hour to stay behind him and refused to look at him when she passed him a few minutes later. There was no reasonable suspicion that defendant was engaged in criminal activity that would justify a detention, and the stop was improper as it was based on a mere hunch of the officer.
People v. Mendoza ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 933 (4th Dist. 2020) February 05, 2020 (E071835)
Evidence was insufficient to show premeditation and deliberation for first degree murder where defendant took a gun from someone during an argument and shot the victim in the head at close range. (180)
There was insufficient evidence of premeditation and deliberation to support the first degree murder conviction. There was no evidence of a pre-existing intent to kill the victim even though defendant made an obscure reference to killing someone in a text message during an argument with his girlfriend. The evidence of motive was weak where defendant had threatened to kill the victim in a statement to a third person, but such a threat did not establish a motive to kill. The only evidence of motive was the fact that defendant and the victim had an unresolved falling out of some kind. And there was no evidence of planning where the shooting was an impulsive act where defendant took the gun from someone else and shot the victim in the head during an argument.
People v. Wear ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 918 (4th Dist. 2020) February 04, 2020 (A152732)
Defendant was entitled to retroactive application of SB 136. (851)
SB 136 amended Penal Code section 667.5(b) to allow the imposition of a one year enhancement for a prior prison term only if the prior conviction involved a sexually violent offense. The new law applied to defendant’s case since it was not yet final when the new law became effective.
People v. Winn ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 798 (6th Dist. 2020) January 30, 2020 (H045157)
Extension of commitment under section 1026.5 was improper where evidence of defendant’s verbal outbursts during adjustments in his medication did not establish that he was dangerous. (537)
The trial court ordered defendant’s not guilty by reason of insanity commitment under Penal Code section 1026.5 be extended for two years. However, evidence was insufficient to support the court’s finding that due to defendant’s schizophrenia, he represented a substantial danger of harm to others. Evidence that defendant had verbal outbursts while under a doctor’s care during periods of adjustment in his medication was not sufficient to demonstrate a danger to others.
People v. Kerbs ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2020 D.A.R. 699 (1st Dist. 2020) January 28, 2020 (A155126)